Thursday, April 26, 2007

Carbon Offset Lies?

The Financial Times has an interesting article about how some carbon credit offset certificates are frauds. Here in Austin these credits are used to offset the carbon emissions generated during some outdoor concerts to run the speakers and lights. Now it's shocking to hear that some companies have been selling fraudulent offset coupons. Organization who use to think their activities were carbon neutral now have to rethink them. Al Gore may have to investigate the certificates his company bought to cover his lifestyle.

I think it would be OK if the cheating carbon trading companies had just bought 'lying offset credits' from people in the third world who could have lied at a point in the past, but didn't.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Google Just Does the Right Thing

I wanted to know the US dollar amount for 280 Euros. On a hunch I entered "280 Euros" into Google. It returned. "280 Euros = 381.08 U.S. dollars". It just does the right thing. Quite refreshing really.

[Update March 11, 2008: the same query returned "442.20400 U.S. Dollars"
BTW, I entered "200 degrees kelvin in Fahrenheit" and our friends at Google returned a very helpful, "200 kelvin = -99.67 degrees Fahrenheit". 200 kelvin in the news at]

A Google Computer Just Makes Sense.

With Google offering free word processing and spreadsheets online why do some people need a full fledged PC? Well if they need viruses and malware I could see it. If they want to constantly be slowed down by their active virus scanners or if they want to always be downloading the latest OS patches.

I ran across the web site for and found it interesting.

For many users this is all they will need. This would be great for older people who just want to email their grandkids and watch Youtube.

With tax prep, photo editing and other general purpose utilities now available via our browsers, a desktop PC is less relevant than ever. Plus you get automatic backup of data and the ability to acess and update your data from anywhere in the world.

My daughter is using She can work on her documents at school or at home. Sharing documents with friends is easy.

Security is a big concern. Do you trust Google with all your documents? Well, do you trust your PC with all your documents? With all the keylogger and Trojan programs running around, many people would be more secure at Google.

I can see Google teaming up with a few hardware vendors to produce a Google-ready diskless PC designed only to connect to the Internet.

Stock Tip: Buy What You Love. WRONG.

I heard it again over the weekend. A talking head on a business channel said you can make a fortune in the stock market by buying stock in companies whose products you love. "If you love a sweater, chances are your friends will too - buy the stock."
This advice can't be more wrong. It's wrong for two obvious reasons (but the advice like an unrelenting wronged mummy won't die).

Reason One: Just because a company has a great product, doesn't mean the company will make money. The company can have bad management, more nimble competition, or a patent lawsuit around the corner. For example, take the best product of the last millennium - Tivo. It's arguably the best invention since the flush toilet. All my fellow Tivo-people love their Tivos. We can't imagine going back to watching plain TV. With two Tivos, I happily send them $17 a month for a service that probably cost them $1. And yet Tivo stock is pretty much worthless. It's gone down from $70 to $6. I'm puzzled on why this is so. It's like a crack cocaine dealer coming back to his supplier saying, "Man, I just can't make any money moving this stuff."

Reason Two: The stock price can already be over-inflated by the time you buy. If everybody loved that type of sweater and bought stock the P/E ratio could be in the hundreds and no matter how much you love the sweater that ratio is unsustainable.

Buy stocks the old fasion way, based on the numbers and research, or better yet, buy index funds, but don't buy what you love.

PS: If you don't own a Tivo, pick one up on your way home today.