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, November 28, 2007:
Down one day. Up the next. But the trend -- to my brain -- is for clearly downwards, for now.

I wish readers would stop sending me hate mail, telling me I'm anti-American because I'm feeling somewhat jittery and don't see persuasive, pervasive reasons to be generally in equities. That doesn't preclude special situations -- like Australian mining stocks. See below.

The best investment advice: Never, ever listen to a stock tip -- even one from your most successful investor-friend. The corollary of this is never, ever give investment advice to anyone -- even if you feel 1000% comfortable that your advice is sound.

Teaching computers to your people: An accountant I know can't do Excel. It remains amazing to me how many people working in computer-intensive environments do not understand how to use computers and/or the Internet. There are four ways of getting your people up to scratch:

1. Instruction books. Many people can't use them. Chalk that up to poor education in their youth.

2. Classes. They're often not useful because students are reluctant to ask questions, thus showing their ignorance.

3. One-on-one training. Very expensive.

4. The Video Professor's video training CDs. These are the ones heavily advertised on TV. My IT management friends tell me that these things actually work. Some of my IT friends have put together a lending library in the company. Employees can train themselves at their own pace and not be embarrassed by their slowness. The CDs are around $90. But you can get the first one for $7. Call 800-297-6151.

A huge entrepreneurial opportunity -- NOT : Verizon is opening its network to other people's devices. But the devices have to be tested -- for now -- in Verizon's labs. Figure months of delays. I have some communication going with senior Verizon management begging them to issue a standard and let anyone and everyone connect. I'm not optimistic.

Australia switched governments: It went from a Liberal government of 11 years (run by John Howard ) to a Labor government of Kevin Rudd. Traditionally Labor governments mean just that -- favoring workers at the expense of businessmen, cutting growth, spending like drunken sailors, etc. This shouldn't happen this time. Rudd has specifically said he won't mess with Howard's successful economic policies, which have created great prosperity, a huge export boom, a much stronger Australian dollar and a Federal government budget surplus in the past several years.

The "big" fear in Australia is that America's economy will slow. The U.S. will buy less from China . And China, in turn, will buy less of Australia's minerals. But no one in Australia seems particularly worried, since Europe is now buying more from China and China's own internal demand is exploding.

The second "big" worry in Australia is availability of credit. Like here, banks have tightened and it now costs more to borrow. The sub-prime contagion hit Australia, though not as heavily as here.

One delicious irony emerged from the Australian election. Kevin Rudd's wife (Therese Rein) is one of Australia's richest people. She has a job-finding / recruitment company of 1,300 employees and annual sales of $175 million. She's reputed to be worth $80-90 million. That number is impressive and in strong contrast to her husband's low-paid government job. The ultimate irony is that much of Rein's revenues come from the Federal Government, of which Rudd is now head. That's better than Cheney and Haliburton.

In short, I'm not worried about EWA or my Australian mining shares, which I have not sold.

Shooting yourself in the foot: My 45 years in business produced one lesson. You can never hurt your competitor as much as he can hurt himself. You are your own worst enemy. Two recent stories:

1. Samsung advertises its solid state disk drive (SSD) extensively in the computer press. But nowhere on Samsung's web site will you find where to buy it.

2. PCConnection (a big computer retailer) responds to my email "Do you sell the Samsung SSD?"

"Dear Valued Customer?

"This is an automated response. Please do not reply to this message.

"Thank you for your recent e-mail inquiry. Every effort will be made to respond within 2 business days."

The wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation says that "When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount." A reader commented that in government, education, and in corporate America , more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:

1. Buying a stronger whip.

2. Changing riders.

3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.

4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.

5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.

6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.

7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.

8. Harnessing several dead horses together.

9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase dead horse's performance.

10. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

And of course...

Promoting the dead horse to a management position.

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 on this site. Thus I cannot endorse, though some look 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 Michael's business school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.

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