Author Archives: Nathan

The Perpetual Quickbooks Home Currency Adjustment Bug

This will be of interest to anyone who uses the Quickbooks multicurrency feature. Perhaps also to others doing business in multiple currencies. Maybe even to general accounting nerds like myself.


Since the inception of the Quickbooks multicurrency feature roughly a decade ago, it has had a very simple bug that causes home currency adjustments to be performed incorrectly. This effectively means that most people using Quickbooks in multiple currencies, if they don’t know how to work around the bug, will be filing incorrect tax returns each year. The error could be large or small, but will always be present if the common conditions I’ll describe here are present.

What is multicurrency?

First off, what is multicurrency? Basically this feature is useful if your business has accounts, or sends or receives invoices denominated in any currency other than the currency of the business’s home jurisdiction. So for example a US business that has Canadian customers that it bills in CAD. Or a Canadian business with a USD bank account. Or of course any other combination of currencies. The way Quickbooks and other accounting software handles this is straightforward, but perhaps not outwardly obvious. Take the simple case of a foreign currency bank account, ie. a US-based business with a CAD account. For every transaction in this account, the software will keep a running tally of both the “home currency” (USD) and the “foreign currency” (CAD) balance.

So for example, say the account is brand new, and initially $100 CAD is deposited at an exchange rate of $1CAD = $0.90USD. The balance of the account will now be $90 (USD), with a foreign balance of $100 CAD. Some time later, $50 CAD is withdrawn, when the exchange rate is $1CAD = $0.80USD. The foreign balance is now $100-50 = $50 CAD. And the (home currency) balance of the account is now $90-$40 = $50 USD. So of course the two balances no longer reflect the current exchange rate; the difference is an unrealized gain or loss. (In this case, a loss, because the current value of the account is only 50*0.8 = $40 USD, while the balance is $50 USD.)

And the problem is?

To account for this, at the end of the fiscal year, you perform a “home currency adjustment”. This involves comparing the home and foreign currency balances of the account, and journaling the difference to a currency exchange gain/loss expense account. Quickbooks does this automatically for you. Mostly.

The problem is, when this feature was created, someone apparently added a conditional causing it to skip any accounts with zero (foreign currency) balance. After all, if there’s nothing in the account, no need to adjust it, right? Well, wrong. If you consider the example above, but instead imagine depositing $100 and then withdrawing $100 at a different exchange rate, it’s clear that the foreign balance can easily be zero while there is still an account balance that needs to be adjusted. And in fact, this is a very common situation, because foreign accounts are often accounts payable or accounts receivable, where invoices are created and then paid before the end of the month, resulting in a foreign balance of zero.

So again, if you have any foreign currency accounts—bank accounts, specific vendor accounts payable, or customer accounts receivable—that happen to have a foreign balance of $0 at your fiscal year end, the Quickbooks home currency adjustment feature will incorrectly skip adjusting them. This has been the case for many years, and despite it being repeatedly reported as a bug, and despite Intuit releasing a shiny new version of Quickbooks every single year, it has never been fixed. You would think that a bug that causes incorrect tax returns to be filed would be a high priority for a company producing accounting software, but apparently that is not the case.

How to deal with it

So, what to do? Well, first off I would certainly encourage anyone looking for software for their new business to look elsewhere. But for those of us already committed and unwilling to suffer the time cost of switching vendors (at least so far), you can work around this. What I do is the following

  • Perform the home currency adjustment as usual, under the Company/Manage Currency menu.
  • Run an unrealized gains/losses report under Reports/Company & Financial.
    • Compare the accounts listed there to those in the home currency adjustment.
    • For any accounts listed in the report that were not included in the adjustment, run a quickreport of the account for the fiscal year, and compare the year end balance to the foreign balance. If the foreign balance is zero and the balance is nonzero, add a line to the previously-generated home currency adjustment journal entry to clear that balance.
    • BTW, don’t try to skip that last step and just use the values shown right in the unrealized gains/losses report, because it’s buggy too, and will show results for the current date, not the date you enter, as well as not taking into account past currency adjustments.
  • Similarly, run account balance detail reports under vendors/payables and customers/receivables.
    • Likewise for any vendors or customers that were not included in the home currency adjustment, check whether they have a $0 foreign balance at year-end, and a non-zero balance.
    • If so, manually create new home currency adjustment journal entries for each vendor/customer, specifying both the appropriate A/P or A/R account, and the vendor name in the appropriate journal fields. These need to be done in separate journal entries because quickbooks does not allow you to manually add multiple vendors or customers to the same currency adjustment journal entry for some reason.

And then you’re done! Spend a minute silently cursing Intuit, and put your notes away to dig up next year. Eventually, maybe write a blog post about it.

How to Follow Tempest

As you may notice scanning the dates below, we’re not blogging here very often anymore! But we’re certainly still very active working on and

We blog about AutoTempest and car buying in general at the AutoTempest Blog.

You can give us feedback and follow our progress on AutoTempest here, and on SearchTempest here.

And here are some of our other social channels:

So, while we may not be blogging here too often, rest assured we’re still working hard to make the sites as good as they can be, and please feel free to contact us via any of those other channels, or by email!

Update on scam site copying AutoTempest brand

As mentioned in the previous post, a scam site has recently popped up at, with an extra ‘s’. They have stolen the AutoTempest name and logos to appear legitimate, and are scamming people out of payments for non-existent vehicles. Specifically, they appear to be posting listings for high-end vehicles such as a Tesla Model S P85D to craigslist with below market prices, then directing people to their website to complete the purchase. They have their victims wire money, and then stop replying, obviously not providing a vehicle.

We have gathered some additional information about these guys:

  • The domain is registered with Namecheap (which is also coincidentally where we registered the actual
  • Their traffic is proxied through Cloudflare
  • According to Cloudflare, their hosting provider is “QUASINETWORKS, NL”, or “IP Volume Inc.”, which has an abuse contact of [email protected]
  • They are apparently accepting wire transfers to an account at Chase Bank in the US.

We have contacted Namecheap, who are not willing to remove the domain without a court order, but say they will be willing to assist law enforcement. (We reported this to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and to the FTC, but have not yet heard back.) Cloudflare provided us with the name of the hosting provider, but is not willing to take other action. We attempted to contact “Quasi Networks” via their posted abuse email address and via other means, but have not received a reply.

We then did a bit of research into Quasi Networks, and discovered that their business model appears to be hosting malicious and illegal sites and services that others won’t. They have gone through a number of names and legal entities in the past, including Ecatel, Quasi Networks, possibly Novogara, and now IP Volume Inc. There are many documented cases of them ignoring or stonewalling abuse claims:

Quasi Networks and the Exploitation of Women
BREIN is Taking Infamous Piracy Hosting Provider Ecatel to Court
Ecatel -> Quasi Networks
Repeated Attacks From Quasi Networks
A Conversation with RIPE NCC Regarding Quasi Networks

I have provided this information to Cloudflare and Namecheap to see if either is willing to act to stop this abuse, since Eca-Quasi-Volume clearly won’t.

We’re also asking everyone who has been affected by this scam to report it to the IC3, the FTC, and your state’s justice department.

Caution: Scam site impersonating AutoTempest

Just putting the word out that a scam site has popped up at “” (with an extra ‘s’). They’ve copied AutoTempest’s name and branding, plus a bunch of content from Edmunds it looks like, and appear to be directing people to their site from craigslist postings, and then trying to get money sent for cars that don’t actually exist.

So, a reminder first of all that if anyone tries to get you to send money (directly to them or to a third party) for a car you or someone you trust has never seen, don’t do it. AutoTempest (the real that is) is a great way to find those difficult-to-find vehicles that might not be right in your neighbourhood, but once you do, it’s important that you do your due diligence. We recommend finding someone local to the car to take a look if possible, and then arranging with the seller to take the car to a garage (or dealership) of your choice for a thorough inspection.

If all that checks out, you can fly to the car to do the deal in person, or work with an agent local to the vehicle (again, of your choosing, not the seller’s) to facilitate a long distance transaction and shipping. I’ve personally bought cars that way and it can be done safely, but you do have to be careful. Again, do _not_ send money to anyone to reserve/hold/pay for a car that you haven’t independently verified is legit.

And finally, when you’re using autotempest (or any website!) make sure you’re actually at the correct address: (no ‘s’). The easiest thing to avoid mistakes is to add a bookmark in your browser.

In the meantime, we’ll do what we can to work with the authorities in hopefully getting these scammers shut down.

PS: This blog doesn’t get updated much anymore, but we’re still hard at work! Finished up the SearchTempest design overhaul a few months back. Right now we’re working on improving keyword search on AutoTempest, as well as adding additional filters.

How I stay organized and remember everything, with no stress

Five years ago I made a change that has massively increased my productivity, cut my stress level, and allowed me to never forget anything important, ever.  These years, during which I’ve become a father, twice, and built a small business, have been not only the most productive, but also some of the least stressful and most enjoyable of my life.  I believe the system I adopted five years ago deserves a decent slice of the credit.  (Of course, small children can and do certainly add joy to life as well, but they’re not generally credited with reducing stress…)  
I came across this technique while looking not to organize my life, but to organize… my browser bookmarks.  Actually, that’s not quite right.  My bookmarks were very organized.  I had folders and sub-folders for every imaginable subject.  Hundreds of bookmarks covering all kinds of things I might someday need.  Except, rather than looking up those carefully sorted pages, I would instead find myself about to add to the collection, only to find the exact page I was about to bookmark already there, in the appropriate folder, bookmarked and forgotten months or years before.  So I figured, what’s the point spending all this time categorizing things if I never actually use them, or even remember I have them!  Wouldn’t it be great if I could just search the contents of my bookmarked pages, just like I search the web?
That thought led me to Evernote.  As you may know, Evernote is essentially a note-taking program.  Other examples include Microsoft’s OneNote and Google Keep.  These are all powerful tools, which can be used for a number of purposes.  They aren’t particularly opinionated about how you should use them.  At first I learned that I could use Evernote to “clip” webpages – basically bookmarking an entire searchable copy of the page.  That solved my initial issue (and is still working great; I rarely use browser bookmarks at all anymore, except as shortcuts to sites I visit regularly).  But more importantly, it got me interested in note-taking best practices.  How could this tool be used most effectively?  And that led me to The Secret Weapon.  
A bit melodramatic, but it lives up to the name.  The Secret Weapon describes a Getting Things Done (GTD) system, based around Evernote.  If you’re not familiar with GTD, here’s a primer from Lifehacker.  Basically, GTD is a system for organizing your to-dos.
I had never really felt the need for an organizational system.  Seemed like a waste of time.  I just kept a giant ‘sticky note’ tab in my browser with everything I wanted to remember.  Sure it had ballooned to probably 20 pages, most of which I never looked at, but hey, it was better than the crumpled sheets of looseleaf I’d used before that!  Still, that Secret Weapon thing and other endorsements of GTD were compelling, so I decided to give it a try.
Suffice it to say, it was time well spent.  I wasn’t exaggerating earlier when I said it has multiplied my productivity, eliminated stress, and effectively given me a perfect memory (for things that matter).  The reason for all of these things is simple: everything that matters goes into the system.  Once it’s there, it’s out of my brain, and I don’t have to worry about it.  Nothing can be forgotten, whether it’s something I have to do, something I want to try, something I’m waiting on someone else for, etc.  But at the same time, nothing has to be remembered, so no time or energy is spent keeping track of things.  It’s all just taken care of.  It. Is. Awesome.
I won’t bother describing all the specific details of how this works, since the Secret Weapon Manifesto (they do love their dramatic names) does it quite well.  Instead, I suggest having a read there, and then I’ll just cover a few highlights, and mention some tweaks I’ve made that I find make the system easier and more useful. 
OK, done reading?  Moving on then.  First of all, here’s what my setup looks like at a high level (click for a larger version):
The interesting part is over on the left.  At the top is the ‘Archive’.  Basically that’s the replacement for browser bookmarks (plus anything else I just want to save for future reference.)  Unlike bookmarks though, it’s fully searchable.  (You can even use an Evernote browser extension to have your notes show up alongside Google search results.)   Occasionally I tag things I put in there, but usually it isn’t necessary since the full text is searchable.1
The really cool part though is the ‘Current’ stack.   That contains everything I’m doing, expecting to do, might want to do in the future, or am waiting for someone else to do.  ‘Now’ is stuff I’m either working on now, or need to take some action on immediately.  I usually try to keep that to 2-3 things to keep it manageable, although I’m not always successful.2  ‘Next’ is obviously what’s going to go into Now, next.  Then there are further priority levels – you could have more or fewer; this works alright for me.  The ‘Waiting’ and ‘Hold’ sections are for things that can’t happen right away.  Tasks in ‘Hold’ are generally things that for whatever reason I’m waiting to do on or after a particular date.  (I also use Google Calendar for things that happen on a specific date.)  ‘Waiting’ is for anything that needs input from someone else.  So for instance if I email a question to someone, I’ll stick a note in Waiting so I remember to check back if I haven’t heard from them in a while.  Every note in Hold and Waiting gets an Evernote Reminder attached, so I’ll get a notification when its time has come.
 More recently I’ve also added the ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘Ongoing’ notebooks for stuff that’s happening but can’t be ‘done’ immediately, and so I don’t want it cluttering Now.3 Once something is done, it goes, unsurprisingly, in ‘Done’.  I’ve also created an ‘Obsolete’ folder there, for anything that isn’t done, but is no longer relevant.  (I prefer that to just deleting things, because you never know when you’ll want to look back to remember something.)
So, that’s the meat of the system.  If you read that Secret Weapon page, you’ll notice the main difference is that I use separate notebooks for the priority levels, whereas they use tags.  I think notebooks are an improvement, because everything needs to have a priority, and any given task can only have one priority at a time – which is exactly how notebooks work.  So to move something from Next to Now, for instance, I just have to drag it over.  Using tags, you would have to both add the Now tag and delete the Next tag.  Not a big deal, but I feel this way is easier.  I’ve also got a handful of tags separated into various categories.  I may cover those in a later post, but the main thing to remember is not to make too many tags.  You can always search by keywords, so you only want to have a few tags that you’ll actually remember to use.  Get too many, and you’ll end up back in the millions of browser bookmarks situation, categorizing everything methodically, but never actually using it.  Finally, you’ll notice a bunch of funny symbols before most of my notebooks and tags.  Those are used both for sorting, and to group similar tags together so I can grab the right one quickly using autocomplete.
It’s worth emphasizing that this system works better the more you use and trust it.  You really want to put everything into Evernote.  The most significant example of this is email.  I’ve moved to a strict Inbox-Zero policy.  (From my previous Inbox-Several-Thousand…)  When I get an email, if I’m not going to respond to it immediately, I send it to Evernote (where it is categorized like any other task, based on when I plan to get to it).  For gmail users this can easily be done using the Evernote web clipper.  If you don’t expect to reply soon, you can always fire off a quick reply saying that you’ve received the email and roughly when you expect to get back to them.  And it will be true, because you never forget anything now!  This way, your inbox stays empty and stress-free, and you always know what needs to be done, because it’s all in one place.
Same goes for anything you need to do, really.  With the Evernote app and widget, you can use your phone to add a new note to your Now folder in seconds.4  Or even just take a picture of the thing you need to do/buy/whatever, and toss that in.  If it’s a complex task, you can also record it as a voice note rather than typing it all out.  The easier you make it to add tasks, the more you’ll do so, and the more second nature it will become.  As that happens, you will have fewer and fewer things floating around in your brain, competing for attention, and so everything you do will have your full attention.  Plus, when it’s time to relax, you can forget about all the responsibilities and be confident it will all still be there when you’re ready for it.
All this took some getting used to.  I’m hoping my experiences will help save you some of that time, but inevitably you will want to make some tweaks as well.  And of course it will take a while to get used to using your new virtual brain.  But when you do, I guarantee, it will be worth it.
1. One thing that can be handy though is to add a few keywords, if there’s a word you think you might use in the future to search for this thing, which isn’t already in the page.

2. My record is about 12, but usually I don’t let it spike that high for long.  Generally it just means I’ve added a bunch of new stuff, and need to take a minute to go through and prioritize.  That basically means just doing anything that will take less than a couple minutes right away, and putting everything else into its appropriate folder.

3. Or you can put it straight into a different folder, but I tend to just add stuff to Now, then when I’m at my desk, re-prioritize it as necessary.

4. The ‘Tomorrow’ folder in particular is great.  I have a habit to check it each morning, so it’s a great place for both things that literally need to be done tomorrow (ie, buy something from a store that’s closed right now), and for things that need to be done at some point every day, but that I need a nudge to remember.  Those are generally new habits I’m trying to form.  If they’re quick things, I’ll just leave them in Tomorrow and quickly get them out of the way when I check there in the morning.  For more significant tasks, I’ll move them from Tomorrow to Now when I check in the morning, then when they’re done for the day they go back to Tomorrow for the next day.  Sounds like a lot of messing around, but moving a note from one folder (notebook) to another literally takes two seconds, so it’s really not.  And it keeps my Now folder (and my brain) nice and uncluttered.

Image credits:

Where did the Separate Cities results go?

As you may know, the results are powered by Google and Bing.  Until recently we used a “Google Custom Search” to show results separated by city.  Unfortunately it appears that Google has now changed their policies, and permit only a single custom search per page, which means we are no longer able to show results for each city separately.  Unfortunately it also appears that when multiple cities are searched together, Google tends to miss more matching results.

There is some good news though!  We have just released a major update to our Direct Results mode, which allows you to get results directly from the source.  As well as giving you several options for how to group the results (by large areas, by state, or by individual city,) this also avoids the main problem with using Google/Bing results: delayed or missing listings.  Since the results come straight from the source to your browser, they are always complete and up to date.

In the past, Direct Results required you to click through each city individually, but we now combine multiple cities into each link, making it significant faster and easier to use.  (Although the old per-city Direct Results are still available if you want.)  You can learn more about Direct Results here.  In the coming days we will be making it new default view.  To give it a try now though, just flip the “Single List Results / Direct Results” toggle above the list of results to “Direct Results”.  Also, once we make it the default, you will still be able to switch back to the Google-powered Single List results using that same toggle.

We hope you like the new Direct Results!

Cities stuck “Retrieving Results from Google”

Update: Fix released

We have released an update that should make this significantly less of a hassle.  We now have built-in timers on in SearchTempest to avoid hitting this Google limit, so instead of being timed out and having everything break for five minutes, the worst you’ll experience is a few seconds delay (with a message explaining why).  This still might be an annoyance for larger searches, so we do have a couple other options for you as well.  Please see here for more info:

Original post

Some of you have probably run across this recently: view a few pages of results fine, and then all the cities just get stuck “Retrieving Results from Google”.  This issue just came up a few days ago, but what we’ve been able to determine so far is that Google have added a new limit to how many queries can be sent to their Custom Search API (which powers our results) in a short period of time.  We’re in the process of determining what those limits are, so that we can put our own limits in place to avoid hitting them.

For the moment, as long as you’re taking the time to read each page of results before moving on to the next, it’s unlikely you’ll have this problem.  Where it is more likely is if you’re searching for something rare, so a bunch of cities are skipped through quickly.  For now we suggest just taking your time with those searches.  Loading a chunk of 50 or so cities (including ones with no results), waiting 30 seconds, then loading the next chunk.  That should avoid hitting any limits.

Another option is to switch your sort order (using the “Sort” drop down on the results page) to one of the single list options.  That way a separate query doesn’t need to be sent to Google for each city, which will guarantee no limits are hit.

Again, we’re still actively working on this and hope to  have better work-arounds in place soon.  You can find more info here:

Default Results Sort Change

Update: There has been… significant… reaction in favor of sticking with Stacked Cities as the default, so we’re going to switch back, and look at ways to improve that view.  As always though, the sort order is entirely your choice, and can be changed using the “Sort” dropdown on the results page, just below the search bar.

SearchTempest is powered by a Google Custom Search.  Basically Custom Search is an API that Google offers, allowing other websites to run customized Google searches.  Like any search engine though, Google sometimes misses results, especially new ones.  We don’t like missing results, so recently we added Bing search as a backup option, to try to catch anything Google misses.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to search each city separately with Bing like we do with Google.  We can search all the cities in your search area at once though, and show the results in a single list.  And we have found that for most searches, this Google + Bing combination returns better results than the “Separate Cities” searches we do with Google.  Therefore, we’re switching the default sort to a single list, including Google and Bing.

The “Separate Cities” sort options aren’t going away though!  If you preferred that way of viewing results, changing back is as easy as clicking the “Sort” dropdown box on the results page, just below the search bar.  We’re also looking at creating a sort of hybrid view that could offer the best of both worlds.

Finally, we also still do offer our Direct Results view, which doesn’t miss anything, so that might be of interest to some of you, especially if you like having the results separated by city.  You can learn more about Direct Results here.


I recently read a great essay by Tim Urban at WaitButWhy on beating procrastination. (I found it, as you may have recently, via this great reading list.) Among the illustrative images, one thing stood out to me, here:

The Dark Woods - Credit:

The Dark Woods – Credit:

This image is used to build an analogy for beating procrastination, in which one must forgo guilty leasure in the “Dark Playground” by entering the “Dark Woods”, a path representing work and accomplishment. If one can make it all the way through the dark woods and complete the task without being enticed back into the leisure of the dark playground, one reaches the “Happy Playground”, a place of well-earned, satisfying leisure.

However, there is an alternative: Flow. As Urban puts it,

You occasionally even end up super-engaged with what you’re working on and enter a state of Flow, where you’re so blissfully immersed in the task that you lose track of time.

Flow is a fantastic thing: hugely productive and fulfilling. Just as the Dark Woods are surrounded by the Dark Playground, meaning that one is constantly enticed by the ability to quit the task at hand and return to procrastination, the Flow path is surrounded by the Happy Playground; it is possible to break out of flow at any point and enjoy your accomplishments.

However, I found it telling that the end of the Flow path wasn’t pictured. I’ve found that just as the Dark Woods can escape from the Dark Playground, the Flow path can “escape” from the Happy Playground. At that point it no longer feels like an option to just quit and relax. You’re *accomplishing* things! Leisure time would just be a *waste*. The Flow path also continues to spread out, becoming less focused, less productive. Eventually, you end up at a point where you’re no longer in Flow, you’re just *Floating* (or “Flowting”, if you like).

I see Floating as the flip-side of the procrastination coin. When you procrastinate, you know you should be working, but your instincts betray you and cause you to seek out unfulfilling entertainment instead. When you’re Floating, you know you’re no longer being productive and you should take a break, but now your instincts are telling you that you can’t waste time; you have to keep pushing, keep working.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a correlation between susceptibility to procrastination and Floating. One of the aggravating factors of the Floating state is the knowledge that a period of beneficial rest could ultimately lead to procrastination. Given their similarities, perhaps the remedies are similar as well. Perhaps the solution to Floating is structured recreation. I’m not sure. I do know it’s a real issue though. Perhaps now that I have something to call it, it will become easier to recognize and combat.

How to pin a Steam game to the start menu in Windows 10 (without special software)

This has nothing to do with Tempest or web development, but I just figured this out, and it might be useful to someone. For some reason, Steam lets you create desktop shortcuts to individual games, but there is no straightforward way to add a tile pointing to the game in your start menu. There are apps that will do this, but they require access to your steam account, and there is an intermediate step in opening the game.

There is a way to manually create shortcuts to steam games that you can put anywhere though, including the start menu. Here are the steps:

  1. Open Steam, right click on the game in your library, and choose “Create Desktop Shortcut”
  2. Right click on the new shortcut, go to Properties, and then copy the ‘URL’ section. It should be something like “steam://rungameid/212680”
  3. Right click on the desktop and go to New->Shortcut
  4. When prompted for the location, type “%windir%\explorer.exe” (no quotes), followed by a space, and then paste the URL you copied from the Steam shortcut. So, what you end up with should look something like, “%windir%\explorer.exe steam://rungameid/212680”
  5. Set the name of the shortcut to the name of the game.

You now have a working shortcut that you can pin to your start menu or taskbar. As a final step though, you can give it an icon matching the game. To do that, right click on the shortcut and choose “Change Icon…”. Browse to C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steam\games (assuming the default location for your steam install). In there you should see a number of Icon files with random strings of characters as names. One of them should match your game. Select it, and you will be able to set your new shortcut’s icon to match.

And that’s it! A bit of work, but it should only take a minute in total once you know the steps, and no special software is required.

One last note though: once you pin it to the start menu, don’t delete the original shortcut, or strange things will happen, like losing the icon. If you don’t want it hanging around on your desktop, move it to a different folder, like %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs (your start menu folder), before right-clicking on the shortcut and choosing ‘Pin to Start’.