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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How to Sell on eBay





How to Sell on eBay

Selling on eBay is like selling anywhere else. It is no different than selling your stuff at a yard sale, flea market or anywhere else for that matter. Only difference is you have an audience of millions of potential buyers and the cost. Outside of product you will need two things. An EBay account and a PayPal account to buy and pay for things. A Paypal account is tied to your banking account and credit card(s). You only need credit cards if you choose to buy stuff. You have to add your checking account so you can transfer any money you make into your bank. You will be charged fees for listing items and final value fees when selling them. You will also be charged fees from Paypal for the money you receive. They make money off everything, but the fees are pretty reasonable on most items. You will need to read their fee structure as it changes, but if you sell something for $20 you will probably end up with about $16 of it after all is said and done.

Getting Started
1.  EBay - You have to Sign up. Go to www.ebay.com click on new and register. It will guide you through the process of putting in all your information, creating a user name, etc.

2.  Paypal - You have to Sign up. Go to www.paypal.com and follow the basic process as above. It will tell you that after you put your banking info in that you will get a deposit in a day or two. This is usually like a nickel or a dime and once you verify the amount in your accounts you go back to Paypal and put these amounts in to verify your account to make it active.

3.  Note: Never give your personal information out to anyone through email and never click on any emails to update your info. There are a lot of people who send emails that look like they are from EBay and Paypal, but are identity thieves. Ebay and Paypal will not send you links. They will have you go log into your account to do things. Always check the address bar in your web browser. Make sure they are ebay.com or paypal.com when you are putting your information in.

4.  What do you want to sell? You have to use your head. No one is going to pay more than something is worth. On Ebay it is the opposite. Everyone is looking for a deal and with the volume of sellers they can usually find it. Put the minimum on it you will accept and if it sells for more then great! You can sell new or used items or even stuff you make yourself. Possibilities are endless.

5.  Feedback – Feedback is crucial. Feedback is reviews given back to you when you buy or sell something. You start at zero. I never buy anything that has a zero feedback. One you know they are new and two they could be trying to rip you off. They have no history of anything. I would buy a couple of items off of Ebay and ask that you get feedback from the seller. Most sellers do it automatically when you give them feedback. When buying anything never give feedback until you get the item you paid for and that it is exactly what you ordered. There are good processes in places if something goes wrong so there is never a reason to be scared of doing business on EBay. I have been doing it for over 10 years and only had one issue that was taken care of fairly quickly.

6.  How to list it your item – Once you have identified all the things you want to sell you need to go out and look then up on EBay to see how much they are selling for. This will give you an idea on how much to ask. You can also get a good idea on shipping prices the others are charging. You can sort items and shipping cost which is what I do. I then list my final cost for both cheaper and they normally sell. When you sell EBay guides you through the process and helps you categorize where your item needs to be listed. You don’t need to advertise items as “featured items” These are expensive ads and unless the item is $100 or more I would not suggest it. Featured ads do put your ads to the top so they are seen more, but they are expensive, usually about 15% or more of total cost of item and their minimum used to be $19 plus all other fees.

7.  You need a picture – Ebay lets you upload one picture of your item for free which is something you really need to do. For higher priced items I would post multiple pictures. You can use a digital camera to take the pictures and upload them or you can find them online if they are new items. I never buy something that doesn’t have a picture.

8.  Describe your item – Ebay gives you plenty of space to describe your item and you can creative or basic. All up to you. I usually add the shipping to my price so I can advertise free shipping on everything. Most people sort by cost and shipping so if my total cost is the lowest it will go first. Give your item a good title and if you going to add shipping in your price put “free ship” in the title. Grab their attention.

9.  Put in your price. Again put the item the lowest you will take. If the item does not sell they only thing you are out is the listing fees, but that will add to your cost if you relist the item. You can also put a price for “buy it now” where someone can buy it without bidding. These work pretty well and is what I do mostly since you can list items for 30 days. With auctions your time is more limited. When you are done with all the options you are ready to save the listing. It will give you a link to your item so you watch it. You can also do this under “my ebay” when you log in your account. Check your account often due to buyers may send you questions about it.

Notes
•    There are dozens of books on how to sell on eBay. This article is just a quick way to help you get started.
•    Sell or buy inexpensive items to build up your feedback first.
•    You will have to ship the product on your own, so you're going to have to add shipping into the price; there's a section where you set the shipping. You can set this to free if you choose or you can put in a price. When someone buys something you can go through paypal and print out and pay for a label using UPS or the postal service. This will automatically deduct shipping fees from your paypal account and send the buyer the tracking information. This the easiest way. I use the US Postal service for most items due to they will pick the items up from my house. Use you head here. Find the cheapest way to ship something. Depending on size it may be cheaper to go to the post office to ship smaller and lightweight items. Remember every penny saved is more profit.
•    I do not sell overseas due to the amount of fraud out there. I also do not take Western Union for payment which is another fradulant way of people trying to rip you off.
•    Never agree to sell something and let the buyer use his own shipping. There are people who will do this. They pay you with Western Union, have UPS or whoever pick item up and then you find out the Western Union was bogus. Use EBay and Paypal only for payment and your shipping. There are some people out there that will try to rip you off just like anything else. Following simple rules will allow you to have fun on Ebay.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Cleaning your computer

Overview

This is only for desktops. Laptops will be covered later. Your computer gathers dust/hair/dirt particles constantly and can cause heat build up which can cause early processor failure. These items will find there way into your processor fan, auxiliary fans, power supply, floppy drives, CD-roms,etc. These items can build up in a power supply and basically overheat it until it fails. Having pets will contribute to this even further.

Your computer should be in a well ventilated area. Alot of computer desks have places made for them and some even have a door that you close to cover them. This does help to keep out dust , but also makes the computer work hard to dispel heat. You should clean you computer out every couple of months and outside of the purchase of compressed air it only takes a few items and a few minutes.

You will need a can of compressed air which you can get at any retail store, some lint free rags or paper towels, some plastic wire ties. A vacuum with a nozzle would be nice to use also when you are done using the compressed air.

At first you will want to leave the computer running. Take the side off the computer. On most computers this is the left side. There are usually a couple of screws on the back that you take off and the side panel will slide off. Some may have a lever you push down instead of screws. There are so many types I cannot describe them all here and you may have to look in your manual to figure out how to get access to the inside of your computer.

Step 1
Off we go


Once you have the computer open you need to identify the power supply. They are usually at the top of the back of the computer. One way to find it is to look at the back of the computer where the power cable goes in. Before you do anything and with the computer running make sure you do not touch the board or any devices in the computer. Cables are ok since the only thing with 110v is the actual power supply. All the cords inside are low voltage and will not shock you, nor will anything else. Also,-+ there is static in the computer and you don't want to short anything out. Once you identify the power supply, touch a metal part of the case to ground you to the computer, take your can of compressed air and spray into the vents on the back of the power supply from the inside of the case. You will see dust flying our the back of the power supply. Do this until you see no more dust.

Step 2
Dust be gone


Look for any auxiliary fans in the computer. Some are installed in the front of the computer or in the back or both. Repeat the same process and blow from the inside of the case out. When done and if you have a floppy drive on the front of the computer open the little door where disk goes and spray the air inside of it and it will blow out the back of the drive. When you have done this you can shut down the computer and power it off.

Step 3
Air it out

With the computer off and with the computer standing upright, take your air and start blowing from the top down, be sure to do the corners first. when you get to your motherboard find your processor. You will usually be able to identify as it will be the biggest device mounted to the board. It probably has a fan on top of it or a aluminum heat sink. Blow it out from all sides, but try not to touch it. make sure you hand is on a metal part of the case also. Make sure you spray the air well in the front and rear of the case. If you know how to take off the front panel of the case I would do this also due to alot of dust can gather here. Depends on the case, some are easy, some are impossible. Just do the best you can. If you clean your computer on a schedule this is not a big deal anyway as you will eventually get all the dust. When you have blown everything to the bottom of the case you can take a vacuum and get the rest out or you can take a paper towel/lint free rag and spray a little cleaner on the rag or just dampen it. Make sure you squeeze out any liquids. You only want it slightly damp to pick up the dust. Take the rag and wipe the bottom of the case where the dust gathered and remove it.

Step 4
Inside wiring


Now would be a good time to make sure your wires are managed together. Most wires are setup correctly from the factory. If your computer was custom made or is a non branded model this is more of an issue. Also adding devices to the computer over time can create a mess. You want to try to keep all the cables together as much as possible. You also want to keep them away from the processor fan.  Be sure when you are doing this that you do not pull any cables out of their connection or you could have a whole other problem. Be careful. Just look for loose cables or any cables near the processor or fans and secure them together. Pretty basic and use common sense.

Step 5
Outer case and cables


At this point the inside is pretty well done and you can close the case. You will now want to direct your compressed air to the back of the case where everything plugs into it. Use the air and blow around all the connections. You can also elect to use the wire ties and put all your outer cables together if they are a mess. I would do this all the way to where they plug into a surge protector which you should have, if not get one they are cheap. Having the cables organized under you desk is as important as all the other cable management. You want to keep them away from your feet getting to them and away from getting tangled up.

Step 6
Keyboards,case,and mice oh my!


Next you can clean off your case if you like. Doesn't really have any effect, but I like a clean case. Take paper towels, lint free rags, get them damp with some type of cleaner (Windex,409,etc) and wipe everything down on the case. Keyboards and mice are a little trickier. Turn your mouse over. See a light? If so take your air and blow out where the light is. Take a damp cloth again with cleaner (preferably anti-bacteria cleaner) and wire down the mouse all over.

If you don't see a light then you have a mouse with ball in it. Flip it over and you will see a cover over the ball. You can twist the cover off and remove the ball. You will see a wheel and two rollers on opposite sides. You should be able to see dirt buildup on all of them. I usually scrape the dirt off with my fingers, but you should probably clean it with rubbing alcohol and and q-tips. When you get all the rollers clean take your air and blow the dirt our and reassemble the mouse.

Keyboards are little bit harder and you can never get them 100% clean. Blow it out and take a damp cloth and wipe the keys down is about the best you can do. If it is really old and dirty keyboards are cheap and is probably best replaced.

Step 7
Computer Screens


There are basically two types of screens. The old CRT glass screens and the new LCD flat screens. Cleaning a CRT glass screen is easy. Take a damp cloth with window cleaner and wipe it down. Never take the monitor apart. No need to clean the inside and trying to do so will make you die. Just clean the glass and front part of the monitor shell and base.

LCD screens are different technology and need special cleaner. Do not use Windex or anything with alcohol unless you want a washed out flat screen. Pledge makes a good LCD screen cleaner. You should also you a soft cloth. They make special cloths for LCD's. Don't use paper towels, old rags, washcloths, towels, tissue. They can and will scratch the screen.

Summary
Happy PC


Well, if you have read and performed the previous blog about optimizing your computer along with cleaning the unit you now have a very happy computer that will be good to use for at least a month or so or until you click on that "win 1 Million dollars" pop-up and you fill your computer with spy-ware that it no longer runs. If this happens call me my labor rates are reasonable!


Saving the world one computer at a time
Michael

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Speed up my computer

There are a few easy tasks that you can do to improve the performance of your computer. Follow the below procedures and do them once a week or so to keep your computer running smooth and fast.

Step 1
Get rid of unwanted programs. 

Go to the Windows control panel and open it. Click on add/remove programs. Under Windows 7 it is called "Programs" Uninstall a program. Look for any programs you no longer use and click on that program to uninstall/remove it. Repeat this for any programs you no longer want on your computer.

Now scroll through this list and look for stuff you really don't need. "MySearch bar", "Google desktop"  Toolbars, Google, Yahoo, ask ,etc,. All the programs load up at startup and use memory. I don't know many people that have ever really used them. It is way for them disguise something they tell you that you need to make browsing easier , but is really used to monitor your surfing habits and direct advertising at you. If you don't use them uninstall them and check for them frequently. They always find a way back on your system through other programs.

Don't uninstall Microsoft items. These are normal updates to your system. If you do not know about a program look it up online to see if it is something you need or use.

Startup
Go to "Programs" and then "Startup". What is in there? Do you need these programs to start automatically? If not right click on the icon and delete it. This removes the program from startup. FYI. Don't delete the startup folder.

Step 2

Disk Cleanup and Recycle Bin


Under "Programs" and "Accessories" there should be a "disk cleanup icon. You can run this to remove temp files that you no longer need. On a later post I will show you how to do this more in depth to remove even more temp files and no longer needed files.

Recycle Bin. 
Normally, when Windows is installed the default setting is set to 10% or your hard drive space. With hard drives getting tremendous in size you really don't need that much space reserved for the recycle bin. For a 250gb drive this a whopping 25gb worth of space reserved just for deleted items. Right click on the Recycle Bin icon, click on properties and change the size to 3 % or you can customize your size to 3000 which is 3gb which should be more than enough and you will regain 7% of your drive space back to storage you can use. You can also choose to not save anything to the recycle bin and regain all the space back to storage.

When done right click and empty recycle bin.

Step 3

Internet Explorer.

Internet Explorer also reserves more space that it needs to for temporary files. Open up Internet Explorer (Version 8, most other versions similar), click on "Tools, "Internet Options". Under "Browsing history" click on settings. You will see "disk space to use" This could be set to over a 1000. Set it back to 50 which is 50 mb of temp files which is all you need and click"OK". Click on the "Security" tab and click on "reset all zones to default level and click apply. You could have installed a program that could have modified this from it's original settings. You can also click on the "Advanced" tab and chose to reset all settings back to default which is recommended.

Automatic updates

Make sure your computer is set to automatically download updates. This feature will automatically install crucial updates and download others that need to be manually installed. The manual updates will show up in the lower right taskbar as an upright gold shield. Click on the shield to bring up the menu for you to click on the programs to start the install. Note - Symantec Anti-virus software also shows up as a gold shield on the taskbar, but will the shield will be slanted to the right as not to be confused with the Windows update shield.

To Automate Updates in Windows XP
Start > Control Panel > Windows Security Center > Automatic Updates

To Automate Updates in Windows Vista
Start > Control Panel > Security > Windows Update

Firewall
Go to control panel then security. Make sure firewall setting is "on"

Step 4

Check the hard drive out and squeeze it tight.



Right above the start button there is a run box. In the run box type cmd and hit enter. This will pop up a black window. In that window type chkdsk /f and hit enter. It will tell you that the disk in in use and would you like to run this on restart. Type in Y for yes. When you reboot the computer it will run 5 stages of checking the hard drive for errors and will move any data on bad areas of the drive and mark those areas as not to be used again.


Go back to "Programs" then "Accessories" and click on "Disk Defragmenter" When the defragment box opens click on "Defragment" and start the defrag. There is no need to run the "Analyze" button. Defrag will analyze the disk first and if it doesn't need defragging it will tell you. Depending on how bad your disk is scattered this could take up to 10 minutes. When it gets done run it again. Defrag takes all the data it can on your disk and squeezes it together so it can be accessed faster.

When done reboot the computer and when it comes back up after running the chkdsk program you will be ready to go. I would suggest running defrag one more time after the chkdsk program has ran.

Well that's it for now, just remember to perform the above every week or so.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

How to setup a WiFi router

Wireless Overview

If you need mobility with your laptop, smart phone, net-book, etc. or you would like to reduce the number of cords and wires attached to your devices, then go wireless. Wireless comes in a few different speeds, A/B, G bands which operates on the 2.4GHZ frequency, and the newer faster N which operates on the 5GHZ frequency. Most wireless routers are backward compatible and support older and slower speeds. Best solution is to buy the latest model wireless Router to have wider coverage for all devices. Linksys which is owned by Cisco is the standard equipment widely used in homes. There are many other other brands out there, but I would recommend Linksys for home use. Belkin, Netgear are others well known.

Step 1

Choose your network hardware. The primary piece of hardware required is the wireless router. As mentioned above there is the older speeds of A/B (1st Gen up to 11mbs) and G (2nd Gen up to 54mbs ) and the newer faster N (3rd Gen up to 108mps). Once you decide on the router you will need a network card in whatever device you intend to connect to it. Smart phones and any laptop made in the last couple of years will already have them built in. If you already have wireless built into the device and you buy the latest router you should be fine. If you have a laptop that has a "N" card then you need a router that has ''N" speed as well. A special note here. To get the maximum speed out of any wireless band you usually have to have the same brand of network cards and routers. Due to the faster speeds now available this is not as much as an issue as in the past as it was with A/B band speeds. You can stream video without issue and perform file transfers quickly with the G band. The N band is even faster.

Step 2

Connecting your router to the Internet. There should be a port on the back of the router labeled "internet" and one labeled "WAN" on the back of the DSL/Cable modem. Use an Ethernet cable to connect from the DSL/Cable modem to the router. Turn off your cable/DSL modem by unplugging the power cord in the back of it and turn off the power to the wireless modem. Once both are powered off and the Ethernet cable is connected plug the power back to the cable/dsl modem. When you see lights on the front of the modem start lighting up then go ahead and power on the router.

Step 3

Here comes the hardest part which is configuring your router. Turn off/Shut down your computer. Connect your computer to the router by plugging an Ethernet cable into the computer and plugging the other end into the back of the Wireless Router. You should see some ports on the back of your router which are normally marked 1-4 or so depending on how many ports you have on the back of the router. You can plug the Ethernet cable into any of the numbered ports. Next, turn on your computer. At this point the computer will  obtain an IP address and connect to the router. Open a web browser window and enter the router's IP address in the browsers address field. The routers default IP address, default user name and password can be found in the routers owner's manual. Once you have accessed the routers configuration menu, you will need to select a network name (SSID), enable encryption (network key) (either WPA or WPA2) whichever encryption you use you will be asked to make a key or it will give you the ability to create one. Change your administrators password from the default setting so that only you can access your router to make changes.


Step 4

Be sure to change the SSID name to something that does not identify you and write the SSID name and network key on the bottom of the router for future use. You will need to know this key when setting up wireless devices to the router. You also have the ability to hide your SSID from broadcasting which is an even more secure way of locking down your wireless router from people trying to surf on your internet or trying it hack into it. This is the preferred method, but it will require you to supply the SSID name when connecting a device since wireless items will not "discover" it on their own. Also when you change your Admin password use something not easy to figure out. Don't use your home phone number or an easily figured out name. Make it hard. Use numbers and letters and possibly a combo of Caps and lowercase letters. Write the SSID, Network key and password on the bottom of the router. Trust me you will need it again and don't make the mistake of trying to think you will remember it. You won't remember it when you need it and then you will have to go through the process of setting the unit back to factory settings and reconfiguring the router. When done configuring the routers settings close the browser and disconnect the ethernet cable from your computer. The router will restart once the configuration process is complete.

Step 5

Turn on computers and other wireless networking devices that you want to use on the network. Wireless devices will attempt to join any network that is in range, specifically, the network with the strongest signal. Once your network is detected, you will be prompted to enter your WPA/WPA2 password before you will be granted access to the wireless network. If you chose to hide your SSID you will have to manually setup your wireless connection. There will be a place on your device to do this where can submit the information. Once you make the connection you will also be able to check a box on your computer to make your new wireless connection the preferred wireless connection. FYI. If you have desktops that have built in network cards and you want to install a wireless card all you have to do is install the card, install the drivers and follow the same process above as you would a laptop.

Summary

With wireless speeds increasing yearly wireless networking is the way to go to reduce clutter and get rid of all the wires. One note on wireless. Wireless has a range of several hundred feet out in the open, but once it installed in a room/house walls, brick and other obstructions can and will reduce speed. Also the farther away you are from the router the speeds are decreased. Good things is that wireless speed has increased tenfold over the last 5 years and will continue to get faster so these issues will eventually decrease in severity, but they are things you need to be aware of when troubleshooting connections