Tech

The $20K House

20k-house 

What if you want a house but can't afford it? Most of us in this boat are renting. But what if you had a morgage payment of around $60 a month?

The concept of the $20K house was featured in this month's Metropolitan Home. It is an interesting article about a design program in Alabama where students and others are working to design prototypes of homes that cost $20,000 to construct: $10,000 in materials and $10,000 in labor.

Like many good ideas, this concept came out of an idea to solve a problem, in this case one observed in rural Alabama:

Eventually Dorr (the organizer of the program) discovered that some of the widows had, in fact, applied to Rural Development, a U.S. Department of Agriculture program, for loans to help them buy a new house. "Their applications were getting approved," says Dorr. "There was a stack of them in our local office. And they were just sitting there." The problem, Dorr learned, was that although the women were deemed good credit risks, their incomes were so low — typically, $637 a month from Social Security — that they could afford to repay only a $20,000 loan. And everyone knows that there's no such thing as a $20,000 house. "Well, there wasn't at the time," Dorr says with a laugh.

Most of the houses are between 300-600 square feet and while this trend may be on the extreme thrift end, it does make you think about the possible ways we can make housing more affordable for everyone.

Check out the original article "The 20K House" in Metropolitan Home…
Check out the Rural Studio website…
Check out the Rural Studio blog..

Thank God For Internet Troubleshooting

So Close And Yet So Far From Actually Being Able To Use My Wii

Do you ever have what you think is going to be a little project turn into a big ol' hassle? That's where I'm at!

Wii_Remote_Funtions_2x2 I bought a really nice flat panel computer a few weeks ago in part because it could serve as both my television and my computer (having two seperate pieces of technology in a small room just seemed ridiculous not to mention more expensive).

Internet television with my new toy has been no problem; people have actually been commenting on the size of my, ahem, screen. The problem is the Wii, more specifically the remote.

My super-smart boss told me that based on the specs, I would need a modulator (about $20) and a coaxial cable to plug from the modulator to the back of my computer (it has a cable hookup). This would convert the three pronged Wii plugin into something my computer could read. Fair enough. I bought one Friday and hooked it all up, turned on the television part of my computer, and nothing. Hmph.

Monday, I read all about the media center and learned how to *gasp* change channels on my television. Moving to channel three, the little Wii screen came on my computer screen and I clapped my little hands together.

Yesterday was spent trying to figure out issues with the Wiimote. Everything I could find on the online forums was about trying to get your computer to detect the remote, period. My computer is detecting it (it has Bluetooth capabilities, and if yours doesn't you can buy some dongle for it for $5 apparently). My remote is just highly inaccurate, as in I can't even click on icons. I just spent 20 minutes trying to get into Wii Fit and all I was able to do is select the Wii Fit game and my Mii.

I feel like I'm ridiculously shaky with it and I found a way to adjust the settings according to the directions, three normal clicks away. I know getting the cursor to hover over the right place and be able to click on it three different times may be a rest-of-the-night endeavor so I'm going to drag Operation Wii Working into another day.

Here is the most helpful link I found so far, Lifehacker, in case you are struggling with some technology problem like this. It's a great blog with useful explanations. I may have to start reading it more regularly to help get nerdier.

In the meantime, I'm at a loss. Does anyone have any good technology troubleshooting blogs, websites, forums, etc. they find consistently helpful? Resorting to reading the directions tonight was decidedly less so and web searches are not helping. (And if this is something stupid and you know the answer, let me know.)

Technology rocks but sometimes it just makes me want to throw things!

A Moment Of Silence For My Computer

Where have I been? Thanks to those of you who wrote to ask. As usual, there is a good reason for me not writing.

That's right, folks. Mid blog post, my posessed computer officially died its last death (another reminder to save often…). There is no power even getting to it now and not even duct tape is improving the connection like it has the past month.

As far as mooching off someone else's computer, the three local friends I do have with working computers all happened to be gone the last two days.

My new computer (I ordered one since I knew my computer was going to bite it soon) will be ready to be picked up Thursday. Ugh! Until then, it's lunch hour posts and off-hour mooching from friends…

Do know that all  was not entirely lost. I did manage to back everything up except some work I did this weekend. I've only lost four or five hours of work but I know it could be a lot worse then that.

Also, I spent Monday night crafting ahead for Too Cute Tuesday. I had to rely on a kit this week but sometimes, you have to use a short cut, you know?

So please a moment of silence for my computer… Alright, good enough. Back to blogging…

Three Reasons Not to “Bail Out” The Auto Industry

The more I hear about this automaker bailout stuff, the more ridiculous it seems. A quick look at where some of the money these companies make has went previously:
 
1. Ford CEO Gets $18.5M upfront, $2M salary and an immediate payout of $18.5 million for taking the job in September 2006.(Ford lost $1.4 billion in the first half of 2006.)
 
2. GM lifts CEO salary to $2.2 M, translating to a 33% raise (The stock has dropped 10 percent since the start of the year and about 64 percent since Wagoner became CEO in June 2000. GM reported a record loss of $39 billion for 2007, its third consecutive net loss.)
 
3. Chrysler's new CEO declines to detail salary package (Chrysler lost $680 M last year.)
 
If a typical worker makes $30,000 per year, one Ford CEO equals 68 regular workers. One GM CEO equals 75 regular workers. 
 
Why can't we ever fix the problem before throwing money at it? Even people who know something about money are agreeing with me here. Even some of the auto workers themselves aren't for bailing out these guys.
 
It must have been a sad private jet ride home for those CEOs when they were not granted bailout money by Capital Hill but as my coworker said, "I wish I could make $2 million for being a complete failure."

(Thanks to Mike for some of these links!)

Three Reasons Not to "Bail Out" The Auto Industry

The more I hear about this automaker bailout stuff, the more ridiculous it seems. A quick look at where some of the money these companies make has went previously:

1. Ford CEO Gets $18.5M upfront, $2M salary and an immediate payout of $18.5 million for taking the job in September 2006.(Ford lost $1.4 billion in the first half of 2006.)

2. GM lifts CEO salary to $2.2 M, translating to a 33% raise (The stock has dropped 10 percent since the start of the year and about 64 percent since Wagoner became CEO in June 2000. GM reported a record loss of $39 billion for 2007, its third consecutive net loss.)

3. Chrysler’s new CEO declines to detail salary package (Chrysler lost $680 M last year.)

If a typical worker makes $30,000 per year, one Ford CEO equals 68 regular workers. One GM CEO equals 75 regular workers.

Why can’t we ever fix the problem before throwing money at it? Even people who know something about money are agreeing with me here. Even some of the auto workers themselves aren’t for bailing out these guys.

It must have been a sad private jet ride home for those CEOs when they were not granted bailout money by Capital Hill but as my coworker said, “I wish I could make $2 million for being a complete failure.”

(Thanks to Mike for some of these links!)

A Container Shortage That Effects Us All

I heard a really interesting story on NPR on Friday night (I know, you were probably doing something more interesting, right?). There was a great story about how a shortage of containers is effecting the flow of everything in the economy. We're buying less which means less containers (as in containers on container ships) are coming into American ports. And the less containers coming in means the less containers coming out.

This is a really excellent piece of journalism with good facts and storytelling. It's probably the best I've heard since This American Life tackled the housing crisis a few months ago. Oh, and the whole thing is only six minutes and forty one seconds long and made me sound smart in a meeting today.

Listen to "A Strange Shortage Illustrates the Global Economy" here…

Moving Update: On my end, I'm actually dealing with an abundance of containers as I unpack. I'll post pictures soon but it's still looking too messy for me to show the world.

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