Good Article on Stock Market

http://www.breakingviews.com/2008/11/20/Dow%20fairly%20valued.aspx?sg=nytimes
Read that article.‚  Very good information on why the stock market is now back to where it should be (though it will probably continue to irrationally swing down a bit more before coming back up and stabilizing).
“The stock market crash has been big. The US S&P 500 index is 52% off its high, the largest percentage drop since 1937. But this was a mighty big bubble. The US stock market finally has reversed all the gains induced by the monetary stimulus of Alan Greenspan and his keep-it-going Federal Reserve.
Think back to February 1995. In that month, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ¢â‚¬â€œ the index of blue-chip stocks that gets the headlines ¢â‚¬â€œ first broke 4,000. Greenspan said then he wanted to slow down the ¢â‚¬Å“very torrid rate of increase in economic growth¢â‚¬, but the Fed actually started to let money supply grow too fast.
Since then, the St Louis Fed¢â‚¬â„¢s Money of Zero Maturity ¢â‚¬â€œ a measure of ¢â‚¬Å“broad money¢â‚¬ that can go to buy financial assets such as common shares ¢â‚¬â€œ has risen at a 65% faster rate than nominal GDP. Without the extra cash flow, the Dow probably would not have outperformed the nation.
The idea that the stock market should mirror the economy seemed almost absurd as recently as June 9, when the Dow closed at 12,280 ¢â‚¬â€œ and breakingviews pointed out that the correct non-bubble level was 7800. That should be 7900 now, after a quarter of growth-free inflation.”
But after the Dow¢â‚¬â„¢s Thursday close at 7552, it looks like the real absurdity was the stock market¢â‚¬â„¢s performance during much of the preceding 14 years. The tech bubble of the 1990s was little more than a sideshow in this drama of excess. The biggest exaggerations came in the sector overbuilt by too much money: finance.

How to SEO Google SearchWiki?

Google's New Searchwiki Algorithm Launched
Google's New Searchwiki Algorithm Launched

The number one question in every good SEO’s mind today is “how can I optimize Google SearchWiki?”‚  Google SearchWiki is the new update to Google’s algorithm that allows user to edit search results according to what they like and don’t like.‚  Google users can now add notes to specific URL’s, re-order, remove and add webpages to any search query.‚  I have been waiting for Google to launch something like this for a long time and I am amazed at how useful it is.‚  Google basically took Digg’s underlying idea and applied it to their popular search engine.‚  Users must be logged into their Gmail account in order to use the SearchWiki functionality.

Now search engine optimizer’s need to figure out how Google’s SearchWiki fits in with the rest of the Google algorithm.‚  Will it be completely independent from the primary ranking algorithm that Google uses and only apply to Personal Search, or will SearchWiki become an integral piece of how Google determines where to rank an article?‚  I am not sure, but if I was Google I would make it one of the core pieces of my ranking algorithm along with content, links and clickthrough rates.‚  My instinct tells me that Google will phase this into the main algorithm over the next year or so.

Google’s new SearchWiki algorithm is going to be a nightmare for blackhat SEO’s, but will be a great boon for whitehat SEO’s like me who focus on improving the experience of their website’s users. Google requires anyone using SearchWiki to be logged in with their Google Account. This means that Google will easily be able to identify spammers and blackhats who attempt to abuse the system for their advantage. Even sophisticated blackhats using anonymization techniques and many different Google Accounts will have a difficult time cheating the SearchWiki system at first. However, just like links, spammers will eventually find a way. That’s why Google and other search engines have to continuously innovate new ranking methodologies such as SearchWiki.

Watch Google’s official video on SearchWiki below:

I am curious as to how Google will use the SearchWiki algorithm in it’s primary ranking algorithm. One theory I already have is that Google will do the same thing that Digg has done and mark certain users as “power users”. These power users of Google SearchWiki will be folks who are strong predictors of what the best search results actually are. For instance, if User A clicks up on a certain result and then many other users also click up on that search result, the SearchWiki algorithm will give User A additional power to change results in the main algorithm. Google realizes that many of the best informational websites on the internet (Digg.com, Wikipedia.com, Stumbleupon.com) all are primarily powered by a few top users. My guess is that Google’s Searchwiki will also try to harness the energy and efforts of these power users for its own advantage.

Some people have accused Google of ripping off search.wikia.com, but that is not true since SearchWiki was first experimented with back in 2007.‚  Matt Cutts has also come out publicly to help debunk this rumor.‚  When doing research for this article, I came across a bunch of comments that Matt Cutts (who is Google’s anti-spam guy) wrote on other blogs discussing the potential spammability of Google’s SearchWiki: Cutts claims that Google currently does not allow SearchWiki to affect any other Google Accounts search results.‚  However, this does not mean that they won’t roll the SearchWiki algorithm out into the main search results algorithm after they have amassed a solid database of information in about six months.‚  My guess is that we will be very likely to see SearchWiki affecting general Google search results sometime in the near future.

My opinion is that Google’s new SearchWiki will prove to be one of the biggest changes it has ever made to its core algorithm. People should perk up and take notice.

Final note: If you enjoyed my article on Google’s SearchWiki algorithm, please click the little up arrow next to my website in the search results! 🙂

“Self-Improvement Is Masturbation”

In the movie Fight Club, the character Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) states, “Self-improvement is masturbation”.‚  Durden is absolutely correct.‚  Whether you take this to be good or bad is dependent upon your view of what the act of masturbation represents: is it self pollution or positive self reinforcement.‚  To me, it is an act of positive self reinforcement since it releases you from your biological reproductive imperative to accomplish greater tasks.‚  Durden takes the opposite view, as shown by his second statement, “Self destruction is the answer”. Here he is referring to the seeming pointlessness of modern living. I disagree with him and I have begun relentlessly pursuing a path of self-improvement and am having more fun and am happier than I ever have been before.

The four major components of self-improvement to me are mental, physical, emotional and financial.‚  Financial is more a secondary component, but it is vitally important to supporting reaching your goals in the other three areas.‚  For instance, it is awfully hard to read books or work out when you have to work 90 hours a week pumping gas to feed your five children.

Mental Self-Improvement: Mental self-improvement is the active and continuous pursuit of opening your mind and increasing your mental abilities.‚  For my personal mental improvement, I have been engaging a two-pronged strategy: I avoid activities that don’t help my mind and I make sure I have easy access to activities that do improve my mind.‚  I have no television, no computer games and no video games to distract me from my goal of mental self-improvement (Note: I think that video & computer games can improve you mental capabilities, but I think other activities do a better job of this).‚  I watch movies that challenge my perspectives and beliefs, while avoiding popular trash like Spiderman 3.‚  Chess is one of the few games that I play.‚  I am actively pursuing useful new knowledge (taking my Advanced Web Application Development certificate course and am learning the C# programming language.‚  I spend my time with intelligent people that can help me sharpen my social skills.‚  I avoid tools that are going nowhere in life.‚  I regularly read many publications (New York Times, yahoo.com, msnbc.com, New Yorker, Financial Times, espn.com, joelx.com 😉 and a dozen or so blogs.‚  I still need to cut down on my partying though.

Physical Self-Improvement: Physical self-improvement is vital to a happy life.‚  There are countless studies detailing the immense benefits of regular exercise, including a better sex life, better mental performance and massively reduced disease.‚  To this end, I exercise between 4-6 days per week doing a wide range of activities.‚  I always make sure to lift weights several times a week as part of my core program for physical self-improvement.‚  Sports are another important piece of achieving optimal physical fitness.‚  Playing sports has been shown to not only improve flexibility, strength and endurance, but they also help develop social and mental skills.‚  I play flag football weekly and play tennis, volleyball and basketball whenever I get a chance. My goal is to be in such good shape that I can do whatever sort of activity I wish whenever I want, whether it be climbing Mt. Everest, skiing, win a bar fight, running a marathon or bench pressing a small car.

Emotional Self-Improvement:People who know me best realize that my weakest area of the four main components is my emotional self-improvement.‚  That’s not saying much though because I vastly outclass most people in the mental and physical areas ;).‚  I am a generally happy person, but I still have a couple of anger issues that crop up from time to time.‚  I’M GOING TO TEAR YOUR HEAD OFF!‚  Sorry, that was a little out of line.‚  Actually, I try to treat people well and am a nice person most of the time.‚  My friends know me to be loyal and trustworthy.‚  I would like to further develop into a person that people feel they can rely upon for support and good advice.‚  Even though it can be difficult, I try to be introspective and constantly examine my personality and beliefs to make sure that I am living in the most positive way for myself and others.

Financial Self-Improvement: My finance major self demands that I toss in the financial aspect of self-improvement.‚  I think that gaining financial independence is an important piece of the ideal person.‚  If you are a wage slave, you will live constantly under negative pressures that will break you down from the person you want to be.‚  To improve my financial state of being, I graduated from college with a useable degree (business) and got a good job at a startup company in Pioneer Square (perhaps not a startup anymore… it was named the 10th fastest growing company in the Puget Sound region).‚  I am also working on my free time to develop my own business such as digital-auto-gauges.com, commercial-loans-source.com and my newest endeavor- importing.‚  My goal is to achieve full financial indepence before the age of 30.

Self-improvement can be challenging, but it is also incredibly fun and I feel better each day that goes by.‚  I love my life.‚  I hope you all join me in furious “masturbation”!

More Jobless Claims Than Anytime Since 1992

Recently release government data shows that more people filed claims for unemployment benefits than anytime in the last 16 years.‚  Once again, I strongly recommend that anyone who reads my blog gets LEAN.‚  How can you get lean?‚  Cut all frivolous expenses out of your life and start saving.‚  Washington state has not yet been hit by the bad economic waves hitting the rest of the country, but I promise you it will get much worse in our region.‚  I recommend holding off on buying a house for another year if you can.‚  If you are renting, move to a cheaper place.‚  Do NOT lease anything (car, television) other than real estate.‚  Eliminate any outstanding credit card debt fast.‚  Don’t go out to dinner/bars as much. Be smart.

College Football Top 10 Rankings

Since my economic predictions have proved correct (including that the market would drop below 8,000 points), I have decided to try to prognostication in other fields.‚  First, you will see my absolute top 10 rankings of the best teams in college football.‚  After that is my prediction for what the final top 10 BCS standings will look like this year.

Top 10 Best Teams in College Football

1. Alabama- undefeated against a very tough schedule. Deserves #1 spot for now.

2. Florida- After a 1 point loss at Mississippi, these guys have been playing better than even Alabama.

3. USC- 3 shut out wins. 384 points for and only 83 points against.‚  A 1 TD loss.‚  Best players in the country.

4. Texas- Only loss came in the last couple seconds against the current #2 team in the country.‚  Good team.

5.‚  Oklahoma- Unstoppable offense and a decent defense with their only loss coming at Texas.

6.‚  Texas Tech- I know they beat Texas, but they have had a weak schedule and have only done OK.

7. Georgia- They got thumped by Florida & Alabama, but they could beat any other team under the 7th rank.

8. Utah-‚  Poor play and small wins against shoddy opponents put this undefeated team deep in the Top 10.

9. Oklahoma State- Only 2 losses come against the top 2 teams in the country at the time.

10. Penn State- They may be 9-1 but it’s against Big-10 teams.‚  Big-10 should be in the Division 2.

BCS Top 10 College Football Teams End of 2008 Season Predictions

1. Florida- Alabama will lose to Florida on Dec. 6th.

2. Oklahoma- Texas Tech will lose to Oklahoma in two days on November 22.

3. Texas- Mack Brown is going to be angry when he missed the national title game.

4. USC- USC might be better than Florida or Oklahoma, but the BCS standings won’t show it.

5. Alabama- late season loss will drop them to the 5th position.

6. Texas Tech- late season loss to Oklahoma will drop them down here.

7. Utah- I think they can beat BYU in the season finale.

8. Penn State- Paterno will beat Michigan State to end the regular season.

9. Ohio State- Garbage team (OSU) vs garbage team (Michigan) in the finale.

10. Boise State- Going undefeated versus easy opponents is not impressive.
Well now we just wait and see if I am as good at predicting college football as I am at predicting economic changes.‚  Anyone care to agree or disagree with my predictions?

HousingMaps.com Not Refreshed Enough to be Useful

Housingmaps.com is a creative mashup that combines Google Maps and Craigslist listings to show where people can find housing.‚  Unfortunately, it is not refreshed often enough to be useful.‚  I looked today (November 19th) at places to live and the most recent Craigslist listings they had available was November 11th.‚  All of the good place are usually taken in 1-2 days, so the leftover ones are mostly crap and expired listings.‚  Housingmaps.com should refresh its data every 2 hours instead of weekly!

Economic Downturn Gets Worse

We are entering a recession here in America as the bad economic news keeps coming:

  • General Motors is going to run out of cash in early 2009 and will go bankrupt if the government doesn’t bail it out.‚  I hope the government let’s it fail, so that a more efficient company like Toyota or GE can buy the remaining pieces and introduce some real changes.
  • The Dow is all the way down to 8,200 points… a 5,800 point drop since the beginning of the bursting market bubbles.‚  My guess is that it will stabilize somewhere between 7-8,000 points, though our country is in such a precarious position it could crash further.
  • Citigroup announced plans to cut 50,000 jobs.‚  Many other companies are announcing similar plans.
  • The national debt in the United States continues to rise at a breakneck pace as the Iraq War and and bailouts continue to suck down your tax dollars.

I strongly suggest that all my readers cut their costs in whatever way you can and start saving a rainy day fund, because it looks like there is a financial hurricane headed our way.‚  The likelihood of an inflation/deflation scenario has risen significantly lately and many, many people will lose their jobs.‚  If you already have a job, stick with it until you find something better.‚  If you don’t, then take something until you can find employment elsewhere.

Personally, I am planning to downgrade my apartment to something cheaper.‚  I also am going to significantly cut my biggest spending area of entertainment.‚  No more regular bar hopping or expensive restaurants until I am much more secure financially.‚  I am going to continue to drive my fully paid-off Ford Contour for quite some time.

If you are smart and start saving a healthy fund now, you will be in a great position to buy a house for dirt cheap or to launch a business when everyone else is desperate.‚  At the very least, you won’t be living in your car stealing potatoes to feed your babies.

C#

I am currently working to learn the programming language C#.‚  It’s really interesting.‚  I never thought that I would like computer programming, but now that I see some immediate uses for it I am excited to learn more.

Actually, C# is a prerequisite for the Advanced Web Application Development class I have… but I just am trying to learn it as I go.‚  Makes life more interesting.