Technology Investor 

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 Wednesday, December 21, 2005: My GM short is working spectacularly. GM is on its way to below $15. Don't believe me? Play the game, "Where's GM?" Count the GM cars on the road. You'll be surprised how few you'll find. Kirk Kerkorian seems to have given up on his expensive gamble and yesterday sold 12 million GM shares. Figure he probably lost at least $120 million on those shares. Maybe he needed the tax loss? The Journal figures he's down about $750 million in total.

The TiVo short is also working.

But my gut feel is to cover this one. There's too much talk of TiVo being bought by Sony, or Google, or someone or anyone. Please put TiVo out of its misery.

Really useful Christmas present for your local geek: A 250 gigabyte external Fantom hard drive. Cost $139.99. Great for storing your exploding photo collection. The thing works on firewire, which makes it ultra fast, twice as fast as USB. Click here. But you'd better check you have a 6-pin firewire connection on your PC. Most Apple laptops do. Most PC laptops do, but they have the small, four-pin plug. In which case you'll need a 6-pin female to 4-pin male adapter from Cables-to-Go. Cost $9. Click here.

New York City is open and you can get around. Taxis are picking people up. Lots are hoofing it. Everyone is being ultra-friendly. Michael, my son, successfully hitchhiked to a meeting downtown. Everyone is biking. Many big buildings are making space inside for bicycles. My recommendation -- bring a folding bicycle and ear muffs. Dahon makes the cheapest one. I personally ride a Bike Friday. The Transit Union and the MTA are both acting really stupid. This strike may be long. Fortunately, Michael and I are leaving town on Thursday for week's skiing in Copper Mountain, Colorado.

Susan and Claire are in Australia to see Grandpa, age 89: Mess-up in Los Angeles. 300 people's luggage never arrived in Australia. Lesson here: Always carry enough stuff to last you several days. Personally I hate checking luggage.

What happens in the middle of the night to your PC. This fits into the category of "Too many people have too much time on their hands." Your younger kids might get a kick out of this harmless video. Click here. Here's another one, more Christmassy. Click here.

What happens when you get hacked. Guidance Software -- the leading provider of software used to diagnose hacker break-ins -- has itself been hacked, resulting in the exposure of financial and personal data connected to thousands of law enforcement officials and network-security professionals. Guidance alerted customers to the incident in a letter sent last week, saying it discovered on December 7 that hackers had broken into a company database and made off with approximately 3,800 customer credit card numbers. Michael G. Kessler, president of New York City-based computer-forensics investigative firm Kessler International, received a letter notifying him that the company's American Express card was among those compromised by the attackers. Kessler received the notice from Guidance at the same time that a company credit-bill arrived with what he said were $20,000 in unauthorized charges for pay-per-click advertising at "I just got our American Express bill and nearly fell out of my chair," Kessler said. "You'd think Guidance would be the last company this kind of thing would happen to."

Guidance's EnCase software is used by hundreds of security researchers and law enforcement agencies worldwide, including the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI and New York City police. John Colbert, the company's chief executive officer, said Guidance alerted all of its customers less than two days after discovering the break-in, and that it would no longer store customer credit card data. "This certainly highlights the fact that intrusions can happen to anybody and that nobody should be complacent about security," he said. Colbert declined to discuss further details of the attack, citing the ongoing investigation. This salutary story from the Washington Post.

Be wary about storing your credit card number with vendors.

Want to know what's happening with interest rates? George Freidlander is Citigroup/Smith Barney's muni guru. He held a conference call on December 15 in which he explains why rates have remained low, his outlook for 2006 and the muni bond market. Replay number is 888-293-8936. It's available through Thursday.

Banned in Saudi Arabia: The Muppet Show was banned from Saudi Arabian TV because one if its principal stars, Miss Piggy, is a well... you know.

The Ten 2005 Ads America won't see: America is more prudish than Europe. You can see these from ads that ran overseas, some by American companies. To watch them (and some are very clever), click here.

Not politically correct -- but who cares. It's funny:
A couple go for a meal at a Chinese restaurant and order the "Chicken Surprise". The waiter brings the meal, served in a lidded cast iron pot.

Just as the wife is about to serve herself, the lid of the pot rises slightly and she briefly sees two beady little eyes looking around before the lid slams back down.

"Good grief, did you see that?" she asks her husband.

He hasn't, so she asks him to look in the pot. He reaches for it and again the lid rises, and he sees two little eyes looking around before it slams down.

Perturbed, he calls the waiter over, explains what is happening, and asks for an explanation.

"Please sir," says the waiter, "what you order?"

The husband replies, "Chicken Surprise."

Ah... so sorry," says the waiter, "I bling you Peeking Duck"

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. 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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