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Archive January 2008
Wednesday 23 January 2008
I have decided to buy some shares. I was grumbling that I didn't have any money free to do so, and that the last time this happened (I wanted to buy shares but was not in a position to do so) it was Google when they just went tradeable, on which I'd have made a silly profit. And I did the same with something else that I forget what it was. So, anyway, this time I have decided to take some of my not-really-free money, out of a cash ISA, and invest it via the other sort of ISA, in Torotrak.

Torotrak have made a smoothly variable transmission; they have a partnership with Flybrid and Xtrac, all of whose products are necessary in producing a kinetic energy recovery system using flywheels. It's basically a hybrid vehicle, only without gearshifts, without the energy losses due to conversion from kinetic to electrical and back, and with a couple of tricky engineering issues that they've mostly sorted (a fast-spinning flywheel produces confusing torque, a-la science museum "spinning chair and bicycle wheel" experiment).

They seem like a good investment prospect to me because:
  • their product is neat. It's an energy efficiency thing that doesn't seem to have a downside other than "new and thus scary".
  • they've been losing money for years and have seemingly just reached the point where it will start to pay off - which is to say, the shares have been falling, and may be about to reverse. Which would be a good time to buy.
  • they've got actual contracts and licensees signed up which should make their profit not negative for the first time in years. Some licenses look really promising - big manufacturer of small cars in India, unknown European car manufacturer, several Formula One groups. Promise of 3.5M paid from the European one by March, which would cover most of a year's expenses of previous years.
  • they've also got a new director, imported from Jaguar, providing them with contacts in the automotive industry which they previously lacked. Step 1: nepotism. Step 2: profit.
  • the transmission has uses other than KERS - it is lightweight and efficient, making it good for all sorts of small utility vehicles.
  • Look at this man's tie!
[16:48] [1 comment]

Tuesday 15 January 2008
Apparently, according to a billboard, "every 49 seconds, someone applies for a Virgin credit card."

That must get really annoying. "Oh for god's sake, fuck off, we told you seven hundred and thirty four times yesterday NO!" Do they hang up between askings, or do they just stay on the line all day, "can I have a credit card?" "No." "(40 second pause) How about now?"

In similar things that I don't expect most people to find amusing, the other day I was walking on the beach and I saw this guy with a huge round orange head. "What's up with the huge round orange head?" I asked him. "Oh, it's a long story," he said, "but I'll tell you. You see, a couple of years ago I was walking on this very beach and I found a strange glass bottle. I was rubbing the dust off it and a genie popped out and granted me three wishes. Straight away I wished to be independently wealthy, and next time I checked my bank balance I found I had plenty of money. I bought a nice big house and for a time I was happy as anything, but after a while I got lonely, so I wished for the love of my life. Minutes later, the most beautiful woman I've ever seen walked up, and we've been together ever since, it's been fantastic. But then, a couple of years later - and this is where I think I made my mistake - I wished I had a huge round orange head." [18:28] [4 comments]

Saturday 12 January 2008
I would like to propose a ban on electric screwdrivers and/or their users. Trying to operate stripped screws is no fun.

Relatedly, the lesson learned over the past several months is that DIY is so named for a reason. You should not pay someone else to do your DIY. At least not without first checking that they aren't an electric screwdriver jockey. D'ing it Y is easier than you think, and re-D'ing it Y after it's been botched is more difficult than D'ing it Y in the first place would have been. Or in some cases, such as tiling, pretty much impossible since you can't take poorly fitted tiles back off without breaking everything.

Top tip for fitting natural stone tiles - don't just take tiles in the order they come and fit them left to right, top to bottom. Instead try to select tiles that are similar thickness to go adjacent to each other, and use cracked or particularly lumpy tiles as the edge pieces where you can cut off the weirdness. This goes double for fitting them over underfloor heating, where taking up tiles would mean probably wrecking the circuit. This top tip is brought to you by the association of recognising the fucking obvious. [23:08] [19 comments]