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 EST Wednesday, February 7, 2007: Spent most of yesterday sedated with a colonoscopy. Hard to be brilliant when you're asleep.

Idiot me. Check. Check. Check. I have a checklist for the day's column. It includes checking the date. Yesterday I had an early morning colonoscopy. (Everything's fine.) I left the old date. If you missed yesterday's column, click here.

Animated characters are all the rage on the web. Oddcast is neat. Click here. See how the eyes follow your mouse. The program speaks the text you type in the box, using accents and voices you choose. It's all a demo for businesses who are thinking of putting talking characters on their own websites.

Absolute Software does great: This Canadian company puts hidden software on laptops so you can the find the machine when it's stolen or lost. That's a simple explanation. There's more. They've clearly hit a hot spot. And they're the leaders in their field. Dell has just agreed to bundle Absolute's LoJack for Laptops service to people who buy a Dell laptop with an extended warranty. In the December quarter, Absolute's revenue was up 65%; their cash from operations was up 273%. Sadly, their net loss was also up -- 44% to $ 1 million.

I mention this company because I had recommended buying it earlier when it was lower. It's now up. Time to sell.

Neat, free charting: Owning individual stocks is not good a good strategy for most of us. We don't have the time to "manage" them, which means watching them move and selling at the right time -- when there's bad news, their earnings slip or they slip 15% from a recent high.

If you do own individual stocks, Finance Yahoo's free charting tool is most useful. You can choose your time range -- from one day to five years and more. You can compare several stocks. That's done on a percentage, with zero being the opening date. You can run simple technical indicators, including several moving averages. One nice feature is a sliding ball. It will tell you, for any day, what the open, high, low and close was. Really useful for valuation purposes.

I like charting because it gives a "quick hit." Eyeball something dropping quickly and you know you should be out. The vast bulk of the stocks I write about tend to be short-term plays. The key is to get in and out quickly. Stocks are volatile and all the predictions for 2007 focus on even more volatility. Which means setting targets and closely watching the price. If it moves sharply up, then starts to move down, it's time to sell. It's not good to be wedded to anything. "Buy and hold" is dead.

Yahoo! Finance's charting can help. Here's a squeezed example of what it looks like. It looks better full-screen on a big screen.

For Yahoo! Finance charting, click here.

Perfectly fine web hoster: My son turned me onto He claims they're the best and cheapest place to host your web site and get you email service. He's right. You can get a web site for as little as $6 a month. Everything you need is right there on its site. That includes searching available web site names (also called domains), buying them, setting up your own web site, email accounts, having many domains home in on your main site, etc.

I use ICDSoft for sites relating to my dictionary. They've been super. Last night I extended my site and needed some help. They were there for me with email support at 1:30 AM my time. By email, they walked me through everything I needed. It was super. Their only negative -- you can't speak to them on the phone. But their email support is fast and courteous. I don't miss the phone with them. For their home page, click here.

Grandchildren are better than children:
Changing their diapers is actually fun. They have lots of energy and say fun things. Best of all, you can give them back when it's time for your afternoon nap. They also say some wonderful things:

+ My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday. He asked me how old I was, and I told him, "62." He was quiet for a moment, and then he asked, "Did you start at 1?"

+ After putting her grandchildren to bed, a grandmother changed into old slacks and a droopy blouse and proceeded to wash her hair As she heard the children getting more and more rambunctious, her patience grew thin. At last she threw a towel around her head and stormed into their room, putting them back to bed with stern warnings. As she left the room, she heard the three-year-old say with a trembling voice, "Who was THAT?"

+ A grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own childhood was like: "We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a swing made from a tire; it hung from a tree in our front yard. We rode our pony. We picked wild raspberries in the woods." The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this in. At last she said, "I sure wish I'd gotten to know you sooner!"

+ My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, "Grandma, do you know how you and God are alike?"

I mentally polished my halo while I asked,"No, how are we alike?"

"You're both old," he replied

+ A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather's word processor. She told him she was writing a story.

"What's it about?" he asked.

"I don't know," she replied. "I can't read."

+ I didn't know if my granddaughter had learned her colors yet, so I decided to test her. I would point out something and ask what color it was. She would tell me, and always she was correct. But it was fun for me, so I continued. At last she headed for the door, saying sagely, "Grandma, I think you should try to figure out some of these yourself!"

+ When my grandson Billy and I entered our vacation cabin, we kept the lights off until we were inside to keep from attracting pesky insects. Still, a few fireflies followed us in. Noticing them before I did, Billy whispered, "It's no use, Grandpa. The mosquitoes are coming after us with flashlights."

+ When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, "I'm not sure." "Look in your underwear, Grandma," he advised. "Mine says I'm four to six."

+ A nursery school teacher was delivering a station wagon full of kids home one day when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the fire truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the dog's duties.

"They use him to keep crowds back," said one youngster.

"No, said another, "he's just for good luck."

A third child brought the argument to a close. "They use the dogs," she said firmly, "to find the fire hydrant."

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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