Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Review Roundup. Spoiler: It’s Great

September 26th, 2014 No comments

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor received 9+ out of 10 scores from many of the leading game review sites. Joystiq even gave it a perfect score. Looks like we finally have a legitimate AAA killer app game for next generation consoles.


Joystiq – 5/5

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is a well-paced sandbox game with a revolutionary new game mechanic in the Nemesis System, which I imagine we’ll see iterated on in the years to come. The Nemesis System creates the opportunity for two players to have wildly different experiences fighting the Uruk-hai, while Talion collects trinkets and upgrades

Polygon – 9.5/10

Shadow of Mordor is that ultimate rarity. It tells a fun little story that would be enough to hold up most games on their own. But it also provides all of the tools to ensure that the most interesting tales to come out of the game will be the ones that were not scripted.

IGN – 9.3/10

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor stands out from other open-world action games by putting a great new layer on top of the trail that Batman blazed. I was surprised at how well it integrates its excellent combat with rewarding feedback and progression not just for me, but also for my enemies.


The execution of all the game’s “little elements” is almost completely perfect..Shadow of Mordor might be the first third-person sandbox game to truly let players tackle a challenge the way that THEY want. I can’t emphasize to you how different/fresh and important this feels..Imagine GTA 5’s heists or Batman’s detective work, but without the on-rails, scripted choices. Instead you just plan the heist within the rules of the sandbox – tailing the owner, casing the place, etc.

Categories: News

Have Multiple Xbox One Console Noise Issues? Keep Sending Them In

September 19th, 2014 No comments

After many messages of people sending in their Xbox One consoles to get the coil whine issue fixed and then receiving back machines with the exact same noise issue, a Microsoft support representative wrote to those afflicted: “please keep setting up repairs” as their solution. The actual post below:msftSending in multiple consoles is a big hassle. Maybe Microsoft should make sure their consoles are all fixed first before sending them out to consumers over and over again.

From the message above, as Microsoft is still collecting serial numbers of consoles, it is clear they still don’t have a good handle on the scope of the problem.

Categories: News

September 2014 Philadelphia Fed Survey 22.5 vs. 23.0 est./Prior 28.0

September 18th, 2014 No comments


Categories: News

Apple iPhone 6 Review Roundup

September 17th, 2014 No comments

The following is a note-worthy selection of iPhone 6 reviews with excerpts. Spoiler alert: reviewers love it.

Yahoo Tech (David Pogue)

“The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are absolutely terrific phones. They’re fast and powerful and well designed. There’s not a single component that hasn’t been improved. These phones are a delight to behold and to be held”

The Verge – 9.0/10

“There’s one feature that stands out, though, the one that most strongly makes the iPhone 6’s case as the best smartphone on the planet: the camera”

Recode (Walt Mossberg)

“The iPhone 6 is a great upgrade for current iPhone owners, or for anyone, really. It manages to provide a much larger display in a phone that’s still small enough to handle easily. It’s my recommendation for the best smartphone you can buy”

Engadget – 90/100

“With fast performance, a great display, an elegant new design and a much-needed software update, it’s one of the best smartphones you can buy right now. We wish it had the same long battery life as the iPhone 6 Plus (not to mention its optical image stabilization) but even then, the iPhone 6 is still the better choice for most people”

Bloomberg (Joshua Topolsky)

“They’re also awesome. They are beautifully engineered machines, more useful than ever. These aren’t just the best iPhones ever made—they might be the best phones ever made. Period”

Wall Street Journal

“So what makes the iPhone 6 the best? Performance, usability and camera refinements, coupled with a safe, powerful operating system that now lets the iPhone’s big collection of apps do more”

New York Times

“The slim new iPhones aren’t a big-screen slam-dunk, but they work well, as we have come to expect from Apple. Ultimately, it’s what’s on the inside that keeps them just in front of their competitors”

The Loop

“For me, I think the iPhone 6 will be the perfect upgrade for people in the U.S. that haven’t embraced larger screen devices yet. It’s the perfect size for almost any hand”


“Apple iPhone 6 is a worthy successor to all the iPhones that have come before it. It’s attractive, solid, well-crafted, powerful and exciting..Apple’s iPhone 6 is, for my $200, the most elegant and effective smartphone on the market”


“The iPhone 6 is the best smartphone available. It offers improvements in almost every way that matters, and it delivers those in a striking new design that balances consumer demand for larger screens with a thin, light and durable case”

USA Today

“These are the phones Apple devotees have been waiting for: iPhones that measure up to what’s fast becoming the new normal — the large, modern smartphone display”


“For current owners of Apple phones who aren’t tied up with a carrier contract, the iPhone 6 is among the most irresistible upgrade the company has ever offered”

Categories: News

Don’t Forget the “Hedge” in Hedge-fund

September 16th, 2014 No comments

Recently a large pension fund decided to give up on investing in hedge-funds citing complexity, high fees, and lack of scale. This news sparked a slew of articles saying this was a watershed moment on how hedge-funds as an asset class underperform and weren’t worth their fees.

Yes the vast majority of hedge-fund managers do not perform well enough to justify their fee structure, similar to active fund managers. However I do think one must grade hedge-funds in a bit more nuanced fashion.

Hedge-funds are hedge-funds because they often “hedge” and have market net exposure lower than a 100% long portfolio. If a typical hedge-fund has net exposure of 50% vs. the market, it is bound to underperform the market during big up cycles, but if it can provide a net return above the net exposure it is worth the fees.

Any capital allocator can easily find cost-effective methods to get long exposure to the market through passive index or futures strategies. Finding true alpha generating investment managers is much more difficult.

Hedge-funds are attractive to their clients because they should provide uncorrelated returns, true “alpha” relative to their net exposure to the market, and strong returns through a full up/down market cycle. They should be graded on those measures.

Categories: Articles

Amazon Cites Xbox One Console Inventory Issue

September 15th, 2014 No comments

A few days ago on September 11th I wrote a blog post with evidence showing it was likely a large percentage of the current shipment of Xbox Ones in the retail channel had “coil whine” noise hardware defects. Tonight members on NeoGaf noticed Amazon put the Kinect-less Xbox One on “Item Under Review..something wrong with our inventory” notice.


A few hours later the notice disappeared, but this is again more evidence some thing is amiss.

I also noticed Microsoft’s support forum is filled with more posts from consumers receiving replacement consoles with the same exact noise issue.  Obviously they are furious receiving consoles with the same defect they wanted to get replaced in the first place. The Microsoft support representative is now asking for “console serial numbers” probably trying to get a handle on the size of this issue across various shipments:


As I wrote in my previous post last week all the signs point to a major wide-spread issue. It looks like things are getting worse not better.

Categories: News

Xbox One We Have a “Coil Whine Noise” Problem

September 11th, 2014 No comments

After reading hundreds of messages across various internet sites and Twitter it is becoming increasingly evident that a large chunk (if not all) of Xbox One consoles sold in the past few days have a “coil whine” noise problem. You can hear it in this YouTube video:

Microsoft already has told Kotaku and Gamespot it has acknowledged the issue, but the company down-played it by saying it only affects “a small number” of systems.  The evidence however clearly shows it is a much larger problem. I read numerous reports of consumers exchanging their Xbox One console 3-4 times (see below) at their local retailer to no avail. All of the exchanged consoles have the same “coil whine” noise problem.

It is more likely a large percentage of current shipments are impacted with these bad coils. Let’s hope Microsoft can get this coil parts supply chain fixed into the holiday because if it doesn’t it would spell disaster for sales reminiscent of the red-ring-of-death from the Xbox 360 days. In the mean-time I would not buy an Xbox One console until we get confirmation this issue is resolved.

Examples of “coil whine” noise reports:

1) “I went through 4 from Amazon. After the 4th, they told me I needed to take a refund because they couldnt continue to replace the units. I then took my business to Target. After the 3rd one at Target, I got another refund and essentially just gave up.” Link

2) “This is the FIRST of THREE Xbox Ones I’ve had in the past 24hrs … I’m now returning the 3rd one and NEVER buying and Xbox One again” Link

3) “I went back to Best Buy today to get my replacement X-box one and the lady behind the register said this is the 4th one being replaced today” Link

4) “Just gave my xbox one to the transport guys to ship it back and get a refund. This was my 4th one alreadyLink 

5) “I got my replacement Xbox Form Microsoft directly today. The noise is still there” Link

6) “he returned to the store, they open and tested 5 consoles just to find all of them had the same problemsLink

7) “bought a kinectless xbox 2 days ago and had this issue. Replaced it today, it’s updating now and the noise is there again. It’s incredibly annoying” Link

8) “I’ve had 3 brand new european xbox ones with that same irritating noise” Link

9) “I am now on my 4th noisy 1540-1425X.” Link

10) “The same problem here. 4 infected consoles.” Link

11) “I have around 6-8 friends that bought Xbox Ones when it came out here in Sweden. About half report this noise problem.” Link

Categories: News

S&P500 Seasonality in the Last 30 Years

September 5th, 2014 No comments

h/t @fullcarry

Categories: News

August Jobs Number 142K vs. 230K Estimate

September 5th, 2014 No comments

Source: Bloomberg

Categories: News

August ISM Non-Manufacturing 59.6 vs. 57.5 est./58.7 Prior

September 4th, 2014 No comments


Categories: News