Entries for April, 2006

I've been meaning to shoot a memorable self-portrait. Finding myself with an ample amount of time here at the beach, I finally shot one:

I took a bunch of "jumping"-themed pictures on this trip. I was fortunate enough to have willing compatriots... I'll post them tomorrow once I get home.

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! I'm going to have some fun catching up with life once I get back - I spent a few hours today dealing with administrative Tabulas stuff tonight (clearing out some of the help section issues and deleting some comment spam); tomorrow I deal with the horror that is my email inbox.

Posted by roy on April 4, 2006 at 01:02 AM in Personal | 10 Comments

Let me preface this by saying that I've never been one to understand why the social norm is that discussing your finances is rude. I'm pretty sure it's tied to this ridiculous concept that your self-worth is tied to your net worth (which is dumb on so many levels, but whatever). The lesser you're obsessed with materialism, the better. Of course, that's not to say that living a parsimonious life is ideal.

For me, my financial goal is to maintain financial flexibility (some level of asset liquidity) while maintaining a high level of personal freedom in my own life. Although I've always said the stock market is a crappy play, I've been doing a bit more research into it, and I've softened on that position a bit. Stock markets offer me exactly what I'm looking for - financial flexibility (I don't have to wait to a certain year before I have access to my funds) while offering a relatively stable way to grow my assets.

The one thing I've learned as I've done more and more research is that ... a lot of research is absolutely pointless. One day I'd like to get a talented stock broker drunk and find the "real" secrets to being a "smart" investor. I would imagine it has a lot to do with luck. Through Fidelity, I can literally spend hours reading through reports from analysts which are all filled with conflicting reports. For example, from the Reuters "report:"

March 30th, 2006
On March 30th, 2006, Reuters upgraded YAHOO! INC. from NEUTRAL to OUTPERFORM.

March 29th, 2006
On March 29th, 2006, Reuters downgraded YAHOO! INC. from OUTPERFORM to NEUTRAL.

Professionals can't seem to make up their minds- what chance do I have?

So for the next year or so, I'm going to do an experiment. I'm going to publicly reveal what stocks I am holding (not the the actual amounts, I will use percentages). I will detail why I am holding a particular stock in as much laymen's terms - you can assume that unless I say otherwise, the fundamental outlook for a company is strong; I'll explain the reasons why I think this particular company deserves my money over others.

These posts, I imagine, will be spread out every few weeks; I simply don't have the money to constantly invest, and I'm not keen on becoming a day trader. My interests are generating good half-year to year-long picks.

Please do not use this for your own personal finances. You WILL lose money. I am not an accredited investor, and this is my first foray into the investing world.

I am writing this more for personal reasons; I hope that by writing about my picks, I can look back when a pick goes wrong and see what I did wrong. Accountability, friends.

Short financial history: Portfolio was opened in December '05. It's a bit small and not very diversified right now - my goal for '06 is taking more high-risk plays and learning about the system more than protecting my portfolio.

So here is my current portfolio:

  1. Total portfolio: Up $3, which is 0%
  2. Barnes Groups, Inc. (B) [11.5% of portfolio]
    Bought @ $38.61, Currently @ $40.50, Up 4.90%
    They make industrial crap like springs and equipment for airplanes and cars. Sounds like a solid bet that there will continue to be a market (if not from the US govt, then from the private industry as space travel takes off). They also paid $0.22 dividends per quarter (which works out to roughly 2.2% a year). Although the dividend is rather small, I'm wililng to accept that because I just think this is one of those companies that will continue to grow.
  3. Yahoo, Inc. (YHOO) [11.5% of portfolio]
    Bought @ $33.09, Currently @ $32.06, Down 3.06%
    This pick is a bit hazier for me to figure out. It earns no dividends, Google is eating away at its profits, and there's been a lot of executive messups. So why did I buy it? To be honest, I was impressed with Yahoo! releasing their widgets library. To me, Yahoo! is one of the few big companies that quietly creates quality products with open APIs and is commited to building a strong fundamental business not based on advertisement. Flickr is fantastic. Yahoo! purchased Oddpost, which was a HUGE web-based email client (before GMail) and has done a fantastic job (from what I hear) in integrating Oddpost's technology. I have a feeling Yahoo! will keep Flickr alive as a separate community but applying the lessons learned to their Yahoo! photos ... and I love their business model (subscription). If I had more money, I would probably continue to load up on Yahoo! until ~$34 or so. A few weeks ago it was at $30 and I was just dying to pick up more stocks, but I had no money. I think Yahoo! is great for holding long-term (a year or so).
  4. Fidelity Blue Chip Value (FBCVX) [53% of portfolio]
    Bought @ average of $14.05 (I've bought it a few times), Currently @ $14.26, Up 1.5%
    This is my conservative play that I'll use for consistency. it's major holdings are American Insurance General, Honeywell, GE, Exxon Mobbil, Bank of America, Hewlett Packard, and a few more. Basically the huge consistent giant corporations. Barring an Enron-like scandal, all of these should maintain fairly consistent over time. I would probably own a few of these stocks individually if I could, but holding this mutual fund is enough for me.
  5. Toronto Dominion Bank (TD) [24% of portfolio]
    Bought @ $56.10, Currently @ $55.58, Down 1%
    This is an interesting pick for me. I love our neighbors up north; Fidelity's Canada Mutual Fund has been growing at an amazing rate (I think it's grown nearly 33% this past year), so I took a deeper look at the companies that compose this mutual fund. I found that the top holding s include EnCana (gas), Royal Bank of Canada (bank, obviously), Manulife Financial (seeing a pattern here with finances?), and Toronto Dominion. I wanted to invest in either the Royal Bank or TD. I ultimately chose TD because: (1) they recently won an award for "best online banking experience" or something to that degree in Canada (online banking is awesome and having an awesome website shows to me their commitment to online excellence), and (2) their PE ratio is ~11, while RY's is ~18.
Currently listening to: Fountains of Wayne - Mexican Wine
Posted by roy on April 4, 2006 at 01:04 PM in Finances | 15 Comments

Regarding my previous post about MSN not respecting noindex, nofollow, I've now manually blocked MSN referrals; even if a result comes up in MSN, clicking that link will no longer redirect you to the page; the browser will simply be served with a 404 and redirect to the "user not found" page. Try searching for "Matt Compton" on live.com (quick link here) and clicking the Tabulas. ZAP! Roy: 1, MSN: 0.

. . .

Starting back at work has been refreshing - I enjoyed the nothingness of the beach, but I'm now itching to roar back into work. I think this vacation was just what I needed to get through the 2Q.

. . .

Roy + Canada = good karma. Not only did Steph give me her thumbs-up on the pick, but so did GOOGLE! Searching Google Finance for TD yields the previous entry as the #1 "blog topic." It's odd to think that somewhere in NYC, some young professional hotshot stock broker is searching for information on TD and stumbles on ... my journal. Good thing I had that nice big "you'll lose money" disclaimer or I might be in trouble. I've also captured the screenshot of the Google Finance page, because I can't imagine those Ph.Ds at Google are going to continue linking my moronic entry for much longer.

But man, that was fast. I'm not the type to easily be wowed by traffic or anything, but when I see it on Google Finance... there's something different. Perhaps I'm just a Google fanboy, after all.

. . .

Please let me know if you have a 30boxes account, or if you do, add royikim@gmail.com as a friend. I'm going to test it out for about a week to understand this "collaborative calendaring" thing.

. . .

Continuing in my "jump" picture series, I got a good group photo:

The hardest part was timing the jump; there was obviously no one to take the picture, so we had to use the timer. Getting everybody off the ground was difficult.

The greatest thing about these jump pictures is you can always definitively blame somebody if the picture is skewed - there aren't many times in life where you can do that (Of course, the ribbing all in jest. It's not like the time spent on the screwed up shot would have been better spent elsewhere - like we had anything better to do on Bald Head). Of course, sometimes we all screw up:

Click the image to see the HILARIOUS facial expressions. I never knew jumping was such a strenuous task. Do we have group constipation?

. . .

One realization in my life: I am a creator. I like creating things. Maintaining them and updating them, not so much. I like creating new friendships, creating new projects, starting new hobbies ... but I very much hate maintaining them. For example, just when I started getting good enough in poker to possibly play in real tournaments, I quit. I'm not exactly sure if this is necessarily a bad trait (although I'm sure it'll be quite troublesome once I trick a girl into dating me!). So extending my 2006 resolution: Maintain what I have. Stop taking on new things. Focus on improving what I've already started.

. . .

Can you say HELLO?

Or perhaps we can get really creative and spell America's favorite pudding:

High contrast pictures are fun.

Currently listening to: Ben Jelen - Give it All Away
Posted by roy on April 5, 2006 at 04:29 PM in Ramblings, Photography, Finances, Tabulas | 12 Comments

I've decided to go from a moderately aggressive portfolio to a very aggressive portfolio. I've sold off more of my blue chip mutual fund (FBCVX) down to 35% of portfolio (sold it at a nice $14.44) and used the proceeds to buy:

  • Southern Copper Corporation (PCU)
    Bought @ $92.31
    I wanted a strong commodity stock in my portfolio as well, and this seemed to serve it just fine. It has good capital growth value, is a solid commodity stock, and pays a nice dividend (nearly 10% a year). However, the stock has been jumping the past 5 days (up nearly 12%) and could be peaking sometime soon. Also, because the company is based primarily in Peru, the upcoming Peruvian presidential elections could affect the stock negatively if the populist Humala wins. Because I'm willing to ride this out, I've put in a stop-loss order at 25% below its price. I'll see how this one rides out for the next few days. I have a feeling I may be biting the bullet on this one. It's all a learning process, isn't it? ;)

Stocks I've been eyeballing:

  • Ciena (CIEN)
    For some reason, everybody is saying BUY BUY BUY. Analysts, Cramer, even the message boards seems filled with people loading up. I found it intriguing until I looked at its balance sheet. It hasn't earned a profit in a few years, and I'm not sure what value it offers over other companies in its industry like Nortel. I'll stay away until I can learn more about what Ciena specifically offers. Although I have to say that the growth of the telecom industry is very exciting once again (Level3 has been killing!)
  • Akamai (AKAM)
    The growth of the media-driven internet is almost here. The bandwidth from the telecoms aren't quite to a point where anybody can deliver videos in a scalable manner. Enter Akamai. Their technology (and I'm actually familiar with them!) allows companies to offer media extremely fast to anybody; Akamai essentially has datacenters all over the nation and determines based on a media request where to send the media from so the user gets the fastest connection. I think this has a good long-term upside, so I'll continue to watch it.
  • Hanover Capital Management (HCM)
    I found them through their high dividends, but then I wasn't too happy to find their market cap was $52mil and their business was starting to stagnate a bit. I find that because of the cooling off in the housing market, REITs (real estate investment trusts) like these probably won't give me a decent return until the housing market starts heating up again. I'll pass, but once the market starts heating up...
  • Apple Computers, Inc. (AAPL)
    Let me say that Bootcamp is the most amusing thing ever. So you're telling me that the important thing to do with the creation of Wintel boxes is to create ... a program that lets me boot into ... Windows. Right. Isn't the point to get away from Windows? When you buy a new Apple, you will either have an old PC box or not. If you do have one, why the hell would you want Windows on your Mac? And if you don't, why would you want Windows on your Mac? I feel like this was more of a PR stunt than anything significant. That said, with MS screwing up Vista and Apple on the verge of releasing a true video iPod, I really want to get int on Apple. I remember eyeballing the stock a week ago, seeing it at 58, and thinking "gosh if I just had some money..." It's jumped up to $70 today... long-term, it looks great to buy as long as MS keeps screwing up and people keep becoming infatuated with the shiny white electronics.
  • BP Prudhoe Bay Royalty Trust (BPT)
    This trust basically gets a huge cut out of any oil drilling that's done somewhere in Alaska. BP pays this trust... I didn't know these damn things existed! Because all it does is get paid, it has something like a 99% profit margin, and the money is distributed mostly as dividends. As you can tell, this thing probably sucks to hold as a long-term stock because the price barely fluctuates (it's pegged mostly to the price of oil). The dividends are great though; they yield nearly 10% a year. I'm going to load up on this in a little bit as soon as the price drops down to maybe $68 or so (I'm dreaming here). I'll be keeping an eye on it...

I've decided my Yahoo! (YHOO) play was not a great one - not much upside for a flakey company, and that money can go somewhere else where it'll give me much better returns. (although if it does hit is one year price target, $42, that would be a nice 33% return...) I'm thinking of dumping it as soon as they report their next quarter profits (next week, I believe). What I've understood is that because I have such limited capital, the point isn't picking a GOOD pick... the point is picking the BEST pick. Although I have faith that Yahoo! is a good long-term pick ... right now I need to grow my portfolio aggressively so I have more capital, and Yahoo! probably won't give me that for another year or so.

Posted by roy on April 6, 2006 at 10:02 AM in Finances | 2 Comments

Fascinating read from the NY Times: 'Gospel of Judas' Surfaces After 1,700 Years

An early Christian manuscript, including the only known text of what is known as the Gospel of Judas, has surfaced after 1,700 years. The text gives new insights into the relationship of Jesus and the disciple who betrayed him, scholars reported today. In this version, Jesus asked Judas, as a close friend, to sell him out to the authorities, telling Judas he will "exceed" the other disciples by doing so.

Though some theologians have hypothesized this, scholars who have studied the new-found text said, this is the first time an ancient document defends the idea.

The discovery in the desert of Egypt of the leather-bound papyrus manuscript, and now its translation, was announced by the National Geographic Society at a news conference in Washington. The 26-page Judas text is said to be a copy in Coptic, made around A. D. 300, of the original Gospel of Judas, written in Greek the century before.

Terry Garcia, an executive vice president of the geographic society, said the manuscript, or codex, is considered by scholars and scientists to be the most significant ancient, nonbiblical text to be found in the past 60 years.

"The codex has been authenticated as a genuine work of ancient Christian apocryphal literature," Mr. Garcia said, citing extensive tests of radiocarbon dating, ink analysis and multispectral imaging and studies of the script and linguistic style. The ink, for example, was consistent with ink of that era, and there was no evidence of multiple rewriting.

"This is absolutely typical of ancient Coptic manuscripts," said Stephen Emmel, professor of Coptic studies at the University of Munster in Germany. "I am completely convinced."

The most revealing passages in the Judas manuscript begins, "The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week, three days before he celebrated Passover."

The account goes on to relate that Jesus refers to the other disciples, telling Judas "you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me." By that, scholars familiar with Gnostic thinking said, Jesus meant that by helping him get rid of his physical flesh, Judas will act to liberate the true spiritual self or divine being within Jesus.

Unlike the accounts in the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the anonymous author of the Gospel of Judas believed that Judas Iscariot alone among the 12 disciples understood the meaning of Jesus' teachings and acceded to his will. In the diversity of early Christian thought, a group known as Gnostics believed in a secret knowledge of how people could escape the prisons of their material bodies and return to the spiritual realm from which they came.

Elaine Pagels, a professor of religion at Princeton who specializes in studies of the Gnostics, said in a statement, "These discoveries are exploding the myth of a monolithic religion, and demonstrating how diverse — and fascinating — the early Christian movement really was."

The Gospel of Judas is only one of many texts discovered in the last 65 years, including the gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene and Philip, believed to be written by Gnostics.

The Gnostics' beliefs were often viewed by bishops and early church leaders as unorthodox, and they were frequently denounced as heretics. The discoveries of Gnostic texts have shaken up Biblical scholarship by revealing the diversity of beliefs and practices among early followers of Jesus.

As the findings have trickled down to churches and universities, they have produced a new generation of Christians who now regard the Bible not as the literal word of God, but as a product of historical and political forces that determined which texts should be included in the canon, and which edited out.

For that reason, the discoveries have proved deeply troubling for many believers. The Gospel of Judas portrays Judas Iscariot not as a betrayer of Jesus, but as his most favored disciple and willing collaborator.

Scholars say that they have long been on the lookout for the Gospel of Judas because of a reference to what was probably an early version of it in a text called Against Heresies, written by Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyons, about the year 180.

Irenaeus was a hunter of heretics, and no friend of the Gnostics. He wrote, "They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas."

Karen L. King, a professor of the history of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School, and an expert in Gnosticism who has not yet read the manuscript released today, said that the Gospel of Judas may well reflect the kinds of debates that arose in the second and third century among Christians.

"You can see how early Christians could say, if Jesus's death was all part of God's plan, then Judas's betrayal was part of God's plan," said Ms. King, the author of several books on the Gospel of Mary. "So what does that make Judas? Is he the betrayer, or the facilitator of salvation, the guy who makes the crucifixion possible?"

At least one scholar said the new manuscript does not contain anything dramatic that would change or undermine traditional understanding of the Bible. James M. Robinson, a retired professor of Coptic studies at Claremont Graduate University, was the general editor of the English edition of the Nag Hammadi library, a collection of Gnostic documents discovered in Egypt in 1945.

"Correctly understood, there's nothing undermining about the Gospel of Judas," Mr. Robinson said in a telephone interview. He said that the New Testament gospels of John and Mark both contain passages that suggest that Jesus not only picked Judas to betray him, but actually encouraged Judas to hand him over to those he knew would crucify him.

Mr. Robinson's book, "The Secrets of Judas: The Story of the Misunderstood Disciple and his Lost Gospel" (Harper San Francisco, April 2006), predicts the contents of the Gospel of Judas based on his knowledge of Gnostic and Coptic texts, even though he was not part of the team of researchers working on the document.

The Egyptian copy of the gospel was written on 13 sheets of papyrus, both front and back, and found in a multitude of brittle fragments.

Rudolphe Kasser, a Swiss scholar of Coptic studies, directed the team that reconstructed and translated the script. The effort, organized by the National Geographic, was supported by Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art, in Basel, Switzerland, and the Waitt Institute for Historical Discovery, an American nonprofit organization for the application of technology in historical and scientific projects.

The entire 66-page codex also contains a text titled James (also known as First Apocalypse of James), a letter by Peter and a text of what scholars are provisionally calling Book of Allogenes.

Discovered in the 1970's in a cavern near El Minya, Egypt, the document circulated for years among antiquities dealers in Egypt, then Europe and finally in the United States. It moldered in a safe-deposit box at a bank in Hicksville, N. Y., for 16 years before being bought in 2000 by a Zurich dealer, Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos. The manuscript was given the name Codex Tchacos.

When attempts to resell the codex failed, Ms. Nussberger-Tchacos turned it over to the Maecenas Foundation for conservation and translation.

Mr. Robinson said that an Egyptian antiquities dealer offered to sell him the document in 1983 for $3 million, but that he could not raise the money. He criticized the scholars now associated with the project, some of whom are his former students, because he said they violated an agreement made years ago by Coptic scholars that new discoveries should be made accessible to all qualified scholars.

The manuscript will ultimately be returned to Egypt, where it was discovered, and housed in the Coptic Museum in Cairo.

Ted Waitt, the founder and former chief executive of Gateway, said that his foundation, the Waitt Institute for Historical Discovery, gave the National Geographic Society a grant of more than $1 million to restore and preserve the manuscript and make it available to the public.

" I didn't know a whole lot until I got into this about the early days of Christianity. It was just extremely fascinating to me," Mr. Waitt said in a telephone interview. He said he had no motivation other than being fascinated by the finding. He said that after the document was carbon dated and the ink tested, procedures his foundation paid for, he had no question about its authenticity. "You can potentially question the translation and the interpretation, he said, but you can't fake something like this. It would be impossible."

I've always wondered the implications of Judas' actions. Referencing Matthew 26:

1When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2"As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified."


20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21And while they were eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me."

22They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, "Surely not I, Lord?"

23Jesus replied, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."

This goes deeper to the inherent conflict between the omnipotence of divine will (specifically the ability to know the future) and free will. (whether or not you believe in predestination). If Jesus knows Judas will betray him, hasn't that eliminated the free will of Judas? Or is Jesus simply foretelling the future that Judas has determined already?

Currently listening to: Fountains of Wayne - Mexican Wine
Posted by roy on April 6, 2006 at 12:51 PM in Ramblings | 13 Comments


Currently listening to: Sean Paul - Ever Blazing
Posted by roy on April 7, 2006 at 12:07 AM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

Those electric go-carts have deceptively aggressive acceleration. I was trying to take a cool picture when the go-cart lurched forward. I lost my balance, and my mind decided a good place for my left foot to try to gain balance would be on the road. Of course, the cart was moving forward, and my mind didn't quite understand that if my left foot was anchored on the road, leaving my right foot on the electric cart would create an increasing distance between my feet. I'm going to put my Economics major to good use by creating a graph:

graph of groinal limit

As you can see, when I reached the "red line" (the groinal muscle elasticity limit), my right foot decided to abandon the electric cart. This led to me "falling off the go-cart."

Han was quick enough to capture my agony on his camera. I would like you to note the amusement Yush, the driver, is exhibiting in frame 3; I never did forgive him for so intentionally making me hurt my groin. I probably never will. In fact, I may go and delete his Tabulas account RIGHT NOW. Frame 4 clearly shows the new "safety" measure that I undertook to foil Yush's plan on hurting me again: foot on bar. Sometimes foiling evil plans is so simple...

Be careful ... those go-carts have deceptively aggressive acceleration.

Currently listening to: Sean Paul - Ever Blazing
Posted by roy on April 7, 2006 at 12:49 AM in Ramblings | 7 Comments

The current styling system is confusing and impossible to maintain. I tried to create a simple style and template, and even I got confused.

I've been thinking about how to best fix this; the new system has to appeal to both advanced users like Ree with complete stylistic control (by the way, check out her awesome template!) while catering to complete beginners who just want to change colors and add a background image.

The solution I have in mind is this:

First off, I offer an option for setting a default color palette. This palette offers you the ability to define certain options:

  • Primary, secondary, and tertiary accent colors
  • Primary, secondary, and tertiary background colors
  • Primary and secondary fonts
  • Primary and secondary font sizes - this is probably better left off now that I think about it.

From this pool of pre-defined styles, all default Tabulas templates will have commands in the CSS that will allow for these values to be called. The advantage here is that you can use differing HTML markup and different CSS stylesheets for many different default Tabulas templates, while still allowing one color scheme to carry over to another - the current implementation limits your color scheme to a particular template.

This is far more intuitive to users. This will also allow me to add in features that have been requested for the longest time, like being able to set background images.

This could also be useful for people who want to make their own templates; although it's a bit premature, I want to allow users to generate Tabulas templates that can easily be shared with other users.

So far, I've taken all the existing Tabulas templates and split the CSS files into two files: a structural file with margins/paddings/float that defines how the template is laid out; a stylistic file that has font colors, border colors, background colors, and fonts. I'm going to add in a front-end Tabulas CSS parser where users will be able to create constants in the CSS files that will repeat. (More on this in a bit)

This new system should allow:

  • Users to define one color palette that applies equally to all templates; included in this color palette will be the ability to add in a background image to a template
  • Still maintain full templating control for people who are capable of implementing such items
  • Allow me to develop widgets that would draw from the same palette (like tagboard) instead of having to develop them separately

Today I'm going to start by converting all the existing default Tabulas templates so that this can be implemented with relative ease in the future.

Update: Preliminary work is going very well. If you're adventurous, try this out on Tabulas:

  • Set your template to Aphrodite
  • Create a new color scheme
  • Copy and paste this:

    (You can see the output of this CSS here)
  • Go look at your site - the non-standard CSS that you pasted above will render! (See below for why this works)

You'll notice that that there is non-standard CSS constants in there (for example, #top a:hover { color: accent2; }). Basically you'll notice that at the beginning of the CSS file, there are a series of commands; the commands define what values to replace the constants with. So let's say I have at the beginning of my CSS file:

accent1: #fff

Anytime the CSS parser finds the 'accent1' code in the CSS file, it will replace accent1 with #fff. For now, this isn't that useful because you don't have a method of setting your own userstyles, but once that's set you will be able to apply one color scheme to all default Tabulas templates.

Part of this also involved me updating all the default Tabulas templates - all templates have been updated by splitting the CSS files into structural and stylistic (sorta funny I have to do this with CSS) files. Luckily custom templates have their own CSS, so doing this was backwards-compatible with everything on Tabulas.

I've also installed Mint on the Tabulas control panel so I can see what resolutions/browsers/features are the most popular. Mint is quite nice, and I will probably use this to track usage for most of my projects in the near future.

Currently listening to: Fountains of Wayne - Hey Julie
Posted by roy on April 8, 2006 at 02:25 PM in Tabulas | 1 Comments

The truth: Nerds make better lovers

oooohhhh yeeeaaaaaaahhhh

Posted by roy on April 9, 2006 at 01:00 PM in Foolishness | 3 Comments

I've been vetting plans to start monetizing Tabulas; server costs will quickly escalate and I need to address this problem before I run out of money.

The route I'm going is a combination of advertisements, targetted linking, and subscriptions.

The patron model will exist; I see no reason to change this. I think it's cheap enough ($28/year is really nothing) and creating a tiered system of support is beneficial to everybody. However, one of the hardest sells right now is why people should get a patron account. Besides the increased quotas, there really are no reasons to do so.

Patron accounts will soon serve as a springboard for more services - they'll be the required "membership" fee to take advantage of some of the more attractive offerings available to users. For example, one of the ideas I'm throwing around is a template store. The template store would allow designers to create templates which could be bought by patron accounts (or regular users). Purchasing a patron account would entitle you to $10 worth of templates on Tabulas. The store itself would have a revenues sharing model, where half the fees would go to Tabulas and the other half goes to the original designer. The benefit here is that it would give a strong financial incentive for designers to create templates to share, while offering a wide variety of attractive templates (one hopes) to the end users.

The new version of Tabulas also favors clouds - tagging of links, images and community feature will allow users to see a cloud of data among their friends. Complemented with the custom user groups... this is very powerful in sharing information with users. (For example, one of the features I've been working on is tagging on links, but I'm also taking it one more step by allowing you to create a hierarchy of your links, while maintaining the flatness of tags. Also, there are "special" tags that allow you to trigger certain actions. Tagging an item f:apunahasa would alert friend apunahasa that he should check this link out.).

I'm hoping if I can create a featureset that robustly handles the information overload from clouds, I can create subcommunities for families; imagine if you could pay once a year and get your whole family photo sharing, blogging, link sharing, etc! Organizations work would work as well, but I'm more interested in catering to the personal side of things; 6A pretty much has a stranglehold on the lucrative enterprise blogging model (plus, remote hosted enterprise services never work for privacy reasons).

I'm going to raise some of the existing friends limits and get rid of community restrictions altogether. I want to make communities a more powerful feature, along the level of Livejournal's communities. Once communities become a node for a specific interest, targetted Adsense advertisements will be placed on the community pages. Part of the reason why Adsense failed on Tabulas is that each journal individually is too diverse or personal for Adsense to be effective - my clickthru ratios were atrocious. By offering advertisement on specific interests, I hope to improve CTR and hopefully generate some side revenue.

The third thing I will be doing is integrating Amazon's webservices more closely to Tabulas. Your "listening to" and "currently reading" can be linked to the Amazon listing - the links will be referral links for Tabulas, so if people buy something after clicking that link ... that's a small bit of change for Tabulas.

The biggest change (and the most controversial I'd imagine) will be offloading some of the "non-important" features as third party plugins. The problem, specifically, with hit logging is that it is (a) an incomplete feature (it sucks) (b) it is WAY server intensive and (c) I don't like hit logging eating up Tabulas' main resources.

What I'm going to do is resurrect Tabulets - I will develop third party applications (that will work on other sites as well) but offer easy integration with Tabulas at a one-time fee. For example, if you were a patron account, I'd offer a really awesome version of the current hit tracking (it'd be sexy and have more accurate data) at a one-time fee of $X dollars. The hook is that you have to maintain a patron status. The one-time fee allows me to offset development costs while giving people an incentive to maintain an active subscription to Tabulas.

In a sense, I am trashing the crappier free feature and offering a higher-quality paid version. I have an idea of how the new feature will look, and I'm counting on the fact that people are willing to pay for quality - I want to differentiate Tabulas from "commodity" blogging sites like Blogger by offering quality value-added services (another example might be a one-time fee of $5 for adding the cool lightbox effect.

The initial fee is low, but when I can aggregate the masses, it really can help me in offsetting development. Hell, if I can get a consistent revenue stream, I may even be able to hire somebody to work on some features part-time (and there's a whole list of stuff I have in mind for that).

This whole plan is contingent on me creating a kick-ass 3.0 product (obviously). But I'm confident the new version is going to be LOADS better and will be generally adopted very positively.

Currently listening to: The Killers - Somebody Told Me
Posted by roy on April 9, 2006 at 02:46 PM in Tabulas | 14 Comments

Do you ever wonder what your old crushes are up to (from the early college years + high school era)? One of my high school crushes (JC) is on Facebook, the other two (YK/OP) are on Friendster. I wonder how they're all doing. Unfortunately, their profiles are rather lacking in any information.

. . .

This is really a shot in the dark, but does anybody else remember the Verve Pipe's "Freshmen" music video? I remember the video being one continuous shot around the singer in the middle of the room, but the only videos I can find are like this:

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills here. Am I mixing it up with something else? (I remember Semisonic's "Closing Time" had the split continuous shot and Jamiroquai had the semi-continuous shot "Virtual Insanity", but I thought the Verve Pipe had done it as well...

Help me!

Currently listening to: Nada Surf - If You Leave
Posted by roy on April 10, 2006 at 06:54 PM in Ramblings, Music | 6 Comments

Bert linked me to an EXCELLENT post on building wealth. The author is from howstuffworks.com, and gives facts (and remarks) from the book The Millionaire Mind about millionaires:

  • The typical member of our group has never spent more than $41,000 for an automobile or $4,500 for an engagement ring. Neither our spouses nor we have ever spent more than $38 (including tip) for a haircut."
  • 61 percent received nothing by way of inheritance, financial gifts, trust income, etc.
  • 97 percent are homeowners. Median home price was $435,000 at the time of purchase. But only 10 percent bought "new" homes -- homes built in the last ten years. The vast majority are living in "older homes" in long-established neighborhoods.
  • 32 percent are business owners. 16 percent are corporate executives. 10 percent are attorneys. 9 percent are physicians. The rest are accountants, sales professionals, engineers, professors, etc. "A disproportionately high percentage of millionaires, multimillionaires, and decamillionaires are self employed business owners and entrepreneurs or self-employed professionals." See How to make a million dollars for a perspective on that.
  • Most of these millionaires "have been told by some authority figure or by the results of standardized test scores that we were not intellectually gifted, of law school caliber, medical school material, qualified to pursue a medical degree or smart enough to succeed." Average GPA in college is 2.92.
  • This was fascinating to me: "Not one millionaire that I interviewed had anything nice to say about gambling." I have been to Las Vegas many times for various business trips and conventions, but I have never spent a dime gambling. I have never even stuck a quarter in a slot machine. I always thought I was somehow "weird" because of that. Now I find out I am normal.
  • Finally, "What are the top five factors most often mentioned by millionaires as being very important in explaining their economic success? After you read them below, take out a card or a sheet of paper and write down these five elements of financial success. Keep a copy in your wallet or purse and paste a copy on your television...
    1. Integrity - being honest with all people
    2. Discipline- applying self control
    3. Social skills - getting along with people
    4. A supportive spouse
    5. Hard work - more than most people

Building true wealth takes a LONG time and a lot of sacrifice. My parents came to this country with nothing (literally) and gave me a wonderful life. Of course, the GPA statistic above means that my parents' obsession with school was a bit off-course (hehe), but I still love them very much ;)

. . .

Thursday: I think today is the first day all my holdings ended in the green. My highest gainer was only 1.28% (the rest barely gained at all), but it still feels good to go into the extended weekend with small gains... phew. I just HATE seeing red... I like to login to Fidelity and see green.

Posted by roy on April 12, 2006 at 04:55 PM in Ramblings | 6 Comments

I knew it was a big deal when my mom asked my thoughts on the Duke lacrosse scandal.

For those of you "not in the know," I'll try to provide a concise summary. There is a school here in Durham called Duke - it's considered the "Ivy League" of the south (I personally call it the "Ivy League Washout" school... zing!). The school is predominantly white and rich - the neighborhoods around it are predominantly black and poor.

At the end of March, a party was held on a university-owned off-campus house by members of the Duke men's lacrosse team. A stripper from NCCU (a predominantely black university) was hired for the party. The stripper alleges that three white men from the party (all allegedly members of Duke's lacrosse team) raped her.

Duke University benched the team from the rest of the season (they then forfeited the season outright). The coach of the team resigned soon afterwards, but the University remained silent besides that. Protesters started showing up on campus, demanding the guilty men turn themselves in. Meanwhile, the men's team hired pricey lawyers and kepts silent.

Meanwhile, Mike Nifong, the District Attorney of Durham, started making a lot of ruckus. It's election year from him, and he was looking for some publicity!

Because this is hard to express in facts, I will just have to say that the general undertone for everything I read and saw was these these boys were guilty. There was an assumption of guilt from the start ...

Now, I've had my fair share of run-ins with jocks and jerks, and there's a good chance (given some of the history about these boys' personal lives released) that these kids are world-class jerks (they hired a stripper at a party for Chrissakes), but to assume guilt before any facts had come out ... it was appalling. I specifically stayed away from writing about it or talking about it with anybody until all the facts came out.

A few days ago the DNA testing came out ... and none of the samples matched. Now it seems that the tide has shifted and a smear campaign is being initiated against the accuser.

Now I read stories about the accuser being drunk, having bruises from before arriving at the party, and way more facts about her personal life than I care to know. Lawyers are congregating in Durham for what I don't doubt will be a slew of defamation cases.

What really irks me about this whole case is I can't find a victim anywhere. The boys (jerks, no doubt) and the woman have both been scrutizined... their personal information and their histories published everywhere. They deserve much better than this. Both parties have been tried in a court of public opinion before any of the facts were even released! Even now, I read more and more shit everyday that's completely irrelevant to the case - why is every lawyer so interested i speaking with the press here?

This issue was described at today's Blogger's Meetup as "the perfect storm." I mean, look at the issues:

  • Rich vs. poor
  • White vs. black
  • University vs. town
  • Sports stars getting preferential treatment
  • Women vs. men

Personally I'm so VERY tired of every issue turning into a "me vs. them" issue. I remember back in college there was a huge issue in the Asian-American community when Abercrombie and Fitch made a t-shirt that said: "Two Wongs can make a White." (Read an example of what Asian-American writers wrote about the issue:

Credit Asian-American students from Stanford, who reacted to the T-shirts first. Within a day, nearly every Asian American online had received at least one e-mail on the subject. (I got several.) Protests and pressure ensued. The store pulled the shirts.

First off, were the shirts offensive? I didn't think so. My friends and I thought they were pretty funny. But that point aside, I distinctly remember the email forward I got was filled with this "us vs. them" mentality ... almost like white people were conspiring to "get" Asian people with this shirt.

Even in this Duke case, the next day I was watching TV and saw a ton of black people protesting this case. Why is race such a big issue still? Why is it that the victim was black matter at all? If a white sorority chick had accused the boys of rape, would the outcry have been as loud?

This whole "us vs. them" mentality - or the way it was projected in the media made the issue seem like it was black vs. white. There are delicate ways to handle situations with racism - and the minority always seems to pick the nuclear option - "LETS MAKE IT WHITE PEOPLE VS. MINORITIES." Smooooooth. I'm not a mediator, but I would imagine drawing a line down the center isn't the best way to solve problems.

How is this helping race relations at all? I'm not saying we should ignore racism, but we're all on an equal legal playing field now. Why do people keep expecting handouts? I remember talking to my good friend Potter in high school about how ridiculous the anti-whiteman backlash was ... I had so many offers for scholarships and summer programs for "minorities" than he did ... because I was born with genes from Asia. How ridiculous is that?

The best way to combat racism is to take individual responsibility in our lives - when minorities hang out with just other minorities (I'm guilty of this) and close themselves off to other cultures, it just perpetuates the myth that everything is a "us vs. them" issue. Affirmative action ... everytime I read something, I can just see the wedge being driven between minorities and whites. Sometimes I wonder if minorities are just taking complete advantage of the sins of generations past for their own benefit. In fact, I'm nearly convinced this is the case now.

That's not to say race isn't an issue at all today - it is. The whole Elizabeth Smart / Natalie Holloway situations show the media places an emphasis on cute white girls, but that's fine by me. The majority of people who consume CNN care about that - there's nothing I can do about that. Some people may disagree, but I don't believe there is a conspiracy in the media to forceably underrepresent minorities in the media.

When I was younger, I was best friends with one of the only black kid in my elementary school; it's funny that when you're young, it didn't even matter to me. I then moved down to North Carolina in the 4th grade and experienced my fair share of racism. Looking back, I also realize that the system really seemed stacked against black kids. I remember in 4th grade (I believe), there was this black kid in our class who always got called out by our teacher and disciplined ... I remember that I thought some of the white kids were worse than him, but my 4th grade teacher would always make the black kid sit by himself. I guess that's what "setting somebody up to fail" really means.

Personally, since elementary school, I've never experienced the "hateful" racism - I've run into a few of the ignorant type of racism, but no harm was ever meant. I've met probably hundreds, if not thousands of different people ... if I were to meet somebody who was hatefully racist, I would probably be sad, but it wouldn't change my viewpoint on things.

To me, the bigger issue today is the growing disparity of wealth between socioeconomic classes; this is a significant issue in my mind, and you can see examples of this in news everyday. Unfortunately, I think this struggle gets unintentionally tied to the race - certain economic classes have a tendency to be overrepresented in certain tax brackets which I think, along with the "us vs. them" herd mentality, makes every issue a sparkpoint. If groups wouldn't get so emotionally tied to the issues at hand, I really think things would progress more nicely.

Not everything is based on race.

I hope this rant, which concluded nothing in particular, has not infuriated you. I just had to vent out some of the ramblings going in my head. I also hope me being open will lead to some open comments - I know a lot of people who read this journal are minorities. If you're afraid of sounding PC, feel free to post anonymously with comments. Don't be afraid to attack anything I've said either ... I know some of you are probably itching to tell me how wrong I am :)

Currently listening to: Eva Cassidy - People Get Ready
Posted by roy on April 14, 2006 at 12:15 AM in Ramblings | 14 Comments

Spanish food is simply amazing. Spain has now topped my list of places I want to visit based on the food alone. Paellas... here I come! I had some Spanish foods at the Red Room; the food was great but the pricing was a bit steep.

Does anybody else know any good places in or around Chapel Hill for Spanish food? Stuff like tapas and paellas?

. . .

A good read from a former environmentalist about why nuclear power is the best energy option for us.

. . .

I recently took a vacation to Bald Head Island - while there, I was completely blown away by how awesome life was on the island without a car. Bald Head Island is an example of a microcommunity - a (somewhat) independent community that doesn't require its inhabitants to leave the community for goods (basically, it has a fully stocked grocery store that is accessible from a go-cart).

I've heard of Stapleton, Colorado being another example of these microcommunities. I think the emphasis on these microcommunities is to encourage non-automobile transportation (Stapleton places an emphasis on its pedestrians) to not only save on energy costs, but also to foster a sense of community.

This got me to thinking - historically, microcommunities are most similar to old feudal communities (minus the self-sustaining thing, but nowadays, food grows in grocery markets, right?? right???). These got supplanted when corporations used their economies of scale to run these "mom-and-pop" businesses out of operation.

What if companies like Wal-mart used their economies of scale to supply mom-and-pop operations on islands like Bald Head and communities like Stapleton? I would imagine we could still (somehow) take advantage of the economies of scale ... but still be able to prevent the Wal-martization of communities (not that this is a bad thing, I'm pro-globalization).

I know what I'm describing sounds like living in a big city, but big cities lack that sense of community. Although we didn't see many people on Bald Head, everytime we did see someone, it was always smiles and waves - like "Hey, we're kicking it original gangsta style like you... peace out, homie" (this, of course, from a few septuagenarians) ... I just really enjoyed not having to drive a car to go the grocery store or to go for a scenic drive, and I enjoyed not having to worry about being run over by a car while in my somewhat environmentally-friendly electric golf cart.

The implication in this post is I'd like to see the benefits of globalization being used to foster communities. I'm as plugged in as anybody can be in this tech world, and it's still quite a lonely place. The increasing emphasis on competition in our professional lives drives us away from social lives, while the convenience of technology (email, IM, etc.) allows us to be distant from one another. I literally have gone weeks where I have not seen any of my friends, yet I remain "in contact" with them through virtual means; this is no substitute for real-life interaction.

One of the misconceptions of the free market is that money is the ultimate driving force - this is not true. You can use human factors to weight certain markets to derive the effect you want. This is why (debatedly) why emissions trading was (not) effective as a means of regulating emissions on the free market. [I haven't taken a stance on the issue, because I haven't looked at enough studies on it, but my 'liberal' Economics teachings at Carolina lead me to believe that trading emissions as tangible goods is beneficial].

Once all the money has been squeezed out of the markets, corporations will look on how to add additional value to their companies bottom lines - my feeling is ideas similar to my apartment complex idea will be something that pursue, because people will be desperate (like me!) to pay a premium for that sense of community.

Posted by roy on April 16, 2006 at 12:13 PM in Ramblings | 7 Comments

I can't sleep. Damnit. I really envy people who can fall asleep with no problems ... sigh.

Giving up on sleeping tonight (ain't gonna happen), I did a bit of checking up on some stocks. It's an incredibly fascinating week in the stock market...

First off, oil just hit $70/barrel, a seven month high. Gold just hit $604/oz, a 25-year high. Silver just hit $13/oz. Silver hasn't been that high since May 1983. Source

The commodities are all making a huge run right now; copper's jumped nearly 25% this month alone. A lot of this has to do with recent news that China's economy grew 10% this first quarter alone. There's a ton of demand for commodities to support their infrastructure (copper especially, which I'm heavily invested in.

The Chinese yuan is pegged against the US dollar right now which is causing them some monetary problems. Imagine what would happen to the price of gold if China pegged the yuan to gold... wow.

Another reason why this week is so fascinating is .. it's earnings week! This is my first earnings week ever as an investor, so I'm curious to find out how all my picks came out. Yahoo's been sliding since I bought it, so I'm hoping for a strong earnings report. We'll see.

In any case, I'm opening up a separate investment portfolio outside my IRA that I'll use for experimental stock trading (gotta learn somewhere, right?). I'm going to restructure my IRA for more long-term holdings. I'll write about my updated portfolio once I'm done reorganizing (will happen after earnings week).

. . .

I don't really understand this crazy flash video. Am I supposed to want to eat eggs? Am I supposed to be disgusted and avoid committing eggocide ever again? I'm confused.

Posted by roy on April 17, 2006 at 02:00 AM in Ramblings, Finances | 2 Comments

YouTube has the MTV version of 2Pac's "I ain't mad at cha."

The feel of this version is completely different than the version that's on his Greatest Hits album. I'm actually preferring this version (at the moment) a bit more; the video version feels more heartfelt and somber.

Does anybody have this version as a MP3? Or was it released on one of his albums so I can buy it? Thanks.

Also, as a follow-up to my Verve Pipe "Freshman" video post, the answer from their fan message boards is that there were two versions of the video: the "official" video release and then a second version which was made for Jenny McCarthy's MTV show. I was remembering the second version. See! I wasn't crazy!

Currently listening to: Tupac Shakur - I ain't mad at cha
Posted by roy on April 18, 2006 at 04:34 AM in Music | 8 Comments

I think the inner boy in me's been yearning for some sort of outlet to let out my competitive streak for some time now. For a while, I managed to quench it by playing poker obsessively. Since the latter part of last year, I managed to divert some of that into a sad collection of DVDs (my collection extends somewhere into the 300-400 range... it's quite pathetic, actually).

Recently, I've started playing the stock market. Day trading and cyclical trading is not my thing; I found out being a "long" (betting on the is the most comfortable role for me.

One of the interesting things I've learned about the stock market is that there is an eternal battle being waged between the "shorts" and the "longs." The "shorts" are people who sell stock they don't have; they're betting the stock will decline in value (and then they'll buy the 'borrowed' stock back). Longs are people who buy a stock and hold it.

There's something about shorts that just irks me. It's just the concept that someone is betting on the decline of a company in such a big way.

The past few days, I had been ghosting a few finance message boards to see if two of my stocks were going to do well - I had done my due diligence research before and was confident they would do well in the long term, but being a beginner, I still had my doubts.

I could not believe the number of people who were openly calling for a stock to tank so they could profit from it. It was absolutely maddening.

In any case, today I woke up and saw both of my stocks had risen greatly over the past two days (both nearly posted 9% gains in the past two days).

I then found myself immensely enjoying the fact that the shorts were getting "squeezed" (basically they were losing a crapload of money and would have to cover their losses shortly). It almost got to a point where I wanted to trash-talk some of the shorters...

What is is about us guys that brings out this ugliness?

I take immense pleasure in watching shorts get squeezed ... I gloat as they scramble to cover margin calls. That'll teach them to try to profit off the misery of others.

Posted by roy on April 19, 2006 at 07:25 AM in Finances | 8 Comments

Some updates on my portfolio.

I threw in some more money to open a general investment fund, separate from my IRA. I'm going to aggregate the totals for the time being because I don't feel like calculating all that money twice.

Portfolio: Active since Janury 12th, 2006 (hoo, three months!). I've learned that since the last time I posted an update, I should probably post my exit points and growth expectations. Obviously the expectations will rarely be met, but if I'm aiming to hit my 25% growth target for the year, I'll need to be more stringent in in exit points.

  • Fidelity Blue Chip Value (FBCVX) (Currently 25% of my portfolio, price is up 3.53% since 1/13/06)
    Just a standard "conservative" mutual fund. From last time, I've liquidated my position down from 53% to 25%.
    Target: I'll be satisfied with 10% growth that it's been averaging per year.
  • Toronto Dominion Bank (TD) (Currently 17% of portfolio, price is down 1.58% since 03/31/06)
    My "safe" non-American financial group holding. No changes since last time.
    Target: $60 by October (for an annualized growth of roughly 9% with its dividends)
  • Yahoo! (YHOO) (Currently 8% of portfolio, price is down 2.95% since 2/23/06)
    What a stinker. It was down nearly 8.9% at its low last week prior to earnings; my stop-loss almost kicked in (10%) ... luckily earnings boosted it up to break-even before tapering down to where it is today. I'm ready to take the loss on this turd of a stock and drop it like it's hot.
    Exit: Next week, with a lesson learned in how not to buy turds of stocks
  • Southern Copper Corporations (PCU) (Currently 13% of portfolio, price is up 5.12% since purchase 4/6/06)
    The commodities have been blowing up lately. I'm not much of a gold/silver guy (practical value is overshadowed by sentimentalism towards the gold standard, imo), so I stick with the most useful of metals: copper. Copper is nearly everywhere - wiring, computers, etc. As China and India's demand for electronics increases, copper demand will continue to be strong. The downside to buying PCU was that it's located in a politically sensitive area (presidential elections runoffs will happen in late May, with the possibility that a strongarm like Chavez of Venezuela wins) ... but the company itself is very strong. It's paid annualized dividends of 10% consistently, and is also a strong performer. I think a lot of commodity stocks are pricing in futures, but PCU's is dragged down a bit because of political instability. It's current PEG is 0.49, whereas similar miners like PD have PEG of 1.5. When I decided to play the commodity companies, I decided to pick one large company (for stability) and one small one (upside).
    Target: Expect $110 by September, probably exit by October
  • Northgate Minerals Corporation (NXG) (Currently 24% of portfolio, price is up 2.2% since 4/20/06)
    I bought this earlier this week as my small-cap commodity company (net worth only $780 mil). Like PCU, this one has a low PEG, but there's also the risk their reserves may run out, unless they open up a new mine (they've found one and should hopefully get the clearance to start drilling later this year). This is an incredibly volatile stock (it was up 6% after I bought it, down 8%, now up again) and so I'm trying not to watch it for fear of getting a heart attack. I really like the long-term aspects of this company, and I'm hoping that their new mine will yield great reserves and continue to boost this stock.
    Target: Conservatively, I want to see $5 by October, but I really think this one may blow up if they get that second mine running and investors realize that it's incredibly undervalued.
  • Barnes Group (B) (Currently 9.5% of portfolio, price is up 18.94% since 2/23/06)
    I bought this the same day as Yahoo! because I couldn't decide which one I liked better - Barnes was a more fundamental company, but Yahoo! was ... a company I was familiar with and respected. What an idiot I was. I should have invested it all into Barnes instead.

    Barnes announced their earnings Wednesday after the market - the stock had been creeping up a few percent a day prior, so I was expecting good news.

    Barnes hit the trifecta on "good news:" they announced higher than expected profits and revenues, they INCREASED their forward guidance (what they expect to make in the future), they announced an INCREASE in their dividends to 2% a year, and they announced a 2:1 stock split.

    Talk about being blown away. The stock opened high, and closed higher; the thing has netted me 20% in two months! (After chatting with Bert, he bought in, too!)

    Target: $60 (pre-split) by '07

I've been doing a ton of research lately into additional stocks that I think might be promising (BPT, FELE, BBBB, JLG, NFI, WWW), but one in particular struck me today as being quite promising.

Ever since my Barnes struck gold, I've been looking more at mid/small-caps. I think I finally understand Bert's "shotgun" approach to investing; you invest into many different companies and hope one hits. You set stop-loss limits on each one so you limit the loss, and you reap the rewards from one big hit. For example, my first shotgun group was B and YHOO. YHOO tank, but B hit big. My second group (only like a month old) is TD, PCU, and NXG. TD can stay even, and I'll be happy as long as PCU and NXG perform. I want to add one more company to that shotgun group, and I'm looking at Cogent, Inc (COGT).

Cogent, Inc. is a biometrics company with strong financials (high assets, low liabilities, increasing revenue growth, steady R&D investment). They have a standard P/E (24) and a low PEG (0.88) for a software company. The company has a market cap of 1.61B which makes it still a mid-cap, but relatively unnoticed (average volume is only 885K/day). Unless demand for biometrics dropped (doubtful), they should continue to post strong earnings. They are announcing earnings next week, so I'll need to decide whether or not to buy them by Monday. I'm going to sleep on it for the next few days and think about it. If any stock market wizards are out there, I'd like to hear your thoughts on COGT. I've attached a chart below, which shows that even COGT is due for a nice rise as well...

Posted by roy on April 21, 2006 at 05:01 PM in Finances | 7 Comments

I have a question regarding stocks. I was doing some research the other day, and stumbled upon United Natural Foods, Inc. which is a national distributor of organic foods (like to Whole Foods). I think given the fact that Wal-mart is taking over the world, UNFI might be a safe bet in the future (can't see Wal-mart taking over this sector anytime soon).

While researching this stock, an interesting figure bubbled up on the Yahoo! key statistics for UNFI:

  • Shares Short (as of 10-Mar-06): 5.58M
  • Short Ratio (as of 10-Mar-06): 14.5
  • Short % of Float (as of 10-Mar-06): 13.40%
  • Shares Short (prior month): 5.17M

This stock is overshorted like crazy! I couldn't find any other companies (off the top of my head) which had a short ratio this high.

Now take a look at the Google snapshot since March 10th; almost no change in the stock price.

So my question: If UNFI hits enough momentum and starts going up, any gains will be amplified by shorts who will have to cover. Is this reasoning correct? Given the fact that the financials on the company seem quite solid (I would probably do a more indepth review before actually buying), this might be a good stock to hold onto for a year - if next quarter's earnings are spectacular, I could see a huge gain...

Is my reasoning regarding the short ratio and momentum correct? Anyone know for sure?

Posted by roy on April 23, 2006 at 12:07 PM in Finances | 4 Comments

The competitor I'm most worried about is Xanga. I remember four years ago when Xanga and Livejournal were the only two social networking sites ... and penetration (for an early adopter site like Xanga) was incredibly high at my school. Everybody I knew had a Xanga account.

Since then, the quality of their service has remained relatively static (which in the web world translates to declining quality), so they've lost a lot of market share. Most people I know have moved onto other services like Facebook (a significant number of people only registered Xanga accounts to comment in other accounts; Facebook fills this social networking void) and MySpace.

When I first started working on Tabulas, I was always concerned with Xanga. Xanga was one of the sites that could have been the next MySpace, but for whatever reason they never made that huge jump that MySpace was capable of pulling off.

You know what's funny? I think after MySpace sold out, I think those Xanga guys finally woke up to what kind of gold mine they were sitting on. You notice since then they've launched "upgraded profiles, which is in essence competing with Facebook/Friendster. They've even taken the obligatory measure of trying to police their network with "tagging" of accounts that violate the TOS.

In any case, I think they're going to have a very difficult time transitioning into this field - they've already lost a lot of market share and have an uphill battle with Facebook (which poached their primarily college/high school demographic) and MySpace.

Posted by roy on April 23, 2006 at 10:17 PM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

'Who' is a subject, 'whom' is an object. Easy way to know when to use 'who' versus 'whom:' replace with 'he' or 'him;' if the former works, it's 'who' and if it's the latter it's 'whom.'

"For whom the bell tolls" becomes "For him the bell tolls" (makes sense) while "For he the bell tolls" makes no sense.

"She gave the letter to who?" is incorrectly "She gave the letter to he" whereas "She gave the letter to whom?" becomes "She gave the letter to him?"

And remember "a number" is plural, while "the number" is singular.

Anybody wanna share some more cool off-the-cuff grammar rules?

(A random post, I know. This journal has been devoid of posts of real value lately. Here is my contribution for the month of April).

Currently listening to: DJ Acura - Park Ji Yoon Megamix
Posted by roy on April 24, 2006 at 01:11 PM in Ramblings | 16 Comments

I am going to forceably stretch the limits of the English language with made-up adverbs, split infinites, and other grammatical fox-passes (faux paus, which when I pronounce it, comes out as "fox pass;" don't ask me to pronounce hor doeuvres). Where my grammar Nazi's at?????

I have decided to lovingly dedicate this post to sacrecoueur and Andrew. Speaking of Andrew, I've heard that he's bound to awesomely become the next great doctor! Accepted into John Hopkins, Rutgers, and Duke med? Congratulations!

My grammar post has made me realize that in order to cheapingly attract more comments, I must write about more random topics. Posting non-sequiturs make me seem hip, intelligent, and witty ... at all once, and who can argue with what that means to me?

Oops, my cake is finished. I am done!

EDIT: OH CRUD, I HAVE 99 facebook friends!!!! ONE MORE and I can get into the three-digit friends range!!!! That will TRULY catapult me to GREATNESS!!!! Quick, somebody add me as your friend!!! I will shower your wall with praises about myself!

Edit again: Wes Andersons' American Express commercial - one amazingly well done commercial.

Currently listening to: UNC Clef Hangers - Bohemian
Posted by roy on April 24, 2006 at 11:16 PM in Foolishness | 15 Comments

I noticed today that I only have 13 Bloglines subscribers! That means somebody finally got sick of my drivel ... that makes me such a sad panda.

In an effort to make things more efficient in our world, I hereby propose that it become standard practice to leave your phone number at the beginning of a voicemail message. "Hi, my name is Roy Kim, and my number is 555-555-5555." Then leave your message. I usually repeat my number at the end as well. This prevents having to listen to the whole message twice just to get the callback number.

On a related note, I finally disconnected my voicemail. I spent about twenty minutes trying to figure out how to disable it through the phone - turns out I have to call customer support to do it. (As a side note, regardless of where you stand on the net neutrality bill, the one thing I can say with certainty is the telecom community is corrupt; there is no way my cell phone service costs $40/month. No-farking-way. It's a ripoff, and if it wasn't such a necessity in today's world, I would discontinue it). I've never been happier since disconnecting my voicemail - now I don't feel as pressured to return calls! I figure if it's important, they'll call me back (I do return calls though if they are missed from people I know) or they'll email me.

I am such an antisocial bastard!

Currently listening to: Yellowcard - Down On My Head
Posted by roy on April 26, 2006 at 05:22 AM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

The past few weeks have been incredibly tough - and like a little sissy, I've spent most of the past few weeks avoiding confrontation with my problems. Excluding my call-to-arms post (which was friends-only, an incentive to join Tabulas if you have not done so already!), I've largely felt like I've been losing control of my life.

Rather than post another generally vague entry about potential problems, I'll talk about them directly.

First off, I'm overstretched with stuff to do. I've had to pull extra hours at work, and spending eight+ hours a day working on one thing in front of the computer has been testing my patience. I've also picked up a freelance side project (I had some massive bills to pay off from last month), and it's been destroying my after-work life. With whatever energy I can muster after that, I've spent it on updating the Tabulas control panel.

Normally this type of work schedule wouldn't bother me, except the hope of an upside is quickly diminishing. I've been questioning lately what slaving at my job has yielded to me at my current salary level besides personal anguish and a lot of stress. I think the company has significant upside, but I've been feeling a bit frustrated about how much of a windfall that will yield for me - I've been slaving away and I just don't feel like when the windfall comes, I'll be able to partake in it in any significant manner. There are days when I think I'm being used, and other days when I love my job.

I'll save my views on Tabulas, for I have iterated them time and time again.

On a social front, I've been feeling much more isolated lately. Most of this is my doing, but as time goes on, I find myself wanting to actively maintain less and less friendships. There are a few people who I still consider quite close, but those are getting few and far between.

The undercurrent to this whole issue, to me, is that nobody really understands the types of pressures I'm going through. It's very easy to generalize my life into these simple terms (and I do count my blessings everyday), but these are contrasted sharply with the things that I've been struggling with on a daily basis. I really want to break out of this hobbyist role and start making significant changes in the things I do - but I'm just not finding the support from people in my life. I think there's a difference between people who want to support me, and people who do. The former I have many, the latter I have none. It almost seems to me like there's a passive "wait and see what happens" among the people in my life, rather than "what can I do to help?"

Understandably, I'm also reaching that point in my life where everybody I know is hitting crucial points in their lives - I don't doubt for a second that everybody in my immediate life is having some inkling of these types of feelings. The transition away from the simplifed general collegiate environment to this specialized career... is hard.

I've never been the type to actively sabotage a friendship; I'm more the type to slowly let a friendship die due to a lack of interest on both parties ... but there has been one situation during the past few weeks that I've been actively seeking to destroy. What really sucks is that on a certain level I felt a connection to this person and felt that maybe she could fill a certain void in my life (I'm selfish). There was a situation where I felt betrayed by this person, and I really blew it out of proportion - in a sense, I had a case for being miffed, but the length I've been holding the grudge is unnecessary (this I know) [I have the horrible character flaw of holding grudges for a LONG time]. I feel what I'm doing is still right, even though it hurts.

So the real solution to this whole problem is to go out and meet new people - it's pretty simple. The difficulty is finding time away from the computer. I spend about 8-9 hours a day at my job. I spend another 4-5 days on personal projects and life things. Things have gotten to a point lately where I have to literally schedule a casual dinner with friends a few days in advance. Where is the time to meet new people?

I've been flaky to a few people in my life, and for this I feel horrible. I've missed out on multiple events I was supposed to attend ... I feel like a jerk, but sometimes I'm just too exhausted to make it out to these events. It's starting to get to the point where I've largely given up on myself to attend any type of events, so I just tell them I can't make it.

I feel like I've stagnated in growth lately, and there is no longer a catalyst in my life to spark some time of change. All I can see in the upcoming months is working; the only difference from the past couple months is more people are leaving this area and I'm destroying some existing friendships with my flakiness.

Well, our company ships another release shortly. I should wrap up my freelance project and a small fun exercise I've been working on by next week.

I've been looking at renting a cabin somewhere for a month and just locking myself up until I finish a significant amount of work. Part of me hates living in this room 24 hours a day (I spent probably about two hours a day outside my room), and I think that's part of the problem.

I knew 2006 was going to be tough ... but it's been straightforward hellish. But I must keep strong!

Posted by roy on April 27, 2006 at 05:51 PM in Personal | 5 Comments

I keep reading articles relating to myspace. Recently they hired a "Chief Security Officer" to help with protecting the users on myspace from online predators.

This leads to wonder whether all this bad press about MySpace (it's dangerous!) and notoriety leads more kids to join it. If you were a teenager today, would you want to join a staid "emo" community like Livejournal or a potentially dangerous MySpace?

Maybe the trick for Tabulas is to market it as this totally hip, underground, edgy, dangerous place where only cool people meet. Hell, maybe I should even limit registrations (just kidding) so only "elite people" can join. I could be even crueler and not let them know when they're registering whether they are cool or not - a random number generator would randomly fail registrations with "SORRY YOU'RE NOT COOL ENOUGH, GO JOIN LAMEO XANGA." I could probably even cookie the user so they could never register.

haha (by the way, i would never really do this).

Currently listening to: Gunther - Touch Me
Posted by roy on April 29, 2006 at 01:56 PM in Foolishness, Tabulas | 9 Comments
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