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Week in review Jan 23 2010

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What a week. Stock market indices dropped significantly in last 3 trading days of the week, following many events in the week.

1. Scott Brown won MA senate race
No one see this coming until recently. Looking back this is actually easy to understand. A few days before the Tuesday election, I was thinking, if Democrats want to keep the seat of Ted Kennedy, they should pick Vicki Kennedy. Similar outcome happened in 2002 Senate race in the Show-Me state, in which Gene Carnahan (the widow of Mel Carnahan) took the seat won by already deceased Mel. Note Gene was feature in the campaign ads leads to the election. Remember “don’t let fire go out” ad?

2. Bernanke confirmation in jeopardy
I think he should be confirmed. Some populists claims he was the arsonist who comes back to extinguish the fire. There is some truth, except I would add he was the cheerleader when Greenspan (the real arsonist) started the fire (by keeping the interest rate low, caused the US housing bubble). I would give Bernanke a second chance, after all the world and we all would be in a much worst shape if he did not put out the fire.

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My random thoughts on Las Vegas, software

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I was in Las Vegas this week, attending a technology (software) conference. One tip to share at the beginning: Google Free Wifi at LAS airport. It appears my Boingo service does not have wifi spot here, but Google provided free Wifi during holidays until Jan 15. They even have some “google colored” bean shaped couch laying around for people to rest.

iPhone and Cloud computing
iPhone is everywhere, from the conference participants, and the travelers on the airport and in the airport. Easy to run out of battery appears to be a problem for iPhone. I found a guy using the Richard Solo battery charger (slightly small than iPhone), and there are couple Verizon Charge stations in the airport which are popular for iPhone and laptop users.

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Amazon used book, COM, Juggle

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I bought a used book “Inside COM” from Amazon Marketplace recently. This is my second Amazon Marketplace buy this year. I found for used (a little out of dated) computer books, Amazon Marketplace offers a great value.

Why I need to buy the COM book?
I found in order to really understand the .NET stuff, one needs to learn the COM. This is just like in order to be a good value investor, one really needs to pick up Graham’s “Intelligent Investor”. Reading the blogs by Buffett followers are fine, but definitely not sufficient. Because those second handed materials don’t precisely convey the ideas of the masters.

Google search not working on Internet Explorer?

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From Live to Bing

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Microsoft Bing, the new search engine which represents the high hope of Microsoft executives, goes alive today (incidentally today marks another big event in US corp history: General Motor files for bankruptcy). Underneath the Bing, it is really the re-brand of Microsoft Live search, plus some new features, as shown last week at D7. (Actually I verified this by typing, and it brought me to the Bing page).

I did couple searches such as “Air France”, “Pizza Hut”, the result was OK, although similar to Google search. I don’t know who will want to switch to “mostly fine” google search to the unproven Bing. To make things worse, Microsoft did not release a toolbar with bing, they still have the good old live toolbar though.

Don’t overlook this IE toolbar thing, personally I used it quite a bit, because it saved me one more type “”. But interestingly for today, the Google Toolbar in Internet Explorer is not responsive as usual. Maybe the guys at Redmond did something to slowdown Google on this Bing’s birthday? The toolbar on Firefox works fine as usual.

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How we removed unwanted Ad bar in IE

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Yesterday, our home PC acted strangely after my wife downloaded something from a China web site, basically there is always an Ad bar at the top of Internet Explorer (something like the picture below, full size pic here).

Advertisement bar at top of IE window

To fight against the ad bar, I did the following: upgrade the IE to 7. That did not solve the problem. I also looked the new files under “Program Files”, “Windows”, just by looking at the date. I did find a DLL named twkdtsdjdrqdp.dll, but I could not remove it. Did the “regedit”, before the install of IE 7. All these did not work, and we are both upset about that.

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Weekend thoughts w/e Apr 19 2008

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Currency effects
While we are heading to $4 gas (partly thanks the weak dollar), not all are victims of this trend. Think Google or IBM. Google (GOOG) and IBM reported blow out earning, while cell phone maker Nokia (NOK) reported so-so earning (or outlook) last week. One key difference is the reported currency, Google and IBM reported results in USD, while NOK reported in Euro. We all know Dollar lost a lot ground to Euro in past year, since GOOG and IBM did a lot business in Europe (and internationally), their earning and earning growth is exaggerated by the depreciation of dollar. Nokia is hit by the opposite force. A more important question to ask is: can the dollar continue to slide vs. other currencies? Personally I would not bet on GOOG or IBM if their growth is mostly from the currency effect

ICBC, Goldman Sachs, China Invest Co. and Blackstone

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Don’t Count eBay and Yahoo out

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Google is doing everything to become the king of the Internet. The holiday promotion of Google Check out is targeted towards eBay’s Paypal; in the search market it’s continuing gaining market share from Yahoo, although I still like Yahoo Mail better than GMail 🙂

eBay is not standing still, it’s raising the listing fees. As a seller on eBay I certainlly don’t like them raising fees. But if I am eBay share holder, I will love it 🙂 Seriously, in today’s world, raising fees without losing customer is always a good sign of competitive edge. Not many companies, online or offline, can do that easily because customers are expecting more while paying less. Remember the Oracle’s 50% off Linux support (vs. Redhat)?   

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