The Tasp and Droud

The Tasp and Droud

Where I’ve Been

February 29th, 2008 Filed under: Battery Powered by admin

Here is an interesting site:  Let’s see if it actually pastes into the blog.


FeeBay Piddles on their Product without Fixing the Problems

February 26th, 2008 Filed under: Uncategorized by admin

I read a great article on eBay’s shipping fees and feedback at this blog.   

As we have just opened an eBay store to add another sales channel for UpStart Batteries, eBay’s policy changes have a direct impact on us.  It is interesting to me to watch ebay dick around with their product in ways that ultimately damage their company without fixing the problems they are trying to resolve.

There are three reasons that sellers charge 1 cent for the product and $10 for shipping.  One is the final value fees.  Ebay could easily fix this by lumping all receipts from the buyer together and charging final value fees on that.

Another factor is that ebay stupidly charges higher fees for higher initial value prices.  A related third issue is that ebay will recharge the fees (after one free second attempt) to relist the item.

Combine these three issues and there is a clear economic incentive for sellers to give the “product” away and offer expensive shipping.    The net is that in a competitive category, it can be extremely expensive for sellers to keep listing a high cost item.  Furthermore, in a highly competitive space, such as batteries, it is not uncommon for product not to sell.  Some of our products are selling very well on eBay, and others do not.  For those that sell more slowly, I am especially  motivated to control costs and ensure that listing prices don’t get out of control.

I am hoping eBay will experience a significant change in corporate culture now that Meg is gone.  So far, though, it doesn’t look good.  eBay’s success depends upon buyers and sellers.  If they let the equation get too far out of balance, too many sellers of unique merchandise will disappear… leaving only the dollar store junk that fills the site now. 

In spite of our good sales to date, the margins are nowhere near what I would like.  Perhaps it was a mistake to open a “Tiffany’s” store in a flea market.

If eBay thinks that sellers are “avoiding” fees, then they should make the fees balanced and reasonable.  They might discover that sellers are happy - even grateful - to pay them.

Recommendations:  combine final value and shipping charges and take a cut of the total.  That gives us sellers the right to experiment as we see fit without being penalized or crammed into a specific business model.  Secondly, charge a flat rate to list a new auction.  This rate could be different by catagory, if necessary, but remove the disincentive to skew price vs shipping.  They should also drop fees for scheduling auctions.  10 cents each is pretty rich when you think that we might run 9000 listings a month.  Autiva doesn’t charge $900.  They do it for free. 

Instead of treating us sellers like we are “lucky” that eBay exists, the company should treat us as the valued partners we are.  Good luck.


Super Tuesday - facebook vs race vs face

February 6th, 2008 Filed under: Uncategorized by admin

I have been enjoying the super tuesday  “espectaculo”.  There are so many themes percolating from the media, internet, under rocks, and wherever else it is that I bere witness to the events of the day.

As a Canadian, it is offensive to me how important the role Race plays in this election.  We may be cynical up here, but when the canditates, the media, and everyone else with a pulse goes out of their way to claim how small a role that “race” plays on the “race”, and then watch how carefully ABC News slices the vote on ethnic lines, I am truly saddened.  Maybe it is because Canada is a Godless, immigrant nation without a civil war history, but people up here really don’t seem to care much about where people are from.  We have had ethnic, catholic and women leaders already.  We are as shallow as the next group, but for different reasons.  We would happily vote for Hillary or Barak, but for novelty.  Never had a black or a women president?  That’s worth a vote. 

Maybe it is a function of our “representative democracy”… for the Americans that read this, what “representative democracy” means is that Canadians decide who is the “coolest” (or least objectionable)  potential Presidential Candidate and vote for their party.  In practice, this means voting for some schmuck in your riding that you have never heard of, that you don’t care to hear of, and that makes no difference, even if elected.  Stay tuned.

Canadians have a “First past the post system”.  This means that the leader of the party that wins the election is the President.  (ok, Prime Minister… I am tailoring this message since it IS Super Tuesday after all).  The President of Canada makes all the rules (if they have a majority government, which we don’t right now, but that is a whole other issue). 

We don’t have a division of powers based democracy like America.  In principle, we should be another banana republic.  Or maybe, an Igloo Republic.  That would be cool… I like Igloos.

Somehow, between the igloos, the bananas, the schmucks… I am losing my way in this post.  Let’s bring it back.

As a shallow Canadian, I didn’t care that Hillary is a woman, or that Barak is black.  What I cared about…. was John McCain’s face. 

What is wrong with John McCain’s face!?  It is not perfect… he doesn’t look anything like Mitt!  Now, I wouldn’t want to vote for Mitt… I don’t abide his social politics, but still… Poor old John doesn’t look perfect!  And not just because he is old, either.  There is something wrong with that man.

So, I turned to Google, ( - I don’t want to give them a back link), to find out what was up.  I found no end of commentary.  And it was interesting.  The morbidly, bordidly curious folk, like me, would write a question like, “What the hell is wrong with John McCain’s face?”  and the answers would vary from “Vietnam” to “Skin Cancer” to “Screw you, you liberal commie bastard!!”.  But there was plenty of data.

So, I need some help here….  Your average Canadian would pat himself on the back because we yawn over race and sex…. (with who and how many, yawwn….) but, ugly is still ugly.  That’s why I just had to check out the data on old John.

Please tell me…. am I worse than the average ABC correspondent that slices up the vote by ethnicity?  Tell me, I can take it.

But before you accuse me of being unAmerican, I love John McCain, and would have voted for him in 2000 if I had the Green Card.  I didn’t, so GWB won.  Blame me, I can take it.

I also respect Hillary, and love Obama’s fire.  So long as any of those three win, which is a near certainty, I believe that America will be headed in a new, better direction.

My career sees me travel through almost every American state.  I love America.  My family tells me I don’t even talk “right” anymore after too much time in the South, but I love it.  My family says “Proh-sesss” but we that know better say “prawww-ses” but I digress.

I will never, ever, forget when I watched the towers come down on September 11, 2001.  That day, like even the French said, “We are all Americans”.  I was an American that day. 

GWB squandered the best historical opportunity in hundreds of years to redefine America’s role in the world.  I love America, but I HATE American foreign policy.  I am not alone in that opinion.  To this day, I cry at the lost possibilities, and the world cries with me.

So who would I vote for?  God, that’s a tough one.  Hillary is competent, and I remember the Bill days with fondness.  Maybe Americans were worried about who he was shagging, but we don’t care much about that up here.  It was good for the Economy, and it was good for the world.  Besides, we would have shagged Monica too. 

Hillary might bring those days back… but, she also has the stink of establishment that Bill never did have.  I just don’t trust that she could escape the clutches of the special influences.  Maybe, maybe not. 

As for Barak; he looks cool, but he has no real experience.  He reminds me of GWB;  a rube just waiting for the Special Interests to tell him what for.  I don’t trust his ability to actually make change for the bettery in America.  His policy announcements are often silly, at best.  He could change America’s direction, but it could be for the worse, economically.

And John?  Given my hatred for Bush and for his regime of mass destruction, I have a really hard time imagining voting for Republicans.  But John McCain is Stephen Harper with an interesting past and a little personality.  I respect his economic conservatism and his social “liberalism” as his competitors like to brand him…  If you ask me, that is the height of all irony in terminology, as it is John McCain more than the Mormon or the Evangelical that wants to preserve FREEDOM for Americans.

So, I do hope that John McCain spends his election bonus on a facial, so that when we are looking at him for the next four years… it doesn’t hurt so much.


7 Abandoned Wonders of the Former Soviet Union [w/ pics]

January 28th, 2008 Filed under: Uncategorized by Todd

There are abandonments all over the world, but the former Soviet Union has some of the most interesting, unique and strange abandoned buildings. The complex political, military and social history of the country has led to everything from almost-finished buildings abandoned before actual use and entire abandoned cities to chilling gulags.

read more | digg story


Oh god I am bad with computer. How did this get here?

January 28th, 2008 Filed under: Uncategorized by Todd

oh god how did this get here I am not good with computerThis is too funny.

This captures how I have felt since 1981 when I first started working with the damn things. It doesn’t matter if you are an “expert computer user”, whatever that is… there is always something new that you have to learn that makes you feel like a knuckle-dragging idiot all over again.

read more | digg story


Recent Avalanche at Big White Makes Me Shiver

January 7th, 2008 Filed under: Recollections by admin

I lived in Kelowna for about 20 years, and every season Vern (at least until he left for Vancouver) and I used to get a season’s pass.   We were up at least once a week, usually Sunday, following a night of heavy partying - at least on my part.  Following high school, I even did a stint as a volunteer for the Canadian Ski Patrol so I have some understanding for what the patrollers are facing right now.

Once, years ago, I was skiing in the tree chutes on the left hand side of the Cliff (near the Saddle).  In those days, there was no chair, and not even the poma lifts that came and went over the years (courtesy of another avalance).  The snow was very deep and had a very slight crust to it that was fairly easy to break through. 

The Tree Chutes are quite steep, but as they are heavily treed, I never worried much about avalanches in there.  However, on that day, I got a healthy reminder of just how powerful snow can be.

I was fairly near the bottom of one of the chutes, and I cut across an open spot to look for another line.  It was quite steep, and while cutting across, the snow broke away below me and slid.  I lost my balance and fell, sliding down on top of a very modest ‘avalanche’.  The snow above my cut line then broke free and slide down on top of me. 

It all happened in slow motion, and the scale was really modest, nothing like the big one over the weekend at Big White.   However, sliding on my back, face up, head downwards towards the bottom of the hill, I was able to watch as the snow slide with me, then started to cover me as I came to a stop at the bottom of the chute.

The snow covered me up to my face and then stopped.  I couldn’t believe the weight of the snow.  The snow compacts in an avalance, and what might have been light and fluffy originally was now heavy and dencely packed.  I was not covered very deep, but my skis were still attached, and it took me what seemed like an hour to free myself.  If I had not been able to breathe while freeing myself, I don’t think I would have survived.

Anybody else ever have an experience with an avalanche?


Argentina: Mobile lines up 28% at end-Nov

January 4th, 2008 Filed under: Battery Powered by admin

Argentina had 38.7mn mobile lines in service at the end of November 2007, up 28% compared to the same time in 2006, national statistics institute Indec said in a statement….


New Travel Restrictions on Lithium Batteries Start Tomorrow

December 31st, 2007 Filed under: Battery Powered by admin

There has been a lot of press going around about the new travel restrictions on lithium batteries.  Unfortunately, much of the press doesn’t understand the technology and what it really means to the average traveler.

First, here is the link to the DOT press release on the new rules.

These regulations are an adoption of international hazerdous goods shipping norms within the US passenger market. 

These regulations are focused primarily on lithium primary cells - batteries that use lithium metal and are not rechargeable.  Some cameras use these in formats such as CR3 and others.  The button cells in watches are also primary lithium batteries.  People buying EnergizerLithium  e2 AA/AAA batteries for their cameras will also be affected by these regulations.  The other uses for lithium primary cells include high power flashlights and security systems.

These regulations are not focused on rechargeable lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries, except for those extremely high in capacity.  This means that a person using cell phone batteries, standard size laptop batteries, and other similar devices will not need to be concerned about these new regulations.

There is a cap on the size of rechargeable lithium ion batteries allowed, although your average person will not be able to effectively calculate whether or not their device would be affected by these regs.   Batteries with more than 8 grams, but less than 25 grams of equivalent lithium metal are considered “Extended Capacity Batteries”.  Passengers are restricted to two of these type of batteries in their carry on bags.  Batteries with greater than 25 grams of equivalent lithium content will not be allowed on the plane, and must be shipped as a hazerdous good.

Here is how you calculate equivalent lithium content:

Watt Hours * 0.3 X * number of cells in the battery pack

The problem for the average consumer is that they don’t know how many cells are in their battery pack unless they take it apart.  Doing so would likely damage the pack casing, and is potentially dangerous.

The good news is that the largest battery you are likely to use would be one of the the 8800 mAh capacity batteries found in some notebooks.  These packs usually have either eight or 12 cells, each rated between 2400mAh and 2000mAh. 

Therefore, a 12 cell 2000mAh pack will have the following equivalent lithium content (to calculate watt hours, just divide the mAh by 1000):

12 * 2.0 * 0.3 = 7.2 grams of equivalent lithium metal.  Therefore, no restrictions.

Notebook manufacturers are not stupid… they won’t make a pack that has travel restrictions on it, as the word would get out and people wouldn’t buy their laptops.

These new US FAA regs are extentions of existing international shipping norms that battery manufacturers have already been working with, so the end result is that most people will not be affected by these “new” regs in the slightest.

The only exception is the external extended batteries that people use for notebooks, dvd players and the like.  Some of these are rated as high as 24000 mah.  They will all have less than 25 grams of equivalent lithium, but you wouldn’t be allowed to take more than two of them.  However, given that a battery of that size could power your laptop about 24 hours, odds are that a single one is all you would ever travel with anyway.

Hope this clarifies.  Drop me a note and let me know if this helped!


Student Gets Inflamed Thumb from Excessive Texting

December 30th, 2007 Filed under: Battery Powered by admin

A New Zealand student, Fleur de Vere Beavis has become the first person in the country to be diagnosed with Texting Tenosynovitis - more commonly known as text-messager’s thumb. Her habit of sending up to 100 SMSs per day has inflamed the tendons along the thumb and side of the wrist and filled the surrounding tissue with fluid, the IOL reported, quoting a report in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

The report said only two other cases of the ailment had been reported in a school-aged child in Singapore and a 13-year-old girl in Australia, but the authors of the journal report, Emma Storr and Mark Stringer, said tenosynovitis was likely to be more common than thought, given the popularity of sending SMSs.


New Blackberry Patent shows new keyboard

December 28th, 2007 Filed under: Battery Powered, Technology by admin


I love the Blackberry.  It works far better than any smartphone or palm that I have tried… it is easier to punch out emails, and more important, it seems to have the rare quality of working intuitively… exactly as you might expect it to.  The blackberry is specialized for business use, and it shows.

So, having gushed sufficiently, my gripes with the newer models, the 8800 series, pearl, and company, is that they are harder to type with.  My old 7250 is so far superior to any of the new ones that I have tried - if email is all you really care about.  The keys are too close together on the new models, which makes it hard to type fast.

So it will be interesting to see if this new design makes it to market, and how it will be to actually use.  The angled idea seems genius to me, but I would still prefer a bit more space between the keys to help avoid typos and enable increased typing speed.