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Dialectical Materialist

Dialectical Materialist
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  • Adobe Grow Up: Apple Should Not Eliminate Switching Costs to Its Rivals [View article]
    I have bad experiences with Java on mission critical systems I have at work. Slow and buggy (and the software is proprietary so I can't solve the problems). When I program, which is not enough these days, it is in C which I have always found to be zippy and efficient. I'll take your word for the idea that modern computers are fast enough for Java. But I wonder if the same holds true for modern mobile devices.

    Apple may indeed be saving users from themselves. This sounds like a poor approach, but if some moron loads a bunch of junk on his phone, tries to run all of them at once (we're assuming a multitasking system here) and leaves some running for no reason other than he's an idiot, his phone will run down quickly, it will run sluggishly, and it may crash more often. As a consumer, he is not likely to say "I am too stupid to manage my phone". He is more likely to say, "I hate this phone. It is slow, the battery doesn't last, and it crashes." Apple has no defense against this kind of poor reputation except to tightly control the quality of the user experience. Those who choose more freedom have other phones they can but. Sadly, some folks won't buy these phones because they will here from other moronic users that the phones are junk (when more adept users find them acceptable).

    Me personally, I think my tinkering days are mostly over and now I just want something that works without my needing to babysit it. So in that sense I am one of the moronic users I describe. Not because I can't manage my own tasks, but just because I now feel there are better uses of my time then endless tinkering with gadgets that will get replaced in the blink of an eye anyway.
    Apr 12, 2010. 10:26 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Adobe Grow Up: Apple Should Not Eliminate Switching Costs to Its Rivals [View article]
    If users want a mobile experience that mirrors what they are accustomed to on the desktop, flash will give it to them -- buggy bloated code that crashes. On the other hand, if some consumers are waking up to the fact that software doesn't need to be something you cross your fingers and hope it works, then Apple is there for them.

    Think of it this way... Computers got hundreds of times faster between Windows 3.11 and Windows Vista. Probably thousands of times faster. Yet with each new generation of software there was bloat and drag introduced by needless complexity and endless layers of abstraction designed to shorten the production cycle. Tight code well written and well conceived would have allowed us to do very complex things at blazing speeds, yet many of us grew resigned to seeing the hourglass come up when we tried to do something interesting or upon rebooting our computer after one of the all to common lock ups. Sadly, while this experience was annoying, most consumers were unaware that the single reason we experienced these delays and lockups was that programming standards had devolved to using ever increasingly complex programs to crank out more product without sufficient testing or even review in the design and conception stage. The (thankfully ending) story of Windows was one of increasing complexity with diminishing returns.

    Apple is reinventing computing with its mobile devices. It is taking pains not to repeat the errors of creeping bloat and layers of abstraction and is trying to maintain the integrity of the end user experience. I applaud their efforts. If only other software companies had been as careful 20 years ago, we may never have had to endure the Vista, AOL, etc. experience.
    Apr 11, 2010. 06:26 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Adobe Grow Up: Apple Should Not Eliminate Switching Costs to Its Rivals [View article]
    Or they are saving their users from the poor experience of bloat and drag caused by endless layers of abstraction. Java runs on anything, but it does so at the cost of efficiency and speed and this is exactly what Apple is trying to get away from.
    Apr 11, 2010. 05:55 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple's Cash Trajectory [View article]
    Jobs gets paid $1 a year plus stock, so a dividend would pad his earnings nicely. Clearly he is (1) not just hoarding all the money for himself and (2) of the opinion that the money will grow share value better in the hands of Apple than if paid out as a dividend. I have said before that I think a dividend will come, but not while earnings growth continues on such an explosive trajectory.
    Apr 11, 2010. 05:22 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple's Cash Trajectory [View article]
    I remember selling 600 shares for a nice gain at a price of $30 a share... Sure wish I still had those shares now ($144,600).

    The problem isn't just one of discovering exponential growth, but also one predicting how long that growth will continue. I think AAPL is a great example of this problem. Many folks were calling the story over at $200 a share (both two years ago and earlier this year). Yet here we are at $241 and with more room to run, I suspect.

    But this growth story will end. It has to. And when it does, if the multiple has gotten ahead of itself (c.f. Amazon), this great stock will leave some chasers out in the cold. I think it could still be a buy at $240, but I feel less and less confident about putting in new money with each 10% rise. Sooner or later growth will slow and we will reach a fair value. But it sure wasn't at the $30 level I settled for years ago!
    Apr 10, 2010. 08:31 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple's Cash Trajectory [View article]
    There are a number of schools of thought, and there is much speculation. Among those who aren't busy insisting that this money should be paid in dividends or used for a stock buyback, there are many interesting notions.

    My guess, and it is just a guess, is that this money will be used for a combination of things. Among these include the high cost of litigation to protect patents (which is not an exciting way to spend money but can be crtical if it helps a company preserve a market edge for an extended period of time), some simple acquisitions (Apple has made a few smallish purchases of companies which end up featuring in a marketable products or strategy later, such as the chip company they bought before lo and behold they designed and built their own chip for the iPad), and some larger acquisitions. I think when the time is right they will "partner" with a big company buy buying it. Netflix is a good example of a company who could help them secure the edge in content that they seek. And finally, I think some of the hoard will be intentionally preserved to keep their moat in place. In other words, they would hate to fall on hard times and be bought (in whole or in part) by another company or group. The huge warchest gives them armor against hostile bids of all kinds from all places. With 40 billion in cash and a stock price of $240, it seems impossible that Apple needs to worry about its independence, but just over a year ago, their price fell to $80. Without a huge cash reserve bolstering their book value, I think they could fall prey to bandits if things go poorly and they stumble. I think they still remember the sting of Bill Gates having to bail them out with a $100 million stock purchase to keep them viable. It may be paranoia, but I think they will always hold some cash to fend off any unwanted advances from agressive competitors.
    Apr 10, 2010. 04:57 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple's Cash Trajectory [View article]
    I think the point here was hyperbole, of the literary kind, not as in "hyperbolic curve". The commenters point, and I think it is a good one, is that a few data points do not reliably predict the future. Yes, Apple's cash is growing, and that is a good thing, but it can not grow to the sky, though the graph suggests it would. So either the graph is wrong (because it shows no limit of growth) or simple reasoning is wrong and Apple will have more money than exists on the planet, given a few decades.

    If he had said a "cos wave" would you have blasted him? You probably read "cos" to mean "cosine" didn't you? Just as all folks educated in math and not trying to nit pick saw "sin wave" as meaning a sine wave. "Sin", after all, is the abbreviation for "sine".

    You can make fun of the idea of oscillating cash, but the idea that a few data points does not suggest infinitely growing (or even indefinitely growing) cash is a valid one.

    I am long Apple, I love the money they are stock piling, but lets be real. In a few years we'll see the gradual curve of a top on that hill.
    Apr 10, 2010. 04:40 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Home Price Drop of 30% Possible for 2010 [View article]
    There is a difference between thinking the economy has problems (it surely does) and the housing market is in the dumps (it surely is) and betting that the market will reliably reflect these troubles (it surely doesn't). Is your argument that since the market has been doing well for 13 months our economy must be doing well? Probably not. Then why don't you accept the idea that folks can talk about real problems with the economy and housing markets without betting that the markets will tank (or at least without trying to time this event accurately)?
    Apr 10, 2010. 01:26 PM | 9 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • QUICK CHAT #35 -Start Wednesday 4/7/10 [View instapost]
    I watch silver prices obsessively for no good reason. My home page is Kitco's silver chart. In the last year of watching daily movements, I have never seen a chart like this one from today:

    At 7:30 or so, it spikes several times at about $18.28. Too bad I can't see volumes.
    Apr 8, 2010. 10:11 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • QUICK CHAT #34 -Start Tuesday 4/6/10 [View instapost]
    Last name "Mouse" first name "Mickey". Okay, Mr. Mouse, here is a ballot, the booths are to your right...
    Apr 7, 2010. 01:35 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • QUICK CHAT #34 -Start Tuesday 4/6/10 [View instapost]
    The political death will go nicely with the economic death this would bring about...
    Apr 7, 2010. 11:27 AM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • QUICK CHAT #34 -Start Tuesday 4/6/10 [View instapost]
    Abraham Lincoln used his executive power to deny habeas corpus to the copperheads who were anti-war. This group, who did not believe in fighting in the war were designated what we would now call terrorists and they were jailed without trial. This has always stuck with me because it shows that when the chips are down, the system will do whatever it wants to do. Now if history had said this was a group of insurgents bent on blowing up the Capitol, I would feel differently, but it was a group of folks who refused to fight. If our system can't handle a few non-violent protestors without labeling them terrorists (because presumably their ideas could "catch on") then we are in real trouble.

    The fact of the matter is that we all have as much freedom as we want as long as the system does not feel threatened by our actions. As soon as the power structure becomes threatened by the ideas we support and espouse, we are at risk of losing those rights. That applies whether you are a tea-bagger, a non-violent war resister, or anyone else whose beliefs are out of the current King's favor.

    I think what you are saying is important, OG and we need to talk about it often enough to keep it in the public conscience. We are not (yet) China, and the more we demand that our rights be protected even in principle, the better off we are.
    Apr 7, 2010. 12:21 AM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple's iPad: Why Price Matters [View article]
    I agree. It's easy to be excited when something still has the "new car smell", but the proof will be in whether it is a useful, or at least entertaining device in 6 months, 1 year, 2 years out even.

    But by the same token, I hope the naysayers will revisit their predictions in 6 months... The truth, as is so often the case, is probably in the middle.
    Apr 6, 2010. 05:11 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple's iPad: Why Price Matters [View article]
    You have a blackberry, an ipod, and ipod touch, an iphone, and a nintendo ds, but you don't have an obsessive compulsive gadget buying habit? I see.

    In my case, I put off buying an ipod touch because I wanted to see what their tablet offering looked like. So my "iTouch" just turned out to be an iPad. I carry a normal dumb-phone, and I have an old iPod, but it is not usually on me. So the iPad isn't necessarily one more encumbering gadget. For some folks it is one of few gadgets, and its versatility makes it a great choice.
    Apr 6, 2010. 11:19 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple's iPad: Why Price Matters [View article]
    1) Turning it on and using it in about 3 seconds
    2) Holding it with one hand as I show someone something I want them to see
    3) Impressing the heck out of anyone I show this thing to
    4) Re-reading Alice in Wonderland (for free)
    5) Using my finger to draw little colored doodles on the screen
    6) Zooming in and out of web pages quickly so that the text is always crisp and readable regardless of the lighting or the format of the page
    ... And that's just today.
    Apr 6, 2010. 11:13 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment