September 22, 2009

9/22 The Audiophiliac

Major music exec admits to being an audiophile

Cohen spins vinyl on a Clearaudio turntable.

(Credit: Clearaudio)

Every year, the major record companies produce more miserable-sounding recordings. I'm not surprised by this. The labels know most folks listen to music with iTunes or streaming audio, and sound quality is a low priority for most music listeners. My weekend poll is ample proof of that.

Lyor Cohen, CEO of recorded music for the Warner Music Group, cares about sound, at least at home. He admitted, in so many words, to being an audiophile on the pages of the September 20 New York Times Sunday magazine. The media has been alerted! It's like learning that a fast-food bigwig is a wine snob.

Cohen was Run-DMC's road manager in the 1980s, and he now works with Jay-Z, Madonna, and the Beastie Boys. In the article, Cohen said his hi-fi is his "favorite possession." The Clearaudio turntable pictured in the article is a very high-end German model that "won a gold medal at a consumer technology convention a few years ago."


September 17, 2009

9/17 Appliances and Kitchen Gadgets

Appliances and Kitchen Gadgets

Countertop roaster suffers identity crisis

Waffles, but not the kind you eat.

(Credit: Chef's Catalog)

Some appliances just can't make up their mind. This ingrained multitasking ability is good news for kitchens everywhere. Combination appliances often look funny (or do disparate tasks), but sometimes they just do several things at once without ...

Nested camping cooking set

It's like Russian nesting dolls, but different.

(Credit: Cascade Designs)

I'm not a camping type of girl. It's just not my thing--I prefer to view nature from the windows of my hotel room. But some people really enjoy camping, and those people might appreciate what's ...

Clean water on your counter

The CleanWater Countertop Filtration System

(Credit: Sur la Table)

The taste of filtered water tends to taste better than what comes out of the tap, but few of us want to buy bottle after bottle of water. The CleanWater Countertop Filtration System, from Cuisinart, brings filtered water to your counter, ...

Plug in that morning coffee (mug)

Plug it in and go.

(Credit: Bed Bath & Beyond)

Mornings are made on routines. From the moment the alarm clock wakes us up we're off and running on autopilot. Breakfast is made and devoured with barely a glimmer of recognition, and then we are off and out the door, ...

September 16, 2009

Your Stop Loss Is Critical When Day Trading Futures

Stop loss orders are great insurance policies that cost you nothing and can save you a fortune. They are used to sell or buy at a specified price and greatly reduce the risk you take when you buy or sell a futures contract. Stop loss orders will automatically execute when the price specified is hit, and can take the emotion out of a buy or sell decision by setting a cap on the amount you are willing to lose in a trade that has gone against you. Stop loss orders don't guarantee against losses but they drastically reduce risk by limiting potential losses.

With my system the only stop I use is what I call an emergency stop. My stop loss is automatically made when I make my initial trade at two points. It is only for emergencies, like news I wasn't expecting, or anything that will make the market gyrate drastically and I never enter a trade without it. However I never expect to use this stop loss to exit my trade. I simply will not let the market move against my trade entry more than a tick or two. If I find that I exited the trade too soon I just reenter the trade but if the trade continues to move against me I have saved the loss of one or two points per. contract. Usually I will only have to exit and reenter a trade one time if I have entered a trade to early. This means I only lose a small commission per contract instead of fifty dollars per point- per contract, when trading the e-mini, and taking what many consider
a normal loss.

Trading the futures markets is a challenging but profitable opportunity for educated and experienced traders. However it is not easy, without a great trading system, and even traders with years of experience still incur losses. Finding a good trading system and trading in small increments with an emergency stop loss in place will allow those relatively new to futures trading to be successful. Once you have learned the skills you need to trade with consistent profits it will not be a problem but until that time it is absolutely critical that you do not take unnecessary losses. If you are new to trading futures you should never trade until you have a mentor with a trading system that gives you consistent profits.

September 15, 2009

9/15 Crave: The gadget blog

Crave: The gadget blog

HP gets an Ion-powered HD Netbook (and a stylebook)

(Credit: HP)

We said we noticed a recent trend of better-resolution HD screens showing up in Netbooks, and we like the direction. HP apparently does too, as their newly-announced HP Mini 311 includes an 11.6-inch 1366x768 screen, a resolution that's standard in most laptops but not in most


HP 13-inch laptops bring on aluminum and affordability

(Credit: HP)
As we gear up for Windows 7, manufacturers are lining up their latest updated models to catch your consumer eye. HP's newest 13-inch laptops, the HP ProBook 5310m and HP Pavilion dm3, both toss in fancy aluminum frames, but with different internal stories. The ProBook 5310m has ...

HP introduces first non-touch all-in-one

Prior to this evening's announcement of the Pavilion All-In-One MS214, HP has never carried a traditional all-in-one in its desktop lineup. Its TouchSmart line brought touch computing to the all-in-one back in 2007, but the MS214 is the company's first attempt at a no-frills all-in-one.

(Credit: HP)

We ...

HP launches new SmartMedia network storage servers

The new SmartMedia EX495 from HP.

(Credit: Dong Ngo/CNET)

I reviewed the HP MediaSmart LX190 a while ago, and though I wished it had more storage, I still gave it the editors' choice award for its great performance. And now both the storage and performance have been increased.

HP ...

HP's new business monitors not bad for non-business people

The 24-inch LA2405wg...they could have chosen a more exciting screenshot. Just saying.

(Credit: HP)

HP is known for both consumer and business monitors. With their latest batch of business-focused displays they are seemingly attempting to meld the two categories.

On Tuesday HP announced three new business monitors that have ...

HP goes high-end with two new Envy laptops

HP's slick new Envy 13.

(Credit: HP)

Ditching the Voodoo branding of the first Envy laptop, HP is aiming at the very upper ends of the market with its new Envy 13 and Envy 15 laptops, both announced today.

HP calls the 15-inch version, "the company's fastest ...

September 09, 2009

Survival of the Richest

Most of us are aware of the sacrificial slaughter of Bear Sterns. Some people call it a bailout, but I call it a handout -- a government handout to some of the richest people on Earth, paid for by American taxpayers.

It's the survival of the richest, and the poorest be damned. There's something dismal about a society that operates by those values.

The Economy on Life Support

I understand why the Federal Reserve did what it did with Bear Stearns. The Fed was doing its job -- acting as the lender of last resort, pumping money into a dying system. It wanted to prevent a run on the bank and economic chaos. It was a very creative financing move, using the Fed's magic checkbook to pump more liquidity into a thirsty market -- sort of like a physician administering life-saving measures to a critically wounded patient.

My problem with the move is that the Fed saved this patient because it's a wealthy one. Saving the biggest investment banks in America is welfare for the rich. Would the Fed do that for you or me if we screwed up our investment portfolio? Is the Fed going to bail out the millions of people facing foreclosure because the value of their homes is less than their mortgages? If I'm a small-business owner and fall behind on my taxes, is the Fed going to pay my taxes for me? If I can't pay off my college loan, will the fed pay it for me?

Aren't these investment bankers supposed to be the smartest guys in the world? Aren't they the people we entrust with our investment and retirement money? Aren't they supposed to be financially fit? Some blame subprime borrowers as the culprits in this mess, but the supposedly brilliant investment bankers bought their mortgages. Was that smart?

A Handout for the Rich

This bailout was a signal to Wall Street that the Fed stands behind them -- that they're on the same team. It was a thumbs-up to the super-rich: "Do what you want. If you screw up, we'll cover your blunders."

Ralph Nader's father purportedly once said that "Capitalism will never fail because Socialism will always bail it out." My concern, especially in this election year, is that socialists will seek revenge. Already I can hear the war cry "tax the rich!" The problem with taxing the truly rich is that the rich simply move their money to countries that treat them and their money with undue respect. And when the rich move their money, the poor and middle class end up paying more taxes.

Not only will taxes go up, but the prices of food and fuel will increase, because the purchasing power of the dollar will continue to decline. This rise in cost of living, plus higher taxes and stagnant wages, could lead to unrest -- protests, riots, and possibly chaos. In other words, what the Federal Reserve was attempting to prevent may happen anyway.

When Capitalism Stumbles

Bailing out the rich means over $800 billion from the Fed's magic checkbook entered the market. Immediately, the stock market rebounded and the price of gold and silver declined. The U.S. dollar strengthened against the euro. While this looks like a good sign, I'm afraid the problem isn't solved. The inevitable may only have been delayed.

Our problem is a toxic U.S. dollar. Printing funny money steals from the poor and middle class, savers, and the elderly. It may be legal, but it isn't moral or ethical. As long as the Fed is allowed to wield its power at will, the prices for food and fuel will only go up.

So will the price of gold and silver. Some are calling for gold and silver to go over $2,500 and $200 an ounce, respectively. Some even believe gold will go as high as $5,000 an ounce. I hope not. While I get excited about seeing the gold I purchased for less than $300 an ounce flirt with $1,000 an ounce, I also begin to worry.

The rise in the price of gold is a sign that capitalism has stumbled. And when capitalism stumbles, workers' wages buy less and savings are wiped out. Even gains from the stock market are diminished because our dollar gains are worth less.

Troubles Past and Present

Throughout history, when capitalism stumbles chaos erupts and sometimes despots take over. For example:

In 1897, the Russian ruble was pegged to gold and a period of relative economic growth followed. Russia went off the gold standard to finance World War I. The government fell to the Bolsheviks in 1917, and the Russian mafia took control of the economy.

After World War I, the German middle class was wiped out and Adolf Hitler was voted into power in 1933.

In the 1930s, China was the only country on the silver standard. In 1935, the nationalist Chinese government started issuing paper money. In 1937, in order to fight the Japanese, the government began printing funny money. The value of their currency went from four yuan per dollar in 1936 to a trillion yuan per dollar in 1949. In May of 1949, the Chinese government fell to Mao Tse-Tung and the Communists.

In 1984, Yugoslavia hosted the Winter Olympics just as their currency, the dinar, began to devalue. In 1989, the IMF recommended more devaluation and the freezing of workers' wages. Rioting broke out, and in 1989 Communist party leader Slobodan Milsoevic was elected into power. Yugoslavia broke apart as war and ethnic cleansing began.

As capitalism falters, the rich move their money out of the country, violence increases, and politicians promising prosperity are elected. It's happened before, and I fear it's happening again. Trouble brews when we steal from the poor and give to the rich.

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