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Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Technology Investor. Auction Rate Securities. Auction Rate Preferreds.

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8:30 AM EST Wednesday, April 23, 2008: The good news is that my continuing loves -- First Solar, silver (SLV) and gold (GLD) are doing well.

The good news is that RIMM fell yesterday. But the bad news is that Apple did also. Of course, no one should figure their (i.e. my) stock brilliance on one day's movements -- though the drops yesterday were brutal -- nearly 5% for Apple and 4% for RIMM.

All this proves that picking stocks in this insane market is a fool's game (unless you get in on a hot IPO -- like IPI, which I, once again, missed. Thank you, my "friends' down town).

But, there's a bright star on the firmament -- as if it wasn't always there. Look at how well my favorite Vanguard index funds have done since April 1.

Vanguard Funds
Price on 4/1/08
Price on 4/21/08
International Value Fund
Precious Metals/Mining
Total International Stock Index Fund
Global Equity fund
500 Index Fund Admiral Shares
Pacific Stock Index Fund Admiral Shares
Emerging Markets
Mid-Cap Index Fund Admiral Shares

Trying to sell me on your new start-up? I want to invest in your start-up. I want your start-up to be the next Google. I like being pitched. Lately I've seen a lot of start-ups. But there's many of you out there without a clue. Here are some "Rules."

1. Tell me how we're going to make money. Internet busineses are cheap to start and run. I know that. But when we have a million free users, who love us, how are we going to get them to give a few shekels for our hard work? Don't tell they'll be "class-act" (i.e. rich) people whom Mercedes and Lexus will be salivating to advertise to.

2. Tell me you put some decent money in.. I'm not impressed with someone aged 35 putting in only $100,000 and telling me he can't afford any more, since the last entrepreneurial venture was a bust. Not taking a salary for two years is also stupid, unless you like have kids with bloated bellies. There's nothing wrong with starting a business with nothing (I did). Just don't ask me to invest mega-bucks into something you haven't.

3. Don't expect to sell me on one visit. I'm not a "slam-bang, thank you mam" kind of guy. I like to actually to get to know you and develop a relationship. So don't get pissed because I said "Maybe." Maybe I'll say Yes the second or third time I see you.

4.. Listen. I'm know I'm no genius. But if you dismiss everything I say, I'll start to worry. Heck, I've been around for a lot longer than you. Your competitor was in pitching me last week.

5. If I don't understand your product, we got a problem. Actually, I should understand it and I should get excited by it. Maybe I'll even want one. Think about that. If cheapskate me is willing to pay you real money, you must have something good.

6. Send a thank you. If I spend my ultra-valuable, ultra-precious time meeting with you and hearing your pitch, at least send me a "Thank you" email. A handwritten one is even better. Remember, I'd rather be playing tennis than listening to you.

7. Make sure you pass my sneaky little tests. Maybe I'll ask you to send me some industry stats? Maybe I'll ask for your competitors? Be wary. I'm always checking on to see if you do what you promise. If you let me down, you'll let your poor customers down, too.

8. Don't overvalue your venture. No startup should have a market cap of $10 million unless you have the patent to eternal life and then you don't need me, except as a customer.

9. Stop checking your BlackBerry when we're meeting. Either we're having a conversation, or, you're checking your email. But you can't do both. It's offensive.

Give this list to your kid or grandkid who's trying to make the next Google. Tell him he can. I know he or she can. But it ain't easy. Most startups fail.

Test. Test. Test. I have three new rules.

Check. Check. Check. Check that my bank is still solvent. The Journal talks about Sovereign Bancorp's stupid adventures out west. Damn. And I have money with them.

Test. Test. Test. Test that my email is still working. One of my accounts wasn't this morning because my email provider had "upgraded" my account, changed my settings and forgotten to tell me. I don't make this stuff up. I had 96 stuck emails!

Backup. Backup. Backup. My friend Ed forgot recently to back up his recent Outlook emails and contacts. Sadly, his only back up is old.

The GPS Snitch lets you track cars and people: I haven't personally tested this thing and I don't quite know it works. But NetworkWorld magazine swears by it and I'm intrigued. The GPS Snitch is a little (four inch) tracking device you put in a ritzy car, a memory-lagging grandfather, and in the box you're shipping the Mona Lisa. It has GPS, a cellphone and a motion sensor.

It will send you alerts when it detects movements. And you can ping it and ask it "Where are you?" Or you can have it report regularly -- as often as every few seconds. You track it over the Internet via Google Maps on your PC or laptop. The gadget costs $400 and you pay every time you ping it. NetworkWorld's reporter tested it on his wife when she went shopping. His wife (who knew) was still amazed to have her husband tell her precisely where she'd just been. You can learn more at GPS-Snitch and at BlackLine GPS which has some other neat GPS products.

Why I love English. More than any other language, we keep making up wonderful new words. In the past year. In early April, the New Yorker magazine wrote "In the past year, though, economists have reported an increase in the number of people who are just walking away from their homes, because it’s now often easier to abandon a mortgage than a credit-card bill. (The practice has even been given a name — “jingle mail,” because people simply send their keys back in an envelope.)

Which brings me to an unabashed plug for the latest edition of my dictionary,

If you're in any way involved with telecom, networking, the Internet or computers, you need this book on your desk. If you're running one of these companies and need your new people to get educated on the industry's buzzwords, you need this book. All the industry's trade press (including PC Magazine and the New York Times) has raved about my dictionary. Heck, I've been at it for more than 20 years. It'll be one of my legacies. Buy it from eLearnAid. He's cheaper than Amazon.

Live and cheese. This is long, but more than wonderful.

Three handsome male dogs are walking down the street when they see a ?beautiful, enticing, female Poodle.

The three male dogs fall all over themselves in an effort to be the one to reach her first, but end up arriving in front of her at the same time.

The males are speechless before her beauty, slobbering on themselves and hoping for just a glance from her in return.

Aware of her charms and her obvious effect on the three suitors, she decides to be kind and tells them, "The first one who can use the words 'liver' and 'cheese' together in an imaginative, intelligent sentence can go out with me."

The sturdy, muscular black Lab speaks up quickly and says, "I love liver and cheese."

"Oh, how childish," said the Poodle. "That shows no imagination or intelligence whatsoever."

She turns to the tall, shiny Golden Retriever and says "How well can you do"

"Um. I HATE liver and cheese," blurts the Golden Retriever.

"My, my," said the Poodle. "I guess it's hopeless. That's just as dumb as the Lab's sentence."

She then turns to the last of the three dogs and says, "How about you, little guy"

The last of the three, tiny in stature but big in fame and finesse, is the Taco Bell Chihuahua.

He gives her a smile, a sly wink, turns to the Golden Retriever and the Lab and says....

"Liver alone. Cheese mine."

The Batman appears.
Three women friends, one engaged, one married, and one a mistress, are chatting about their relationships and decide to give their men a treat, then later compare notes.

They agree that that night all three will wear a leather bodice S&M style, stilettos and a mask over their eyes...

After a few days they meet again...

The engaged girlfriend said: "When my boyfriend came back home, he found me with the leather bodice, 6-inch stiletto heels and mask. He couldn't take his eyes off me and he said:

'You are the woman of my life, I love you.'

Then we made love all night long."

The mistress said: "Ah! Me too! I met my lover in the office and I was wearing the leather bodice, mega stilettos, mask over my eyes and a raincoat.

"When I opened the raincoat he couldn't speak, but his actions spoke louder than words. We had wild sex all night."

The married friend sighed: "I sent the kids to stay at my mothers for the night, I got myself ready: leather bodice, super stilettos and mask over my eyes.

"My husband comes back from work, opens the door and says: "Alright Batman, what's for dinner?"

Yesterday's Stress relief. (In case you missed it.)
Turn up the volume. Try the Manic Mode and the Fresh Sheet. Click on BubbleWrap.

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.

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