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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 Monday, December 12, 2005: Great weekend. Good exercise. Good cleaning. Good family. Some semi-brilliant ideas:

Total speculation: TenFold Corp. (TENF.OB) has no money, oodles of losses, little credibility in its markets, a stock price that's in the toilet, but it does have a brand-new CEO who's talking the right talk -- no arrogance, customer attentiveness, lots of direct sales (initially all by him) and raise some money quickly. The company sells neat software that allows corporations to build custom applications super-fast. Few companies use it -- because the previous management gave arrogance and rudeness a whole new meaning. The new CEO, Bob Felton, has an impressive track record in business and a substantial personal investment in TenFold, which he's now doing his best to save. I had one conversation with Felton and was impressed. The stock is 27 cents, down from its high of -- wait for this -- $76.87. It's worth a tiny spec. And I mean tiny.

All about buying art: I bought a pricey painting recently, my second. Things I learned about buying "art:"
+ The art market is a "construct." It's constructed by "experts" who choose what to auction, what to exhibit, etc.
+ Promotion of and by artists is key to the value of art. Quality is marginal, since anything can be made "art."
+ An expensive painting needs provenance -- documented evidence of who painted it and who owned it before you did.
+ Buy what you like on your wall. Do not buy because the price may go up.
+ Meet the artists. Buy artists whose self-promotion you like.
+ The cheaper you buy and the more you buy, the greater the chance of price appreciation. Don't bank on it.
+ Selling and buying art by auction is expensive. The auction house charges both the buyer and the seller a commission.
+ Owning an auction house can be incredibly profitable.

How to have a reliable PC: No PC can ever be 100% reliable. All PCs get less reliable as you add software to them. But new software is tempting, and occasionally useful. The ONLY solution is to have two identical PCs -- one your "working" machine and one your testing machine. Run new software on the testing machine until it fulfills two criteria: 1. It's useful. 2. It doesn't screw up your machine. Over time You'll be surprised: 1. How little software you really need. 2. How much software is buggy and 3. How your machine slows down all by itself -- often by picking junk up from semi-legit web sites.

I keep cloned backups of hard drives -- original clones and working clones. And I keep separate backups of my work -- my letters, my spreadsheets, my photos, etc. That way I don't lose anything. And, by swapping hard drives, I can always go back to a faster PC. The saving grace on all this is that hard drives are cheap. Labeling which is which is key.

The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris. France, as we know, is in trouble. It has ten million North and West African immigrants. It has handled them in the worst possible way. And the outlook looks bleak. I have friends there. So I always read about France's miseries. The most engrossing piece is by a retired doctor, Theodore Dalrymple. You must read it. When you do, you'll give thanks for how differently (and how well) the U.S. has handled its immigrants. We have jobs for our immigrants. France, sadly, no longer does. Click here.

Starbucks' great gorilla marketing: Picture a car with a cup of coffee on its roof. My son saw one in Manhattan and alerted the driver, "You left your coffee on the roof." The driver asked, "What kind of coffee?" My son replied, "Why Starbucks, of course." At which point the driver handed my son a $5 coupon for Starbucks coffee. (The cup was glued on.)

Now industry stays the same.
Hollywood is collapsing the Distribution Window. Clay Risen writes,

In February, the film industry as we know it may change forever. That's when "Bubble," a low-budget murder mystery directed by Steven Soderbergh, will appear in theaters - and on cable, and on DVD, all on the same day. The movie is the first in a six-film deal between Soderbergh and 2929 Entertainment, a partnership led by the media moguls Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner, which includes theaters, cable channels and production and distribution companies. While no one expects "Bubble" to break box-office records, even a modicum of success could indicate the arrival of something many in the movie business have anticipated - and feared - for years: universal release.

With box-office revenue slumping and DVD sales skyrocketing, it's not surprising that moviemakers are looking for ways to collapse the period of time it takes for a film to make its way from the multiplex to home video - in industry-speak, the "distribution window." The universal-release strategy has a lot of appeal for moviemakers: in addition to taking better advantage of the red-hot home-video sector, it's also more cost-effective - instead of requiring separate marketing efforts for theater and video releases, universal release requires just one. Plus, the strategy undercuts film pirates, who sometimes offer knockoff DVD's of films before they even hit the big screen.

But not everyone likes the idea. John Fithian, head of the National Association of Theater Owners, has expressed fear that rather than create new revenue streams, the practice will "be a death threat to our industry." And some film purists, like the director M. Night Shyamalan, have said that universal release is also a threat to the traditional moviegoing experience. has my favorite pocket camera for $303.99. Plus $5.99 for three-day shipping. Click here. My camera was a huge hit on my latest California trip. Easy to use. Easy to carry. Great photos. Smaller than a BlackBerry.

Latest tips on using the Canon SD450:
+ Turn off the flash. The thing photographs well in poor natural lighting. Moreover, the flash is not strong enough to light most scenes.
+ The camera plus extra battery and extra memory fit snugly into a Tamrac 5680 camera bag. Cost $6.95. Click here.
+ Reduce your default exposure by two-thirds of one stop. That will make your pictures more color saturated, less washed out.

I don't make this stuff up: Lesbian motorcycle enthusiasts in San Francisco have won their fight to trademark the name "Dykes on Bikes," a lawyer for their group said on Thursday. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had denied applications by the San Francisco Women's Motorcycle Contingent to trademark "Dykes on Bikes," arguing the phrase would be perceived as disparaging to lesbians. But the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Brooke Oliver Law Group said the word "dyke" is no longer viewed as derogatory. "Within the lesbian community that term has been reclaimed as a very positive term that denotes strength and pride and empowerment," said Shannon Minter, a lawyer for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The San Francisco Women's Motorcycle Contingent sought the trademark after a woman in Wisconsin not affiliated with group attempted to use the phrase for a clothing line.

Grandma's Birth Control Pills:
A doctor that had been seeing an 80-year-old woman for most of her life finally retired. At her next checkup, the new doctor told her to bring a list of all the medicines that had been prescribed for her. As the young doctor was looking through these, his eyes grew wide as he
realized she had a prescription for birth control pills.

"Mrs. Smith, do you realize these are BIRTH CONTROL pills??

"Yes, they help me sleep at night."

"Mrs. Smith, I assure you there is absolutely NOTHING in these that could possibly help you sleep!"

She reached out and patted the young Doctor's knee.

"Yes, dear, I know that. But every morning, I grind one up and mix it in the glass of orange juice that my 16 year old granddaughter
drinks. .... And believe me, it helps me sleep at night."

(You gotta love Grandmas!)

Recent column highlights:
+ Dumb reasons we hold losing stocks. Click here.
+ How my private equity fund is doing. Click here.
+ Blackstone private equity funds. Click here.
+ Manhattan Pharmaceuticals: Click here.
+ NovaDel Biosciences appeals. Click here.
+ Hana Biosciences appeals. Click here.
+ All turned on by biotech. Click here.
+ Steve Jobs Commencement Address. The text is available: Click here. The full audio is available. Click here.
+ The March of the Penguins, an exquisite movie. Click here.
+ When to sell stocks. Click here.

Harry Newton

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. That money will help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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