Matt Gornick

Recommendation engines are pretty smart

Posted in Uncategorized by mgornick on November 18, 2010
Yesterday, I decided to buy a book on Amazon I have always wanted to read.  Amazon kept recommending other books and topics that "I might like"… and oddly enough they were right!  Amazon recommended several books that I've heard and wanted to read, but had since forgotten about.  Needless to say, I walked away with a slightly larger bill than expected. 

I've been using Amazon and Pandora for a while now and they both seem to know what products I want to buy, books I want to read, and music I want to listen to.  I think there is something to be said for these engines and that they might very well be the norm in the future. 

I don't know the all inner workings of these technologies and collaborative filtering, but I interested in learning more about them.  Time to reread the old lecture notes from CS410 at UIUC.

Why don’t US students take a gap year?

Posted in Uncategorized by mgornick on November 9, 2010
I have heard some of my friends doing a "Gap Year" where they take a year between college and the work force to travel the world, volunteer abroad, or study topics that are interesting to them but didn't get time to focus on in school.  A few years ago, I would never have thought of a gap year, but after talking with some friends I'm starting to think it is a great opportunity for our generation.  It is natural to follow the paths of others, but seemingly difficult to try something different.

Here are some of my ideas of a good gap year that I think would be a huge learning experience:
1. Work on or create a startup company
2. Spend 8 months in Italy learning the language and cuisine
3. Live the life of a rock climber and travel through the cliffs in North and South America and learning the culture and dedication of the sport along the way

Why companies engage customers (via Twitter)

Posted in Uncategorized by mgornick on November 8, 2010
I recently wrote an article about getting Schwab and Mint.com to work so you can keep track of your budgets online.  The next day I got a tweet from the Schwab Twitter account (@SchwabService) with a short "thank you".  I feel like more companies should do this and reach out to their customers.  Most communication is one way from customers to companies.  It is refreshing for it to go in reverse.

Finally getting Charles Schwab and Mint to work

Posted in Uncategorized by mgornick on November 8, 2010

After months of trying to get my Charles Schwab Investor Checking and Mint.com to work, I've finally been able to get my data imported.  As an extra layer of security, I use the Schwab Token (available here) which generates a unique 6 digit code that you use each time to login.  This makes it impossible for Mint.com to continuously update your account which is aggravating, but a small price to pay for the sense of security.  At the same time, it would be nice to still have the data available in Mint.com if you use Schwab's Bill Pay and want to keep track of your finances.  Here are the steps to get it working (finally):

1. Login to Mint.com
2. Add a new Account – Search then add "Charles Schwab – Banking"
3. Type in your Username
4. Type in your password, press the button on your secure token to get the 6-digit code (e.g. 123456), then type in that 6-digit code immediately after your password.  Example: your password field would have "secret123456"
5. Hit Save and wait for Mint.com to pull in the data.

For your safety the tokens from Schwab expire pretty quick (maybe ~1 minutes).  If you wait too long during step 4 or between step 4 and 5 then your token will expire and Mint.com won't be able to login, so you have to be fast.