Slope of Hope Blog Posts

Slope initially began as a blog, so this is where most of the website’s content resides. Here we have tens of thousands of posts dating back over a decade. These are listed in reverse chronological order. Click on any category icon below to see posts tagged with that particular subject, or click on a word in the category cloud on the right side of the screen for more specific choices.

Just People Helping People? (by Mark St.Cyr)

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This week the airwaves were once again abuzz with a soundbite from
some campaign supporter screaming why you should support their
candidate. The reason? Free stuff.

I’m not insinuating condemnation for any candidate or person. No matter what side of the aisle your on or whom one supports it
breaks down just the same for rich or poor: Who’s going to give
me more stuff?

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Apple: From Tip of the Spear to Tipping Point? (by Mark St.Cyr)

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As of this writing Apple® the former underdog known as Apple Computer
is now known more along the lines of Apple the "Indestructible Wonder
Company." It seems as of late to be either morphing or already
changed into what it rivaled against for so many years. The over arching
corporate empire.

Apple makes fantastic cutting edge products.
Nearly every release of a new or updated version of one of
1001-aapl its
creations quite honestly astounds more people than it merely impresses.
If you're already an Apple user the updates impress. If you're a former
PC user – you're astonished. To compare a 2 year old iMac or Macbook to a
brand new PC or laptop is equivalent to comparing a used Bentley to a
new Hyundai for user experience. There's no comparison unless you argue
about such things as the Bentley's window controls are in the wrong
place then one was used to. Which resembles the arguments of the PC ,
Apple arguments these days.

However Apple seems to be losing that
amorphous feeling one had when becoming part of the so-called Apple
family. Have we stepped from big brother to an even bigger sibling with
an attitude? The changes are subtle. Never the less they're there; and
becoming more apparent daily.

Forget the products or features
right now but look at the company itself. The relationship between Apple
and its customers seems to be changing. And not for the better. It
feels like it's turning from the viewpoint of: " Other computer
companies don't understand the Apple customer" to something along the
lines of: "Our customers just don't understand what we at Apple are
doing."

Here's a few examples of late that just don't seem to jive with the so-called Apple culture of just a year or two ago.

Within
months of Job's passing Apple starts paying a dividend to share
holders, and re-institutes a policy long cancelled by Job's of corporate donations to education. This seemed to be a signal that the Job's
viewpoint was clearly no longer sacrosanct. Wall St. and others would now be brought into the fold of attuned attention from management.

Apple
made it easy – and made us want to buy and create our music libraries.
Again in a way that made sense where no one had before. Yet, we just
found out that we really don't own our libraries. We're renting them.
Most have no idea.

This was brought to life with a law suit now
underway with Apple and Bruce Willis the actor. He wanted to pass along
his massive iTunes® collection to his children when he died. He was
informed when he expires – so does the collection. How that plays out
could be a public relation night mare.

Making the switch to the
Apple ecosystem was worth it because once you were in it moving anything
cross devices was simple, easy, and intuitive. Rarely did one need a
visit to the "Genius Bar" for help. However now there are instances
where the steps to move certain things have become as laborious or as
frustrating as some Vista® nightmares. While at the same time hearing
from a "genius" that all this crap is actually a good thing for the
Apple customer. Maybe they had better start serving alcohol at that bar
also.

Apples newest feature Maps has been a disaster. I understand
the fight currently taking place between Google® and Apple. I get it.
However, are you meaning to tell me that Apple thought this map feature
was ready for prime-time? Or was this a stupid foolish cut of the nose
to spite its face? There were far too many problems right out of the
gate to not have known. This was about Apple first – customer second.

Here
is one that I'll end with that seems to signify the change in
philosophy at Apple away from the Apple customer to the Apple
corporate empire. The new lightning connector.

Anyone in the Apple
ecosystem knows one thing. One connector for everything Apple. Now they
changed it. I have no issue with that. But what strikes me as a blind
spot in Apple is this small seemingly innocuous piece of hardware will
be seen as a symbol of putting corporate profit before the coveted Apple
customer.

We all know the markups that are inherent in these
types of connectors. Currently you can buy one from Apple for the mere
price of $29.00. Yet as we all know this will be available shortly
anywhere from some manufacturer for under $5.00 including shipping like
all the others. We also inherently know these cost mere pennies to
manufacture. This has all the tell tale signs of profit for profits
sake.

I'm not one for giving away free stuff nor do I care how
much profit a company makes on any product. What I'm trying to show is
where I see Apple moving away from attention to the customer to more
attention to the bottom line.

Would it not have been seen in the
eyes of the Apple devoted a show of appreciation of that support if say
they offered a free new connector with every new iPhone® purchased? You
needn't give it to everyone for eternity. Include it to anyone whom
purchased at an Apple store. Make it a reason why to bring customers
within the Apple fold. Something – anything! Rather than just giving the
appearance of now turning everything into a profit center for profit
sake. I mean really…$29.00?

That connector cost pennies yet
connects thousands of dollars of Apples products or profits to millions
and millions of customers. It's never the big things that get you most
of the time. It's the little detail that's overlooked that can tick your
customers off.

Or is this just the new version of "Think Different?"

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr  www.MarkStCyr.com

Lazy Trade Long & Short: GFA & ISIS (by Ryan Mallory)

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One new trade to report today and that is in Gafisa (GFA) – a stock that I'm pretty sure I've never traded in before, but is coiling nicely near the highs of its current price action.

I didn't wait for the breakout on this trade before entering, primarily because the risk/reward was so favorable at the current price, and there was significant support for the stock above the 20-day moving average. 

As a result I added GFA to the portfolio as a swing-trade at $4.48. 

Today's short setup comes from ISIS Pharmaceuticals (ISIS) which may seem surprising because of the incredible uptrend it has been on of late, but what you have is a perfect double-top pattern, followed by its confirmation and subsequent bear-flag. Once it can break the uptrend it is on, it should drop hard and fast.


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A Bumpy Start

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Bleah. I guess the easiest one-word description contrasting my disposition toward what I saw in the markets last night versus what I saw this morning would be "disappointed."

Things really seemed to be rocking and rolling downward all Sunday evening. I was looking forward to a hell of a start today. But with the "good" news out of Europe sending the Euro soaring, all assets have followed. I beat a hasty – but partial – retreat – and am 51% committed at this time.

The saddest news was that we sliced right above that nice, clean horizontal line (tinted below in green), eradicating the clarity of that topping pattern. The next question mark is the descending trendline.

1001-es

Suffice it to say my conjecture for a nice tumble to kick off Q4 has been put to rest.

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