Technology Investor

Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Technology Investor. Harry Newton Previous Columns
9:00 AM EDT, Tuesday, October 20, 2009: Don't be shy. Send me wine, women and song. My recommendations -- Apple, Google, Australia (EWA) and Brazil (EWZ) continue to do well. If you'd have followed them, you could now afford to send me wine, women and song.

Just kidding.

This is the stockmarket:

It's been going up for these reasons (not in any particular order):

+ Corporate earnings, in the main, are high. In certain areas like tech, demand is high. In others, the low dollar is helping export sales. And in others, firing all those people has saved huge.

+ Yields on all the alternatives -- like bonds, savings banks, certificates of deposits, are at zero, or so low they're laughable. The stockmarket is it. There's nowhere else to put your money.

+ Everyone is piling on. They don't want to miss the rewards their friends are enjoying.

This has all the ingredients of a bubble. Also, it's October, scene of previous big busts. Please do not borrow money to buy stocks. Please do not put too much money in this market.

The right place at the right time. One of my brokers is pounding the table for Rackspace Hosting (RAX):

The company is in cloud computing -- the right place at the right time. Sales are moving steadily up.

But earnings suck. Fluctuating between four and six cents through these five periods. Everyone and their uncle recently upgraded the stock. I wonder if this is another STEC?

Meanwhile STEC's president is acting weird, since I wrote not nice about him and his company. He should be engaging me, not ignoring me.

The SEC's lessons on stockmarket trading. The SEC's complaint against Galleon, etc. for insider trading reads like veritable primer on how to trade on the stockmarket. Read it here.

Check. Check. Check. Thoroughly check each and every one of your monthly bills from each and every one of your suppliers -- from your credit card companies, from your cable TV company, from your broker, and from your banks. If ever there were a growth industry for creativity is mistakes, charges, add-ons, fees, and the like, it's my mailbox.

The first lesson is check, check, check. Then scream.

The second lesson is never, ever sign up an automatic payment or automatic renewal of anything (especially magazine subscriptions).

Two useful browser tips for Windows:

1. If you want to save a web page, use Internet Explorer and save the page as a MHT document. That's the only way to save a web page as one page -- along with all the links, etc.

2. If you want to clip part of a web page (like I did above with Rackspace's revenues), then you have to use Firefox with the add-on called Screengrab.

"You're doing a lousy job."

"What lousy job?"

"You haven't been calling me to tell me how much you love me."

"You're now beginning to sound like Michelle. Did Michelle put you up to this? You remind me of the old African joke: Woman gets kidnapped by gorilla. After three weeks, she's rescued. In her hospital bed, she looks ashen.
Her husband asks, "Why do you look so sad?"

She answers "It's been three weeks, he hasn't called, or emailed, or texted, or anything."

Michelle is gorgeous. She looks like Courtney Cox, according to Todd, who's smitten:

Visit the dermatologist. Did you make an appointment? My friend is not doing well with his skin cancer which has moved to his brain. This stuff is serious. I wrote about it yesterday.

Harry's conflict of interest: I get paid by Google (the ads on the side). Hence I have an interest in bashing Microsoft. A reader wants everyone to know this.

However there are mitigating circumstances. I barely get enough money from Google each month to buy a cheap night on the town. Second, I have lost faith in Microsoft's ability "to get it right." Windows 7 may be the last straw before I switch 100% to my Mac. I am using Windows XP. It works fine. But Microsoft wants me to go to Windows 7...

Here are some excerpts from a piece in InfoWorld, and recently republished by Computerworld. It's a fun read:

+ As OS debauchery goes, Windows 7 truly is the height of gluttony. It's bloated and top-heavy, with an insatiable appetite for state-of-the-art hardware. Basically, it chews up CPU and memory capacity like it's going out of style. But to what end? What is it, exactly, that Windows 7 does so much better than its leaner, meaner, pre-Vista ancestors?

+ Microsoft is a greedy company. Its obsession with preserving profit by stamping out software piracy has led to ever more onerous "Windows Genuine Advantage" (that is, copy protection) mechanisms, culminating with the albatross of a solution that plagues Vista and, to a lesser degree, Windows 7.

+ Windows 7 is the focal point for much Microsoft customer anger. From the disappointment of not having a direct upgrade path for XP users to the frustration of having to pay for what is essentially a glorified Vista Service Pack, corporate bean counters are furious with Microsoft over the company's mishandling of the Windows 7 transition. It's not enough to have ignored their concerns with the buggy, consumer-oriented Vista. Microsoft felt the need to rub salt in the wound by effectively punishing them for having the gall to try to save XP.

This is customer abuse of the worst kind, and you may find yourself tempted to hop on the Redmond-bashing bandwagon. But just remember: Microsoft is not a forgiving company. Those who refuse to embrace its long-term strategy often pay dearly as they scramble to catch up to the rest of the Windows parade. Just ask those poor souls who decided to skip Vista. Pay now, or pay through the nose later. That's the Microsoft way.

+ Windows 7 inspires envy. Specifically, it arouses a kind of covetousness toward products, like the Mac, that truly work out of the box. As I noted in my comments on Windows 7's lust-making, Microsoft has promised a similar "it all works" experience with Windows 7. But the reality still falls far short of the Apple ideal, and thus envy is born.

It begins with the discovery, by novice users, that the process of installing and maintaining software hasn't evolved much in the past decade. It's still a confusing, hit-or-miss proposition, with issues like registry corruption/bloat and DLL hell still plaguing Windows 7. These users then see how easy it is to install applications under a platform like Mac OS X, and they can't help but feel a bit envious of their Apple-hugging contemporaries.

Windows 7 is a disorganized mess. Like its predecessors, it inherits a hodgepodge of configuration and management technologies that rarely work well together and that leave bits and pieces of their respective detritus scattered throughout the OS.

+ By far the worst offender is the Windows registry. This antiquated construct has been the source of more troubleshooting headaches than any other aspect of the Windows platform. Orphaned keys, conflicting/out-of-date values, hive file fragmentation -- these are just some of the issues that drive IT help desk staffers crazy. The situation is so bad that even Microsoft is abandoning the registry approach (though not in Windows 7).

You can read the entire article here.

Quotes of the Week

An undefined problem has an infinite number of solutions. - Robert A. Humphrey

Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is wise to remember that you are one of those who can be fooled some of the time. - Lawrence J. Peter

This column is about my personal search for the perfect investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor. I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas, concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address is . You can't click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects me from software scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no role in choosing the Google ads on this site. Thus I cannot endorse, though some look interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. Please note I'm not suggesting you do. That money, if there is any, may help pay Michael's business school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.