The Fed raised its target rate yet again today -- to 2.25% from 2.0%. It was the fifth rate hike this year, and rates are at their highest level since October 2001. The Federal Open Market Committee's bias is to continue to increase them in future months.

The steady climb of interest rates should not affect your long-term investing. After all, rates are still historically low. Don't let Alan Greenspan or Wall Street's machinations change your long-term objectives.

Speaking of change, we have a minor one to announce today. We've decided to eliminate this daily compilation of Takes, known in-house as our "Final Take" of the day.

"Where is the Final Take going?" you might ask. Is it lightin' out for the territories? Moving to California to take up surfing once and for all? Beginning a quest for the ultimate margarita? Maybe. But our programming on has simply evolved. There was a time when the Final Take was one of only a handful of stories we published on a daily basis. It was core to our offerings. Now, we publish 30-40 new Fool articles throughout the day, and all this ol' compilation does is re-rack a few of the highlights. We'd like to put our resources to better use for you.

Fear not; while we know you'll miss our pithy intros and snappy Quotes of Note, you can still find all of our content on or via our emails each and every day. We're just giving you a few less words to read. Take your outrage, indifference, or kudos to the Motley Fool Take discussion board, which will remain open so you can continue to offer feedback on all the Takes we publish throughout the day.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Intel's Still Straining

By Seth Jayson (TMF Bent)

To judge by the shift in the headlines, the processor war is nearly over. Who's in? Advanced Micro Devices(NYSE: AMD). Out? Intel(Nasdaq: INTC).

More proof of the shift in mindshare came this week when the headlines lauded a new advance in strained silicon techniques described by AMD and research partners IBM(NYSE: IBM) and Sony(NYSE: SNE). Purists might argue that this was neither new -- AMD's reportedly been producing chips under the process for a while -- nor an advance, since it's similar to a technique that Intel has also been using.

To give the announcement its due, it does sound like a cheaper way to achieve the results heretofore achieved through more expensive processes and exotic materials. And if it provides a near-12% performance boost promised at the high end, it should be a cheap way to get better clock speeds. But how much will this really matter? In higher-end chips, where such processes are currently targeted, who's going to notice the reported 2% cost increase inherent in Intel's differing technique? To judge by the reasons for recent 64-bit migration toward AMD, speed is much less an issue than features and backward compatibility.

But enough of the speculative geekery. More interesting to me is the way AMD's been able to capitalize on recent, small increases in market share and become the darling of the press corps. Don't get me wrong, I like AMD's products and wish I'd invested back when the writing was on the 64-bit wall, and I don't have much affection for Intel's continual efforts to snooker everyday investors by pretending that options grants aren't an expense.

But I'm also one of those people who believes in betting against the common wisdom. My colleague Tim Beyers has advocated shorting Intel, but though I agree with his assessment of the stock's trajectory, I think I'll just keep it on my sludge list. If things continue to go ill for Intel, in the pressroom and in the inventory room, I've no doubt there will be a point at which the firm really will be a value.

For related Foolishness:

Seth Jayson builds his computers with AMD chips, but he has to admit that the no-name Intel laptop he bought runs just fine too. At the time of publication, he had positions in no company mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.

Discussion Board of the Day: Tax Strategies

Thinking about taxes already? Check out the Fool community's Tax Strategies Discussion Board for tips and chat on everything from shelters to penalties to changes in the tax code this year.

Revenge of the Nerds

By Seth Jayson (TMF Bent)

I have to admit, I was one of the biggest skeptics when Google(Nasdaq: GOOG) came out with its desktop search program. After all, there's really nothing innovative about indexing a hard drive in order to search it quickly by keyword. It's how any large database works. In fact, I'll eat my work computer, mouse first, if some of the slide rule sect at Microsoft(Nasdaq: MSFT) hadn't hatched a similar scheme at some point in the past only to be overruled by naysayers who would have pointed out that the required CPU overhead and disk space might turn off consumers.

Google's genius was, instead, to realize that most computer users are simply too lazy and too impatient to use the OS-provided search tools that already did mostly the same thing. Given the fact that most of the computers out there are now amped up with ultrafast processors by Intel(Nasdaq: INTC) and AMD(NYSE: AMD) and equipped with hard drives larger than most users will ever need -- they are already lousy with performance-robbing spyware anyway -- there was no reason not to provide such a tool. Even a crusty, DOS-prompt type like me found it mildly useful.

But here's the problem for Google the frothy stock: Anyone can duplicate this functionality. Yesterday, Redmond showed just how easy it is to play catch-up in this, as well as the toolbar, game, releasing a beta version of its MSN toolbar. It's a bit different from Google's in that it doesn't provide results from cached web pages (bad), but, with the quick addition of a free doodad from Adobe Systems(Nasdaq: ADBE), it will search the text of Acrobat files (good).

Yet more proof of Google's moatless technology comes via Ask Jeeves'(Nasdaq: ASKJ) desktop-search tool, which I haven't bothered to try since, frankly, Microsoft's gives me everything I need, including one-click access to its excellent my.msn portal page and its Blogger-busting MSN spaces -- also still in beta.

I still like Google the company. In fact I can't wait to check out what happens when the firm gets its mitts on the millions of books at several major university libraries. But Google's chief asset is its ability to predict consumer tastes. That's a formidable advantage, but there's no way it's worth the gigantic premium still priced into the stock.

Ray Krok didn't invent the burger. He didn't even invent McDonald's(NYSE: MCD). He made millions for himself and investors by playing hardball, and given the money that's ultimately at stake in this all-out eyeball war on the Web, Google's competition will be doing the same.

For related Foolishness:

Seth Jayson is ready for the angry email from the Microsoft hatas, but he's duty-bound to inform them that, at the time of publication, he had no positions in any firm mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.

Quote of Note

"I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by giving, by losing." -- Anais Nin

A $13 Billion Christmas Present?

By Tim Beyers

Big acquisitions so often come in bunches. Sure, the timing is almost never deliberate; it just always seems to work that way. So am I surprised that a day after Oracle(Nasdaq: ORCL) and PeopleSoft(Nasdaq: PSFT)agreed to merge in a $10.3 billion deal, rumors surfaced that antivirus software maker Symantec(Nasdaq: SYMC) would acquire storage software supplier Veritas(Nasdaq: VRTS) for $13 billion? Nope.

In breaking the story The New York Times reported that the two have been in talks for more than a month and are nearing a deal. The Times also goes on to say how the deal would continue Symantec's trend of growing through acquisition. But I think there's more to it than that. After all, consider what Veritas does: It is the leader -- by a more than 20-point margin according to researcher IDC -- in software used to back up critical corporate data. In other words: Veritas keeps data safe, and Symantec secures computers.

The very fact that this deal is even being considered makes me wonder whether we're on the verge of redefining security and creating new opportunities for investors as a result. I mean, really, when it comes to networks, can't Cisco(Nasdaq: CSCO) or Juniper Networks(Nasdaq: JNPR) be security providers? Couldn't they program their routers to kill viruses as they transmit data? And what about savvy shopperEMC(NYSE: EMC)? The leader in the overall storage software category helps companies resurrect entire data infrastructures in the event of a disaster. Isn't that dealing in security?

That's not to say there aren't reasons to question a deal in which Symantec could issue $13 billion in stock to acquire what had been a struggling company. In fact, investors are doing just that this morning. Symantec's shares are down more than 11% as I write. Veritas investors, on the other hand, are treating the rumor as the $13 billion Christmas gift it could be, lifting the stock by more than 9% in morning trading.

Still, Fools should give Symantec credit for thinking big. After all, that's what Rule Breaker investing is all about. As for us Rule Breaker wannabes, the question that remains isn't really what happens to either company if the deal goes through but rather what happens to the industries each participates in. In thinking about how they may be reshaped, the alert investor may find more than one unexpected present for his portfolio.

For related Foolishness:

Fool contributor Tim Beyers uses a Mac and a box of Kleenex to avoid computer viruses. Don't ask. Tim has no ownership interest in any of the companies mentioned. To check out his portfolio and get a peek at his other habits check out his Fool profile, which is here.

More on Today

Giving the gift of investing? Shannon Zimmerman suggests a perfect pair of stocking stuffers in Two Great Gift Funds.... Now that the biotech craze is long gone, Charly Travers offers some hard-earned tips about investing in companies based on reality, rather than on pie-in-the-sky pipe dreams in Genetics of a Rule Breaker.... In How to Pay for College, Richard Gibbons tells you how to get an early jump on a simple investment strategy that takes advantage of the magic of compounding.... Competition usually means better odds for the gambler. Here's a case where the game got worse, writes Jeff Hwang in When Competition Hurts the Game....Sometimes it pays to invest where others won't, says Chuck Saletta in Lift Your Lamp for Value.

In other news:

For a list of all our stories from today, see our Today's Headlines page.