The good news about the third-quarter earnings season is that it will very likely show growth, particularly among technology companies. The bad news is estimates of the pace of that growth keep shrinking. Consensus estimates for the third and fourth quarters have been coming down rapidly over the last month, with every positive preannouncement being met by two negative warnings even as second-quarter earnings eked out their first gain in five months. But some pundits believe the numbers for the second half are still overly optimistic. "We've been in a free fall," said Chuck Hill, director of research at Thomson Financial/First Call. "I usually have some credible estimates by now, but there's too much fog in my crystal ball." Since July 1, third-quarter growth estimates for the S&P 500 have been slashed by 3.7 percentage points while fourth-quarter estimates have been cut by 3 percentage points, putting projected growth figures for the third and fourth quarters at 12.8% and 24.7%, respectively. "There'll be more cuts, but how much more, I just don't know," Hill said.