Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Technology Investor. Harry Newton
AM EDT, Monday, September 14, 2009: All the investment paths I followed
on the weekend led nowhere. Which reinforces my 423rd investment dicta: You
got to research a lot of frogs before you want to kiss any. And then that
frog may still not turn into a Prince.
times drive start-ups. It's
a good time to start your own business. Labor is cheap. Rent is cheap. You get
the message: From USA Today:
launch own firms to make ends meet
SAN DIEGO Inside a freshly renovated building, 27 restaurant trainees
scurry around sweeping, shaping dough and cutting 12-inch practice pizza crusts
into eight slightly misshapen slices.
elbow up" and "Turn your wrist ?-inch at the end" are among
the slicing tips that practicing pizza cutters hear from scrutinizing managers.
It's 9 a.m.
on a Friday in August. The recession that started in December 2007 plods along
as businesses continually fold, jobless claims tick up and millions of families
desperately try to make mortgage payments and curtail spending.
Yet in this
eastern San Diego strip mall, hopes abound.
Here, in three
days, the first CiCi's Pizza buffet in California will open. The chain is
known for cheap prices, peppy workers and a variety of pizza toppings.
For CiCi's Enterprises
and its nearly 650 other restaurants in 32 states, this is an entree into
a potentially lucrative market at a time when many of CiCi's expansion plans
had to be scuttled because of the economic crisis.
owners Melissa and Andre Carter, it's a new beginning.
When the restaurant
opened to a long line of CiCi's lovers on Aug. 10, the Carters' venture became
one of nearly 30 million U.S. small businesses.
In this recession,
starting a business from scratch or buying a franchise has been the way out
for many. Of job seekers who gained employment in the second quarter of 2009,
nearly one in 10 8.7% did so by launching their own businesses,
according to outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas' quarterly
Job Market Index. That is up from 6.4% in the first quarter and is twice the
rate reported in Challenger's 2008 second-quarter update.
For the full USA
Today article, click here.
Beware. Beware. You have not over-reported income to the IRS. You
did not order a Samsung refrigerator. Nor will you get $6.5 million from somebody
for help in getting his inheritance. Nor will you ever get a free credit report
and free score. These emails either contain an attachment which has a virus
or an invitation to send them money to help get them (and you) more money.
If you open the
attachment, your PC will be buggared. That's an impolite Australian expression
for wrecked, ruined and infected. If you send them money, you will never see
any of it back.
Accept your fate.
I am the only person who loves you. And I'm not sending you free anything, except
dubious advice and multiple boring warnings -- repeated endlessly.
Check. Check. On Friday, I wrote "It's raining cats and dogs.
In 17th century England, houses had thatched roofs - - thick straw-piled high,
with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all
the dogs, cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When
it rained, it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall
off the roof. Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."
This is, of course,
total nonsense. Cats and dogs don't live in roofs. They live on the ground.
But the good news is that many readers emailed me to remind me of my motto:
CHECK. CHECK. CHECK.
For the real explanation,
PC is slow. What now? All Windows machines
slow over time. There is no magic bullet to make them fast again. Some "strategies."
Fill your PC with 3 gigabytes of RAM memory.
Buy a solid state drive (SSD).
Uninstall all software you no longer use.
Uninstall junk in MSCONFIG -- especially auto update software and the crap from
Adobe and Apple.
Run CHKDSK to make sure your file system is clean.
Defragment your hard disk.
7. Go back to
the clone of your hard disk you made when you got your PC and first installed
all your software.
If none of this
works, you'll need to start from scratch. Start with a brand new hard drive
(they're cheap), add Windows, add your software and your working files. Remember:
the more software you install, the slower your machine will run. Good idea:
Use an old machine to test-drive software you're thinking of buying.
If you want specifics,
send me an email.
yoih, yoih: From ComputerWorld:
Friday that some "in-place" upgrades from Windows Vista to the new
Windows 7 may take some users over 20 hours to complete.
The best that
users can hope for is a 1 hour and 24 minute process, said Chris Hernandez,
who works in the Windows deployment team, in a company blog published Friday.
installs, where the user overwrites an existing edition of Windows to end
up with the OS, but no former data or applications, take less time: from 27
to 46 minutes.
For the full miserable
here. I'm sticking with Windows XP.
Spenders? They wish. Isolated in our comfortable
houses, we often forget that this has been a devastating time for many people.
This is the sad story of Dorothy Thomas, as reported in this weekend's new York
in November 2006, a policeman spotted an expired license plate on Dorothy
Thomass 10-year-old Toyota Corolla as she drove through San Jose, Calif.
He ordered her to pull over.
the weight of thousands of dollars in credit card bills, Ms. Thomas was perpetually
short of cash. She had not bought a $10 auto registration sticker. The officer
checked his database and recognized that she had already been ticketed once
before for the same thing. He arranged to have her car towed away.
down on my knees and begged that officer, Ms. Thomas recalled.
As she watched
her car being hauled off, she sensed that this was the beginning of a descent
into a crisis from which she might not easily escape. Without money to pay
the towing and storage fees, she could not extract her car from the lot, and
the tab soon grew to $1,600. Without a car, she could not reach the hospital
where she worked in the administrative offices, so she lost her $16-an-hour
job. Without a paycheck, she could no longer pay the rent on her modest home.
She moved to Oakland, where a friend lived in a beaten-down, rented house
on a street they called Crack Avenue. By years end, Ms. Thomas, then
49, was occupying a bunk at a homeless shelter, searching in vain for a job
in an economy plagued by unemployment. ...
eloquent, Ms. Thomas had worked her way up from rural Oklahoma poverty, enduring
the strains of forcibly integrated schools, before settling in California.
She had become one of the first African-Americans to sell cosmetics at a Sacramento
department store. Then, she forged a career in medical billing, at one point
making $22 an hour. She had lived beyond her means, but not out of decadence.
For years, she had rented homes in better neighborhoods than she could afford
in order to send her two daughters to quality schools. She had run up credit
card balances to pay for summer science camps and school supplies. She had
never earned more than a high school diploma, but one of her daughters already
had a masters in education; the other was about to start college.
bought into the idea that education is the way out of poverty, Ms. Thomas
said. If your kids are going to school with kids who are preprogrammed
to go to college, then thats what they will expect. I didnt get
myself out of poverty. But I got my daughters out. I was the bridge.
subprime entered the American lexicon, before Wall Street convulsed
with the collapse of giant institutions and the financial world seized with
fear, a slower-moving crisis was already under way for tens of millions of
ordinary people like Ms. Thomas. The shock of recent times has merely intensified
this deeper crisis, rendering void a mode of living that was already unsustainable.
had told me before that a person could look for a year and not find a job,
Id have said they were just lazy, Ms. Thomas said. Every
day, I feel like Im losing a piece of myself.
BY early 2008,
the electricity and water had been cut for lack of payment at the house on
Crack Avenue. For Ms. Thomas, 12 months had passed without work, despite dozens
of applications at medical billing offices those she could reach without
a car. One potential employer rejected her after she failed a credit check.
saying that credit is a reflection of your character, she said, choking
young woman who had once sold expensive cosmetics had become a middle-aged
woman bulging out of sweat pants, her face sagging with exhaustion, her hair
matted for lack of access to a shower. Each rejection intensified her fears
that she might never work again.
my age? she asked. Is it because Ive gained weight?
She had been visiting a nearby food bank. They give us cakes and cookies,
she said. Then you wonder why poor people are fat! Theyre not
giving us fruits and vegetables.
through a folder, proffering her résumé evidence that
she belonged in the white-collar world. Im articulate, she
said, shifting into the smooth tones of a receptionist as she pantomimed answering
the phone. How may I direct your call?
get discouraged, its hard to recover, she said. People who
arent poor, its as if they think we dont know what our lives
are like and whats happening to us. But we know. Poverty is like a prison
later, the crumbling house on Crack Avenue fell into foreclosure, and Ms.
Thomas was forced out. She thought of asking her oldest daughter for help.
But her daughter was struggling to pay her own bills on a teachers salary.
So Ms. Thomas
checked into a homeless shelter for battered women and substance abusers.
She pretended to be a drug addict in order to stay, using the free bed as
an opportunity to reconstruct her life.
she got a job scheduling appointments for a chain of medical clinics for $16
an hour. She could reach the offices using public transportation. She wore
a crisp white blouse and a neat ponytail. Her face radiated calm.
so good, she said, because I feel so normal.
A long stretch
of hopelessness had given way to the outlines of a future. A few weeks later,
she had saved $1,600. Soon, she bought a used car, a Toyota Rav 4, which greatly
expanded her field of potential workplaces. Another few months of work and
saving and she figured to have enough to recover her independence.
But in late
January this year, with the economy still deteriorating, her new employer
laid her off.
week, I really slipped under, she said. I did feel suicidal. I
just felt so knocked off the block. To lose that job was just devastating.
She was sobbing.
back at Square One, she said.
amid reports that businesses were beginning to receive new orders, Dorothy
Thomas was still living in a homeless shelter, unemployed.
Before the end
of the month, she will reach the shelters time limit and be forced to
move again. Yet, a new confidence was evident in her words. After nearly two
years of rejection and terrifying proximity to the streets, she had tapped
back into a deep resilience. She had polished her résumé, acquired
a penchant for saving and secured transportation. All that sat between her
desperation and renewal was an item that in the traditional American
narrative was supposed to be available to anyone willing to work: a
Ms. Thomas said, is really all I need.
You can read the
entire New York Times article here.
It's adapted from a new book Past Due: The End of Easy Money and the Renewal
of the American Economy, by Peter S. Goodman, a reporter for The New York
world is changing exponentially. China and
India have more bright people than we do. Alll the skills we used last year
at our job will be obsolete in three years. You get the message. Facebook has
more members than most countries. A video on YouTube explains all. Allegedly
some managements play the video for their boards. Maybe it injects a sense of
urgency? Click here.
joy of Facebook. "I would rather have a rectal examination on
live TV by a fellow with cold hands than have a Facebook page." -- George
Clooney during Up In The Air press conference at Toronto Film Festival.
U.S. Open Tennis Final is on Today: Roger Federer
plays Juan Del Potro this afternoon at 4:00 PM EDT. It's either on ESPN2 or
CBS. And it will probably repeat on the Tennis Channel.
In one rally
against Djokovic yesterday, Federer was the net. Djokovic lobbed Federer, who
ran back to the baseline and hit the ball through his legs for a cross-court
The crowd went
wild. Even Djokovic smiled in admiration. Here's reply: For the YouTube replay,
and scroll down or click here.
What we learned later was that Federer actually practices the shot. I've never
heard of anyone ever practicing that shot.
in Australia (my home country):
A young ventriloquist is touring the clubs and, one night, he's doing
a show in a small town in Tasmania. With his dummy on his knee, he starts going
through his usual dumb blonde jokes.
Suddenly, a blonde
woman in the fourth row stands on her chair and starts shouting, "I've
heard enough of your stupid blonde jokes. What makes you think you can stereotype
women that way? What does the colour of a person's hair have to do with her
worth as a human being? It's men like you who keep women like me from being
respected at work and in the community, and from reaching our full potential
as people. You and your kind continue to perpetuate discrimination against not
only blondes, but women in general...pathetically all in the name of humour!"
ventriloquist begins to apologize, but the blonde cuts him off.
The blonde yells,
"You stay out of this mate! I'm talking to that little shit on your lap!"
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.