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Journal: Funny ad on slashdot.

Journal by Barbara, not Barbie
Wondering why I don't block ads on slashdot? It's not just because slashdot makes a bit of money that way, but also because sometimes they're just too funny.

Today's example, following up on yesterdays Facebook IPO flop, reads:

Invest in Facebook Now

In just a few days, Facebook will sell its stock to the public one(sic) of the biggest IPOs in Wall Street history.

Sadly, if you invest in Facebook after it goes public, you're going to be too late.

But if you act TODAY, you can take advantage of a secret way to invest in Facebook BEFORE it goes public ...

Get more details immediately.

What a joke. The site pimping this is streetauthority.com - another stock shill with clueless predictions that FB "could" be worth $70 a share. Try telling that to the underwriters who had to buy back millions of shares at $38 so it wouldn't drop below the issue price. Manually entering the final url w/o the junk gives an IIS error page saying that the requested page has been moved. Don't blame them, really :-)

Facebook

Journal: The real consequences of the Facebook IPO flop. 13

Journal by Barbara, not Barbie

Facebook's IPO was a flop - the only reason the shares didn't end the day on a negative was that the underwriters bought millions of them at the floor price, to support the stock.

Even Groupon, which is now trading at less than a 3rd of its' first-day high, closed over 30% higher than it opened.

So now the underwriters are sitting on millions of shares of FB at $38 apiece. In other words, instead of taking in $171 million in fees, they traded back those fees (and then some) for FB paper that nobody else was willing to buy at $38 a share by days end.

Ignoring the question of the underlying value, which is much less than the IPO valuation (but that's another story), how much is FB worth to someone playing the market? Zynga has been used as a proxy for FB for a while - if you couldn't buy FB stock, at least you could buy their major partner, Zynga.

Trading in Zynga was halted - twice - because of 10% price declines in the stock in a 5-minute period. In other words, Zynga would probably have gone still lower if trading hadn't been halted. Zynga ended the day down "only" 13.42%.

Since the only thing that kept FB shares from going through the issue price floor was massive price support by the underwriters, Zynga continues to be a valid proxy for what Facebook stock would be performing if it weren't for the underwriters intervention.

What does this mean to the underwriters? Realistically, not only did they not make any net income from FB, but the shares they bought back at $38 will be a hard sell at $31 over the next few weeks.

Their only real option is to slowly sell off the shares, a little at a time, in competition with the other half-billion shares, many of which were bought in anticipation of a quick profit on a first-day market "pop" that was over almost as soon as it began.

There's also a limited window of opportunity. 6 months from now, all those Facebook employees who can't sell their shares because of the 6-month lock-in will also be wanting to cash out at least some of their $$$, so that leaves 6 months to unload, while many of the people who bought half a billion shares also look to unload.

None of this takes into account the FB employees who took out loans against their stock grants. This secondary market just got risk-ugly.

So, who benefits? Microsoft, Apple, and Google.

Microsoft, because Facebook is now just another stock, and one that doesn't even pay dividends, so competition with Facebook for employees just got easier. Bing will also pick up some advertisers who are re-examining their committment to FB in light of the triple whammy of GM pulling out, the $15 billion lawsuit, and the FB IPO flop showing that investors don't have that much confidence in future FB growth being anything like the past.

Apple, because people will continue to buy iPads, and iPad users tend to use Facebook less (eventually just responding to birthday reminders and such, at least from what I've seen). Anything that makes FB look like yesterdays news makes Apple's ecosystem look more attractive.

Google, because not only are they now, like Microsoft, going to have an easier time competing for talent, but also because of the dark shadow (think "negative halo effect") the FB IPO dud will have on Facebooks credibility with advertisers, just a few days after GM pulled out of paid FB advertising because it's not worth it and the rumours of other big-name advertisers who are also ready to pull the plug. That money will go to Google, and to some extent, to Bing.

The big loser, of course, is nowhere to be seen. It's anyone on whom Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs dump the overpriced FB paper they're now holding.

On another note, it'll be interesting to see what, if anything, the underwriting banks do with their new positions as significant shareholders of Facebook. They could make Zuckerbergs' life "interesting."

Plus there's the impact it will have on the economy just from reduced expectations all around, and the increased reluctance to invest seed money in other tech ventures.

Oh, and let's not forget the impact on the whole "social media" bubble. That hissing sound you hear? It's the air coming out. FB looks a lot more vulnerable than it did just 24 hours ago.

Canada

Journal: Time to switch careers - politics it is! 4

Journal by Barbara, not Barbie

Since programming is now out as a career (over 35, problems with my retinas), I'm going to that refuge of all useless humanity - politics.

Seriously, I've been thinking about it for some time, and level of corruption of the local government is depressing. Not only that, but they've done some pretty nasty things to me over the years, and I'm tired of it.

What ultimately tipped the scales, though, was that I stopped by the hospital to talk with two women who work there on my way to visit one of my sisters, and we got to talking about how the government is trying to fudge its books by artificially inflating apparent receivables.

The latest scam: Sending out notices of tax re-assessments for the last 25 years to the spouses of people who have died. Totally illegal (there's a 10-year limit here). They recently tried this on one of my relatives. Anywhere else, I wouldn't believe it. Quebec - hey, this is just business as usual for Canadas' most corrupt province.

Under this scam, the workers of that department get their bonuses for meeting targets for "enhancing receivables", and if the money never gets collected, that's just another departments problem.

For those just joining in, it's gotten so bad that I had to sue the government when they illegally (and wrongly) tried to claim that I owed $70,000 in a separate matter. The judge agreed that I didn't owe a single penny and that the seizure of my salary was totally illegal, but having to spend money to sue the government when they're illegally lopping of 1/3 of your pay before taxes is not for the faint of heart.

Most people would have taken the lawyers advice and taken the settlement, rather than firing the useless turdle and arguing the case themselves.

It turns out that one of my friends who works at the hospital is also being hounded by the government. Even though she only works a few days a week, they're seizing her salary, and her attitude was "it's the government - nobody wins against the government." Until I talked to her, she was just resigned to paying it - doesn't matter if she actually owes it or not.

I had just come from my lawyers' (yes, I sometimes let lawyers fight my battles for me) because I have to sue the government again (I must be on some list or other ...), and really, that's the last straw. It's not just me. It's not just a few people. This corrupt government has its' claws into everything and everyone.

The feds turning a blind eye makes them just as bad.

We currently have a corruption commission getting underway (one the government resisted, then tried to severely hamstring). It won't be enough. We've been there before, and the political will, and the ANGER, just isn't there. People are resigned to "business as usual."

I'm not. I've taken all the crap I'm prepared to take. I've got dirt, and I'm going to use it.

User Journal

Journal: Who really killed the Linux desktop? 8

Journal by Barbara, not Barbie

Steve Jobs and Apple, not Microsoft, killed the Linux desktop.

Think about it. If Apple had never recovered from their near-death experience, Linux would have had a Vista-sized window of opportunity to gain desktop share and interest from commercial software houses.

Also, there would have been no Android phones - they'd all be running a stripped-down Linux instead, since there would have already been a viable commercial software-for-profit ecosystem.

And there would be no App store with one company dominating a platform.

Canada

Journal: Canadian CyberSnoop Law Backers' Private Life Tweeted

Journal by Barbara, not Barbie
In what is clearly a case of "what goes around comes around", The National Post is reporting that Vic Toews, the Canadian Minister who said about those who oppose online spying - "He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers", isn't Mr. Clean. A new Twitter account, @vikileaks30, is posting details about the "outspoken family values" real family values, including getting his babysitter pregnant, divorcing his wife, and not paying support.

More here if you don't want to log into twitter

Ubuntu

Journal: Ubuntu TV, meet the Lenovo 55" Android Ice Cream Sandwich TV 1

Journal by Barbara, not Barbie

For several years, Canonical has been a day late and a dollar short when it comes to shipping real products. There were the Ubuntu Android devices announced almost 3 years ago, the switch to a tablet interface for the non-existent Ubuntu tablet and smartphone market (causing many current Ubuntu users to switch to Mint or Debian), and now Ubuntu TV, quickly thrown together using 3rd-party code, which Canonical claims will ship by the end of the year, despite not having a single manufacturer lined up.

At the same show, Lenovo raised the barrier to entry into the TV market with an 55" Android Ice Cream Sandwich TV. Comes with a built-in webcam, remote with microphone (for voice recognition) touch pad (for swiping, etc) and motion sensors (so you can use it like a Wiimote) ... and an extra game controller.

Canonical abandoning their "Android Execution Environment" for "The Search For More Bling" was a serious mistake. If you're going to offer the next generation of linux-based TVs or tablets, you need more than a pretty (inter)face. If you don't have Android support, you're simply not in the game.

User Journal

Journal: It's about time skeptics weighed in against groupon-type sites.

Journal by Barbara, not Barbie

But first, a hint for the math-impaired: Even letting the customer spin a wheel and getting a discount of either 25%, 50%, 75%, or FREE would let you keep more money ($33.33 on average per sale, as opposed to $25.00), and the customer gets a bigger saving on average (2/3 off instead of half).

42% of all small and medium businesses (SMBs) would not do another groupon deal.

Series of articles on real groupon disasters.

Did you see the movie Alien? Of course you did. Remember the scene?

Yes THE scene .

The one with the alien popping out of the chest of the guy while at dinner with everyone? The alien had used his body as a host and destroyed him.

The online discount sites,"deal-of-the day"Â blogs and their ilk are using your deal to build their lists.

The customer loyalty is going to their pages, their offers, their friends - not yours.

I think you're delusional if you've been thinking otherwise.

The money that could be making your shopping experience more competitive, keep your inventory fuller and letting you hire better is vanishing. And you're the magician.

Bottom line: Discounting your product by 50%, then giving 50% of what's left to groupon or another group buying site, is only a great idea if your goal is to destroy the perceived value of your product and burn money.

Groupon - for when you lack the imagination to come up anything else.

User Journal

Journal: Low-tech ways to save money. 2

Journal by Barbara, not Barbie

The biggest "line items" in most peoples' budgets are food, shelter, energy, and transportation. Saving even a small percentage here can translate into real money ...

Food: A few weeks ago, I stopped buying "junk" while doing the groceries. No more bags of cookies, no "snack foods", no Doritos. Strawberry-rhubarb pie and ice cream are still on the menu, in moderation :-) No more taking a break at work to go across the street and buy something to drink or "munch on."

The impact on my food budget was immediate - and positive.

I still get "the munchies" - I'm only human after all - but now I try to wait it out. Or, at the office, I eat an apple, or have a cup of tea. Even taking into account the higher cost of greenhouse tomatoes and lettuce, salads are still healthier and cheaper, by at least $25 a week. Annual savings: $1,300 per year.

Electricity

I recently bought an energy-efficient fridge. I'll only be saving $3 to $4 a month on electricity. However, that's not where the big saving is - the new fridge keeps food fresher longer. For example, lettuce now seems to last forever, instead of turning soggy after a week, so we should add cutbacks in food spoilage, say another $10/month - but we'll be conservative and ignore the food savings. Annual energy savings: $42.00

Heating

Temperatures here are now below 0C. If it is sunny outside, I open the blinds. When it's not, I close them. This way, I can leave the heating system turned completely off most of the day, while I'm at work, and on weekends. I've set the timer so that it's warm when I get home, and off at night. In the morning, it's still around 65F. Reduction in the natural gas bill - about 20% so far. Annual savings at current prices: $240.00

Transportation

Declining gasoline prices have made a difference, but what's made an even bigger difference is moving closer to work. Not only do I save 10 hours a week - a tank of gasoline now lasts more than twice as long - 3 weeks, instead of 10 days. Annual savings at current prices: $720.00 per year. (my actual bill has gone down by almost 3/4, because of the price drop, but we won't take that saving into account here).

Housing

I recently moved to a larger, nicer place. By shopping around after the peak spring season, I was able to save several hundred dollars a month. Annual savings: $3,840.00 per year.

Total annual savings: $6,142, or almost $120 a week - tax free - with a commensurate improvement in quality of life and time saved.

User Journal

Journal: Wow - I have BAD karma ... 2

Journal by Barbara, not Barbie

I guess some people have no sense of humour. How two people thought this was "flamebait" is beyond me ...

Maybe they own a restaurant or something?

Well, I thought it was funny at the time, but as another poster pointed out, under the new rules someone could actually patent cooking, even with the existence of "prior art". And that's definitely NOT funny.

Oh, well, just goes to show just how dumb these patent wars really are.

Education

Journal: Its about clothes, not gadgets.

Journal by Barbara, not Barbie

This entry was prompted by someone who doesn't understand why women need 50 pairs of shoes.

Men always make fun of how we can look in a closet full of clothes and say "I have nothing to wear." Sure, its easy for you. You guys can wear the same style shirt, pants, and shoes 7 days a week and nobody will notice. But for us, clothes are like remote controls or gadgets for men - there will never be enough.

Do you really want us to wear the same outfit every day? Of course not. But everything has to match. That means matching shoes, matching purse, matching coat, jacket or sweater. You might have a favorite sweater that you wear until its falling apart - on you, its "cute" (at least that's what we tell you ... :-) For me, my sweater has to match my top, which means a matching skirt or slacks, which means matching shoes. That's just the way it works for women. And there's no way I'm wearing a black bra with a white top, much as you might like the idea.

Then there's the whole "shoes thing." Its not just different colors. Evening shoes are completely different from work shoes, and they have to match the rest of my outfit, as well as the occasion. Now add in the change of seasons - boots. Winter boots, spring and fall boots, as well as boots for clubbing in summer when a girl wants to "make a statement!" Now throw in a few pairs of sandals, a few pairs of shoes for casual wear, and a few pairs or runners. 50 pairs is reasonable in such a situation - that works out to only 5 or 6 pairs of each type.

And lets not even consider jewelry - or maybe we should. Look at something as simple as earrings. Men get along with either none or a stud in one ear. My earrings are a reflection of what I am doing, and my mood. Thats why we have jewelry boxes. One pair is unthinkable.

Even watches (yes, sir, that's watches - plural) for different occasions. And rings, necklaces, bracelets, and anklets.

You have a wallet. How nice. I have a purse. Well, actually, several purses. Day purses. Evening purses. Don't forget that they have to match, or at least not clash with, my outfit, so a woman can no more get along with one purse than a man can get along with ... gee, I don't know. A dozen purses is reasonable, don't you thing, all things considered?

And then there's our makeup. Day. Evening. Night on the town. Visiting friends - casual. Visiting friends - not so casual. Formal occasions. You might have a toolbox full of all sorts of wonderful toys - we have cosmetics.

... and I haven't even begun to talk about hair, nighties, or coats for different occasions and weather, or any of the other details. You might think we mean it when we say "I'll just throw something on", but that almost never happens.

Just like you can't believe we have nothing to wear when we have a closet and dresser full of clothes. But think about it like your gadgets and tools - do you use the same tool all the time? Of course not - you're always saying how you need "the right tool for the job." So do we, just that our tools are more fashionable :-)

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