Archive for October, 2008

Too much mucus smearing going on

October 29, 2008

I’m used to occasional graffiti in my toilets, the odd poster recommending that we ‘treat this place like the one we do at home’ (if they’d ever talked to my wife, they’d have understood that this would not be a good idea), but this is what I found instead:
As the old saying goes, fact is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense, but seriously, I could not make this stuff up.

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What’s the capital of Iceland?

October 25, 2008

A: About €3.51.

Although Gianluca reminds us not to try to catch falling knives , I am definitely a buyer in these markets. This has not been a traditional bear market so far — which are normally characterised by weak rallies and gradual slow downs — rather than intense plunges like the ones we’ve been experiencing in the last few weeks. The rallies that follow bear markets are often quick, so without trying to time the bottom, it’s actually good to get in when there’s blood on the streets. I don’t reckon I’ll be making a quick profit, but in five or 10 years, I do think these will look like bargain prices. Buy from the fearful and sell to the greedy.

I saw some great credit crunch jokes posted on Facebook (thanks Manos!) and they’ve all made me laugh e.g.

“Q: What’s the difference between an investment banker and a large pizza?

A: The pizza can still feed a family of four.”

Some recycled lawyer jokes too:

“Q: What do you call five hedge fund managers at the bottom of the ocean?
A: A good start.”

Since I know a couple of hedge fund managers, I have to admit I don’t really subscribe to this one. I find it peculiar that the media portray this as something different from that which has always happened. It’s just another bear market. 90% of my net worth is in funds from Dimensional Fund Associates who are very dogmatic about leaving your money in the market to do what it does best. They have produced a great presentation showing just how similar the current market is to others problematic times in the past, and how similar the media’s presentation of it is too.

I have been doing some research into a trend following market timing approach, that seems to work very well over the last 30 years, but having just my moved my money over to DFA a couple of years back, I wanted to continue the research until I fundamentally change my approach — again. Most investors get killed not from bear markets but from pulling their money out at bottoms and putting it back in at tops. I don’t intend to change my approach until everything is locked and loaded. And having said that, the greatest benefit of a market timing approach comes predominately from missing big downturns — and this is one of the largest across a variety of asset classes.

Hey ho, let me leave you with another one: “Overheard in a City bar: ‘This credit crunch is worse than a divorce. I’ve lost half my net worth and I still have a wife.'”


October 10, 2008

Great presentation on Neocartography by Andrew Turner, who is a one of the superb and regular posters on Geowankers. Geowankers (for those of you who don’t know) is a mailing list for hackers who like maps and mapping applications or for anyone else interested in the burgeoning technologies of mapping, GIS and location-aware devices and services.

The presentation is a ‘Discussion on the next generation and open mapping technologies’ and really lives up to its title. It’s a lot easier to digest than How Google Earth Really Works because all those pictures are worth thousands of words (although if you take the time, the latter is pretty darn cool too).

The guys at Joopp turned me on to Mapstraction, which is featured pretty heavily here. Amongst its other features, this JavaScript library allows you to show and use Y!, Google, Microsoft, MapQuest, OpenStreetMap,… as easily as using any one.

This presentation was shown at the Future of Web Apps (FOWA) conference in London last week and really lives up to its title. There are lots of great URLs to jump off to. I don’t get to see many conferences, but luckily there are plenty of great presenations around on Slideshare, TED, VideoLectures and of course, iTunes U and YouTube.

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Take two bottles into the shower?

October 10, 2008

Finally, after months of waiting, I’ve been able to ditch my Blackberry and use only my iPhone. This is because our IT department has been able to eradicate Windows NT from the network, upgrade the Exchange server to SP2 and actually flip a few switches to give me full push email and calendar. It works like a dream.