Touching Tribute to Steve

Apple’s homepage has a touching montage dedicated to founder Steve Jobs. Moody music and a Gretzky quote set the atmosphere for the “creator” of all things i. It’s hard to believe a year has passed since I got a knock on my door with the news of his passing.

Craigslist Tips

Gone are the days of brick-and-mortar store fronts being the sole source of consumer goods. eBay, Amazon and Craigslist are popular options but it amazes me how some of my friends don’t consider Craigslist. It potentially gives you the best value if you’re willing. Here are some tips after years of it being my number one shopping/selling option.

Buying Tips:

1. Create a separate email just for Craigslist. Though it’s usually easy to discern a real seller from a fake one (if it’s too good to be true, it is) play it safe and save yourself the hassle from having your email compromised. My email was and my contact list was spammed. Embarrassing.

2. Stand out. When I sell, I constantly get emails asking “is it still available” or ” would you take ____?” Either I think it’s spam, a paypal scam, or not worth it to negotiate with a low baller. A simple “I’m ready to buy and work in [insert City], Thank You,” usually elicits the most responses.

3. Do your research. Know what the products flaws or failures are so you know what to look for and how to grade condition. Buying a DSLR?….ask for shutter actuations and see how worn out the camera strap is. Buying a lens?…look for scratches, fungus or mold and check the electronic connectors. Buying a Macbook?…check the battery cycle count, question the source of all blemishes, bring a usb drive to make sure all the ports work, test all keys, use the Apple Hardware Diagnostic, run iStat, and ask what services its had. If it’s a good product they should have no problem allowing this to happen.

4. Negotiate in person. It’s easier and more convenient to say no over email or phone. If I reach out to someone via Craigslist, it’s probably a good deal already, I’ll make it a great deal when I meet with them.

5. Don’t lowball. Yes negotiate in person, but let’s not waste anyones time. What goes around comes around. I’ll usually ask if they can do roughly 10% lower than they are asking and in the long run that adds up. I don’t lie, I don’t give a reason, I just ask and wait for their response. I will have the cash -10% conveniently bundled together should they accept when I ask. If they insist on a reason then you’ve done your research and there are plenty of legitimate reasons to ask for a lower price. I’ve even asked for sellers to cover the gas or bridge toll it cost to meet. 7 out of 10 times they’ll accept my original offer no questions asked.

6. Don’t buy anything else. Resist the temptation to buy anything else they offer. Unlike Amazon, you can’t turn buyer’s remorse into a return.

Selling Tips:

1. If you haven’t done so, create an email just for Craigslist.

2. Save yourself some trouble and make it clear in your ad that you will not respond to PayPal request or generic “is it still available?” questions. They are scams 95% of the time. These obnoxious email were drastically cut when I stated it in my ad.

3. Be honest and point out all your items flaws up front.

4. Provide as much information as possible in short lists that will drive the reader towards the bottom of the page where the pictures are. There are plenty of impulse buyers out there just need a reason to pull the trigger. Give them that reason.

5. Hi def pictures are nice but don’t make them look like stock photos. The photo should clearly show your a real person that owns the item. I wanted to sell my iPod Touch. I created two ads. One I took with a DSLR, setup the shoot with a couple flashes and a white box, even took it into CS5. The second I snapped with my iPhone with the iPod on my bed. Guess which one garnered more inquiries? Yup, the bed photo.

6. Create multiple ads. If it’s important to me to sell something, I’ll create ads with different photos, titles and keywords and I’ll post them in neighboring cities. The more eyeballs, the greater the chances I have of selling.

7. Create package deals. I find more success when I add other items to create value. I had trouble selling a Sony DSLR for $300. Old Minolta Lenses are compatible. I found someone selling an old film Minolta with 2 lenses and a travel bag for $40. I bought it, packaged it with my compatible Sony DSLR and sold it for $340 a couple weeks later.

8. Refresh your ad as often as allowed.

9. Be flexible with your price. I’d rather sell now than hold onto something hoping to squeeze an extra $10 tomorrow.

10. Always meet at a public place. I’ve walked into shady places and had shady people come into my home. Unless your selling a TV meet at a Starbucks and at the very least have a friend over.

You’ll win some and lose some. I once sold a tripod for $20 not knowing this brand of fluid head was highly sought after and carried a value of $70. I turned 3 old laptops into a MacBook. The both of us didn’t know it had an internal 512gb solid state drive which was an additional $1000 from Apple. I sold that a year later and was able to get the new Macbook Pro Retina.

Good Luck!

 

How to get home faster and happier

My drive from Menlo Park to Sunnyvale and vice verse can take as little as 15 minutes. It can also take as long as 50 minutes depending on the traffic especially on the 101. That also means that I can be either happy or ready to karate chop someone in the throat . This is what I’ve learned, if you have carpool then use it. Avoid the lane next to it as everyone tries to inch their way there. Also avoid the lane closest to the exit as cars from the onramp are trying to merge and there may be a lot of them depending on the time of day. Lastly, on average switching lanes in varying speeds of traffic doesn’t help. I’ll often see people cut me off and zip into another lane only for me to pass them by just a few minutes later. With a smile on my face.

Speaking of which, there’s a technique that tricks your brain into thinking you’re happier than you are. It’s called the Mona Lisa half smile and works like how you might think. Examine the portrait of Miss Mona and notice that half smile/smirk. Mimic that, possibly exposing some of your pearly whites, or buttery yellow if you smoke, and see what happens. It works for me, at least until a car ahead of me slows to 40 mph on the freeway and when i go to pass it’s none other than an old asian woman in a Raiden hat and Lasik shades.

Does that make me a racist if I’m asian and have the hat?

Seven Deadly Sins

I can get used to this whole relaxing at the Stanford Shopping Center thing. The outdoorsy mall is ridiculously green and it’s people watching paradise. There are happy families snapping pics, beautiful women in summer dresses and the Apple Store. There’s a freakin tiny bird moving at no more than five frames a second eating a dried leaf next to me….what’s the nutritional value in leaf jerky? Dumb bird.

It’s the perfect time for me to examine what role the seven deadly sins play in my life. Past and present. Here and now. Let’s go for it.

Gluttony – My weight fluctuates as fast as a yoyo traveling up and down the spindle. When I’m cutting weight, I’m healthy, eating the right amount at the right times. When trending up on weight, I’m guilty of both nimis (eating too much) and ardenter (eating too fast).

Lust – If your beautiful and we meet, I’m sorry because the words you speak do not have my full attention. There’s no countermand to the noise that wonders if you find me attractive too. What would it feel like if the tips of your fingers were to wrap around my hand should I choose to reach for them. Would that kinetic contact act as a vessel that brings me to a world not here? I want to listen to your words, but they ground me here on Earth with all its finiteness. That the….bleh.

Wrath – True the abusive childhood may play a substantial role in the way I behave. Ultimately, I do have options, even if it means staying away from people. At work I unleash an unpleasantness so unpredictable that it frightens me to walk through the doors.

Sloth – Am I lazy? I work everyday, probably not as much as I should or can. I do absolutely nothing on Saturday without the slightest urge to see any of my friends. I take frequent cat naps throughout the day. I say it’s a wash but it is tied to the next one.

Acedia – Depression. Bleh. I tried the Wellbutrin thing. I don’t know if it helped. I was on it for a year and didn’t refill my prescription. After 2 months I see no adverse affects.

Now I question the sin two above this one. What has helped is step work with my sponsor. If your not an alcoholic I suggest you pretend your one and get to a meeting. I’m joking. No I’m not. Confused? Good, lets move on to…

Greed – Like lust or gluttony I am victim to this sin of excess. I want more money, to buy more things, to get more attention, to be the recipient of someone’s lust, to get more happy because of Acedia. I’m just too much of a sloth to get there.

Pride – If this is the source and origin of these deadly sins, then I must have it right?

Envy – If you are not a bearer of any of these sins, then I do truly envy you. Green like this freakin mall. Also, if you have the newest quad-core macbook pro. Then, yes, envy…..you bastard.

All right, perfect score for me. 8 for 8 in the sins department! I hope I do half as well on the virtues test. Well the appeal of my surrounding’s wearing off and the beautiful people are becoming scarce. I’m riding off back home on my hand built 15 pound Giant Road bike. It’s almost as light as the MacBook Air I’m typing on…..what?….there’s another one?….vainglory?……what’s tha……oh, ok makes sense.

Spoken Word from 2007

im growing colder as the weight escalates on my shoulders
perpetrate soldiers who utter the words ” i told ya”
playing hands i should fold with, im torn sick
at the prospects of losing a damn bitch with loose lips
already done move on, chow yun with a cigerarette and a tooth pick
move quick with a few tips to move on with
perpendicular slices on the wrist to see blood drip
gets me on the cock block this sucidal watch clock list
face it, take more than an intervention to save it
drunken raps put my face smacked flat on pavements
funny bone to send em home, it’s why im everyone’s favorite
drop nickels and dimes fact is i gotta change it
can’t tame shit should be locked in koverkien’s basement
with a fake tint of hatred so my loss makes it easy for u to take it

Missed me???

I have to apologize for the hiatus. It’s been a busy week which would make for great blogging, too bad anonymity is essential in what I do. For now and to my countless three readers out there, I submit some of the things that have occupied my visual cortex of late.

In no particualar order:

Marie Calloway’s short stories entitled “Adrien Brody” and “Jeremy Lin” best read in that order.

Google Plus has overhauled their layout and I’ve been hacking my profile along with some pretty creative people. Check it out HERE.

Guy Kawasaki’s Art of the Start and the 12 things he’s learned form Steve Jobs:

  1. experts are clueless
  2. customers cannot tell you what they need
  3. biggest challenges beget the best work
  4. design counts
  5. BIG GRAPHICS. BIG FONT.
  6. jump curves, not better sameness
  7. it works or didn’t work
  8. value different from price
  9. A players hire A players
  10. real CEOs can demo
  11. real entrepreneurs can ship. dont worry be crappy
  12. some things need to be believed to be seen

Finally I’ve been messing with CS5 of late. Here’s what I did to the photo below:

Source image was from a pre-college trip. 5 of us went through Santa Barbara and ended up in Yosemite.

1.Increased contrast, tweaked levels and curves and applied an overlay with a high pass filter set to 50% opacity.
2. Highlighted shadows with standard burn tool.
3. Text graphics and bars were made within photoshop.
4. Using layer mask desaturate foreground and background
5. extracted dan forden image and insert using 80% opacity and gaussian blur.
6. Used the Yellow Filter twice. Once on my friend (originally Mexican) and then myself (natively black).
7. Finally, used chink tool to narrow eyes.

Observations

Why Apple? I just passed by 2 coffee shops on university avenue in palo alto and here’s the count: MacBooks=9, iPads=4, hp=1 & Sony vaio=1. I noticed this a couple years ago, got self-conscious and quickly sold my acer on Craigslist. Now I’m different. I feel different. Unique. And finally fit right in with the rest of ’em.