I respect the management of Google. They are not tied to conventional ways of thinking. When they bought huge amounts of dark fiber (fiber optic cable that had been laid down in the internet bubble period, but was sitting unused). I figured they had made good investments while the cable was very cheap (pennies on the dollar). I watch with interest as they continue to build their own (with partners) fiber network. I am guessing this may be partially because they are smart enough to know the business oligopolies providing internet infrastructure will try to exploit their positions and government cannot be counted out to play their proper regulatory role, which is required in a capitalist system. And partially due to their huge bandwidth needs and projections for future growth.
And since those oligopolies are not very effective companies (that rely largely on paying politicians, in order to undermine the proper role of government in a capitalist system, to gain government granted monopolist profits). That increases the benefit of Google buying into their own distribution network since excess capacity can likely be sold at a large profit: the competing companies are so used to charging monopoly prices leaving lots of room for profit. The second point can be debated but I don’t think if the economy functioned properly, with intelligently regulated natural monopolies providing internet bandwidth, I doubt Google would invest in this, but, of course, I could be wrong.
Meanwhile, ITWeb reports that Google is looking to run a third underwater cable to South Africa.
For people who travel a lot, Arnold recommends a Capital One credit card, which charges no overseas-transaction fees (and even declines to pass on Visa and MasterCard’s 1% fee to customers).
Last year, the Government Accountability Office sent investigators to see how well banks explained their fees and other conditions to potential customers. Though banks are required by law to make this information available, the GAO said one-third of the branches it surveyed didn’t provide the required information. Worse, more than half didn’t have any fee information on their Web sites.
Though big banks offer many conveniences, they can come at a price: high fees. In 2006, the 10 largest banks generated 54% of revenue from fees and service charges. By contrast, the 10 smallest banks generated just 28% from those sources.
Related: Sneaky Fees – Don’t Let the Credit Card Companies Play You for a Fool – Majoring in Credit Card Debt – Avoid Getting Squeezed by Credit Card Companies – Legislation to Address the Worst Credit Card Fee Abuse, Maybe –Bad Practice: .05% Interest From a Stock Broker – Hidden Credit Card Fees
Five most important lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki
2) Make a little progress every day. I used to believe in the big-bang theory of marketing: a fantastic launch that created such inertia that you flew to “infinity and beyond.” No more. Now my theory is that you make a little bit of progress every day–whether that’s making your product slightly better, increasing your skill in one small way, or closing one more customer.
Kiva has added a fellows blog – which is a great idea. The fellows are funded by Kiva (fellows are unpaid) to go to spend time in the countries Kiva facilitates loans for working with the local partners. This post is about Rita Bashnet (in photo) an entrepreneur from Nepal:
Five years ago, Ms. Rita took her first loan of NRs. 10,000 (USD $150) and purchased some extra seed and fertilizer in the hopes of expanding her small vegetable patch. With the profits from this initial investment and a second loan from Patan Business and Professional Women (they offer a graduated loan program), she then purchased her first dairy cow.
After hearing about a program that subsidized the installation of methane gas storage tanks, Ms. Rita took another loan and applied for the program. With this new system, she is now able to capture the valuable gas released from her cow’s waste in a simple controlled-release storage tank. Today she no longer purchases gas from the city and can even sell some during times of shortage.
Ms. Rita exemplifies the potential of microfinance. A combination of access to capital and strategic investment has allowed her and her family to drastically improve their economic situation in a short five years.
Great story, and exactly my hope for using capitalism to improve the standard of living for people around the globe. I notice today, for the first time, some of those seeking loans are about to have their listings expire unfunded. Kiva gives listings 30 days to be funded. I have no problem if some loans are not funded (I want to help entrepreneurs by providing funding to build a business – some loans are for things like adding a room onto their house, which is fine but not what I want to support with interest free loans from me). But, this is a big change from when I couldn’t find anyone to loan to (they had so many people looking to lend that they didn’t have enough loans to fund). If you haven’t loaned money through Kiva (or you haven’t added to your loan portfolio recently), please consider it now. If you do, send me your Kiva lender link and I will add it to Curious Cat Kivans. My biggest wish for this blog is to get more readers listed on that page.
Related: Using Capitalism to Make a Better World – Funding Entrepreneurs in Nicaragua, Ghana, Viet Nam, Togo and Tanzania – 2006 Nobel Peace Prize to Economist – Frontline Explores Kiva in Uganda – Trickle Up
Although the security breach was closed on Friday after Best Western was alerted by the Sunday Herald, experts fear that information seized in the raid is already being used to pursue a range of criminal strategies. These include:
Armed with the numbers and expiry dates of customers’ credit cards, fraudsters are equipped to make multiple high-value purchases in their victims’ names before selling on the goods.
Bundled together with home addresses and other personal details, the stolen data can be used by professional organised criminal gangs which specialise in identity theft to apply for loans, cards and credit agreements in the victims’ names.
Because the compromised information included future bookings, the gang now has the capacity to sift through the data and sell “burglary packs”, giving the home addresses of local victims and the dates on which they are expected to be away from their home.
Although the nature of internet crime makes it extremely difficult to track the precise details of the raid, the Sunday Herald understands that a hacker from India – new to the world of cyber-crime – succeeded in bypassing the system’s security software and placing a Trojan virus on one of the Best Western Hotel machines used for reservations. The next time a member of staff logged in, her username and password were collected and stored.
It is important to do what you can to protect yourself from identity theft. Unfortunately if large companies fail to protect your private information you are left to cope with the consequences. As far as I can tell from reading the article it seems to be saying those staying or reserving lodging at Best Western hotels in Europe are those in danger of identity theft.
Unfortunately some companies think the way to make money is to try and con their customers out of cash. Certain industries seem to prefer this tactic: credit cards, banks, printer companies… To avoid rewarding them for behaving badly read: Take That, Stupid Printer!
But my printer’s pages hadn’t been fading at all. Did it really need new toner – or was my printer lying to me?
To find out, I did what I normally do when I’m trying to save $60: I Googled. Eventually I came upon a note on FixYourOwnPrinter.com
covering the sensor with a small piece of dark electrical tape tricked the printer into thinking he’d installed a new cartridge. I followed his instructions, and my printer began to work. At least eight months have passed. I’ve printed hundreds of pages since, and the text still hasn’t begun to fade.
many Hewlett-Packard printers can be brought back to life by digging deep into their onboard menus and pressing certain combinations of buttons. (HP buries these commands in the darkest recesses of its instruction manuals
You can believe what I am sure would be arguments by the companies for why breaking customers printers is helpful or you can save money and the environment by realizing that printer companies are notorious for trying to manipulate customers and use the internet to find ways to protect yourself and the earth from such abuse.
The Entrepreneurship Lottery by Scott Shane
Generating significant financial value is something done by a very small percentage of start-ups, but a handful that do generate a lot of value.
Scott Shane is a Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies at Case Western Reserve University
New federal government data showed that the cost of materials used by businesses increased 1.2 percent in July and have risen 9.8 percent during the past 12 months. It was the largest yearly increase since 1981, as businesses absorbed sharp increases in energy and other commodity costs.
Today’s report follows recent news that consumer prices are also rising faster than expected — and faster than the Federal Reserve’s generally accepted target rate of around 2 percent.
Inflation can cause serious damage to your personal finances. As prices increase if you don’t get a raise (or your investments don’t raise) to match the increased costs you must pay your financial situation deteriorates. One benefit, to those with 30 year fixed rate mortgages, is that you get to pay back your loan with inflated dollars. This can be a huge advantage for some, and a huge loss for whoever holds the mortgage.
Short selling is when you sell something before you buy it (you try to sell high and then buy low later, instead of buying low and then selling high later). In order to sell short, you are required to borrow the shares that you then sell. So if I own 1,000 shares of Google (I wish), I could lend them to someone to sell. Nothing happens to my position, it is just that those shares are now allocated to that short sale. If I sell them then the short seller has to go borrow them elsewhere or buy the stock to close their position. In general the borrowing is either from brokers that hold shares for individuals or from large institution (mutual funds, insurance companies…).
However from everything that I read it appears the SEC hasn’t bothered to actually enforce this law much. There was a bunch of excitement recently when the SEC announced it would bother to enforce the law to protect a few large banks, many of whom are said to practice naked short selling but didn’t like it when that was done to their stock. As you can see, this does make the SEC look pretty bad, when they chose to enforce a law, not in all circumstances, but only to protect a few of those who actually take advantage of the SEC’s failure to enforce the law to make money.
Some people find the whole concept of short selling bad since it is based on making money on stock price declines. I don’t feel that way and believe it can help the market. But it requires regulators that actually do their jobs and enforce laws. A favorite tacit of those who seek to keep open special ways for themselves to benefit from abusing the system is to try and make things seem complex. The recent SEC order saying they would enforce the intent of the law to protect a few powerful banks from the behavior many (or most) practice themselves for years shows that it isn’t that complicated.
Adding the decision not to enforce the requirement to borrow shares to their recent decision to eliminate the requirement that short sales take place on down ticks in price (a measure put in after the 1929 stock market crash to not have short sellers accelerate market declines and insight panic seems like a really bad combination).
According to Robinson, mentioning to your boss that you are willing to go on vacation without any pay can often be a very effective way to get some time off.
Take what you get: It may seem obvious, but many people don’t check how much time they are entitled to take off. Many others are reluctant to take the average nine days of paid vacation to which they are entitled, often because they are afraid it will show weakness or lack of loyalty.
Joe Robinson said there may be “ongoing subtle discouragement” in the work force, but employees should remember that they are entitled to their vacation and should not be afraid to take it. In 2005, U.S. workers collectively turned down a staggering 1.6 million years of vacation time that was offered to them.
I find these discussions of how little time off we have interesting. Similar studies look further back, at hunter gathers and find similar patterns. Still they are a bit misleading. What about total hours worked during the year (for peasants). What about the conditions of work and life. What about life expectancy… Still I agree with the thought that more vacation is more important than more work to fund more spending. I would rather reduce my spending and have more free time. I have taken unpaid vacation myself, and have worked part time, at times, to buy myself more freedom to spend my time as I wished.