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Communication hierarchy Wed, Aug 29, 2007
I've determined that there's a hierarchy of communication methods.  It goes like this: 
  1. Face-to-face.  This is the best method of communication.  It's what you use when you need something right away.  It's effective at getting things done, but it takes time and effort.
  2. Phone.  You use the phone when it's something important but you don't want to go through as many of the normal social interaction guidelines such as greetings, how are things, nice weather, how's your wife, etc.
  3. Text message.  This is probably the most efficient method of communication.  It requires very little time or effort, and it often gets a quick answer.  But it's completely dependent on the person (a) having a cell phone, (b) turning it on, and (c) having it with them.
  4. Email.  This is sadly the most ineffective method of communication most of the time.  It's a great way of getting things done, but it often depends solely on the receiver, the frequency of checking, and the typical speediness of replies.
I've found several times recently that a complex problem had a simple solution, all because of a phone call.  Instead of emailing or text messaging, the problem was solved immediately by picking up the phone.  However, sometimes phone calls are ineffective because people aren't near their phone.  In that case, text messages are also usually worthless.  Emailing can be the best bet, but it depends on the time of the day and which address is used.  For example, if I email Wendy's personal address, I know she only checks it once or twice a day, so she probably won't be responding very quickly.  If I instead email her work address, it'll automatically get sent to her Blackberry, where she usually gives an instantaneous response.  However, I also have to keep in mind that emails I send to Wendy's work address occasionally get lost, so it's not always reliable. 

In conclusion, it's almost like there's a separate hierarchy of communication methods for each individual person.  I recommend not communicating at all. #psychology

Antiques Wed, Aug 29, 2007
I'm surprised not only by how little interest I have in antiques, but by how much interest other people have in them.  I was driving home from work yesterday and I was forced to inhale some dirty exhaust from a classic car, a yellow Barracuda.  It was a nice-looking car, and its engine sounded powerful.  But in all honesty, I can't see myself ever owning a classic car like this.  For me, a car is a functional object.  It gets me from point A to point B.  A classic car would be about as useful to me as a classic computer.  Old, obsolete hardware, uncomfortable, poorly ventilated, susceptible to spontaneous fires.  It was almost comical to watch the guy driving the car try to get in a comfortable position in that giant bench seat with no headrest.  He kept himself cool by rolling the windows down.  I wonder what he does when it's in the 90s?  In the 10s?  I appreciate the idea of a classic car.  It's more about the look and the sentimental value.  But honestly, I like my adjustable seat and my headrest. 

That got me thinking:  What antiques would actually be valuable to me?  Most antiques I can think of are functional objects:  Tables, chairs, lamps.  If it's not functional, I would assume it's artsy, and I don't venture into those lands.  I can see the value of antiques if older things were build stronger and made to last.  Certain hand tools, for example, were made to last generations.  And they do.  Hand tools these days are made of cheaper, more readily available materials (e.g. plastic), and the quality isn't nearly what it once was.  But what you gain in durability, you sacrifice in functionality.  I could use a screwdriver from the 1800s, or I could use an electric drill I bought a few years ago.  I could attempt to keep a classic car in running condition, or I could depend on my Toyota Camry.  My Toyota Camry probably won't run in 20 years, but by then, we'll be driving around in personal hovercraft so it won't matter (ha!).  Also, I doubt anyone would want to resurrect a 20-year Camry.  It just doesn't have the same appeal as a typical classic car.  And if antiques are about appeal (visual or psychological), it looks like I won't be getting into them any time soon. #psychology

eBay doesn't always suck (2) Wed, Aug 29, 2007
A few months ago, I was pretty mad at eBay because of the whole sniping thing.  A few recent experiences reminded me that eBay can be a useful service if used properly. 

Since getting a new cell phone, I had been thinking about selling my old one.  After looking at some of the Treo 650s currently being sold on eBay, I was unsure if I could sell mine at all, let alone get a decent price for it.  I decided to try it out and see what happened.  About 15 minutes after I listed it, somebody bought it.  I still don't know why the person bought mine as opposed to any of the other ones listed in better condition and for better prices.  It might've been because I uploaded detailed pictures of it (showing scratches and wear) and I wrote a good description.  But whatever the deciding factor was, I don't really care.  I got a portion of my money back, and it happened through eBay. 

Last week, I was looking around eBay for some accessories for my new phone.  That's when I discovered a great thing:  Because my new Treo 700 is essentially the same shape and uses the same hardware as my older Treo 650, all the accessories are the same.  So the market for Treo accessories is absolutely flooded with 3-4 years of aftermarket products, and many of these products end up on eBay.  It's capitalism at work:  Supply outweighs demand, so prices go down.  All this benefits me, and it makes me conclude that eBay doesn't suck as much as I thought. 

In conclusion, eBay is good for selling things that have a high demand, and for buying things that have a low demand.  Also, I find the Buy It Now option the only way to go.  Buying things through auctions is essentially useless, since you're bound to get outbid by a computer.  eBay should consider changing its focus from auctions to simple marketplaces. #business