Horizontal links

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Should I DIY or outsource to professionals?

On Monday night, my Dell desktop PC crashed and can no longer boot up with Windows XP. All I got is a strange looking error message:

“Ntfs.sys file missing or corrupted”

The next day, I googled the internet and found many solutions how to fix this problem – even found one You-tube video with step by step instructions!!! (This internet thing is great!)

However, I soon found out it’s not that easy… I spent the whole Tuesday evening sweating profusely. (Air-con full blast still I sweat? I stressed or what!?) And being very frustrated with myself and the 6.5 years old Dell desktop PC.

The solution was easy enough: just boot up from CD-ROM the original Windows re-installation CD, and press R for repair at the Window setup menu. Ha!

Below is what I’ve learnt from this experience:

1)   I discovered what is BIOS. And how to change the boot sequence to first boot from CD-ROM. Took me ages to figure out why I can’t boot from the Windows re-installation CD… If I had hair, I would have pulled out lots of it by now! All this time, I kept screaming: “Why don’t you freaking boot up!?”

2)   Later on, I finally discovered from trial and error how to remove in BIOS my defective DVD-ROM in BIOS so that it will boot up from the remaining working CD-ROM. Finally some light in the tunnel!

3)   Guess what? It finally boot up from my Window re-installation CD. But when it tried to load the Windows setup menu, ¾ into setup installation process, it got stuck with the same bloody “Ntfs.sys file missing or corrupted” message!!!

Hello, I know! But how come even the Windows re-installation CD’s Ntfs.sys file also corrupted? I am supposed to copy this file from this CD to my hard-disk!!!

4)   I gave up! Took a shower and watched some TV. Very angry with myself for wasting my time. Should have either junk this PC (I am planning to buy a notebook when I return to Singapore) or simply have taken this PC to a PC repair shop. I should have known better than to try DIY when I’ve never been much of a DIY person... Feeling very defeated…

5)   Then near mid-night, I couldn’t sleep. I decided to give it one last try. I discovered that when you start the PC, there is this F2 and F12 buttons. Played around with it and found that under F12, there is a utility diagnostic function. Ran the tests and found that it always got stuck at the memory testing stage.

6)   Since this is an old PC, no harm in removing the memory cards and test them one by one. If I mess up, the most is to junk this PC – “treat sick horse like dead horse”.

Ta dah! It’s a hardware problem! 2 of my original memory cards have died on me. Hmm, it’s a Samsung again. My Samsung DVD-ROM died on me after 5 years, now the same for the memory cards after 6.5 years. Lucky I bought extra RAM last year in Singapore so now everything is fixed J

What appears to be a software problem turned out to be a hardware problem!

I slept with a victory smile last night.

If you are still with me, you must be bored stiffed! The reason I used the “technical jargon” is to simulate the financial jargon a newbie will face when first trying their hand in investing or trading.

The advice on intranet sounds all so easy. Do this, do that, and presto! Financial freedom!

We forget the “context”. The advice is not wrong. But my PC gave the “wrong” symptom… so the solution for me is ultimately what I have to figure out for myself. But without the internet advice, I would not have started my journey. So I must still give credit to the advice from the internet for bringing me to the doorstep. The rest is up to me.

Will I attempt to DIY when it’s a new and expensive notebook? I would most probably send it to the IT professionals! I only attempted this DIY exercise since it’s an old PC. The risk of failure is minimal.

I guess it applies to investing/trading. With smaller capital, we tend to take more risks (using leverage) and have greater tendencies to DIY. But if we have 2 million and more and qualify to be a high net worth investor, would we take advantage of private banking services instead? Outsource it to the professionals?

One thing I discovered from last night’s experience. The priceless sense of accomplishment I got is not something that can't be replaced by money.

The greater the personal effort and sacrifice invested, the sweeter the taste of success. Victories without much effort is something else…


The emotional lows and highs last night were similar to my investing/trading experience. Especially the capitulation stage and the desire to try again one last time ;)


  1. Hi SMOL,

    In a good story, there is a hero. In the story, the hero meets many obstacles, but did he give up? Nope..if he did, he won't be a hero anymore. So he tried and failed. Did he give up? Nope, otherwise there's no more story. So he tried and tried again and finally overcomes the problem. Triumphant trumpets are blaring!

    Actually I'm more interested in knowing why you want to try it one more time? That 'one more try' is very important yet hard to tell someone to do it. How to tell someone not to give up? haha :)

  2. Hello LP

    Good point!

    I am glad you asked. In writing this post, I was searching for this question to my dilemma - hence the title - DIY or outsource?

    1) To answer your question, I gave it one more try for the below reasons:

    a) Pride - I can't swallow being defeated by a bloody PC!

    b) What's there to lose? I have more courage to mess around with this PC since it's old and close to being junk anyway. I came real close to smashing the PC in frustration!

    If I have a new and expensive notebook, I would defintely go to a IT repair shop immediately -fear of messing up somthing "expensive".

    On this reflection, I was thinking to myself WHY the difference in action?

    I was thinking more on WHEN to GIVE UP?

    Perseverence is one thing, but throwing good money (or time) after bad money (or hopeless cause) is another!

    Giving it one more try can be akin to a gambler's "one last time".

    Sometimes it's better to explore another path instead.

    Now my mind runs wild! Whether I should outsource some of my investments to professionals? Like managed futures accounts, managed equities accounts, mutual funds, etc.

    Am I investing for my ego, my own self-actualisation needs or to make money?

  3. Hi SMOL ,

    I think it is different when it comes to financial management. When you have a few million dollars, you would have known how you arrived there and probably repeat the same steps to get more millions. You probably would not want a financial advisor who is keen to advise you on investment products, especially if the so called advisor depends on commissions to eke out a living. For all you know, the financial advisor has not reached his million.
    Same goes to the so called investment seminars to train you to reach your million. The trainer preparing to reach his million when a handful of 30-50 people pay their fees of a few thousands every session.

  4. Hello financialray,

    It's true what you say.

    I was thinking more in terms that if my DIY returns is 10% per year - despite the best of my abilities after 10 years, should I explore giving the professionals to help me achieve 20% - like hedge funds?

    Am I wise enough to admit that I should give up DIY and outsource instead? Or am I addicted to the "high" of investing/trading?

    As with all things, it's a balance I guess.

  5. Hi SMOL

    Are there any hedge funds who can promise you 20% returns year after year?

    I happen to read this book entitled "Tricks of the Rich" by Paul Overy from the library. It is written by a financial counsellor who admitted he used to be a salesman of financial products disguised as a financial consultant. Now he is writing a confession on the real facts of life, including what the rich does.

  6. Hi SMOL,

    Indeed...if we try and try again and we fail, it's called stubborn. If we try and try and we succeed, it's called perseverance. The wisdom is knowing when to give up and when to try harder before the results are out.

    Hmm...somehow this is related to bro8888's post regarding the 'advice' that I deemed useless. Haha, if we buy and hold and it's good, we say it's because we're right and we sit tight. If we buy and hold and it crashes, we lament that buy and hold is dead. The wisdom in this case is deciding when to hold and when to sell. It's not easy, and as you've said it, the right answer lies in between the extremes.

  7. out source computer, yes unless you like it like one of my friend, anything wrong i call him.

    investment, no no no!

  8. my friend use to say proundly "my money, i drop in the sea also got sound,"

    he learn from me.

  9. sorry i did not read through before i comment, trading habit haha, see something act first than see if correct.

    hey, 10% per year return is very good, you need some more? should do what you do best, sure win one.

    yes, your trading and investment is like you did to your PC, it going to get you one day. last night was just your luck.

    but your money you have to take care, don't let other play with your money. no one!

    i don't mean to be rude, i also face danger everyday but at least i'm 24/7. like fat say, sometime telling the truth herts.

    don't angry ok? haha.

  10. 1) Hello financialray,

    Thanks for the reading recommendation! By the way, there are funds that return more than 20%annually. There's always another mountain higher out there. I am researching them now.

    2) Hello LP,

    I saw your post at CW8888. You have rightly said it's all about perspective and knowing when to know the difference! Walk the middle path for me :)

    3) Hello Coconut,

    Thanks for the kind advice!

    The reason I also visit hard-core full-time trader's blogs is because I want to balance views from "investors" who tends to "pooh-pooh" active trading.

    It's with the same vein I am now exploring/researching whether I can get beter results by "outsourcing".

    The problem is I don't know it's a sign of my humbleness or greed!

  11. i try not to comment on others, its their money, do what they want.

    "listen carefully, i only say it once" - alo alo. like that show, don't turn investment into trading or gambling. understand the concept of investing. most like to trade their shares, like casino chips. but they ofcos call it investing, batter still value investing.

    i cannot tell you how to invest, i'm not an expert, but i can tell what is trading and many are just doing that and call it investing.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...