Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Incredible Secret Money Machines

The Incredible Secret Money Machine is a book by Don Lancaster. It was the first business book I was ever exposed to and it probably gave me the business bug. My older brother was in high school, and probably on his third or fourth business at the time. I was a skinny kid into Dungeons and Dragons who dreamed of writing video games for a living. I came across a dog-eared copy of TISMM underneath my brothers home-made workbench in a pile of sawdust and solder drippings. I immediately started thinking "scungy" (a sniglet coined by Don Lancaster that means, roughly "inventive and frugal"). Somewhere along the way, we lose sight of the fact that we like to sit under homemade desks in piles of sawdust and lab scrapings reading unusual books, and start thinking that what we really want is a pile of money.

This is why I must go to superhappydevhouse X on Jun 2-4. I'll be there most of the weekend. I have been there before and it's a lot of fun. This time, the contest is irresistable. You have to build a money-machine. That is, a website that is fully automated and accepts paypal. Once you have that in place, you have to not touch it for a month. No email, no nuthin'. If your site is crap, it's crap. If it goes down, it goes down. At the end of a month, all the money goes into a pot and most of it gets donated to charity, or something like that. If you win, you get to be a winner for a day. Then everyone goes their seperate ways with their incredible not-so-secret money machines. Pretty neat, huh? I can't wait.

I also started a team. We've got a few people in it. We're going to try to find a lab bench to park our asses under and write a really unusual website. At least that's the plan.

Friday, May 19, 2006

How I Sold My Car in One Hour on Craigslist

My car was overheating so I took it to a shop. By way of background, my car was a beloved Camry wagon worth no more than 2000USD. My guess at the problem was that it's 10 dollar thermostat was sticking. So when my mechanic estimated 750 bucks to do some repair work, I moaned before approving the work.

Later in the day, my mechanic called me and told me he needed to do another 900 bucks worth of work to get the car running.

Needless to say, I wrote my draft demand letter, grabbed my shop manual, and the pink for the car, and prepared to kick ass. When I arrived at the shop, however, I found that the guy was honest and dead on. It had overheated for too long. The car was toast. It needed a complete rebuild. He had done everything right. Crap. I offered to sell the car to him for 1KUSD instead of completing the repairs. No sale.

A little down, I thanked my mechanic and walked across the street to the nearest web browser, put my car on craigslist for 1KUSD with absolutely full disclosure of its condition and no pictures.

Two minutes later, my cell phone is ringing off the hook. One hour later, I have 1KUSD cash in my pocket and my car and pink slip are gone. It sold that fast.

Taxi? Take me to the nearest web developer. I've got 1000USD in my pocket.