Friday, December 12, 2014

In The News - Sony.

Sony studios are in disarray after being hacked by what a group that is probably affiliated with North Korea in retaliation for a movie Sony is releasing. Thousands of emails have been released, private information has been divulged, servers have been disrupted, and havoc has reigned. So much so that Sony has suspended all filming because it is unable to process payments. Will Sony survive? If not, this might be the first instance of a company being forced into bankruptcy because of hacking. How amazing would that be? We have become so dependent on computer systems that hacking and disrupting a system could cause such catastrophic problems that it could force a company into bankruptcy. Now it is true that Sony was on financial shaky ground to begin with, but the hacking might be the last straw. This is going to be interesting to see how this all unfolds.

Economy - Oil!!!

Oil was down even more today. It looks like it ended the day at about $58 a barrel. Oil was as high as $107 earlier in the year. So the price has collapsed by about 50%. It is interesting to note that in 2008 oil fell from $140 to $35 by the end of the year. Could we be seeing a similar occurrence? In 2008 oil fell by $100 a barrel in 6 months (a 75% drop)! If oil follows the same path we could see oil at close to $30 before it stops falling. Now that sounds unlikely, but it has happened before, so why would this be different? What is also interesting is that stock prices eventually followed the price of oil. The S$P 500 fell from 1560 to 666, a fall of about 60%. So we could see stocks fall by as much as 50%. That would put the S&P 500 easily bellow 1000. So here is what I am predicting. Oil will fall below $40 and the S&P 500 will fall below 1000. Unfortunately I can’t put a date on it, but I would think that within six to nine months to be reasonable. Wow, things are going to get ugly.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Walter's Thinking - Post #800!

This is my 800th post since I started blogging back in January of 2014. I can’t believe that I have written so much. Lately I have not been able to post as often as I did when I started. I seem to have run out of steam and I have also gone back to school, which has limited my time to write. I will continue to write and publish posts though because I truly enjoy doing so. Thank you to my readers as well. You guys are awesome!

Walter Ruggieri

The Economy - Price of Oil

I love going to get gas. The price just keeps falling and it is so nice to have a few more dollars left in my pocket. Unfortunately, as I have pointed out before, falling oil prices are good for consumers, but not so good for producers. As I write, domestic oil producers are announcing job cuts, reduction in production, and a curtailing of future oil projects. This is especially the case for shale oil producers who need oil to be above $70 to make a profit. Now I am not a fan of the oil companies (as many others), but they have become the driving factor in the current economic recovery (if you even believe we ever had one). If you take away the jobs and money infused into the economy by the oil producers, you can kiss any hopes of a sustained recovery away. If the price of oil stays below $70 for any length of time (six months or longer) we will have serious repercussions in our economy. Hopefully oil prices will settle at about $75 a barrel and we will have some stability. If not, hold on because things can get ugly.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Technology - Awesome and Amazing

Technology is amazing and awesome. I am typing on a Bluetooth keyboard that I bought for about $25. It is connected wirelessly to a 7" Android tablet that I bought for about $50. Now both devices are not the top of the line and they have limitations, but they work great for all I would like to do. What is amazing and awesome to me is that 30 years ago what I am doing right now was not even possible. There might have been a system you could have used to type up some stuff, but it does not even come close to what I am able to do right now. Not to mention that I can do it all wirelessly and put in my pocket (of my cargo pants of course). I have not even brought up the internet which is how I am able to share this all with you. Yes, technology is amazing and awesome (and now also cheap)!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Technology - $90 "Laptop"

I think I have found a way to have a "laptop" for $90. First, pick up a no-name 7", 8GB Android tablet for about $50 (I picked one up from Best Buy). Then add a Bluetooth keyboard for about $25 (I picked one up from Amazon with a track pad that works well on an Android tablet) Then add a generic cover for the tablet for about $15 (I found one I liked at Walmart). Put it all together and you have a good "laptop" for about $90. Its not a Windows or Apple machine, but it is better than a Chromebook (it will spell check offline). If all you need to do is surf the internet and do some basic tasks like word processing, spreadsheet stuff, basic presentations, and a few other things, this set up will work perfectly for for you. Plus you have a touch screen and access to all the Android applications. This set up works very well for me and I saved a bundle.

The Economy - Price of Oil

I bought gas for my car today and was thrilled to find that gas at my closest self-serve station was now solidly below $3 a gallon (here in Southern California). That is awesome for those of us who do a lot of driving and commuting. The price of oil has dropped to about $65 a barrel, so gas might still go down further. Again, great news for all of us who are tired of paying so much for gas at the pump. But, $65 a barrel is a disaster for oil producers especially domestic producers. It turns out that most domestic producers need oil to be at $70-80 a barrel to make a profit. Now they can handle a short drop in price, but if the price stays low for an expended amount of time, then there will be carnage in the domestic oil business. So while I applaud the lower gas process, I am weary of the long term effects of low oil prices on the great paying jobs that have been produced across the country. The fracking miracle might be coming to an end, and that will not be good for any of us.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Opinion - A Simmering Rage

There is a rage that is simmering just below the surface in the US. We see glimpses of it here and there with riots that occasionally break out. What will happen if welfare ever stops? What will happen if food stamps stop working? We will have millions of people who are angry and without food or any kind of money who are going to explode with rag. Unfortunately they are not very bright so they will burn down their own neighborhoods and the businesses that provide them with jobs, services, and stuff to buy. They are going to kill off the only things they have left that will provide them with any kind of hope. That is exactly what has happened in Ferguson. The people who went on a rampage a couple of days ago burned their own neighborhood down. What fools! But when you are in a rage, you don’t care. You just act and you want to take your anger out on the first thing that crosses your path. In the end nothing changes and your own neighborhood is burned to the ground. What a waste!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Technology - My 7" Android Tablet

I have been using my $49 no-name Android tablet for just over two weeks. I mainly use it to surf the internet, check my email, and keep a journal. So far it has worked flawlessly. I use Chrome as my browser so all my bookmarks are there. I use Gmail for email, and that app works well. I use Drive and Docs for my journal so I can access it from any device I use. Now I wish I had a physical keyboard, but the touch screen keyboard works well enough. Plus, buying a keyboard might cost more than the tablet did! I also have a version of my favorite solitaire app, so I can waste as much time as I want. So far I am still impressed at all I am able to do with such an inexpensive device. Do they make any money selling these tablets at the price they do? Also, why buy something more expensive? Will it function any better? I don't think so and the build quality is good enough. So I don't think that buying something more expensive does not give you anything more for the money.

Monday, November 24, 2014

My Opinion - Ferguson

The decision from the grand jury is in and the police officer who shot and killed the African-American kid in Ferguson was not charged with any crimes. The decision is not surprising with all that has been leaked on the case. By what was reported the shooting was within policy, so the decision is not surprising. There will be riots and looting though. The African-American community is angry. It will react and there will be protests. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and there will be little damage to property. Destroying someone else’s property out of anger is not right or fair. On injustice (if you feel it was) does not make another right.

Some things to think about. What does this all say about the state of our society? Are we still racist and bigoted? Is lawlessness rampant in our streets? Are the police the good or bad guys? None of that is quite clear anymore. Maybe that is the biggest problem we have today. We do not quite know what the truth is and we do not know who to trust. Now that speaks volumes to the state of our society.