Archive for January, 2008
I love buying and selling things on craigslist but I’m amazed at how many people email you about an item and never respond back. Are they just gathering email addresses for spammers? That seems like too much effort to build a spam list but I would say about 50% of the people I respond to never follow up. Maybe they found a better price but if so why not offer me less?
I feel like adding a note to my postings saying that if you inquire about an item and then don’t follow up I will post your email address on my blog. The flakeout list.
These flakeouts make everyone’s life miserable. I always give an item to the 1st person who inquires and tell other people that someone else responded 1st but I will let them know if they don’t follow through. Anyway here are my craiglist tips after selling about 8 things on craiglist.
- Post items around lunch time on a weekday. People browse craigslist from work. I get much better responses on weekday posts than weekend.
- If you get multiple responses let the 1st responder know that the item is theirs but they need to pick it up soon or you will give it to the next person. This will get them to commit or bail quicker so you won’t wait a week for them to make up their mind. Respond to other interested parties letting them know someone else is ahead of them but you will contact them if the other person does not follow through.
- Google the person who emailed you. On a few occasions I have found that someone lived near my work and I met them at lunch. Saving them a long drive to my house. You might also find some scary information on a person. Remember, you’re inviting these people to your house for a pickup, so do a little research.
- Always include a picture of the item.
- Don’t host the pictures on craiglist. If you upload pictures to craigslist they are deleted when the entry expires. There is a nice repost option but you need to upload the pictures again. If you put the pictures on a photo sharing site and type the html by hand the reposting process is much easier. for example
- <img src=“http://tonycode.com/craigslist/jacks.jpg” />
Recently I implemented a Rails application sitemap but once the search engines started hitting my site, I realized that I wasn’t giving them all the information they desired.
- Yahoo was doing simple HTTP head requests on my sitemap and going away
- 22.214.171.124 – - [11/Dec/2007:08:35:49 -0800] “HEAD /sitemap.xml HTTP/1.0″ 200 334 “-” “Yahoo! Slurp/Site Explorer”
- Google read my sitemap infrequently but loved to do HEAD requests on my index page
- 126.96.36.199 – - [17/Dec/2007:07:11:24 -0800] “HEAD / HTTP/1.1″ 200 372 “-” “Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)”
For those of you unfamiliar with HEAD requests, they are requests for a page that don’t actually return the page. Just information like size and date. Its a nice way for search engines and caches to decide if there are any changes they need to pull. For some examples of HTTP requests check out the wiki page I wrote on making HTTP requests via telnet.
Now what do you think Google and Yahoo were looking for? My assumption is they are looking for the Last-Modified header in the response to see if they should bother requesting the sitemap. They could compare the size of the response since they last visited but I doubt they want track this information.
The Last-Modified date is the ideal field to check.
This is all fine and good but guess what. Rails doesn’t set that header for you.
telnet ficlets.com 80 Trying 188.8.131.52... Connected to www.ficlets.com. Escape character is '^]'. HEAD / HTTP/1.0 Host: www.ficlets.com HTTP/1.1 200 OK Date: Wed, 09 Jan 2008 20:22:31 GMT Server: Mongrel 1.0.1 Status: 200 OK Cache-Control: no-cache Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8 Content-Length: 16355 Set-Cookie: _session_id=s322clipped; path=/ Vary: Accept-Encoding Connection: close
The good news is this is easy to add! If you look at my wiki example you’ll see that I set the header with the time of the latest entry in the sitemap.
headers["Last-Modified"] = @entries.updated_at.httpdate
Now it isn’t rails job to add this header for you but it would be nice if the scaffolding added this header. The standard show/1 actions are pulling a record from a database and the action knows the updated_at value.
I have added this header to my show actions as I am just pulling a record from a database and I have the modified time!
headers["Last-Modified"] = @business.updated_at.httpdate
That’s all. I’m looking forward to any comments and suggestions people may have.
Up until a few months ago, all of my bedroom ceiling fans used Compact Florescent bulbs (CFLs). Back in October I bought a Hampton Bay Ceiling fan for Dani’s room and when I installed the light fixture I noticed it had a different socket type. It used Intermediate base bulbs (also known as E17). These bulbs are rare and there is no CFL option. So I went back to Home Depot and sure enough all the manufacturers were starting to use these things. The Home Depot guy suspected it was a conspiracy between the ceiling fan companies and the bulb manufacturer. There is only a single brand of intermediate base bulbs at Home Depot so this made a little sense. They also cost as much as a CFL!
I had no desire to use these bulbs so I started looking into converting my base to use the standard medium base socket. I saw a medium base for a ceiling fan display model at Home Depot but they wouldn’t sell it to me and it was no longer going to be carried. The plot thickened. So I looked on the Lowes website and I found a medium base socket that I figured I could retrofit onto my base. While I was looking for the item at Lowes, I asked a representative of one of the lighting companies (who was restocking) about the intermediate bases and he said it was all part of the 2007 Energy Bill. Huh? How can using a base that doesn’t support CFLs be part of an energy bill? I googled around and it appears this was a loophole to get around the Bill. The bill required ceiling fan manufacturers to ship with CFLs, UNLESS they used candelabra or intermediate base bulbs.
Here is the conversion that I did tonight in about 15 minutes.
DISCLAIMER: Please do no do this unless you are experienced with electrical wiring. Follow these steps at your own risk. There may be typos so use common sense if you do this.
1) Unscrew the existing sockets and cut the wires. Keep track of the original wiring. Save the screws.
2) Remove the mount from the Lowes socket and attach it to the base with the screw from the intermediate base. Twist and bend to get it as close to center.
3) You’ll need to strip the existing wires that were not part of the intermediate bases.
4) Combine your whites and blacks and attach with a twist on electrical wire connector.
Since these sockets are bigger I needed to bend the socket a little before the light covers fit but overall the fixture looks great.
Pictures. yeah close ups are out of focus but hopefully helpful.
This is the bottom of the intermediate bulb base. poor focus. This is where you will find the screw to remove it.
Here is how the medium base (lleft) compares to the intermediate base (right).
The new base had 2 screws. I removed them and used the screw from the intermediate base since I knew it fit the fixture.
And now I have CFL joy.
I bought a Honda Fit on New Years Eve. What was I thinking?
I drove my 1996 VW GTI for 11 years and over 120,000 miles. I bought it back in December of 1996 after the oil pump on my 1988 Jeep Comanche died while I was at my mom’s house for Christmas. Before the Comanche I drove a 1977 Mercury Cougar XR7 that I bought from my mom when I was 16.
- Cougar had a 351M 5.8L V8 (173HP) 4000 lbs (23.1 lbs per horse)
- Comanche had a 2.5L 4 cylinder (117HP) 3000 lbs (25.6 lbs per horse)
- GTI had a 2.0L 4 cylinder (115 HP) 2557 lbs (22.2 lbs per horse)
- Fit has a 1.5L 4 cylinder (109 HP) 2551 lbs (23.4 lbs per horse)
There seems to be a trend in engine displacement and weight.
I’m pushing 40 and I’m on my 4th car. I had a friend in high school who had bought over 10 cars before he was 20.
Why the Fit? Honestly I did not expect to like this car. Before I drove it I drove
- Mini Cooper. This car is really cramped inside and there were some interior design flaws that I would not have expected from a BMW.
- VW Rabbit — I loved my GTI but I can’t spend another 10 years in the same car
- Mazda 3 — I liked this car but I didn’t love it. And it was a bit heavy
- Scion XD — I wasn’t impressed and the front end is really high. it looks a little goofy
The fit looks tiny but it is well designed inside and has more interior space than the other cars. It also only weighs 2551 lbs which is about the same as my 1996 GTI. Cars keep getting heavier and I love light car for city and rush hour traffic. Yeah, I know some people prefer to drive tanks for safety but I also own a 1986 Kawasaki Ninja 250 that I stopped driving when I had kids. I gave up the motorcycle for safety but you won’t find me in a Hummer anytime soon.
There were a few things that I didn’t like about the Fit that were being addressed in the 2009 model but I became convinced that my GTI was not going to live to see November 2009 (New Fit Launch date) so I headed to the dealership on New Years Eve. I figured I would have more negotiation power on the last day of the year. They only offered my $500 for my trade in and I asked them if they would match an offer from CarMax. They said they would, so I came back an hour later with my $1200 trade in offer from CarMax and they matched it. They also matched a price I was quoted over the internet.
So my car buying tips of the day are
- Always get a CarMax trade in offer 1st
- Always get an offer from the dealer via their internet department 1st as this is better than what you get when you just show up.