Technology Investor 

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

Previous Columns
8:30 AM EST, Tuesday, July 17: EWA is the iShare for the Australian stockmarket. It continues to inch up. I got one right.

Technology stocks are in a mini-boom. Ones I own (do your own research, please) include: EMC, Riverbed Technology (RVBD), Shutterfly (SFLY), and Synchronoss Technologies (SNCR). I also like Zoltek Companies (ZOLT).

I also like companies in oil service and in the oil business, as represented by two iShares -- OIH and IYE. They've been weak in recent days. Let them come in a bit more before buying. Oil companies appear "out of fashion" at present, despite the high price of oil which will ultimately benefit them.

On building a house or an extension: The "simple" conclusion is DON'T. You'll be way over budget on money and time. My new house is over a year late and, so far, 50% over budget. All my friends confirm my experience. What prompted me to write this? When one of my contractors told he'd just build a new house for himself and he came in 50% over his budget. And he did most of the work himself.

The culprit is threefold:

1. The dramatic escalation in the cost of materials -- from glass to steel, from wood to wiring.

2. The overwhelming of suppliers -- from skylight makers to quarries. Everyone has too much work, is overpromising, way under-delivering and screwing up on what they deliver -- like the wrong thing, or leaving bits and pieces out.

3. The overwhelming of subcontractors. Everyone has too much work. Nobody makes allowances any longer for normal delays. All are concerned that there'll never be another job (after all, housing is "slowing"). Hence everyone is taking on too much work. The litany of excuses I've heard recently would fill several books. I'd think they were funny -- if I wasn't the victim.

There is one additional culprit. It's your family! You'll often hear "While we're at it, why don't we...?" Them's fatal net worth-busting words. Don't blame me.

Communications is key: The biggest bitch I have with suppliers today is they've forgotten how to use the phone and how to read their email. If you're in business for yourself -- and you really should be -- make sure you talk to your customers regularly. Return their phone calls. Return their emails. Tell the truth! End of lecture.

LED flashlights make the most sense: Flashlights come in three varieties: incandescent, halogen and LED. The LED ones are brighter. Their batteries last 10 times longer. And LED flashlights are far less fragile. Drop them and you won't break the bulb. They also, sadly, cost more. The one I like (after much research) is the Princeton Tec Impact XL LED Flashlight:

It takes four AA batteries, has a bright 1-watt LED and the right size. You can buy one at Campmor for $29.99 and occasionally on eBay for less.

Watch out for your new TV sets: This piece is from Wendy Frew, environment reporter, Sydney Morning Herald, Australia:

Plasma televisions are sending home power bills sky high as more people install bigger and more energy-intensive screens.

Electric hot-water systems remain the No.1 energy guzzler in the home but plasma TVs are fast overtaking refrigerators and freezers as a greenhouse gas culprit, with poorly performing sets adding as much as $100 to electricity bills, energy experts say.

Plasma screens can use up to four times the energy consumed by a standard TV, as well as using more standby power, according to Energy Australia's efficiency expert, Paul Myers.

"Unfortunately, unlike whitegoods, we don't have energy rating labels for televisions, so there is no simple way to compare the running costs of different makes and models," he said.

"In general, however, the bigger the screen, the higher the electricity use."

Over the past five years, there have been significant energy efficiency gains made in the manufacture of whitegoods. Federal Government-mandated energy ratings have also made it easier for consumers to choose the most energy-efficient appliance.

But for many families the electricity savings they have made could be wiped out if a large plasma or LCD TV is installed in the home.

"With TVs we have had quite a dramatic shift to bigger sets, so that drives energy use higher," Mr Myers said.

"But at the moment the consumer has no way of knowing which model if more energy efficient … there is a case for star rating plasma TVs."

Even where there are energy ratings, some appliances are being imported into Australia with misleading labels, according to an ABC Four Corners program. Some air-conditioners were claiming ratings well above their real performance, the program revealed.

The environmental group ACF has called on the Federal Government to implement tougher controls of the accreditation process, to commission an independent audit, to strengthen the testing of appliances and to extend the scheme to cover TVs, ovens, hobs and other appliances.

The ACF Green Home campaigner Clare Donovan said a 68-centimetre cathode TV consumed 98 watts of energy costing, on average, 1.18 cents an hour. That compared with 214 watts and 2.6 cents an hour for a 100-centimetre LCD TV, and 350 watts at 4.2 cents an hour, on average, for a 106-centimetre plasma screen.

Greatest classified ad ever:

Jewish male, 34, very successful, smart, independent, self-made. Looking for girl whose father will hire me. POB 22
Philosophy of sex.

Great quotes on sex:
"You know "that look" women get when they want sex? Me neither." --Steve Martin

"Having sex is like playing bridge. If you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand." --Woody Allen

"Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night." --Rodney Dangerfield

"There are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal, particularly in women. Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz 380SL." --Lynn Lavner

"Leaving sex to the feminists is like letting your dog vacation at the taxidermist." --Matt Barry

"Sex at age 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a rope." --George Burns

"Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation. The other eight are unimportant." --George Burns

"Women might be able to fake orgasms. But men can fake whole relationships." --Sharon Stone

"Clinton lied. A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is." --Barbara Bush (Former US First Lady -- and you didn't think Barbara had a sense of humor)

"Ah, yes, divorce, from the Latin word meaning to rip out a man's genitals through his wallet." --Robin Williams

"Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place." --Billy Crystal

"Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and just give her a house." --Rod Stewart

"The problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time." --Robin Williams

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.
Go back.