Remember the Million Dollar Homepage?

by jim on February 6th, 2013

Million Dollar HomepageIn 2005, Alex Tew did something absolutely ridiculous. He registered and then sold pixels at $1 each, with a minimum 10×10 slot going for $100. He got tons of press, sold his million pixels, and it spawned a ton of copycats both with their own Million Dollar whatevers and scripts to build your own Million Dollar Homepage. The amazing part is that he sold them all.

I was reminded of it over the weekend and took a quick peek at the atrocious looking page. Then I wondered, seven years later, how many of these businesses were still in existence?
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23andMe Review

by jim on December 27th, 2012

Discover yourself at 23andMeI’d heard about 23andMe a few years ago, likely when it was launched, but I wasn’t going to give it a try until recently. They received a recent investment and dropped their kit from $299 to $99, which puts it into the “novelty” price range for something like this. I still find it stunning that this is even available for under a hundred dollars but this is the wonderful world we live in.

What is 23andMe?

23andMe is essentially “genetic testing light” and it’ll give you some insight into your ancestry and health just for spitting into a tube that they analyze. The ancestry section is actually pretty interesting as it’ll give you a genetic breakdown based on how much African, Asian, and European ancestry you have. It’ll then show you other 23andMe members who share DNA with you.

The health bit is a little less precise, with it telling you the genetic chances of you getting a particular disease. I’m skeptical about the accuracy of this (plus what are percentages anyway?). It might give you reason to wonder whether you should keep eating steak every week though!

So to get the kit, you pay up $99, get the kit, send it back, and wait 2-3 weeks. I’m going to order us a pair of kits and see what happens!

How to Take a Screenshot of Your iPhone

by jim on July 17th, 2012

It’s easy.

Hold the the lock/power button (at the top) and the home button (on the face, the button with the rounded square) at the same time. The screen will flash and what’s on your screen will appear in your photos. That’s it!

How to Send Free Faxes

by jim on June 23rd, 2011

For years, a sense of dread always fell over me whenever someone I worked with requested a fax of something. I work out of a home office and since I have a cell phone, I don’t have a land line. I also don’t have a fax machine, a relic of the past. So whenever someone asks for a fax, I feel like it’s inefficient for me to drive to some fax place, send over a couple pages, and drive home. Most of the time I can simply scan the document and email it, but every so often someone will ask that I actually send a fax. Fortunately, there’s now a simple solution to my problem –

With, you can send two 3 page faxes a day, which is more than I’ve ever needed, for free. If you need to send a larger document, they can send it for $1.99. They pay for the free fax by adding an advertisement on the cover page. (the paid version has no ad on the cover page)

It’s a great way to save yourself a trip.

Remember Ron Wayne, Co-Founder of Apple?

by jim on June 24th, 2010

Yeah, me neither… it turns out that Ron Wayne was one of the co-founders of Apple, along with Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, and left with a payout of $800. His name is on the legal documents that created Apple and Wayne became friends with Jobs while both worked at Atari Corporation. Had Wayne stayed on, his 10% share would be worth $22 billion today. Wayne role was to be the documents and mediation guy and that role came with a 10% share of the company.

Eleven days after Apple was formed, Wayne removed himself from the company charter. He eventually was given $800 for his stake in Apple, and he let go of that valuable Apple stock, which has exploded in value since.

That… sucks.

The gambling man who co-founded Apple and left for $800 [CNN]

Sir Patrick Stewart

by jim on June 3rd, 2010

Did you know that Captain Jean-Luc Picard has been knighted by the Queen of England?

When I was younger (and to be honest, I am to this day), I was a huge fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I loved it because it showed a future where we traveled through the stars to far away places and met interesting cultures and creatures.

It wasn’t until later that I learned Patrick Stewart was a very accomplished stage actor and his mythology only grew. I feel bad for the kids who only know him as Professor X in the X-Men movies. 🙂

I salute you Sir Patrick Stewart!

Can you guess what would happen if a tablet of Alka Seltzer were “dropped” in a ball of water on the International Space Station?

Unless you’re a fan of science, you probably didn’t guess what actually happened.

I think the play-by-play is really fun… then again I’m a huge nerd.

EA is King of Monetizing DLC Content

by jim on June 2nd, 2010

Madden 11 Scouting ReportI play a lot of video games and I can say with near absolute certainty, that Electronic Arts is the king of monetizing downloadable content (DLC).

Just today I learned, via Kotaku, that Madden 11 will offer the ability to scout your online opponents. Are you kidding me? I don’t play much Madden anymore, not since Madden 2009 where you’d just have Randy Moss run a fly route every play, but the idea of online scouting reports is really cool.

Until you realize it’ll cost you “coins.” You can earn coins for playing and completing online games or you can buy them. While it’s not known how much each report is (there are 50) or how much they cost, you can be sure die-hard players will be willing to pay for these coins.

Say what you will about EA and their DLCs (people were pissed at how expensive the first Modern Warfare 2 DLC was… then 11.1 million people paid for it), but they have figured it out and are making bank.

Oh and the best part about the scouting? You know when your opponent has scouted you.

‘Madden 11’ introduces online scouting [ESPN]

Somali Pirates Business Model

by jim on April 5th, 2010

An absolutely fascinating report has been produced by the Security Council on Somalian pirate operations and Undispatch pulls out a particularly intriguing bit on basic operations.

I’m always surprised to learn how organized and streamlined criminal operations are. I think having been exposed, in various forms including sensationalized movies, to organized crime like the mafia makes this less surprising, but it’s still an interesting story to read. There are class-A shareholders, financiers, local elders, supplies, and class-B shareholders – a nice hierarchy of who gets paid when.

Entrepreneurial Spirit: Nature or Nurture?

by jim on December 10th, 2009

There’s an article in the December 2009/January 2010 issue of Fortune Small Business that discusses nature vs. nurture. It tackles the question of whether entrepreneurs have something in their DNA or whether it’s something that can be taught. It cites a study from Case Western that concluded entrepreneurs are 40% born and 60% made. While that seems to point towards nurture, the argument that 40% of them are born is pretty surprising. The article continues to discuss how this could be exploited, how other data disputes that fact, etc.

I’m inclined to believe that the entrepreneurial spirit is very much tied to risk aversion. Risk aversion is part nature and part nurture. I’d like to believe that entrepreneur DNA is in my DNA but I think it’s more about taking on and managing risk.

My dad bought a one way ticket from Taiwan to New York to go to college on an education visa. Traveling thousands of miles to go to college in a language that you didn’t know very well. To buy a one way ticket, because it was cheaper, to a place where you had no network, no friends… nothing, because it potentially meant a better life for you and your family. That’s pretty risky.

I was raised to get good grades in high school, get into a good college, graduate and get a good job. By nurture, I was not taught to take on risks. I was taught this because it wasn’t necessary, we were completing the grand plan my dad set out on when he stepped onto a plane in Taipei.

But I think DNA took over… five years later, I’m a personal finance blogger working for myself, taking on risks, and trying to get to the next level.

Is it nature or nurture?