Sunday, August 16, 2009

The SSD Revolution Begins Now

I think that at this moment in time, solid state drives are about to cross over from the bleeding edge and become more mainstream. They have reached the point that you can have a really usable capacity at a reasonable price point- a decent 120GB SSD can now be bought for under $275.

In addition, some manufacturers such as Apple and Lenovo (Thinkpad) are now including SSDs as configuration options. With benefits of lower power consumption, blazingly faster seek times, and better reliability, I personally am likely to include an SSD in my next notebook computer purchase. I have had too many hard drive reliability problems in the past, and am happy to switch.

Some links to get you thinking about this interesting option:

Putting 2 SSDs in a Macbook Pro for RAID 0 - the performance from a notebook is incredible

A Six Pack of SSDs Compared - from The Tech Report

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Snapshot in time- National Debt more than sum of ALL public U.S. Companies

I think we have reached a pivotal moment in time.  At least according to the best estimates I know of, it looks like our national debt has exceeded the market value of ALL public U.S. Companies!  I don't know what this means, but, it doesn't seem good....

According to the national debt clock, our national debt is now 
$10.27 trillion.

Whereas the value of all U.S. public companies, as shown by the Wilshire 5000 index (see live chart)  is about $9.12 trillion.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Have you been to Hubbert's Peak?

So, have you been to Hubbert's Peak? Maybe you're there right now and don't even know it.

Hubbert's Peak is actually the nickname fore "Peak Oil", the peak of the oil production curve.  It's a significant point because once you're on the other side, oil production is going to go down, and the ramifications on the world economies will be enormous.  Some think we're there right now, or soon will be.  Just one more thing to think about......

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Kindle Arrives!

Well, after much debate, I finally decided to get a kindle. I have been mostly using my iPhone for reading news, and, though it works fairly well for that purpose, I longed for a larger screen. The Kindle, with its 6" screen and cellular wireless data connection, seems almost ideal - if you don't mind paying for your news. I liked the idea of buying newspapers on-demand from my Kindle. So far, in the past 3 days that I've owned the device, I have purchased 2 newspapers (the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily). The electronic purchasing experience is fantastic except for one detail- I wish I could see a preview of the newspaper or magazine headlines before making the purchase. The form factor is nice- compact, thin, with a useful cover for carrying it. I think the Sony PRS-505 looks cooler than the Kindle, however, the Kindle's wireless data network won me over as being more useful- I just saw myself using the Kindle a whole lot more due to the convenience factor.

The Kindle screen is nice, though I do wish it had even more contrast. It is about the contrast of a traditional newspaper, and it is black and white (plus greyscale). In bright sunlight and outdoors, the screen is extremely readable, unlike most other display technologies. Indoors, in more dimly lit situations, you need a light source (it has no backlighting built in). The audio playback capability is very rudimentary- I was hoping for a bit better, as I tend to listen to quite a few podcasts. Browsing the web is possible with its built-in experimental web browser, however, this browser is extremely rudimentary, and has a hard time properly rendering most sites. If possible, go to mobile-optimized web sites, or you'll find it a frustrating experience.

So far, the Kindle has been a mixed bag- some nice positives, some disappointing negatives. I'll give another update after about a month of use....

Monday, December 31, 2007

"A Bull in China" - is it full of bull?

Famed investor Jim Rogers has just written a new book, "A Bull in China: Investing Profitably in the World's Greatest Market ". By the title, obviously, this book has hugely positive things to say about the investing potential in China.

For those who live far away from China, but are interested in investing in it, this book is a fantastic way to get the lay of the land. Jim Rogers discusses major industries in China, such as energy, tourism, the Internet, manufacturing, and much more. He gives a good overview of the growth and current state of each industry and then follows up with a list of major companies (along with a short business summary) involved in those industries. Jim does not make specific stock picks or recommendations, but does give you a good picture of how things are. It's up to you to do your homework and make your own picks.

The writing style of the book is conversational, and makes for very easy reading. He does a decent job of presenting both positive and negative aspects of investing in China. I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the Chinese markets.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Some Big Things from Small Companies

Google's main advantage over other companies (and Yahoo in particular) is its distributed infrastructure. By abstracting away the complexity of building scalable, fault-tolerant software using their Google FileSystem (GFS) and MapReduce programming layer, they greatly increase the productivity of their developers and reduce their time-to-market with scalable code.

The open source community has not stood still, and there are some great projects aiming to do similar things. For example, at Kosmix, where I work, we've decided to release our Kosmos File System as open source (download kfs here). Hbase for example, has had support from Powerset and Zvents. In addition, my friends Ethan and Doug at Zvents have been working on cool new things to-be-announced.

The folks at Yahoo have also done a great job of supporting open source scalable software as well, with their strong support of hadoop and Powerset has been using it on Amazon's EC2 computing service. . All of the pieces are falling together for start-ups to build their own scalable infrastructure inexpensively.

What about Google? They'd be smart if they one-upped everyone and released their scalable infrastructure to the public, perhaps as a hosted service. This would make it easy for them to become the defacto supplier of scalable computation, making start-up acquisition and integration easier for them, in addition to expanding their offerings. Then, anyone developing a viral Facebook app would find a natural home for building their app to handle the computation load.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Book Review: When Genius Failed

"When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management" by Roger Lowenstein is one great lesson in the perils of investing in hedge funds. Combine hot shot traders and Nobel prize winning economists, and you have a company, Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM) that was the envy of wall street. LTCM was a super-secretive hedge fund, hugely leveraged (like many of today's funds) filled with brilliant Ph.D.s and sophisticated market models. How could you go wrong? Things went amazingly well for a few years. They racked up huge returns. Their models of the market were doing great. Well, things eventually did go wrong, and LTCM endured rapid spectacular losses before being bailed out by several large wall street banks. It's a fast, easy book to read- highly recommended for anyone with even a passing interest in investing, hedge funds, and private equity.