My Gazelle.com Experience

I just sold a somewhat old gadget to Gazelle.com. It is the first time I’ve tried selling back an old electronic device – that still had considerable value – to an online service. I’ve heard good words about Gazelle.com. I am hoping I won’t be disappointed.

It was easy enough to find the item I was selling to them on their website. They previously would take almost any electronic item, but they now have narrowed the selection down to mostly Apple products. Trying to find the configuration of my product was moderately smooth. I put in the condition I thought it was in, the additional components that came with it, and bam! up popped up the price they were willing to pay me. It seemed reasonable (comparing it to Amazon.com’s trade-in service). So I pressed on.

I got an email shortly after, giving me instructions and a shipping label. About an hour after that email I received another email from Gazelle saying my shipment option has been updated. Instead of me packing my item to ship back, I could go to a FedEx to have them pack it for me free of charge. Way cool!

I have to say my FedEx experience was a bit unnerving. I went to the shipping counter. They took my item to the back where I could not see the pack it. They then brought it back up to label in front of me.

I had to ask, “Was [the item I was selling] in this box”? After all, I didn’t see them place it in the box.

“Yes it is,” she replied. How could I continue to doubt her without sounding like a douche?

And then a co worker of the girl who packed my item proceeded to put a label on the box. The wrong label! Luckily she caught her co worker’s mistake. I eagle-eyed the correct label was applied to the package. The item is now out of my hands. The waiting game starts.

One Week Later

I was able to track my package through a link from Gazelle’s website – which leads to FedEx of course. Once my package was received, Gazelle emailed me. Once they examined my item, they emailed me again saying, “Hey guess what? Your item is in better shape than you thought it was. We’re giving you more money!” Seriously? I chose my pay out option to be an Amazon gift certificate which provides you with a 5% bump. Since my item was in much better condition than I thought it was, they simply increased the gift certificate amount.

It’s nice to know they were honest about the assessment. They could have easily gone with my assessment but did not. This “honesty” makes me want to use their service again – if I ever have anything else to sell.

Searching for Answers – Quick Review of Prometheus

Prometheus

The tagline for the movie is: They went looking for our beginning. What they found could be our end.

Synopsis: Ridley Scott does science fiction again. I remember watching Alien at the Old Mill 6 Theaters in Mountain View. My sister took me. I don’t recall if I knew what the movie was about before watching it. I think all I knew was that it took place in outer space. Star Wars took place in outer space, so this movie should be cool, right? Well, after the infamous chest buster scene, I knew this was a different film.

I heard this started out as a prequel to Alien but changed to a movie that takes place in the same universe as Alien. Whatever. The film is about going into space to find the answer to the origins of man. Oh, and there are scary aliens in space.

The Good: The general idea of the film, trying to discover the origins of man, is a fresh thought. If our creators left signs of where we came from, and perhaps how to find them, wouldn’t any reasonable person go looking for them if they had the opportunity?

The science and design win the day for me in this film. The technology has a sense of realism to it. I can believe they are on the ship Prometheus, and that this ship actually exists.

The aliens (there is more than one type) are interesting without being too foreign. They are familiar yet new. I am not sure how much CGI was done for the aliens, but to me, it didn’t look like much.

As far as memorable scenes, I must say I enjoyed the operation scene is on par with the chest buster scene of Alien.

The acting was well done. I especially liked Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, and Idris Elba. Noomi Rapace is a great choice for the lead. The character she plays, Elizabeth Shaw, is a strong character in the same vein as Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley.

The Bad: Overall it was a predictable story. A keen film watcher can determine what is going to happen. You could t]see the hidden relationships between characters. There are almost no surprises.

The exploration scenes were good, but I wish they were darker, more tension filled. They were too straightforward and light in comparison to Alien.

There are a few plot hole “huh” moments, like why does one person get affected this way while another is affected another way. The film leaves you with few answers and more questions. Will they be addressed in a sequel if there is one? Who knows.

Overall: The film is worth watching. I don’t think you should compare it to Alien. Take that movie out of the equation. You will probably enjoy this more if you do.

**My Rating: Matinée

The Talk Show Moves Networks

One of my favorite podcasts has unexpectedly moved podcast networks! It was previously on 5by5 but is now on the Mule Radio. I don’t know the reason for the change. But people are speculating here and there.

My guess? The 5by5 Network is growing. Gruber, the primary person on The Talk Show, probably couldn’t work around the scheduling constraints of the growing network. At least I hope it is that simple.

I’ll try to give the show a listen. But I’ll miss Dan and John talking on the same podcast.

Update 3: I woke up this morning, updated my Instacast and found a 5by5 special waiting for me to listen. Dan explains how it played out for him. Sounds like he was surprised about what happened. It was nice of him to at least put out a brief explanation.

Update 2: Seems the best coverage of this little drama can be found on the chandler blog. I wish a sense of finality could be brought to this subject. It appears from all the comments by those involved, or who are in the know that it is none of our business why it went down the way it did. Transparency doesn’t apply in this matter, I guess.

Update 1: According to a Quora post it seems to have come down to money. Of course, the comments are by a person listed as anonymous, so take it for what it’s worth.

I did manage to listen to the new Talk Show episode. It is not the same. I’ll give it a few more episodes. But I’m on the pessimestic side of it working out.

The Avengers

Farrah and I were able to actually watch another movie! Last week we finally saw The Hunger Games – which I would rate Matinee. This week we watched The Avengers.When filming The Avengers was first announced I was a bit nervous. How could a movie with so many characters do justice to the comic book? I mean, would we just see the team fighting the villians on screen and bits of dialog thrown in. Inevitably, character development – though never a priority in most movies – couldn’t happen in a super hero movie of this scale? But wait, Joss Whedon is at the helm. Can he pull it off?

I think he did. I’ve watched all the related films – Iron Man 1 and 2, Captain America, Thor, all the versions of the Hulk movies. But I think The Avengers can work as a standalone film. A new viewer can get the sense of each character from this film. I know there isn’t deep character motivation-exploration going on here, but these are no cardboard cut-outs either. They make javascript:noop()some attempt at depth given the amount of screen time devoted to each character.

The story was simple enough to follow:

  • Big bad guy steals magic cube that equals ultimate power.
  • Heroes – who usually operate alone – must band together to stop the big bad guy.
  • Heroes don’t get along at first, but unite to fight the big bad guy and the aliens who are his allies.
  • Heroes prevail for now.

The story movies along at a good pace, only slowing down just enough to catch your breath, digest the scene you’ve just watch, and then pick up steam to the next action sequence. The dialog is snappy, with humorous bits here and there to keep the mood light.

The part I disliked, and not by much, is the CGI-based ending battle sequences. They weren’t as confusing as a Transformers’ film, but they were annoying enough. I’m not a fan of these massive computer generated battles. But if anyone could pull it off, it would be in a Josh Whedon film.

The Avengers may just be a movie I would pay again to see on the big screen.

Rating: Full Admission 

Gallery

Vacation Photos with iPhone 4S

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We came back from our trip to Hawaii this past Thursday. I wanted to post a few photos I took during vacation. What’s interesting about these photos is that they were all taken with the iPhone 4S. Yup, I left my Canon 7D at home. We did, however, bring the Canon S90 with us, and I had a Sony NEX-5N at my disposal. Those photos should be up on the photos page sometime this week.

What I found interesting was that we (Farrah with her iPhone and I with mine) were able to capture moments effectively with our iPhones. There were a few missed opportunities, but none I regret in not having my Canon 7D with me. I’m sure if there were more night time or low-lit moments to capture, I would have failed with my iPhone. But most of our activities were in the daytime, making the iPhone a perfect vacation camera.

I also tried out the new version of the Path app. The app has been recently updated for the iPhone and Android. The updated version of Path makes it more intuitive than its previous incarnation, but there is still one thing lacking: people I know using Path.

I have a few co workers using the app, but I would really like other family and friend to use it as well. Honestly, I don’t think many will do so, only having time for Facebook and, perhaps, Instagram. It’s understandable. I found myself posting more to Path (as a test) and Instagram more than Facebook directly.

I’m thinking my time on Facebook will become more limited to pushing data from other sites/apps then direct interaction with Facebook (e.g. logging in and actively posting, commenting, etc.) There are only so many hours in the day. I’m finding that Facebook is taking a significant chunk of that free time I rarely have.

Eating Tickets

We were supposed to watch the Smashing Pumpkins last Friday night at the Fox Theater in Oakland. Unfortunately, fate intervened. Having no desire to see any of the opening bands, and knowning the Smashing Pumpkins like to start late, we didn’t leave for the show until 8:30pm. The hour drive to Oakland should still given us plenty of time to see the concert. But who knew things were really happening in Oakland that night?!?!

The drive to Oakland wasn’t bad, the usual hour trip down a crazy 880. As we approached the Fox Theater on Telegraph though, things became a bit more complex. Crowds of people lined the sidewalks for several blocks down Telegraph. They were streaming out from somewhere but even when we made our way further down Telegraph, we couldn’t tell where the crowd originated from. It was a good mix of people too, both young and old. No protest signs, not like apparel, just a crowd of people. We made our way around the area hoping to find parking and trying to avoid the crowds. But each and parking lot we hit was full. And street parking was non-existent. We gave it a good hour of driving around before realizing we weren’t going to find safe parking.

This isn’t the first concert we’ve eaten the tickets on. Last year we didn’t make it to a Corrine Bailey Rae concert – on purpose. We were just too tired from working that day. And one time I missed Garbage because of a flat tire. I would have surely liked to have seen the Smashing Pumpkins this go around, as I heard they played mostly new tunes. Oh well, perhaps next time.