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Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.

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8:30 AM EST, Tuesday, August 28, 2007:
I don't like what I'm reading. Unsold houses at a 16-year high. Investor confidence low. Falling housing values. Escalating credit card debt (which I just helped -- see below).

The consumer -- you and me -- are 70% of the U.S. economy. Our spending counts. We borrowed heavily on our homes to build second homes and furnish them with big TVs and PCs. Now it's all over. The consumer has debts up the ying-yang and not enough income to pay them off.

I'm worried about the downside.

I don't see the upside. I don't see any tide approaching to make stockmarkets rise.

I hate to time the markets. This is a good time to be heavily hedged (remember those general hedges) and in cash.

P.S. My Toll Brothers shorts are in the money. I should have shorted all the home builders. It's probably not too late. My index shorts -- DXD and QID -- are not yet in the money.

Uranium booms in Australia: Excerpted from the latest Economist:

WHAT Australia's outback deserts lack in water they make up for in uranium. They contain almost 40% of the world's known low-cost reserves of the nuclear fuel. It is big business for Australia: exploration companies are at present spending ten times more money searching for deposits than they did three years ago. And ore from Australia's three operating mines supplies about a quarter of the world's uranium-oxide exports. Until now all this has gone to countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This ensures, in theory, that they will use it to produce electricity rather than bombs. But on August 16th John Howard, Australia's prime minister, said he would lift a ban on selling uranium to India, which refuses to sign the NPT, has tested nuclear weapons and does not rule out testing more.

Uranium stocks are speculative. One Australian explorer (not miner) I like is Metex Resources Limited (MEE). It has two things going for it: a broad exploration program. It's looking for a lot of minerals, not just uranium. Second, it has Kim Robinson as chairman, who's also the executive chairman of Kagara Zinc (KZL), which has done so handsomely.

In the U.S. my friends like Uranium Resources (URRE). Maybe when it drops more. Meantime, it's finally profitable.

I'm playing IT manager for a couple of non-profits: Simple things I've learned:

1. The price of everything -- from computers to Internet circuits -- has come down. We just swapped out a T-1 circuit costing $650 a month for a business cable modem costing $350 a month -- with seven times the download speed. Think about that: Seven times the speed for 46% less money. Web hosting has also come down dramatically in price -- from hundreds of dollars per month to $10-$25. The price reductions are amazing.

2. The price of everything can be bargained. One BlackBerry's data service will cost you $60 a month. But 20 BlackBerries' data service will cost $20 a month each.

3. Users need frequent training. There's basics -- like not opening attachments from unknown people. There's expectation management. Some things can be done, but the cost and skills necessary are high.

4. Stop planning for 5 years. Do it now. Solve today It's very easy not to change. It works (sort of), why mess with it? But it often doesn't work as well as it should. Hence the need to change NOW. Urgency is hard idea, especially when too many people have to sign off.

Bloomingdales gave me money. Which is as good as cash. A few days ago, Bloomingdales sent me a $300-off coupon if I bought a suit from them. I needed a suit for my daughter's wedding. So I bought one yesterday, saving $300. But I also opened a Bloomies credit card, saving another 10% on the suit and a couple of pairs of pants. Once they're all altered to fit my boyish figure, I'll walk out of Bloomies without spending a nickel.

Once I get the Bloomies bill, I'll pay it in full, and never buy anything on it again. Every time I go shopping (which is not often), I always ask, "Do I get a discount if I open a credit card with you guys?" Brooks Brothers was the best. They gave me 20% off on shirts that were already on sale.

Two darling tiny light powerful laptops: If you're schlepping a laptop around all day weight makes a huge difference. Two machines are super light -- the IBM/Lenovo X61s Thinkpad and the Toshiba Portege R500. Despite his life-long experience with (and my love for) Toshibas, Michael chose the Lenovo to take to business school. The major reason was the red pointing stick . Like me, he's hooked on the speed and precision of the keyboard pointing stick mouse versus the slow imprecise touchpad that's on the Portege (and most other laptops).

There are other small differences. The Toshiba is slightly lighter. The Toshiba comes with a built-in DVD drive. To get that with the Lenovo, you have to buy a docking station. The screen sizes are different. The Toshiba is "wide-screen" -- 1280 x 800 pixels. The Lenovo is 1024 x 768. But both screens are superb, easy on the eyes.

The big difference between them is the keyboard. The Lenovo is smaller. The keys are 4% smaller than on my full-sized laptop. I had no trouble getting used to the Lenovo. The backspace is half size on the Lenovo, full-size on the Toshiba. The Lenovo has 89 keys; the Toshiba 85. The Lenovo has two extra keys for moving a browser back and forwards. They're in between the arrow keys on the bottom right of the keyboard. I love them. They're ultra useful.

Both machines will come with Windows XP. Michael's business school insisted on it, shunning Vista. If you want to change the keyboard layout -- and Michael and I do -- then download a tiny, ultra-reliable piece of software called TradeKeys. Sadly, it won't work with Vista. The Lenovo comes with a slighter faster processor -- 1.6. GHz versus 1.2 GHz. But both machines are fast enough for whatever task you throw at them. Make sure you get 2 gigs of memory.

The IBM/Lenovo X61s weighs slightly over 2 pounds. The Lenovo is slightly smaller, less wide, but slightly fatter.

The Toshiba Portege R500 weighs slightly less than 2 pounds.

The Toshiba keyboard lacks a pointing stick. Both machines can come with huge hard disks -- as big as 120 gigabytes. Eventually the Toshiba will come with a SanDisk solid state (no moving parts) "hard drive. But you'll be able to buy one and put it in your Lenovo also.

The IBM keyboard has a pointing stick and an extra button between the left and right click buttons. That center button lets you scroll up and down. It's really useful. I've been begging Toshiba for a scroll wheel for eons.

The US Open Tennis is on. Here's the TV schedule. Many hours of great tennis.

More great things our grandchildren (I wish) said:

A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin 5, and Ryan 3.
The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake.
Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson.
"If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, 'Let my brother have the first pancake, I can wait.'
Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, "Ryan, you be Jesus!"

A father was at the beach with his children when the four-year-old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore
where a seagull lay dead in the sand.
"Daddy, what happened to him?" the son asked.
"He died and went to Heaven," the Dad replied.
The boy thought a moment and then said,
"Did God throw him back down?"

A wife invited some people to dinner.
At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said,
"Would you like to say the blessing?"
"I wouldn't know what to say," the girl replied.
"Just say what you hear Mommy say," the wife answered.
The daughter bowed her head and said, "Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?"

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 law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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