Technology Investor 

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8:30 AM Thursday, June 9, 2005: Yesterday I wrote, "Patience. Cash is king. Every one of my bird-doggers -- real estate, stocks, private equity, venture capital, LBO -- are seeking, but not finding. Everything is overpriced." Hastily-spoken words written for a reason -- I wanted to run a picture of a tuberose, whose scent I love and wanted to turn everyone on to.

Dan Good, intelligent reader, took issue,

"Tell me a time when everything wasn’t overpriced. Even in the depths of 2001-2002, the popular wisdom was everything was overpriced. Instead of complaining, adopt a counter-overpriced strategy such as selling, or short selling. Of course, if you truly believe everything is overpriced, the only conclusion one can reach is that everything will become under priced at some future date. Please tell your friends to email me when this occurs.

Obviously Dan's right. Fact is I write this column five days a week. Some days I'll admit I don't have a new investment idea, so I tend to favor cash. I could argue logically and with considerable historical evidence that there are times in one's investing life that the best way to make money is to say "NO."

Following Dan's logic, if you think something is overpriced, go sell it. Today's idea is sell Google (GOG), which is now way overpriced. Of course, I should have told you this great idea two days ago because it's already dropped dramatically.

What caused it to drop? A company called Fathom Online said that the price of key search words had dropped on average 15% from April to May. Price moves ranged between 7% up for automotive and 30% down for finance/mortgage. Fathom tracks the price of key words for the purpose of providing advertisers with background and benchmarks for comparison to their individual advertising campaigns.

This is important because Google makes it living off charging for key word advertising driven by click-throughs. As an example, look in the left hand column. You'll see four Google boxes. Click on one of those, you'll get sent to someone else's site. Google will charge them money (and I'll get a piece of that). Google's revenues have soared for two reasons: First, more advertisers are discovering how incredibly effective Google is as a marketing medium. Second, those advertisers have been sharply bidding up the price of Google's key words.

Why would they suddenly turn down? Click fraud. What does it mean? Click fraud is the term used to describe someone clicking on a search ad with ill intent. A fraudulent clicker can exploit the way Web ads work to rack up fees for a business rival, boost the placement of his own ads or make money for himself. Some people even employ software that automatically clicks on ads multiple times. Click fraud is one of the serious problems plaguing the Internet, alongside spam, identity theft and online-auction fraud. Some believe 20% of clicks on ads are from people not necessarily interested in the product advertised, and therefore in the industry's view, fraudulent. Others say the problem is less severe. What's clear is that if left unchecked, click fraud could damage the credibility of Google, Yahoo (YHOO) and the whole search-ad industry, and seriously cut into their future growth.

Speak to advertisers and you'll hear less concern with click fraud and much more concern with the cost effectiveness of their key word searches on Google, Yahoo, etc. which many claim have dropped. Many gave up advertising in traditional places like the telephone yellow pages for Google. Now many are giving up Google, saying it's overpriced and not cost-effective. Hence the price reduction in the Fathom Online study. Google, as you know, doesn't set prices for its key word searches, it lets advertisers bid for them -- sort of like an eBay auction. Declining revenues is bad for Google.

Tell that to Citigroup. Their analysts initiated coverage today on Google with a buy and a $360 price target. I suspect that this exceptionally dumb report was written before the latest information came out. If you want to read it, click here. If you want to read the Fathom Online report, click here.

Google (GOOG) is going lower.

Ticks make Lyme Disease: And Lyme Disease is debilitating. I got one on the weekend, though I wasn't tramping through the woods. I was playing tennis. I did my research and found a lot of confusing information. I tend to believe the following because it comes from the U.S. Government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Perform a tick check and remove attached ticks: The transmission of B. burgdorferi (the bacteria that causes Lyme disease) from an infected tick is unlikely to occur before 36 hours of tick attachment. For this reason, daily checks for ticks and promptly removing any attached tick that you find will help prevent infection. Embedded ticks should be removed using fine-tipped tweezers. DO NOT use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish, or other products. Grasp the tick firmly and as closely to the skin as possible. With a steady motion, pull the tick's body away from the skin. The tick's mouthparts may remain in the skin, but do not be alarmed. The bacteria that cause Lyme disease are contained in the tick's midgut or salivary glands. Cleanse the area with an antiseptic.

How to remove ticks

Taking preventive antibiotics after a tick bite:
The relative cost-effectiveness of post-exposure treatment of tick bites to avoid Lyme disease in endemic areas (areas where the disease is known to occur regularly) is dependent on the probability of B. burgdorferi infection after a tick bite. In most circumstances, treating persons who only have a tick bite is not recommended. Individuals who are bitten by a deer tick should remove the tick promptly, and may wish to consult with their health care provider. Persons should promptly seek medical attention if they develop any signs and symptoms of early Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, or babesiosis.

Use personal protection measures: If you are going to be in areas that are tick infested, wear light-colored clothing so that ticks can be spotted more easily and removed before becoming attached. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and tucking pants into socks or boot tops may help keep ticks from reaching your skin. Ticks are usually located close to the ground, so wearing high rubber boots may provide additional protection.

The risk of tick attachment can also be reduced by applying insect repellents containing DEET (n,n-diethyl-m toluamide) to clothes and exposed skin, and applying permethrin (which kills ticks on contact) to clothes. DEET can be used safely on children and adults but should be applied according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines to reduce the possibility of toxicity.

Classic Australian Insults and Curses
"May your ears turn into arseholes and shit on your shoulders."

"Not enough brains to give 'imself a headache!"

"You must be the world's only living brain donor."

"He's a few wanks short of an orgasm."

"He had a head on him like a sucked mango."

"May your chooks (Australian for chickens) turn into emus and kick your dunny (Australian outhouse) down."

"He's got a few roos (short for Kangaroos) loose in the top paddock."

"So stupid that he wouldn't know a tram was up him 'til the bell rang!"

"If I had a dog that looked like him, I'd shave its arse and make it walk backwards."

"He wouldn't go two rounds with a revolving door."

"Your face is like a twisted Ugg boot."

"She's been hit with the ugly stick too many times."

"He thinks his shit doesn't stink, but his farts give him away."

"Fell out of the ugly tree, and hit every branch on the way down."

"If I had a head like yours, I'd circumcise it."

There are others. But even I couldn't publish them.

Harry Newton

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. That money will help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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