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October 31, 2011

Last minute pumpkin tutorials...

Mac O'Lanterns
Jobs o'Lantern
Zuck o' Lantern

Now build one of your own! Nitrozac shows you how...

Posted by Snaggy at 08:32 AM

October 29, 2011

A Banker's Perspective on What the Occupy Wall Street Protesters Should be Demanding if They Only Understood Banking

(article submitted by R. Lardel)

I have worked for nearly a decade for a variety of offshore banks. At a recent business trip to Canada I discovered that the Occupy Wall Street movement had made its way to Toronto. At a dinner with colleagues we all expressed annoyance that the disruptions to downtown traffic had delayed the entrees at Barbarian's Steakhouse. After our filet mignons, T-Bones and creme brulees we pondered whether the movement would ever accomplish anything more than that. As we finished off with Cognacs it was universally decided that the movement would likely never accomplish anything other than to snarl traffic.

Take it from the bankers, the movement will likely never accomplish much. It lacks focus and whatever little focus it has is placed on the wrong things. The protestors are upset that the salaries on Wall Street are too big and that the rich are not paying their fair share of taxes. Salaries are not the problem, taxes are not the problem, bank failures and bad investments ARE the problem. Bank failures and bad investments were caused by banking and securities deregulation. The focus should be on the cause of the problem as unexciting as it may be.

The financial system is not in crisis because of banker salaries. No bank needed a bailout because its payroll got too bloated. The crux of the matter is that banks needed bailouts because they made bad investments and were in danger of not being able to honor their deposits. They did not understand the risks and got burned. The financial system is in trouble because bankers did a lousy job of banking.

Bankers did not do a lousy job because they got less smart or more greedy. Bankers have always been smart and greedy. It is because they and the securities industry got their way in convincing governments to deregulate.

Is it merely a co-incidence that there was no major banking crisis in the 50 year period between the Great Depression and the Savings and Loan crisis in the 1980's? From 1819 until the early 1930's there were approximately one or two mass banking panics every decade. This stopped until the mid-1980's with the Savings and Loans crisis. Why?

The reason is simple. After millions of people were made homeless and penniless in the 1930's, governments imposed a mountain of regulations. Savings and Loan Companies could not invest in risky real estate ventures. When they were allowed to make those investments they nearly bankrupted the federal deposit insurance system.

Bank holding companies could not own both a commercial bank that took deposits and an investment bank. Investment banks are risky. They earn fees and revenue by agreeing to buy newly issued shares in companies with the intent of reselling the shares rather than looking to hold them as an investment.

Also rules prevailing until the 1970's had the effect of ensuring that the people making investment decisions would suffer the loss if it did not work out. For example, until 1970 the New York Stock Exchange did not allow corporations to be members. Consequently investment banks were organized as partnerships. This meant that the banker making lousy investments and his or her partners would suffer the losses personally. With a corporation the shareholders can walk away from a catastrophic loss. With a partnership each partner loses his or her house(s), car(s) and personal wealth.

Deregulation changed all this. It allowed banks to take more risks with depositor money. Deposit taking banks and investment banks could be owned by the same institution. This meant that depositor money (and the government deposit insurance scheme) was exposed to more risk.

After exposing bank deposits to more risk, deregulation also facilitated the invention of riskier investment products than ever existed before. One of the culprits in the 2008 meltdown was the exposure of financial institutions to Credit Default Swaps. This is a contract whereby one party agrees to cover the losses of the other party if a borrower defaults on its loans, even if the other party is not the lender. The contract is a form of gambling. In fact congress in 2000 had to exempt some Credit Default Swap strategies from state gaming laws. This resulted in the Credit Default Swap industry exploding from $900 Billion in 2000 to $58 trillion in 2008.

Lastly mortgage deregulation allowed lenders to make loans without having to suffer any negative consequences if the borrower defaulted. Mortgage lenders could make loans and resell them to freshly deregulated financial institutions. Since the lenders got paid only for making loans and not collecting them, they did not have to worry about the borrower defaulting. Guess what happened? They did not ask tough questions, some helped the borrowers lie and pension funds and banks ended up owning mortgages issued to total deadbeats.

Speaking as a banker, rather than alienate and demonize all of us, Occupy Wall Street should reach out and find the bankers who care enough about their community to bring sanity back to the financial services industry. The movement needs us to help them to know what to ask for. They have the numbers and we have the knowledge. There are some of us bankers who would like to see banks making loans to companies that produce real things, provide real services and create real jobs. In the end we are all in this together.

(article submitted by R. Lardel)

Posted by Snaggy at 08:07 PM | Comments (7)

October 27, 2011

Your amazing future of swiping things!

Posted by Snaggy at 01:21 PM

October 21, 2011

Five tips for joint ventures, by Julie Evans

A geek can dream! I was in the grocery store a few weeks ago and saw a package of Oreos with a coupon attached to the front: "Buy a pack of Oreos and get a free gallon of milk!" Well, I didn't need milk and I certainly didn't need Oreos, but it was a good deal, so I bought the pack and picked up the gallon.

On a trip to Starbucks over the summer, I noticed they were advertising, "buy a frappuccino, get a free iTunes Summer Playlist!" Well, it took about three frappuccinos for the download code to finally work, but eventually, I got the free music. Unfortunately, I also became addicted to frappuccinos. :-)

Recently, I found myself at a Taylor Swift concert (don't judge me!), and there were advertisements everywhere for the new line of nature-inspired CoverGirl makeup. Most of Taylor's music videos are her, standing in a field, looking pretty and pouring her heart out, so the 'all-natural, effortless' commercials for the makeup went well together. Now if only she would partner up with Apple!

Joint-venturing can be a huge success for yourself and your company, as long as you know how to do it right. Milk and Oreos has the right idea - people love Oreos and they love them with milk, so why not make it beneficial for the customer to coordinate the two items?

If you think joint-venturing might be a good move, here are five tips on how to make it successful...

1. BE SINCERE. Put some work into the relationship. Don't think of them as someone who you're just using for resources, advertising or whatever - think of it as a meaningful partnership. They'll think of you the same way, which means greater all-around success.

2. THINK LONG-TERM. You'll be more likely to put work into the relationship if you're thinking for the future and not the moment. People will probably always love dunking their Oreos into cold glasses of milk.

3. DON'T GIVE UP. Don't lose hope after a few failures. Contact as many partners as possible and eventually one will be a good fit. Think of it as looking for a new job, or applying to college.

4. BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR OPPORTUNITY! Starbucks has a reputation for playing hip, trendy music in their shops. iTunes has the same, cool reputation, so people who like Starbucks drinks probably also like music. And why not encourage them to download iTunes through free songs?

5. BE CHARMING! You want something from your potential partner, make sure they know they can get a lot from you as well. Treat them like a potential customer and make sure they know how they can benefit from this joint-venture.

And remember, you don't always have to think mega multi-national corporation. Perhaps you have a small tech blog and can partner up with a local computer store or pizza shop.

(Editor's Note: We here at Geek Culture once partnered up with Leo Laporte and the TWiT Network to sell TWiT-branded caps and propeller beanies... it was a perfect match!)

Your joint-venture should be mutually beneficial to both yourself and your other half. It can be a great way to increase your client base, get your name out there, and spice up your business. Once a success, you and your new partner could go together like, well, milk and Oreos.

Posted by Snaggy at 02:32 PM

October 20, 2011

John Wants Answers on Steve Jobs

Our friends John and Keith at John Wants Answers have a great show out from last week, in which they share their personal remembrances of Steve Jobs. (John A. Vink and Keith Stattenfield both work at Apple). In case you don't know already, and you probably don't, John Wants Answers is a fun public access TV show that airs live on KMVT, live on the Internet, and later on YouTube.

Posted by Snaggy at 06:16 PM

October 18, 2011

Jonathan Mann serenades Siri

via Laughing Squid!

Posted by Snaggy at 09:12 AM

Amazing Quantum Levitation!

Posted by Snaggy at 12:27 AM

October 16, 2011

Tidbits for Octobery times

Erbo says farewell dmr, ... GrumpySteen wonders Does anyone remember Liquid Television?, discovers Jesusween, and feels guilty laughing at the sign, ... The Famous Druid survives a Zombie Apocalypse!, ... and maximile made a game!

Posted by Snaggy at 11:44 AM

October 14, 2011

Maybe when the child is a bit older....

Posted by Snaggy at 03:46 PM

October 07, 2011

Steve Jobs's life, (via crazy crazy Taiwanese animation).

Yep, exactly how it all happened...

thanks Erbo!

Posted by Snaggy at 07:32 AM

October 06, 2011

Steve Wozniak remembers Steve Jobs

Posted by Snaggy at 10:01 AM

Forum Tidbits for the day after Steve.

The Famous Druid says Farewell Steve, ... Shoosie thought it was a great portrait of Steve, ... dragonman97 purrs Tired of scratched furniture? Need gold?, ... and TheMoMan asks about Occupy Wall Street.

Posted by Snaggy at 08:51 AM

October 05, 2011

Steve, you were incredible.

We are so saddened to learn that Steve Jobs died today. He was an inspiration to us in so many ways. If you haven't seen this speech, enjoy, and if you've watched it several times already, it's always worth an additional look.

Posted by Snaggy at 05:43 PM

October 03, 2011

Noooooo! That's imposible!

You never forget your first time... :-0

+Patrick Beja shares his son Faris's reaction to Luke finding out that Vader is his father...

(heh, I have the same reaction everytime I watch it!)

via Andre Nantel!

Posted by Snaggy at 08:12 AM