Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I have no shame. But my savings account has higher interest!

Okay, I'm going to write an absolutely shameless post. My apologies.

I recently signed up for an Orange Savings Account through ING Direct. Currently, the interest rate is 3.65% APY. It was 4.10% but then the market plummeted. It's not a guaranteed amount and they can change it when they want but it seems to stay pretty high.

This is far better than most banks. My current bank gives 1.00% interest per year, and I think that's better than most.

It's also very easy to sign up (although it does take more than the 5 minutes they claim because I can't read all their privacy policy and terms and conditions stuff in 5 minutes). They link your Orange Savings Account to your current checking account at whatever bank you use. As long as you go through ING to request transfers of money to or from, there are no fees. It takes approx 2-3 days for a transfer to go through because of the method they use. There is also an initial period where you can't take any money out of the Orange Savings Account when you first sign up - I think it's 10 days?

They are also known for great customer service. I called to ask a question, and I got a real (and very helpful) person without going through a menu. How awesome is that?

So basically, it's a way to have a higher interest rate on a regular old savings account. I also like that it's an online bank (FDIC insured, no worries), so if I move it doesn't matter. They're still just as accessible.

So here comes the shameless part:
I have a number of referrals to give out (not sure the exact amount - 10 to 20?). If you sign up within a month of receiving a referral and put in at least a $250 initial deposit, you will get an extra $25 sign-on bonus. I will get $10 for every referral.

I did not have a referral when I signed up for ING and I wish I had. So if anyone is interested, shoot me an email.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Institutional Repositories

A rather nebulous term, I suppose, but a truly fantastic idea. An institutional repository gives professors and researchers a place to post their articles where anyone can access them for free.

California has created a version of this called the eScholarship Repository, which "provides a robust full-spectrum, open access publishing platform for pre-prints, post-prints, peer-reviewed articles, edited volumes and peer-reviewed journals" (quote taken from this UC article). Not only is this open to those in California, but to the rest of us as well. It is also structured in such a way as to be searchable by Google so I have added it to my Free Full-text E-Journals custom search engine (see the right-hand side of this blog for the search box. For more information about this custom search engine, see my previous post).

It is unfortunate in the academic publishing world that professors (and other researchers) very often give up their rights to their own work when publishing in a journal. Once accepted by a journal, that work becomes the property of the journal, not the professor. Many professors do not even think about this loss of rights because they need to publish for tenure purposes. Part of creating awareness of an institutional repository would necessarily include discussion about maintaining one's rights to a work, which is a good thing. The more professors are aware that they need to keep their rights, the more articles can be put in institutional repositories!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Librarian Wins Award

Sometimes you read something, and you just don't know what to say. I have no words to express my reaction to this.

[Link found on The Laughing Librarian]

Tasty Reads 3: Made to Stick

Title: Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Authors: Chip Heath & Dan Health

"Any of us, with the right insight and the right message, can make an idea stick." (p.252)

This is a great marketing book all about how to create ideas that people will remember. The authors outline the six key ingredients of a sticky idea, explaining each with a few stories that help it stick in the minds of their readers. To be extremely sticky, an idea needs to be:

1. Simple - Find the core of the idea, the single most important point you are trying to communicate. Your audience can only remember so many things.

2. Unexpected - Surprise them to get their attention, then keep their attention by creating interest. Create a mystery. An example from Made to Stick tells of a book that started off with this story: For years, scientists at well-known institutions debated about what Saturn's rings were made of - dust (MIT), gas (Cambridge), or ice crystals (Cal Tech). Then, the story unfolded, until, much later in the book, the answer was given: ice-covered dust. Needless to say, the reader was enthralled as to how such renowned universities could have scientists who couldn't solve this problem. It's unexpected.

3. Concrete - It's far easier to remember concrete images and specifics than it is to remember an abstraction.

4. Credible - Be or use a credible source - e.g., people with personal experience. (Jared lost all that weight from eating Subway. He's credible - he personally experienced the weight loss). I can see this working in libraries: Provide a concrete example/quote/etc from a student whose research was made much easier by using a library database or by consulting a librarian.

5. Emotion - Make people care about the idea. Invoke self-interest. How will it affect them? What will it do for them?

6. Exemplified through stories - Stories are entertaining. Include them when you can. They make the idea more life-like. They can also provide inspiration which drives action.

You also have to be careful to avoid the Curse of Knowledge. Ideas that may seem simple to me, aren't to others. For example, to me, it's completely obvious that you should use a library database to search for articles. However, others are going, "What's a database? What if I want books?"

All in all, a great read for those with interest in marketing.

Free Credit Report

I have a friend who regularly pulls her credit report to make sure nothing has gone awry. I thought it wouldn't be a bad thing to do, but didn't want to spend any money doing it. I have pretty good credit so I wasn't too worried.

Yesterday, I read about annualcreditreport.com at beingfrugal.net. This site lets you obtain your credit report for free once a year from 3 different reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. According to the FAQ, you can space out your requests. Yesterday, I got mine from Equifax. Disappointingly, it did not have my credit score (which apparently is never free to obtain), but the rest of the information was useful. At 17 pages long, there's a lot of stuff there - student loans, credit cards, closed accounts, soft and hard inquiries on your credit, negatives (I don't have any - woo hoo!), etc. It also reminds you that it's a good idea to keep your oldest line of credit open. Don't close that first credit card or bank account if you can help it.

While opening a new credit card account has an effect on your account, checking your own credit does not. There are soft inquiries and hard inquiries, and this is a soft one (see here for more info).

Going along with the credit thing, I called 1-888-5-OPT-OUT yesterday so that I would stop getting offers from credit card and insurance companies in the mail. It is super easy and completely automated. It does ask for your SSN, and I hate to give that out, but I have read about enough people taking advantage of this that I'm not too worried.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Free Science TV

While perusing ONLINE, which bills itself as "The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals" (who knew?), I discovered SciVee. The National Science Foundation and the San Diego Supercomputer Center teamed up with the Public Library of Science to create SciVee, which contains video presentations by scientists describing the work they have done for their scientific papers, and more recently, work not related to scientific papers as well.

Basically it's a YouTube for science. Bet it has some interesting stuff!