Chong Pong

Dec 042013
 

This time courtesy of Joseph Foo out of Brampton Ontario.

This jerk buys a phone off me on eBay, a phone that I listed as “For Parts or Not Working”.  Fine and dandy, no problem.  Figure the transaction would go on like the several other transactions I’ve had on eBay selling used phones.  The previous buyers knew what they were buying and understood what “For Parts or Not Working” meant.

I’ll take a little a bit of time here to explain why I list my phones for parts only on eBay.  It all goes back to the Jiefu Zhang incident of last year.  I used to refurbish the phones I get before selling it but this guy ruined it for everyone.  Claimed the phone wasn’t working properly and demanded a refund.  I gave him a refund but never got the phone back.  Asshole got a free phone.

After that, I started selling my phones for parts only so buyers don’t expect to get a functioning phone.  I was also tired of refurbishing them as well, it doesn’t add anymore to the profit.  I could sell a phone for parts and get $50 or refurbish the phone and it’ll sell for $100 but $50 went to housing and accessories.  Profit is the same.

So back to this Joseph Foo character, he buys one of my phones that was sold for parts only.  Receives it a few days later and claims it won’t turn on… claims he took it to a cell phone shop and says the charging port is hooped.  Then proceeds to ask me for money to fix it.  Ummmm….  Hello Joseph….  you do know you purchased a parts phone right?  You’re supposed to salvage parts from it to fix another phone.  I don’t understand why you think you bought a working phone when it was clearly listed in the for parts category AND mentioned several times in the auction.

Long story short, I asked him to file a dispute with eBay.  He did, I gave my peace, didn’t hear back from Paypal for a few days and just refunded him some money to get it fixed.  I got tired of waiting for a response from Paypal.  Instead, I’ve decided to put up this blog post and I’ll be leaving it up until one of three things happens.  Joseph gives me my money back, Paypal gives my money back or I make it back from these ads.  In the meantime, if you’re an eBay seller and are reading this… put Joseph on your  blocked bidders list, his ID is anna113tv

Edit:  PP claim id – PP-002-795-228-949, Transaction #4H2853719U3161945, dannyfoo@netzero.com
Aug 192013
 

DSC00360I’ve been using a PC as a media player with my TV for almost the past 7 years.  It started with the introduction of Windows XP Media Center, I tried it out and fell in love with it.  I setup a permanent computer dedicated to playing media from my server.  Over time, it’s evolved into my PVR as well.  Then came Vista Media Center and then Windows 7 Media Center.

As the software changed over time, so did the hardware.  It went from a Pentium 4 to a heat pumping Pentium D Dual core and finally to a Core2Duo which I’ve used for the past 2 years.  There was one thing that never changed and that was the case I was using.  I originally bought a Thermaltake Mozart HTPC case and stuck with it.  It was a decent looking case and HTPC cases all pretty much look the same so I opted for one of the cheaper ones.  Over the years, one one case really stuck out and that was the nMedia HTPC-8000.  It looked like an old vintage radio but I thought it may be too big for me.

The electronics recycling pile has some really interesting stuff at work and one day, I stumbled on a vintage top loading VCR in mint condition.  It was a JVC HR-7200U.  Vintage electronics collectors can stop reading now.

I took the VCR home thinking I can swap the components in my Thermaltake case but after quickly sizing it up, I realized it won’t fit in there.  The power supply wouldn’t fit and I can’t fit the motherboard in there without disabling the eject mechanism…..  I MUST keep the eject mechanism.  Another day, I lucked out and found a Dell Latitude E6420 that had been run over a few times because the user drove off with it still on his car.  Externally, it was scratched to shit but it functioned properly.  The laptop was the perfect computer to shove in the VCR.  It was compact, powerful and only needed 3 cables plugged in to work.  Power, LAN and HDMI.

After a day of gutting the VCR and hacking the internals with a Dremel, I finally completed it.  I originally soldered wires to the power LED and power button.  I had it all working but due to some carelessness, I tore the circuitry out by accident when I was reassembling the laptop.  Oh well… the power light you see now is powered by the USB port.  Would’ve been cool if I got the actual power LED working because it fades in and out when it’s in sleep mode.  The only thing missing now is a VFD display where the clock is.  I tried to move the Soundgraph iMon from my old setup in there but it doesn’t fit and it needed 12V power which I can’t get with a laptop.  If anyone knows of a VFD that’s powered by USB, please let me know.

 

Yes, I preserved the eject mechanism.

 

I switched from Windows Media Center over to XBMC.  I’ve found that while Media Center was great for it’s time, it has not evolved and improved over the years.  XBMC and Plex Media Center are leaps and bounds ahead of Media Center.  With XBMC and a few plugins, you can pretty much cut your cable bill.

 

 

 

Jun 292013
 

I’ve always been told that I should keep my money in a savings account and that’s what I’ve been doing all these years until recently.  I’ve had a change of opinion and dumped all my money into my TFSA and purchased shares in several funds yielding at least 10% annually and the pay monthly.  The plan is to reinvest the dividends every month until I have enough dividend to support my lifestyle.  It was a little scary at first and it took a few minutes to hit that transfer button from my bank account but it really isn’t that bad.

I currently only have a checking account and I keep $1000 in there at most.  That’s enough to cover my monthly bills for the car, insurance, phone, etc…  What I do is I charge everything to my credit card (gas, groceries, lunches, pack of gum, everything).  What this does aside from collecting a lot airline miles points is makes it easier to keep track of your spending and you don’t pay interest if you pay your bill off every month.  When I get paid, I pay off the credit card first and then top off the checking account to $1000.  Anything after that goes into my investment account.  If I ever need more than $1000 cash, I have my line of credit.  I can either wait for the next pay check to pay off the line of credit or I can sell some shares to pay it off.  Try doing that if all your money is invested in a home  :p

I used to trade quite a bit but aside from a few big winners, I pretty much broke even on everything else.  On top of that, it was very time consuming.  I’d come home from work, spend hours looking at stock charts, putting in my orders for the next day and watching the share prices while I’m at work.  As a result I had little time for anything else.  I’ve decided to switch to dividend investing.  I bought several funds that pay you at least 10% a year for owning them.  The only thing I do now is figuring out which fund to reinvest the dividends every month.

I admin that 10% growth is rather slow but it’s the reinvestment that speeds it up.  The secret is compounding growth.  It’s how credit card companies get you.  If you owe $5000 in credit card debt and you make the minimum payment every month, you end up paying over $8000.  This is like compounding interest except it works in your favour.  Everytime you reinvest your dividend back into the funds, your next dividend will be bigger than the last.  Let’s say you have a maxed out TFSA at $30,000 and you put it into funds that pay a dividend of 12% a year (just using that as an example, nice round number.  Sometimes it’s higher, sometimes it’s lower) .  Now the funds I’ve invested in pay their dividends monthly or quarterly.  I’ll use the monthly funds in my example.
The first month, you get a 1% dividend of $300.  Reinvest it back into the funds and you have $30300 worth and the following month, you’ll get a 1% dividend of  $303.  Put it back, you’ll have $30603 worth paying you a dividend of $306.  So on and so on.  In the first year, you’ll have made almost $4000.  Using this method of investing, your money will almost double every 5 years without adding any more of your own money into it.

I know what you’re thinking at this point, what if the price goes down.  Don’t you lose a lot of money?  People often equate investing with gambling but it’s not.  I don’t know of any sort of gambling where you don’t lose until you cash out.  You don’t lose money until you sell.  The great thing about dividend reinvesting is when the fund drops in price, it’s actually an opportunity to buy more shares than you normally would at a higher price.  And you’re buying it with the money they paid you for owning them.  If the price goes up, you can sell some of the shares, take the profit and put it into the funds where you’re down.

In case you’re wondering how this works out over 25 years, it’s about $360,000… without adding more of your own money, all from $30,000.  For me, this would be considerably higher as I do add money from my day job every month.  What am I gonna do, let it sit in a bank and have it lose value due to inflation?

That’s it for now.  Don’t take this as investment advice but this is what I’m doing.  It’s a bit scary at first because I’ve always lived with the security of having money in the bank until I realized what a stupid idea that was as your money doesn’t grow faster than inflation.

Jun 032013
 

Since some a few people asked for proof of fake Zoosk profiles, I spent some time to do reverse image searches with Google on a number of profiles.  Process was simple, click and drag an image into the Google image search box.

6-3-2013 1-28-14 AM

I started  with the profiles that I tried to communicate with and got an auto response in return.  Surprise surprise, most of them were fake.  I then moved onto users in my carousel and there were more.  Not only were some photos taken from foreign dating sites, there were lesser known celebs and porn stars.  I stopped gathering fakes when I got tired but let me know if you want more.  I haven’t even reached the end of what was available in Vancouver, imagine how many other fakes are available in other cities!  Here they are below in no particular order.

 

May 312013
 

facebook_logo_cross_out_300x300Well, not quite yet.  I was hoping to totally shut down my Facebook account but it’s still the the easiest way my long distance friends and family can keep in touch with me.  Everyone else has been blocked.  If they want to chat, call me and if they want to catch up, we can meet up and have a good old fashioned face to face.  Going forward, my Facebook is only for family members and friends that moved far away.

So why did I do this?  The answer’s quite ironic.  I’ve left the social network to become more social.  I’ve been on Facebook since 2007 and since 2007, I’ve been seeing my friends less and less and interacting with them on Facebook more and more.  I’ve seen friends who used to be quite humble and reserved become egotistical and narcissistic.  I can’t say I wasn’t guilty of that as well.

To be honest, I’ve tried to keep my list of friends lean and mean for a while now and tried to keep my list down below 100.  It astonishes me to see some people with hundreds or even thousands of friends.  Have these people actually spoken to 1000 others in the past year and know them well enough to be added as friends?  The people I trimmed off my list were people who haven’t spoken with in over 2 years.  There were friends from highschool that went through the trouble of seeking me out but once I acknowledged their friend request, they never said a thing.  Now why would you seek me out if you didn’t want to communicate?  Did they forget why we grew apart over the years in the first place?  So that was the first group I culled.

The second group were the friends of friends.  People who I met through friends, hung out with as a group and added me to Facebook.  I accepted their friend request on the basis that we’d communicate and become friends instead of just being friends of friends.  Some did and some didn’t, the ones that didn’t were deleted.  Funny thing about this group is many of them don’t even remember being connected on Facebook.  Many of them send me another friend request months after I’ve deleted them.  They’re now blocked.

The third group was the hardest to delete because they’re mostly my closest friends.  There they were on my friends list for years but as the years went on, I noticed many of them becoming more and more self centered.  I can’t say I wasn’t guilty of that as well.  I thought about it last year and decided it wasn’t a path I wanted to go down and I purged all my posts.  I didn’t post anymore and just logged on maybe a few times a week.  Every time I logged in, I noticed the self centeredness was getting worse.  No longer were they using Facebook to keep in touch, they were just posting about themselves.  My feed was littered with self pictures, pictures of every meal they had and updates of everything they’re doing.  What’re you supposed to talk about when you hang out with your friends and you already know what they’ve been up to?  It’s made it no longer fun to hang out with your own friends.  It was tough but now they’re gone as well which leaves only family and friends that aren’t easy to hang out with because they’re far far away.

I’m hoping I made the right move that will bring back some excitement and mystery in my life.  Maybe we’ll have something to talk about face to face.  I’ll no longer be posting updates or accepting friend requests.  If you need to get a hold of me, please don’t do it through Facebook and call me!  Remember when people used to do that with their phones?

May 202013
 

It’s no secret I’m single.  I’ve tried out Match.com but that seemed like a scam.  I never received any responses and I cancelled my membership stating that as the reason.  Funny thing happened, I all of the sudden started receiving responses.  I convinced some of the women to communicate outside of the site fearing we can’t when my membership expires.  When it did expire, they tried to get me to communicate on the site again.  Not fooling me again… no more to Match.com

Decided to give Zoosk.com a shot.  I signed up, sent a wink and got a response in minutes.  Wow… looked promising so I got my credit card out so I can send messages.  $100 later and a message later, no more response.  Figured she lost interest so I fired out a lot more winks.  All I received was a bunch of automated responses, some of which were the same as the first one I received.  The site is a scam, DO NOT GIVE THEM YOUR MONEY!  Below are the auto responses I received.  If you have any that aren’t on here, please contact me or leave them in the comments.

 

:) I appreciate the wink but like messages better.

Hey, thanks for the wink. How about sending me a message now?

Hi there. Please send me a more detailed message and tell me about yourself.

Hi. Thanks for for the wink. Why not write me a message as well?

I appreciate the wink. Leave a message and I will get back to you.

No winks please, just leave a message if you’re interested. Thanks :-)

Thanks! I noticed that you noticed me :) Now let’s talk.

Thanks. If you’re interested in contacting me, please drop me a line and tell me more.

Winks are flattering. Now if you’re really interested, friend me and message me.

Спасибо! Я заметил(а), что вы заметили меня :) Может поговорим?

How are you? Care for conversation?

Nov 032012
 

So this Jiefu Zhang guy said he sent the phone back on Monday… Friday goes by and still no phone.  Guy keeps pestering me about it and asking if it’s arrived.  Now, if I’m reimbursing him the shipping costs, why the hell didn’t he get a tracking number?  I just gave up and refunded him cuz I got tired of his whining.  Only time will tell if I’ll ever see the phone again.  Folks, this is why you don’t sell to people with no eBay feedback!  Hope he enjoys the phone he scammed… asshole

 

Dear techargus,

ok so i shipped it to you today. Inside includes: blackberry, charger wire, wall charger, shipping envelope (you sent me), and receipt for the shipping. Total cost for shipping is $10.55. Therefore total refund is 122.50 (cost of phone + shipping) + 10.55 (return shipping) = 133.05

– smurfaccount
Click “respond” to reply through Messages, or go to your email to reply

Respond

Oct 242012
 

Anyone else hate selling on eBay?  So here’s the story..  I sell refurbished blackberries on eBay, I take old blackberries swap out the housings, make sure everything is working and I list them on eBay.  I cringe every time someone with no feedback wins an auction because more often than not, I’m going to get screwed in some way or another.  Lately I’ve been getting scammers wanting me to ship to Doral Forida so I explicitly said that I won’t ship there.

Then there’s this guy, Jiefu Zhang…  No feedback at all so that kinda set off a red flag right there and I should’ve voided the auction right off the bat.  Jiefu then pays with a PayPal eCheck which took another week to clear.  So after the money cleared, I sent the item and he receives it.  He says the speaker is dead which is fine, sometimes items get damaged in shipping.  It’s been raining heavily here in Vancouver, the package could’ve gotten wet.  Since I don’t have any inventory,  I offered a refund… no problem.

I dunno why he would’ve sent me a response putting the blame on me but he did.  All refurbs I send out are tested twice.  Once when I refurb it and once before I package it.  Of course, he doesn’t know this and probably thinks I purposely sent him a broken phone.  Yes… someone with over 140 positive feedbacks purposely sent you a broken phone.  Why can’t people be courteous and not assume everyone’s out to get you?  Maybe I’m reading too much into this, you guys can read the conversation below and decide for yourself.

 

On a side note…  how many people are willing to bet the IMEI of the phone he’s sending back isn’t going to match the IMEI I sent out to him?

 

 

Dear techargus,

yea, i can do that. I expect full reimbursement for everything including the full price of the blackberry + shipping as well as the shipping cost of returning the item. I refuse to pay a penny for your mistake.

– smurfaccount

From: techargus
To: smurfaccount
Subject: Re: Item I received is not as described: smurfaccount sent a message about Unlocked BlackBerry Bold 9780 – White from Telus #150915747048
Sent Date: 24-Oct-12 01:40:26 EDT

Dear smurfaccount,

I normally offer an exchange but I have no more inventory of equivalent phones so you can just send it back for a refund.

– techargus

From: smurfaccount
To: techargus
Subject: Item I received is not as described: smurfaccount sent a message about Unlocked BlackBerry Bold 9780 – White from Telus #150915747048
Sent Date: 23-Oct-12 22:57:48 EDT

Dear techargus,

Hi!

Im the buyer of your “refurbished” blackberry. As i tried working through the phone, i received a phone call. There was no ring tone, which i thought was weird. Then i couldn’t heard the voice on the other end of the call. I then tried the mp3 player, and the video that was in pre-downloaded in the phone. Bottom line is, the speakers does not work. i cannot make any phone calls. please email me back with my options.

-Jiefu Zhang

Jul 112011
 

Back in September 2008, I had this huge craving for clam chowda.  Back in January, I went to Boston with my buddy Russell to catch the Spice Girls concert (Tickets were well over $2000 in Vancouver and Russell went to college in Boston so he knows the city well).  That’s when I had my first taste of New England clam chowda.  After having that, it made me wonder wtf I was eating all these years, it was NOTHING like the real thing.  I couldn’t have chowder anywhere else afterwards.

So the chowda craving kicked in and I was bugging people to go back to Boston with me.  My friend Colleen took the bait but on one condition.  We go to New York first for a few days and drive up to Boston.  Well, that was that and we were on our way.  I wish I hadn’t gone to New York because it’s ruined a lot of food for me.  Cheese cake and pastrami sandwiches just don’t taste the same anymore.  In fact, to get the taste of NY Cheesecake, I went to Morton’s of Chicago in Vancouver and bought a whole cake for $150 a year later (They flew them in fresh daily from NYC).

It’s been 3 years since I took this trip so my memory is quite blurred.  Let me know if some of my descriptions are wrong.  I also apologize for the quality of the photos, I took them with a Canon SD750 and it has horrible low light capabilities.  This was also before I figured out how to geotag my photos.  I didn’t learn how to do that until my trip to China in 2010.  Anyways, enjoy…

 

Jul 052011
 

I don’t know if this is true or not but I’ve noticed that I’ve picked up a lot of bad driving habits ever since purchasing my new Sonata and I believe it stems from watching my fuel economy.  Back when I was driving around in my sports car, red lights meant “alright, let’s race”…  Now that I’m driving a grown up car, it seems like red lights cause me to curse because now I have to slow down or even stop.

Why would that upset me in the Sonata and not in the MR2?  One word… well, more like an acronym…  MPG.  Ever since setting my gauge cluster to display my fuel economy, I’ve been obsessed with getting it lower (I think it’s because the Sonata’s fuel economy isn’t as good as I thought it was).  I’ve read a few hypermiling forums to see what some of the tips and tricks are to lower your L/100kms (I’m Canadian) and have applied them for a few months.  During these few months, I noticed that I’m a lot angrier when I drive.  One of the main techniques to increasing your fuel economy is slow acceleration and maintaining your momentum.  Where I didn’t used to yell and shake my fist at red lights, pedestrians and slow moving traffic… I do now.  All of those things cost you fuel economy, if you have to slow down, you will have to get up to speed again…. at a snails pace because rapid acceleration is bad.  I’ve noticed that I’ve been doing stupid things to maintain my momentum like tailgating, running late yellows, not slowing down before a turn, etc…  All of which are dangerous and I never did before I gave a crap about fuel economy….

I think I’m going to try this eco driving for another few tanks and go back to driving like I used to.  It’s a lot less stressful…  I mean is 12L/100km really that bad?