Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mika Brzezinski Is My Hero

Is there seriously only one person on the main-stream news media that has the cajones to do this?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

CAPTCHA Made Useful

I'm generally annoyed when I visit a site and I'm faced with a CAPTCHA to either register or post a comment. I'm well aware that computer-aided spam is a huge problem on the Internet but it always seemed to me that there either had to be a better way to solve the problem... or maybe there was a way to utilize my wasted time better. The only problem is I'm obviously not smart enough to come up with one.

Enter reCAPTCHA. Feel free to read that link in detail, but the basics are now CAPTCHA challenges can serve a common good, digitizing hard-to-OCR books.

Even cooler is reCAPTCHA's Mailhide service. With Mailhide you can feel much safer providing your e-mail address on a web site as it will be locked behind a CAPTCHA challenge. Check out the right side of the main page to see how this works in practice.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Trading With Zecco

I read a few personal finance blogs, and when I saw an discussion about an online brokerage offering free trading, I was quite skeptical. After a little research, it turns out that Zecco.com is really on the up-and-up.

Obviously the free trades are not intended for the active day-trader, I'm sure they can blow through 10 trades in the first half hour of the day.

Free stock purchases virtually eliminate the entry barrier for small scale investors like myself. One of the things I always wanted to do was fund an investment account monthly with a small portion of my after-tax earnings (after funding my 401(k) and IRAs), but purchasing a few shares of a company for $100-$200 with a commission on both the buy- and sell-side would result in a 10-20% guaranteed loss every time (figuring for a $10 commission). Now with Zecco, I can buy five or six ETFs, a share at at time, without getting robbed during the transaction. It appears that buying in small lots like one or three shares will cost you a bit on execution price (i.e. I put in a market buy order for an ETF trading at $72.10 and I paid $72.30, which for three shares cost me $0.60) the cost is far outweighed by being able to trickle my money in over time and not try to time the market.

I'm assuming that Zecco makes a majority of their money through charging margin interest, and since they don't seem to be advertising heavily and relying on word-of-mouth traffic I guess that's how they can afford to execute free trades.

P.S. Yes, I'm aware the links to Zecco go to an offer for a free ITunes card. If I get free stuff for having a blog what's the point? :-)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Moved to Blogger

I've grown tired of keeping my blog software up-to-date, so I've decided to move my blog over to Blogger. If you're reading this post in a news-reader that means the FeedBurner feed has been correctly updated.

I will not be moving old posts here (unless I can find an exceptionally easy way to do so).