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Brad Fitzpatrick

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Raw data [Apr. 3rd, 2006|02:13 pm]
Brad Fitzpatrick
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Gathering data for taxes, I look online to find some records from April 2005: data isn't available that far back using the "History" tool of my credit union's website.

So I call the bank and ask if they can access it from there, explaining I couldn't get it online. Their answer? Oh, go to another section of the site and they have my statements dating back for 12-18 months, in PDF form. I love it! They can't get the raw data in the database, but they have honkin' PDFs laying around for everybody. So it's kinda offensive, but I understand why. (databases/database storage vs. bulk storage.....)

Anyway, neat. Also means I don't have to keep scanning all these statements, since I can get them online.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: moonwick
2006-04-03 09:20 pm (UTC)
Hah! Thank god I'm not the only one insane enough to scan his bank statements before shredding 'em. I've always felt a bit loony for doing that.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2006-04-03 09:28 pm (UTC)
My goal is to have all important paperwork scanned. And if it's not important, I shouldn't have it. And then I can just file important paperwork away in numbered bins, and tag it on the computer.

Lofty goal, and one I only work on when I'm really bored.
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[User Picture]From: erik
2006-04-03 09:40 pm (UTC)
I've been doing that at work, but I don't have a scanner at home, otherwise all of that crap would be digitized too. We have these awesome printers at have a "scan to PDF" function - it scans in all of your pages (up to a hundred, maybe?) and then emails you a PDF attachment. So fast and easy.
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From: evan
2006-04-04 12:58 am (UTC)
My roommate had an old friend visit who used a service that scans all of your postal mail. He said: (a) if you compute out the time spent scanning, it's worth the cost, and (b) it gives you a single fixed address (the service) so whenever you move you don't have to change your address. I guess (b) doesn't apply to you as much, though.

I think it was on the order of $50/mo for full-color scans (not sure why color was more expensive -- storage cost or maybe just price discrimination?). I could track it down if you're interested.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2006-04-04 01:04 am (UTC)
Interesting. Yes, please!
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[User Picture]From: gaal
2006-04-04 05:44 am (UTC)
Color scans take longer, probably?
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[User Picture]From: jwz
2006-04-03 09:51 pm (UTC)
Hey Brad -- captains of industry don't do their own fuckin' taxes! Are you a massochist?
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[User Picture]From: scsi
2006-04-03 09:57 pm (UTC)
Brad's having a hard time finding an accountant who owns a calculator that goes past 12 digits (or knows scientific notation) :)
blingbling.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2006-04-03 10:23 pm (UTC)
I'm not. I haven't ever done my own taxes.

I've just have to gather random data for my accountant a few times now.
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[User Picture]From: grumpy_sysadmin
2006-04-03 11:05 pm (UTC)
Given your geographic location, I doubt I work for your bank, but I do work for one, and there are a zillion good reasons for this.

I wince at the choice of PDF over plain text, not just because it's catering (completely unnecessarily) to the lowest common denominator viewer while requiring users to install something unnecessarily, but because there's an extant storage cost, but it's nowhere near as large a storage cost as it might appear. (PDF is Postscript with some bells, no whistles. Postscript is a Turing Complete programming language expressed entirely in 7-bit ASCII. It compresses like a fiend.)

As you note, the decision has a lot to getting it out of the live database, but that also means that they move it from tier 1 (fibre channel-native disks in EMC/Hitachi arrays) to tier 2 (fibre channel-attached probably-SCSI disks in lesser-name frames, the low-end stuff EMC sells through Dell, or maybe NetApp configured with more disks per LUN/less frequenty synchronization) or 3 (PATA/SATA arrays, the most expensive of which come from NetApp, with a bunch of smaller names doing the same thing cheaper) disk storage... and the severly downrate the tier 4 (tape) storage from big tape libraries from StorageTek, IBM, etc with fast, resiliant, and expensive (read, "$45k list price for one tape drive"--that's for an SunTK 9940B) tape drives to slower tape drives the tapes for which are tested to be reliable for fewer duty cycles and cost a lot less.

We do this even for much more recent data. (If you get non-physical check return, meaning a scan of the check rather than the physical check, from my employer, that's because it's cheaper for us to put all of that on tier 3 disk and cheaper tape in separate tape libraries than it is for us to send you the physical check back after processing.)
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From: jamesd
2006-04-03 11:30 pm (UTC)
Just wait until you rely on it and then they make an unannounced change in policy and stop doing it.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2006-04-03 11:39 pm (UTC)
You give me so little credit.

I already mirrored it all.
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From: evan
2006-04-04 12:55 am (UTC)
Hahaha. Awesome.
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From: jamesd
2006-04-04 05:02 am (UTC)
Not good enough unless you set up a cron job to grab the new ones every month and issue an alarm when they stop supplying them or start supplying only empty files saying "we no longer provide this service". :)

I give you lots of credit. But I trust banks to be very creative in breaking things. :)
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[User Picture]From: gaal
2006-04-04 05:44 am (UTC)
Yeah, banks are good at giving you credit but still making money off you!
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[User Picture]From: avatraxiom
2006-04-03 11:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I collected all the data for my taxes the same way. B of A actually has them all as text files, in addition to the PDFs.

-Max
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[User Picture]From: dossy
2006-04-03 11:48 pm (UTC)
You know what's annoying? Fleet Bank's web banking used to give you a "total paid in YYYY to this payee" summary. Since it became Bank of America *spit, ptooey* that's disappeared. I've sent a message to Customer Disservice asking that it be re-implemented ... because, you know, a SUM(amount_paid) - SUM(amount_refunded) ... GROUP BY payee ain't exactly rocket science.

That feature made tax time almost bearable. Now, I get to go and compute the sums across 12 PDFs for all my payees. I am not amused.

Dear God, please fix the US income-based taxation system and replace it with a consumption/use tax.
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[User Picture]From: taral
2006-04-04 05:59 am (UTC)
Not only that, but my credit union has the statements available in text format... and they sure as hell *look* like they're database-generated...
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