Archive for January, 2009

New Site Launch: His1k – Stuff For Guys $1,000 and Up

I’ve got a new project site on my plate, and I’m proud to announce His1k!  The site is a blog for guys that highlights stuff we’d like that cost $1,000 and up.  Lets face it, there’s a ton of cool stuff out there, and much of it doesn’t come cheap.  His1k is the place to go to find the latest.  While we will cover things that cost wayyyy over $1,000, we’ll try to keep a majority of products in the $1,000-$2,000 range.

Why?

Part of the reason is it’s interesting stuff.  It’s a site that I would personally read, and if you ever want to be successful at blogging, you have to have a true passion for what you’re writing about.  The content is also considered to be very viral, it’s just like Carbon Fiber Gear…the right post will spread around the internet like the plague.  I turned Carbon Fiber Gear into a pretty valuable site fairly quickly, and I’m hoping to do the same with His1k.

How Will It Make Money?

There are going to be three stages of major revenue stream with the site, but will come in phases.

Affiliate Links

The first being affiliate links, which is also has the potential to make the most amount of money.  Since each post is covering a product, affiliate links will be used when possible.  By doing so, any person that purchases the product through an affiliate link, I will get a percentage of the sale.  This has the potential to really bring in the bucks because the products are all over $1,000…5% of a $1,000 product is a lot higher than 5% of a $20 product.

Advertising

Advertising can play an extremely powerful role in revenue stream down the line.  The target market is very valuable to advertisers, and can bring a high CPM with it.  You’ll notice though that there is zero advertising on the site right now.  Why is that?  Right now it’s time to build traffic, that is number one.  Bring the traffic, and then bring the money.  When starting a new site, you want to concentrate on building it, who cares about monetizing to make a few cents here and there…it’s just not worth it until you can command some real numbers.

Potential Store

Carbon Fiber Gear followed this same route, and has now opened a section where we actually sell products.  Margins are much higher, and we retain the visitor when we send them off to buy something since they don’t leave the site.  It also cross sells other products on the site.  The potential for His1k to launch a store is much lower in my opinion, but it’s something to think about.  As I mentioned before, build the site, get traffic, get a dedicated following, then worry about making money and expanding.  If you have traffic, you can make money.

Building His1k

As all my projects do, it starts as a concept in Photoshop, and then turns into a site.  I did a majority of the design in Photoshop, ported over it over XHTML, and then built a WordPress template for it.  I wanted to keep it extremely simple at first, you won’t even find a main menu on the page.  Using custom fields and a couple of important plugins, I was able to build the site to functionally do and look how I wanted.  We’ll see how everything works out as it builds traffic, and adjust accordingly.

Next Steps

I can’t reiterate enough times, right now it will be all about writing new content and posting it consistently.  I’ll be taking on a couple friends to write for the site, we’ll see how that works out.  I can’t say I’ve had the best of luck in the past with friends writing, but who knows ;)  Make sure to check out the site and subscribe to the RSS feed!  Any feedback, ideas, suggestions, etc are always appreciated.

This Is A Hyundai? The Upcoming Equus.

Hyundai has been on the right tracks of car design as of lately. Their new Genesis sedan is a great looking sedan. The upcoming RWD coupe version of the car is even better:

Hyundai Genesis coupe and sedan

Back in August Hyundai leaked out a teaser picture of the new Equus sedan, and this is all we got:

Hyundai Equus teaser

Then earlier this month some sketches were released, and I have to say, they look amazing!  If the 2010 Hyundai Equus looks anything like these sketches, I will be very impressed:

Hyundai Equus front sketch

Hyundai Equus rear sketch

The car looks super agressive, and I love me a mean looking car.  The rear looks like a mixture of a few cars to me.  I see a Honda Accord, Nissan Maxima, and Acura TL.  What do you think?

equus-rear-comparison

The Equus will be Hyundai’s big daddy Sedan, packing a 4.6 liter V8 and eight-speed transmission.  Speculation says there is a possibility of a 5.0 liter 420hp V8, and even talks of a 5.5 liter supercharged version are amok.  The car will be loaded with all sorts of technology, and is going after cars like the S-class Mercedes.

[Source: Autoblog]

Display A Text Version Of Your Feedburner Subscribers

All credit for this goes to hongkiat.com, I’m simply re-posting because I find this to be extremely useful, and like to note stuff like this on my own blog.

Although recognizable, the Feedburner chicklet that displays the number of subscribers is ehh.  I’d much rather be able to stylize the number itself and fit it into my own design.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you can pull the number out of the chicklet and do whatever you want?  You can, and it’s extremely easy!  You can see I just implemented this on the sidebar on Carbon Fiber Gear:

subscribe-text

Of course that number can be styled however you want it using CSS.  So how do you get it?  Simply put this code somewhere in your WordPress template (Mine is in sidebar.php), and make sure to replace the “feedburnerid” with your ID in the $whaturl line:

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<?
	//get cool feedburner count
	$whaturl="http://api.feedburner.com/awareness/1.0/GetFeedData?uri=feedburnerid";
 
	//Initialize the Curl session
	$ch = curl_init();
 
	//Set curl to return the data instead of printing it to the browser.
	curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);
 
	//Set the URL
	curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_URL, $whaturl);
 
	//Execute the fetch
	$data = curl_exec($ch);
 
	//Close the connection
	curl_close($ch);
	$xml = new SimpleXMLElement($data);
	$fb = $xml->feed->entry['circulation'];
	//end get cool feedburner count
 
	// Use $fb to print out the number of subscribers
	echo 'Join the <i>' . $fb . '</i> subscribers';
?>

You’ll need to make sure the feed count service is activated. To do that, login to your Feedburner account, hit the “Publicize” tab, and then go to to Feed Count. On this page you’ll need to activate the service. There you have it!

How Flickr/Yahoo Could Use A Lesson In Customer Service

Recently, I jumped on the Flickr bandwagon, and signed up for a pro account.  $24.95 a year, and it offers you unlimited photo and video upload, plus all of the great community benefits of being a part of Flickr.  It’s a great service, with a great community, at a great price.  I was using my Flickr account for my personal/business use, I setup the name under dpitMedia (which is my parent company).  I created a few collections of sets that made sense for each site I had.

The collection for Carbon Fiber Gear had a bunch of stuff in it, including the pictures of products we sell that I had personally taken.  In the descriptions to each product I would just put that it was available on my site, and I linked to it.  I’ve seen this done a million times on Flickr, find any company that posts pictures of their products, and they’ll more than likely have a link to their site…or bloggers, that have a link to their blog.

So I probably had around 1,000 pictures in my account, and out of that, maybe 50 or less were pictures of the products that I took with a link in the description.  One day I login to my account, and it won’t work.  I try to access my photostream, and it just says “dpit Media is no longer active on Flickr”.  I had no idea, why, so I tried to contact Flickr to find out what happened.  I sent a message on the contact form to find out what happened (Flickr doesn’t have a phone number listed anywhere, so I was forced to e-mail).  This was the response I got:

Hello,

Thank you for contacting Flickr Customer Care.

Flickr account “dpit Media” was deleted by Flickr staff for violating our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines.

www.flickr.com/guidelines.gne

Flickr reserves the right to terminate your account without warning at any time.

Regards,
Do

That’s it.  There was nothing about what had actually been done, no information on if I was going to get refunded, etc.  I went through the Flickr guidelines link Do sent, and could only find one thing that could potentially be the reason why my account was terminated:

Don’t use Flickr for commercial purposes.
Flickr is for personal use only. If we find you selling products, services, or yourself through your photostream, we will terminate your account. Any other commercial use of Flickr, Flickr technologies (including APIs, FlickrMail, etc), or Flickr accounts must be approved by Flickr. For more information on leveraging Flickr APIs, please see our Services page. If you have other open questions about commercial usage of Flickr, please feel free to contact us.

Some of the pictures I had could have been borderline selling a product, because I posted a link to where you can actually get the product…but I don’t know if that’s what they really mean by that term.  If I post a picture of a Nissan Maxima, and then put a link to Nissan’s product page, am I violating the terms?   I could easily find 10 examples without trying that would technically break that term…but is it enough, or even what they mean, to actually terminate an account?  I would think they are just protecting themselves against obvious spammers, not somebody who very obviously is not spamming.

So I sent an e-mail back:

Hi Do,

I’m assuming it was terminated due to using it for commercial purposes…as I had some sets in one of the collections that were linking to the product that it was a picture of.

I apologize, and must have overlooked that clause in the terms when signing up. I wish that Flickr had at least sent a warning (even though I understand you reserve the right to terminate the account at any time), I would have simply removed the link to the product in those pictures. Out of maybe the 1,000 or pictures I had, I would say that 50 of them were like that.

Is there anything I can do to have my account reinstated? Now that I understand this term, it will surely not be broken on my end again. I had just upgraded to a pro account, I really loved being a part of the Flickr community, and I’d hate to lose that over a small overlooking on my end. I had been promoting my pictures from my own personal blog, and had no intention of violating any terms.

Let me know if there is anything that can be done. At the very least, am I getting a prorated refund of what I paid? I would much prefer to be able to continue to be a part of the Flickr community, and will not violate any of the terms going forward, it was an honest mistake on my part.

Thanks,
Dave

It has now been 48 hours, and I have yet to get a response from “Do”.  At the very least I have a right to understand why my account was terminated right?  I never got a warning from Flickr saying “hey, you’re violating our terms on some of your pictures, you’ll need to fix this or we’ll have to delete your account”.  Nope, they just deleted the account.  That doesn’t seem like a very good way to retain customers, or provide good customer relations/service.  Last I heard in the market news, Yahoo wasn’t exactly in the position to just throw money away.

Last week, my credit card bill came in, and the charge for setting up Flickr had a toll free phone number next to it (866-562-7228 for those that want it).  I gave it a call, and it actually goes to what I guess is Yahoo paid services billing support.  I get somebody on the line and explain my situation.  The guy basically tells me that there is no notes on my account to show why it was deleted, but that once it’s deleted, it’s gone forever (makes sense from a privacy perspective…sucks for me though).  If I wanted to know why it was terminated, I’d have to e-mail back (which I did, and have yet to get a response).  He was also able to give me a refund (100%).  He recommended I find out why I got terminated, and setup a new account, and don’t do whatever I did wrong again.

So I setup a new account (find me here, and friend me!), and started to setup all the pictures again.  It’s not going to be as much as I had before, but it’s a work in progress.  Really sucks from my part because I spent a lot of time getting everything right, tagging hundreds of pictures, adding descriptions, etc.  Yahoo/Flickr, please make sure and tell me if I’m doing some sort of minor break of your terms, and give me an opportunity to resolve it before just going out and deleting it.  If Flickr wasn’t so awesome, you’d have lost me a customer…but because your service is so good, you have another chance.

Anybody else have similar stories?  Doesn’t necessarily have to be Flickr.

Installed RaceDeck Flooring In My Garage…Love It!

One of things has always been to have a killer garage…and that always starts off with cool floors in my opinion. I recently bought a new house (I’ll have some sort of tour post in the future sometime), and it’s now giving me an opportunity to build my dream garage. Stage 1 of course is flooring.

While I was at SEMA back in November, I stopped at one of the booths for RaceDeck, a company that manufacturers garage floor tiles.  They had a great show special, and the final cost would end up being a lot less than if I were to order it myself…so even though I wasn’t necessarily ready to buy, they lured me in.  I’m glad I did.  Installation was a breeze, and the floor looks amazing!  Once the garage is all painted and lighted up, it will look that much better.  Here’s a little picture timeline of the install:

Here’s all the tiles ready to be installed:

Installing RaceDeck floor in my garage

Move all your stuff to one side:

Installing RaceDeck floor in my garage

Here we can see I’m getting started:

Installing RaceDeck floor in my garage

Then I realized I should probably start from the corner:

Installing RaceDeck floor in my garage

It’s growing!

Installing RaceDeck floor in my garage

The most time consuming part was definitely the checkered area, but still not too bad:

Installing RaceDeck floor in my garage

Repeat on the other side, and then done!

Installing RaceDeck floor in my garage

Of course here’s a pic with my baby in it:

Installing RaceDeck floor in my garage

You can order the floor through RaceDeck, as well as design what you want…they have a pretty good designer on their website that will tell you exactly how many tiles of each color you’ll need to order to match your design.  By the way, if you’re thinking that RaceDeck paid me to write this, or I benefit in any way, I am not/don’t.  Just providing a good testimonial for an awesome product and a company that gave me good service.

The MacBook Wheel Revolutionizes The Keyboard

If you think Apple successfully revolutionized music and the cell phone, you haven’t seen anything yet. Check out the new MacBook wheel:

For those that don’t know, the Onion News Network is fake news. Also, if you have yet to see the iRaq, this is worth seeing:

How Can I Add A Third Monitor To My PC?

Hopefully some of you out there reading this are techies and can suggest a solution for me.  I’m putting a 37″ LCD in my office, and I’d like to optionally be able extend my desktop onto it.  The problem is that I am already running two monitors using both DVI ports on my Foxconn 512MB GeForce 7950GT video card.  So there are two solutions, one being better than the other that I’d like to figure out the best and most cost effective way to figure out.

1) This is the most optimal solution.  I’d like to add a third monitor and be able to extend my desktop onto it.

2) If I can’t do the above, or it’s not cost effective, I wouldn’t mind just having a copy of the 2nd monitor on the 3rd screen.  So whatever is showing up on my 2nd monitor, is also identically showing up on the 3rd.

I’m assuming the way to do this is to get another video card in order to obtain another output.  If so, does it have to be the same card (I can run them in SLI mode)?  Or can I pick something cheap up?  If it has to be the same card, I’m worried about power consumption and heat.  I have an Shuttle XPC case, which is a small-form factor case.  It’s extremely tiny, and not sure if it can handle the heat or power of a 2nd powerful video card.  Here’s my specs that you may need:

Any thoughts?  Post your comments below.