What About the New Flickr

There’s been a HUGE resurgence in Flickr‘s popularity on Twitter lately. Especially amongst me and my tweeps. So what has Flickr done to be cool again? Why is everyone abandoning Instagram, TwitPic, and the rest in favour of Flickr?

In fact, the new Flickr is exactly the same as the old Flickr. It’s still the professional quality photo-sharing/managing/editing web-suite that was hugely popular before. Even their super-powerful mobile apps haven’t changed that much – they were among the most powerful and fun to use even before Instagram came along.

The first thing that happened is Instagram got Facebooked! I said it before, Instagram wasn’t worth $1-billion if Facebook just let it sit there. They have to do something with it; and when they did there was outrage and anger and a stampede back to Flickr!

The other thing, is Yahoo – credit to their new commander-and-chief Marissa Mayer – finally realized their most valuable property is Flickr. No one cares about Yahoo Auto, Yahoo Dating or Yahoo omg! These are copy-cat services in that there’s a million of them out there and if you’re not number one you’re irrelevant.

Although there’s other choices for sharing your photos, the social aspect and the community are very important. Other’s have tried, but Flickr has made professional (community and tools) their priority though they’ve still kept it easy to use.

The others, have just focused on the social aspect. Instagram is all about quirky filters; Google’s schizophrenic Picasa Web aka Google+ Photos is all about something depending on which of the three ways you access it (don’t forget it’s Blogger‘s backend too); TwitPic, Yfrog, etc. are all about tweeting photos on Twitter, which Twitter does by themselves now and prefers; 500px, MyShoebox, PhotoBucket, OpenPhoto, and the rest are trying to find their niche amongst the big players. And Microsoft’s Skydrive Photos fits in there too somewhere, mainly for the clueless and complacent.

The nicest thing about Flickr on Twitter is you get more than the short tweet (126 characters once the Flickr link is factored in) because the integration pulls in the photo, the caption, and the description!!!

Unfortunately your Flickr photos don’t show-up in the Twitter photo-stream, like they do if shared via Twitter, TwitPic, etc.

So, it looks pretty much like Flickr is going to become my photo-tweeting service of choice – replacing TwitPic; but I’ll still edit up the photos using Aviary‘s amazing full-featured editor before posting them.

Cross-posted on 2FatDads

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What’s the Best On-Line Portfolio Manager to Track my Investments, part 5 of 5

It’s been a week since we last talked, and I bet you were waiting with tense anticipation for the final instalment! Well, it would seem that my birthday celebrations, mother’s day, and the fact my Bachelors of Arts degree left me with absolutely no artistic ability what-so-ever have come together against me.

So here, in all its glory – but without any cool infographics – is the conclusion. Enjoy!

To summarize what I’ve discussed over the past couple weeks I’ve put together the table below. Remember that on line portfolios are offered by portal sites, news outlet‘s web sites, financial web sites, and your broker‘s web site. There are different styles of portfolios: Full portfolios let you track holdings and even transactions; whereas Watchlists only let you list a stock. Most of these sites contain ads, but some are less intrusive and others are more.

The rating scale is out of 10 and is highly subjective and compounded by the fact it entirely my opinion, not anyone else’s or an average of several people’s. Data is an evaluation of the completeness of the data; Use is an evaluation of the ease of use; UI is a first impression of the look & feel of the web site; and Total is the sum of the previous parts, out of 30.

Type Style Ads Data Use UI Total
Google Finance Portal Full portfolio Bearable 7 10 10 27
MSN Portal Full portfolio Intrusive 4 5 5 14
Yahoo Finance Portal Full portfolio Bearable 5 7 7 19
Bloomberg News Outlet Full portfolio Excessive 9 6 4 19
Canadian Business News Outlet Full portfolio Excessive 6 3 3 12
Financial Post News Outlet Watchlist only Intrusive 7 6 4 17
Financial Times News Outlet Full portfolio Bearable 10 10 7 27
Globe Investor News Outlet Watchlist only Intrusive 9 4 8 21
MarketWatch News Outlet Watchlist only Intrusive 9 10 9 28
Barchart Financial Services Full portfolio Bearable 4 7 5 16
Morningstar Financial Services Full portfolio Bearable 6 4 8 18
TMX Money Financial Services Watchlist only Excessive 4 7 5 16
BMO Investor Line Broker Live portfolio None 10 5 5 20
Qtrade Broker Live portfolio None 10 8 7 25
RBC Direct Investing Broker Live portfolio None 10 5 5 20

You can also see this table in all it’s Google DocsDrive glory!

What’s clear from the table is that Google Finance, the Financial Times, and Market Watch have the best on-line portfolio managers. So if you’re going to spend the time to set one up and maintain it, then one of those three would be your best bet.

Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Calculating Returns and The Portals
Part 3 – News Outlets
Part 4 – Financial Services and Brokerages
Part 5 – Comparison Table and Conclusion

Cross-posted on 2FatDads

Disclaimer The material in this article does not constitute advice and you should not rely on any material in this article to make any decision or take any action.

What’s the Best On-Line Portfolio Manager to Track my Investments, part 2 of 5

In this installment I’m going to take a look at what the big web portals have to offer. But first I want to review how returns are calculated and what you should be looking for from those numbers.

Calculating Your Returns

There’s a lot of ways to calculate your returns, but unfortunately all these web sites use the simplest of methods: Total Return. Basically, they compare the ratio of your gains (or losses) to your costs without taking time into account. This is fine if you bought all your investments in one shot (at least on the same day) and now you’re going to sit back and watch them.

Pass the popcorn!

In reality you want to know your annualized return. Which is a fancy way to say you want to your average annual return. Except it’s not as easy as dividing the Total Return by the number of years you’re invested (that would be the simple or arithmetic average – and it’s the wrong way to annualize your returns). A better way would be to calculate your geometric average or compound return.

But there are even better ways: Money-Weighted or Internal Rate of Return, Time-Weighted or Linked Internal Rate of Return, Modified Dietz Rate of Return, or the Daily Valuation Method. The best would be the Daily Valuation Method, but unless you have a super-computer you won’t be calculating this one.

Of all these probably the best compromise between efficiency and accuracy is the Modified Dietz Method (also known as Approximate Time-Weighted Rate of Return). Once you’ve calculated that for each period (monthly, quarterly, or annually) you can link it together geometrically to see your annualized return over the years.

Once you know your annualized rate of return you can properly compare your investments and see which ones really are doing well, and which ones just sound good.

For more details on the calculations, PWL Capital has a great white paper on on How to Calculate your Portfolio’s Rate of Return.

Now hopefully one of these web sites, at least the ones that track dividends, take all that information to calculate a proper annualized rate of return.

The Portals

These are the big internet sites where a lot of us start our day. They bring a lot together, like news and weather, functionality like web searches, e-mail and calendars, and more. Adding a portfolio to that isn’t a stretch but since it’s not their focus we might not expect anything exciting from them, but we hope that with everything else going there’s going to be some interesting integration – like easy searches, e-mail alerts, and social sharing.

Google

They nailed the user experience with a clean and simple design that puts more data onto one page than any other site, and there’s even a gadget for my iGoogle home page and functions for my Google DocsDrive Spreadsheets. The charts are perfection: I could configure my own default settings and with one click I could expand the chart to the full width of my screen. But they blew it on data since dividend information for Canadian stocks (ETF’s in particular) is sometimes missing, in-complete, or just plain wrong!

MSN

They have one of the nicest portfolios – it’s actually a Silverlight app so it better be slick! But the rest is held together with duct tape and bubble gum. And basic information for Canadian stocks – even blue chip stocks – is frequently missing. The initially beautiful web site falls apart just below surface.

Yahoo

This is what you’d expect from a web-base portfolio. It looks nice, but the functionality is pretty basic and regrettably dividend information is often missing for Canadian stocks and the news is U.S. focused. Since Yahoo has fallen on hard times they’re probably not putting a lot of effort into something you can get everywhere else, so unfortunately I have to recommend you go somewhere else!

In the next installment I’ll take a look at what the news outlets have to offer. While some are astounding there are a few stinkers in the bunch!

Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Calculating Returns and The Portals
Part 3 – News Outlets
Part 4 – Financial Services and Brokerages
Part 5 – Comparison Table and Conclusion

Cross-posted on 2FatDads

Disclaimer The material on this website does not constitute advice and you should not rely on any material in this website to make any decision or take any action.

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How to Use Location-based Social Networks For Business

CRINGE, Every time I read headlines like this I want to stop using the tools they’re touting. In this case Foursquare is a pretty cool game you can play with your buddies, trying to _monetize_ it will just make it spammy and bring in pretty crappy marketing ploys that will be just as lost in the crowd as the current Twitter spam seems to be. The only true way to get on board Foursquare as a business is to take part by offering promotions for new Mayors of folks that unlock a new badge on your premises. If a party of four checks in and the one of them unlocks a Player badge (checking in with 3 members of the opposite sex) than those three people should get a free drink or entree… You know tell the dude score.

2 Fat Dads: How to Use Location-based Social Networks For Business

I gotta agree with JohnnyCanuck on this one, if businesses want to use social networking they have to participate and not just spam.

The Foursquare (or any location-based social network) is interesting because it very obviously bridges the gap between the net and bricks-and-mortar establishments. The next step though that a lot people have been suggesting (freebies for mayors and such) is going to take one of two forms:

  1. Ad-hoc, honour system. This will probably work best where the typical purchase is low-value and giving some away to the “wrong” person (i.e.: some who checks-in without actually being there) creates just as much good-will as giving it to the right person (i.e.: the legitimate mayor). These are the same places that stamp cards today.
  2. Structured formal agreement. This would work were a typical purchase is higher value and the costs are not negligible. These are the places that give out coupons or have actual point programs. It will take some integration and validation that your check-ins are legitimate before Foursquare replaces or compliments their points program.

My only fear is that Foursquare will NOT be the network of choice. Nor will Gowalla or any other new player. But more likely Google’s Latitude or Yahoo’s Fire Eagle or Microsoft’s BingQuest (I made that one up). Since those companies have the sales & marketing infrastructure, the name-brand recognition, and global prescence to setup and initiate the relationships with the bricks & mortar establishments to make this cross-over work.

Microsoft bids $44.6-billion for Yahoo

This morning’s announcement that Microsoft bids $44.6-billion for Yahoo is causing a lot of speculation.

For my part, I could care less about Yahoo’s or Microsoft’s web sites – I use Google almost exclusively since they’re way ahead of Yahoo or MSN/Live (and when I don’t use Google it’s because someone else is ahead of them which implies Yahoo or MSN/Live don’t even register).

But what does concern me is the effect a “war” between MSN/Live/Yahoo and Google could have on Google’s dedication to it’s cool stuff.

I’m not sure how the industry works, but something tells me nobody makes any money when I visit Yahoo.com or Google.com; or when I sign-up for an account and create a personalized homepage. My understanding is these companies make their money selling ads. But Microsoft also makes their money selling software, hardware, game consoles, etc. Basically, Microsoft has tons of cash sources it can use to undercut Google, who probably depends a lot more on advertising revenue.

What would Microsoft do if they “won” the war? Well, I doubt they would produce cool things like the iGoogle homepage, Google Reader, Google Alerts, etc. And I doubt they make public so many services that people can integrate into their web sites. And I predict a bunch of MS Office Product Managers stomping on the servers that host Google Docs & Spreadsheets (followed by an attempt to use MS Streets & Trips to locate Zoho’s head office and then an attempt to use MS Encarta to figure out why if Indians live in India isn’t India a reserve somewhere in the USA).

So sarcasm aside, I think a successful purchase of Yahoo by Microsoft would lead to the death of the Google we geeks love, because online ad prices will go down and Google will have less cash to fund their 20% projects.

UPDATE Feb 3, 2008: My interpretation of the Google’s blog post on this subject is they are coming to same conclusion as I am – although they clearly but the blame on Microsoft rather than the underlying mechanisms of a free market.