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Friday, October 11, 2013

The thing people forget about.



Things go up. They go down. And after they swing, attitudes are different. If a company has money, you generally don't care much about what it's doing. The company has money, that's all that matters. But when cash gets tight for a publicly traded company, a whole new set of rules apply, regardless of direction or earnings.

I would say drowning in cash, especially for a well established company (like Apple) bears caution. Look at what they are doing with the cash. Using it wisely, or diversifying needlessly? How is the core business?

One thing's for sure: when the market is up, and companies are up. People get careless. The good plan, for companies and people, is to have cash at hand to expand or invest when markets are down and everyone is selling.

Obvious yes. But we forget how powerful this fact of psychology powers us.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Looking at Stocks

In this very cynical and self serving post I'll be talking about stocks that I own. Cynically I would hope for the blog to become popular and for you to follow my thoughts. You may even want to invest in stocks I own. I can tell you perfectly seriously that I don't guarantee any return from my musings. I don't even get a return sometimes.

That being said, I occasionally do better than the indexes, and sometimes worse. On the other hand, I keep a large amount of my money, unwisely, in cash. This is to guard against my own ignorance. That's my first rule of investing:

You as a stock trader are ignorant, in ways you don't even know.

This is a Black Swan type of ignorance, in that you can't even gauge the gulf of your lack of knowledge. What this means from a practical standpoint is that I am making hopefully sensible and educated guesses about companies, because (and this is crucial) they ALL have the potential to do something illegal, stupid, or both. And they are ALL subject to chance disasters and events.

HOWEVER, by following Seth Klarman's logic and diversifying, you can fairly well cushion yourself, if you have the nerve to let the market swing around. Here is my rule of practical stock trading.

It's very easy to to buy a stock. It's hard as can be to sell it. 

This is because your decision to sell puts your ignorance on line. You CAN"T know the future of a stock at any time but when selling you have immediate feedback on your decision. If it goes down after you sell it, you wonder if you should have held it a little longer. If it goes up, you really kick yourself for not holding it longer. Any loss, even a minimized loss (such bailing out near a bottom before the final bottom) is a negative. And any gain after you sell is a negative.

No wonder Buffet tries to find stocks he can hold 'forever'.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Self Centeredness

Can't get away from it. Knowledge is a moth. It sits on a tree and doesn't care, nor does it make any sense, not really. But it's fine.

Those of us who remain unknown and anonymous know a simple truth: The world doesn't care. With this knowledge we can despair or celebrate. It still doesn't care.

So some of us believe in a God that cares, because otherwise is pure cynicism and disillusionment. Only God is a big enough concept to hold all the discoveries to be made in life while having a social and spiritual face of caring.


Samsung Ativ 500t Tablet

I got this puppy yesterday from Office Depot.

Background: I've had a Motion LE1600 since 2009 using it for drawing and for everything else.

This isn't going to be your average outlined review, because what I really want to put down is my experience with this tablet.

First of all, as everyone says, its very oblong. In fact its as long as my LE1600 but about 2 inches narrower. Do I like this? No and yes.

The oblong style works perfect for me in portrait mode. It gives room for the onscreen keyboard at the bottom while leaving a good standard size area, close to 4:3 at the top. In essence, this design makes it better for couch computing, which I've been doing since 2009, before Steve Jobs ever hinted at such a thing.

I have not gotten a keyboard yet, because I really want to give the onscreen operation a chance. A keyboard is just another bother and if I can do without, I'd prefer that.

My Samsung Ativ is still in its plastic and I use my LE1600 stylus, the Samsung Stylus is small. It would do in a pinch. I am not happy with stylus calibration, haven't figured out yet how to get it to work right for portrait mode. The factory settings seem as good as anything else, but I do not recommend them with Sketchbook Pro 6 just yet.

Everything else about the stylus tracking is fine, much better than LE 1600.

Windows 8 in desktop mode is still different from Win 7 mainly because I use file explorer without bells and whistles and the new interface is slightly different. But it is coming along.

I use Firefox with Grab and Drag, and it works great. I'm using both touch and stylus and have this to say:

As a lefty, I find the back of my hand causing unwanted backscreen behavior. I think this will just take getting used to. Currently, my favorite mode of operation is to leave the screen locked in portrait mode. I've turned the smart brightness off and opted for fairly low levels of brightness the darned thing will blind you otherwise.

I removed Norton Antivirus and am using Windows Defender. I have turned off indexing. I have put files on a 32gb microSD card and am running Calibre and MediaMonkey. Tonight I will load my legacy photo editing and word processing software.

The windows metro interface is just different, trying to be like android and apple, with a little more pizazz. I've rearranged the tiles so that the desktop and Firefox are handy. I'd like to get Calibre up as a live tile and also my Web based email login, but haven't had time to explore that now, so I run them from the desktop.

The onscreen keyboard has several variants. The handwriting recognition input is miles above Tablet XP and has a multiline interface. There are three keyboards, an android style, a split keyboard, and a full pc style keyboard. The android is what I'm using for now, but may change to the full, it depends.

This is not a blinding fast computer. It does what I need it to do, but has a few pauses here and there. That being said, I used it all day yesterday, heavily loading and moving things around, and the battery lasted into the night. To me, this is crucial, it changes the device to something more on the order of an ipad or my simple nook, using even less battery than my phone.

The screen is a little small(narrow!)  for reading pdfs, but flowed epubs are fine.  A test will be this weekend when I try some technical pdfs on it.

I've had a few network droputs, but this seems related to my wireless router and happens with all my devices. Because I really want this thing to work, I'm giving it a lot of thought and attention. To setup. I keep all my documents in separate directories on the SD Card.

I've used Filezilla to tie the Ativ to a Terabyte server drive in the backroom with no problems. I try to keep a smart backup of all my files on this terabyte drive, but this isn't automated and I'm not sure if it can be.

I was able to import all my Firefox bookmarks with sync, which is great. If we can get stylus calibration issues out of the way, this will be a very welcome replacement for my aging LE 1600, which I admit had stylus calibration issues of its own. It was also a battery hog and haltingly slow, with lousy onscreen keyboard response.

My favorite way to use the Ativ is with stylus in hand and also using touchscreen at times. Very intuitive for me. I would like to spring for a version of Painter if we get the stylus working better.

I've read that the Ativ feels cheap, but don't get that. To me the weight and thickness put it in a class with the Ipad, although this is not iOs, it's Windows, for both good and bad. The Ativ recognizes my windows printer just like the LE 1600 did.

Internet pages are more are less ok, spacing sometimes requires a little hand dragging, but thats what fingers are for. I will also be getting a screen protector, because Gorilla glass WILL scratch under my stylus. I'm rough on screens. A case or sleeve will also be a must. Ideal would be a sleeve that folds up into a pocket when not in use.

I'm not a big movie streamer, but youtube seems to work just fine within firefox on the desktop. Windows Journal is something I use with my wallpaper background when I want to write notes directly on the screen. I did this with the LE1600 and it makes me feel at home.

Long term, I hope to gradually ease into using more of Windows 8 apps, eventually moving away from my legacy programs. That will probably take some time.

All in all, I'm satisfied so far. I expect we will have many more options and better tablets in just a few months, but it was time for me to change.