Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM EST Friday, July 21, 2006: Yuch.
Another big fall yesterday. More volatility. I repeat my three warnings:
Stay away from tech. Look at Intel.
Look at Microsoft:
Look at Dell (today it announced a lower outlook
and it will fall much lower today, probably under $20.):
I've talked about shorting techs or buying
puts (a la Hickey's advice). I hope some of my readers did.
2. Stay in cash. We are not yet at the bottom of this downdraft. Predicting
where the War in the Middle East will turn is too difficult at this point. Ultimately
investors will thoroughly despair and stockmarkets will be ripe with bargains.
We aren't there yet.
Assess carefully each of the stocks and investments you own. Are these the ones
you want to own going forward?
Like Having a Secretary in Your PC: Talk
to your PC. Watch accurate words materialize on your screen. It's been my dream
for years. Now the dream is apparently realized. The stuff works. Read this
review by David Pogue, a respected technology writer on the New York Times:
one two three. Is this thing on?
be darned. Its really on and its really working. Im wearing
a headset, talking, and my PC is writing down everything I say in Microsoft
Word. Im speaking at full speed, perfectly normally except that Im
pronouncing the punctuation (comma), like this (period).
something a little tougher. Pyridoxine hydrochloride. Antagonistic Lilliputians.
Hm! Not bad.
Oh, hi, honey.
Did you get to the bank before it closed? Oh, hold on, let me turn off the
mike. Wouldnt want our conversation to wind up in my column!
O.K., back again.
The software Im using is Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9.0, the latest version
of the best-selling speech-recognition software for Windows. This software,
which made its debut Tuesday, is remarkable for two reasons.
Reason 1: You
dont have to train this software. Thats when you have to read
aloud a canned piece of prose that it displays on the screen a standard
ritual that has begun the speech-recognition adventure for thousands of people.
I can remember,
in the early days, having to read 45 minutes worth of these scripts
for the softwares benefit. But each successive version of NaturallySpeaking
has required less training time; in Version 8, five minutes was all it took.
And now theyve
topped that: NatSpeak 9 requires no training at all.
I gave it a
test. After a fresh installation of the software, I opened a random page in
a book and read a 1,000-word passage without doing any training.
got 11 words wrong, which means it got 98.9 percent of the passage correct.
Some of those errors were forgivable, like when it heard typology
instead of topology.
But Nuance says
that youll get even better accuracy if you do read one of the training
scripts, so I tried that, too. I trained the software by reading its Alice
in Wonderland excerpt. This time, when I read the same 1,000 words from
my book, only six errors popped up. Thats 99.4 percent correct.
The best part
is that these are the lowest accuracy rates youll get, because the software
gets smarter the more you use it or, rather, the more you correct its
You do this
entirely by voice. You say, correct typology, for
example; beneath that word on the screen, a numbered menu of alternate transcriptions
pops up. You see that alternate 1 is topology, for example, so
you say choose 1. The software instantly corrects the word, learns
from its mistake and deposits your blinking insertion point back at the point
where you stopped dictating, ready for more.
Over time, therefore,
the accuracy improves. When I tried the same 1,000-word excerpt after importing
my time-polished voice files from Version 8, I got 99.6 percent accuracy.
Thats four words wrong out of a thousand including, of course,
For this reason,
it doesnt much matter whether or not you skip the initial training;
the accuracy of the two approaches will eventually converge toward 100 percent.
NatSpeak 9 is
remarkable for a second reason, too: its a new version containing very
eliminated the training requirement. And yes, the new NatSpeak is 20 percent
more accurate than before if you do the initial training. Then again, whats
a 20 percent improvement in a program thats already 99.4 percent accurate
99.5? Thats maybe one less error every 1,000 words.
done some clever engineering to wring these additional drops of accuracy out
of the program. For example, the program has always used context to determine
a words identity, taking into account the two or three words on either
side of it to distinguish, say, bear from bare. The
company says that Version 9 scans an even greater swath of the surrounding
But the rest
of the changes are minor. The top-of-the-screen toolbar has shed the squared-off
Windows 3.1 look in favor of a more rounded Windows Vista look. You can now
use certain Bluetooth wireless headsets for dictation, although Nuance has
found only two so far that put the microphone close enough to your mouth to
get clear sound. A new toolbar indicator lets you know when youre in
a select and say program like Word that is, a program where
you can highlight, manipulate and format any text you see on the screen using
At least Nuance
hasnt gone the way of so many software companies, piling on features
and complexity in hopes of winning your upgrade dollars. For the second straight
revision, the company has preferred to nip and tuck, making careful and selective
isnt the only game in speech-recognition town. Microsoft says that Windows
Vista, when it makes its debut next year, will come with built-in dictation
not to be worried, pointing out that Vista will understand only English. NatSpeak,
on the other hand, is available in French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch,
Japanese, British English and World English, which can handle
South African, Southeast Asian and Australian accents.
also available in a range of versions for the American market, including medical
and legal incarnations. Mere mortals will probably want to consider either
the Standard version ($100) or the Preferred version ($200), each of which
comes with a headset. Both offer the same accuracy.
edition, however, offers several shiny bells and whistles. One of them is
transcription from a digital pocket voice recorder. This approach doesnt
provide the same accuracy as a headset, and it requires what today is considered
an excruciating amount of training reading: at least 15 minutes. But it does
free you from dictating at the computer.
perk is voice macros, where you teach it to type one thing when you say another.
For example, you can say forget it and have the software spit
out, Thank you so much for your inquiry. Unfortunately, after much consideration,
we regret that we must decline your application at this time.
also a $900 version called Professional, which offers, among other advanced
features, complete control over your PC by voice; it can even set in motion
elaborate multi-step automated tasks.
runs beautifully on the Macintosh. The setup is a bit involved: you need a
recent Intel-based Mac, Apples free Boot Camp utility, a copy of Windows
XP, and a U.S.B. adapter on your headset. And you have to restart the Mac
in Windows each time you want to use NatSpeak. But if you can look past all
that fine print, NatSpeak on Macintosh is extremely fast and accurate.
If that sounds
like too much effort, there is a Macintosh-only alternative: iListen ($130
with headset). Version 1.7, newly adapted for Intel Macs, offers better accuracy
and a shorter training time than previous versions, though nothing like the
sophistication or accuracy of NatSpeak. After 30 minutes of training, the
program made 42 mistakes in my 1,000-word book excerpt, which the company
says is better than average.
As for NaturallySpeaking:
if youre already using Version 8, its probably not worth upgrading
to Version 9. Most people will find the changes to be too few and too subtle.
But if youre
among the thousands who have abandoned dictation software in the past, its
a different story. Version 9 is a stronger argument than ever that for anyone
who cant or doesnt like to type, dictation software is ready for
prime time; the state of this art has attained nearly Star Trek
just finishing up here; Ill be right down. Let me just turn my mike
more information on Naturally Speaking 9,
I'll be buying the Preferred version today.
I love the idea of being able to dictate to my computer, even though I type
Middle East remains an unsolvable mess. To
1. Hezbollah seeks political gains from this war. Wars against Israel are always
popular among poor, unemployed people. And there are plenty of them in the Middle
East. Hezbollah is run by a cleric called Hassan Nasrallah. I'm guessing he
wants to emerge as Lebanon's Supreme Leader (like what happened in Iran). To
achieve his political ends, he doesn't care that he'll destroy Lebanon along
2. Excepting Israel, all countries in the mid-east are dictatorships. Deflecting
unhappiness with internal problems -- lack of jobs, lack of freedom, etc. --
onto Israel is a proven way of staying in power.
3. Iran is trying to establish itself as the leading regional power, appealing
to Shiites. It arms Hezbollah, is popular because Hezbollah (which also runs
hospitals) is popular among the poor.
4. Iran as a regional power with nuclear weapons is seriously threatening to
states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan which are Sunni.
5. Russia is comfortable with Iran's nuke ambitions, since it wants to sell
them billions of dollars worth of nuclear fuel and materials.
6. China needs oil. It is a major buyer of Iranian oil and is negotiating a
deal to buy LNG (liquefied natural gas) over the next 25 years.
7. The French, the Germans and other European countries are worried about buying
oil and selling the Middle East weaponry, planes, etc.
8. The Israelis have insisted for years that Iran is building a nuke and Iran
needs to be stopped because Iranian politicians talks of wiping Israel off the
face. (See yesterday's column.) Iran also runs conferences on Holocaust Denial.
In short, a continuing, unsolvable mess.
what is the difference between potentially and realistically?"
father thought for a moment, then answered, "Go ask your mother if she
would sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars. Then ask your sister if she
would sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars, and then, ask your brother
if he'd sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars.
Come back and
tell me what you learn from that."
So the boy went
to his mother and asked, "Would you sleep with Brad Pitt for a million
The mother replied,
"Of course I would! We could really use that money to fix up the house
and send you kids to a great University!"
The boy then went
to his sister and asked, "Would you sleep with Brad Pitt for a million
The girl replied,
"Oh my God! I LOVE Brad Pitt I would sleep with him in a heartbeat, are
you nuts?!?!?! "
The boy then went
to his brother and asked, "Would you sleep with Brad Pitt for a million
the brother replied. "Do you know how much a million bucks would buy?"
The boy pondered
the answers for a few days, then went back to his dad.
His father asked
him, "Did you find out the difference between potentially and realistically?"
The boy replied,
"Yes... potentially, you and I are sitting on three million dollars......but
realistically,.........we're living with two sluts and a homosexual.
the Mexican Virus
JOU HAVE YUST
RECEIBED A MEHICAN BYRUS.
SIN WE NO HABE
SO GOOD TECHNIOLOGICALLY ADBANCE IN MEHICO, DEES IS A MANUAL BYRUS.
ALL JOUR FILES ON JOUR HARD-DRIVE JOURSELF AND SEND THEES E-MAIL TO EBERYONE
TANK JOU FOR HALPING
JULIO MANUEL JOSE
The woman applying for a job in a Florida lemon grove seemed way too qualified
for the job.
"Look Miss," said the foreman, "have you any actual experience
in picking lemons?"
"Well, as a matter if fact, yes!" she replied. "I've been divorced
short, nothing of great import to report today. Have a great weekend. Get some
rest. Hug the kids.
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 .
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