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Does anyone else remember FeedRoom?

Looks like the FeedRoom is working on a relaunch, this time in software. They were really a pioneer in customized video streaming back in 2007 and 2008. I remember when they got the Reuters news streaming deal that was supposed to be all the validation the VC investors needed to push the company towards IPO. But that never happened. After $70 million in funding the company sold to some digital agency that I can’t remember the name of. FeedRoom was basically dissolved as a brand. So I can’t imagine what a relaunch would look like in terms of investment. I doubt it’s the same founders as the first version.

Video editing, publishing and effects software is a much larger market now than it was 10, or even 5 years ago. However video streaming is so commoditizated to the point of demoralizing any prospective entrepreneurs in that space. I’m always up for trying a new video editing platform. Looks like they choose the right in terms of having a product versus a service.

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Businesses that are nervous about the election

The 2016 presidential election has been a mix of comedy/horror/suspense with plenty of drama delivered via the debates. I haven’t seen many journalists mention the effects of each candidate’s inauguration on interest rates. One candidate will obviously continue the path of cheap money and bond purchasing programs, while the other is proposing to renegotiate national debt – which would create a huge headwind for treasuries that the FED is working hard to keep in a bull market. So which businesses are nervous about the election? Well I can tell you from my network of investment literate acquaintances in Texas and Florida, as well as several business owners I keep in touch with the answer is: anyone whose business is attached to consumer loans. That means everything from home remodelers, home construction and design, pool builders, the auto industry, etc. This sounds eerily similar to the 2008 collapse but with a different twist. History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes. Yet as a contrarian I know the bond bull market is a bond bubble market, would you like to give me your money at a negative interest rate? I promise to return some of it to you. So the question is who is going to pop this bubble and when.

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Reno Pride Festival

Just got word that the Reno Gay Pride Festival is cancelled this year, what the heck. They must have lost a large sponsor because that was the best festival Reno has, irregardless of your orientation. I guess I’m going to try to make it out to the Nevada Pride Festival on super short notice. The hotels usually fill up a few weeks before. Nevada state loves pride festivals and the revenue that follows.

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Vetting Contractors

The older I get the less tolerance I have for incompetence and the more I am willing to pay a premium for high quality services with good communication. Over the past few years I’ve done many upgrades to my home including a kitchen remodel, build a swimming pool with spa and patio, redesigned landscaping, planted several trees, and repainted the exterior siding. Since it can be a time consuming process getting a half dozen quotes and checking reviews, I have developed my our list of questions that helps me steer clear of the types of companies that I don’t want to do business with. Some of the questions I developed through personal bad experiences and others I found in online guides like words of caution when hiring a pool builder and How to Hire a Contractor (ThisOldHouse). Below are of few of my deal breakers, if the company can’t answer these questions promptly with a clear demeanor, then that’s a red flag.

  1. Who are your parts and material suppliers?
  2. Have you ever done business under a different company name than your present one?
  3. Can you send me references of three happy customers you have serviced in the past 6 months?
  4. Will I be writing my checks to your business name or a personal name? (you want a business name)


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College Preparation Resources (Hawaii)

My younger, smarter than me cousin who is preparing to enter Hawaii University this coming Fall was telling me about the level of college preparation and readiness education that is funded directly by Hawaii state. Hawaii has been creating local partnership for education for many years.

Throughout the month Hawai‘i P-20 will coordinate a multi-media campaign which includes television, radio and print ads focused on college and career readiness. This campaign is made possible by our generous sponsors: GEAR UP Hawai‘i, University of Hawai‘i Federal Credit Union, University of Hawai‘i Community Colleges and The Learning Coalition.

So for my cousin who usually asks my advice on matters of finance, investing, and all things tech, when it came to college prep, instead of pinging his family’s university alumni, he said he easily found trustworthy resources online, such as Step Up Hawaii and P20Hawaii.

It is encouraging to see such attractive and pragmatic online resources being created at the local state level.

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First Winter as a Pool Owner

This is my first year as a pool owner and my DIY spirit has been alive and well reading how to maintain a swimming pool’s health, both structurally and equipment-wise during a rough winter.

There’s actually quite a bit of chemistry and a dab of physics to learn, which have always been my favorite disciplines.

A few of the online resources I want to thank: The Pool Center’s blog has really helped me catch up to speed on all things maintenance related, and in an enjoyable, entertaining format. I also have frequently referred back to the company that guided me through my pool’s construction for more information on the materials used in the build. And finally Fire Your Pool Guy (love that name) helped me with understanding some of the technical aspects of water health, algae prevention, and to develop weekly cleaning checklists.

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America is having a Howard Beale moment

If despite the endless daily onslaught of dismal economic news (record high student loan debt, record high Americans on food stamps, record high federal debt, record high health insurance costs, 30 year low labor force participation, 20 year low home ownership rate, declining low median family income) you are still confused by the rise of Trump, then you need to understand that America is finally having a Howard Beale moment:

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When a Tech Guy Seeks to Remodel His Swimming Pool…

As you know, I am a colossal web critic. One poor web experience is enough to make me boycott a company’s products and inevitably beckons the early arrival of the curmudgeon inside me.

My personal home improvement project for this summer is to remodel my home pool, lay a deck of stamped concrete, and build a spa. These projects surpass my handyman abilities, therefore meeting with contractors, picking their brains to judge their competence, and doing online research is what will fill my time. In the remodeling business the average revenue per customer acquisition is, depending on the locale, somewhere between $25K and $40K. So you would think that developing a compelling web experience for potential customers would be a highly achievable and profitable venture; yet most of the pool renovators’ websites are no more professional than those of your local lawn mowing service.

I did prevail in finding highly informative sites with well-structured content that even deserve to be used as illustrations for aspiring designers and entrepreneurs.

Take a look at the following pages:

Can you see how they want you to really “feel” their products and services? They don’t just show you a few samples of tiles/surfaces in low resolution images, they give you the full catalog, dozens and dozens of high resolution pictures to get your internal design juices flowing and dreaming about color combinations and contrasting surfaces from the pool to the deck, deck to the spa, spa to the pool, etc.

Ok this mini rant is over. Time to get the creative juices brewing again.

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Tesla’s Improbable Megafactory

Take a look at Tesla’s stock and you’ll see a 800% increase in the past 14 months, much of which happened in about 14 weeks. So what happened? Were investors turned off to the electric car revolution and suddenly had a change of heart? We had all seen the power of the Tesla Roadster long ago and knew the Model S would have a wider consumer appeal. Did investors just not have enough information to better value the company?

There’s no one reason to point a finger at, but one thing is for sure — few people believed their robotic controlled megafactory would ever hit 100% functionality. When investors got wind of the fact that its operations were indeed feasible, the stock exploded. I really enjoyed this look inside the factory:

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Off to Austin – Seasonal Business Case Study

I will be in Austin, TX for the next 3 weeks to help an ex-coworker with a small business case study on using internet software to manage the violate effects of seasonality. When most people think of Austin they understand it to be sort of a southern Silicon Valley, a technophile’s playground bursting with emerging tech firms that live a rather financially sheltered business lifecycle. Companies don’t have real cash flows, don’t focus on margins, and have unnatural life lines (VC funds) are common. However we are going to be working with and interviewing owners of “real companies” doing “boring stuff”. Spring is a most opportune time to look at seasonality fueled growth. You have three big industries revving their engines: lawn care/landscaping, pool cleaning services, and tax preparation. Austin business owners, even in these industries, are no strangers to innovation and tech-powered scalability. I heard of one pool maintenance company that is working on a wifi-powered pool sensor to push data back to the pool company (via the homeowner’s internet) about the current pH level of the water. This makes scheduling follow-up cleanings and preventative maintenance much more accurately dated. This type of innovation rarely gets the media’s attention. So I am very excited to see what is brewing in these industries. Reading too much tech news online can trick you into thinking you have seen everything. Time to cut back.

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