Archive for May, 2008

Pepperjam Announces Exclusive Partnership with eBay Partner Network

I’m just going to post the press release for ease of use about this latest announcement…see some of my comments below:

Pepperjam proud to announce that their affiliate network has officially partnered with the eBay Partner Network to bring eBay??s links and graphics to Pepperjam??s affiliates!

Stay tuned for access to eBay??s large selection of advanced links, widgets, and more. If you have any specific requests for the eBay Affiliate Program on Pepperjam Network please contact ebay@pepperjammanagement.com.

HIGHLIGHTS: Make up to 75% of all the transactions and up to an additional $35 for every new active user you send to eBay. Pepperjam has in place a dedicated eBay affiliate management team to work with you in real-time to maximize your eBay revenue. Learn more about our aggressive commission structure by logging-in to your Pepperjam Network account.

About the eBay Partner Network and Pepperjam Partnership:

It will come as no surprise that eBay is The World??s Online Marketplace?, enabling trade on a local, national and international basis. With a diverse and passionate community of individuals and small businesses, eBay offers an online platform where millions of items are traded each day. Founded in 1995, eBay Inc. connects hundreds of millions of people around the world every day, empowering them to explore new opportunities and innovate together. eBay Inc. does this by providing the Internet platforms of choice for global commerce, payments and communications. Since its inception, eBay Inc. has expanded to include some of the strongest brands in the world, including eBay, PayPal, Skype, Shopping.com, and others.

Coupling access to the unparalleled scope of eBay??s global marketplace with industry-leading tools and a dedicated support staff, the eBay Affiliate Program on Pepperjam Network offers success to all types of publishers, from the casual blogger to the experienced Internet entrepreneur. The eBay Partner Network is one of the most profitable affiliate programs in existence today, paying affiliates up to $35 per active new user, and 75% of its revenue on hundreds of categories of products.

I’ll have more information in the future, but I’m very curious about this. For one, I hope it fixes some of the problems I’ve been having with revenue. I don’t really understand the reasoning behind this as I thought eBay moved off of Commission Junction to their in-house network…not just to allow another third party network. There are two major benefit potentials that I see:

  1. Pepperjam will have a dedicated ebay contact that affiliates can go to. Since eBay has been extremely uncommunicative to its affiliates, this could have some real potential.
  2. Pepperjam was able to increase the minimum revenue by a few % points and $1 on new sign ups from eBay’s own program.

I’m an affiliate through Pepperjam Network, but I haven’t really used it yet. I’ve heard great things about them, so we’ll see how things go. The only problem now is that affiliate links will have to be re-coded again, and we’ll have to wait for BANS to update their code to allow the Pepperjam codes to be integrated.

Check Engine Light? See What’s Wrong For Free

We all dread that check engine light flashing on the dash, don’t we? It usually means to get ready and drop some cash and get something fixed. A buddy of mine with a Ford Escape had a check engine light pop up, so he took it to the dealership to see what was wrong. He paid something like $80 just to check it out…not even fixing anything.

Sometimes a check engine light can come on for something as minor as the gas cap needing replacement. Do you really want to pay $80 just to find out you need a new $5 gas cap? Wouldn’t it be nice to find out what the problem is for free before deciding on dropping some cash? I found out that you could when my maintenance light came on my Honda Accord.

I was driving, and all of the sudden a yellow maintenance light came on the dash. I later found out that this was not the check engine light, but a “timed” warning to take the car to get serviced…aka, pay the dealership money…but more on that later.

The reason a check engine light comes on in the first place is because the cars computer is throwing an error code. The computer is known as OBD, or on-board diagnostics. On 1996 and newer cars, they use ODB-II. When you take your car in to see why the check engine light came on (or to turn it off), they simply plug a little device in called an OBD-II scanner, which allows them to do a variety of things, including clearing the CEL (check engine light) and seeing what error(s) was causing it to light up in the first place. The plug is normally located around the steering wheel column.

What you may not know is that going to your local auto parts store like Autozone or Advance Autoparts, they have an OBD-II scanner on hand as a courtesy to customers. Simply walk up to the front counter, and tell them your CEL is on, and you want to find out what codes it’s throwing. This way you can at least know what you may possibly need to fix it. Another benefit is if you don’t trust your mechanic, you can ensure exactly what’s wrong with the car.

So back to my maintenance light. Once I saw it on, I went over to my local Advance Auto Parts and asked them to read for any error codes. After checking, we both found it odd that no errors were being shown in the scanner. Luckily the employee had a Honda Civic and realized that the light was not in fact the CEL, but just the service car light. We popped open the owner’s manual (which I should have just done in the first place probably) and found that you can simply reset or turn off the light by following a couple simple steps. 15 seconds later, problem was solved.

My whole point is, you can either pay $80/hour of labor for the dealership to do the same exact thing that a local auto parts store will do for free in seconds. I didn’t know this until a friend told me, so I would assume some of you may not either.

Good luck with all of your car troubles, and I hope you learned something!

[Check engine light photo sources: crazyscientist_11, music for the eyes]

The New Carbon Fiber Gear Launched

In January of this year I started a little bit of an experiment in affiliate marketing by launching a blog called Carbon Fiber Gear. The blog covers a variety of “cool” products made with or out of carbon fiber. To give you an idea, some examples I’ve written about are:

While the site isn’t making a ton of money, I’ve started to really see some potential in it. I have plans to further expand it out, including a possible direct store, and maybe even our own branded products…but that’s all down the line.

When I initially launched the site, I was using a pretty basic WordPress template that anybody could use. With the new custom design launched on this blog, I really had the itch to give Carbon Fiber Gear its own unique look. On top of that, I wanted to try and tackle doing everything on my own. When I re-did this blog, I designed it myself, but then worked with Suffolk Software to code it up and integrate it into WordPress. If anything, re-doing Carbon Fiber Gear would be a learning experience in WordPress and HTML/CSS…and great practice…both of which are needed.

I managed to do everything from the design in Photoshop to the blog being integrated into WordPress in about 3 days (Although I did work on it pretty much non-stop). I still have a few things on my to-do list, but the majority of everything is completed. I’m really proud of the work, and feel fairly comfortable integrating a site into WordPress now.

I have some really interesting articles I plan on writing for this blog in terms of the entire process behind re-doing Carbon Fiber Gear. For those of you interested in what it takes, it will be a must read. In the meantime, I’d like to give a thanks to these two people:

  • Mubs from Suffolk Software – Mubs was extremely helpful in answering a few questions here and there when I was stuck on either some stupid CSS quirk or trying to get something to work correctly with WordPress. I was also able to recycle some code that he had done to create the theme on this blog…which saved me a ton of time/work myself. An example of this is the comments section on a post, that was restyled and rehashed on Carbon Fiber Gear from this blog.
  • Collis Ta’eed from Eden.cc – Collis has been on fire lately in the web scene. He owns quite a few sites that you may know of: PSDTuts, NetTuts, FlashDen, AudioJungle, and FreelanceSwitch. While he didn’t directly help me, he (and his work) has been a huge source of inspiration. Enough of it is visible in the site that it definitely deserves some props.

10 Years Of Real Estate In My County

As we all have pretty much witnessed, real estate has been on a crazy roller coaster over the past 10 years. Prices spiked up, and now they’re dropping. The county I live in, Fairfax County in Northern VA, has been somewhat “recession-proof”, so we haven’t seen as much of a drop as other parts of the country. There is still a drastic difference in pricing over the past 10 years, and some clues as to what to expect in the next few years. Lets take a look at the raw data:

Now lets take a look at the important charts that we take away from the data:

Median house price vs units sold in Fairfax County

Units sold vs units listed in Fairfax County

We can see here that from 1999-2006, the housing market skyrocketed up, going from about $195,000 to about $480,000 for the median selling price. That’s almost a 250% gain in prices in just 8 years! Then over the past 2 years, especially the last one, we see it start to come down from $480,000 to around $400,000…about 17%. The decline is happening pretty rapidly, so it doesn’t look like it would just start to flatten out anytime soon. The interesting thing to note in the first chart is the amount of units actually sold. From 1999-2004 there was a slight rise in the units sold (keep in mind this is just the April of each year), but a large decline after that through today. It took a couple years for the prices to start following the lower demand in units.

The even more interesting thing is in the 2nd chart, where it shows how many houses are actively listed for sale. Look at what happened from the middle of 2005 through today. The amount of active listings on MRIS skyrocketed up from about 2,000 units to over 8,000…over 4 times as many listings. With way more listings on the market, and way less demand, I can only predict that the market will continue to rapidly drive prices down much further. Although prices have come down a bit, I still feel like they are drastically inflated. Let’s take a look at the townhouse I live in now:

My house historical pricing

Using valuation data from Zillow, we can see that the house was purchased for $314,000 in 2003. The price peaked at $543,000 in just 2 years…a 73% gain! Just 2.5 years later, it has dropped down to about $400,000…still giving it an overall gain of about 27% in 5 years. I think it was already overpriced by 2003, but it was newly built, so I can’t look back any further. I’ll bet if the house was built and sold in 1999 or 2000, it would have been under $200,000.

It’s a crazy crazy market right now. Since I’m not a homeowner (I’m renting the above exemplified house), I hope that the prices continue to get driven down so that they are actually affordable to the majority of people. On a $100,000 salary, you realistically can only afford a mortgage for a $300,000-$350,000 house based on the figures I’ve seen. That means you can’t even buy the basic run of the mill townhouse that I live in. That’s pretty pitiful.

How is your local market?

The Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4

Lamborghini has really outdone itself lately, and the predecessor to the original Gallardo is a great example of that. The newly named Gallardo LP 560-4 outclasses the original car in almost every way, and it looks better too.

Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 front quarter

The car was officially announced back in March during the Geneva auto show. Some of the notable features are as follows:

  • Features a new 5.2 litre V10 engine that pumps out 560hp. The original Gallardo does 520hp.
  • It’s 20 kilograms lighter than the original Gallardo
  • The power weight ratio is 2.5 kilograms per hp
  • It does 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds
  • Top speed of 201mph
  • Increased fuel efficiency
  • 18% less C02 emissions

From the exterior, the most notable updates is the new front end ( which looks a lot more Reventon looking), a new rear (which looks night and day better than its predecessor), and new wheels. The car is surely more refined looking:

Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 rear quarter

One blog that I recently found was that of Samuel Hubinette, who is a professional drifter for Dodge/Mopar. If you read through his blog, you’ll see that he does a lot of promotional stuff like filming and driving in commercials for car makes. Back on March 31st, you’ll see a post he made about a commercial he was working on for the new Lamborghini Gallardio LP 560-4. It’s a pretty cool post with some nice behind the scenes pictures….but we were all dying to see the outcome. Look no further, the video was just released and it is amazing:

I love the film work in the video, and it really makes me want to buy the car….especially with the phone collector feature :) Too bad that the $200,000 USD price tag is just a bit over my price range. For more pictures of the car, check it out here.

Dining At Michel Richard’s Citronelle

For 2008, Washingtonian Magazine rated Citronelle the best restaurant in Washington DC. There are a lot of places to eat in a city as big as our capitol, so you can imagine what an honor it would be to get this rating. We had to go and see what all the hype was about, so a few of us headed into Georgetown for a night of French fine dining. One of the really cool things about Citronelle is that some of the food is made to look like one food, but made with another. I’ll get more into that when I go over what we go to show you what I mean.

We were originally going to get the promenade gourmande, which is a preset menu. We decided against it because if you do promenade gourmande, everybody on the table has to do it…and we wanted to have more of a selection. Here’s a selection of some of the stuff that we got throughout the night:

We all started off with a pre-appetizer (amuse bouche) to get the pallet ready. From left to right we have quayle egg, salmon, and a chicken lollipop:

Pre-appetizer at Citronelle

For my appetizer I had the lobster “begula” pasta. This is one of the foods that are meant to look like something else. It’s mean to look like caviar, but in reality it’s actually pasta balls covered with ink squid, with lobster underneath. This was to die for.

Lobster begula pasta at Citronelle

Stephanie got the escargot, which had a great presentation:

Escargot at Citronelle

Andrew’s appetizer was another one of those look-a-like foods. He had the “egg symphony”, which was four different plates meant to look like a variety of eggs, but were something else. For example on the bottom left it was actually slices of mozzerela with cheddar on top of it:

Egg symphony at Citronelle

For my entree I had the lamb:

Lamb at Citronelle

CD and Marcel had the chateaubriand, the presentation was absolutely amazing:

Chateaubriand At Citronelle

For dessert I had the chocolate soufflet:

Chocolate soufflet at Citronelle

Andrew had the breakfast sampler dessert…another look-a-like food:

Breakfast sampler at Citronelle

Rather than explain everything, here’s a little video explaining:

Here’s a shot of all of us afterwards, I’m the guy in the font between the two girls:

All of us at Citronelle

Citronelle isn’t for the faint of hard. Dinner for the 6 of us including 2 bottles of wine and a bottle of champagne was about $1,600. It was quite an experience in fine french cuisine. There was an obvious amount of effort spent in the presentation, and it showed. If you are looking for a very nice dinner, you can’t go wrong with Citronelle.

Citronelle
3000 M St. NW
Washington, DC
Georgetown
T: (202)625-2150
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Kid Friendly: No
Cuisines: French, Modern
Price Range: Very Expensive

Audi Q7 Stretch Limo

Back when I was getting my Corsa exhaust installed on the Viper, I happened to see the new Audi Q7 SUV transformed into a stretch limo:

Audi Q7 limo

I love the way the Audi Q7 looks, and to see it in a stretch limo format was very cool! This post over at Autoblog regarding a white Q7 limo reminded me of what I saw and to make a post about it.

If you want to rent one of these 14 passenger SUV’s Royal Luxury out in NY has one. Prices start out at $450 for 3 hours.

It’s A Birthday Weekend

Sunday was my 26th birthday, and I threw a bit of a party on Saturday at my house to celebrate. What I realized is that I took a couple videos before everybody got there, and took barely any pictures…when I was planning to record the whole night. I’m pretty sure the alcohol had an affect on that :) But hey, it was my birthday, and I think it’s a valid excuse right?

I had about 50-60 people show up at the house, we had 2 kegs, a backup 30 pack, a fully stocked bar, and a big Gatorade jug of margaritas. All of it was gone by this morning! We also had a beer pong tournament with 3 separate tables and 15 teams with a $150 pot to the winner. The beer pong tournament didn’t get started until about 12am, so when I was taking some of the video we only had one table setup. My team won the 1st round, but we got knocked out in the 2nd round. My buddies Mike and Chris ended up winning, they are really good, and usually win tournaments.

On Sunday morning, a bunch of us headed over to Friday’s for lunch…trying to get rid of our hangovers. We all hung out for a bit, and then after doing some cleaning, headed over to Sakura Steakhouse with a friend for a birthday hibachi dinner.

The house is pretty dirty, we’ve got a maid coming tomorrow to clean it up, and then we’ll be getting the carpets steam cleaned. Between the alcohol and cleaning the house, cost of the party was about $700 or so. But it was well worth it, and I had a blast. Thanks to everybody who showed up!

Here’s a little video compilation of more of the beginning of the night:

Dining At Morton’s The Steakhouse Tysons Corner, VA

I’ve been to a good amount of higher end well known steakhouses in the past, but Morton’s was probably the most common one that I had not been. Morton’s is a pretty famous high-end steakhouse, with a ton of locations through the US, and even a few internationally in places like China. I want to say there are at least 7 between my house and Baltimore, which is only a little over an hour away from me!

So I called up a friend, and we headed down to the Tyson’s Corner location. From what I’ve been told, the best comparison is Ruths Chris Steakhouse as they both originate from Chicago. Here’s a few pictures of some of the food:

For an appetizer, my friend and I split shrimp alexander and the bacon wrapped scallops. I’ve actually had a friend cook the shrimp alexander based on a Morton’s cookbook, and I thought his came out better. Regardless, they were still very good here! I had a filet mignon as my entree.

Filet from Morton\'s

My friend had the ribeye as his entree, and you can see the same appetizers on the left.

Ribeye from Mortons

For dessert I had the key lime pie. I’m a big key lime pie fan, so if I happen to be at a restaurant and they have it, I have to order a slice. The key lime pie at Morton’s was very good.

Key lime pie from Morton\'s

My buddy had the hot chocolate cake, which looked excellent, and just oozed out chocolate.

Hot chocolate cake from Morton\'s

Overall the dinner was great, we had salads, appetizers, sides, entrees, deserts, a couple drinks, and cappuccinos, and the dinner ended up being around $175. Although everything was great, if I had to choose between Morton’s and Ruths Chris, I think I would choose Ruths Chris. You can’t really go wrong with Morton’s though :)

69 Good “Media” Logos

In the background I’ve been working on a new brand of company to work as a sort of umbrella company for my endeavors. The name of this company is dPit Media. To start things off, I’m trying to come up with a few logo concepts, and it’s always good to take a look at what’s out there for a source of inspiration.

I went out there and found as many companies as I could find with the word “media” in their name. Out of the hundreds that I looked at, I picked out the best 69 logos. I think that having the name “media” in a company brand is fairly common, so I think this will be a great resource for others.

Stay tuned to the blog (or feel free to subscribe to the RSS feed) for updates regarding my own logo for dPitMedia.

24/7 Real Media
24/7 Real Media logo

1105 Media
1105 Media logo

Adconion Media Group
Adconion Media Group logo

Ariamedia
Ariamedia logo

Ashweb Media
Ashweb Media logo

b5 Media
b5 Media logo

Backbeat Media
Backbeat Media logo

Blaze New Media
Blaze New Media

Blueprint Media
Blueprint Media

Bootcamp Media
Bootcamp Media logo

Breeze Media
Breeze Media logo

Casale Media
Casale Media logo

Church Media
Church Media logo

Churchplant Media
Churchplant Media logo

Congruent Media
Congruent Media logo

Digicog Media
Digicog Media logo

Dunamis Media
Dunamis Media logo

E8 Media
E8 Media logo

Ecstatic Media
Ecstatic Media logo

Edvens Media
Edvens Media logo

Evolving Media
Evolving Media logo

Federated Media
Federated Media logo

Fling Media
Fling Media logo

Glacier Media
Glacier Media logo

Glam Media
Glam Media logo

Go Media
Go Media logo

Greentech Media
Greentech Media logo

Gunpowder Media
Gunpowder Media logo

Hyperx Media
Hyperx Media logo

Idearc Media
Idearc Media logo

Imagex Media
Imagex Media logo

Immersive Media
Immersive Media logo

Jello Media
Jello Media logo

Logicbomb Media
Logicbomb Media logo

LS Media
LS Media logo

Manticore Media
Manticore Media logo

Maxgen Media
Maxgen Media logo

Media72
Media72 logo

Media Crumb
Media Crumb logo

Media Inspiration
Media Inspiration logo

Medianomaly
Medianomaly logo

Media Temple
Media Temple logo

Medicon Media
Medicon Media logo

Millennial Media
Millennial Media logo

Mindset Media
Mindset Media logo

New Brand Media
New Brand Media logo

Premiere Media
Premiere Media logo

Primal Media – Concept for PrimalMedia.com
Primal Media logo

Redux Media
Redux Media logo

Resolution Media
Resolution Media logo

Respiro Media
Respiro Media logo

Resurgent Media
Resurgent Media logo

Right Media
Right Media logo

Sabotage Media
Sabotage Media logo

Shock Media
Shock Media logo

Simplify Media
Simplify Media logo

Sling Media
Sling Media logo

Split Media
Split Media logo

Spring Media
Spring Media logo

Third Screen Media
Third Screen Media logo

Trademark Media
Trademark Media logo

CMP – United Business Media
CMP logo

ValueClick Media
ValueClick Media logo

Vibrant Media
Vibrant Media logo

Virgin Media
Virgin Media logo

Visicom Media
Visicom Media logo

Volo Media
Volo Media logo

Yojo Media
Yojo Media logo

Yul Media
Yul Media logo

If your “media” company wasn’t in here, but you think it should have made the list, feel free to comment below with a link and I’ll check it out. If I find enough more, maybe I’ll do a part two. Also, between the time of writing this and when it actually went live, I’ve come up with my logo for dpitMedia. I’m going for a retro sort of theme, so let me know what you think:

dpitMedia Logo Concept