Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Natural Gas, Electric, and Ait Cars

Honda has been quietly making a couple thousand natural gas cars for a while now. Toyota is now thinking about getting back into it reports USA Today. (Read Story) This is an obvious response to consumers demanding more fuel efficient vehicles. This is a difficult proposition since there are very few places you can fill up a natural gas car. You can search for alternative fuel stations here. With a little consumer education this might catch on.

If you have natural gas at home you can have a home fueling station installed in you garage or driveway for $2000-$4000. Read more here and here. Natural gas vehicles burn much cleaner, and cost the equivalent of a little over $2 a gallon when compared to gasoline cars. Many municipalities are switching their garbage and other fleet vehicles to natural gas to save money and cut emissions.

Just imagine not having to fill up at the gas station anymore. Just fill it up at home when you return from work. You'll probably want to keep the gas guzzler for longer trips as the natural gas cars can only go about 200 miles on a tank. This is a great solution for that daily commute to work, and running local errands.

USA Today also reports that Chrysler will soon have plug in electric cars. (Read Story) Now if they would just add solar panels to the roof of these so that they could recharge while you drive or while it is parked in the hot sun all day then they might have something. Most parking lots don't have electric outlets to recharge your car with, although they are starting to appear.

Tata Motors, the car manufacturer in India, is soon to have a car that runs solely on compressed air. (Read Story) That mains zero pollutants. Just fill it up with the air hose at the gas station, or with a compressor at home. I imagine it will cost a lot more for air at the gas station if this happens.

Alternatives are coming whether the oil companies like it or not. They finally pushed the consumer over the line with $4 and $5 a gallon gas. They won't be able to keep these alternatives out of the consumers hands any longer.

5 Stocks Under a Buck

The troubled economy has caused many problems in several different ways. One positive result of this is that stock prices have decreased sharply. This is bad if you owned stock in one of these companies. But it creates an opportunity to cash in and buy up some of these bargain stocks. Rick Aristotle Munarriz writes on The Motley Fool about 5 stocks which are under a buck currently and might be a steal at the price and have potential to swing back up allowing you to cash in big. (Read Story)

The Motley Fool has a great reputation for providing sound advice. I agree with all of their recommendations except for Vonage. When Vonage announced their IPO I was a customer of theirs and was offered a chance to invest. The Motley Fool saved me a lot of money because they recommended against the buy. The stock opened at $17 a share at the IPO and has dropped ever since. The competition for Voip services has greatly increased with the phone and cable companies offering bundled services for a cheap price. Also, many people are dropping home phone service all together and just use their cell phones. I don't think Vonage will be able to survive the battle with their debt burden.

I do agree with their recommendation of Sirius XM Radio. I have been buying this stock off and on ever since they announced the merger. It was around $3 when I started buying and now is under a buck. The merger was held up by regulators for a long time. Now that they are one company they can quit fighting each other and combine their efforts. The cost savings and continued subscriber growth will allow them to start making a profit eventually.

I am also intrigued by their look at Rite Aid. I think they could be bought out by one of the other chains. Whether that will result in a benefit to stock holders is questionable. Citadel Broadcasting and Six Flags are also potential bargains.

Just do the simple math. If you buy 1000 shares at $1 that equals a $1000 investment. If the stock goes up to $5 a share your value is now $5000, or $10 a share is now $10,000. To get the same return from owning a stock like Google would take a long time. Happy bargain hunting.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

First Android Phone Unveiled by T-Mobile, Google, and HTC

The waiting, rumors, and anticipation are finally over. In a 45 minute press conference streamed online and now available on demand the heads of the 3 companies unveiled the great G!. With a lot of hype and many flashy videos they did a nice job. Now that the details are out some may feel a little let down.

This is a great first step to having an open operating system be successful on a phone. I am sure Android will be around for a long time and many great apps will be built as a result of the open source development. This phone will not be a major competitor to the iPhone though.
The portion of T-Mobile's Web site for current customers to upgrade or to find out more about the G1 was down for hours after the press conference due to overwhelming requests. Obviously, other companies have had trouble like this during new product launches. Don't you think they would have been ready for this?

How could they screw this up? T-Mobile forgot about the "Open" part.
  • Current T-Mobile customers who are under a current contract do not get the phone for the $179 price. It is $299 in most cases. Even if you have been a customer for over 5 years and your current contract expires in 3-4 months, then you don't qualify for the "Special" price. How about rewarding the customers who have been loyal and suffered through the spotty coverage for all these years?
  • Data plan required. You can't get the phone without a $25 or $35 "Unlimited" Data plan. (400 messages included with the $25 plan, unlimited messages with the $35) Some people might want to use the G1 only in WiFi hot spots, and don't need internet everywhere. Give people the choice.
  • Speaking of WiFi, the phone has it, but does not take advantage of the T-Mobile @Home WiFi service where you can make calls over your broadband internet network when you can't get a signal in your own basement.
  • Data Plan is not Unlimited. If you read the fine print it says that if you use over 1 GB of usage in one month then they can slow your speed down to Dial up rates, suspend, or terminate your Data service. (Read fine print here)
  • Earphones don't use standard plug. It uses a weird USB combo jack for that. Apple learned their lesson on that one.
  • No Video recording or Stereo Bluetooth. Not a big deal, but would have been nice.
  • No FM Radio. Would be a nice feature to set the phone apart from others.
  • Web browsing is reported to be slow and choppy.
  • No Tethering. They want this to be an "all in one" device so you can chuck you laptop right? Some people still like the big screen and keyboard sometimes. Would have been nice to use some of the pricey data plan to share with my laptop while on the go.
Just a few points that may have gotten lost in the hype. This is a great first step in the evolution of Android. Other handsets are already in development from the other cartriers. Competition will force them to make this a truly "Open" experience.
This T-Mobile customer will wait for the G2.

Resources: Visit: AndroidGuys for more on Android and the G!.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Troubled Airline Alitalia Soon to be Dead

The New York Times reports that troubled Italian Airline Alitalia may soon be liquidated. (Read Story) A recent attempt to save the airline has failed due to Unions not signing off on the deal. What does this mean for you? If you have a scheduled flight on this Airline you should look for alternatives. Also I wouldn't book any flights as they will likely shut down soon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Barack Obama not a Natural Born Citizen???

A court case is pending in Pennsylvania which claims that Barack Obama was not born in the US and thus is not eligible to run for President. (View the Complaint) This is not something the mainstream media has picked up. They care about tanning beds and any other dirt they can pick up, but not a major problem such as this one? A man is running for President who could not be eligible to run? Sounds like a big story to me.
I found this article and another one from I found very little about this on the Web. You would think this would get a little more traction even from the not so mainstream media? Thursday September 18 is rumored to be the date the hearings start. Could these claims be true? The US Constitution is very clear about the requirements to run for President.
Did Obama think he could get elected without this being noticed? Or is this just a desperate attempt to raise doubts? If you noticed Hillary Clinton didn't "drop out of the race", but only "suspended her campaign efforts". Which may mean she is waiting in the wings for this issue to get attedntion, and if it is found true then she can take the nomination?
More to come on this.

Bomb Found in PA Parking Garage

A bomb was found in a West Chester, Pennsylvania parking garage which serves the courthouse and other offices reports (Read Story) Is this a terrorist plot, or just some nut job who got plans off the Internet? Keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

China Geta a Taste of their own Medicine

The New York Times reports that infants are getting sick and dying from Chinese made contaminated milk formula. (Read Story) We have had several recalls and problems from Chinese made products. Lead paint on toys and other cheap work have resulted in many problems. What was done? Not much.
Now that the production methods of China have hit home and is affecting their own people the government has detained 19 people in the investigation. How many people were detained when we received kids toys with lead paint on them?
It's about time they get the results from their work.

Vice Grip Pliers Jobs move to China

This was announced a while ago, but wanted to make sure it was noticed. reports that the Nebraska plant which made the famous locking pliers is closing and sending production to China. 300 hard working people out of work to save a buck. This type of announcement isn't new. These pliers were made in the US for over 80 years.
Lehman Brothers was established before the civil war and just went bankrupt. AIG, the largest insurance company in the world, Merrill Lynch bought out. The list just goes on and on.
The core of our American economy is falling apart.
What to do?
Buy US made products and services. I know it's hard to find them, and they cost more money sometimes, but if we don't support our own companies we will soon be speaking a different language.
Visit: to find products made in the US.

HP Cuts 25,000 Jobs

Hewlett-Packard Co. announces almost 25,000 jobs will be lost as a result of the merger with EDS over the next 3 years reports The Washington Post. (Read Story)
In today's times this isn't too surprising. Job cuts have been announced almost daily, but this is a huge number of jobs lost. Many of these lost jobs are likely higher paying technical jobs.
What does this mean for you and me? More people looking for work which makes the market more competitive and wages go down. Happy job hunting.

Drilling for Oil

The Caller Times from Corpus Christi, Texas reports all the companies which have requested a permit to drill for Oil and Gas in the area. (Read Story) I lost count but there were numerous requests. The question here is "Why are we debating drilling for Oil offshore and in Alaska when there is plenty of it in Texas and other areas which are already allowed to be explored?" Obviously these companies wouldn't be spending the money to explore for Oil & Gas if they didn't think it was there. These companies have thousands of places they have the rights to drill currently, but haven't used them yet. Let them use those first. I'm not opposed to drilling offshore or in Alaska, but Congress has bigger things to worry about. Stop wasting time on unnecessary debates.