Monthly Archives: February 2007

I Bought A House!

That’s right, I bought a house.

Technically the house is still just a plot of land with the builders temporary office and a large trash bin on it…but it’s MY plot of land.

I put down a $500 deposit and instructed the builder (Centex Homes) to build it far out as possible, so I won’t be moving in the new house till around November 2007.

The plot I bought was the last one in the entire neighborhood (71 and Riverside in Austin, TX.). It’s on a cul-d-sac and is an oversized lot so I’ll have a bigass backyard.

SUPPOSE SOMETHING GOES WRONG and I don’t end up wanting the house, I basically get my deposit back from Centex. However I can also sell the contract to someone else and make a nice 4-figure profit as the demand for space in the neighborhood is very high.

The cool thing is this community is strictly no-investors, so the demand for these homes is not coming from people just trying to flip the homes or rent them out, which is a sign that a bubble is not driving the prices, but just shear population growth (Austin is growing like crazy).

The reason this neighborhood had such great prices is because it’s in a relatively unknown area. However there are 4 major projects around the neighborhood under construction (and nearing completion), and a brand new highway with an exit/entrance right near by. It’s also only 5 miles away from Downtown.

There is nowhere to buy a house in Austin for $148,000 with that proximity to Downtown.

This is a bad Photoshop rendition of what the brand new house will look like. In actuality it will look much like that house on the right.

Me on my swath land (and an industrial receptacle in the background):

Move in date: November 2007
First Payment: October 2007
Price: Roughly $148,000 + additional features.
House: One story, 4 bedrooms, roughly 1,500 sq. ft.

One room will be my bedroom, one room will be an office, and two rooms will be rented out. There are 3 very large high tech companies not even a mile from the house, so I can pretty easily find some other young professionals to rent to.

Hopefully this turns out to be a good financial move in the long run, I have a feeling it will with the amount of development happening around here! I also have 8 months before I have to start paying for anything, which means I can get proper finances in place for the mortgage and start saving for all those expensive things associated with home ownership (furniture / tools / TV / bedroom sets etc. etc…).

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Blogger.com Dropped NevBlog – Traffic Drops By Half

Over the last few weeks I noticed NevBlog was not ranking in Google for any of the keywords previously bringing in lots of traffic (“Starbucks Liquor”, “Neville Medhora”, “Easiest Job In The World” etc…).

Even if you directly typed in “NevBlog” into Google the only thing that came up was other sites and my .xml site feed.

I usually don’t care about the traffic this site gets, but I care about some of the outgoing links, and without the site being indexed, those links were worthless…..I also can’t search for past posts to refer people to…..plus I just wanted to know what the hell was going on!

I thought it was a temporary hiccup in Google’s indexing, but almost a month has passed without improvement. I used Google’s Webmaster Tools and they said my site was being indexed just fine and nothing was wrong.

I casually mentioned it to my buddy Jon Brelig, and being the expert he is….he noticed a Robot NoFollow meta tag on my site. This was NOT on my Blogger template, instead Blogger put it in with the “Blog:Meta:Data” tag

THE PROBLEM:
Blogger.com made me switch to the “New Blogger” which apparently sneakily added a NoFollow tag. I figured there MUST be a setting on Blogger to fix this, but I haven’t found it.

THE RESOLUTION:
Removing the BlogMetaData tag from my Blogger template altogether.

THE FOLLOWUP:
I wrote this and removed the meta at 11:00pm on Monday night (2-26-2007). Just out of curiosity I want to see how long it takes Google to re-index my page for the term “NevBlog“.

House Of Rave on a new Supplier

HouseOfRave will be going through some big inventory changes over the next few days as I switch suppliers. Changing suppliers is no small task because it will essentially be a whole new business. I will probably end up LOSING money on HouseOfRave this month, but it’s in the name of future expansion which can’t happen with the current supplier.

There are tons of different changes I will have to deal with:

ORDER PROCESS
I still will essentially get orders then forward them to the new supplier, but for now it must be done the ghetto way of manually entering each order into their website. This takes lots of time, but will be worked on as the relationship builds.

PAYMENT TO NEW SUPPLIER
I used to send money at the end of the month for products I ordered. Since I don’t have an established relationship with the new vendor, I must make sure to pay them soon afterwards. This has actually worked out quite nice, because I simple pay them each day for the products I ordered. I know right then and there how much profit has been made per day, the supplier gets his money right away, and at the end of the day I don’t owe anyone anything.

MAKING MONEY
This one will be hard, as with the new supplier I currently have a straight percentage discount for products which isn’t very high right now. Topping that off, the supplier has higher shipping prices than the previous which really bites into my profit. However with this system I know that if I bring in $1,000 I just made approximately (percentage of that) in profit.

TRACKING SALES
I used to track sales in a specifically designed Excel sheet so I could compare it to the actually invoice at the end of the month to check for billing errors. Luckily the shopping cart system I’m using (Yahoo) has more statistics features than Shopsite (which I use for HouseOfRave), so this will actually be an easier job. Also with the current payment system I have going with the supplier, I can easily see my per-day profits at the end of the day.

DIFFERENT INVENTORY
This is the biggest pain of all. Since HouseOfRave sells such niche rave/club stuff, I have to scour the new supplier’s inventory for stuff that would do well in that area, and their selection of those kinds of products is relatively limited. This might be a bad thing, but it also might be a good thing. Perhaps I may stumble upon a new genre of products that sells very well on HouseOfRave? I’ve learned you can NEVER quite predict which items are a big hit. I’ll just have to continually change things up on HouseOfRave to see what sells or doesn’t.

INVENTORY PICTURES / DESCRIPTIONS
This is a big change as pics and descriptions take the longest amount of editing and creating time. Because HouseOfRave was a very rave/club niche site, so it had a lot of blinky stuff with blinky images to compliment. Some of the pages would be filled with product images that looked like this:


Now for the most part the pictures will be stationary and the products will not be as “Blinky” which may or may not be a good thing. I always thought the animated .gif images the previous supplier always used were cheesy, but after removing a lot of the current products, I quickly realized that all the cheesy blinky product pictures were a big part of the site.

They just plain demonstrated the product effects very well. It’s funny how AJAX, Flash and other in vogue technologies can help a website sell more and look better, but sometimes a simple .gif image (which has been around since 1985) can be much more effective.

I started going ahead and making .gif images for some of the products the new supplier offers and also for BodyMonkey.com because I realized how much more interesting they make the site look. With a simple .gif you can convey a lot more information in one image….like how my studying is going

Updates

H O U S E O F R A V E – U P D A T E :
Over the last 2 years HouseOfRave has gone from making a few hundred bucks a month in profit to $6,000+/month. However the supplier has been experiencing pains along the way with the increased order volume.

The same problems keep happening over and over and the same excuses are being given over and over. Despite all my best attempts, I can’t get them to fully cooperate with my steps for expansion, so after 6+ years of doing business, it’s time to say goodbye to them as my sole supplier.

HouseOfRave is currently in a state of two different suppliers as I switch sources, and by the end of February I will be completely switched to a new one who is oriented more towards customer satisfaction, fresh products and prompt delivery.

N E V B L O G – U P D A T E :
I believe comments will for the most part be gone from future posts. Comments are entertaining, but for the most part relatively useless. Occasionally I get some good ones, but the majority are a waste of time. I get GREAT emails, but comments are not well thought out and are generally self-promotion for someone else with a blog or some lame remark about blah blah blah…..

L E X U S – U P D A T E :
Lovin’ it!

E D U C A T I O N – U P D A T E :
After not being in school for a while the psychology course I’m trying to finish online before I go to China is uugghhh…..

I’ve been sticking to my schedule, but it’s not fun having read about, take notes on and then answer questions about bunk theories made by Sigmund Freud. Hopefully this course gets more interesting.

T W O – M O S T – I M P O R T A N T – T H I N G S :
The two things I’m most focused on for the next few days will be finishing the psych class and switching HouseOfRave over to the new supplier.

I might even have to ::shudder:: stay in on a Friday night and study.

M O O D – U P D A T E :

Resumite Sold, I’m $145 Richer

Resumite.com was put on sale a few days ago, and now the auction is over.

Total I made was

So all in all Resumite for me wasn’t a failure, but not necessarily a stellar success either. It was something that had potential, but it just wasn’t in my interest or right timing.

All in all I learned something and made a little money. End of that saga!

Like most of the little sales like this, I put the money away:
30% – Bills Account
30% – Investment Account
20% – Permanent Savings
10% – Spending Account 1
10% – Spending Account 2

Finishing a Psych 309 Class

Long story short with lots of important details left out:

1.) While in college I took a Psychology 309 class by correspondence so I could do it over the internet.

2.) I’ve always been pretty lazy about school.

3.) I have till March 22nd to finish the course (I leave for China on March 23rd and the class expires on the 30th or is marked as if I failed.

4.) I was almost done with the course when my computer crashed…no backups of the course work.

5.) I’ve got to re-do the whole thing in less than a month.

6.) I’ve been saying #5 for the last 4 months.

Each lesson has 2 parts, a computer-graded assignment and an essay for the instructor to grade. I have to finish the course much before the planned end date because something always goes wrong and a buffer zone is required.

Judging by my academic past, this kind of feat has never been pulled off (Oh yea, and I HAVE to make at least an 80 in the course). Each section of this class is really, really long and some of the questions are quite in-depth. So much for being a blowoff class like I initially thought. With everything else I have going on, this is going to be hard…..but possible if I focus on it.

In the top-right corner of this page I want to put a check-off list near my calendar to ensure I’m keeping pace with this schedule….but I’ll do that later because I’ve already spent 30 minutes making this post and TALKING about doing the coursework rather than just doing it.

Someone needs to call me up and bitch at me if the assignments aren’t on time….like a mean professor.

The Face of BodyMonkey

A new business I’m getting ready to launch called BodyMonkey.com is starting to take shape, and one of the gimmicks is having a monkey as the logo.

I’ve ignored the stylistic part of the design thus far because the backend functions and whatnot are much more important. As most of that stuff nears completion, I’ve had to get my creative side going and get a logo done.

Unfortunately if it were up to me to draw a “Cool, badass monkey with a heart of gold” it would at best look like:

….yea….so I’ve been searching around for an artist. The hard part is describing what I see in my head onto paper…partly because I don’t even know what I want “The Monkey” to look like. So one night out Downtown I saw a guy doing portraits for people at a bar. Got his card, called him up, and met him Downtown again a few days later, but this time with a binder full of monkey pictures.

In the dark bar on a Monday night I tried describing to him what BodyMonkey was and what I wanted…..since I hardly knew what I wanted, I let him go ahead and do his thing. With his headlamp on for light, here’s the first drawing:

I didn’t like it. I thought it looked kinda scary. I also thought it was way too “Monkeyish.” I want the character to be a monkey, but not a realistic looking monkey.

My lack of direction was apparent. I further told him that The Monkey would be in different situations on different pages of the website. In the Breakdancing Video section The Monkey will be in funky clothes bustin’ a move. In the Barware section The Monkey will be dressed in a suave tuxedo drinking a martini. In the Magic section The Monkey will be pulling a rabbit out of a hat and so forth……

So the next drawing came out like this:

Not bad! Since these were very, very rough drafts, this was a great start. After some fine tuning, adding more personality traits, coloring and Photoshopping, this picture will look like a finished character ready to post on the site.

The hardest part is getting the character down, after that it’s easy for the artist to re-render The Monkey in different locations and situations. Then after Photoshopping you can make The Monkey look like anything!

One small step closer to getting BodyMonkey completed!

Buying a New Used Lexus GS300

After my last accident I needed a new car, and I finally got around to buying one….my new (used) black 1999 Lexus GS 300.

WHY A LEXUS?
I was thinking of buying another Toyota Camry because it was such a great car, but I decided to step it up a notch and go with a Lexus…..same great quality with a little more luxury. The rational thing to do was buy a relatively cheap new car for the same price, but many times the rational thing isn’t the most fun! I’ve saved up a bit of money over the years, and I was prepared to drop around $16k on a car…..which doesn’t exactly afford the nicest of new car.

I decided I wanted a used 1998+ Lexus GS 300 with under 100,000 miles. Research showed me this is a very long-lasting and reliable car….not to mention Lexus has been the consistently rated the #1 most reliable car for years.

On a very superficial level, your car says something about you. I wanted to go for the young professional look (not sure how professional I am) but I didn’t want to spend $45,000+ on a BMW or new Lexus.

— — — — — — — — — —

SEARCHING FOR THE PERFECT CAR:
Perusing Craigslist, AutoTrader and Yahoo Autos for a few weeks made it clear that all the good deals on private party Lexus’ in Texas were in Dallas which is about 3 hours away from Austin.

I passed on a few deals I shouldn’t have because they were in Dallas, but finally I found a good one and rented a car to Dallas. Patience was key here. I was getting a little hasty at first because I just wanted to get this whole car thing over with. I’m glad I waited a little bit longer for another good deal to come along.

— — — — — — — — — —

RENTING CAR, WITHDRAWING CASH:
I got a one-way airport-t0-airport rental car from Austin to Dallas, so I could ditch the car if the deal went through and had to drive the Lexus back from Dallas. Since I’m under 25 there was a fee, there was also a fee for one-way drop off, and I also got upgraded insurance (juuuuust in case) which brought my total to $113 for the entire rental car, plus a $30 tank of gas in the end.

The night before the car rental I went to my local Bank of America and withdrew $15,000 in cash. That $15,000 involved a lot of hard work and savings over the years, yet it fit snuggly inside two small envelopes. I just HAD to play around with it!


$15,000…..Not as impressive looking as it sounds.

Money smells funny.


I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do this!

Years of saving and hard work = Half inch stack of paper.

— — — — — — — — — —

BUYING THE CAR
I finally met up with the guy in Dallas after visiting several Lexus dealerships and viewing some other private party cars around town. Did a quick test drive, went through my check-list of things to look for and decided to seal the deal. In the end it came to $15,000 in cash even.




Sitting pretty on the driveway. 1999 Lexus GS 300 with 65K miles.

— — — — — — — — — —

BEING FORCED TO GET A LOAN
I wanted to pay for this car in cash, and I did…..however I DON’T want to miss this opportunity to put a loan on my credit report. Therefore I’ve already arranged to have a $10,000 loan taken on the car from a Federal Credit Union. All I have to do is transfer the car title to the credit union for collateral, they write me a $10,000 check and I make monthly payments which looks good on my credit.

I wish the whole credit system worked in favor of people who pay off their cars in cash, otherwise I would never take this step.

— — — — — — — — — —

INSURANCE
I’ve got GEICO insurance which was a pretty pleasant experience, and since I was in two wrecks in the last 3 years (My fault or not), my insurance for the Lexus is $1,080 for 6 months….yikes. The original quote they gave me was for $650 for 6 months….until that pesky little driving record was pulled up.

— — — — — — — — — —

So I finally get to cross “Buy a new car” off my to-do list. So far the car has been wonderful, and I’m very glad I bought it. For some reason the most fascinating part of this whole experience…….I have seat warmers!

Anti-Goals for 2007

For 2007 I’ve decided NOT to set any goals.

When I was reading the book Good to Great, some successful guy said that people around him would always say, “THIS is going to be the year that (insert goal)” and it would almost never happen. However when someone just shut up and handled their business, good things started following very quickly.

When I was trying to draft some New Years Resolutions, I wrote some down…but they just didn’t sit right…. So I decided I didn’t want any. I still have long-term directions, but for 2007 I shall be for the most part goal-less.

Selling Off Resumite

It was a good idea that worked pretty well, but I’m no longer pursuing it and it’s time to go.

I’ve posted www.Resumite.com for sale in the SitePoint forums, the ad can be VIEWED HERE.

With all the added bells and whistles on the auction, it cost me $65 to post. A basic listing would have cost $20.

It would be nice to see someone take over the site and actually make money with it. It kind of ties in with my making money with simple web design instead of Web 2.0 thing.

I’ll see how much it fetches by Feb. 20th 2007.