We Fix Your Gadgets

FixGadgets is a computer service and support company located in Central New York. We offer support for computer problems and service for computer upgrades. We can be reached any time of the day at 631.680.7844 or fixgadgets@gmail.com

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Nissan Terranaut - Technofilled Next-Gen 4x4

So I normally try to keep the posts strictly gadget and tech. related but I caught a glimpse of a new concept car from Nissan called the Terranaut. This 4x4 beast isn't just a car its a gadget in a class by itself and that's why I thought I'd share it with you. Nissan claims that the Terranaut was designed for "scientists, geologists, archaeologists, and adventurers", but who wouldn't want to cruise around in this bad boy.

Follow the jump for more info and pictures.

The interior is certainly the most unique part about this car and sports a 360 degree swivel chair allowing the rear passenger to access a bevy of gadgets and accessories, who knows what they've packed in there. If that's not enough, there's a circular sunroof above the seat on which a huge screen is mounted and can swivel around the entirety of the back deck. I say 'deck' because it is just what Captain Picard and the rest of them from Star Trek: The Next Generation ordered.

But don't be envious if you're stuck in the front because the sleek interior and abundance of gadgets throughout the car will make cruising in this 4x4 enjoyable for all, even the driver. There is only one door on the front passenger side and two on the driver side which open like suicide doors.

The features don't stop on the outside either with a rear-mounted camera and satellite dish to allow you to communicate with the outside world without getting off your lazy ass. The rear of the car also sports what looks to be a specimen container which you can insert random things into and have the supercomputer in the back analyze for all sorts of things.

The polished sleek exterior and gadget-stuffed interior are going to make every want one of these. But you better start saving up now because this next-generation 4x4 surely won't be cheap. For now I'm content with just salivating over these gorgeous pictures ... wow!

The Mentos-Cola Fountain Show

So today I was pretty bored but not to worry because the Internet is full of things to read and watch, like this video which I've dubbed the Mentos-Cola Fountain Show.

What do you do with 101 2-liter bottles of Diet Coke and 523 Mentos?

Mix them up and create a coke fountain that rivals the water fountains in Las Vegas. The two plus minutes of high pressured coke shooting fun is more than enough to bring you out of that slump you've been in for the past three hours. People have a lot of free time (some way too much) on there hands and that's how videos like these even make it to the web. But I'll be thankful for those people who continually entertain me when I'm bored.

I'm just trying to imagine what was going through these guys heads when they got dressed up and decided to put this together. Did the one on the left say to his wife, "Have a good day hun, I'm off to mix to work where I'll be mixing Mentos with Coke"? To top it all off, when the soda is all done exploding they take champagne glass and toast each other and what I would say is pretty amazing.

So join me by raising your glass/mug/Styrofoam cup and lets cheer to people with too much free time, without them the world would be a boring place!

New Apple Ad Campaign

I was surfing the next as usual and I came across this picture of Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Microsoft Chief Software Architect Bill Gates together at the Wall Street Journal Executive Conference. I have to admit I thought the world might implode if Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were ever at the same place at the same time. But I checked outside after seeing this and happily, the world did not implode.

These are not photoshoped images and there are many more of the two of them talking (slideshow). It would be interesting to know what they're talking about, hopefully its more interesting than them congratulating each other on how rich they are. These two men have made a lot of money (Gates certainly more so than Jobs) through the competition of the companies they started.

I wonder if this might be part of an Ad campaign to show the world that they've buried the hatchet. I mean now that Apple is using x86 chips, Windows can run on a Mac and OS X can run on a PC, this is the compatibility that everyone has been asking for for two decades. Maybe instead of the current ads they're thinking of replacing Mac with Steve Jobs and the PC dude with Gates, I would love to see that commercial!

More pictures after the jump.

From the pictures it looks like the two are having a pretty long discussion over the span of a few courses. I'm not sure who the man to the right of Bill Gates is, but who cares. Either way I thought that these pictures were interesting; there is a misconception that these two hate each other because Mac and PC users have an ongoing battle over who is better. This just helps to blur the line even further.

Sony can't spell SERECT SELECT

I'm not sure what Sony was thinking when they SERECTed this controller to display in their Ginza Showroom but someone is going to feel the heat for it. I'm in no position to bust on someone for a spelling error, I'm pretty bad myself but I just couldn't resist. I'm sure the mistake has been noted and a new controller with correct spelling swapped in or maybe SONY is being sued by Nintendo because they used the select button without permission. Or maybe, Serect (S. Erect) is a new command with more functionality than Select that Sony is planning to include in the PS3.

One person has commented that "They were just trying to spell 'SECRET'" and others just can't resist poking fun at the gross spelling error. Another commenter remarked, "Something tells me Sony won't be seeing a victoly at this years's erection" and was replied with "Haha, that's crassic". Some people have even been link to a site on Engrish, yes one does exist (shocking). I just hope that my PS3 doesn't have spelling mistakes on it when I get it.

Microsoft approves Creative Commons, too nice!

I don't know about you but when I think of Microsoft I get a warm fuzzy feeling all over my body. This is just another piece of news from Microsoft that tickles me pink (tee-hee). A new agreement between Microsoft and Creative Commons (CC) will allow users of the Office Suite to publish their documents with a choice of several different CC licenses.

CC licenses allow authors and artists to release their work while maintaining some of the rights such as ownership by preventing people from selling or altering their work but allowing for copying and distribution. The licenses will be available via an Add-In that is publicly available (here or here) and will make it easier for users "to mark their creative work with the freedom they intend it to carry". This sounds like a great feature and seems to implement nicely with Word and Powerpoint.

Stay with us as we follow the Microsoft corporate PR wheel as it continues rollin, rollin, rollin ...

AeroJOHN at Woot, if only!

Surfing the net like we always do on a slow morning we found this ingenious invention, the AeroJOHN posted over at woot.com. This gadgets is a must have for people on the go who have to go, literally. The AeroJOHN as the name implies in an inflatable toilet inspired by the likes of the Aero Mattress that you see advertised on TV at 3am.

As the designer describes it, "[the AeroJOHN] goes where you go thanks to easy one-touch inflation and deflation technology. Imagine, never having to wait in those long lines for the restroom, never having to wee or squat against a tree, and all that time spent walking from whatever you were doing to the bathroom can be put to much better use".

Like the advert shows, you can read the newspaper next to your wife while she eats breakfast, so you never have to be apart. Not only is the AeroJOHN portable it sports a plush memory foam seat that conforms to the contours of your buttock to give you a "personalized poo experience". My biggest fear is what you would do with it after you're done with your dirty business. Maybe they'd be better off marketing this as a disposable appliance!

Pictures and more after the jump.

In case you can't tell, this is a joke and part of a contest at woot! where people submit renditions of totally whacked out gadgets (and such). In case you're not familiar, woot is a different kind of online store and community. Instead of having a massive inventory say like Amazon, Woot lists just one item for sale a day. The new item is posted at 12am (midnight) and is on sale for 24 hours or until the item sells out. Once sold out, the item is no longer available, period end of sentence. Everyday something different goes up for sale so there is no telling what you might find. And with the low prices they sell at, who cares what your buying if its a good deal!

In case you were interested in what the AeroJOHN looks like, here is the winning submission by wonderstew from the Best of Contest 77 at Woot! The rest of the submissions can be found here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Stop Windows from Phoning Home

A new tool created by a private security company can prevent your PC (or Mac) from phoning home ET-style. The component targeted by the tool is the callback component that is part of the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) tool now mandatory for all Windows installations.

The WGA tool is used to curb Windows piracy and consists of two major components: validation and notification. Validation determines whether the copy of Windows installed is pirated and Notification nags users when Microsoft believes you are using a pirated version of the operating system.

The problem is that Notifications has been "phoning home" to Microsoft server every day and Windows users are concerned about how it violates their privacy and security. To prevent the transfer of information, the private security company created the utility, RemoveWGA, which works on Windows XP (SP1 and SP2).

The utility can be downloaded here but it is not intended to be used to run on pirated versions of Windows. You should only use the tool for preventing the violation of your privacy and security if you have a genuine version of XP. I would never condone software piracy.

Get a Mac at your local BestBuy

Unfortunately we can't all be so lucky to have an Apple Store around the corner but if successful you might be seeing Macs at your local BestBuy. An article from the Associated Press reports that the nation's largest consumer electronics retailer is testing the possibility of selling Apple's full line of computers.

Currently, Best Buy only carries the popular iPod and accessories but that may change. Best Buy has added Apple computers in seven stores (four weeks ago) and it's considering expanding Mac sales across the whole chain according to BestBuy Senior VP for Merchandising David Morrish.

This move could be very profitable to both parties. Apple computers are held in high respect by many computer buyers and demand a high selling point because of their quality and attention to detail. Apple could stand to see considerable profit by offering its whole product line to a markedly larger audience. This combined with the ability to load Windows Operating Systems on Apple computers could change the computer market completely for Apple.

In the end, the numbers will have to do the talking.

Nintendo DS Inspired Laptop

Ever wonder what a Nintendo DS on crack would look like?

Well the Canova dual-touch screen notebook is just that. Designed by Nintendo V12 Design+Engineering - located in Italy and Australia - the Canova Notebook seems to be inspired by the dual-screen of the Nintendo DS even though they may not come out and say it.

Similarities aside, the Canova is targeted at creative minds, where just one touch screen isn't enough. The bottom portion of the laptop can be changed from a virtual keypad to an additional screen as the situation dictates. The laptop also includes an electronic pen to allow the user to interact with both displays without gumming them up with their grimy fingers. Carved our of stainless steel and carbon fiber with a laser the Canova Laptop is sure to turn heads.

The picture shown here seems to be a rendering and it isn't clear whether the design is intended for production or not. Either way, you better start to save up your money now as this bad boy is sure to scrape the upper stratosphere when it comes to price.

Reading on the go for blind people

This is an amazing device that combines a camera and PDA to scan a document, convert it to text, and read the contents aloud. The device is the latest invention from Raymond Kurzweil, a well known American inventor. Devices like this have been made in the past but bulky hardware meant that the document had to be taken to the machine and not the other way around.

This new device is portable and handheld which allows blind people to read documents like menus and timetables on the go. The device, named the K-NFB, is set to be released to the UK market next month (July) for about $4860 (£2,625). While the price tag certainly isn't small, its well worth the investment to be mobile and independent.

Sidekick 3 Reviewed (thoroughly)

The Sidekick 3 is finally here (June 28, 2006) and we would be nowhere without a thorough review. Thankfully the Phone Scoop clan has put together a review so thorough that once you get done reading it the Sidekick 4 will be out (either that or T-Mobile will be out of business). Who wouldn't want this phone, my only problem is that its only available for T-Mobile so I guess I'll have to stick with the Motorola RAZR for now.

For everyone else who has T-Mobile, you'll happy to know that the new Sidekick sports Bluetooth, a memory card slot, a megapixel camera, a full QWERTY keyboard, large screen, and a bevy of other features.

Weighing in at 184 grams, the Lithium-Ion battery will allow you to talk for 4.5 hours and can operate on standby for up to 72 hours (better make sure to have your charger with you when you travel). With 64MB of built-in flash memory, the phone has more memory than my backup server.

There are some drawbacks though such as the camera (poor color accuracy) and making phone calls (its easier to surf the web than make a phone call). With a hefty $300 to $350 estimated price tag I don't think that everybody will be running out to purchase one of these on June 28th. Although I could be wrong and maybe people think a cell phone is more important than paying the electric bill.

Is Comcast that bad?

This video from YouTube says it all. The story behind the video is that a Comcast-ic technician came to replace a faulty modem among other things. The technician spent more than an hour on hold and in the process fell asleep on this guys couch (the one shooting the video). I don't think its possible to make out the guys face but if they find out who this guy is he will definitely lose his job. Talk about bad PR for a company that certainly doesn't need any more.

If I could meet the guy who shot and produced this video I would definitely buy him a beer. Now I won't be so bitter when I have problems with my cable guy.

Plugaid - Instant conversations about anything

Plugaid is a new Web2.0 company on the prowl looking to help bloggers instantly start a conversation about a certain idea or topic. I received an invite in my email this morning allowing me to join the closed beta that they are starting.

The service works by embedding code for a 'box' into your post that allows people to form conversations on a specific topic. When you include a plug box into your post you are automatically included as part of an ongoing conversation or can start a new topic.

The premise is that many people often discuss similar topics and while your post by itself may not have a significant impact, the post when grouped with others of its kind can be much more valuable. Not only are your opinions on the topic reaching others who are participating in the conversation but you can provide your readers with links to other peoples opinions and responses.

Here is an example of a PlugAid box:

The above conversation groups several posts on the topic of Technology, Gadgets, and Gizmos. Each blog post is listed as an entry or plug. The best part is that you can preview a small snippet of the post without having to load each one. If a particular plug looks interesting you can click the yellow visit button to read more.

The box can be embedded in two ways: participate and scrap. In participate mode, your blog post will actually be included in the conversation while in scrap mode you can show the conversation without participating in it.

I am going to try and implement Plugaid into some of the posts to see the response it draws. Who knows if this will be a success or not but the idea is certainly novel.

10 Things I Hate Love About Google

Alyce Lomax over at Motley Fool has decided that she really doesn't like Google and her arguments are pretty convincing. Apparently the corporate geeks at Google have done something to tick her off and write an astounding 10 different things she despises about Google.

One argument I strongly agree with Alyce about is "2. Jack of all trades, master of none". Nowhere is this more evident than with Blogger, a now outdated blogging service that has fallen far behind the innovation wheel. I'm sure I'll be flamed for saying this but Blogger has not kept up pace with the other blogging platforms and there is no clear reason why. It seems that since Google's acquisition of the company little has happened to improve the service.

When you log in to Blogger, a section of the Dashboard displays Blogger News which I believe at one point was used to inform people about new things being developed at Blogger. Well the most current news is from February 1st 2006 and announces the Blogger Buzz Blog. The two previous posts cover Maintenance notices that talk about outages. When was the last time any major update was brought to Blogger?

The best feature of Blogger was how easy they made it to setup blogs for the general public. Since the service lacks any major features it fails to attract major blogging outfits. Thus many of the blogs hosted by Blogger are sub-par. I know I'm setting myself up for flaming since this blog is hosted on blogger. And just in case you're wondering, I'm plannig to move this blog to a better platform very shortly. I guess my question to the developers of Blogger is when will any new features for Blogger be introduced?

Sorry for the rant, take a look at the rest of Alyce's list at Motley Fool to understand why she doesn't like Google.

One laptop per child for $100

The $100 Laptop is a challenge to build and distribute a simple PC to bridge the digital divide. While the Internet and Computers are becoming more commonplace everyday, there is a divide that is quickly growing between the haves and the have-nots. The central aim of the project is to provide a cost-effective ($100) computer to less affluent areas of the world.

There are many contenders in this challenge the most noticeable being a group of academic and industry members building the One-Laptop-Per-Child (OLPC) Laptop. Members of this group include Nicholas Negroponte (MIT Media Lab), numerous other MIT faculty, Google, Nortel Networks, RedHat, AMD, and several other companies.

There is a lot of discussion over the merit of these low cost laptops and Phil Hartup at bit-tech has written a good review of the three major contenders and the machines they are proposing.

Cleaning up desktop clutter

If you're like me, then you've got a desktop cluttered with files, some of them for business, some for pleasure, and some of them just crap. Not only is my desktop cluttered with files but its also contains 1000+ folders in which more documents are sorted and stored. The problem is, I can never remember exactly where I put something and when I do, I have to go through 5 to 6 levels of folders just to find it.

I came across a video on YouTube of a prototype 3D computer desktop environment. This 6+ minute video covers a bunch of innovative features that allow you to interact and organize your desktop clutter like you would clutter on a real desk.

The group who has put together this demo is called Dynamic Graphic Project (DGP) and some of the cool features include Pile Creation, Laso Menu, and Pile Manipulation. The amazing part is that you can create piles of documents just like you would on your real desk. The piles contain similar documents and allow you to keep groups of objects all on a single desktop. To make it easier to organize and access files, piles can be manipulated by widgets that display the contents of the files in a variety of ways (grid, list, fanned out, sideways, etc.).

The file icons can also be chosen to show the contents of the file. So links to webpages contain snapshots of the pages contents. Links that I save from websites are a big problem because often the name isn't indicative of the contents and filenames can get excessively long.

For right now the video is just a demonstration of what is possible and it may be a while before any of these features make it into a real operating system. But the work they have done so far is certainly innovative.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Overclock your CPU to 500GHz

No the title isn't a typo but I'll admit it is a little misleading. You won't be able to take a stock AMD or Intel CPU and overclock it like this (although a Japanese group have clocked standard chips to 7GHz, link).

The team of scientists behind this endeavor have accomplished this massive speed increase (500GHz) by cooling down to 9 degrees above absolute zero using liquid helium. For those of you who aren't familiar with absolute zero, it is the lowest temperate possible, the temperature at which even molecular vibrations cease and everything is frozen. This temperature is comparable to that found in outer space.

The team includes researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology, Korea University, and IBM whose results will be published in IEEE Electron Device Letters, a technical journal. Their efforts have produced a Silicon based chip that operates at 250-times the speed of chips common today. Previously, it was believed that such speeds weren't possible purely due to the heat produced from operating a conventional chip. Even at room temperature, the new chip can run at speeds up to 350GHz.

These results are significant because it demonstrates that the chip industry has not yet reached its upper limits, something many have been speculating over and fearing for years. But it is important to know that such technology is far from finding its way into commercial products any time soon and that sheer processor speed is not the only factor in determining a better CPU.

Teddy Bear USB Drive - Off with its head!

Your eyes are not deceiving you, that is a teddy bear stuck in the USB port of a computer. This homemade gadget is actually a portable USB drive you can use to store documents, music, and other information on. I use my USB drive all the time but its not as flashy as this guy which is actually a key chain teddy bear that's been gutted to house the drive. No worries though because no animals were hurt in the capturing of these pictures.

If you'd like to see more take a look at the flickr slideshow that has been put together. For now, I think the USB Teddy is homemade but we'll keep our eyes open for any similar products that make it to the market.

Plagiarism and the "Google" generation

I was reading an story at the BBC and came across this article about plagiarism today. One thing I found interesting was the use of the term "Google generation", this is the first I've ever heard that term before.

The issue at the heart of the article is that widespread availability of information on the net makes it very easy for a student to copy and paste documents and pass them off as their own. I have both seen and heard about this but had no idea that it was so widespread. An official on the subject says that students of the "Google generation" often don't understand what plagiarism is. Even if they know what it is, they don't see anything wrong with copying other people's work and are often misinformed as to the punishment for it.

Plagiarism has always been an issue and will continue to be one (it would be naive of anyone to assume they could prevent it completely), but the problem at hand is how easy it is for students to get away with it and how widespread the cheating is. This could potentially be a big problem for this generation as they mature and they lack the skills necessary to develop their own ideas and content.

The way educators believe they can overcome this is by putting more emphasis on the original or personal aspects of assignments. The teachers need to make the students do work that they won't be able to find answers to on the web. If anything, teachers need to be more aware of what their students are doing and play a more proactive role in squashing plagiarism. One example of rampant plagiarism is the web and plethora of blogs which simply copy and past posts and claim them as their own.

Phone booth without a phone

No this isn't a joke. With the popularity of cell phones, there has been a lot of talk about removing public telephones completely because they cost so much for the telephone companies to maintain (everything is about money).

But this causes a huge problem you might not realize. Telephone booths allowed businesses to designate a location where people could carry on a conversation and not disturb everybody else. So what should be done? Well Cell Zone, a Massachusetts company has solved the problem by creating a phone booth without the phone. The strange thing is they're not alone. Cingular did something similar in 2002 by designating Courtesy Zones in Loews theaters and The Biltmore Room Bar created a leather-walled cellphone booth for which they became famous.

But these companies don't think these booths are only good for etiquette, they also believe that restaurant patrons and movie goers will flock to these phoneless booths for a quite place to talk.

Not everyone thinks that these booths are a good idea. Tom Farley, editor of Town & Country Modern Manners, thinks that these booths will just enable bad behavior. I agree with Mr. Farley, while the booths will provide a place for people to talk on phones the problem is getting people out of their seats and into the booth. Personally, I don't think the majority of people will bother to use the booth. So you're left with a $3000 plus empty cylinder.

Many people think you can teach etiquette but when it comes to things like this, rude people will always be rude people no matter how much money you spend to help them.

The real problem here is that we are quickly turning into an instant gratification society where want things now and don't care what it takes to get it. I won't tute my own horn, but when I have to use a cell phone I step outside or into a hallway so as not to disturb the other people, it just seems like common sense (maybe I'm wrong). The problem is that people don't care about anyone but themselves.

I have witnessed some truly horrible cell phone offenses. One in particular is the ringing cell phone in a classroom. In many of my classes as an undergrad, people let their cell phones ring loudly during a professor's lecture. This displays the utmost lack of respect for their classmates and the professor. The offenses don't stop at ringing cell phones either. Many of these people often answer it in the middle of a lecture and proceed to talk. Are we really that lazy that we can't take a moment to step outside to answer the phone?

In another instance I actually had a professor stop his lecture to answer his cell phone and then continue to carry on a conversation for almost 5 minutes. I understand that some phone calls are very important and can't be missed but people's lack of etiquette is forcing teachers to ban the cell phone from class completely.

The worst part about this is, there doesn't seem to be anything we can do besides ban phones from certain areas outright. What do you think about this and what are some of the worst cell phone offenses you have encountered?

Selling your car in the 21st Century

This past weekend with everything else that has been going on I decided to sell my car. This was a tough decision because it was my first real car, well the first car that I paid for and owned. I thought that this would be the perfect time to write an article on how to sell your car on the Internet.

There are many places to sell your car; car magazines, dealerships, privately, newspapers, online, and the last place is probably the junkyard (for parts). The best way to recoup your investment on the car is to sell it privately, unless you're considering purchasing a new/used car from a dealer.

The #1 rule to remember throughout the process is that you can expect a good selling experience if you're straightforward and honest with prospective buyers. Lying about the condition of the car or other details will come back to haunt you, maybe not in this life but certainly in another. After all if your were in the buyer's position, you would want and expect to be treated fairly and honestly.

Step #1: Kelly is your new best friend.
Not the hot blonde who works in your office but the blue book. Nowadays blue book prices are posted on the Internet and finding your cars value is as easy as clicking some buttons. The online Kelly Blue Book can be found here but can also be purchased at a book store. People will often refer to the price listed in the book as the 'blue book' value. There are some important considerations taken when estimating the value of the car such as location, make/model/year, extra features, mileage, and mechanical/exterior/interior condition.

To get an good estimate of your car's value you need to be honest. Very often, people interested in buying a used car will lookup the Kelly Blue Book value so don't think you can cheat here to boost the value of the car (remember rule #1).

Another great index for the value of your car is the classified section of your local paper or auto-trader publication. These can often be picked up at grocery stores and auto parts stores. Look at the listings for your car or a car similar to it (year, vehicle type, mileage, condition, etc.). The sellers asking price should be similar to yours and if not there should be a good reason why not. Remember that potential buyers will likely find your car through these and other online ads. If your car which is in similar or worse condition that others and your are asking a higher price, what is there motivation for buying the car?

The most important aspect of this step is to do your research. An educated seller will convey to the buyer that you know what you're doing, building their confidence in you. Ultimately, an informed seller will lead to an informed buyer and should help you close the deal.

Step #2: Value is in the eyes of the beholder.
Determining how much to list and eventually sell your car for is a big factor in your success or failure. It is important that you do the research on what your car is worth because there are drawbacks to posting the car for too little or too much. Value is in the eyes of the beholder so don't base your price on feeling, back it up with solid research. Using research will help you when a potential buyer asks why you are selling the car for the listed price.

Obviously, posting your car for too little puts you in danger of not recouping your investment and destroying any equity you may have in the car. Also, posting a car for too little might make quality potential buyers seem skeptical about your car. At the same time, posting a car for too much can be very damaging to the amount of people who are interested in your car. Most people buying a car look at it as a major investment, after all even $5,000 is a lot of money to most people. Again, ask yourself what is a buyer's motivation to spend X amount of dollars on my car?

While many things such as Make/Model and mileage will determine the value of your car, the market has the final say as to what your car is worth. If there is no demand for your car, you might not be able to sell it for anything close to what its worth. Finally, you have to consider what type of car you are selling (luxury, economy, classic, recreational vehicle). Pricing on an economy car is much more critical than on a luxury or classic car.

This may sound wrong but people who have money to spend on a very nice car are going to be less concerned about price and more interested in quality and details so even if your price is a little high it might not hurt the sale. A graduate student like myself is more concerned with the price since we don't have nearly as much money to spend (the words tight income should come to mind). Finally, is you are selling a vintage or rare car, all rules are thrown out the window because your car essentially is the market. You might be able to find some information searching online forums and auction sites on what comparable cars have sold for. The best place to start in my opinion would be a simple Google search.

Step #3: Your new name is Mr. Clean.
Before you let any buyer within 20 feet of your car you need to make sure you can bounce a quarter off the floor mats and brush your teeth using the hood as a mirror. If you're not into cleaning, spend the cash to have the car washed and maybe even splurge for the wax. To get top dollar for the car, you need to present a top quality product.

Don't stop here either, make sure to remove ALL of the clutter from the car. When I test drive your car I don't want to see your beanie baby collection or smell your gym bag. The buyer is trying to picture him/herself in your car and your junk doesn't help their imagination. This same logic is used when trying to sell a house and its done for a good reason. If you've lived under a rock all your life and have no clue how to clean your car don't worry there are some good resources on that here.

Step #4: Prepare your documents.
Now that your car is clean and ready to be shown there is just one more thing you must do before posting an ad: gather all the service/repair records. Once you have all of the documents gathered, make photocopies of them to give to prospective buyer (again, an informed buyer is a happy one). Also make sure that you pay off any parking tickets and keep the registration current.

One last thing is to contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and find out about any laws you must abide by or forms you must fill our before selling the car. For instance, in some states you are responsible for a smog certificate. Each state has a DMV website which you can access for more information about selling your car, go here to find your state's website.

Step #5: Advertisement = Sale
The next step in selling your car is to advertise it. People won't know about it if you don't tell them and placing ads is the best way to get the word out. Like in the movie Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will come" well when selling a car, "If you advertise it, they will buy".

This is where it gets interesting because there are an endless number of places to post ads but we all have a limited amount of time. They key is to find out which places are best suited to your car. First off, you need to consider whether you want to sell your car locally. If this is the case then you don't need to bother with large papers or trade magazines. On the other hand, if you are willing to branch out or if you've got a specialty (rare, luxury, utility) vehicle then you'll get more bang for it by widening your buyer search.

For the sake of brevity I'm only going to cover online avenues of selling or advertising your car. Here are a list of some good sites to start on:

It may seem like a lot but there are even more than the few I have listed here. If you want to test the water and don't want to pay for an ad or fee, I'd suggest starting with the top 3 (Craigslist, Postaroo, Windows Expo). These three services allow people to post ads for free so you can test the response to your car before you make an investment in any fee-based service. Since I live in a small town, I have opted to use Craigslist because many people here use it.

If Craigslist doesn't work for me then I'll rethink my strategy and try again. I'll keep you guys updated on how these different services work for me.

There are other avenues such as online forums and bulletin boards, many of which have specific sections for your car. In these forums people talk about cars and interested buyers may look in them for people selling your Make/Model car. If you don't live in a big town and aren't interested in selling to people outside your area then you might not see success from these sites. Again this is an iterative process which you'll need to repeat until you've sold the car (or given up). Education is key and an informed seller will be able to sell their car faster.

Step #6 through 100: A few last notes ...
Finding a buyer is just the first step among many that you'll need to take among many when selling your car. Once you've got an interested buyer, start a dialogue about the car and make sure to let them know that you're available to answer any of their questions. This will let the buyer know that you are interested in helping them and that your actions or not purely self-serving.

If you do get an offer, always appear to mull it over even if it is more than you expected. And if you the offer ends up being insultingly low, don't counteroffer, simply explain to them that you cannot accept anything so low. When thinking of a price for my car, I also made sure to account for some bargaining and am keeping in mind what the lowest price I am willing to accept is. Having these numbers in your mind will allow you make a smarter decision when accepting offers. Remember that bargaining goes both ways and not to cede your ground too soon. The purpose is to come to a price that both of you are happy with.

If you are lucky enough to have sold you car, ONLY accept cash, a cashier's check, or a money order as payment. It is generally a bad idea to accept a personal check. Besides, a money order or bank check are very cheap. If the buyer is not willing to come to your terms you can rescind your offer. As long as you're being reasonable, they should have no problem paying you any of these ways.

Some last tips your should keep in mind are:

  • Check that the prospective buyer is insured during a test drive
  • Always ride along during the test drive (thieves steal cars this way)
  • As a good rule of thumb, I make a copy of their driver's license to keep in case of a problem during the test drive
  • Make sure to contact your state's DMV to notify them of transfer of ownership
  • Notify your insurance company once the car sells and have them remove it from your policy

I'll keep everyone posted about Craigslist and how they work for selling my car. As always your comments/suggestions are welcome!

Suggestion Box

Things are going pretty well around here (I've been swamped with work for the past week) and I'm still learning new things everyday about blogging. The changes that I've made to my Blogger template got some press over the weekend. Who knew that there was so much to writing about technology etc. online. There are communities, forums, other blogs, programs, and I'm sure a lot more that I don't know about.

One thing I have been thinking about adding is a suggestion section where people can post questions or news that they think deserves mention. So with that I'd like to introduce the suggestion box where you can let your comments run rampant. Tell me what you like, what you hate, post breaking news, or ask me a question. The sky's the limit so don't hold back and post away.

I'll make sure to keep an eye on your posts and respond as quickly as humanly possible. I can promise that your suggestions won't shredded. To inaugurate the section I'll make the first suggestion:
  • Can you get back to posting news and stop wasting your time?

With that I'll get back to scrubbing the web for the latest news.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Simulating the Sociable Wordpress Plugin under the Blogger Platform

Things have been going well here at FixGadgets. I've been getting this blog off the ground and in the process business has picked up as well. When I decided to setup this technology and gadget related blog I did a little research into the different platforms available (Blogger, Wordpress, TypePad, TextPattern, ...). I decided that I would initially use Blogger and see where it went before getting more involved.

The only problem with Blogger is that out of the box, it doesn't has as many features as compared the other competitors. One of the biggest things you'll notice on blogs is the ability to use social bookmarking services through small icons or lists included at the bottom of every post. While you can modify the Blogger template, for people without programming experience it might be difficult to do this manually.

I did get around to implementing social bookmarking (it only took 5 minutes) into the Blogger template as you can see at the bottom of this post. Kiltak from GeeksAreSexy (GAS) emailed me not too long ago wondering how I implemented this great feature into Blogger. I thought it was great that other people were interested in modding their Blogger setup. I happily handed over the code to Kiltak and within minutes he too had it up and running on his blog.

Now, Kiltak has even posted the code and a tutorial for everyone to use on his blog (here). I think this is great and should expand the capabilities of everyone's blog. My only question is, why hasn't the Blogger development team implemented this as a feature?

Until the developers at Blogger start to update it with new features, you can check back here to get the latest tools and features that I've implemented. I'd like to thank Kiltak for implementing and organizing the Blogger Social Bookmark mod. Happy Blogging!