Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas shopping for Saipan techies

This shopping season doesn't seem to offer a "must-have" gift for the techie on your list, a situation I lament in this week's column.

But here are a few things (tech-oriented or otherwise)that I reviewed in 2008:

1. Saving Memories. Feb. 29. This extolls the benefits of the new generation of small external hard drives. Many of us have moved our photo albums to our computers; those are memories worth saving....and backing up.

2. A great piece of gear. Aug. 15. The Cabela's Outback Computer Attache is my best product discovery of the year.

3. Saipan and Everywhere: Four essential books. Oct. 24. The title pretty much says it all. Any, or all, of these four books would be a nice gift for the thinker on your list.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Paradise is for learners

"As the CNMI economy continues to transition to a totally government-based economy, anyone who wants to earn a living in the Commonwealth while remaining in the much-hated 'private sector' has got a tough challenge...but it's a doable challenge."

Here are links mentioned in today's column:

1. May 23 review of The Long Tail.

2. The A.P. story on Wyoming's Ten Sleep. (The title of this article is different than the one I mention in my column, but it's the same article.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Korean Juggernaut

As 2008 is drawing to a close, I noticed that I haven't filled my quota of glaring typos. So here's a "baron peninsula " just to lend an air of genuine Stephens authenticity to this week's article. Enjoy hunting for that little gem! Accept no substitutes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Financial wisdom from Mom

"...Earned money trumps make-believe wealth in the long run. This wisdom will set the stage for the coming financial turmoil, which is just getting started. Some people in the Commonwealth get the point. Some never will."

True indeed. Catch today's column here.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Crazy Eddie's Saipan Love Brokerage

"...I suggest that you list 'rich,' 'in poor health,' and 'heavy smoker' as the primary attributes you seek in a husband."

Catch the column here.

Friday, October 31, 2008

TEOTWAWKI syndrome

The End Of The World As We Know It? Relax. The world is doing just fine. Don't let the winds of doom cloud your view of the opportunities out there, particularly in Asia.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Saipan and everywhere: Four essential books

For those hardy captains of industry who read the Saipan Tribune, and who are contemplating the economic situation, here are four books I highly recommend and summarize in today's column:
1. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, by Joseph A. Schumpeter.
2. The Road to Serfdom, by F.A. Hayek.
3. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
4. The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, by Eric Hoffer.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

World Wide Woes

Need to build a great web site? You've come to the right place for inspiration...

...or maybe not!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Zany, mad-cap antics

A quote from today's column:

"....Many (not all, but surprisingly many) of your counterparts in the Prozac Nation have ceded management of their own lives to any institution or demagogue who had a slick sales pitch. The Panic of 2008 is probably in its infancy; just wait until the masses figure out that their pensions are worth less than my old gym socks. Some odd notion in the states goes that if you collectivize something, then everybody gets more of it, since the pile is so big."

Friday, October 3, 2008

The household budget?

Sick of all the pompous advice about "household budgets"? Join the club. Here's my take on the gig in today's Saipan Tribune.

The Tribune is also running an insightful piece by former Tribune publisher John DelRosario, Jr., who takes a look at the U.S. Wall Street Bailout bill here. Well said, JR!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I warned you

I've been warning Saipan Tribune readers for years that the U.S. financial bubble would eventually bring weirdness to markets.

Post script: A bailed-out bubble is still a bubble. The economic underpinnings of distorted capital allocation don't magically disappear. Joe Six-Pack is happy that stock prices have zoomed up at the end of the week, but he doesn't know who the rube is yet.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Utils and Utility

Blackouts don't mean that we have to sit in the economic dark. Here's some wonkish economic stuff on "utils" and "utility."

Friday, September 5, 2008

Deputy Director of Notebooks

Shopping for a notebook computer? You're not alone: Notebook sales are up 35% for the year. Here's my take on the gig. has interesting data on notebook market share here.


Since I've got notebooks on the brain today, I just caught an article on about one new offering in the ultra-small, ultra cheap notebook computer sector--the Dell Mini 9, which has a 8.9 inch display, WiFi, a teeny capacity flash memory of 4gb to 16gb, and a teeny price of $350 (with Linux) or $400 (Windows XP).

This surely isn't a substitute for a full blown notebook computer, but as a "computer-like appliance" (or "sub-notebook") for road trips (it weighs under two pounds), it might be an interesting tool, or maybe toy, for some folks.

Dell's offering is coming on the heels of a similar little offering from Taiwan's Asus, the Eee PC. I checked one of these out in Asia when they were pretty new on the market. Although I'd love to shave four pounds from my travel kit, my enthusiasm was curbed when I actually used one of these things.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Leaping into lethargy

Looking for some inspiration? Don't ask me for any. Especially in August, which always seems to be an 0ff-month.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Strategic moves, island issues

Is is possible that military bucks might be on the way to the CNMI? Well, the ever-more-tense world situation, combined with Guam's lucritive stint in the stragetic limelight, does feed speculation, and even hope. But how would the CNMI government react? My forecast might surprise you.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Thanks for the email regarding the absence of my usual Friday column from the Saipan Tribune Op-Ed page. It's probably just a technical SNAFU, given that I submitted later than I usually do.

Stay tuned to, and I'll post an update.

UPDATE: It was just a SNAFU, and the column is carried in Saturday's edition.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A great piece of gear

"Commonwealth Road Warriors, your travel-weary comrade has discovered a dandy piece of gear..."

And thus I introduce the Cabela's Outback Computer Attache, which I highly recommend.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Nukes in the 'hood

The next nuclear arms race might be in Saipan's back yard.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Memory Circuits

Some stuff is worth remembering. Some ain't. That's what I ponder in today's column.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rue the darkness

Date Tila Tequila? Sure. Privatize CUC? No--it will just further convolute its shameful trail of corruption.

So, what's the answer to the CNMI's power woes? Well, here's one idea, and, quite possibly, the only idea that can work--read all about it in Rue the Darkness.

You'll notice my call to action at the end of the column. You can, as always, contact me here.

Correction: In today's column, I mentioned an article I wrote "in 1988 or so." I meant to say "in 1998 or so," thus making an error of, ahem, an entire decade. One scary thing about middle age is that the decades really do start to run together. Yikes!

Friday, July 18, 2008

This week's news

"He lived in a steamy, dilapidated trailer by a swamp. Roaches swarmed all over the place. He sat, shirtless, in the collapsed remnants of a cheap reclining armchair..."

Today's column is continued here.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Today I share highlights of this year's tropical travels. Most of the places I saw were racing ahead economically. Meanwhile, Saipan remains stuck in "reverse." It's a heck of a contrast.

Friday, July 4, 2008

How to negotiate!

Book stores are brimming with books on how to be a sharp negotiator. Here's my take on the gig in today's Saipan Tribune.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Emergency electrons

Don't let Saipan's blackouts thwart your work routine. Notebook computer users can use inverters to convert their car's electricity to usable tech juice. Here's my latest look at the gig. This follows an earlier piece I did on March 2 last year.

The secret's out now: Blackouts are no excuse for missing a work deadline. You might want to hide this column from your boss.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

WWII and a jazz singer too

A WWII vet sent me an interesting video (At the Interface: The WWII Recollections of Donald M. Showers) that I review in today's Saipan Tribune.

The producer's web page is

We also take a glance at Miss Emily Anne, an up-and-coming jazz singer who's working the San Francisco club scene. You can catch some samples of her interesting sound at her site,

Both of these stories dovetail perfectly with the Long Tail effect, as musicians, merchants, and others use the Internet to reach out to niche markets.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Random thoughts for CNMI grads

Maybe Friday the 13th isn't an auspicious date to contemplate graduation stuff. Oh well, here we go anyway...

Friday, June 6, 2008

Little Worries, Big Worries

As bad as the immediate effects of high gas prices are, the long-term consequences may be far more painful. Is it time to chuck the car and buy a donkey? Maybe, maybe not, but in any event, this week's column ponders the gig.

Friday, May 30, 2008

e-Book look

Can e-books do for reading what the iPod did for listening? Find out here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Short tale of The Long Tail

"The Long Tail is an inspiring, thoughtful, and informative look at a phenomenon that we’re all involved with, but that we have a hard time getting real perspective on."

Click here for the rest of my review.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The sound of the Huey

The sound of the Huey is today's article.

Hey, I'm always up for talking about helicopters: Here's some background on this great machine.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Thoughts over Asian coffee

"These days, Saipan has so many talkers and bureaucrats, and so few doers, that’s it’s fun to be among some doers, even if I can’t even speak the language and need help ordering even a simple cup of coffee...."

Such is one thought over coffee while enjoying the buzz of business in Hong Kong this week.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Spring cleaning for e-mail

E-mail: We need it, so we might as well include it in our Spring Cleaning.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Bug vs Windshield

If' you've got any gray hairs, you might remember the band Dire Straits and their song The Bug. In the realm of oil prices, the Commonwealth is the bug, and there are a lot of economic windshields speeding right as us, ready to squish us financially. That's the topic of today's column...and it ain't a pretty picture.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Although Taiwan and Saipan have long-standing economic ties, information for Taiwan-bound travelers is sparse. Here are a few observations from my first visit.

I don't usually wax enthusiastic about hotels, but this time around, I'll make an exception. Business travelers who want to stay in the airport (Taoyuan) area should be aware of Monarch Plaza hotel, it was quite a find and the staff helped make my trip a good experience.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Choices: Crunching numbers

In the April 11 edition of the Saipan Tribune, we crunch some numbers to get a feel for the relationship between choices, tradeoffs, risk aversity, and rewards...and thus solve the riddle presented in last week's column.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Catching up: March 21, March 28, and April 4 column links

The dust has settled from my travels, so I can catch up on some column links now.

April 4: "Choices in life"

"A career bromide as worn as the steps to the Nauru Building goes like so: Do what you like to do, young man, and then your work won’t seem like work, life will be happy and, fortuitously, the money will flow into your pockets..."

Here's a link to the April 4 column

March 28: "Zoris"

"There are two kinds of people on Saipan: Those who have adopted zoris as their primary footwear, and those who haven’t..."

Here's a link to the March 28 column

March 21: "The dollar and credit bombs: Told you so!"

"For many years, I have warned Saipan Tribune readers that the U.S. dollar, and the pile of toxic debt it is built on, will all collapse in an ugly heap.

And it’s happening. Right in front of our eyes. It’s the stuff of global headlines right now. There will be time, a lot of time, later, to analyze the impact on Saipan, but today let’s just ponder the general situation..."

Here's a link to the March 21 column

Friday, March 14, 2008

Admin note

My upcoming travel schedule may prevent me from posting my weekly link on, so you'll have to go directly to the Opinion page at the Saipan Tribune on Fridays to find my column.

Home-grown computer upgrade

Trying to stretch those computer dollars in these tough economic times? Me, too.

I got brave and upgraded the hard drive in my favorite ThinkPad computer. If you're contemplating a similar project, here's how I did it, in 10 easy steps.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Somebody Else

Who will save the Commonwealth? Somebody Else, of course.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Saving memories

Don't want to lose those precious holiday pictures, home videos, and all your other data? Here's my occasional update on data storage technology, and, this time around, we look at the small-but-mighty 2.5 inch hard drives.

If you're looking for MEGAbyte, the store mentioned in my column, their site is here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ocean power and random napkins

Make electricity from waves, tides, or currents? That's the topic for the Feb. 22 column...

A company called Verdant Power has some cool information and photos on their site; I took this photo from their site.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto

We take a respite from weighty topics today, and ponder the latest kink in an old chain: visions of robots that are human, all-too-human in today's Tribune.

Here is the referenced article.

Photo from the Drudge Report.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Time Mismanagement

Maybe hard work will pay off in the future, but laziness pays off immediately.

Accepting Reality

Here is my Feb. 1 column.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Chaos and happy hour

"Today is one of those days when we have to put off happy hour for a few moments and dig into some real economics. I sure hate it when the outside world intrudes into my fun time. Ah, welcome to 2008, dear Commonwealth, which is already shaping up to be an economic humdinger..."

Here's the rest of the article...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Who holds the bag?

It's time for some straight talk about the CNMI's economic situation, so here it is. No sugar-coating here!

As an aside, I'll mention that I may offer a presentation or two on the CNMI economic situation, to include the tourism situation, for members of the private sector who are interested in such things. I'm not long-winded, so any presentation would be brief, about 30 minutes. If you're interested in attending, let me know; we've got plenty of lead time, I'll probably shoot for sometime this summer.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The peso, the dollar, and everything

As I've been saying for over a decade in the Tribune, the U.S. dollar is doomed. Here's my latest take on it. Seems like markets are, at long last, heeding reality.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

E-mail purgatory

Has e-mail gone from blessing to curse? It sure seems like it sometimes.

It's a good theme to start the new year off with, so catch "E-mail purgatory" in the January 4 Saipan Tribune.