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05 December 2011

Doing my own accounting

ledger and hledger to the rescue

Now that I am running my own business, there arises the question of accounting. Actually that question had been posed way before the business was there and I've thought a lot about it. There are three strategies:

  1. Do your own bookkeeping
  2. Do your own bookkeeping, get help from an accountant for closing the books and doing the tax papers
  3. Give it all to an accountant

So far I've chosen strategy 1, with an option to switch to strategy 2. I've had to learn a lot, despite having done double entry accounting in the past and despite having coded lots of business software in my life (hey, if you need anything like that, we're here to help!) But having to learn so much is exactly why I consider strategy 1 to be a major win for me. You see, the stuff that I'm learning about, often means that there are decisions made. You can do stuff one way or another. Or it means that you have to beware of things you might be doing "in real business life", which have an outcome on what happens in your books (and therefore in your taxes).

So if I go with option 1, it means that I have to learn a lot about stuff that I have to know anyway. If I give my receipts and all that to an accountant, then I have to have a lot of trust in that person. What's more, I need a very good communication with that person, because I will have to consult her on a lot of my business decisions. I might readily switch to option 2, because doing it all alone has risks too, but then I will be already on a base of knowledge that lets me work around some pitfalls. Even when my company gets so big (and I'll get so philthy rich) that doing my accounting is no longer an option, the knowledge will serve me well.

As for the software for accounting... you can spend a lot on that. Depending on where you (or your business) is located, you will have to spend a lot, because in some countries they allow only certain "certified" accounting programs. In my companie's case (Switzerland), any reliable software will do. Being a true geek, I found ledger and hledger, which are command line accounting programs. "ledger" (also called "ledger-cli" sometimes) is the original version, coded in C++ (so it's also called "c++ ledger" sometimes). I had some trouble getting it installed, but finally got version 2.6.3 up and running using "homebrew" on Mac OS X. As for "hledger", the "h" is an indication that it's writtin in Haskell. There is a (slightly older) binary on the site, which was enough to get me up and running fast. I've since managed to compile my own hledger too.

These CLI ledger programs basically work by entering "entries" into a "journal" file in a simple format. This approach was very welcome for me, since it allowed me to play around until I had reactived my memory about how double entry accounting works. While I was reading up I could try things out and check with various reports how it all worked together. For a while I had one category of entries "the wrong way around" and it was easy to correct once I figured it out. Even from the most flexible GUI accounting programs, I remember this kind of thing to be much more complicated.

These two programs share a (more or less) common file format, so with a little care it's possible to use both of them in parallel. Which I do now, because there are some features that hledger doesn't have yet, while it feels more comfortable in other respects. The features I miss most (and for which I turn to "c++ ledger") are the --wide and --related options for showing a "register" of an account. Gotta really learn Haskell now, so I can contribute that stuff myself! :-)

Posted by betabug at 18:43 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
12 December 2011

A short hike at Grammeni Oxia

With the Krystallis mountain club
Above the Grammeni Oxia hut, when the fog cleared

The weekend I was out of town with the Krystallis moutain club. We were at the Grammeni Oxia (Γραμμένη Οξυά) hut in central Greece. We arrived Saturday, with the last bit of light. The road and hut were in fog, we were inside the clouds. Not much chance for photography. I had pondered long to take the Arca with me, but in the end I didn't and it was a good choice. In that weather, there wouldn't have been much to do for it.

The hut keeper had started to warm up the hut and we were warming us up in front of the fireplace. After some time (which we used to eat a "snack"), the rest of the group arrived, we were now 11. Once they were firmly installed in front of the fireplace too, the eating started in earnest. After having had a good dinner and nice evening, I grabbed my sleeping bag and bivouac bag and went outside the hut. I had decided I'd leave the heat of the sleeping quarters behind and test out my old bivouac bag. I slept warm and cozy in the fog. Not a trace of being wet and cold, even in drizzling fog.

On Sunday morning we ventured out to go for the "summit" of Grammeni Oxia. The weather wasn't in our favour at all. There was a thick fog, with lots of winds. Basically we were in the clouds, which were pushed around by a strong wind. Personally I was dressed very appropriately, I wasn't cold at all. After about an hour though, it was clear that going on wasn't any use. Part of our group wasn't very experienced nor well trained and we didn't want to risk any detours due to the fog nor any exhausted people due to the cold. So insted we turned around. In lower areas, the fog had lifted (which is where I took that picture).

We hiked a bit along the rough road leading to the hut, in order to appreciate the forest. I took a few pictures with the Firstflex, on Tri-X black+white film. Then we went back to Athens, having a good lunch all together in a taverna on the way.

Posted by betabug at 10:37 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
13 December 2011

Going Back to Zope 2.7

... and not for nostalgia reasons

When I wrote my Notes on Zope 2 migration some while back, reinstalling an old Zope version was a side topic only. Last Thusday on #zope, there was an enquiry that led to a reinstallation of a Zope 2.7 install. Which is really old stuff, but it turns out, it was needed to get an unfortunate admin up and running again. The story commences with "eriolssi" asking for help, because as I understood it, he (I assume "he", though apparently there exists a female game character by that name) accidentally deleted a Zope install...

Continue reading "Going Back to Zope 2.7"
Posted by betabug at 09:57 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
19 December 2011

Socken für bergsteigende Apple-Geeks

Schön warm sind sie auch
X-Code Socken

Was trägt der bergsteigende Apple-Geek bevorzugt als Socken? Natürlich "X-Code" Socken, die sind schön warm und da schreibt sich dann wohl der Objective-C Code mit den Füssen. (Erklärung für Nicht-Programmierer: Die von Apple zum Mac OS X mitgelieferte Programmierumgebung hört auf den gleichen Namen.) Passend dazu empfehlen wir die griechische "Apple-Unterwäsche" auf (die als Witz schon uralt ist, aber hoffentlich immer wieder gern gesehen).

Die Socken habe ich im übrigen auf dem letzten Ausflug getestet. Sie sind schön weich und warm. Obwohl es neblig, feucht und kühl war, mit viel, viel Wind, war mir an den Füssen nie kalt. Die Schuhe dürfen allerdings nicht zu gross sein, da habe ich die leichte Tendenz gespürt, dass die Füsse in den Socken hin- und herrutschen.

Posted by betabug at 09:20 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
20 December 2011

Subway Line 1 Back in Full Service

It tooks some time

Actually I didn't record when the big project of a total overhaul of Line 1 started (the "Ilektrikos" or "Treno" as the Athenians call it, "green line" as the foreigners seem to call it). In July 2009 I posted an image of the Petralona subway station under works, probably because until then, the project hadn't really interfered with my moving about. Now, lots of time and some delays later, the project is finished. Again I'm late in reporting, it was last week on Monday that trains started to roll normally through Omonia station again.

Part of the delay was due to the archeological findings that were expected to be found - and indeed found - near Thision station. There was part of a temple of the 12 gods under the lines. Make that right under the lines, while the train was in part operation it was possible to see the findings quite clearly. A smallish court battle later and the findings were covered and the track again laid over them.

As everybody will tell you, subway line 1 is the oldest line in Athens, 100 or so years old, and for a very long time it was the only line there was. As my flat is very near one of its stations, I can tell you that it's really convenient. Sure it's slower than the new lines (maybe with the rework not that much slower any more), but it sure beats taking the bus.

Posted by betabug at 12:04 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
23 December 2011

Lachs und Homemade Food Photographie

Schnell was zu essen
Lachs, roh, mit Zwiebeln

Vor ein paar Tagen bin ich auf dem Nachhauseweg noch schnell beim Supermarkt vorbei, mit der klassischen Frage: "Was könnte ich denn so auf die schnelle zu essen machen?" Eine scheibe Lachs fiel mir dann auf, mehr oder weniger frisch, wie das halt im Supermarkt so kommt.

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Posted by betabug at 14:56 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
30 December 2011

Bloody Xmas Reading

Stieg Larsson's Millenium II and III

There were few family obligations this christmas, so I was able to do, what the holidays are actually there for: Slack and read and stuff myself with chocolates. In fact, I started the program early. On the 22nd I had bought tome II and III of Stieg Larsson's "Millenium Trilogy" ("The Girl Who Played with Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest"), having read the first one some while back ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"). So for a few days and excluding a season's invitation, I was glued to a soft seat, reading on. Now these books are what George Orwell termed "good bad books"...

Continue reading "Bloody Xmas Reading"
Posted by betabug at 18:51 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)