- I’m Going to be a Father – I think I confused a lot of people last week, when I announced on April Fools that I was going to be a father. That was by design. I was wondering if people would discount any news coming on that day as some elaborate hoax. I think most people did. It would have been a terrible hoax, because there was no way anyone could verify it.
- I Want the Belcourt Castle – I think one of the best values in the real estate market, if it’s still for sale is the the Belcourt Castle in Newport, Rhode Island. I know that $4 million seems like a lot of money, but at around 27,000 square feet, it is a bargain at less than $150/sq ft and that square footage includes a lot of ornate stain glass windows and chandeliers. Also, since it is a museum, you’ve got income generating possibilities.
- What a Sapp! – I think the news of Warren Sapp filing for bankruptcy is pretty sad. For those who don’t him, he’s a former NFL star. He owes hundreds of thousands in child support to four different women, and a total of 6.7 million to various creditors. He has my dream job of NFL analyst making $540,000 per season. Unfortunately the contract is up before the start of the next season and he was recently reprimanded by the NFL Network. I’m trying to find some sympathy, but I keep coming back to made his own bed, so now he has to lie in it.
- My Wife Agree that This is an Amazing Video – I think we don’t agree on too many videos when it comes to technology, but we did here. I think Amazon should give everyone these 3D printers and charge for the designs. Confused? Watch the video:
- The Car that Drives Itself – I think this could solve a lot of drunk driving problems as well as allow seniors a new level of freedom. Watch this car drive a blind guy to Taco Bell and back home.
- Has Baseball Started Yet? – I think that I’m still trying to get into baseball. I missed the Red Sox start of the season last Thursday as I was learning about military retirement (a topic to be covered this week or next). On Saturday, the Red Sox was blacked out by the Fox rendering my $120 season subscription useless. Sunday, I watched the Red Sox fall behind 4-0 early only to catch up and blow leads in the bottom of the 9th and 11th innings to lose the game. I saw this stat. The Red Sox closers have an ERA of 63. It’s early and all the small sample size disclaimers apply, but it’s not a good start.
- MLB.TV on Windows Media Center – I think MLB.TV needs to work . I can click to Hulu, Netflix, just about anything on my Windows Media Center, but I can’t use my remote to watch my MLB.TV subscription. You support a bunch of substandard hardware and operating systems like Roku, Boxee, and AppleTV and yet I have to pull out a keyboard and mouse to access streaming video on a full-fledged computer. It’s an odd over-sight.
- NFL Draft Coming Up – I think that with the Red Sox season is going, I’m looking forward to the NFL draft in 17 days.
Last night I caught up with SVB of The Digerati Life and a few other people for dinner and a game of Settlers of Catan. There I took the opportunity to tell her, as one of my closest friends, the big news. The wife and I are expecting a little bundle of tax deduction later this year.
We are beginning the process of learning all the new things that new parents need to learn. Financially, we’ve got a lot to figure out as well. I’m looking forward to documenting the financial aspects of this journey.
Regular readers know I’m a bit of a technology nut. Blame it on my parents for getting me an IBM PCjr at age 8. (Side Note: It certainly is amazing when you look at where computers have gone in the last 30 years.) This week, I share a couple of the more interesting technology articles I read over the last week. For you personal finance nuts, just fast forward to the end of the article.
In probably one of the better CNET articles I’ve read in some time Molly Wood says “UltraViolet: DRM by any other name still stinks”. She nailed the article dead on. Media companies need to stop making things more confusing with DRM to protect their profit margins and look to the future. Consumers will continue to copy media for back-up purposes now that they can. The toothpaste isn’t going back in the bottle. Consumers realize that they shouldn’t have to pay 4 times for a LaserDisc, VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, and UltraViolet versions of the same movie.
My proposal is that media companies look for the end-game. I see it where consumers buy a license for the creative work (movie, music, etc.) and a small fee for media ($1 or less for Blu-Ray, DVD, CD) or digital transmission (this should be fractions of a penny). If you are going to remaster something, then charge an optional $1 fee for the costs of remastering. Also, consumers will want you to make the license transferable. If I can transfer media to a great grandson, I should be able to transfer the license.
Moving on, I’ll get a couple of jokes on Apple before they announce they are hiring me to blog for them with their extra hundred billions in cash lying around. Another CNET article I saw this week was, “Some people don’t have a clue as to why they need the new iPad”. Great paraphrased quotes from that article include: “Hey, I really don’t see any difference between this new iPad and my iPad 2. Can you show me what’s different?” and “Hey, I still really can’t see any difference.” Not to be outdone, The Next Web, actually tested Apple customers to see if they could tell the difference with them side by side and in many, many cases they couldn’t. It was clearly not a scientific test, but the point is well-made.
Here are the personal finance links. I’ll try to get another more substantial article out today. I hope to not be too slowed down by celebrating the Patriots signing Brandon Lloyd and a bunch of other veteran free-agents to low-cost contracts. They only needed to address a few areas and they got most of them in some form before the draft.
I’m just getting back into the swing of things after my first visit last week to New Orleans. I know just a few a weeks ago, I was in Maui and now New Orleans. New Orleans was a partial business trip. I’ve got a lot more to say about the trip, but I hope to do it in a “Save Money in New Orleans” post later coming soon. I think I’ve got the travel bug all out of my system, I don’t have plans to go anywhere for a few months.
New Orleans this past week was washed over in blue and white with University of Kentucky fans taking over the town for the SEC championship. There were so many fans that I actually had interest in watching a college sporting event for the first time in my life. A few of them had shirts that declared that they still hate Laettner. I was confused because I remembered Laettner making a big shot for the blue and white. I just didn’t account for the fact that there might have been two blue and white teams on the court that day.
With the blue and white theme in New Orleans, thoughts turned to Peyton Manning and his press conference about moving on from the Indianapolis Colts. Even though he was biggest nemesis to my beloved New England Patriots, it was sad to see the end of perhaps football’s biggest rivalry over the last decade. In an article that is a must-read, Rick Reilly said it best, thanks for the memories Peyton. (Oh and Mr. Manning if I get my time machine worked out, I’m still going to try to find a way to stop your parents from procreating to give the Patriots another 3-4 more Super Bowl victories. I’m sure you understand.)
I noticed that Apple is the recipient of a class action law suit involving misleading advertising and their Siri product. I have to say that it is about time. Sure, I’m a bit of an Apple hater, but some of the marketing is why. The commercials always show Siri working almost instantly with perfectly relevant results. No one I know has seen the product work that way in person. The FTC is making a push for truth in advertising eliminating disclaimers in small letters of “results not typical.” It seems like Siri would be a good place to start. Perhaps fast food commercials would be a good place to start too, but I feel that everyone knows those exaggerate and have a realistic expectation of what the product is going to really look like.
Finally, if you put up with my rambling this long, I’ve got what I think is a killer deal for you. I noticed yesterday that Slickdeals highlighted a BowFlex set of dumbbells. These allow you to dial in a weight rather than changing weights. The effect is similar having a whole set of various dumbbells in just a small space. The reviews on Amazon are mixed because an older version of the product had some safety issues that have been fixed. I’ve been looking to pick these weights up used for around $200 on Craigslist for the last 4-5 months. They never seem to go for less than $250 and with Amazon’s price around $350 they really retain their resale value. The deal includes the weights and a stand that usually is around $150 itself (that’s an expensive stand and something I was prepared to deal without) for a total of $279 (plus tax in many states). It’s not the $200 price I was looking for, but they are brand new with the added value of the stand. I couldn’t resist and made the purchase. Follow up the instructions on Slickdeals above if you are interested.
Three thoughts and we catch-up on some personal finance links from the previous month (delayed due to the my DDoS attack).
- Favorite New Show: Shark Tank – It’s easy to miss a prime time show on Friday nights, but set your DVRs if necessary. I thought this show was related to actual sharks as in Shark Week, but it’s really about entrepreneurs trying to get funding from famous, and semi-famous investors (sharks). A typical entrepreneur will show up with a gadget and explain to the sharks of why they should invest in their money.
Last Friday’s episode has four entrepreneurs.
The best invention in my view was the lip balm from Kisstixx. The product consists of a paired flavors such as peaches and cream. You can put on the peaches and she can wear the cream and when you kiss you get a unique flavor. Mark Cuban ended buying 40% of this company. With a big deal with Walgreens on the table, I think he made a good choice. I would get in that.
The worst deal of the night was from a company called TEC (Technology Enabled Clothing). The owner was selling rights to the patents, but not the most lucrative clothing company itself, which he projected will make tens of millions within two years (and had already made a couple million). He wouldn’t give any details about the value of the patents or the income stream that they represent. They wasted everyone’s time and I was left thinking that he was just there to promote the business – he didn’t need the money for the patents and wasn’t attempting to sell a growing business.
Mixed in between was a very small line of cookware that would have ideally gone to shark Lori Greiner, a QVC selling queen, but she wasn’t a part of this week’s episode. Barbara Corcoran ended up investing in that. One of the smarter ideas was a system that takes dryer heat and recycles it into the house for heating. Unfortunately, the inventor wasn’t committed to the invention and it had almost sales in the last two years while he pursued other products. All the sharks passed. Lesson: If you don’t believe in your idea 100% no one else will.
Ask the Reader: What do you think of this kind of review of Shark Tank? Would it be a weekly feature that you’d like to read? It will be difficult to commit to something so time-sensitive, but I feel an entrepreneur could learn a lot and I figure that is a good portion of my audience.
- New Orleans Saints Putting a Bounty on Injuring Specific Players on the other Team – I’m heading to New Orleans soon and I plan to ask a few locals about how they feel about this Saints’ scandal. Early media reports show that the league will punish them a lot worse that they did the Patriots for taping other teams’ signals. I’m a Patriots’ fan, so maybe my vote doesn’t count, but influencing your team to hurt other players is a lot worse than pointing a camera that any fan could do from the stands quite legally. The Patriots were punished with the loss of a first round draft pick. If the Saints get away with anything less than two firsts it will make a mockery of the NFL’s discipline system.
- Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club’s Stripper Mobile Puts the Class in San Francisco – I usually stay a few miles south of San Francisco, but on Friday I had the need to head into the city with the wife. While there, we ran into Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club’s Stripper Mobile. The Baltimore Sun describes it as “a converted U-Haul truck advertising Flynt’s Hustler Club is outfitted with a Plexiglas box, sort of like the Popemobile. But this vehicle is outfitted with a stripper’s pole and a bunch of itsy-bitsy-bikini-clad dancers doing – what else? – pole dancing.” I think I’m beyond liberal, but I can’t see how it is appropriate. I’ve heard that billboards are taken down for their potential to cause accidents and I’m not sure how this is any different. I thought about not mentioning it in this space, because it’s not related to personal finance, but it was interesting enough that I figured it warranted the space.