Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Firefox 3.5 is out, cool add-ins

One major improvement which my wife mentioned before as the reason she preferred IE7, there's a "new tab" quick button.

Download link: www.getfirefox.com

Interesting, Microsoft didn't bother making a compatible version of their silverlight control for Firefox 3.5.

I just installed and it seems faster (but truly, I have no real measurement - I thought it was adequately fast before).

I quickly added two new and cool add-ins:
Personas for Firefox - easy themes
FoxTab - cool animated tab management

I also have running UPromise's add-in, and Ad-Block-Plus.


Let's say you had a heads up of 14 hours before Titanic collides ice berg... California to hit an ice berg


California: 14 hours and counting to IOUs

Form the SF Gate: No sign of budget with deadline approaching (ht shill)

Despite a deadline looming tonight, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature were at a loss Monday over how to close the state's massive deficit, and there were no signs a compromise would be reached soon.

If no plan is adopted by 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, the state plans to issue IOUs to contractors, vendors, local governments and taxpayers expecting refunds beginning Thursday. The governor plans to force 220,000 state workers to take a third unpaid day off beginning in July ...
Will retailers accept IOUs?

IOU - what dollar bills used to be to gold. Can you buy groceries with that? So the solution to having no money - is to issue your own currency, smart.

Found on my scrolling RSS utility...

Hedge Fund Guy Says: Madoff Investors were 'Greedy' - should have probed their own hedge fund guy further

Because the Hedge fund industry is so well known for their transparency and honesty... really?!

Shameless daylight mugger

CNBC: Madoff Investors 'Greedy': Hendry

People who invested with Bernard Madoff were greedy and happy to accept high returns without probing too much in the way these were achieved, Hugh Hendry, chief investment officer at hedge fund Eclectica, told CNBC Tuesday.

"I'm sympathetic for people losing money but I think this pejorative term of being greedy still applies," Hendry told CNBC.com. "There was an implicit greed in not questioning and just accepting unnatural returns."

"They didn't show the requisite amount of fear that would have generated the curiosity to investigate," he said, adding that for every one Madoff investor, there were ten who stayed on the sidelines.

Regarding the indirect victims of Madoff, those who didn't know that their money was put in the Ponzi scheme, "shame on their advisors," Hendry said.

You know that the best way to attract new multi-million dollar customers is to call them "greedy". Nice job.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Free Stocks Ticker" Change Log

This page shall maintain changes made to "Free Stocks Ticker", to experience my free open sourced application, click: Download Here

Changes Log

Version 1.4.3 - September 20 2010
* Tooltip and slowdown bugs resolved
* Support Mono on Linux (not verified for Mac OS-X, but assumed working)
* Volume and other financial stats in tooltip while hovering a stock

Version 1.4.1 - August 29 2010
* Scrolling slowed while hovering
* Show link in tool-tip to identify where's the title coming from when viewing random multiple sources

Version 1.3.1 - Jan 20 2010
* Fix crash when quote has no company name when not recognized by Yahoo

Version 1.3.0 - Nov 20 2009
* AppBar/Always on top mode
* Shift-Click instead of click to open web page option
* Bug fix:When taskbar on top of screen, in the past the ticker forms would not show
* Allow hiding default feeds (foxnews and cnn)
* support atom feeds

Version 1.2.2 - Aug 31 2009
In anticipation of windows 7, as well as vista UAC, the application will by default save settings at "my documents" instead of alongside the executable.
Version 1.2.1 - July 20 2009
RSS posts preview in tooltip when hovering over scrolling RSS lines

Version 1.2 - June 22nd 2009
* Improve color scheming and standardized stock quote format
* Hovering over a stock shows a tooltip for recent stock headlines
* New installer

Version 1.1 - May 7th 2009
These improvements where gradually available in Beta zipped binaries between version 1.0 and 1.1
* Configuration dialog
* Edit stocks dialog
* Randomize all RSS
* RSS icon at all times except Fox/Cnn/Yahoo
* Extra scrolling lines
* RSS reader fixes

Version 1.0 - October 16th 2008
* Simple one line scrolling which could be configured by editing settings XML file.

Final but important note:
Any improvement suggestion would be gladly accepted in the comments, or via email:

If there are any complaints or bugs - feel free to contact me. I believe I responded and fixed things in the past.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Government to pay for slaughter of cows in attempt to engineer cost of milk

What part of "International surplus" don't they understand? Will anyone remember this story next time a tale of famine is told?

Bloomberg: Dairy-Cow Kill to Double Milk Price After Slump
Dino Giacomazzi, whose great- grandfather started the Giacomazzi Dairy in Hanford, California, in 1893, said he had no choice but to sell 100 cows, or 11 percent of his herd, in the past four months. Rising feed prices and a world surplus meant it cost as much as $17 to produce $10 of milk.

“Producers are in an absolute state of panic,” said Giacomazzi, 40. “To spend 100 years building a dairy business and see much of that equity disappear in a year is very troubling.”

Farmers plan to shift the pain to consumers. The National Milk Producers Federation in Arlington, Virginia, will pay dairies to slaughter 103,000 U.S. cows in coming months. Milk futures prices will double next year to a record $23 per 100 pounds (43.5 kilograms) as the herd shrinks by 171,000 head, the most since 1989, said Michael Swanson, a senior economist at Wells Fargo & Co., the largest lender to U.S. farmers.

The cuts will lead to the first two-year drop in output in four decades and higher prices in 2010 for butter, cheese, milk and the non-fat dry powder that’s a benchmark for global exports, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts. Futures for delivery in September 2010 trade 56 percent above today’s prices on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Retail butter prices may rise above the record of $3.937 a pound and cheddar cheese may top $5.097 a pound, according to Jerry Dryer, 65, the editor of the industry newsletter Dairy & Food Market Analyst in Delray Beach, Florida.

‘Big Spike Up’

“We could easily see $20 milk again next year,” said Richard Bradfield, a vice president of the dairy business at International Ingredient Corp., a manufacturer of specialty feed products in Fenton, Missouri. “The longer these low prices last, the greater the potential for a big spike up in prices as dairies make larger cuts.”


New Zealand Exports

New Zealand exported 50.8 million kilograms of milk powder to China in the three months ended March 31, more than four times as much as the same period a year earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand. Dairies are the country’s biggest export earner, accounting for about 20 percent of trade receipts, government data show.

Whatever happens with demand, a recovery won’t be possible without a cull in the industry, said the Milky Way Dairy’s Gailey.

“We are in a depression right now,” he said. “I have to be an optimist that the dairy farmers can get together and find a way to reduce the cow herd about 5 percent so that prices can recover quickly.”

IMHO this is over reaction to a temporal slump in the commodities market. By all means, this interventionism is an attempt to forcefully induce inflation. I feel for the farmers, but isn't this always the plight of all sorts of farmers? They produce one type of commodity, and at times that particular commodity becomes uneconomic, sometimes for months - sometimes for years. Perhaps it is time to review how trade is performed (not to impose protectionism, just review the physical trade platform) - because if everyone is losing, there might be something wrong with the system. The commodities markets have always been manipulated by big money guns.

Perhaps other business opportunities are available? Export more meat, produce specialty dairy products, local fairs - many different options?

Just thinking out loud.

Related, Wolverine milk ad:

Image source: here.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Market crash Monday - an opportunity before markets shoot up or new bear down leg?

Consider this graph and commentary from BespokeInvest:

Market Inflection Point
Down 2% at the midway point of the trading day, the S&P 500 is also trading right around its 50-day and 200-day moving averages. At the same time, the 50-day is set to cross above the 200-day soon, which is considered a positive technical formation. If the index ends up closing below both of these moving averages, it will be interesting to see whether the negatives of this breakdown will outweigh the positives of the 50/200-day moving average cross.

Now look at the developing markets indexes - and think: When markets collapse more than 4% in a day at the heel of a bear market, is that a bullish signal or a run for the exit doors?

Russia's Micex index down over 20% since June 1 (and an extra 8.3% today)

EWZ - Brazil ETF down 5.3 today. EEB - brazil, china, russia and india etf down 5.2% today.

I call today's action suspicious and unexpected, but it's just me. Not a professional. It is so disconnected from actual news that it reminds me of the days of September 2009, just before the horrible news poured out. Someone knows something, perhaps some people.

If you feel it is time to turn conservative with your investment, I've collected a few sample portfolios over at iCarra over the last year - go ahead and check it out:

* The smoke and mirrors portfolio: Deflation+Grocery Stores
* The Worst Imaginable Portfolio Of Stocks?
* It’s raining bears (bearded bear static portfolio)
* Go no where Portfolio
* Strategic Income Portfolio
* Collection of Standard Sample Portfolios (Balanced, Conservative, Growth etc)

Here's a graph of my "conservative/income" portfolio, based on the last post linked above:
icarra chart
DES 10% - small cap dividends
DLN 15% - large cap dividends
DON 13% - mid-cap dividends
DTH 5% - international dividends
FXE 26% - cash: euros+interest
PLW 31% - bonds: laddered treasuries

I hope my gut feeling is wrong, and this might just be a simple correction.


Download "Free Stocks Ticker" - scrolling RSS Headlines and Financial quotes utility

Download page moved here: http://freestocksticker.blogspot.com


Ever notice the scrolling ticker at the bottom of your TV while watching news channels? Bring it to your PC desktop.

"Free Stocks Ticker" - A highly customizable open sourced free scrolling stocks or news titles from RSS feeds. Default feeds include Fox-news, CNN and Yahoo news. Quotes are downloaded from Yahoo. The utility uses very little CPU power. Users can quickly change what is scrolled by selecting different feeds from the context menu. The utility allows multiple lines at the top or bottom of the screen. Easily change which stocks are being quoted and which RSS feeds area available.


License and liability:
I hope it helps you, I don’t take any responsibility regarding how you use it or what it does to your computer. The license is simple: free to use, free to change code - don’t remove link-back and credit from application.
Yes, it's free - you can still show your appreciation, any donation greatly appreciated.

For more info, please visit Free Stocks Ticker Change Log

If you like "Free Stocks Ticker", you're going to love the freeware: EzBackTest.

Have fun and spread the word around, support this site - click on an ad. (if there is any like ad-sense)
You may also be interested in my other open sourced free releases:
Or check out my compilation of recommended freeware applications.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

My girls gave me two drawings in the morning and we had an excellent picnic at Kensington park.

Father's day - what better day to have a pabst blue ribbon beer and say Cheers?!

Image from here (click to buy an original poster from 1947

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Funny: The return of fail blog

It's Friday, relax - calm down - and get ready to forget your work week over the weekend. To facilitate the transition, enjoy choice selection of funny fail images from the FAILBlog

Beach Ball Fail

Baby Goods Fail

Playground Fail

Obvious Fail

Appropriate music:
Take A Bite Outta Rhyme...


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Detroit slowly but surely becoming a ghost town

Consider this:
Retailers Head for Exits in Detroit
DETROIT -- They call this the Motor City, but you have to leave town to buy a Chrysler or a Jeep.

Borders Inc. was founded 40 miles away, but the only one of the chain's bookstores here closed this month. And Starbucks Corp., famous for saturating U.S. cities with its storefronts, has only four left in this city of 900,000 after closures last summer.

There was a time early in the decade when downtown Detroit was sprouting new cafes and shops, and residents began to nurture hopes of a rebound. But lately, they are finding it increasingly tough to buy groceries or get a cup of fresh-roast coffee as the 11th largest U.S. city struggles with the recession and the auto-industry crisis.

No national grocery chain operates a store here. A lack of outlets that sell fresh produce and meat has led the United Food and Commercial Workers union and a community group to think about building a grocery store of its own.

With the price of homes at rock bottom, and the chains fleeing - no new businesses opening and major industries filing chapter 11, Detroit is becoming the saddest urban story in the history of the US.

Sad :-(

Photo from an everything DETROIT online store. For nostalgia.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sad reality: If you win this $3 Million Mansion - you're likely to end up a tax criminal. Can't afford it.

An excellent article on CNBC:
Can You Afford to 'Win' a $3 Million Mansion?
When Laura Brannan and her husband first advertised $10 raffle tickets for a chance to win their $3 million waterfront mansion, people thought it was just another South Florida real-estate scam.

This one isn’t a scam, but it’s probably wise to be wary of offers that seem too good to be true.

The truth is, just because you win this raffle doesn’t mean you can afford to keep the house. You may just be signing up to be part of the latest trend — foreclosure. And just because you win doesn’t mean you’ll actually get the house.

Raffles like this can be dangerous because they lure people who don’t necessarily have the money to maintain a multimillion dollar home into thinking that they can.

Think about it: If you have the $500,000 to $1 million-plus you’re going to have to pay in income tax for winning such a pricey asset, would you be entering a $10 raffle in the first place?

So, often, these types of raffles wind up with the winner having to sell the home to pay the taxes.

But guess what? This is South Florida, one of the hardest hit regions in this recession, and the reason why the Brannans resorted to a raffle in the first place is because they couldn’t find a buyer for the home. (Well, they did find a few buyers, including a couple from Russia and one from Germany. But the buyers couldn’t get the financing — downpayments on jumbo mortgages and for foreigners are pretty hefty.)

If you can’t afford the taxes, and you can’t sell it, you know what that means — you’re joining the foreclosure bandwagon.

It should also be noted that just because you “win” doesn’t mean you’ll actually get the house.

South Florida requires any raffle to involve a not-for-profit organization.

So, this is what they call a 50/50 drawing — if they don’t sell all 300,000 tickets, they’ll split the money, with 50 percent going to the winner and 50 percent going to charity.

That’s actually pretty common in these types of drawings.

So far, they’ve sold over 30,000 tickets. So, on the bright side, your $10 ticket could net you $150,000. Plus, their charity, the Mission of St. Francis, gets $150,000.

That’s probably the best-case scenario for most people — getting the money, not the house. But then, of course, that still leaves the Brannans with a $3 million house they can’t afford.

A word to the wise: If you’re going to invest the ten bucks in a raffle like this one, you should probably also get your self an attorney and an accountant.

Brannan said they’ll have a certified public accountant on hand the day of the drawing to answer any questions.

And, they have several financial investors who have offered to be there the day of the auction to assist anyone suffering from, er — winner’s remorse.

Brannan said if the winner realizes he or she can’t afford the house, the investors say they'll offer to buy the house from them in cash.

Of course, them being investors and said winner being desperate, they'll probably offer no more than 50 cents on the dollar for the house. Brannan said the house has been appraised for $1.9 million, which means you could net up to $1 million.

Not a bad return on a $10 investment.

Just don’t obsess over the numbers.

Take the money and go call your lawyer!

Oh, and don't be surprised if you don't see more of these housing raffles — Brannan said they've gotten calls from desperate homeowners from all over the country, asking for the Brannans to help raffle off their homes.

Brannan said they're thinking about it — they both work in the real-estate business and their income is 25 percent of what it once was.

But for now, they're just focused on this one.


Monday, June 15, 2009

A Thrifty Trend Indeed

I'm back from a trip to Israel - and I might even blog once or twice this week in this blog. I had great fun visiting Family I haven't seen for 5 years as well as enjoying the excellent local cuisine. I was officially on a work related trip and I added a few vacation days to take positive advantage of the situation.

Back to the purpose of this blog.... writing to the void that is occasional internet stumbler expressing my opinions about being frugal.

No - money doesn't grow on that tree either

I once again would like to reiterate what this blog is about. Much like my former blog - this blog is not about being Cheap. It is not about being stingy. It is about being fiscally concerned, hence the former title of the blog: "Not Cheap, Fiscally Concerned". I don't believe money should be stocked for the sake of keeping warmth at the bank or under the bed sheets. No - my approach to money and life is that it should be saved for actual needs and goals. Sure - being rich would be nice - but realistically - one would not get rich by stocking a few pennies each month. One does become cheap and annoying in his attempts.

So one may choose a different path. A path to save a buck - to enjoy that buck - or to put it to practical use. One can be concerned, even seem cheap - however once that saved-buck has a purpose, it is easier to keep focused.

Therefore, we become thrifty. We seek ways to keep as much of our hard earn money close to us. And at this point in time, many are following this trend. There is a definite trend to tighten the buckle, to be more thrifty.

It is easy to find relevant news items in harsh times. As the following small recent list of headlines suggests:

Will western society continue this thrifty trend once supposed prosperity does peek through? Politically motivated financial pundits claim these days that prosperity is no where to be seen in the near future. If you take their word - then the trend will continue.

Speaking of economic perspectives, since there is a recognized thrifty trend, will only the end of this trend signify an end of the recession? I believe growth is possible even in frugal times. Simply more tame and sane growth, not one that relies on the public sinking to unmanageable debt.

We should all learn to live in our times. Within our means. Overcome the debt mountains, and live richly, following the thrifty trend.