May 31st, 2009


Wow ...

A long time ago, I got a "very rare" copy of Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine, Vol. III - Occultism from P.O.T.O. (Procurer of the Obscure), and maybe read through a quarter of it before circumstances (the collapse of Eschaton Books) had me drift away (it's right where I left it, on one side of my old "reading chair" from those days).

I was doing some research tonight for an upcoming book review, and stumbled over the fact that this book, which had been unavailable outside of certain specialist libraries (and the POTO edition) was now available on Google (HERE).

I've not paged through the whole thing, but it looks (from poking through the index) like most of its 620 pages are there (I've seen random 1-page "Page ### is not part of this book preview" notices, but I'm not sure how much has been held back).

Ain't technology a marvelous thing?

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Fascinating ...

Geez ... this is an AMAZING bit of marketing ... while being sleazy, it's also pretty brilliant!

I just stumbled over an "auction" site tonight called "SWOOPO" and noticed that there were "just a couple of minutes" remaining on a Nintendo DS that was (when I first encountered it) going for $1.50 or some such. As my kids would be VERY happy for me to snag a DS, I started watching this.

This Swoopo system is different from a place like eBay in a number of specifics.

Number one, it costs 75¢ to place a bid (every time you up your bid), and each time a bid comes in, a few more seconds are added to the count. On a non-augmenting clock, this auction would have been over a half hour ago, but it's gotten under 5 seconds several times, and has shot back up to 3-4 minutes repeatedly (this one re-sets in 15 second chunks and if a lot of auto bids come in at once it jumps quickly).

Bidders can either do so "live" (as at least two are, going head-to-head) or plug into an auto-bidding bot your minimum bid, your maximum bid, and how many bids (at 75¢ each) you're willing to have it make (there are at least two bidders still in with that).

Another difference is that each bid represents only a 15¢ increment ... so for the cost of the item to increase by a dollar, there need to be seven bids ... each being charged 75¢! So, for every $1.05 the item cost goes up, Swoopo makes $5.25 ... and with the clock re-setting, the auctions can go on and on and on (like the DS one I'm watching, that is still going on, thanks to the clock re-set!

The price of the item just past $45.00, which is a nice round number (in 15¢ bids), so let's look at the numbers ... to reach $45.00 that means (assuming a 0 start) that there have been 300 bids, each netting Swoopo 75¢ ... or $225.00 on a product that has a "suggested retail" of $169.99! And this is still running ... a bunch of auto-bids just hit and the clock's now up to 13 minutes.

Obviously, it must really suck to lose one of the auctions (since if you've been actively bidding, like several of the folks in this one, you've spent a substantial chunk of change at 75¢/bid), so there is a a built-in "urgency" to outbid the other guy (because if you don't win, you're just out the bid charges with nothing to show for it!), plus the clock resetting give you plenty of time to re-bid.

Again, this is sleazy, but brilliant. It's been structured to use all sorts of psychological hooks on folks ... while milking everybody involved in the auction at 75¢ for every 15¢ increment! Now, you can bid on bid vouchers (one 50-bid voucher, worth $37.50 lust went for $1.17 ... I guess that started at $0.02), so there are ways to minimize one's bid costs ... but this is a heck of a business model.

The Nintendo DS unit (a $169.99 "value" item) finally went for $66.45, meaning that there had been 443 bids put in (and the winner was NOT one of the more active bidders on this!), so that there had been $332.25 paid to Swoopo for the chance at winning it. Sounds like a bad bet for the bidders ... I guess I'm glad that it took several steps to get signed up on the site (and I balked at having to spend a minimum of $22.50 to buy an initial block of 30 bids) so I could get a sense of what this thing was about before jumping in with a series of bids!

Anyway, I found this fascinating (albeit sleazy), and thought I'd share!

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Damn ...

I had some very high hopes for a while there ...

I have been posting my resume various places, and ran across a site for an executive search firm that allowed candidates to upload their resumes, so added mine. I wasn't expecting much to come of this, so was very pleasantly surprised to have a "talent coordinator" contact me a week or so back. We scheduled a phone interview last week, in which we went over a lot of stuff and he suggested that I might be eligible to be one of their "Featured Candidates", which I had hoped meant that my past 20 months of "cutting edge" work had paid off somewhat.

I was/am scheduled to rent a car and drive out to Naperville for a "mock interview" tomorrow.

The contact there had sent me an e-mail with 8 attached articles that he suggested would be "helpful materials" for me to read in advance of the meeting. I got into those this evening. Each one was a dire prediction of how long it would take to get an executive job, how horrible the job market is for folks my age, and how unlikely it would be for somebody to get a new job at anything near their old pay/responsibility. WTF?

Now, I used to be in Network Marketing. I really sucked at Network Marketing, because it's a business based on emotional pitches, not facts & figures. I'm real good at communicating salient details about products and/or services, but I can NOT do the "act now, or the sky will fall!" pitch. My contact including this particular bunch of articles, was CLEARLY going for the "fear" pitch, with over-tones of the "greed" pitch (in that they promise high-level executive jobs). Which made me take a step back and wonder just HOW it was that I fit in as a "Featured Candidate".

So, I went and googled them, and one of the top four searches for their company name was Company Name SCAM. Not a good sign. Somebody had even set up a blog just for folks to post stories. There were one or two posts on other sites as well, but it seemed to be the same basic posts on multiple sites. It seems that there are several dozen people very pissed off with them, but it's not like there were hundreds

On the other hand, they're all over the place, on various job search sites (Career Builder, Simply Hired, MySpace jobs, employmentspot, even Business Week's site) which you would think might filter off the really bad actors. Plus, the Chicago BBB has them listed as "A+" (despite 20 complaints in the past 36 months).

I'm very torn. On one hand, if they're actually legit, I could certainly use the help, but I hate to spend the better part of a hundred bucks to rent a car to get out there just to subject myself to a hour-and-a-half sales pitch to try to get me to spend hundreds (or thousands if the nasty posts are true) for their various add-on services (despite their assurance that they are a strictly "retained", i.e. employer-paid, agency).

This is bumming me out badly. I think I'll call their offices in the early AM and see if I can talk to my contact there, raise these issues, and see what sort of "smoke signals" I get from his response. I'm not due to pick up the car until 10:30, so if I get creeped out by something I can cancel.

I suppose it's better to KNOW that I might be walking into a scam, but The Wife and I were both very excited about "things being different this time", only to find that they're not (at least in a good way).

Sucks to be me, eh?

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