Technology Investor

Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment, Technology Investor. Harry Newton Previous Columns
Thursday, November 19, 2009: My favorite hedge fund manager quit on me yesterday. He eyed my recent Eastern Europe vacation, figured he hadn't had a vacation in five years and said "That's it."

He told me managing money is a 24/7 job. He was "worn out." This past year in the stockmarket had been the toughest stockmarket he'd seen in over 25 years of managing money.

He wasn't the first. Another friend quit Wall Street in the early 1990s. He told me if he hadn't quit, he'd be dead. And to prove him right, many of his compatriots have already died -- in their 50s and early 60s.

Maturity (or something) at some stage tells us peace of mind is better than pieces of gold.

Yesterday, reader Pam Long emailed me:

Could 'Main Street' live without Wall Street?. The answer may be yes.

My friend, 'B', annually rolls over a series of $500,000 CDs, living quite well off the interest only. How could someone ever accumulate such wealth? My friend and her husband lived comfortably within their means and carefully saved for retirement. They put three children through college, travel and now enjoy retirement.

Surprisingly, no Wall Street related investments, no IRAs. All savings were accumulated through savings accounts and, in later years, CDs. Slow, steady, safe growth.

And, this accumulation was achieved on a single income.

The trick as I see it is growth through goals, not greed.

I sold my business in 1997. If I had put the entire money in municipal bonds and forgotten about the yields, their value, interest rates, economic news and stopping reading the Wall Street Journal, I'd be substantiality richer today.

Yesterday, I listened to a brilliant debate between a bull and a bear.

The bull's arguments:

+ Everyone who's stayed out is now getting back in and forcing their hedge funds to do likewise, i.e. stop shorting, go long.

+ There really aren't sufficient sellers around to drive stock prices down. Hedge funds have been decimated.

+ Managers on BubbleVision are more upbeat than ever before.

The bear's arguments:

+ The economy stinks. There are still pebbles to drop, like commercial real estate and the banks which own the bad loans on the bad real estate.

+ There could easily be a 20% to 25% one-day drop. It's happened before.

Most of my friends are heavily in cash and complaining about lousy interest rates.

For me, I'm mulling. Maybe I should "invest" in that $9,000 mink-lined jacket? (See yesterday.)

All about solid state drives: The absolute fastest way to speed up your computer -- laptop or desktop -- is to replace your spinning platter hard disk with a solid state one. The premier (and virtually only) supplier is Corsair. The company sells two types of drives -- the cheaper P series and the more expensive X "extreme series."


Specs on the black extreme series show it to be faster. Great. But it doesn't work. The silver one is made by Samsung and works perfectly. I've learned all this at vast personal expense and total aggravation. You don't want the full story. Trust me. Get the silver one. That's the one my son, Michael and I are now using.

Since these things are ultra-expensive, get the smallest one you need for your daily work. I'm using a 128 gig drive, which should be about $360.

You can't trust your bank statements any longer. Each one needs fine-checking. They're charging for everything they can think of. My favorite is charging for an incoming wire. My wife's favorite is charging for moving some money into her overdraft account -- and that's on top of the 29% interest rate.

More travel stuff:

+ The most useful gadget.

Connects a laptop, a BlackBerry charger and whatever to one outlet. $3.99 from Radio Shack.

+ Skype video is easy and cheap. Your kids now have laptops with cameras and microphones. My present laptop -- the Lenovo ThinkPad X200 -- has a camera, microphone and speakers. I jump on the Internet in Europe. Within 15 seconds, I see and hear Michael, Anne and Winnie.

This is Winnie. She's smiling. I would be too, with the attention she gets. Skype for computer-to-computer is free.

Total nonsense about onions yesterday. In the dizziness of yesterday's jet lag, I fell prey to a friend's email. The stuff about spreading onions to stop the flu is nonsense.

The lesson remains: Nothing you read is for real -- until you've checked it. And that includes this column.

Watch out for pleas for money. My Facebook account got hacked. The hacker asked one of my Facebook friends to send me money since I was stranded in London after being robbed. He was about to send the money, but fortunately checked directly with me.

Nothing is as it seems any longer.

I changed my Facebook password.

Why do I think this New Yorker cartoon is funny?

The sun is shining. It's a new day. I'm playing tennis today. And I'm wearing clean clothes. My Berlin hotel charged more to wash clothes than I'd paid for the clothes. Next time I travel, I'm taking old clothes and throwing them out after a week or two or three. (I think that's funny. But Susan doesn't.)

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 any, though some look interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. Please note I'm not suggesting you do. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.