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, Monday, July 23, 2007: Summer is screw-up time. Every vendor, every supplier, in fact, everybody
is messing up, acting stupidly, making mistakes. Last night's restaurant divided our two-couple dinner bill of $92 into two -- one bill for $46 and one for $42.

Everyone checks their brains out for the summer.

The good news. Come Fall, it will get normal again. People will deliver on time, do what they say they will do, be able to add up. ... Oh yes, we asked our waiter on Friday night to divide the bill 60-40. The expression of pain was palpable. I switched it to 50-50. The expression of relief was joyous. I don't make this stuff up.

An interesting medical imaging play: If you get melanoma of the skin, you die. Not fully true. But late-stage melanoma definitely has no cure. It spreads very fast. If you don't catch it early and cut it out, you die. Identifying is the problem. Dermatologists eye the mole, decide to cut it or not, then send it to a lab for biopsy. The whole process is old, unscientific (which to cut or not) and unreliable. Moreover most patients don't like scars.

Enter Electro-Optical Sciences (MELA). The doctor (or nurse) holds the company's new machine over the suspected problem.

The thing takes a picture, sends it over the Internet it to a Electro-Optical Sciences' server which checks the image against its database. Within seconds, the doctor receives a report -- "It looks bad. Cut it." Or "It doesn't look bad. Ignore it." The company figures by charging $75 a patient it can garner $400 million a year in revenues. Right now the company has a market cap of $87 million and a shot at FDA approval some time next year. It's a stock to watch.

It's also a stock to be wary of. Remember TriPath Imaging? It floundered, dropping steadily until a takeover put it out of its misery, returned our investment and then some. Remember Northfield Labs? These guys have the fake blood. Everyone was excited by them. But then the whole thing fell apart and the stock cratered.

I'm big on many screens. Ergotron makes the best devices for holding screens. These are the two Ergotron gadgets I like.

One screen - $49

Three screens. $299.

Ergotron advises:

1. Choose monitors with a small bevel size (that’s the frame around the actual monitor) so that you easily place them close to one another.

2. Make sure they are VESA mounting compatible --so the mounting screws fit.

3. Make sure the monitors you buy are clean. Add-ons like USB hubs, built-in speakers and similar “nice-to-have” features can become a real problem because they interfere with getting your screens as close as possible to one another.

Ergotron says, "Samsung make some affordable bare bones screens without fancy USB ports, built-in speakers, etc but with great picture quality."

The perfect business: Your own. And you thought everything had been invented.

For the Beast at the Beach. From The New York Times by Brendan Koerner

FOR men with hirsute backs, a day at the beach can be a nerve-racking experience. It is tough to enjoy the sand and surf while constantly worrying — perhaps needlessly, perhaps not — that passers-by are lampooning your furry shoulder blades.

Brett Marut is all too familiar with that sort of anxiety. “I have hair on my back to the point where — I don’t know if you’d call me self-conscious or what — but I’m a little bit embarrassed,” said Mr. Marut, who lives in the beach mecca of Santa Monica, Calif.

He tried waxing, but he couldn’t tolerate the pain or the awkwardness of entering a salon full of female customers. So he resolved to create a less agonizing hair-removal option, one which men could use in private.

That option is the Mangroomer, an electric razor that resembles a futuristic kung fu weapon. When fully extended, the Mangroomer measures nearly two feet from base to blade — long enough, according to Mr. Marut, to shave the human back’s remotest corners.

Though he toyed with the concept for years, he didn’t start designing the product in earnest until the summer of 2003. That is when he had an epiphany while waiting for a flight at Los Angeles International Airport. “I was actually on a trip to see my family in New Jersey,” said Mr. Marut, who was working as a day trader at the time. “I was going back to see people I barely ever see, and I just knew I was going to have to take my shirt off.”

While fretting over that prospect, he noticed several fellow travelers wheeling around suitcases with telescoping handles. A razor with a similarly designed handle, he realized, would be ideal for back shaving — the handle could be adjusted to reach various spots, both near and far.

Upon his return to Santa Monica, he started sketching out the Mangroomer. “It had to look cool, so if somebody saw it on my counter, they wouldn’t say, ‘What is this ridiculous thing?’ ” he said. He eventually settled on a razor that folds in two, much like a flip-top cellphone.

Thanks to a previous job as a buyer for May Department Stores, a retailer that merged with Federated Department Stores in 2005, Mr. Marut understood how prototypes are made. He contacted several dozen Chinese factories that specialize in nose-hair trimmers and other depilatory gadgets. After choosing a factory, he exchanged countless e-mail messages and phone calls with its staff while refining the design. They focused on finding the right angle for the razor’s central joint, eventually settling on 135 degrees — anything straighter tended to make the blade catch on folds of skin, Mr. Marut said, while smaller angles produced a coarser shave.

They also cut a thin line down the center of the joint. The cut made the joint less prone to cracking when considerable pressure is applied.

The first shipment of Mangroomers arrived from China in February 2006. Mr. Marut says he has since sold 80,000 of the razors, primarily through retailers such as Bed Bath & Beyond and He also sells the product, priced at $39.99, through his Web site,

Given my utter lack of back hair — for which I am grateful to my genetic forebears — I was unable to conduct a full test on the Mangroomer. But the product’s shape, at least, seems clever; the 135-degree angle, combined with the telescoping handle, enabled me to reach every nook and cranny on my back, without the slightest physical strain.

Perhaps I’ll use it as a back scratcher.

The most common grammar mistakes. They are:

+ It's and its. It's coming tomorrow. Its color (i.e. possessive.)

+ You're and your. You're a nice person. Your house is red.

+ They're and there. They're coming to dinner. There is no future in bad grammar.

Australia pushes private funding of retirement. Australia's Federal government doesn't believe it will ever be able to pay for retirement. As a result, Australia pushes its people to fund their own retirement. It does this with huge tax benefits, mandatory savings rules (9% of your annual income) and some outright payments. (I wish America would wake up and copy Australia.) The latest results from Australia. From The Sydney Morning Herald:

Over one million people have so far been rewarded for saving for their retirement under the federal government's co-contribution superannuation scheme, receiving double the usual amount from the government for savings made in the 2005-06 financial year.

In the 2007/08 budget the government said that in a one-off initiative it would double its contribution to workers that had saved under the scheme in 2005-06, meaning for every $1,000 contributed, eligible people would receive $3,000 from the government for that year.

"To date extra payments totalling $917 million have been made for 1.13 million people who made personal super contributions during 2005-06," Assistant Treasurer Peter Dutton said in a statement.

"People whose superannuation funds have received this extra co-contribution will be informed over the coming weeks."

Mr Dutton said the Tax Office will make further payments as people lodge their 2005-06 tax returns and their co-contribution is calculated.

Usually under the superannuation co-contribution scheme, the government contributes $1.50 for every $1 of after-tax superannuation contributions made by employees earning up to $28,980, to a maximum co-contribution of $1,500 per year.

The scheme phases out completely for employees earning more than $58,980.

The government has contributed over $3 billion into superannuation accounts in the first three years of the scheme.

Impeccable logic
Morris: "If I had the money of Bill Gates, I would be richer than Bill Gates"!

Irving: "How could that be? If you had the money of Bill Gates, how could you be richer than Bill Gates"?

Morris: "I would do a little teaching on the side."

Late night passion:
One night , after the couple had retired for the night, the woman became aware that her husband was touching her in a most unusual manner. He started by running his hand across her shoulders and the small of her back. He ran his hand over her breasts, touching them very lightly. Then, he proceeded to run his hand gently down her side, sliding his hand over her stomach, and then down the other side to a point below her waist. He continued on, gently feeling her hips, first one side and the other. His hand ran further down the outside of her thighs. His gentle probing then started up the inside of her left thigh, stopped and the returned to do the same to her right thigh. By this time the woman was becoming aroused and she squirmed a little to better position herself. The man stopped abruptly and rolled over to his side of the bed.

"Why are you stopping darling?" she whispered.

He whispered back, "I found the remote."

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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