Short Shorts: How to buy a PC
The boss asks for your opinion. “I need a recommendation for a new computer.”
You ask a few questions. Price range? Purpose? Anything special it needs to do?
You take the task seriously. You conduct research. You think outside of the box. You are creative and expend energy. You want to do a good job.
This isn’t your specialty but you try your best. After finding what you think is a pretty good answer, you pass it on.
The next day that boss says, “My spouse told me to buy something else. Something totally different than what you recommended. I’m going with that.”
In a few days the computer shows up. It’s neither. It turns out the boss went for a third option. The very thing you cautioned against way back at the beginning.
The boss now has a stupid piece of shit but it was worth it to put you in your place and make you spin your wheels. It sure can be funny how things work out.
The Motorbike Sonic Boom
It was a hot day and I was out for a ride in the car. It was the kind of hot that made people wish they could die and hurry on to Hell so they could cool off a bit. Since my A/C was broken (like always) I had all of my windows rolled down. Suddenly an infant rolled by with a binky in his mouth.
Um. Wait one. Scratch that. Let me try that again.
Suddenly a grown man rode by on his motorcycle. And when I say “rode by” I mean that he whizzed by (illegally) so close that the cute little pink tassels hanging from his “ape hanger” handlebars literally dug ruts in my paint.
Ape hangers. Has there ever been another vehicle part in the history of time so aptly named? Methinks not. I love it when products describe their owners so accurately.
Meanwhile, since my windows were rolled down, my ears were in for a real treat.
BRAAAAOWN, BRRAAOOOM, RROOAAARR!!! BLAT BLAT BLAT!!! VROOM!!!
Nice onomatopoeia, eh?
A Boeing 747 taking off from inside my pants wouldn’t have been as loud. (But a lot more fun.) The sound waves from this dude’s audio wake slapped me in the face, driving my head back and into my car. With blood leaking from my ears and my ears ringing from a mild concussion, I paused a moment to ponder the psychology involved in this sort of event.
Continue reading →
Quick. You have to quicheck this quiout before it is too quilate!
Hurry, there are only a matter of seconds left. Act fast or you will lose!
Are you ready for QuiBids???
Johnny, tell ’em what they are playing for!
Product: Nikon D5000 Camera & Lens
Description: “The D5000’s 24-fps HD D-Movie mode with sound captures video clips with amazing clarity–offering new and exciting creative opportunities.”
Value Price: $699.00.
Opening Bid: 2 cents (Holy mother of God and WTF?)
What in the name of an aborted eBay is going on here?
Yep, just when you thought shopping was too easy and simple, along comes QuiBids, to capitalize on shopping excitement and cash in on basic human traits like addiction, compulsion, greed, and competition.
If you haven’t heard of QuiBids before, here’s how it works.
First, you sign up as a member and fork over your credit card data and purchase a “Starter Account” consisting of 100 “bids” for $60.00. This entitles you to visit the QuiBids site and click the “Bid” button 60 times. In other words, each bid costs you 60 cents.
If you bid on an item, like a iMac computer, for $35.54 and no one outbids you, you win the item. QuiBids brags about auctions like this iMac and the “95% saved” right on their web site. Just go pay the amount of the winning bid, in this case $35.54, and a shiny new iMac computer is yours.
Whoa! Hold on. This isn’t your grandparent’s eBay. Things work just a skosh differently on QuiBids.
First, win or lose, every time you click that “Bid” button you are spending money. You are giving up one of your pre-paid “Bids.” Think of “Bids” like poker chips in a casino. Just like a casino, QuiBids wants you to disassociate your actions from how you would feel if you were paying real money. Imagine if that “Bid” button read “Pay 60 Cents” instead. That wouldn’t do at all, would it?
Second, actions never end until 20 seconds have elapsed without bids. And every time you click the “Bid” button new seconds are put back on the clock to give other people the chance to outbid you. If you are a veteran auction sniper then QuiBids is a wet dream for you. The entire system is based on sniping.
So, let’s take a look at how a typical auction works.
The one that caught my eye today was that Nike D5000 Camera. I stumbled across it when the auction was at $22.00. QuiBids had my attention (to say the least).
I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck yesterday, though. I smelled danger. If something seems too good to be true it usually is. I went looking for the catch. There always is one.
The catch is the two points I just explained above. Each bid costs 60 cents and each bid extends the clock. Additionally each bid raises the new bid amount by the increment for the item, which is shown in the corner of the image. On the Nikon D5000 the bidding increment is 2 cents.
It has now been hours since I first spotted that camera. The wife and I literally showered and went downtown for lunch and came back home. The action is still running!
The current bid amount is $91.24. Still a good deal on a $699 camera, right?
Ah, my favorite part the post has arrived. It’s time for some math!
According to the QuiBids video I just watched, all items are listed at $0.00 and have a bid increment. Let’s say we want to calculate QuiBid’s profit on an item. After all, they are entitled to a little something for services rendered and managing the auction, right?
SOLD PRICE / BIDDING INCREMENT * BID COST = PROFIT$$$
Let’s plug in the numbers for the Nikon D5000 I’m watching right now. Yes, it has gone up in price as I composed this post.
$93.00 / $.02 * $.60 = $2,790.00
Profit??? Indeed! Not a bad amount to collect in fees on an item that retails for $699.00. Don’t forget that the wholesale cost for the item is probably closer to $400. (That’s a wild ass guess on my part.)
QuiBids has got to gets paid, yo. Skillz to pay the billz.
Let’s look at one more auction that just closed. The item is “Dragon Cinch Sunglasses.” The so-called “value price” is $74.95. The bidding increment was 2 cents and the item sold for $1.52. Even on this laughably puny auction QuiBids still pocketed $45.60 in bidding fees. Wow! (The wholesale cost on the item might have been around $45.)
But Wait, There’s More
Even if you lose the auction, QuiBids isn’t content to let you, the bidding fish, off the hook so easily. So you can apply the value of your bids wasted in a losing effort towards “Buy It Now.” In other words, if you entered 10 bids on an item but still lost the auction, just go buy the item and convert those wasted bids into a $6.00 credit off the retail price. A win-win. Or, as QuiBids describes it on their web site, “This way there is no bid that is ever wasted on QuiBids.” Of course that assumes every auction loser goes and pays full price.
Basic Human Pyschology
I previously mentioned human traits like “greed” and “addiction.” How does QuiBids push these buttons?
First, every bidder has a username and a cutsey little avatar to represent them in this QuiBids version of Tron.
Each time you click the “Bid” button your name gets flashed on the screen as the “Current Winner.” Oooooh, I just “won” something? Yes, the right to see your own username on your monitor for 1-20 seconds or so. Exciting, eh?
The current high bidder is always referred to as a “winner” whether the auction is over or not. I find that to be rather insidious.
When QuiBids says someone is the “Current Winner” they are hoping (and knowing) that people will key on the word “winner” even though in the context “Current” is the only word with any actual meaning. 99% of all bids will be outbid and that’s the moment when “winners” become “losers.” Gee whiz, for the life of me, I can’t imagine why they don’t flash that on the screen. D’oh.
To emphasize even more that QuiBids is merely a game there is even something called “Achievements.” You’ll find this word gets its own real estate on the site’s main menu bar. Once clicked, you’ll be taken to a page with subtle hints like a giant scoreboard (is QuiBids a sport?) and the word “Gameday” written on it. Using the achievements system you can earn little graphics called “Badges” that your competitors can see with your online profile. This allows QuiBids customers to identify which competitors are the biggest idiots. But the pyschology at work is still significant. “Let’s turn spending bids on QuiBids into game.”
This is sounding more and more like a casino, isn’t it. Perhaps QuiBids should be legally required to disclose that bidding is for “entertainment purposes only.” Just like a stripper pole, only there you actually get something.
Closing Thoughts – A Peek Behind the Curtain
In the end, QuiBids is just another form of gambling. Somehow online casinos are outlawed and even games like Holdem Poker have to be hosted on shady criminal islands so that compulsive Americans can illegally gamble. But QuiBids has found a way to make it all legal. I think. I’m not really sure if it’s legal or not. The fact that it’s online doesn’t prove shit.
Welp, I’d like to say that I’ll see you all next time but the truth is I’ll be gone from the blog for a while. I’m investing next month’s rent check into QuiBids. Wish me luck!
P.S. That Nikon D5000 auction is still going and at $103.96. I bet it goes longer than the Energizer bunny!
A psychology break
Two videos today with a psychological bent. Sorry I was was too busy spending the day trying to balance on my tummy to write anything of real substance.
The first video was actually make by Volkswagon but it is still pretty neat. They call it “The Fun Theory.”
The second video takes a look at our behavior conforming to gender expectations and is even more thought provoking.
I hope you’ll find these short videos worthy of consideration. They are certainly something to think about next time you walk into a retail store or select a product from a shelf. Just how mindful are we of what influences our behavior and choices?
Something gerbil this way comes
Since the dawn of time Empty Nest Syndrome (ENS) has afflicted women around the world when the last of their younglings finally struck out on their own. Now recognized as a real condition by organizations like the American Psychology Association, symptoms can include feelings of loneliness, depression and grief.
But did you know there is a variant of this condition that has the potential to be even more heartbreaking and devastating? Sadly, as the first person to discover and classify this condition, I’m here to tell you that for me this wasn’t just another scientific discovery. I’m also personally afflicted.
I have dubbed the condition False Empty Nest Syndrome (FENS). Basically this condition is triggered when an expected period of ENS is interrupted, typically by a youngling who either fails to leave the nest as anticipated or returns to the nest unexpectedly after only a short period of time.
Incidentally, and I apologize in advance if this is too much scientific jargon, the term for a youngling that triggers onset of FENS is “gerbil.”
The common characteristics of the genus Modern American Gerbil are:
- Typically a suburban male aged 21 or higher.
- Voracious appetite with a particular fondness for food that belongs to others.
- Usually a high school drop out who, in the intervening years, has invested little to no effort in working towards even a GED. (And also considers the word “college” to be base, vile and profane.)
- Maintains an unusually-enhanced ability to mooch off others.
- Common nutrition sources include beer, cigarettes, energy drinks (like Monster and Red Bull) and illegal drugs.
- Lives in a space (a room, a corner of floor within a room, or even a sofa or comfy chair) that becomes tainted and has a smell similar to the inside of an overly used sweat-sock.
- Can often go undetected for weeks leaving only telltale signs like empty containers of peanut butter and showing up unexpectedly at inopportune moments (like when you are naked).
Some gerbil behaviors can be fascinating. One in particular is deserving of extra examination. I call it The Deuce Run. This behavior usually happens when you haven’t seen the gerbil for a few days. The gerbil will show up, grunt some form of one-word greeting, then secrete itself in the nearest lavatory. At the conclusion of the visit, the gerbil will immediately depart, often completely undetected. In fact, in many cases, the only evidence of a gerbil visit during a deuce run will be the olfactory spore that lingers behind.
Please check back often for continuing coverage of FENS and the mysterious gerbil in this multi-part journal as I press on with my research.
How does a rat get in your toilet?
To blog on Christmas or not to blog? That is the question. My answer? Blog, of course! Ho ho ho! And I’m not even using the WordPress.com scheduling tool. This post is LIVE, baby!
For my first Christmas blog I wish to offer the following thought: How does a rat get in your toilet?
Seriously, inquiring minds want to know!
How in the world did I arrive on a topic like a rat in a toilet, especially on Christmas? It went a little something like this:
At my place of employment (usually referred to simply as the “shithole”) there is a sign in the bathroom that reads: EMPLOYEES MUST WASH HANDS.
My boss has studied psychology and is always using it on the unsuspecting minds of our customers. (My good buddy Counter Culture Clown just did a post on a similar theme.) The hand washing sign is yet another subtle Jedi mind trick. And, as we all know, Jedi mind tricks work best on the weak-minded.
Our business has nothing to do with food. We are not a restaurant. I’ve never seen a bathroom except in restaurant that had a sign that said, “employees must wash hands.” So what do we glean from this? It’s a subtle message in psychology from my boss to our customers. He wants them to make certain assumptions about him and his business based on that sign.
Unfortunately, like everything else he does, the sign is a lie. When the liquid hand soap runs low, something strange begins to happen. It gets thinner and thinner and thinner. Rather than refilling the dispenser with more soap because hand washing is oh-so-important he simply cuts it down and down with more and more water. It only takes a few days until you are washing your hands with nothing but lightly soap-scented water. What a joke.
So I was going to blog about that and went in search of an image that said, “employees must wash hands.” While conducting that search I came across the “how does a rat get in your toilet” image and a Christmas post was born!
Click the image above for a festive page filled with holiday goodness from Seattle & King County regarding how rats can get in your toilet.
Merry Christmas everyone!