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Monday, February 23, 2009

Diversification <> Balanced

My apologies for this post, since it is a little deviation from my prior ones. But if you are like me, you are a bit schizophrenic and follow more than one topic.I have been following my retirement funds and other investments, but then again who isn't, looking for ways to re-balance to get ready for the (hopefully) imminent rebound. Diversify is the key word from from Cramer, Orman, Wong Ulrich to your local financial adviser. The inexes, major indicators, or SMIS (Security Market Indicator Series) like the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) or S&P500 are a sure way to diversify since buying into them means buying 30 or 500 companies from technology to financials to automotive (good luck with the last two). That is fundamentally correct. However, the way the index is calculated is the trick, especially in times of turmoil like the present. According to Forbes' Investopedia ( the Dow is a price-weighted index which means that it gets calculated by simply adding up the price of each of the 30 stocks divided by a "constant" called the Dow divisor. For those of us that are geeky its current value is 0.1255527090.For example, according to Yahoo Finance ( the 30 DOW components closed today Feb 23th, 2009 as follows:AA 5.81AXP 12.15BA 34.46BAC 3.91C 2.14CAT 25.12CVX 62.94DD 18.91DIS 16.97GE 8.85GM 1.77HD 18.71HPQ 29.28IBM 84.37INTC 12.08JNJ 53.65JPM 19.51KFT 22.96KO 42.09MCD 53.87MMM 45.41MRK 27.88MSFT 17.21PFE 13.27PG 48.9T 22.68UTX 42.35VZ 27.85WMT 48.88XOM 69.3So the DOW's pathetic 11-year low is calculated as follows:(5.81+2.15+4.463.91+2.14+25.12+62.94+18.91+16.97+8.85+1.77+18.71+29.28+84.37+
42.35+27.85+48.88+69.3)/ 0.1255527090 = 893.28 / 0.1255527090 = 7114.780773.
Besides wiping down 11 years of "growth" it has done something more important: some components are more important than others because they have lost less.If you compare the influence of IBM vs. Citicorp (C), the former at 84.37 and the latter @ 2.14 (after an almost 10% rally, mind you) you’ll see what I mean. A 10% gain in IBM will mean around 0.94% in the Dow whereas a 10% gain in C will only mean a 0.024% in the DOW. in other words, C needs a 417% rally to have the same effect as a 10% IBM gain. If the bailout can pull that off ... well you get my point. Diversified? yes, balanced? I think not. If you are curious, as I am, a DOW index has the following weights: IBM 9.44%XOM 7.76%CVX 7.05%MCD 6.03%JNJ 6.01%PG 5.47%WMT 5.47%MMM 5.08%UTX 4.74%KO 4.71%BA 3.86%HPQ 3.28%MRK 3.12%VZ 3.12%CAT 2.81%KFT 2.57%T 2.54%JPM 2.18%DD 2.12%HD 2.09%MSFT 1.93%DIS 1.90%PFE 1.49%AXP 1.36%INTC 1.35%GE 0.99%AA 0.65%BAC 0.44%C 0.24%GM 0.20%
Is there a good strategy for balancing this best? you'd think so, since financial and automotive have been hammered, they have been sent to the bottom of the list.
The S&P is a market cap weighted average so its calculation is different.
But these two are topics for a follow up post. Enjoy.

Monday, December 1, 2008

GPS Most Wanted Features

I found a couple of great comments on that triggered some thoughs about making GPS systems smarter. I agree wholeheartedly. As a user, you expect your electronuics to adapt to you, not the other way around.

When you are on a known route, maybe at the end of an unknown place after you hit "go home" shouldn't it stop giving you turn-by-turn directions? Obviously you know where you're going, since you've taken this route several times and your GPS knows it.

I've also seen some of the in-car GPS systems do not allow you to operate them while you're in movement. I understand the safety concerns. However, the airbag and the annoying "fasten your seat belt" chime are smart enough to turn themselves on when they detect passenger weight. Shouldn't the GPS do the same an allow the passenger to operate it?

These are a couple I can think about. Any other thoughts of how to make a smart GPS?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How GPS works.

I was going to continue along the GPS details, but i found one of the best explanations I've seen. It is written by Brain, Marshall, and Tom Harris and it is titled "How GPS Receivers Work" in Take a read if you have the time.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Using your cellphone when abroad

Another important apparatus for the road is the ubiquitous cellphone. Advances in technology have made it easier to carry a phone when you travel overseas. The vast majority of the world has selected the 3GPP standard (GSM) and since 2005 most GSM phones are quad-band, which means they are compatible with most networks around the world. North America is unfortunately the exception.

The market is roughly split in half with Verizon, Alltel, and Sprint (not the Nextel side) in the US; Bell and Telus in Canada, and Iusacell in Mexico being compatible with the 3GPP2 (CDMA) standard. Whereas AT&T, T-Mobile, Rogers, and Telcel are GSM carriers.

Before you jump on the plane it is a good idea to call your service provider and ask for the roaming agreements in the countries you will visit. They will either charge you a flat fee to enable international roaming or it is already in your plan. If you have to pay a fee, you can disable it upon your return. They will also know if your phone is compatible in those countries. If needed, they can provide you one to use during your trip.

If your provider is one of the CDMA carriers above, you will most likely need another phone with a different number that they will provide for the duration of your trip. Although a lot of new high end phones are now worldwide - which means they support both technologies - like the Blackberry Storm.

But buyers beware: International roaming is extremely expensive. It does not use your included minutes and can really add up. If you have a data plan that you use for email or browsing it can be a budget killer. You can disable the data service and re-enable it when you come back.

A cheaper idea is to buy a prepaid phone in the country you will travel. It is typically inexpensive and you can find them relatively easy in a shopping mall. You will of course get a different number, but you will save lots of money. Once you buy your local phone you can email the number to whoever you want. Also note that calling long distance from these prepaid phone can be expensive too.

SMS (aka text messaging) is the most cost effective way to communicate when abroad. You will pay for every message while on your trip, but it is typically $US 0.10 or so, a bit more for international messages. Again, call your carrier to make sure SMS will work during your travels.


Monday, November 17, 2008

PhotoTrackr Lite with GPS, Geotag your pics

I just found the Photo Trackr (what's with the misspelling of words, Razr, Flickr, Trackr). It seems to be a good idea, but 2 misses:

1. AA batteries that last 22 hours! Who thought of that? Why not a rechargeable LiION with a USB cable?. I can see a brilliant marketing person saying, "let's save the few bucks on a rechargeable and charger so we can sell it for $99." Wrong. People will pay $10, maybe $20 more for a battery that will last 3 years. Big miss.
2. It is unclear how to use it. The picture in the manual shows a PDA connected to the device. Why will a need a PDA? If I have to use my phone, I might as well use the GPS in it. And, oh, by the way, it has a rechargeable battery that lasts more than 22 hours.

One cool thing, though: it has a motion sensor to activate when you move and supposedly save battery.

Keep whishing, my fellow tech-travelers. Maybe soon someone will come up with the right combo.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Geotracking or Geotagging your pics

If you ventured to this blog and read my first 2 postings, you're wondering what's going on. Well, let me connect the dots for you.

In my ideal camera with GPS we figured that it does not work since you would have to keep your gps on all the time or it will take a very long time to get your location to mark the pic. But if your GPS recevier was connected or even better, part of your cellphone - and it had a software to take advantage of your cellphone's connection - you could get your location in seconds.

Snap your pic, go to your phone's gps software, and a matter of seconds you have your coordinated so you can write them down in your pic log (you do keep a pic log when you travel, right?).

Now if only someone had a bluetooth or usb connection from the phone to the camera so your pic gets "mapped" instantly, life will be good. Even better if your phone had software that pulled the pic from your camera, add the coordinates, and send it directly to Flickr or post it in Panoramio exactly where and when you took it.

Keep enjoying your travels..