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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Stock market off to rocky start in 2014

The stock market is off to a poor start in 2014, remaining in the red after the first six starts in the new year. A search for possible reasons turns up nebulous results, but changes taking place in the software industry should be discussed as a factor.

As Internet connection speeds improve and more software moves into the cloud, numerous changes are taking place. Consumers prefer the cheaper, faster-booting and virus-free Chromebooks over Windows PCs.

PC shipments fell 10 percent in 2013, which made for poor holiday sales and indicated how consumers and businesses are moving away from desktop computers and flocking to notebooks and mobile devices.

The demise of the PC market is evident in Microsoft’s plan to end support for its 13-year-old Windows XP operating system in April. Also contributing to the decline are the Microsoft Windows operating system users who are switching to PCs powered by Google’s Chrome operating system. Google doesn’t charge a licensing fee to use its operating system.

Marking further changes to the PC market, Toshiba Corp. joined the growing list of Chromebook vendors when it unveiled its Chromebook system at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. Toshiba’s Chromebook will compete with models from all major PC manufacturers.

Following is an update on two Town Crier “50” stocks impacted by changes in the software industry.

• Microsoft Corp. (MSFT; $35.26) is still looking for a new CEO. When Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally asked that his name be removed from consideration for Microsoft’s CEO position last week, the stock price dropped 2 percent.

Whoever is hired will be a breath of fresh air after 13 years of Steve Ballmer’s tenure – the stock has dropped 38 percent since he took over.

Microsoft’s strongest growth driver is its commercial cloud service. Cloud services revenue grew $261 million, or 103 percent, during the first quarter of the current fiscal year compared to last year’s first quarter. Microsoft already has two cloud businesses – Azure and Office 365 – that are growing rapidly and account for more than 1 billion in annual revenues.

Microsoft’s strong financial position allows it to support quarterly dividend payments, repurchase its own shares and buy other companies. The company just acquired Parature, a developer of a cloud-based customer support platform.

Last month Microsoft announced a $7.5 billion transaction to acquire Nokia Corp.’s mobile device business, enabling Microsoft to compete with Apple and Google in the smartphone market. Dividend income is an important factor in my investment decisions, and Microsoft pays a nice dividend and has enough money to buy its way into a position to challenge Google and Apple.

• Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO; $22.32) is another company that has taken a beating lately but still has long-term appeal. The share price tumbled more than 15 percent in the month following the release of its November earnings report, when the company revealed that sales in the following quarter would fall as much as 10 percent.

Cisco’s core business – providing a means of connecting devices to one another with security – will continue to grow. However, the company claimed its gloomy outlook via weakness in emerging markets.

The stock yields a dividend of 3.3 percent, roughly four times the industry average. Dividend stocks can make you rich even when they don’t become high-flying growth stocks.

Clyde Noel is a Los Altos Hills resident and investor in stocks. He has a small exposure in Microsoft and Cisco stock.

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