A Foolish Interview with TMFBigFrog Add to My Favorite Fools Add to My Penalty Box

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The Fool: Tell us about Your Dumbest Investment... and the lesson you learned from it.
TMFBigFrog: My dumbest investment has to be a mutual fund I owned and then sold to buy my car. I owned a High Tech fund that had gone nowhere for much of the time I had held it, which was remarkable, considering I bought it in the middle of the 1990's. I sold it in December of 1997 to put a down payment on my new car. Well, no sooner did I sell that fund than it started shooting up like a rocket. Its return in 1998 was around 70%!<BR><BR>What I learned was: Never second guess an investment, and if you sell completely out of an issue, STOP TRACKING the item you sold.
The Fool: How'd you find out about the Fool? (Make your answer as colorful and truthful as possible.)
TMFBigFrog: I was sitting in an accounting class in a 'classroom wired for the future.' The room had internet connections, and I happened to have a laptop with me. The professor brought out a list of his favorite financial web sites, and one of them happened to be http://www.fool.com . I hooked up my laptop, surfed over to the site, and completely toned out the class for the rest of the semester. I managed to get an A- in the class, so clearly, The Motley Fool was a big help.
The Fool: If you could go back in time and witness one event in history, what would you go back and see?
TMFBigFrog: I would go back and witness the "Shot heard 'round the world" that started the U.S. Revolutionary War.
The Fool: Briefly review your favorite book.
TMFBigFrog: "Computer Architecture A Quantitative Approach Second Edition" by John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson.<BR><BR>Don't laugh or think me an absolute geek. At the time, I worked in Information Technology, in charge of system support for a custom-coded near-real-time message transfer system. Most of my employer's company relies on this service to do its business. If my service shuts down, major portions of the company shut down within hours (like manufacturing, shipping, and inventory control).<BR><BR>Essentially, I run a system that nobody else on Earth has heard of, nobody else on Earth can support, and nobody else on Earth has access to. And of course, it is centrally critical to the day-to-day operations of my employer. Job Security? Certainly. High Stress? You bet! Somebody once did an analysis of the financial impact of my system on the company. It worked out to something crazy like $2,000,000 per hour.<BR><BR>Anyway, the book. The book is a text book from a class I took in college on advanced computer architecture. It details a lot of information about computers from the hardware level. Because of the information in the book, I have been able to drastically improve the reliability and capacity of the service while maintaining a constant number of machines providing the service.<BR><BR>The pictures of exponential growth curves of response times due to problems caused by I/O bottlenecks were vital in my efforts to get my management to pay for system enhancements to relieve capacity problems caused by disk thrashing. "But the problems are only beginning to show up, can't this wait until next fiscal year?" got quickly countered with "As you can see by this chart, a 5% increase in volume at this point will more than triple the amount of time it will take for messages to flow. Make that 10%, and things get about ten times worse." A picture is worth a thousand words, and the pictures in that book probably saved the company several million dollars.
The Fool: What's been your best investment to date and how did you discover it?
TMFBigFrog: My best investment to date has been my employer's stock. My employer has an Optional Cash Purchase portion of its ESOP retirement plan, and when I heard I could use pre-tax dollars to invest in the stock, I jumped right in with both feet. I discovered it by reading the Employee Benefit Handbook.
The Fool: List some of your favorite websites, with running commentary where appropriate. (Please provide the URLs, too.)
TMFBigFrog: http://www.fool.com "The Best Free Education on Earth!"<BR><BR>http://www.quicken.com Good charting and portfolio features, I look here when the Fool site is busy. <BR><BR>http://www.duke.edu/web/duu/ The Duke University Union. The Student Activities Office that taught me more about leadership, running a business, dealing with employees, keeping within a budget, and focusing on customer needs than any official part of my education to date.<BR><BR>http://www.xu.edu Xavier University. My graduate school Alma Mater. I graduated from there in 2001 with an MBA.<BR><BR>http://www.duke.edu Duke University, My undergraduate Alma Mater. I graduated from there in 1997 with a triple major in Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and Psychology. By careful planning, I was able to pull that off in four years without ever taking summer school or overloading my schedule.<BR><BR>http://www.imsa.edu The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, My High School.
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