The chocolate ration is being increased to 25 grammes per week.

Monthly Archives: April 2012

3, 2, 1, jump! D’oh!

This is a cat that has an unrealistic body image. “Hey, baby, sure I’m in shape… watch me jump to that ledge over there.”

This has to be the funniest thing I’ve seen on the intertubes in a long time.


Canon 5D video: NYC

Wow, amazing what this camera is capable of… some day I plan to explore the video aspect of my new camera…

New York // 5D Mark III // Ksiebfilms from KSIEB on Vimeo.

Wanna sell something? ebay.com is useless, craigslist.org is doable (but you need to be careful)

ebay is for scammers

I recently sold my Canon 7D in order to buy the new Canon 5DmkIII.  It was an adventure, to be sure.  I had no idea how much of one I was in for… and this blog details that journey.

My first ebay.com auction ended with someone bidding a few minutes before the end of the auction.  The user had created their account that day.  I was very skeptical, but I sent them an invoice anyway.  What choice did I have?  This is the email I got about an hour after I sent the invoice:

Hi, i do hope the item is in great condition as am buying it for my newly opened studio in abroad,Please if possible kindly get back to me with some
pics of the item, you can send it to …@yahoo.com. Do Confirm, should i make the payment to <myebayuserid>@gmail.com. if it is not
correct please kindly get back to me with the correct Paypal acct.
have a nice day. …@yahoo.com

I would like to have the item shipped to the address below:
SEATTLE, WA 98168 United States

The things wrong with this reply:

  1. I already sent an invoice.  All they needed to do was click on the “pay now” button (or whatever ebay calls it).  If they were legit they would have done that.
  2. The spelling and formatting were atrocious (I fixed the formatting for this blog post, but not the spelling).
  3. They were “guessing” my paypal email address, using my ebay user name + “@gmail.com”, even though the correct one was in the invoice.  This is important.  More later.
  4. They include an address that is not the same as the one on their ebay account.
  5. The address they gave me was invalid (according to maps.google.com).
  6. The address on their ebay account was on a street with no buildings (according to google street view).

I emailed the bid winner and mentioned these issues and said unless there was a good explanation I’d not ship anything.  I never heard from them.

What the hell?  How does this scam work, with no valid address?  Given the spelling and other mistakes, I’m guessing this was a scammer in training, and not a smart one at that.  If they had given me a valid postal address, it’s clear they would have sent me a forged paypal payment email, to trick me into thinking they had paid so I would ship the item.  Of course, all it takes to thwart this scam is to login to paypal (not by clicking on anything in their email!), but I’m guessing some people don’t take the time to check.  Also, they had to ask for my paypal email address because they wanted to send a fake email to it.  If they paid via the invoice I sent them, they couldn’t do that.

So, I had to go back to ebay customer support.  I finally got them to void the auction, and while on the phone with the last and most helpful ebay rep I was told all I needed to do to prevent these types of problems was restrict who could bid on my items.  While on the phone I went to my account settings and turned on things like “only allow bidders with verified paypal accounts,” etc.  In fact, I turned on every restriction they had, to reduce the chance of a scammer.  I wasn’t inclined to relist the item, but, with the assurances from the rep and the promise of these new controls, I did.

At this point I had wasted a couple of weeks since I first listed the item, and I’m just getting around to listing it again.

The second auction ends with two bids.  I send an invoice to the winner and get an email back.  Oh, no, it’s from the same scammer that won the first auction.  So much for all those special settings to prevent scammers from bidding, as both bidders had created their accounts that day.  There is no way you can create an ebay account and get verified all in the same day.  So, it’s pretty clear that ebay doesn’t give a shit about the quality of bidders.  All they care about is getting their fee.  Well, ebay, you’ll never get another auction listed by me!

I decided to try and offer the item to the second bidder.  They, too, turned out to be a scammer, albeit a different one, who replied with this not very intelligible reply:

OK i now with relatives. my address in ebay TN;Shelbyville but i wont see this item in GRAY, GA

I didn’t even reply to them.  I started another week long process of getting ebay to void the auction.  At some point, they did void the auction and credited me the $100+ that they thought I owed them on the sale.  I consider this the last time I ever deal with ebay as a seller.  Ever.

on to craigslist…

I didn’t have very high hopes for craigslist either.  But, I really wanted to sell this camera.  OK, first two replies where:

I’m getting the product for my fiancee and it needs to be sent because am
currently in the Army for a Basic training. Was wondering if i could use your
help with the shipping,That would bring the grand total to $1450 and i’ll make
payment via paypal. Send me a paypal money request for the total amount to
…@gmail.com for payment. Keep me posted once request is sent.


Thanks for your mail. Am interested in buying this and i will paying you the
asking price so consider me as your favorite buyer as i will like to have some
more pictures if you have them. I would be glad to pay for it as soon as
possible though i will not be available to come for an inspection due to my
flexible schedule. I will be paying you with my PayPal Account because it’s
attached to my Bank Account and its safe and very secure way to make payment
online. If my mode of payment is accepted kindly email me with the information
below to proceed with the payment.

I want to make clear that in the craigslist posting I clearly stated I would not accept paypal and would only accept cash, and that we would meet at the bank of your choice.

Then, I got a real-looking buyer, but Canon poached them!  She called them to ask about lens compatibility and they offered her a refurbished unit, which they claimed was really new, for about what I was selling mine.

Got a few more scammers after this.  Lots had an opening volley like this:

I am willing to make a quick buy. Can we make a deal today?

and always followed up with this:

Good to hear back from you. I’ll be sending Immediate Payment via
PayPal and would also add $100 to cover shipping and insurance. As
soon as you get back to me with your PayPal email, I’ll proceed with
full Payment. I look forward to reading from you soon.

This type of scam is clear: once you give them an email, they send you a fake paypal payment email, to try and trick you into mailing your goods to them.

I finally got another interested party, and we met at a B of A near me and consummated the deal.

All told, I spent about a month selling the item.  I think I had more trouble because the item was expensive and could easily be mailed.

The best advice I can give about selling through craigslist: make sure you engage the buyer in conversation about the item you are selling.  Scammers don’t want to talk about the item, they only want to trick you into accepting their fake payment email.  A real buyer will ask pertinent questions, and engage in a conversation.

What do child labor and Obama’s health care reform have in common?

The answer is quite surprising.

Let me see if I can nutshell this.

In 1916 Congress banned the products of child labor in an attempt to cut off the market for the products of child labor.  In the previous two decades, there had been a growing movement to abolish child labor altogether.  Then, in 1918, the Supreme Court struck down the law saying that Congress had overstepped the bounds of what it could regulate. In this case, it couldn’t regulate the products of child labor, but it could regulate things like medicine, alcohol, etc. The interesting bit, though, is that the Court said the products of child labor “are of themselves harmless.” Congress then tried to do an end-run around this argument and passed a second law that taxed the products of child labor. However, the Court once again struck down the law. Here’s what they said in that decision:

To give such magic to the word ‘tax’ would be to break down all constitutional limitation of the powers of Congress and completely wipe out the sovereignty of the States.

That’s a pretty bold statement. OK, not bold at all. It’s hyperbole dressed up as a logical argument, designed to give the Court a reason to strike down the second attempt to do away with child labor. It was shameful. One has to wonder how many children were forced to work in textile mills for the next two decades. Shameful, indeed.

What does all this have to do with the health care act passed by Obama, you’re probably wondering? Our current Supreme Court is engaging in the same hyperbole disguised as logical argument:

“So can the government require you to buy a cellphone because that would facilitate responding when you need emergency services? You can just dial 911 no matter where you are?” asked Roberts.


Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia picked up on the argument, long made by opponents of the law, that Congress next could require that everyone purchase broccoli. “Everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food. Therefore, everybody is in the market. Therefore, you can make people buy broccoli,” he said.

This is the same bogeyman from almost one hundred years ago: if this law is allowed to stand, there are no limits to what Congress could to do regulate interstate commerce and the sky will fall.

By the way, the broccoli analogy is just plain dumb. When I consume broccoli, it doesn’t make the purchase of broccoli more costly to you, as all the millions of uninsured in the US do.  And, broccoli is not a vital, life preserving item. Frankly, the argument that Roberts and Scalia put forth shows they have no integrity, they will put forth arguments they know to be ridiculous, merely to win the argument.  Shameful.

Why I hate Quicken

I’ve used Quicken for many years.  At least 15 years, but I can’t really remember.  What I can remember is that every version of Quicken gets worse.  Every time I’m forced to upgrade because they remotely turn off downloading transactions from my banks, I get angry.  Every time I start the new version and it’s no better than the previous version, I get angry.  Every time I realize they merely changed the user interface around to make it seem like I got something new for my $39.99, I get angry.

And, every time I reconcile my accounts and there are missing transactions (but they’re in my register), I get really pissed off.  This bug has been around for a while.  Quicken know about it.  How hard could it be to fix this?  The hypothesis is that the transaction created by a download from my bank is messed up.  If that’s it, then how hard could it be to do a little data validation and correction?!  Quicken, get off your ass and do something other than window dressing.  Make your software better rather than churning the UI so you can sell the next version!

One of these days I might make the big push to switch to GNU Cash.  I haven’t had the energy to really start the conversion project, though.  Too many other things in life.  If I get pissed off enough, I will, though.