November 2008

The Lost Decade

by Joey deVilla on November 23, 2008

First, Andy Serwer, managing editor at Fortune magazine wrote an article titled This Crisis Could Have a Happy Ending. In it, he calls this first decade in the 21st century “one big washout for investors” and “a lost decade”.

He also wrote:

I believe that in order for the market to achieve a sustainable advance that is above the mean, we are due for some unforeseen positive event or events. Think about it. In the 1990s stocks went way up because of an unanticipated revolution in technology, i.e., networking and the Internet. In this decade we had a slew of unexpected negative events – bookended by 9/11 and this current meltdown. At some point, and it may be a few years from now, we will likely be subjected to an unforeseen positive.

Venture capitalist Fred Wilson used this article as a launching point for his article, A Lost Decade – But Not for Everyone. In it, he examines the stock prices of some of the big players on the Dow – 3M, Citigroup, GM, Intel, Johnson and Johnson and United Technologies – and declared the Dow “a mixed bag”:

A few disasters (GM, Citigroup, Intel), a bunch of so so stocks (like 3M) and a some winners (like J&J and United Technologies).

For the best examples, he says you have to look beyond the Dow, where you’ll find Apple (“still up 3.5x in nine years”)…

Apple stock price chart, 2000 - present

and Google (“still up 2.5x from its IPO in mid 2004”

Google stock parice chart, 2004 - present

Based on these observations, he writes:

When I think about what’s really going on in this "lost decade" it occurs to me that we are finally witnessing the impact of the end of the industrial era and the emergence of the information era. That’s not to say every "information stock" has done well. Intel and Microsoft have been a disaster. IBM and HP are down for the decade to date. But we also have to realize that the late 90s drove all information stocks up to crazy levels in anticipation of exactly this shift taking place. The market got it right, but as usual it overshot.

It will be stocks like Apple, Google, and companies we don’t even know about yet that will lead us back out of this downturn. And I bet there will be a bunch of companies from what we used to call the "emerging markets" that will lead us out of this mess. I think I’ll call them the "emerged markets" from now on.

Howard Lindzon, whom I met recently at Startup Empire, chimes in with his article, Has it Really Been a Lost Decade in the Stock Market?

If WE are to learn one thing from the ‘Lost Decade’ of S&P, Nasdaq and Dow returns is that any idiot can make money in an up market. It is the down markets that separate the winners and losers.

The ‘Lost Decade’ will spawn many great winners in the decades to come, and the smallest investor has the biggest chance to reap the rewards from a more level playing field of transparency, reduced supply, stronger companies. Don’t be cynical at exactly the wrong time.

It’s time to build the business of your dreams and quit hoping for anything else.

The underlying message in all three of these articles is that the businesses that will thrive in this down economy will address some kind of need rather than a want and be “underowned” and “non-leveraged” – in other words, small and not owing any money. Sounds like small businesses and startups to me.

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Exposed

by Joey deVilla on November 23, 2008

Emily Gould

How’d I miss this? Here’s an article – Exposed — from the May 25th, 2008 edition of the New York Times Magazine about one blogger’s experiences and the lines that you can cross while writing blogging, both personally and professionally. It covers some issues to keep in mind when writing in a forum that can be accessed far and wide.

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C++ Pointers for Kids

by Joey deVilla on November 22, 2008

Here’s a fun little claymation video showing called Pointer Fun with Binky that explains C++ pointers “to kids”. Why can’t all programming be taught this way?

My favourite phrase of the moment, thanks to this video, is “Magic Wand of Dereferencing”.

[Found via Being Cellfish.]

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Microsoft Laser Mouse 7000 superimposed over a Live map of Toronto

The major map APIs provide a “zoom” feature that lets you zoom the map in or out if you position the cursor over the map and use your mouse’s scroll wheel. Sometimes you want this function enabled, sometimes you don’t. David Janes, over at his Code Blog provides the JavaScript code for:

  • Enabling and disabling the mouse wheel zoom for Google Maps and Microsoft Virtual Earth
  • Disabling the mouse wheel zoom for Yahoo! Maps (it’s enabled by default, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to re-enable it once disabled.)

Links

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I love this video, which is made up of bits from the trailer for the upcoming J.J. Abrams-produced Star Trek movie and the theme from the original Beverley Hills 90210:

It’s only natural that a J.J. Abrams movie would mesh so well with 90210. Prior to Fringe, Cloverfield, Lost and Alias, he was behind another overwrought teen drama: Felicity.

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Do You Have to Know English to be a Programmer?

by Joey deVilla on November 21, 2008

Painted on the wall at a temple in India: "Please remove your shoes before being entered."

In a comment to Scott Hanselman’s blog post about how Microsoft is using “crowdsourcing” to help create localized versions of MSDN, someone wrote:

If you don’t know English, you’re not a programmer.

A provocative statement like that cries out for an article and discussion, and Scott got the ball rolling with a follow-up article titled, quite expectedly, Do You Have to Know English to be a Programmer?

While a command of the English language isn’t a prerequisite for the actual act of programming, programming languages typically use English keywords, as do many development libraries. Even some popular languages written by people whose native tongue is not English, such as Ruby (Japanese) and Lua (Brazilian Portuguese) use English keywords.

I think that English is the lingua franca of business and technology today: a language often used to communicate between people not sharing a mother tongue. Just as you could have the knack for diplomacy in the 18th century and not speak a word of French, you can have the knack for programming and not know a word of English. But it’s really, really helpful if you do.

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Disruption

A wrench jamming a machine Soon – probably in December – in addition to pointing you to interesting tech news articles and bits of geek culture, I will also be returning to writing development articles. And yes, that includes the long-on-hiatus Enumerating Enumerable series of articles cataloguing the methods in Ruby’s Enumerable module.

The past couple of months have been disruptive as all Hell, what with:

And now,

  • Working like mad to acclimate myself with a new employer — my first Fortune 500 company, and my first with over 200 employees!)
  • Readjusting to a new work style: working largely from home, with runs out into “the field” and the Mississauga and downtown Toronto offices
  • Re-acclimating myself with Microsoft development tools, which I haven’t used since early 2002

It’s been exciting and fun, but there are only so many hours in the day and so much energy one can muster to do things, which meant that the programming articles, which take a lot of work, testing and verifying, had to fall by the wayside. But they’re coming back soon.

Country First

Joey deVilla poses with a Mountie outside the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC
Me and a Mountie at the Canadian Embassy
in Washington, DC in 2000,
a.k.a. the “experimenting with nutty hair colour” year.

“We hired you first and foremost for Canada,” said my boss, John Oxley, Director – Audience Marketing at Microsoft Canada, “and for Microsoft second.”

That means that while I’ll be writing a lot about Microsoft developer tools and technologies, my primary goal as Microsoft Developer Evangelist is to use my tech evangelism powers to encourage, assist, grow and cast a spotlight on the Canadian software industry. I get it; a healthy Canadian software ecosystem is good for all players, including “The Empire”.

If you’re a software developer in Canada, whether you’re writing enterprise software for a big corporation or a one-person shop operating out of your den, a full-time employee or a student in high school, or a Microsoft tech “true believer” or a hardcore Free Software/Open Source type, you are the person I’m trying to reach.

So if you’re a developer, watch this space – some meaty development articles are coming soon!

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