Archive for July, 2007

Weekend At The Beach House Recap

I went to my good friend Will’s beach house this past weekend with Jason and his girlfriend Allie. The beach house is located near Chincoteague Island, which is about 40 minutes outside of Ocean City. I usually go to his beach house at least once a year over the past 4 or 5 years, and the area is just blowing up like crazy. I know they had bought the land and property for about $200,000, and now it’s worth over $800,000…not a bad investment.

Will’s beach house is great because he’s got a lot of toys. Two Sea Doo Jet Ski’s, a Sea Doo jet boat, a big regular boat, hot tub, and an 04 convertible 350Z that he bought in 2004 which he never drives (it only has 1,400 miles on it!). Here’s a bunch of pictures to recap the weekend:

Allie driving the jet boat:

Ocean city beach house pictures

Here is Will hanging on for life on the innertube, and I’m in the background following him on the jet ski:

Ocean city beach house pictures

This is what happened to me when I did the innertube. I left my bracelet on, and when I hit a big wave, my face went into my bracelet, and then flew me off the innertube. It happened on the first day too, but it didn’t stop me from having fun for the rest of the weekend!

Ocean city beach house pictures

The next day on the other jet ski I wore goggles to protect my eye from the previous days damage:

Ocean city beach house pictures

Jason doing tricks on the jet ski:

Ocean city beach house pictures

Being stupid in the hot tub, I really look dead, and the eye doesn’t help lol:

Ocean city beach house pictures

A better picture of the jet boat:

Ocean city beach house pictures

On the way to the beach, we saw two of these mini cars pulled over, I don’t think they were speeding!

Ocean city beach house pictures

See, here’s the cops:

Ocean city beach house pictures

Boogey boarding at the beach, only Will was able to catch the wave:

Ocean city beach house pictures

Later that night, Jason and Will went to go race with the jet skis, and Allie and I were going to take the boat out. The only problem was the battery died, so how do we fix this? Sit there and start drinking of course!

Ocean city beach house pictures

Posts You Should Read Around The Net

10 Reasons Why Target Is Better Than Wal-Mart: A really good article comparing Target and Wal-Mart, and why Target is better. Many of the things I can relate to, that I didn’t necessarily realize before.

Rich, online, and nowhere to buy: Online retailers are the wave of the future, so why are the world’s trendsetting luxury brands so far behind?

32 How To??s for Internet Marketing and Entrepreneurship: A nice compilation of resources and links for anybody getting into internet marketing and entrepreneurship.

How to Sell Your Blog: Another nice compilation of resources on selling your blog. If you’re just building up your blog to flip it, definitely give this a look.

How To Use Press Releases to Your Advantage: A good guide on writing and distributing a press release.

Increase Alexa Ranking, Get Paid More: An article on why Alexa ranking is important, and things you can do to increase your sites ranking.
Why Coke Pay Billions Just to Show You Their Logo: Get a better understanding about why big companies spend so much money on just brand advertising.

Guide to Traffic From Digg Comments: Utilize Digg’s commenting system to bring more traffic to your blog/site.


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At The Beach House For The Weekend

I’m leaving out the door for the beach house right now. I’ll be spending the weekend jet skiing, boating, drinking, and all that good stuff. Have a great weekend, and I’ll hear from you guys on Monday!

How Much Spam Has Your Blog Caught?

My personal blog has been around since only March and as of writing this, Akismet has caught 1,336 items of spam on it. I’m trying to figure out what’s normal. My ActiveTuning blog hasn’t been around for much longer than this one and has caugt 1,669 items of spam. VideoExperiment.com has been around for about 9 months or so and has caught only 352 items of spam.

I’m sure that bigger blogs will get more spam, so we’ll see how it’s relevant…but for now, post a comment with how many years/months your blog has been around, and how much spam Akismet has caught.

New Advertisement: Rip Hangers…Your Thoughts?

After making an advertisement for the newspaper, and finding out the results of how it worked out, it was time to come up with an idea that will bring in results faster and in higher volumes (more than 0!). It’s time to do a little guerrilla marketing, and after searching around, I think I found the perfect solution (at least I hope so!). They are called rip hangers. Essentially they are just regular door hanger advertisements, but the bottom 15% or so can be torn off. This is perfect to have you business card, or in our case, a coupon for 50% off all home services.

I think door hangers are great because the advertisement is right there. The potential customer may just throw it away, but they are forced to at least get a glimpse of the front, and if something entices them enough, they will look at the rest. Usually the door hangers I get are from restaurants, they are white with may one or two colors, and nothing really stands out enough for me to actually look at it. We’ll be doing full color and big lettering, hopefully enough to stand out and at least garner a look.

We’ll be getting 2,500 of these rip hangers printed, and 48HourPrint.com will be doing the printing. It will run us about $300. By just pulling in less than 10 customers, or even just one business customer, we should be able to easily make that money back. I’m really hoping that this will turn things around and actually work, as I’ve been really bummed out about advertising results lately.

I want to get your thoughts on the initial design. If there is anything that should be changed I can make those changes before actually sending the files out for print. So give me your opinion. Note that there is a good amount of trim space around everything, on the printed version there will just be a little amount of space between the edge and the text. Keep in mind the idea is to use the big text to entice the reader to read the smaller text, and hopefully cut the coupon off. We may not get customers right away, but they have until the end of the year to use the coupon. We also had a little concern for the text in the first paragraph on the front, let me know what you think about that and if it should be re-worded:

Front:

Door hanger advertisement front

Back:

Door hanger advertisement back

Again, I’m very interested in hearing your thoughts. If you think it sucks, don’t hesitate to let me know!

Making Money Using Craigslist

Craigslist is a great way to make a bit of a side income if you live in a popular area. Craigslist is great because it’s free to post things for sale, and everything on there is local, so it can be usually be picked up or dropped off. I personally know two people that make a good amount of money utilizing Craigslist, and I will divulge what they do in this post.

Make Money Reselling Products

My good friend Jason probably makes around $10,000 a year side-income just following one type of product. He finds deals on this one product and resells them back on Craigslist for anywhere from a $300-$1,000 profit per sale. By following one product, he is an expert in terms of what is a good price and what isn’t. This way he knows almost right away generally how much money he can make on a deal and whether or not it is worth his time.

The main thing to keep in mind is that it’s not as cut and dry as just looking at a post, finding a good price, and buying it, then selling it for more. Jason does a lot of negotiating in order to get the product at the lowest price possible. I’ve seen him buy stuff for $1,000 less then the asking price, and turn around to sell it for $800 more than he paid within a couple weeks. There is some work involved in remembering what has been up for sale for a while, and leveraging a good situation (for example somebody is moving and needs to get rid of it right away). This takes a lot of time to get good at, but I’ve noticed that Jason is much better at it now than when he first started, and his higher profit margins show for it.

If you want to do the same, start searching up some products which you think may have a high chance of reselling for profit and begin your research. Watch what the price is when the product usually gets posted. Watch how quickly it gets sold. E-mail and call some people, try and negotiate pricing down even if you aren’t going to buy just for practice. Get a feel for how people will react. I know there are times when Jason calls somebody to offer a price, and they literally say no angrily, but will call back a few weeks later accepting the price…they obviously had no other offers in that time.

Make Money Providing Services

I had a guy come by a few weeks ago to look at my Dodge Viper since I had it up for sale. The guy owns a pretty successful digital media company near Washington DC, and he was pretty young too. So my curiosity peaked, and I was asking him how he got started. He went to the University of Maryland under the entrepreneur school, and while there he started his company. By the time he had graduated, he decided to just keep it going full time. When that happened, he was desperate to bring on more work because he needed money to keep things going and pay the bills.

I was especially interested in this part because I wanted to know how he brought in new business since I am sort of in the same boat with Tri Megatech. It turns out that he went through the services, gigs, and jobs sections of Craigslist to try and get any work that he was capable of doing. He was sending hundreds of e-mails a week, but it proved to be useful because it built his initial clientele up enough that he is now turning work down. If you were good, you could even setup relationships with other people and outsource work that you can find on Craigslist. As long as you know what you will need to pay to get it done, and what you can get, you can make money by just sending some e-mails out.

Have you used Craigslist or any other site like eBay, eLance, etc to make extra money on the side or even a full-time income? Feel free to post your stories in the comments below.

Tech Sector Corporate Web Designs: Best Of The Best

Over the past couple of months I went through all 1,088 websites in the tech sector that are traded publicly on the stock market. This was quite a tedious task that took me 3 different parts to do split up by letters (A-G, H-O, P-Z). The idea behind this was to see what companies that obviously have a technology background can do with their websites since they normally have large budgets to do so. You would think that most of the companies would have amazing websites, and it would be quite difficult to weed out the best. I was surprised by the number of the sites that really didn’t have anything impressive…from an aesthetic and even functional standpoint.

Now that I’ve looked through everything, I’d like to pick out the absolute 20 best of the best from the 135 that were picked out to be the best in their letter category:

3COM
3Com

Akamai
Akamai

Autodesk
Autodesk

Blackboard
Blackboard

EA
EA

F5
F5

FalconStor Software
FalconStor Software

Intraware
Intraware

Iomega
Iomega

Magnetek
Megnetek

Microsoft
Microsoft

Omniture
Omniture

Saba

Saba

Safeguard

Safeguard Scientifics, Inc.

Salesforce.com

Salesforce.com

SGI

SGI

TDK

TDK

Viewpoint

Viewpoint

Visual Science

Visual Sciences

Xerox

Xerox

What do you think about my selection? Do you believe these were the best out of the original 135? Did you have any other favorites?

Boost Your Alexa Ranking With The Alexa Toolbar For Firefox

Until now, Alexa has only had a toolbar available for Internet Explorer users. The problem with this is that Alexa bases its ranking on the number of users that view a page and have their toolbar installed. This means that even if your site has the most traffic of any other site on the internet, you still won’t rank high if none of your readers have the toolbar installed.

Why Does It Matter?

For whatever reason, Alexa ranking, although drastically not accurate, is still used for monetary purposes. Companies like Text Links Ads take your Alexa ranking and base what rates it should charge for links on your site, effectively making a difference on the amount of revenue you bring in.

Now Firefox Users Can Make A Difference

I’m surprised it took this long to come out, but Alexa finally released a toolbar for Firefox which they named Sparky. It’s really less of a toolbar and more of an informative box on the bottom of the browser:

Alexa Toolbar In Firefox

For blogs like mine, this can really make a big potential difference in my Alexa ranking as 49% of my readers are Firefox users. It won’t make as big of a difference on my eCommerce site (ActiveTuning) because about 26% of my readers are Firefox users.

If you are trying to increase your site/blogs Alexa ranking, but you’re a Firefox user, get the toolbar installed and hopefully you’ll see your numbers increase.

Dell Customer Service Outsource Nightmare

I was doing a Google search for my name, and I stumbled across a conversation I had with Dell tech support that I had posted on a forum a long time ago, and got reposted on another forum. The conversation is a horrific example of bad customer service, but looking back at it, it’s at least funny to read. Notice the amount of time between each message, and how long it takes to respond to me. Obviously I was frustrated, and a customer service rep should not leave me hanging for minutes at a time.? On top of that, it took me 36 minutes to get this simple question answered!? Have you ever had a similar experience?? Tell me about it by replying with a comment.

Welcome to Dell Chat. Please wait for an available agent. You will be notified when your chat is accepted by an agent.
{David Pitlyuk 10:43:52 PM} Complicated situation
The visitor has ended the chat session.

{David Pitlyuk 10:44:01 PM} Complicated situation
{David Pitlyuk 10:45:04 PM} Here’s the situation. I placed two SEPERATE orders with two DIFFERENT customer numbers.
{David Pitlyuk 10:45:15 PM} Both orders are for the 2005FPW monitor
{David Pitlyuk 10:45:30 PM} The first order I pay over $500, and the monitor is scheduled to arrive tomorrow
{David Pitlyuk 10:45:50 PM} The second order I paid just over $400, and the monitor is not scheduled to arrive for another week or so
{David Pitlyuk 10:46:42 PM} What I’d like to do is keep the monitor I recieve tomorrow, and the monitor that is supposed to come in a week not delivered, and I get refuninded the $500 order. So in the end I have one $400 monitor here tomorrow and not in a week. Can this be done?
{David Pitlyuk 10:46:59 PM} I can provide all the customer and order numbers
The session has been accepted.

{Nara 10:47:53 PM} Thank you for contacting Dell Consumer Customer Care Chat. My name is Shamshun, you may call me Nara . Please allow me a moment to review your question.
{David Pitlyuk 10:48:03 PM} Sure
{Nara 10:48:58 PM} I apologize , we are currently updating our online chat tools .We are facing technical errors with tools and I am unable to check the necessary information regarding this.
{Nara 10:49:02 PM} For further assistance you may get in touch with us after some time.
{Nara 10:49:12 PM} Your patience is highly appreciated in this regard.
{David Pitlyuk 10:49:16 PM} After some time?
{David Pitlyuk 10:49:22 PM} What does that mean?
{David Pitlyuk 10:49:26 PM} Like in 10 minutes?
{Nara 10:49:38 PM} Please get in touch with us after 1-2 hours.
{David Pitlyuk 10:49:44 PM} I don’t have 1-2 hours
{David Pitlyuk 10:49:55 PM} I’ve e-mailed support about this about 6 times now
{David Pitlyuk 10:50:10 PM} And every time it seems like in their resolution they are ignoring my request
{David Pitlyuk 10:50:19 PM} And my last response was sent 2 days ago with no response
{David Pitlyuk 10:50:28 PM} I would like a resolution to this matter right now
{David Pitlyuk 10:50:49 PM} So what do you recommend I do?
{Nara 10:51:01 PM} David , please get in touch with us via chat only just after one hour and we will be able to help you regarding this.
{David Pitlyuk 10:51:08 PM} I won’t be here in an hour
{David Pitlyuk 10:51:13 PM} It’s midnight and I work tomorrow
{David Pitlyuk 10:51:27 PM} I am surely not staying up another hour
{David Pitlyuk 10:52:16 PM} Do you have a phone # of a manager or something I could call right now to get this issue taken care of?
{David Pitlyuk 10:52:41 PM} I need to know by tonight so I know whether or not to refuse the package from UPS
{David Pitlyuk 10:53:52 PM} Helllo?
{Nara 10:53:56 PM} Please be advised that you may contact Dell Customer Service at 800-624-9897 extn:7266966
{David Pitlyuk 10:55:37 PM} The phone centers are currently closed it says
{Nara 10:55:42 PM} I am sorry that you have been inconvenienced.
{David Pitlyuk 10:55:55 PM} And as I stated, I need to know now, that way I know whether or not to refuse UPS shipment
{David Pitlyuk 10:56:15 PM} If somebody had responded to my e-mail I would know the answer by now
{David Pitlyuk 10:56:21 PM} What can I do at this point?
{David Pitlyuk 10:57:57 PM} What else are you doing besides responding to me if your systems are down? What is taking so long?
{David Pitlyuk 10:58:06 PM} So far I have had the worst customer service experience with Dell
{Nara 10:58:09 PM} David , please note that this is not an available option to charge you a different amount han what is listed in our database.
{David Pitlyuk 10:58:20 PM} I have already been charged
{David Pitlyuk 10:58:23 PM} Twice
{Nara 10:58:31 PM} If the order is invoiced at $500 , your account is already charged $500.
{David Pitlyuk 10:58:39 PM} Yes, I realize this
{David Pitlyuk 10:58:52 PM} I am essentially returning one of the monitors
{David Pitlyuk 10:59:09 PM} But it seems easier to return the order that has not shipped yet
{David Pitlyuk 10:59:15 PM} As it is the identical monitor
{David Pitlyuk 10:59:28 PM} And it is more convenient to me as I will have it tomorrow
{David Pitlyuk 10:59:31 PM} Rather than a week
{David Pitlyuk 10:59:36 PM} Does this make sense to you?
{David Pitlyuk 11:01:31 PM} Hell
{Nara 11:01:31 PM} David , you may choose to return the monitor once it reaches to you , however you need to ship it back on your own .
{David Pitlyuk 11:01:32 PM} o
{David Pitlyuk 11:01:50 PM} Are you reading my messages?
{David Pitlyuk 11:01:58 PM} Are all of you people idiots over there?
{David Pitlyuk 11:02:17 PM} And can you type faster?
{David Pitlyuk 11:02:32 PM} You are still not answering my question
{David Pitlyuk 11:02:39 PM} I want to keep the monitor
{David Pitlyuk 11:02:43 PM} there are two orders
{David Pitlyuk 11:02:45 PM} one $500
{David Pitlyuk 11:02:49 PM} second $400
{David Pitlyuk 11:02:54 PM} $500 order shipped arrive tomorrow
{David Pitlyuk 11:03:00 PM} $400 not ship yet for week
{David Pitlyuk 11:03:14 PM} Both orders are the same product
{David Pitlyuk 11:03:30 PM} Can I keep the monitor that comes tomorrow and can dell not ship out the 2nd one
{David Pitlyuk 11:03:37 PM} But refund the $500 price
{David Pitlyuk 11:03:45 PM} Is this hard to understand?
{Nara 11:03:50 PM} David , I do understand that the delayed order is of $400 and the one you are going to receive is $500.
{David Pitlyuk 11:03:57 PM} Ok
{David Pitlyuk 11:03:59 PM} And…
{Nara 11:04:15 PM} You may return the monitor and get he refund for $500.
{David Pitlyuk 11:04:59 PM} So what you are telling me is that even though both orders are for the identical monitor, I must refuse shipment on the one tomorrow from the $500 order, and wait another week to get the same monitor
{Nara 11:05:04 PM} However you need to ship it back on your own , once it is received back at dell your account will be refunded within 10-15 business days.
{David Pitlyuk 11:05:21 PM} I was told by customer support in an e-mail that I could refuse shipment
{David Pitlyuk 11:05:42 PM} If I have to ship it back on my own, then this is another reason that I would not like the 2nd one sent, since it has not been yet
{David Pitlyuk 11:05:52 PM} It would save the me the money to ship one back and hassle to do that
{Nara 11:06:09 PM} You may do so however accepting and returning it back will process the refund faster.
{David Pitlyuk 11:06:35 PM} Answer this question please
{David Pitlyuk 11:06:41 PM} CAN THE SECOND ORDER NOT BE SENT
{David Pitlyuk 11:06:57 PM} and replace the monitor as the refund on the $500 order
{David Pitlyuk 11:07:08 PM} This way I do not need to return a monitor a tall
{Nara 11:07:08 PM} David , I apologize for the delay in receiving your order. Due to the many factors involved, Dell is not able to guarantee any delivery date.
{David Pitlyuk 11:07:18 PM} What are you talking about?
{David Pitlyuk 11:07:23 PM} The delivery date is tomorrow
{Nara 11:08:17 PM} David I am referring to the delayed order for $400 .
{David Pitlyuk 11:08:27 PM} Ok so what is your point then
{David Pitlyuk 11:08:37 PM} I am asking that the delayed order for $400 not be shipped at all
{David Pitlyuk 11:08:50 PM} Rather than returning the $500 order
{David Pitlyuk 11:08:54 PM} Because it is the SAME product
{David Pitlyuk 11:09:14 PM} Why send back the product to Dell, when the same one I paid for is already sitting there
{David Pitlyuk 11:09:19 PM} Do you see what I am saying?
{Nara 11:09:32 PM} David , the orders are shipped from several locations and these issues are handled by manufacturing department.
{David Pitlyuk 11:09:40 PM} By me not having to send it back I get the monitor earlier, I do not need to pay ship it back, and it is more convenient
{Nara 11:09:59 PM} I understand David.
{David Pitlyuk 11:10:06 PM} So is this possible or not?
{David Pitlyuk 11:10:09 PM} Simple question?
{Nara 11:10:29 PM} However they are two separate orders and will be processed individually.
{Nara 11:10:36 PM} No.
{David Pitlyuk 11:10:47 PM} Ok so 20 minutes ago instead of wasting my time, you could have said that
{David Pitlyuk 11:11:17 PM} I will therefore refuse shipment on the first package tomorrow, it will be returned to Dell and refunded, and then in a week or so I will get the 2nd order. Correct?
{Nara 11:12:06 PM} David , once the order is received back at dell , it takes 10-15 business days to refund customers account.
{David Pitlyuk 11:12:30 PM} Ok I didn’t ask how long. I asked if this is the correct situation?
{Nara 11:12:58 PM} David , they are two individual orders and they have nothing to do with each others refund or invoice date.
{David Pitlyuk 11:13:26 PM} Again. I am not asking this.
{Nara 11:13:38 PM} It may happen that your account is not refunded back and the later order is shipped to you.
{David Pitlyuk 11:13:57 PM} I am asking you to confirm. I will refuse the shipment tomorrow. Within 10-15 days of recieving that order will be refunded, correct?
{Nara 11:14:04 PM} Yes.
{David Pitlyuk 11:14:27 PM} Ok, do I need to fill anything out that the order will be refused tomorrow, and that I would like a refund?
{David Pitlyuk 11:16:18 PM} Yes…no?
{Nara 11:16:48 PM} You just need to provide the case# XXXXXXXXX regarding this chat interaction.
{David Pitlyuk 11:17:00 PM} Provide the case # to who?
{David Pitlyuk 11:17:49 PM} It will be another hour before we end our conversation if it keeps taking you this long to type
{Nara 11:18:13 PM} Any customer care rep will be able to help you with case#.
{David Pitlyuk 11:18:54 PM} Ok so what you are saying is that after refusing the package tomorrow I should contact a customer care rep with that case # and let them know I am returning that order. Is this correct?
{Nara 11:19:08 PM} Yes.
{David Pitlyuk 11:19:12 PM} Thank you.

A New Way To Monetize Embedded Video With Prerollr

prerollr logoA new company just launched that allows for a new simple way to monetize videos that are embedded on your site. Prerollr essentially works by overlaying an ad onto a video, and offering the publisher a revenue share. The ads are not video, it’s just a regular ad over the video, and requires the user to click a close button in order to get rid of it. As a publisher you can choose whether you want prerollr to display 100% of the inventory or just 25% of the inventory. Here’s an example of what the ad would look like over a YouTube video:

Example of prerollr

If you want to see a live example, I’ve implemented prerollr on VideoExperiment.com. I’ll report back and let you guys know how it does from a revenue perspective. As of right now, the reporting system doesn’t even get released until tomorrow (at the time of writing this).

Implementing the ads onto your site is easy, just add one line in your <head> area, and that’s it. Signing up to run the ads takes about 1 minute, just fill out the form and click a verification link in your e-mail.

What do you think about this?? Is it ok with you?? Or is it too intrusive/annoying?? Do you even realize there is a video behind it?? My personal opinion is that the ad is slightly too big, and may make people not realize there is a video behind it. Either that or maybe make the close button more obvious. Either way, this is a great new opportunity for vloggers to monetize their sites better.