Stop Buying Things #1: Computer Programs

So maybe your new to this blog, and are wondering if I am more than green speak, and maybe your still got the after Christmas blues. Well I have a gift or rather gifts for all of you to use. Or rather download that is.

This may be old news for some people but there are others that still don’t know. Nearly everything you need program wise on a computer now a days is probably available in open-source form. What is open-source, it means that the programming for a given program is open and free for all to evaluate and utilize. And if a program isn’t open source, it still may be freeware. Freeware is fully licensed free copies of a given program.

Now as I was saying nearly every program you currently use on your computer is available in a reliable, well-made freeware (and/or open-source) form and I intend to share a few of the best that I use everyday. So stop spending copious amounts of money on these types programs, and start spending it on other things. Or if you HAVE to keep buying programs, still get these and just donate some money to the programmers that have spent there time to give you FREE software.

So if you like Microsoft Office, try OpenOffice:

OpenOffice is a fully functioning office software suite that is complete with a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation maker, graphics/wire diagram maker, and database program. Very fun, easy to use, and every bit as reliable as Microsoft Office.

If you like Adobe Photoshop try Gimp:
Gimp is a photo manipulation, image composition, and image authoring software that is every bit as powerful as its costly counterpart.

Need Security:

Firewall: Comodo Firewall
PC Magazine’s editor choice award and Download.com’s 5 star rating, oh and it’s free. Check out all of the free security programs that they offer.

Antivirus: AVG Free and Avast Free Edition
Both good, good heuristics, and don’t take over your computer.

Anti-spyware: Windows Defender
Microsoft provides something free, well supported, amazing!

So merry belated Christmas, does anyone else have a good free program to share?


Further signs of green energy push.

I was reading my favorite alternative energy and technology blog, the Green Wombat, and found out another strong indicator that there is definitely money to be made in greenville.

From the Green Wombat article on December 18th, 2007, PG&E signs nation's first wave-energy deal: "Like the Golden State's other big investor-owned utilities -- Southern California Edison (EIX) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SRE) -- PG&E (PCG) must obtain 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010 and 33 percent by 2020."

That's a huge percentage of energy that will have to come from somewhere. From the articles I have found, it would seem that wind farms are growing in the Great Plains, Midwest, and Southwest areas, solar developments in Arizona, California, and Nevada, and it sounds like the beginnings of wave farms off the coasts of California and Oregon. This looks like it is a real trend, not just wild ideas. Where there are new trends there is money to be made.

If this trend continues look for greener pastures for the solar companies and wind companies, which are becoming more and more mature each passing day. These wave farms are really in their infancy (in other words, the technology is still being perfected) but really may prove to be something good in the future. Also worth noting, is that neither solar or wind energy solutions can "store" their respective fuels or energy where as coal, gas, oil, and nuclear can. So look for a lot more money to be made with battery makers and electronic part and control suppliers like ROK and ULBI as well.

Good luck…


The best bet on the green movement: PBD ($30-$32 per share)

Let’s get this out of the way, I am a green-loving, bleeding-heart environmentalist, but I am also a logical, data-oriented, high-efficiency manufacturing engineer. Yes, you can be both. I guess what I am saying is that I am all for green initiatives but not at the cost of being stupid.

That being said I want to lie out what I think is currently the best play in the green stock world or rather the ETF world: PBD. PowerShares Global Clean Energy Portfolio (PBD) is made up of the best companies producing and utilizing clean technologies around the globe. This ETF when compared to the other ETF’s of it’s kind is supped up with the best green energy companies available, which not surprisingly are located outside of the US. Besides making you feel good about it containing a diversified group of clean companies, this is a good hedge against both surging oil and utilities prices, and since 70% of its holdings are based outside the US, this ETF is also a good hedge against the falling dollar.

The clean energy industry has seen some recent stock growth in the US from almost every manufacturer in the solar industry. FSLR, STP, SPWR, JASO, and more have all seen rapid growth as people trend towards more renewable energy sources. Alternatively, that is only one sector of green technologies, there are other great companies out there in hydro tech, geothermal energy, biomass, biofuels, rechargable batteries, wind energy, and more that will all start to experience a growth period. Expanding on that last technology, wind will have everybit as much market penitration as solar energy, as sunny areas of the world are not necessarily windy and vice versa. Currently the best wind power companies, other than GE*, are located outside of the US but are well represented in here (PBD). Wind power, not surprisingly, is catching on in windy states like California, Texas, and Iowa and are on the brink to really take off in Kansas and Minnesota. There is also some development in new production facilities of these foreign companies in the US, which is a sign for the expected orders to come. Here is a sample article that I have been finding on such occurances.

Let’s take a quick look at the top 10 stocks held in the ETF:

More Information

JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (ADS)
China based Solar company recently rated as Buy by Piper Jaffrey and Zacks. Has long-term silicone supplier deal.

Vestas Wind Systems A/S
Denmark based, premier wind turbine manufacturer recently reporting 500% profit increase year ($68.9 mil) over year ($13.5 mil) and 18% increase in sales.

First Solar Inc.
US based solar company with Google like stock earnings due to its reliance on cadmium telluride instead of silicone for panels. Its most recent strategic move was to buy Turner Renewable Energy, a noted US based solar power installer. This allows for the company to sell whole packages to potential large-scale buyers.

REpower Systems AG
German based wind turbine manufacturer that currently holds 10% of the German marketplace. Building a promising 5 megawatts wind turbine, one of the largest in the world.

Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (ADS)
China based solar company that is extremely value conscious of their product. Has recently signed a long-term silicon contract with HOKU. This company is doing its best to keep prices down and deliver a high quality product (2nd most efficient PV panels).

Acciona S.A.
A Spanish mega company specializing in everything alternative including wind, solar, hydro, biomass, and more. Recently began building a new wind turbine plant in Iowa to better serve new US business.

Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. (ADS)
China based solar manufacturer and installer. Another company capable of doing a complete solar install from production to installation. Has had a recent stock-funding event in order to raise $100 mil for further manufacturing and business initiatives.

Gamesa Corporacion Tecnologica S.A.
Spain based wind and solar producer and integrator that has seen a 52.5% 1-yr sales growth

Nordex AG
German based wind turbine manufacturer that has seen a net income increase of $5 bil to $18.5 bil year over year.

Scottish & Southern Energy PLC
UK based major utility provider doing its part in construction and utilization of wind farms and solar facilities. Encourages its users to build renewable energy sources into their homes and businesses

To me the trend is in its growing stages and it seems that all renewables are experiencing considerable growth. This stock is picking the best of the best around the world and should be seen as the safest bet to ride this wave. Low management fees of 0.75% of total ETF price (high for ETF’s but still low compared to mutual funds, trades in multiple markets too) helps as well.

Lastly, some friends of mine have noted that nuclear is a possible alternative as a major energy supplier in the US instead of coal, solar, wind, and the rest. I have only one rebuttal is that nuclear is being discussed and solar and wind power are being approved. I think we are truly at the tip of the green revolution and there is definitely money to be made. Just hope the US tax incentives don’t stop anytime soon.

* GE is a great company figuring out many different alternative technologies, but because their brand covers such a diversified group of products, it currently is not a great alternative energy play.

Work in progress...

I am currently putting together my first real update, I hope it is good enough. I just wanted to let people know that the page setup is not quite finished, I am going to play with this for awhile until I get it right. Also I am thinking with my work schedule I can do one major update a week and maybe a bunch of small updates.


Let's get started...

This blog for me is meant as a mash up of investment ideas, work skills, political views, money management, stories, and good advice. I hope that it will create some great discussions and maybe change a few person's views. I will try to be funny, well-written, and insightful, but don't be surprised if this breaks down at times to mispelled, unfunny, knock-knock jokes. I want to talk about stocks, the next good ETF, toolboxes (both literal and figurative), sage advice, lean manufacturing and lean principles, efficiencies, cars, pushing yourself, and taking people as they are. I will never talk about where I work or any of the inner happenings there. However, it is my hope to interview some of the people I have met through work and post them here. The rule will be if I know them, you won't. If I don't know them, you will.

Here are couple of regular segments that I hope to have:
  • Dad's advice: Great work advice, management advice, and mentoring advice from the man I think knows the most.
  • Interviews: I hope to interview people that I respect in their fields or over specific topics that I know that they are good at.
  • What's in your toolbox: This will be both figurative and literal in meaning. I think it will be neat to see what people really have in their toolbox for their given trade
  • Dyslexic view: my lessons with living with dyslexia

Beyond that I hope everyone enjoys this blog...