Viewpoints from another tech savvy guy

I have 3 computers in my home which refuse to sleep or stay in a state of standby. I thought it was a virus, an issue with my motherboard, router and a number of other things. Little did I know that Windows power management was to blame. PowerCFG is the powertool which controls whether or not Windows sleeps or remains awake. It’s highly slanted in favor of the latter. For instance I found the following things keep my computers up at night:

Legacy 16 bit applications (Living storybooks, childrens games) on 32 bit builds of windows.

Windows Automatic Updates

File sharing

Faulty power settings on USB devices

Just to name a few.

Window’s users are told to reboot their machine’s daily to basically prevent issues like this. I rarely reboot my tablet or phones unless absolutely necessary.

PowerCFG is a command line only power management tool. There is also a Power Options control panel. Lastly there are power options available in the bios settings of your motherboard. Some work, some are overridden.

In your quest to put your computer to sleep at night it’s best to shut the darn thing down. If you’re like me and can’t stand re-opening everything, prepare for some serious troubleshooting.

Another dead MacBook

Maybe I’m unlucky but I’ve had yet a 3rd Mac laptop die. The first time the warranty repair company ruined it and voided the warranty (yes I thought it was strange too but I was out a laptop in the end). The second time the logic board died a week after the warranty expired and 2 weeks after it had been in repair through AppleCare. I thought the second time would be the last Apple laptop purchase I’d make. Fast forward almost 10 years and I’m in the same boat again. Another logic board, again on a pro-model Apple laptop. Once again there is absolutely nothing Apple can do.
I think it’s important to mention during the 10 years I refused to purchase an Apple laptop I owned nearly 10 PC laptops.
In this case I did not lost a lot of money since I specifically bought a used Macbook Pro.
Most were inexpensive, but out of all the laptops, not a single one had logic board issues.

I’ve determined Macintosh computers are like Mercedes. They are beautiful to use, they are powerful, they contain the latest and greatest features in the computing industry and they are expensive.
Also like Mercedes, they are thoroughly unreliable!

Gone are the days of picking a motel based on the price or the look.

Reviews and first-hand experiences tell the tale.

The most dingy looking motel may offer up the best location combined with the fair pricing and the nicest rooms. So what is the best way to find a good room to stay for your next trip? Follow this step by step guide

Google Maps

Google has come a long way. It is now directly competing with all of the travel resources, in fact I would argue this should be the first stop for the weary traveler.
To start

  1. Center on the destination(s) you are traveling to by searching for it, then zoom in on the area surrounding it which would be suitable for a good night stay
  2. In the search, type either “Motel” or “Hotel”
  3. Motels and hotels will be shown
  4. Click the red icon for each location
  5. Click the “Reviews” link
  6. To get an idea of the quality of each location, look at the rating and perform an average on the first few. You will mainly be interested in the most recent reviews. The more ‘Excellent” and “Good” reviews a location gets, the better it will be. Reviews don’t lie.

Benefits

  • Location based searching
  • Honest reviews
  • Prices at a glance

Disadvantages

  • Searches may not include all hotels or motels
  • Searches do not include vacancy information

Travelocity.com / Hotels.Com / Motels.com / Booking.com

These sites will help you run price and quality comparison between locations but do not start out with a map of your destination unless the city itself is your destination.

The map feature is a secondary citizen but still accessible.

These sites should be used as a cross reference to verify the reviews found on Google maps and possibly to book the room if the prices are better.

Benefits

  • If most Hotels are booked in the desired area, these sites will quickly tell you at a glance.

Disadvantages

  • Unless you specifically use the map feature, you may get a place 20-30 miles away
  • Not all hotels and motels are in their systems.

 

“Make money online”. There are many ways to do this, but they require a product.

The easiest way to find a product to make money with is to look around your very own residence. Yes, the bookshelves, that bicycle you haven’t ridden. Yes even the kitchen sink you just replaced.

As it turns out, Craigslist gets more eyes than practically any other sales outlet. Pawn shops, thrift stores, garage sales can only be seen when the shopper is physically present where Craigslist can be seen 24/7 and through sites other than Google.

Pricing

Do a search for your item online. Find out what it costs retail. If you can’t find it, look for it on eBay. Look at the price there.
The rule of thumb for Craigslist pricing:
Items which are fairly new and not outdated – ask 60% of retail
Items which are still fairly new but are outdated – ask 40% of retail.
Items which are multiple generations old but still in good condition – ask 20-30% of retail.

Remember, these are approximates. Another tip is to look on eBay at items which have sold, then knock about 15% off the price. Why? Because eBay charges that to the seller. Craigslist does not.

Wording

Keep the description simple. Try to spend more time on the benefits. Be confident.

For extra measure, search for product specifications to copy and paste in the ad. The more time a person spends on your ad, the more likely they will be to purchase yours and not someone else’s.

Keep it Current

Be sure to keep your items current. This means logging in to your Craigslist account every other day and pressing the “Renew” button. This button will only be available for roughly 10 renewals, after which you will need to delete the ad and re-post it.

Unfortunately there are times when the ads have been seen by too many people. Many of the people who are interested will have seen your item in the first 48 hours of it being posted. This is where the next topic comes in.

Be Prepared to Lower the Price

 Make it a habit to lower the price of your product by at least 10% every time you renew the ad. There will be many people interested in your item but will refuse to click on it because it’s priced too high. If you fail to lower it at the time of re-posting, the price difference will not be noticed when it goes into effect.

Taking Calls

If you’re like most people, taking calls during work hours is nearly impossible. This should not prevent you from leaving a phone number. Make sure the number you leave has the ability to receive voice mail and text messages. This will be very important to the quick closure of the sale.
The easier it is to get in touch with you, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to sell the product.

The Negotiation

Chances are, the person who you are about to meet is going to be ready to talk the price of your product down even further. They may have even spoken to you about a lower price on the phone or by text prior to meeting you.

Read this page to see what buyer’s are prepared to use for negotiations. http://www.ehow.com/how_5174909_negotiate-deals-craigslist.html 

Not every buyer is out to get make your price drop. Some negotiations are genuine. If the buyer knows about a lower price for the item at the nearby shop, or the blue-book value of the vehicle is lower than your selling price then be open for suggestions.

Consider Posting in the FREE Stuff Section

Why would you spend your time posting free items on Craigslist when it could go to the dumpster or Goodwill?

1) Free items may eventually make it to Goodwill or another charity you are unaware of.

2) Many charities throw items they deem unsaleable in the trash.

3) If you can convince someone to stop by your home, it will save you the time and effort of hauling whatever it was away to a charity or a dump!

Craigslist Do’s and Don’ts

DO include your phone number

DO NOT sell highly collectible items. There are just not enough eyes on Craigslist. You’ll fetch half or less than what you’ll get on eBay. If you’re willing to do this, go for it.

DO NOT to sell highly broken items unless you are certain the parts are worth money.

DO list all of the items defects. It is not cool to hope the person will not see these defects.

DO NOT fix an item just to the point of working so it will fall apart right when the person gets it. This will come back around to you in one form or another. You are selling to a person in YOUR community. Do the right thing.

DO list as much as you can in the Free section. you’ll be surprised at who is willing to drive across town to pick up a free item!

About eBay

eBay is great but is hampered by quite a few rules and can cost a good chunk of money. Expect to lose 10-15% of your sale to eBay and PayPal fees. Also most every item listed on eBay will need to be shipped. This means you should plan on spending at least 30 minutes to an hour to box up an item and take it to the post office.
If this is acceptable, by all means, use EBay.

eBay Benefits

Never have to meet or see the person
Your money comes in fairly quickly once the sale is complete
You can sell to the world instead of your local city.

eBay Drawbacks

Costly
Risky for the seller since the buyer can file a complaint for the product
Heavy handed policies. Complaints or broken rules can lead to the permanent closure of your account as well as a permanent ban.
The interface can be slow at times

Craigslist Benefits

No fees
Most deals will turn into cash
You can meet the person face to face
People can drive to your home
Free section

Taxes

Craigslist transactions may be subject to taxes, especially for companies which think they are operating under the radar on Craigslist. Expect that each of your sales can and will be reported to the IRS. The history of your sales stays with your account for many years. Also each of your sales and personal information are publicly available.
Be sure to take into account taxes of your sales. See the link below:

http://tax.findlaw.com/federal-taxes/do-you-need-to-report-your-online-sales-to-the-irs.html

That concludes this short article. Please send feedback.

Task killers and the iOS

Why are there so many tips on how to kill tasks on the iPhone to free up memory.

The iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad are not the same as their Droid or Windows counterparts

Many have read tips online or have been advised by their Droid friends to close the most recently opened apps via Apple’s own built in task bar.

NOT ALL APPS BEING DISPLAYED IN THIS BAR ARE RUNNING!

The bar serves as an app-state registry and a recent app switcher. Unless the app is explicitly written to be uses by one of the 7 Apple back-grounding services, any app besides the first 1-3 displayed in that bar aren’t running. Try shutting down the phone completely and turning it back on. You’ll notice a number of apps still in the task bar. They are not running. Tapping on them will launch the app from scratch.

When applications such as Skype prompt you when a call is coming in, it doesn’t mean the app was actually running in memory. It means there is a service set up to accept push notifications for Skype. Answering the call simply re-launches the application and takes you to the location where the incoming call/notification can be handled.

So why does the bar exist? There are times when an application hangs, crashes, or acts buggy. Only then is it worthwhile to force-close the application from the task bar.

Photoshop, an application which was once the most pirated, and even became a recognized word synonymous with image altering, is slowly going the way of the dinosaurs.

What’s to blame?
The interface is too cumbersome.
Over the years I’ve used Photoshop to create thousands of images. I’ve also watched and have been entertained as I see people clumsily slog their way through the interface.

The interface was great, when machines ran 100-200mhz. That genre of machine is long gone.

 

Replacements such as Google Picasa, instagram among others are slowly re-defining what users consider as image editing solutions. Why? Because in one click of a button, 10-20 photoshop operations are performed.
But wait, wouldn’t a user like to perform and tweak each of those heavily patented operations and do it just right? Maybe if the user is creating a spread for a magazine.
The verdict:

In today’s fast paced world of blogging and quick emails to and from family members, new solutions will be devised to quickly edit photos for distribution. The friendly menu driven interface of Mac and Windows is no longer efficient enough for image editing and processors are much too powerful to be held up by individual image editing tasks.

Photoshop is slowly going the way of the printing press. It’s outdated and cumbersome, usable, but not by the masses.

 

Netflix is undervalued

I got into the stock for Netflix when it was at 120 some time ago. It since dropped down to the 50′s. Fortunately I sold before it got down that low. However I have since bought in again. This is after looking at Hulu, Amazon Prime, and using Netflix.

Let me be clear, Netflix is the only viable streaming movie company out there right now. It’s pre-installed on most platforms and televisions. It’s bound to win once the movie houses “Get it”.

As I’m writing this, the stock is at 77. I’ve already profited from it’s climb. I predict it will go up to near 100 around the Christmas season.

Good luck.

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