Saturday, July 30, 2011

App-ing your Way to Success with Dropbox Part 2

Part 2 of my "App"-ing your Way to Success - Yes, even financial success. The more efficient and more organised you are, the better prepared you are for opportunities that come your way! For my 2nd part, I discuss Dropbox.

Dropbox is a cloud-based application that lets you save files across devices. Work on something, take a picture and save it into your Dropbox and you can access it via the web or your device's apps. It would even auto-sync between work stations as long as you are connected to the internet. So, I'll like to think it as your auto-sync flash drive in the cloud. Here's the kicker: Sign up for free and you can get 2GB straight off! Watch the video on their site for a quick and simple explanation on how it works exactly.

Email Files no more or Throw away your Flashdrives!
Before this, I used to email work files to myself but now I can access it through my Android phone's Dropbox app (iPhones have this app too) on the go or any laptop which has internet connection. Or if you work on different workstations, drop a file into your dropbox and it will auto-sync with your other work-station so you can view and edit it as necessary. All you need to do is to set your work folder as your dropbox or drag-and-drop or save it into your Dropbox! Basically, Dropbox replaces the act of backing up your smaller files on to a flashdrive or any portable hard-disk drive.

Share Files for Work, Projects or Personal Reasons
Another use for this is to share files among people who would need reference to certain documents. If you're working in a company where you need access to certain files (ie: forms to apply for leave, requisition forms,company guidelines) why not "dropbox" it and share it with all employees for their reference and use. If you're stuck in a meeting and you left your laptop, not to worry, you can pull the relevant file for quick reference on your phone/tablet with the Dropbox app right away. Who knows, it may save your neck if you forget to bring a certain document with you!

All you need to do is invite someone to join your dropbox and once he/she joins, his/her dropbox will upload the contents of your shared folder into his dropbox! Neat, eh? So you can share photos, groupons, stuff to print, the possibilities are yours to think off!

Another use is of course collaboration of documents of projects but I personally think Googledocs already does this quite well which will be a whole different post altogether! Watch for that.

So, what are you waiting for? Get Dropbox which I personally think will make flashdrives/portable HDDs the way of the Dodo (once Broadband speeds catch up of course!) Until then, Dropbox is the simple cloud solution for working seamlessly between workstations and devices!

For Part 3, I shall discuss what I dub "Facebook for Projects", so check back next week!

A shoutout to Regina's husband, Eric who introduced this really cool-app to me!

Disclosure: I am trying to work to my max free 8GB (still 6.5 GB to go) so if you don't have Dropbox yet, click on the links to it via this post or click here to sign up! (we both get 250 mbs free!)

Do you need to be a CFA to be a Better Investor?

Does the CFA helps with the numbers?(credit: Dreamstime)

Do you need to be a CFA (Certified Financial Analyst) to be Better Investor? A man dubbed as the "next Ben Graham" by the Forbes, Vitaliy N. Katsenelson has some insight into that. I have posted a review on his book "Little Book of Sideways Investing" here.

Here is the relevant excerpt from his interview with the Kirk Report.
"Kirk: Is it realistic to suggest that individual investors have what it takes to do the type of homework you and other professionals do, without a CFA?

Vitaliy: In short – the answer is YES.

I am a Chartered Financial Analyst, and I learned a lot from going through the CFA program (as well as from getting two finance degrees); but the problem with the CFA program is that half your time is wasted on useless concepts, and since there is an exam, the program also requires you to be a good test taker (I was never good at that).

It is probably still the most relevant program if you want to be an investor; but in all honesty, you can take the CFA curriculum, pick relevant subjects, e.g. economics, accounting, valuation (excluding Modern Portfolio Theory), statistics, behavioral finance, and derivatives, and study them on your own and just not worry about taking the exam. You’ll learn a lot, won’t waste your time on irrelevant academic and politically correct topics like ethics (all you need to know is to always put clients’ interests first, and err on the side of the perception of wrong doing vs. legality. When people trust you with their life savings, you never want them to question your true motives).

But that would be just a start. Then you’d want to read a lot on value investing (books, blogs, newsletters/interviews, presentations, etc.) and finally, take as much money as you could afford to lose and start investing.

Paraphrasing Charlie Munger, learning about investing only from books is like learning about sex from romantic novels."


Hm, so perhaps, I should re-think the CFA after all..! Lol!

Well, not quite. The main reason why I'm doing this is give me an internationally recognised qualification. A CFA to me is the Gold Standard in the investing world and would open up a career in investment. So, it's not a bad deal - personal improvement and career development to me. If I want to pursue a career in finance, this bolsters my CV/reputation.

Currently, locally, there are only 400 CFA charter holders in Malaysia. While this means there is a demand here but it opens windows to other countries within Asia too, ie: HK, Singapore.

So, be clear on that - you don't really need a CFA to be Better Investor but it helps. Just ask yourself, perhaps there is a cheaper and less time consuming way to improve yourself in the skill-sets offered within the programme?For those already sitting for it in Malaysia, all the best!

(Of course, remember, with or without CFA, remember your due diligence has to be "CFA-like" before investing. That's another take-away from the excerpt above!)

To read Vitalsky's full interview, check it out here :

If you like what he has to offer, sign up for his email newsletters or his RSS feed while you're there!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"App"-ing your Way to Success Pt 1 - Evernote

Everyone knows an Elephant Doesn't Forget! (Evernote Logo)

Part 1 of my "App"-ing your Way to Success - Yes, even financial success. The more efficient and more organised you are, the better prepared you are for opportunities that come your way! For my first part, I discuss Evernote.

Evernote is THE reminder/task-reminder app for Android + Apple devices which links up to the internet/cloud so you can access all your reminders seamlessly in whatever form - video, text, audio locations, to-do-lists, links and you can even tag and share your notebooks. Notes are kept in notebooks which would basically be the category of notes. (ie: Work notebook, Health, Interesting Articles)

Their taglines are:
  • Remember Everything
  • Capture Anything
  • Access Anywhere
  • Find Things Fast

Excellent for the road warrior always on the move and if you don't have a pen, whip out your smartphone and why not just take a picture of it or audio record telling yourself what you need to do. Then, if you're away for your phone, you can always log in online to check your to-do list via your desktop or through your other devices. Basically, pens are now so 20th century, yo!

You can ever share notebooks with people to share information(think shopping list)/to-do-list. Basic stuff. Don't expect to run a project via Evernote basic.

To top it off , it's free on both the Apple and Android market! With premium (USD 5 a month or 45 a year), you get 1 gig of space, upload more file types - MSword, Video and you can even corroborate on projects via Evernote!

Other Alternatives
Other competitors which do pretty-much the same thing include Colour Note and Spring Pad. I have not done comprehensive testing on those apps except for some playing around with Spring Pad. One good thing is Spring Pad seems more colourful and is more interesting-looking by giving the option of using colour-coding. Evernote can be abit dull looking with its grey+green theme at times.

For my next 2nd part of this App series, I shall discuss a real-powerful tool and a personal favourite of mine - Dropbox. Catch me next week!

An intro video on Evernote by a 3rd Party.

Full Discloure: Yet, another unsolicited post!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

CFA Preview Lecture : Securities Market @ Sunway 17/07/2011

Mr. Th’ng Beng Hooi, CFA giving a Preview Lecture on Securities Market

As part of their marketing, Sunway Tes and AB maximus held yet another preview talk at Sunway last Saturday. Yet, there are some Investment-related insights which I picked up and discuss in some detail here.

Retail Investors
(ie: you and me)

One interesting point was when Mr. Th'ng was ranking the order of investors for equities and it went somewhat like this:

  • Institutional Investors
  • Corporate Investors
  • ...
  • Syndicates (yes, they are in every market even KL)
  • ...
  • Insiders
  • Retail Investors ===> That's you and me!

Basically, he was making the point that we retail investors have very little advantage going for us.The other investors above the pecking order not only have the experience and knowledge but all the information needed right at their fingertips. What possible advantage can we have over these other investors?
(Yet interestingly, majority of fund managers don't beat the markets, so what edge do you have over than them?)

In fact, maybe none except long term holding. ie: for retirement as opposed to a mutual fund which has to make good returns annually Of course, this was coming from a self-proclaimed fan of Buffet(read: value investor) but he makes a good point on what little advantage you and I as retail investors have.

So? We have to be patient. Chances are information-wise we lose out to the syndicates, insiders and the big boys at the top as they have teams of researchers and what not behind them.

That's easier said then done, of course- Stocks being easily traded with a click of mouse these days, making it even more of a game running on emotions rather than rational decision making.

If you grow impatient, you may sell although the time frame you set out has not been met. So, that for me was an interesting reminder on what (little) advantage we retail investors have.

Also, at the end, he had a Q&A where he raised and addressed 2 interesting questions(funnily he posed to himself - see pic):

1) Fundamental or Technical Analysis - Which is better?
Mr Th'ng gave a good analogy - It's like Shaolin kung-fu. If you have a different style (crane, tiger, mantis, etc), doesn't really matter as long as you can defend yourself right? So, whatever works for you. As a Buffet fan or a CFA holder, that would usually mean fundamental but personally, the speaker uses both.

2) Will computers take over human jobs (in this field)?
Nowadays, trades are carried out automatically by computers. In fact the 2010 flash crash of the DOW recently (wikipedia here) was caused by such a sell programme that triggered other trades. Some firms out there deal with High Frequency Trades (HFTs) where trades are automated with programmes that pick up data and act on it.

However, this does not necessarily the end of our jobs - you still need a human to key in such data and formulas, no?

That aside, I know will go in my thoughts about the CFA part-time lectures offered by Sunway-Tec + AB Maximus (with Stalla materials):

CFA Part-time Lectures
This has been my 2nd preview lecture and the pricing for their weekend classes is RM4000 and RM 3600 for individual and corporate sponsored respectively. It includes revision and mocks. Sorry, don't have the sheets with me atm and can't find it online for exact details.

The lecturers so far have been impressive and the Stalla materials look impressive in the two preview lectures I have been. Also, Sunway is not too far compared to say Kasturi and the other Management College in KL apparently offering CFA classes too.

Unfortunately for me, it clashes with work on Saturdays so I might just settle for self-study with the Cafepacer ( and maybe the Studymaster (thousands of questions to try out) and see where I get this December.

Oh for the other candidates out there, one question was posed:

Schweser or Stalla Schweser apparently is more concise and hence, suited for the time-strapped candidate. Stalla has been around longer but is more detailed. Sunway-TEC will be using Stalla so they endorse Stalla obviously.

Full Disclosure: This is an unsolicited/unsponsored post.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Buffet's Right Hand Man Speaks - Charlie Munger

This isn't Charlie.. but eye-catching, no?

The vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B), Charlie Munger or perhaps, better know as Buffet's Right Hand Man speaks and is featured on

One thing which resonates with me:

"On challenge: Most dentists and doctors know what they're doing. They deal with problems they know they can fix. I don't want that. It's in my nature to move toward the really hard problems that haven't yet been solved."

Really excited by the technological advances made by tablets. Just finished reading - Designing for the Ipad - Building Apps that Sell. Looking at this from an angle of maybe building a killer-app in what little spare time I have..? *shrugs*

It's just really exciting how it's a whole new frontier- how the iPad really much is a tabula rasa and innovative ways its being used to not only consume but also generate content are being created (think music instruments with the ipad) or yet to have been created! Then again, perhaps the writer is right in saying it's very much a 'gold rush'. May spend lots of time and all you get is - dust.

Source of quote: Morgan Housel (a writer for the Fool I also respect) covers Charlie's thoughts on the world in two parts can be found here:-

Check out here for Part 1

and... Part 2

Also, you can check out - Charlie Munger on How to Become Rich. - Very realistic down-to-earth advice.

In life, to get ahead, we have to seek mentors. Why not Charlie Munger as one of them?