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, July 19, 2006: The residential real estate market is softening after the frenzy of the last few years. Now the commercial real estate -- shops, offices, etc. -- necessary to support the new houses is taking off. There are huge opportunities in strip malls, small office buildings, specialty places (like Midas, etc.), Friends who were in residential development are moving over. Meanwhile the good news is that office vacancy rates in top metro areas are dropping.

Chart from the Wall Street Journal

George predicts muni rates to fall in second half to fall slightly: Smith Barney Bond guru George Friedlander, said on yesterday's conference call a combination of factors will cause muni bond interest rates to fall slightly in this half:

1. Economy slowing.

2. Shortage of new muni bond offerings. States are doing better as taxes pour in. Hence less need to float bonds.
3. Popularity among investors who've recently sold their businesses and are looking for safety. Private equity funds have made selling medium size family businesses a lot easier. Money is pouring into muni bonds.
4. The Fed is almost finished raising interest rates. Once more (August 8) should do it.
5. "Flight to quality" has more effect on treasuries. The muni bond market is much less volatile.

You can still listen to George's conference call yesterday: Call 1-888-203-1112. Enter passcode 5405211#.

Neat software to try:
+ Pando. An easy way to email huge attachments. Recommended by Walt Mossberg. Click here.
+ Jumpcut, Eyespot, Grouper and VideoEgg are sites that help you make videos. They're free. The best video editing software for you and me is Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0. For more, click here. It's $80 at Amazon. Click here.
+ eWallet, a password manager for all your online accounts. My son loves it. Click here.
+ FileSync
backs up those files which have changed. I use it every day. Click here.

The Internet has gone nuts with video: People use their camcorders to make short videos. They upload them to sites on the Internet and other people watch them. Watching most of the videos gives waste of time a whole new meaning. The most popular site is called YouTube,

YouTube launched in February 2005. It now receives about 65,000 videos per day, and more than 100 million video clips are watched daily. According to Roger McNamee, leading VC, people under 25 "spend an average of 22 hours a week on the Internet."

YouTube has received $11.5 million in venture-capital funding. YouTube receives minimal revenue from advertising and is not yet profitable. I personally have zero idea how it's ever going to be. For a typically stupid video, check this one out. It's a dog barking at itself in the mirror. Click here.

For only $135 million you can live like a prince:

From the Aspen Times of July 12:

$135 million is the asking price for the palatial Aspen compound of Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, a real estate financier confirmed Tuesday. It is the highest real estate price in U.S. history, and possibly in the world, experts said. The price tag trumps Donald Trump, who had the previous highest offering on the national market, $125 million for a beachfront home in Florida.

Bandar is the former Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States. His 95-acre Starwood Ranch property includes a nearly 56,000-square-foot mansion, and several smaller homes and buildings. The main home is larger than the White House, and includes 16 bathrooms, 15 bedrooms, stables, a tennis court, an indoor swimming pool, outdoor water features and a snowmelt driveway.

Bandar, 57, became his country's ambassador in 1983 and resigned the post in 2005. He began developing his land on Starwood Drive in the 1980s, and the main mansion was finished in 1990. Starwood is a gated subdivision on a mesa across from Buttermilk, off McLain Flats Road, between Aspen and Woody Creek. ... Bandar's mountain palace is on the market for $2,400 per square foot.

The reason they run
The reason congressmen try so hard to get re-elected is that they would hate to have to make a living under the laws they've passed.

Loony bin humor:
Jim and Edna were both patients in a mental hospital.

One day while they were walking past the hospital swimming pool, Jim suddenly jumped into the deep end. He sank to the bottom of the pool and stayed there.

Edna promptly jumped in to save him. She swam to the bottom and pulled Jim out.

When the Medical Director became aware of Edna's heroic act she immediately ordered her to be discharged from the hospital, as she now considered her to be mentally stable.

When she went to tell Edna the news she said, "Edna, I have good news and bad news. The good news is you're being discharged; since you were able to rationally respond to a crisis by jumping in and saving the life of another patient. I have concluded that your act displays sound mindedness. The bad news is that Jim, the patient you saved, hung himself in the bathroom with his bathrobe belt right after you saved him. I am so sorry, but he's dead."

Edna replied, "He didn't hang himself; I put him there to dry. How soon can I go home?"

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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