Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM EST, Monday, April 2: Gotchas!
You get excited about an idea. You do research. You find several "gotchas"
that make your idea worthless. That was the weekend. I desperately want to put
up a windmill at my new, forever-in-construction house. But the economics, though
improving, still suck. I need the maintenance and noise like a hole in the head.
New York Times had a piece titled "A Nice Stiff Breeze, and a Nice
Little Power Bill." Here's their photo:
Gus Sansone installed an 80-foot-tall wind turbine system, costing $32,000,
outside his home in Southern California. Were saving barrels of
oil and pollution, Mr. Sansone said of the change.
The latest turbines
convert wind into household energy by using wind speeds as low as 9 miles
an hour, and they are smaller, quieter and less expensive than older types.
But an investment
still requires deep pockets and plenty of land. Most systems require at least
a half-acre, and costs can range from $12,000 to $50,000. The good news is
that prices have dropped by half in the last five years.
The wind turbines
some of which measure about 12 feet in diameter look like propellers
mounted on poles 33 to 100 feet high. The turbine is connected to a homes
main circuit breaker panel.
When the wind
is blowing, the spinning propeller creates power for the home; when the wind
is not blowing, the house relies on energy from the power company. During
times of strong winds, a turbine can produce excess energy and, depending
on the utility company, can result in energy credits for the owner to use
The cost of
putting up a wind system can take years, even decades, to recoup, depending
on state incentives, available tax credits and the consumers utility
company and location. (Parts of California, Texas and the Midwest typically
get some of the strongest winds.)
More state incentives
and rebates for alternative energy are helping to spur demand. Mr. Sansones
$32,000 system qualified for a $16,000 rebate from the California Energy Commission
as well as credits on his state income tax. Several other states, including
Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania
and Wisconsin, offer similar incentives for wind-power purchases. A state-by-state
guide with rules and incentives for alternative energy is at dsireusa.org.
Some power companies,
like Xcel Energy, offer net metering, which gives consumers credit
or pay for excess wind power generated by their systems. Some utilities install
meters that literally run backward when renewable energy is being pushed into
the electrical grid.
soon get credit on their federal returns, too, under legislation introduced
in February that would give consumers a one-time $3,000 credit for every kilowatt
of their turbines capacity; the average size is 2 to 10 kilowatts. Another
piece of federal legislation would establish rules for consumers to receive
compensation for any excess power produce by wind for their power company.
is on everyones minds right now, said Robert W. Preus, chief executive
of Abundant Renewable Energy, a manufacturer in Newberg, Ore., that shipped
its first wind turbines last year. Its a small market, but I expect
enormous growth over the next five years domestically and internationally.
of small wind turbines is blossoming in Canada, Germany and Spain as well
as in the Britain, where rooftop versions are popping up in urban areas despite
debate over their efficacy.
be building, but not everyone welcomes wind power. Some communities restrict
the height of the windmills or ban them.
In San Bernardino
County, Calif., where Mr. Sansone lives, some county residents compared the
noise from turbines to the sound of jets revving up on a runway. Their complaints
ultimately forced county officials to increase permit fees for turbine owners
and to require them to notify neighbors before installing one.
also buy smaller, quieter roof-mounted wind turbines for as little as $1,000,
but because these smaller turbines sit closer to the ground, they endure more
turbulence and produce less power. Some of these turbines can power just a
few light bulbs or perhaps a single microwave.
For the entire
NYTimes article, click
easy to get in, but not always easy to get out: You
can sell most shares instantly. You can sell mutual funds from one day to the
next. My commodities fund needs five days notice before the end of the month.
Hedge funds are all over the place. Some need three months notice. Some won't
let you out for the first year or two, or three. One hedge fund wants 30 days
notice, but will only give you 90% of your money back at the end of the month.
It will hold another 10% Some money managers threaten you with all sorts of
nasty penalties if you want fully out, but they'll let you partially out with
no penalty -- but only at the end of the year. And then there are private equity
funds and private companies that never let you out -- that's not true. But it
may take years and years.
As I get older, I tend to like investments that I can get out faster. My own
experience tells me there is no correlation between the difficulty of getting
out and the returns on the investment. If anything, my experience shows the
harder it is to get out, the worse the returns typically are.
announces free in-home wireless broadband service
VIEW, Calif., April 1, 2007 - Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced the
launch of Google TiSP (BETA), a free in-home wireless broadband service
that delivers online connectivity via users' plumbing systems. The Toilet Internet
Service Provider (TiSP) project is a self-installed, ad-supported online service
that will be offered entirely free to any consumer with a WiFi-capable PC and
a toilet connected to a local municipal sewage system.
that whole organizing-the-world's-information thing more or less under control,"
said Google Co-founder and President Larry Page, a longtime supporter of so-called
"dark porcelain" research and development. "What's interesting,
though, is how many different modalities there are for actually getting that
information to you - not to mention from you."
For years, data
carriers have confronted the "last hundred yards" problem for delivering
data from local networks into individual homes. Now Google has successfully
devised a "last hundred smelly yards" solution that takes advantage
of preexisting plumbing and sewage systems and their related hydraulic data-transmission
capabilities. "There's actually a thriving little underground community
that's been studying this exact solution for a long time," says Page. "And
today our Toilet ISP team is pleased to be leading the way through the sewers,
up out of your toilet and - splat - right onto your PC."
Users who sign
up online for the TiSP system will receive a full home self-installation kit,
which includes a spindle of fiber-optic cable, a TiSP wireless router, installation
CD and setup guide. Home installation is a simple matter of GFlushing
the fiber-optic cable down to the nearest TiSP Access Node, then plugging the
other end into the network port of your Google-provided TiSP wireless router.
Within sixty minutes, the Access Node's crack team of Plumbing Hardware Dispatchers
(PHDs) should have your Internet connection up and running.
be more excited about, and am only slightly grossed out by, this remarkable
new product," said Marissa Mayer, Google's Vice President of Search Products
and User Experience. "I firmly believe TiSP will be a breakthrough product,
particularly for those users who, like Larry himself, do much of their best
thinking in the bathroom."
contractually obligated partners and deeply skeptical and quietly competitive
backbiters can learn more about TiSP and see installation diagrams at http://www.google.com/tisp/install.html.
to boost EVDO reception: Portable high-speed
Internet connection for your laptop from Sprint or Verizon is the greatest travel
tool. These services free you from finding a local Starbucks, arguing with your
hotel over their nonfunctioning Wi-Fi, or even paying money at your home for
fixed cable modem or DSL service -- if you choose to use it as your primary
broadband service. As wireless cell phones are replacing landlines, so EVDO
service is replacing fixed cable modem and DSL lines. The EVDO business has
exploded, as has the accessory business. Hence things have become more complex.
There are basically four types of EVDO "cards:"
PC Card, which slides into an old PCMCIA slot on your laptop.
2. An ExpressCard which slides into the narrow slot on your new laptop, including
the new Apple laptops.
3. A USB EVDO modem card which plugs into your USB port.
4. Some laptops now come with the hardware built in and the EVDO antenna as
part of the laptop's lid.
Here's what the cards look like. The card will typically be free if you sign
for a $60 a month two year service.
Two important accessories are now available: antennas and amplifiers for better
reception and routers to allow several computers to share one EVDO monthly service.
Make sure the card you buy has a place to plug an antenna into. A Google search
on EVDO turns up oodles of information. 3Gstore.com
correct order for rebooting your cable modem or DSL line. Sometimes
your broadband connection slows or dies. Before you call and bitch, reboot.
You must reboot in the correct order:
unplug everything and turn off your computer.
Second, count to 20.
Third, turn on your cable or DSL modem. Count to 20.
Fourth, turn on your router or firewall. Count to 20.
Fifth, turn on your local area network hubs, if you have any. Count to 20.
Finally, turn on PC. Count to 20.
out for cleaners. Some of the new cable and DSL modem have ultra-sensitive on-off
switches. Are you listening RCA?
A blind man is sitting on a park bench. A Rabbi sits down next to him. The
Rabbi is chomping on a piece of Matzoh. Taking pity on the blind man, he breaks
off a piece and gives it to the blind man.
Several minutes later, the blind man turns, taps the Rabbi on the shoulder and
asks, "Who wrote this drek?"
+ A British
Jew is to be knighted by the Queen. He is to kneel in front of her and recite
a sentence in Latin when she taps him on the shoulders with her sword. However,
when his turn comes, he panics and forgets the Latin. Then, thinking fast, he
recites the only other sentence he knows in a foreign language, which he remembers
from the Passover seder: "Ma nishtana ha layla ha zeh mi kol ha laylot."
Puzzled, Her Majesty
turns to her advisor and whispers, "Why is this knight different from all
+ Why did it take 40 years? What is the most reasonable explanation for
the fact that Moses led the Israelites all over the place for forty years before
they finally got to the Promised Land?
a. God was
b. He wanted the Israelites to appreciate the Promised Land when they got
c. He refused to ask for directions.
for my favorite:
Moses is leading the children of the Israelites to the promised land. He arrives
at the Red Sea. He calls for Moishe, his engineer. "So make me a bridge,"
boss. This is the desert. There is no wood. No bridge."
Moses calls for Smenkel, his best salesman. "Go gallop to the Egyptians
and make a deal."
hour later, Smenkel returns, "No deal, boss. They want us dead."
calls for Yankele, his PR man. "What should we do?"
replies, "See that rock. Stand on it. Put your arms in the air. Ask God
to part the Red Sea. Take your children through. When you get to other side,
you'll find another rock. Stand on it. Wait until the Egyptian army is in the
breach in the Red Sea. Then put your arms in the air and say 'God, close the
Red Sea.' He will. Your enemies will be drowned. You can move peacefully to
the Promised Land."
looks very quizzical. "This is going work?" he asks.
replies, "I have no idea, but -- if it does -- I'll get you three pages
in the Old Testament."
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. Thus I cannot endorse any, though some look
mighty 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 Claire's
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