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Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor. Previous Columns
8:30 AM Tuesday, March 1, 2005: The only lesson I can figure from my 401(k) disaster (see yesterday) is don't let your human resources person/accountant pick the mutual fund for your 401(k). But it was the mid-1980s and who knew better? Who knew B from A? Moreover, I had a new business to grow at that time. And the whole thing started with less than $2,000. Reader Karl Harrop, writes,

"Hi Harry,
I see a lot of people who come in with B share funds and annuities with hefty CDSC (Contingent Deferred Sales Charge -- i.e. back-end) sales charges. They make me ill. Typically, the broker who was initially paid no longer feels to have an obligation to service the client. Not only did the clock stop ticking when you went into the money market fund, be aware that many fund families will keep the funds in B share even when the CDSC period ends. B shares usually add about 1% or so to the expense ratio compared with A share funds. If you don't see any funds in the family you like, and you have a ways to go before the penalty ends, I'd pay for the "education" & find a more cost effective investment. Chances are that you will make back the penalty with the savings from lower expense investments.

Just for giggles, I'm going to guess Putnam, although B shares from all firms are usually about the same. Like most annuities, they are terrible investments."

Well the firm was Dreyfus -- the answer to yesterday's quiz. Dreyfus makes up for in advertising (the lion) what their funds lack in quality and what their people lack in helpfulness -- one horrible company. I'm emotionally against letting them take their penalty. So I'm "researching" their fund family, praying that one or two funds will turn up with merit. So far, my pickings are thin.

Bloggers: There are thousands of blogs on the Internet. They look like a normal web page. What distinguishes a "blog" from my column is that a blog accepts and publishes contributions by readers, which the readers post themselves. Many blogs focus on specific product and service problems. Reporters from many magazines monitor blogs for story ideas. Blogs often report problems before the companies discover them. As a result, companies are reading blogs to see their problems before they get out of hand and they get national press.

New software is being developed that can float around the Internet, read blogs and figure if a blog posting about a product or service is positive or negative (also calling flaming). Blogs often have things called RSS feeds, which is the new way of sending information directly to your computer's screen -- typically as a scrolling bar. Two main companies are and Another called Hitwise helps businesses answer the question "How does your business compare online?" According to its website, "Each day Hitwise reports on how 25 Million Internet users interact with over 500,000 websites across 160+ industries."

Yesterday, CNET's, reported "Kanoodle, a search-advertising specialist, wants to help turn blogging into small business. On Monday, the company introduced a self-service system that lets online publishers pair advertising with their RSS feeds. Called BrightAds RSS (after the technology format known as Really Simple Syndication), the service takes advantage of Kanoodle's keyword advertising system to match Web content to relevant ads. Once a publisher signs up, an advertising link will piggyback on its syndicated feed sent to third-party news readers.

And with the help of Moreover Technologies, the service will offload a publisher's infrastructure demands of delivering RSS feeds to hundreds or thousands of readers. Moreover's technology will do the work.

"This is democratization of content," said Jim Pitkow, CEO of Moreover. "The benefit is that small publishers now have a choice as to if and how they make money from their content."

RSS feeds are a key area of interest among major news outlets, investors and technology companies. The publishing standard has flourished, but many experimenting with the format have yet to figure out how to profit from it.

New York-based Kanoodle and Moreover, based in San Francisco, have been testing RSS advertising for more than six months, and according to Pitkow, the tests have been profitable. With BrightAds RSS, more publishers will be able to sign up for automatic advertising links. And the three companies will share in the fees collected from marketers each time people click on an ad."

Want more on RSS? Click here.

This flying story is disturbing: It turns out, according to today's Wall Street Journal, that a British Airways 747 had an engine fail during takeoff in Los Angeles 10 days ago. But instead of returning to the airport to land, Flight 268 continued on across the U.S, up near the North Pole, across the Atlantic -- all the way to England. The flight, with 351 passengers on board, didn't quite make it to London, its scheduled destination. It made an emergency landing in Manchester, England, setting off a controversy over the risk of flying 10 hours with a dead engine hanging under the wing.

For U.S. airlines, Federal Aviation Administration regulations require commercial carriers to land at the nearest suitable airport after an engine failure. However, British Air and safety experts say that British regulations don't. In the complex world of aviation law, which is governed by bilateral treaties and international agreements, the bottom line is that the FAA doesn't have jurisdiction over a British crew in this instance.

It seems to make sense to fly American airlines, even bankrupt ones.

A decent idea: I have a decent idea for a new business startup about once every three years. I had one last night. That's why this column is a bit short this morning.

One hell of a headache: The doctor said, "Joe, the good news is I can cure your headaches. The bad news is that it will require castration. You have a very rare condition, which causes your testicles to press on your spine, and the pressure creates one hell of a headache. The only way to relieve the pressure is to remove the testicles."
Joe was shocked and depressed. He wondered if he had anything to live for. He couldn't concentrate long enough to answer, but decided he had no choice but to go under the knife.
When he left the hospital he was without a headache for the first time in 20 years, but he felt like he was missing an important part of himself.
As he walked down the street, he realized that he felt like a different person. He could make a new beginning and live a new life. He saw a men's
clothing store and thought, "That's what I need - a new suit."
He entered the shop and told the salesman, "I'd like a new suit." The elderly tailor eyed him briefly and said, "Let's see...size 44 long."
Joe laughed, "That's right, how did you know?"
"Been in the business 60 years!"
Joe tried on the suit. It fit perfectly. As Joe admired himself in the mirror, the salesman asked, "How about a new shirt?" Joe thought for a
moment and then said, "Sure."
The salesman eyed Joe and said, "Let's see, 34 sleeve and 16-1/2 neck."
Joe was surprised, "That's right, how did you know?"
"Been in the business 60 years!"
Joe tried on the shirt, and it fit perfectly. As Joe adjusted the collar in the mirror, the salesman asked, "How about new shoes?"
Joe was on a roll and said, "Sure." The salesman eyed Joe's feet and said, "Let's see...9-1/2 E." Joe was astonished, "That's right, how did you know?"
"Been in the business 60 years!"
Joe tried on the shoes and they fit perfectly. Joe walked comfortably around the shop and the salesman asked, "How about some new underwear?"
Joe thought for a second and said, "Sure." The salesman stepped back, eyed Joe's waist and said, "Let's see...size 36."
Joe laughed "Ah ha! I got you! I've worn size 34 since I was 18 years old"
The salesman shook his head, "You can't wear a size 34. A size 34 underwear would press your testicles up against the base of your spine and give you one hell of a headache."

And your sheep?
While riding one day, a cowboy met an Indian riding along with a dog and sheep and he began a conversation. Cowboy: "Hey, nice dog you got there. Mind if I speak to him?"
Indian: "Dog no talk."
Cowboy: "Hey dog, how's it going?"
Dog: "Doin' alright."
Indian:( Look of shock )
Cowboy:"Is this Indian your owner?" ( Pointing at the Indian )
Dog: "Yep."
Cowboy: "How does he treat you?"
Dog: "Real good. He walks me twice a day, feeds me great food, and takes me to the lake once a week to play."
Indian:( Look of disbelief )
Cowboy: "Mind if I talk to your horse?"
Indian: "Horse no talk."
Cowboy: "Hey horse, how's it going?"
Horse: "Good."
Indian:( Extreme look of shock )
Cowboy: "Is this your owner?" ( Pointing at the Indian )
Horse: "Yep."
Cowboy: "How does he treat you?"
Horse: "Pretty good, thanks for asking. He rides me regularly, brushes me down often, and keeps me in a shed to protect me."
Indian:( Complete look of utter amazement )
Cowboy: "Mind if I talk to your sheep?"
Indian: "Sheep lie."

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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