Monthly Archives: September 2007

Contesting Goodness – We Got Bikes (x4) and More Small Wins

Building The Bike Green Youth 15 Speed Diamondback Copperhead mountain bike 

I received my four mountain bikes delivered right to my door – already! We have the two adult bikes and one youth bike assembled and in use. They turned out to be a very nice Diamondback Copperhead (21-speed on the adult, 15-speed on the youth). The girls youth bike is blue, the others green. We love them! Since Haley is all but 3, we’re going to sell the blue youth bike if we can, and then purchase a baby/child seat for dad’s bike instead. We don’t have the space to store the bike for another 7 years so getting the child carrier makes sense, I think.

I honestly hadn’t ridden a bike myself in about fourteen or 15 years. The first trip I took ended with my pant leg in the chain and a huge rip. Oh did the boys at home ever tease me! After that initial mishap, all was well. Surprisingly, I actually do enjoy it and have been out on several trips with my son already. It is great family fun exercise. I can’t wait until we get a child carrier — imagine three of us touring down the road on those green machines. What an excellent contest win! 

This was from the Nestle You Go Play Contest. My son should be getting an MP3 Player (Kool-Aid Contest) and I got a Limited edition Backback from the Bens Bakery Contest.  Hershey’s Rip The Wrap contest is a great way to get free MP3s. I’m almost at my 20 win max limit. Those are all Canadian contest links and all wins from September were from ‘Instant Win’ contests.

For more contesting goodness be sure to check out my 5 Contesting Tips For Beginners post.

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eBay: Canadian PowerSellers Tapped for Taxes, Keyword Listing, Credit Card Numbers Divulged, and More

The latest edition of eBay Watch has been published over on Ecommerce-Guide.com this morning. In the news this week is eBay’s third-party advertising, PayPal promotions, credit card numbers appearing in eBay forums, Canada send the Tax man to eBay, eBay Lingo, and Jay Leno’s desk on the auction block.

“‘On Thursday the Federal Court of Canada ruled that eBay Canada Ltd. must release personal information about its high-volume sellers to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), assisting the government agency in locating sellers who are not paying their fair share of taxes. According to a CTV.ca report, the CRA is targeting Canadian eBay sellers who qualified for the PowerSeller program in 2004 and 2005. The decision brought down by the Federal Court of Canada fueled discussions on the eBay Canada community forum. While some comments applauded large eBay businesses being forced to pay up just as brick-and-mortar stores do at income tax time, others believe this will only contribute to a decline in listings on the Canadian eBay auction site.’

“‘Additionally, a large number of Canadian eBay members, who are smaller sellers, said in their community forum posts that they are just unsure of what to do about eBay expenses and sales when it comes to income tax. Currently a search on the CRA Web site shows no helpful guides or information specific to eBay sellers.'”

eBay Watch: Tips for Keyword Building and Listing
By Vangie Beal – September 28, 2007

IM Watch: Presidential Candidates to Appear via IM

The latest edition of IM Watch has been published over on InstantMessagingPlanet.com. Making headlines this week is MTV and MySpace to host presidential aspirants in IM-mediated dialogues, Gizmo for Mobile ties together IM networks and offers VoIP-over-cell, an iPhone client goes 1.0, Secunia discloses an AIM vulnerability and more.

“‘Last week Shape Services released version 3.0 of its IM+ All-in-One Mobile Messenger for Palm-powered devices. The IM+ All-in-One Mobile Messenger lets subscribed users chat with friends on AIM, iChat, Live Messenger, Yahoo, ICQ, Jabber, Google Talk and MySpaceIM from PalmOS-based devices. Features include contact list information, dynamic input area support, presence status, message history, sound notifications, 5-way navigator support for Treo devices and more. Users can try IM+ All-in-One Mobile Messenger (v3.0) free for seven days. The cost to purchase is $29.95 USD. The purchase price is a one-time fee: all further updates are included. Users can also transfer the license for free if, in the future they switch to a device using another mobile operating system such as Symbian, or Windows Mobile.’

“‘Also released this week is a new version of ApolloIM, an instant messenger client for the Apple iPhone. The client has been updated and released as version 1.0. The official developer blog lists support for DotMac, ICQ, MSN and AIM, buddy list notifications, away/un-away messages, time stamps, and a new user interface as some of the new or changed features. Users can download the installer from the new ApolloIM Web site.’

IM Watch: Presidential Candidates to Appear via IM
By Vangie Beal, September 25, 2007

Nifty Tech Terms You Can Use (#5): mash-up

For those looking to add some technology lingo to their blog or articles, or for those who just need a little help figuring some of these odd words out, here is another trendy tech term you can use; mash-up. I find it odd how when you look through page after page of strict acronyms and such serious sounding technology words you can roll mash-up right off the tip of your tongue, and it actually makes sense. According to the official mash-up entry at Webopedia.com a mash-up is;

“‘… a new breed of Web-based applications created by both hackers and programmers, typically on a volunteer basis, to mix at least two different services from disparate, and even competing, Web sites.’

“‘This capability to mix and match data and applications from multiple sources into one dynamic entity is considered by many to represent the promise of the Web service standard (also referred to as on-demand computing).’

“‘A mash-up, for example, could overlay traffic data from one source on the Internet over maps from Yahoo, Microsoft, Google or any content provider. The term mash-up comes from the hip-hop music practice of mixing two or more songs.”

eBay Watch: Free Auction Management Tool

This week in eBay Watch find out how eBay resolves the multiple log in issue and the new offline gift card promotion. I also discuss the Auctiva, a free auction management tool and all the new features they expect to launch next week, and a new Facebook application is for sale on the auction block.

“‘Next week, the developer’s of Auctiva plan to release several new upgrades as well as some new features for the auction management tool. When I recently reviewed Auctiva (see Fee Free: Three New eBay Management Packages), I found it to be one of the better auction management packages available, and some of the new features are definitely going to help eBay sellers list, manage and sell more efficiently, with more options to choose from.’

“‘Starting with International support, with this upcoming release Auctiva says they will include eBay Canada (www.ebay.ca) as a fully supported auction site. This makes it one of only a few services that supports Canadian commerce, with support for Canada Post shipping options. Auctiva already provides support for eBay United States, United Kingdom, Australia, eBay Motors (US) and eBay Motors Parts &; Accessories (US). Other new features and options to look for in the upcoming version, according to Auctiva, include…”

eBay Watch: Free Auction Management Tool
By Vangie Beal, September 21, 2007

Canadian Dollar – OUCH!

Well being a Canadian who has earned US pay cheques for many years I had my first moment of disbelieve. I usually deposit to a Canadian bank US funds account. As I need money I simply go online and transfer funds from my US account to my Canadian account. For the first time ever a transfer of US funds to Canadian was LESS than par (the banks offer slightly less than going rate to make their money, of course). Unbelievable! I hope the rate fluctuates enough (down with C$ up with US$) so I can try and exchange what I have and not umm.. lose money.  Here are the results:

Amount : 100.00 USD
Conversion Rate: 0.9911
Converted Amount: 99.11 CAD

Like many Canadian self-employed writers who do work for US-based publications, I feel it. Frequently, in the past, I would accept lower than ‘average’ rates in US dollars, knowing that after the conversion it would actually be 20-30% (or more) higher, making the job worth the pay. There was no problem with, lets say $100 US for ‘insert job here’ rate when you knew you’d get $125 or more for the job. Over the past year where it averaged $110CDN on $100USD, I’ve frequently wondered about this and watched my income decline since the Loonie gained. Its definitely not worth holding US funds any more, not for the time being. Forecasts say the two dollars will be on par early next year, however once you add in  banking exchange for actual transactions (especially on cheques rather than physical US money) it will be even less as the dollars reach par.

Ah. darn it.

For those interested in the bigger, global impact, here are two articles published by Canadian News sources:

Globe and mail: Eric Lascelles parses the Fed
There are two ways to interpret the implications of this move for the Canadian economy. On the one hand, it suggests that the Fed is concerned about the prospects for the U.S. economy, and thus that we should be on watch for a related dampening of Canadian exports. But insofar as the entire purpose of Fed rate cuts is to stimulate U.S. demand, this could bode well for the Canadian economy. Net net, I’m not sure the Canadian economy will be overly influenced either way by this move.

CTV: U.S. interest rate cut lifts loonie to record high
U.S. has been dealing with the partial collapse of their housing market plus a worsening credit crunch. In the meantime, Canada has benefited from record-setting crude oil prices and strong demand for metals, coal, chemicals, grain and other farm products.

5 Contesting Tips For Beginners

 When I posted last week about my recent contest wins I had some friends on Facebook ask how and where I managed to win that stuff, so I decided that for today I’ll venture away from being Ms.Geek and what’s new on eBay to discuss another passion of mine. Contesting. I firmly believe that if you are entered in contests every single day of the year, over the course of the year you’ll win. Maybe not big or huge prizes, but you will win something eventually. When I am ‘into’ online contesting I usually enter anywhere from 50 to 200 contests per day, depending, of course, on what companies are currently running promotions. 

To get started here are five tips that will help you when entering online contests.

  1. Get a free Gmail account and use this account only for contests. Contests can bring great wins but it can also bring a lot of spam and junk mail. Be sure to check your e-mail once per day when possible. Some contests may require an e-mail response within a specific timeframe, and you don’t want to lose a prize simply because you didn’t reply fast enough.
  2. Use ROBOFORM. This application lets you enter in personal details (enter only what you need for contests) and will offer to automatically fill forms on your contest pages. Most contests will state in the rules entry by automated method is void, but roboform is not considered an automated entry (this generally refers to scripts which do everything for you, or services you pay for that automatically enter you in the contest). You’ll save hours of time using this program. I also keep my name, mailing address, number, e-mail address, DOB and so on in a text file. For flash-based forms where you can’t use roboform, cut-and-paste is faster and you won’t typo important contact information.
  3. READ THE CONTEST RULES. Be sure you meet the eligibility requirements and understand what fees or taxes you will be responsible for paying (if any) if you win. I understand US residents have taxes and other issues that Canadians may not have to consider for contesting. In Canada some residents of specific provinces (usually Quebec) may not be eligible, and some states in the USA. If you are not eligible to enter or think fees, taxes and so on for this contest are too much, don’t waste your time entering. Skip it and move on.
  4. Know The entry limits. By exceeding the maximum entries per person or household you may miss out on a prize. The contest rules will tell you how often you can enter. Here are the common ones:

    DAILY: Enter once per day during promotion period
    24 HOUR: Enter once every 24 hours during promotion period
    WEEKLY: Enter once per week during promotion period
    MONTHLY: Enter once per month during promotion period
    SINGLE: Enter one time only during promotion period
     

  5. BOOKMARK Contest Entry Pages in an organized way. Create a contest directory in your browser favorites list. Contest entry pages can be bookmarked, a good idea for contests where you can submit multiple entries over time. Once the page is bookmarked I always rename the entry in favorites to help. For example I start the name as shown with DAILY, MONTHLY, WEEKLY etc so I do not have to read rules again to know how often I can enter. I change the name to be either the prize or company sponsoring it. I also paste any UPC number or skill testing question answer (for Canadian contests) that I need into the title as well. This saves you a lot of time when submitting multiple entries over time. Here is a screenshot crop showing you how I rename my own contest page entries in my Favorites.

     


Remember
Have fun with it! I usually pick a ‘contesting time’. Once I have the kids into bed, I like to sit and have a cup of coffee to relax. This is usually when I sit in front of the computer and do most of my contest entries. If you have a question about contesting, just use the comment button under this post and ask and I’ll try my best to answer. Also, feel free to add your own contesting tips!

You can’t win if you don’t enter!