Older blog entries for The Swirling Brain (starting at number 91)

31 May 2007 (updated 31 May 2007 at 15:31 UTC) »

Well, we did ok at the Third Monday Trade Days last month. This month we'll try to ramp it up and sell even more stuff! We bought 720 pairs of jeans and 100 dresses some wallets and some other stuff. Hopefully, we'll make a fortune and dance and sing, "We're in the money!" and all that jazz.

What's really helped is having a sniping tool to get stuff to sell really cheap. It's like you make your money on the buy and on the sell. If you want to buy low you must have a sniping tool. I chose PowerSnipe for my sniping tool because I can use it at home and at work and also it’s competitively priced and reliable. I have a business where I buy particular items on ebay for resale. I had been using a software sniping tool that only worked on my home PC. It worked but I couldn’t input new auctions from work, I couldn’t monitor my auctions nor edit bids from anywhere but from at home, if my power went off it couldn’t snipe until I could get home and turn my computer back on. What really put a nail in the coffin for me, was that ebay changed its page layout and it broke that tool for a few weeks until an update could be made and distributed. It was frustrating and it was inconvenient and at times completely unusable! Because it started to become such a problem I decided I wanted to use a web located sniping tool. I searched the internet and even found a page detailing the differences and prices of each service. I actually tried a few other web tools before settling on PowerSnipe. The other tools charge a minimal fee but also charge an additional fee for each snipe you do. Now if you do one or two snipes a month, you won’t notice this but if you do many more you’ll realize that it gets expensive quick! Even the free snipes to refer your friends can’t help for long when you do many snipes at all. I actually began thinking of making my own sniper tool because it was looking to be so expensive! So, then I found PowerSnipe. It’s like $46 or $49? so a year or like $4 a month! That’s the least expensive of them all and there’s no per snipe fee! You just about can’t find a lower cost sniping tool! There was a 30 day trial, so I went ahead and gave it a try! I loaded it up with more snipes than I could even put into my limited home software! So many in fact that I ran out of stuff on ebay to search for! The software worked flawlessly and immediately I had won more auctions (about 4 times) than I could have before! Well, so anyway, past the honeymoon stage, it had a problem. I emailed the support team, and the same day, they had an explanation and a fix! WOW! That’s something the other software could never have done! The other company wouldn’t even respond! OK, so I had another problem. I emailed, and the same day they emailed and it turns out it was actually me and not them! I have not had another single problem with the service! I have nothing but good things to say about these guys! Wow, I’m so impressed and sold with PowerSnipe! I would super highly recommend it to anyone looking to do serious eBay sniping.

I still have all of the robots to sell out at the sale. They didn't arrive last month until after the Trades Days sale. SO, I have them for this month. This month it will be June 15th, 16th & 17th.

The Trades days is sort of an experience. My girls want to go around looking all the time for girly stuff like jewelry and clothes. My wife just wants to make money. My dad and mom want to see me do well. My dad loves to play the salesman and talks to all the customer and tries to talk them into stuff. It actually works and he's good. I'm too shy. My wife likes to take up the money from people! My daughters like to lay around and act bored. All in all it's all fun!

I can't wait to see the Transformers movie! It looks fantastic! That's on my definately must see list!

We saw Pirates of the Carabean At World's End and Shrek the Third this weekend. I'd give them both a 3 out of 5. They were entertaining and good but not like really great! So I'd say go see them but don't be like expecting a blockbuster!

I found out the robomenu became broken with the newer version of the Yahoo Widget Engine. The good news is I figured out what the problem is and I should have a newer version soon. I want to make a couple of other fixes too before I release a new version. Hopefully, it'll be ready in just a couple of days.

16 May 2007 (updated 16 May 2007 at 16:09 UTC) »

This weekend, May 18th - 20th, I will be setting up a booth at Third Monday Trade Days! I'll be in gallery booths 9 & 10 in the upper left corner of the map. I'm sure it will be hot and all. Well, anyway, I bought a bunch of remote control robots and I'll try to sell them out there for $25 each. They're like Robosapien knockoffs. Come see me at the sale and tell me you saw me on robots.net and if there's any left I'll give you a discount!

Here's pictures of the robots if you want to see them:

Want to get a Robot.net RSS feed on your desktop? Check out the Robomenu widget!

In other news, I've been having to work on my fence, cut down a tree, work on my pickup, work on my wife's car, work on stuff for Mother's day at church, work on fixing some of the stuff we bought for the sale, etc.

One thing that has been interesting is these plastic beads that melt in boiling water. You can melt them and then form a plastic part and then when it cools it's a nice hard plastic. Also, the melting temp is high enough that it can take a little heat so it shouldn't melt in a hot car or something like that. It seems perfect for robots and other gizmos. For an expirament, I made a little keychain flashlight out of the plastic a couple of batteries and a white LED and it turned out pretty good. My hopes is to make some cool robot parts out of the stuff. I bought a bag of it on ebay for about $10.

5 Apr 2007 (updated 5 Apr 2007 at 17:07 UTC) »

Want to get a Robot.net RSS feed on your desktop? Check out the Robomenu widget!

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

At work, one of the crazy things they had me do was to contact a silicone bracelet company and have 200,000 bracelets made. Yes, 200k bracelets! It came out to almost $29k dollars or about 14 or 15 cents each. It had the JCPenny new slogan on them. They looked nice. The bracelets were sent out to all the employees. I really can't imagine most adults wanting to wear silicone braclets anymore, but it was fun seeing one of the VPs on a broadcast wearing the bracelet that I had a hand in creating.

One of my wisdom teeth went crazy one late Saturday night. I checked around and it was astounding to me that not a single Dentist was open on Sunday in the Dallas Area for a dental emergancy. We even called 1800Dentists and they didn't have one to recommend at all. I was a little scared because we don't have insurance and I guessed it would get very expensive espeically if they knew I was a dental emergancy! I called my dad about it and he suggested that we go to Mexico! Wow! So my mom and dad and my wife and 2 daughters rented a SUV and went to Mexico for the weekend. We got there and crossed the border into Progresso Mexico. There's like a dentist office every where you look. There's even people bugging you on the street asking you if you need dental work! There's billboards all around advertising dental services. Most of the dentists have their prices on the front window! I was not expecting that! So anyway I got some work done and my wife got some work done. It cost us about $120 each. We walked around the streets some. Two little Mexican girls came up to my daughter and asked her if she wanted a bracelet for a dollar. My mom said she could probably talk them down but just went ahead and gave them a dollar. Ther were old men selling a gallon bag of diced cactus! My dad told me that you can bread them and fry them and eat them like okra. We went by a tortilla shop where they made the tortillas right there. I asked them how much and they said/asked three in sort of a broken English. I gave them three dollars. I figured I would get a little stack of fresh tortillas. She brought out a grocery bag and started loading me up with tortillas! Yikes! I'm not sure how many she gave me but it was like 300 or so I'm guessing! Much more than we needed or wanted! On the way home we stopped at a grocery store and bought some cinnamon cream cheese and spread them on the tortillas. We also had quesadillas and such we we got back. My daughter wanted a silver necklace. They told her $12 and my wife said no. They they said $6 and my wife said $4. They said $5 and so she said $4 again. They didn't want to take $4. They came and asked me and I told them here's $4, if he doesn't take it, then let's go. He took it but he seemed very reluctant. I figure the necklace was probably worth even less than that but it was an interesting experience. It was sort of fun and painful all at the same time. There was this one big fat woman begging for coins with a styrofoam cup. There were lots of guys selling jewelry and purses such. Some stores were rediculously cheap and others were about what you would pay or more in the US. In a little grocery store they had marshmellows that were like 4 inches in diameter! Wow! When I got back I looked on the internet to find out what average US dental costs are for the work we had done and it was about $2400 worth of dental work so I think we did ok. It was quite an experience to see just how different people lived just on the other side of the border.

19 Jan 2007 (updated 19 Jan 2007 at 20:41 UTC) »

Well, for me it's mostly been, working at JCPenney, selling stuff on ebay, and selling rolling ball sculptures. Wish I had more time for robotics but I sort of dance around it some.

This is probably a good opportunity to give yet another reminder about the robots.net robomenu robot of the day and rss news feeder widget!

I made a new konfabulator widget. It helps me search ebay auctions and now I can search the way I want! I've been modifying it every day and it keeps getting better and better. I'm fairly happy with it. It's got a lot of intelligence programmed into it. I need to figure out some automatic intelligence to it but I haven't gotten that far with it. I would like to get to the point where it could find an auction and if the criteria was right that it would go ahead and buy automatically. I don't know if it will ever get to that point just because I want to be able to make the final decision, but even right now, I pretty much trust it when it gives me a recommendation.

I was using jbidwatcher to do my sniping but it kept messing up. Also, I couldn't place bids from work since it was a program just running on my home PC. I decided I wanted a server based sniping tool. The cheapest one I found to do what I wanted was: Powersnipe eBay Auction Sniper. It costs about $3.80 a month ($46 a year) and I can do it from home or work and it's unlimited so I can load up as many snipes as I want. I like it a lot. Really, I wanted my little widget to do the sniping for me, and I may someday do that but it wouldn't be server based and I need to figure out more of the ebay api and ssl stuff and I'm not sure I want to waste my time with that. So far PowerSniper has been just great!

I found out something by using Powersniper. I still think it's a bug, but they disagree. What happened was on one of my snipes, I found that they went ahead and placed the bid even though there were a couple of days left on the auction. When I asked them about it, they said what probably happened was that the seller started the auction as a 3 day auction, I then placed my snipe, then the seller modifed the auction to be a 7 day auction. When the 3 day time ran out, the sniping tool placed the bid but the auction was still going on for more days because the seller had modified it. What that means is that powersniper doesn't check that the end time is still the end time before they place the bid. What's really really interesting about all this is, if I were to sell something, I could list it as a 3 day auction cheap, then when it gets down to the last day I up it to a 7 day auction and see if any snipers get caught and forced to bid with a sniping too that's not smart enough to check the end time before placing the bid. [evil grin] I'm thinking of trying it a few times just to see what happens with them snipers out there! ;-) Moral of the story? If you are creating a sniping too, it would be wise to check the end time again before placing the bid otherwise you may have some trickster like me changing their auctions to try to catch you and make you bid more than you normally would! :-) I think that's happened with jbidwatcher too but I just didn't know what was going on. I suspect most other sniping tools don't catch that either.

I've also started networking with some guys and have been able to buy and sell from them! So, now my little tiny company is making about $5k in monthly gross sales and about $500 to $1k net a month! I'm sort of excited about it. Of course, my debt is crushingly large and eats it all up so I'm not really seeing any of it. :-/ No really, I'm not kidding, it's sad! But at least it looks like there's hope finally of not going bankrupt. I'm hoping we can go on vacation this summer on the money I make from it too!

I've been doing a little PIC16f84a programming for one my rolling ball sculptures that has an elevator. You press a button and it turns on for a while and turns off. You can dial in the amount of on time with a knob. Also, there's a few blinky lights. It drives a couple of stepper motors. It turned out ok. I guess that sort of qualifies as robotics?

I've had a terrible time getting insurance for Bethany. The place where I work is just basically a temp job. Their insurance is not real insurance, it's indemnity insurance whatever that means. So anyway it caps out on the drug plan at $750 a year. Well Bethany's drugs cost over $5k a month so $750 a year is sort of inadequate! So we applied to the Texas Risk Pool. They denied us because they said we could get insurance through my work. Ugg. So after contacting our state rep, he made a few calls and lo and behold they were falling all over themselves to approve us. So she got insurance. However it's $350 a month premium with an $1100 deductable. So I've got to come up with $1450 this month to cover bills. But in the long run, I'm sure we'll make out like bandits! :-)

15 Nov 2006 (updated 15 Nov 2006 at 23:13 UTC) »

There's a remote control airplane for $8 shipped at HSN. I'm thinking of buying it just for the electronics and throwing away the plane.

Yet another reminder about the robots.net robomenu robot of the day and rss news feeder widget!

Just a reminder that you can get robots.net on your desktop by using the robomenu widget rss news reader!

1885 downloads so far!

A guy here at work is into pipe organs. He found out that I know how to program and now he's trying to rope me into helping him with the controller. The controller is an Opus Two controller. It has a controller board which does midi and has a smart media card to store instructions, output boards (for controlling the pipes), and input boards (for reading the keyboard and stops), etc. He does most of the work for theaters but also does work for some churches. It all seems interesting but my time is short and to take on another project would just bust me I think. My wife wasn't too keen on it either as she has lots of honey-dos. I have my own hobbies too and not really wanting to take on someone else's hobby. I kind of feel torn because this guy is sort of my mentor right now at work and I don't want to tick him off. Anyway, he wants me to do all this work for free which is another turn off. So, I told him I can't do much right now and left it at that. He sort of gave me the dead-pan stare like I left him out to dry. Oh well

I guess I again have gotten to busy to write. Apologies to myself and others who care. :-)

Hey! I got a new job! Yea! I'm working for JC Penney's in their Meeting Services group! Basically, I'm an A/V Tech guy helping with setting up computers and big screen plasma monitors and making sure everything is working. JC Penny's in Plano Texas has a huge campus of 8 connected buildings each having 3 floors and there's a lower level basement thing too. It's a lot of walking and pushing stuff, but the exercise is good for me! I pretty much like it a lot. The work is fairly easy, the people are really friendly, the building is beautiful inside, etc. I guess I haven't been introduced to the politics yet, so all is great! The only downside is the insurance that was promised turned out to be bad. Instead of being hired by JCPenney's I'm hired through a temp agency, and that leaves a lot to be desired. I'm hoping I'll get hired on relatively soon, but until then I'll be paying huge insurance premiums so my daughter's insurance doesn't lapse. I looked and some insurance quotes online and they're pretty high! So basically, I'll just be working to pay for the insurance only until I can get hired.

I've been selling lots more stuff on ebay! I've been able to make some decent money so that has been supplementing my income. Only drawback is that it takes a lot of quality time to do it which I don't have much of anymore.

I keep hoping I can participate on robots.net. I'm trying to keep my hopes up that I can. I'll try to do what I can. Sorry again that I've been absent through all of these life changes!

Just a reminder that the "RoboMenu" widget can be downloaded for free from Yahoo's Konfabulator site. The site says the RoboMenu has been downloaded 1683 times!!! Wow! I keep the RoboMenu running on my desktop all the time and I love it! You will too! You can keep up with Robots.net news with just a twitch of your eye!

Just a reminder that the "RoboMenu" widget can be downloaded for free from Yahoo's Konfabulator site. The site says the RoboMenu has been downloaded 1604 times!!! Wow! I keep the RoboMenu running on my desktop all the time and I love it! You will too! You can keep up with Robots.net news with just a twitch of your eye!

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