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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 EST Wednesday, July 12, 2006: Managing money managers. Most (not all) have done crap during the first half of this year. My muni bonds have done better than 90% of my managers. I'll have the results on the managers in the next day or so. Which to fire? Which to hold? I asked my favorite investment guru, "On what criteria do you choose to fire a non-performing money manager? How long do you give them?" His answer:

Difficult determination at best. Assuming you did your homework at the front end about reputation, track record, etc., and there have been no surprises to contradict your findings, the objective measures you established at the outset should be the determining guidelines. For example, if the manager said to you its objective was to beat the S&P by 200 basis points based upon its historical performance and the most recent results are far below this number, it might be grounds to consider changing. However, I would give them two years to perform unless the first year is an absolute disaster.

I'm still mulling this one.

A positive pleasure: A reader visited me yesterday. He's left a huge company and is now working for himself. He couldn't be happier. You can see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. Of course, he's working twice as hard, putting in ten times as many hours and hasn't seen any real profits. But, he couldn't be happier. It was a genuine pleasure to be with him and wife, who's also in business.

Why buy and hold doesn't work -- especially with tech stocks: Every gadget today uses flash memory. SanDisk, a leader in flash memory, ought to be booming. It did in December. Then its first quarter earnings collapsed and then its stock price.

Stealing your identify. The latest con. Someone calls pretending to be a court official. He says threateningly a warrant has been issued for your arrest because you didn't show up for jury duty. If you protest that you never received a summons for jury duty, the scammer asks for your Social Security number and date of birth so he can verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant. Sometimes they even ask for
credit card numbers. Give out any of this information and bingo, your identity just got stolen. And your credit card is racking up charges.

More about thunderstorms and the devastating affects of lightning: Reader Steve Pedian writes on the need for phone line surge protection. I just spent a considerable amount on a new LCD HD TV and didn't realize it, my TiVo, and DSL modem could be damaged by a thunderstorm. Further, can a storm also fry one's PC?

Let's start with the reality: Lightning is the worst. It's so powerful it can destroy anything in its path. It travels where it wants to go, on whatever medium it feels like (including non-conductive things like trees). No surge arrestor -- even the most expensive -- can protect you 100% from a direct lightning strike. A strike can blow a gadget connected to another gadget. It blew my DSL modem and then my Linksys wireless router connected to my DSL modem.

The only safe way to protect your electronics is to unplug your phone lines and your power cables during a severe thunderstorm. If it's a holiday home, unplug everything before you leave. Barring that, put surge arrestors on everything -- especially phone lines. For more, read yesterday's column. Click here.

Who can predict? No one. I listened to Bush discuss his budget for fiscal 2006 (year to September 30). His economists had originally predicted a budget deficit of $423 billion. Now they're predicting $296 billion. That's a huge difference.

Let me be clear: I'm not criticizing them. I'm simply highlighting how difficult it is to predict anything. And given that unpredictability, a broad allocation is only sensible investment policy.

Mystery solved. I now know why there's ever any food in our fridge. I watched my son have a midnight snack last night. He gives new meaning to inhaling food. And he remains bone thin.

Culprit in Vermont completing a half marathon race.

Europe is nuts and business unfriendly. Latest insanity: the EU has fined Microsoft $357 million because it said Microsoft hadn't disclosed complete and accurate interface documentation that would allow non-Microsoft work group servers to achieve full interoperability with Windows PCs and servers.

Meantime, France has passed a law that says Apple iPod songs should be playable on everyone else's MP3 players.

You have a business idea. You put time and money into it. You gamble. You succeed. Then you Europe forces you to share it with everyone else. What am I missing?

Fascinated by the Tour de France: My wife is hooked on this wonderful bicycle race. It's on OLN -- Outdoor Life Network. It seems to be on all the time. You can also watch daily videos on the Internet. Click here.

The nicest wedding present:
All eyes were on the radiant bride as her father escorted her down the aisle. They reached the altar and the waiting groom; the bride kissed her father and placed something in his hand.

The guests in the front pews responded with ripples of laughter.

Even the priest smiled broadly.

As her father gave her away in marriage, the bride gave him back his credit card.

Time for the Rabbi's advice?
A man goes to see the Rabbi. "Rabbi, something terrible is happening and I have to talk to you about it."
The Rabbi asked, "What's wrong?"
The man replied, "My wife is poisoning me."
The Rabbi, very surprised by this, asks, "How can that be?"
The man then pleads, "I'm telling you, I'm certain she's poisoning me, what should I do?"
The Rabbi then offers, "Let me talk to her, I'll see what I can find out and I'll let you know."
A week later the Rabbi calls the man and says, "Well, I spoke to your wife. I spoke to her on the phone for three hours.
You want my advice?"
The Rabbi replied, "Take the poison."

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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