Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

DelayedExec recieves award

Thanks to the guys at Downloadtube.com,
DelayedExec gets Top Software:
DelayedExec video tutorial at downloadtube.com

DelayedExec certified virus free:
DelayedExec antivirus scan report at downloadtube.com

For the latest version of DelayedExec, click here: Download DelayedExec page

Cheers!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

DelayedExec 1.1.5 Released

Well, it took me a while - but eventually I addressed the issue: UAC. I hate that addition to windows, and by default I disable it whenever I can. That being said - many users don't. And any application that attempts access to the registry flops miserably.

So while reading a recent positive review of DelayedExec I decided to finally take some action.

The solution was very easy and is demonstrated here.

To download, enter the application's page at my blog: Download DelayedExec.

I might add that I've just installed Windows 7 on one of my home PC-s, the one clunker which made me think of creating DelayedExec to begin with, and Windows 7 kicks ass. It fixes the windows startup sequence in particular. No it still doesn't let you choose a sequence and order, but Windows doesn't 'hang and die' while it tries to run everything at once on startup. I suspect it has more to do with services and internal windows lock mechanism finally doing what they're supposed to....

Cheers!

Wii console price drops to 199.99 at Amazon, Update: Bestbuy too

Gee... if I only waited.



Looking forward to a Wii 2, with HD - whenever you're ready Nintendo.

Cheers!

Update, Bestbuy sells Wii for 199 too.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Investopedia article: 10 Ways To Fight Rising Food Prices


No doubt food prices WILL rise. I've presented several articles recently discussing FALLING grocery prices. Perception of consumers will never change though... Be assured - prices will go up.

I quoted the headlines, and put my remarks in square brackets
10 Ways To Cut Your Food Costs

1. Dine In [Duh!!!]
2. Stock Up [check out 'how I budget', I did mention this]
3. Use reward cards [just make sure you let the savings flow unconsciously, don't chase it or you'll spend more than intended]
4. Stay on top of markdowns [thanks to my wife - who follows all weekly ads]
5. Pay in cash [I disagree, unless you lack any discipline - there are better ways]
6. Shake up your taste buds - buy lower priced ingredients [like I mention in 'how I budget']
7. Clip coupons [just make sure you use them when need to, not just buying because there's a coupon, nor drowning in unmanageable pile of clipped coupons]
8. Shop strategically - don't go hunting while shopping, make a list [we as a rule don't shop groceries on empty stomach]
9. Avoid prepared food [well... sometimes TV dinners are cheaper than making a whole meal]
10. Compare prices and stores [ Duh?! Who doesn't do this? Except most people shot where comfortable not where cheapest]


Cheers!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

So how well is Zune HD selling?

I'm not interested in arguing about this issue. I went to several best buy stores in Michigan and didn't see any excitement nor empty shelves. That being said, perhaps it's just not representative, it's still Michigan - the worst economy in the USA...

A tiny conversation on twitter raised the issue of Zune HD quickly selling out online at Bestbuy - searching in-store inventories in Michigan, some were out, some not.

Here's some headlines round up:
* GadgetCrave:Zune HD is Selling Well?
* CNet: Week in review: Zune goes HD, but does it matter?
* PC World: Zune HD: No iPod Killer
* LA Times: Microsoft's Zune HD player: It's still no iPod

And it is still "in stock" at Amazon:


I played with it a bit in one of the Best Buy store I was at. I'm more of a 'value purchase' guy and prefer Sansa to the 'touch and games' devices. So I can't give any kind of review... I did notice that old model Zunes with 120 gigs were on sale. 120G - that's enough to hold more than most people have in their legal music archive. Notice I used the word legal...

Cheers!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Intresting: Family Fun Magazine article about teaching kids about money

I've mentioned before, quite simply that Monopoly and PayDay are great ways to teach your kids about money. As it so happens, the October issue of 'Family Fun' magazine has many more interesting approaches and games recommended.



My 9 year old daughter is reading it right now, she was kind of annoyed that I was peaking... I won't scan it due to copyright issues. I suggest you order it, or pick it up a the library or store.

Cheers

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

As promissed, a few Niagara Falls photos from my recent trip

And it was some trip... please read my post about how my vacation in Canada went south.

Click image to view full size.
The wettest boat ride... everyone wears a plastic bag.
A view from the ferris wheel

Cheers!

PS, every trip you encounter amusing signs, for me anything 'Kafka' related sounds like sarcasm regarding government red tape - so of course, Kafka insurance caught my eye.

When artificial global recovery is no longer artificial

I'm just floating an idea, not a theory, not a conspiracy. Part of the global attempt to halt the financial catastrophe placed governments as the providers of credit to coorporations and emerging markets. The governments also floated different stimulus projects in an obvious attempt to push consumers into spending. I'm not saying the latter was too successfully (although some evidence would suggest it did).

In any case, the credit markets indicate a simple truth: The free market discounted all bonds of all types as junk - because the free market well dried up and no huge amount of money could recover it. The disease started with sub-prime backed US mortgages, but spread too quickly to emerging markets and corporate debt as soon as Lehman collapsed.

While this got very little attention from the media, at a particular point in time, all bonds of all creeds bottomed and shot up in an illogic way. I've mentioned this before, I find it difficult to comprehend why would you trust corporate debt to park your cash there. The artificial recovery imposed by world governments relieved the pain from emerging markets and eliviated their stress in attempt to refinance their debt.

This is what I call the artificial recovery. The recovery of the credit markets by government intervention.

But at this point, the countries outside of the US might feel so relieved - that they start consuming. Sure, not the private sectors who never had any power at emerging markets, but rather governments. Could it be that the artificial recovery is leading to a real one?

Could it be that the 'cash for clunkers' type programs have pushed a snow ball that will drive economies to consumption?

I don't know. I'm trying to understand this as I pontificate.

Thinking out loud
Cheers!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Niagara Falls: Breath taking views and a huge tourist trap

Update, for my photos from Niagara Falls click: here.

Niagara Falls at Night
Image from here, I'll post my own later this week

Let me begin with the 'on the bright side' story. We just returned from one of this planet's most amazing places - The Niagara Falls. Nature at all it's glory and is at display for all to see. We had the good fortune to view it on Friday evening illuminated and with fireworks, and then again at Saturday noon. We stayed and toured at the Canadian side. To view the park at day time, we parked for free at the Dufferin Island and hiked to Table Rock. We got to go under the mist and take awesome photographs at different stops.

Yesterday, on our way home, we traveled by car north and took some photographs at the Floral Clock, the power station and the botanic gardens.

A map of the area found at niagaraparks.com can be viewed by clicking here.

Unfortunately, coming from the US, I felt like many things around were overpriced or completely redundant attractions and casinos smartly positioned to welcome the million and more tourists coming to this great place each year.

An interesting 'park at your own risk' awaited us behind a souvenir shop. Doesn't encourage one to feel very secure. Although we made sure to lock our car at most times, and protect our belongings - we missed on the final night while parking in front of our hotel's lobby. Over night, someone broke into our car and stole our MP3 player, player-to-radio base station, and pack of CD-s.

What kind of a person steals a Dr.Sues book on CD read by Jason Alexander (Seinfeld's' George)? What kind of a jerk goes out of his way to make little girls cry?

Was it worth it? Stealing a 3 year old scratched MP3 player with subscription music set to expire? With an MP3 to radio base that's barely functioning? Of course I take blame for leaving ANYTHING in a car - but what kind of security can you find in Niagara Falls? None apparently. It's not easy traveling with 3 little children, one of whom a baby, trying to get from the car to the room when the entry to the hotel is not stroller friendly, we apparently left something behind - and when discovering this on our way back we were very-very disheartened.

I'll try to keep the good memories of this great place, but I don't think I ever want to come back.

While driving home to Michigan, we found no normal stop along the way in Canada. One stop had a sign 'no public washrooms, no exception'. Another had a sign saying 'public washroom 4.3 KM to the left'. The signs along the road were very unhelpful, leading us in the wrong direction.


My friend at work said exactly what I felt: We've just experienced the 'National Lampoon Family Vacation'. The Griswold R' us...


Cheers!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Will you believe the recovery is real now? Jobless claims drop

Yes - there's a dark side to every such report, but once again - unavoidable positive indicator regarding the economy. Recovery is real - bank on it.

New jobless claims fall more than expected to 550K
First-time claims for jobless benefits fell more than expected last week, evidence that companies are laying off fewer workers as the economy improves.

The Labor Department said Thursday that initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to a seasonally adjusted 550,000 from an upwardly revised 576,000 in the previous week. Analysts expected claims to drop to 560,000, according to Thomson Reuters.

The number of people continuing to receive benefits fell by 159,000 to nearly 6.1 million, the lowest level since early April.

The economy is showing consistent signs that the worst recession since the 1930s may be over. The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that 11 of its 12 regional banks reported the economy is stabilizing, an improvement from previous reports.

Still, the unemployment claims remain significantly above levels associated with a healthy economy and indicate that jobs remain scarce. Weekly initial claims are generally at 325,000 or below in a growing economy. A year ago, only 3.5 million people were receiving unemployment aid.

Economists closely watch initial claims, which are considered a gauge of layoffs and an indication of companies' willingness to hire new workers.


The 'Great Depression II' - no more?

For one thing, no one wears those silly hats, and we're not in black and white (joking)

Cheers!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The good news:Grocery aisle relief as food prices fall, The bad news:Groecery prices fall!

Well, those of us who are employed, and have not received a pay cut, and have not lost a ton of money in the market - are certainly happy to know that our monthly grocery expenditure is falling. We should have more money to save, or to spend on leisure, or repair the car etc.

The bad news, as far as the economy is concerned, is that this is a symptom of deflation, which in general is not good for our prospects of keep being employed, getting a raise, maintaining our net worth etc.


You might also be interested in saving on organic milk, oatmeal or even packages of knor pasta alfredo

Grocery aisle relief as food prices fall
Grocery shoppers are finally seeing some reprieve from last year's steep price increases.

Food prices are dropping on some key items as retailers slash prices to better compete and food makers do more promotions and pass along savings from lower ingredient and gasoline costs.

It's welcome relief for American consumers who are looking to save money as they cope with stagnant incomes, job loss and economic uncertainty.

Prices for dairy, meat, fruits, vegetables and bread have all fallen.

A Labor Department price index of food sold to be eaten at home fell for the seventh time in eight months in July. The index, which is part of the Consumer Price Index, fell 0.5 percent in the most recent month and is down 0.9 percent in the past 12 months.

In fact, overall food prices — what's sold in groceries and in restaurants — haven't risen on a monthly basis since November 2008.

Still, that doesn't make up for the surge in food prices from last year, when costs for ingredients like wheat and corn and fuel costs for transportation soared to record highs. Food makers raised their prices and some even shrank package sizes to protect their profits. CPI's food-at-home index finished last year up 6.7 percent, so the less than 1 percent drop so far this year doesn't erase that.

But ingredient costs for major food makers, including Heinz, Kraft and Hormel, are down about 28 percent on average as of Sept. 1, from the same time last year, according to Jonathan Feeney, food analyst for Janney Montgomery Scott.

That means the food industry now has room to give back some of those price hikes — and feed the frugal consumer who is using more coupons, buying more store brands and switching to discounters to stretch a budget.

Consumers' demand to save money is pressuring retailers and manufacturers to cut everyday prices and boost promotions throughout their stores.

"The consumer really is very much in charge of the effort," said Herb Walter, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers. "They're picking the price points they want and when they want it."

Safeway Inc. recently announced lower prices on milk, eggs, cheese and other basic items. Whole Foods Market Inc. says low prices on produce, such as organic berries, has meant significant savings for shoppers.

And Costco Wholesale Corp., which aims to be the first of its peers to lower prices and last to raise them, says prices are down on items from paper towels to prime-cut meat.

Costco's Chief Financial Officer Richard Gallanti said the company made some drastic moves in pricing, including reducing the price of its rotisserie chicken by $1. The company sells just under 1 million of these chickens a week, so it hurt margins.


Cheers!

PS: Did you know you can save money on groceries and perishables such as diapers at Amazon's groceries subscription?

Despite consensus that economy in ruins, traders believe 'Fierce' rally upon us

A technical analyst in Bloomberg reports:
S&P 500 Moving Averages Show ‘Fierce’ Rally: Technical Analysis
A rise in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s five-month moving average above its 15-month moving average for the first time since 2003 signals stocks are in the early stages of a bull market, said Alexander Associates LLP.

The S&P 500’s five-month moving average climbed to 974.39 yesterday, higher than the 15-month moving average of 972.56, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The five-month moving average rose above the 15-month line three other times in the past two decades: March 1991, October 1994 and July 2003. Each cross foreshadowed returns of at least 16 percent during the following 18 months.

“Every time you see these two cross, it signifies a major event,” said Anthony Hughes, a London-based investment manager at Alexander Associates. “It confirms the shift in market sentiment.”


Might I add that the S&P500 is trading above 200 DMA, and the 200 DMA is edging up, which is bullish.

On the fundamentals front, while the bears case is clear - one should always consider the flip side, such as the 'mini bull' theory.

One has always to consider both bull and bear cases as he asses risk. IMHO, there's risk aplenty, and enough reason to be risk averse. Then again, risk aversion post Lehman catastrophe might have saved you a buck in the drop, and kept you from the recent 60% rally. It depends on the timing. I don't think people could have actually timed the recent bottom, though there were technical indicators which suggested a huge rally at end of March. I have no real advice here, and to be honest, don't take my or any other blogger's advice on what to do next. The smart thing might be to reassess your own risk parameters, goals, and time horizon, and then conclude your own judgement regarding the market's prospects and the proper mix of income/equity/cash in your portfolio.

Cheers!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

And the strongest trending ETF is..... LQD?

Click for a sharper view of LQD's 6 month chart.


I drew the blue line to suggest the trend. The truth is, that although this trend is irrefutable and strong, the asset class has no where to go. Over a decade, the value of this ETF has not breached 113$. The current Yield is a miserable 5.59%. For corporate bonds? Because we all trust blue chips to pay their debt back?! No way.

This is as artificial as it gets. Whatever is driving this, it is calculated - and it supports a view that governments are working behind the scenes to revive cheap credit to big corporations to allow the economy to restart.

Considering the turmoil we have seen over the last decade, from the tech bubble, Enron, Worldcom-MCI, Lehman and subprime mortgage meltdown - do you want to lend your money for only a 5.59% yield?

There's always room for higher yielding bonds in a portfolio - but as this asset class is reaching a 'priced for perfection' moment - it's time to consider the allocation percentage in a portfolio.

Just my two cents.

Cheers!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

More unavoidable good housing news

No real punditry needed with a headline like this:
July Pending Home Sales Rise to 2-Year High
Pending U.S. home sales rose more than expected in July to the highest level in more than two years as first-time buyers rushed to take advantage of a tax credit that expires this fall.


And why wouldn't you rush to buy your first home right now? I would - if I wasn't already a homeowner...
* Huge tax credit
* Very affordable home prices
* Extremely low mortgage fixed rates

This is an opportunity of a lifetime and many Americans acknowledge that. The tax credit is set to expire on November, so we should expect a nice rebound. The 'temporary' nature of this rebound is unknown. Everyone should expect a winter slump, because it's seasonal. But will 'Johny come lately' crowds jump on board next year? Je ne sais pas...

Cheers!