First, some background. I often used a service called sendyourfiles.com to move my own large art files to United Media (my syndicator), to my publisher (Andrews McMeel Publishing), and other business associates. I also used the service to send large photos and videos that e-mail couldn't handle. Every person who received a large file from me in this convenient way said some version of "Hey, I could use this myself."
So I contacted the owners of sendyourfiles.com and worked out a deal for a branded version of their service that we call dilbertfiles.com. They do the business end, and I help spread the word. It's a great tool, so I enjoy letting people know about it.
As the more technical among you know, there are a number of options for sending large files. Some of them are even free, although without the features or convenience of dilbertfiles.com. For example, with Dilbertfiles.com you can download a plug-in for Outlook and send large files without even going through a web page. And if you do use the browser interface instead, you get to watch some free Dilbert comics while your file is transmitted. You also get to watch Dogbert vigorously whip the progress bar, which feels better than you'd imagine.
As the number of traditional newspapers continues to shrink, this is the sort of thing that will help keep Dilbert free online. If you know anyone who moves large files around for work, or for fun, please do them and me a favor by forwarding the link.
[Update: The link was broken when I first posted. Now corrected.]
[Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in the company. When I asked my friend Tim how many people might die because the company couldn't get funding, I felt it was important to blog about it.]
I never really let go of a goal. That's not always a good thing, since all of my unfulfilled goals gnaw on me from within. But it sure feels delicious when one of them wanders in from the wilderness.
Three and a half years ago, when I lost my voice to spasmodic dysphonia, I set my goal on not just beating this incurable condition but ending up with a voice that was better than it had been before I got the problem. My original voice was a bit nasal, and I had a habit of mumbling. If you're going to have a goal of defeating an incurable condition, you might as well add some extras. I wanted my next voice to be better than it had ever been.
As I have written before, I had surgery in July with Dr. Berke at UCLA, who pioneered a procedure to fix this sort of voice problem. It was supposed to take 3-4 months from the day of the operation before a good voice returned. Sure enough, right on cue, this is the 3.5 month mark, and my voice is about 90% functional for most purposes. (I can't shout yet, and by the end of the day it is a bit hoarse.) Still, it's frickin' amazing.
Over the next year, my voice is expected to improve further. But that's not good enough. I'm going to put some serious work into making my new voice better than it ever was. It might take me twenty years, but I'll get there.
The stock improves your diversification compared to the stocks you already own.
Criticism 3: If you buy stocks every month, as you earn money to invest, the transaction fees can get expensive.
Answer: That's true, so don't buy stocks every month. Do it once or twice a year. Each stock you buy or sell will cost about $9 once. Or if you have lots of patience and discipline, invest only when the market drops from its high by ten or twenty percent.
Criticism 4: The S&P 500 changes composition over time, weeding out the weaker companies in a crude way. Your basket of 20 stocks wouldn't get that benefit.
Answer: After you own twenty stocks, sell off the lowest rated stock and replace it each time you add money to your investment, once or twice a year. This prunes the laggard stocks in a crude way similar to how an ETF would rebalance its position.
The most important element of this revised investment plan involves ignoring the advice of pundits and columnists, and especially ignoring your own gut feelings about stocks.
I hope it is obvious that you shouldn't get your financial advice from cartoonists. And feel free to tell me why this modified approach is defective. That's always the point of anything you see on this blog.