Illusory Follies Andrew Flanagan's Blog



So I've been sloppy again and not updating the site.

Without further ado:

Kindle 21) Safari Online was a little bit of a disappointment. I like the selection, the price is reasonable, the searchable formats are wonderful, the ability to cut and paste example code is stellar. So why disappointing? I don't use it. My reading is usually in the evening. I want to be able to sit back in the easy chair and read. My laptop is fairly comfortable but staring at a bright back-lit screen is most certainly not. It's just so much more comfortable to pick up a good old tree-based book and read that. Some of the advantages are still there. If I find something in my book, I can easily cut and paste it from Safari Online but now I'm basically just using Safari as a quick digital copy for all the books that I already have. Bleh... Not worth it. What would make it worth it? If the Kindle-gods worked with O'Reilly to make the entire Safari Online site browseable using your Kindle. I would buy it. I would pay extra. I would make a weekly pilgrimage to the Amazon headquarters. It would be great. But they don't. Furthermore, from what I've heard, on the software side, Kindle doesn't do tables, mono-space fonts, and some other things that really are  almost required in order to read a technical programming/development related book.

StackOverflow2) Work has been busy. C/C++ has been pretty minimal... I'm getting much  more comfortable with memory management issues and have been pleasantly surprised to see that most C++ code that I dig up out there basically looks like mine. I'm still definitely not an expert at decrypting some of the C++ deep magic code that I've seen, but then again, I bet the authors of most of that stuff don't even understand it anymore.  C# has been a mixed bag. I've really enjoyed getting into the "new" features of 3.0 and 3.5 which I had been neglecting until recently. A lot of time spent on Stack Overflow has helped get m e up to speed with Linq and some of the other fun new language features. Generators, extension methods, anonymous functions... it's all sorts of fun.

3) I've been able to watch as the value of various investments that I can't easily cash out of has continued to dwindle. Thankfully, much of what I did have invested in long-term investments I was able to move to much less volatile funds but it's still been rough. On the bright side, the end of the world may be near as the Mayan calendar has it set to 2012. Obama would have the rare privilege of being the final President and (also on the bright side) wouldn't have to worry about his legacy as no one would care how big the national budget is at that point. Also, this would save me a lot of frustration with the whole Social Security thing. One can only hope...

iTaliban4) Wife has been busy with her business. She's continued to embroider like crazy. I've been trying to push her to do more since she's only pregnant with 3 boys under 5 at home. 🙂 She tells me that some day she may expand her business but not now. I think she's in a good situation. On NPR (motto: Unbiased news since 1970 or whenever it was we started getting funded by liberals!)  there was an interview with a business owner in the same general "baby products" market. Her remark was that the "economic crisis" we're experiencing will likely drive a baby boom as people's lives and schedules slow down and more time is spent at home. But hopefully the economy picks up soon so they can afford overpriced baby products for their new brood. I got her a new iPhone so that she can become more of a geek. She really isn't nearly geeky enough and it bothers me. I was interested to see that even the Taliban are getting in on the iPhone action (see picture).

Time precludes further updates.

...Will write more later...


Vertical Farming

Vertical Farming is a neat, futuristic approach to producing food within urban environments. I'm not terrified of running out land and of populations booming too much nor am I running scared of global warming or cooling or whichever it is but I still think that the idea is very neat.

Image courtesy ©atelier SoA architectes I think it could actually be made a cost saver in large cities. The idea is sort of similar to terracing unusable land to make it usable but instead of making land flat, you stack it. I really do think that the answer to a lot of "society's woes" is that these things will at some point become cheaper than doing them the "old" way. I just see this one as becoming worthwhile sooner than some of the other wacky ideas. So I guess I view this as more of an investment in new technology than just philanthropy to support these projects.

The reality is that shipping and transportation is becoming more and more difficult and massively increases the price of products. I've not seen it mentioned, but why not have the first floor be the "fresh produce" grocery store?



So... it's been a bad quarter for the markets. However, my emerging markets fund has still been performing relatively well. What does this mean from a market perspective? With so much supposed instability in Asian markets I would have thought that it would take a larger hit... However, here's what I have:

Emerging Market Fund (USEMX)- QTD: 3.36% YTD: 20.43% Last 12 months: 41.87%

Cornerstone Strategy Fund (USCRX) - QTD: -0.96% YTD: 4.84% Last 12 months: 12.73%

Small Cap Stock Fund (USCAX) - QTD: -4.13% YTD: 5.49% Last 12 months: (not enough data)

I need to get into this more so that I can attempt to make good decisions (or at least feel snotty when I tell people why I'm making decisions). I don't believe in "beating" the market, but if I can invest in such a way that I can hedge losses that may affect me in other areas I'd be interested. For example, if I'm concerned about massive outsourcing by U.S. high-tech companies (which will affect the entire industry, including my potential earnings) then where should I invest to balance this loss? That sort of thing.