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October 29, 2011

Self-Absorbed vs. Normal Behavior

I've been producing a FREE newsletter at my website for over thirteen years. Note that I said FREE.

You'd think that since the product is for free that subscribers would have little foundation to complain.

What's more, I try to deliver week-after-week lots of tips that over time will save you thousands of dollars.

Realize that each week I open the newsletter with something that happened to me the week before. Almost always it has nothing to do with home improvement. I do this to help offset the constant loss of human interaction in our lives. Technology is eroding the old-fashioned conversations people used to have on a daily basis.

Here's the open to my most recent newsletter:

This past weekend I had the enormous pleasure to stroll down memory lane. I was in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Thirty-seven years ago I was there with my new bride of a week. This time Kathy stayed home to have some quiet time while I went up there with my oldest daughter Meghan. She wanted me to look at some land she's thinking of buying.
On our first afternoon there we went to Sand Beach in Acadia National Park. This is the place my wife got wife's remorse.
Kathy and I were standing at water's edge and I looked down. Right there was a round doughnut shaped object. I picked it up. "What is it," Kathy questioned. "Some DUMB *** (rhymes with bass) lost the eye cushion to his binoculars," I quipped.
Wanting to show her how strong I was, I tried to throw the part about a quarter-mile out into the surf. As it was sailing through the air, I got wide-eyed and looked down at the binoculars hanging from my neck. She saw me look. Can you hear Kathy's voice?
Without hesitation she blurted out, "I married a DUMB ***."
So last Saturday afternoon standing at the same spot, I tried to find the part. Surely Neptune would return it along with some of my dignity. Needless to say it wasn't there. It long ago was pulverized or went down a whale's blow hole.

On a very frequent basis I get replies from subscribers. Some are from people that have serious issues going on in their lives. Some are from people that are extremely self-centered, and some are from people you'd like to hang out with on a routine basis.

I got this from Pat, I believe a woman, whose email begins with pm2canoe:

"I'm not really interested in your personal life and travels. Take me off your mailing list."

When I get responses like this, it peaks my curiosity.

I responded to Pat:

"Can I ask you a question first? I'm trying to understand requests like this.

Can you help me understand why you would want to cut yourself off from *thousands* of dollars of FREE tips just because the format doesn't jive with you?

I'm trying to understand *why* a person would reject Free helpful information."

Pat retorted:

"Because I think your newsletters are obnoxious. All I expected and wanted were building, tool and trade tips. I don't care about you and your wife's "adventures". I have plenty of other ways to socialize and don't appreciate wading through your "social " issues to get to the "tips". Now, stop being a pest and go away!"


Just like Bill O'Reilly shows emails that express opposite opinions about the same event, you might enjoy these:

Marie Jones wrote:

Thanks for the delightful 'binocular eye-piece' story! It made be chuckle!!

Joann Ryan wrote to me inadvertently:

"Sue, I'm forwarding this to you because his intro story is so funny."

The lesson, I believe, is to be sure to take any prescribed medications you've been told to ingest and to think more of others than yourself.

What's your take on this?

Posted by Tim Carter at 9:04 AM | Comments (1)

October 21, 2011

Porter Stansberry - Clever Marketing Tricks - Be Careful

Two days ago my wife handed me a miniature book titled - The End of America. It was written by Porter Stansberry. Ouch, that's a depressing title.

My wife and I are pretty politically active, and I'm deeply concerned with the future of our nation. I've blogged about the dangers of deficit spending and out-of-control national debt at my Tim Carter's Firepit website for over two years, so the title of the book got my attention.

Luckily I had read another book a few years ago that has changed my business and my life. It's a book written by the prominent psychologist Robert Cialdini. I highly recommend that you read this book of his: Influence - The Psychology of Persuasion.

Notice that one word in the subtitle - persuasion.

If you read Dr. Cialdini's book, and I beg you to do it, you'll quickly see that Porter Stansberry makes use of just about every psychological trick in his mini book to PERSUADE you to buy his newsletter, reports, etc. It's very very clever marketing.

I happen to hang around with some very savvy Internet Marketers. For years they made use of a long-form sales letter on webpages to get you to purchase something.

That's all Porter's The End of America book is. It's just a sales letter.

He uses these powerful psychological triggers in it:

  • Reciprocity
  • Social Proof
  • Scarcity (via massive doses of Fear)

I realize those are weird words and I'll not spend the time explaining them. Dr. Cialdini dose a much better job than I ever will in his book.

The bottom line is this: Porter Stansberry may be an expert on the things he writes about, but understand that he's pressing on very convincing psychological triggers in your brain when you read his webpages, miniature books, etc.

As the shift sergeant used to say at the opening of Hill Street Blues, "Be careful out there!"

Posted by Tim Carter at 6:48 AM | Comments (0)

October 3, 2011

Talking Simplex on Ham Radio

Yesterday I made a bonehead mistake. Being a newbie in ham radios, this happens just about every time I touch a radio. Days before plans were made for an early breakfast with a fellow ham that was going to work a public service event with me.

I was to meet somewhere in Bristol, NH with this expert radio operator. Because neither of us knew what diners would be open, We decided to coordinate where to eat on simplex when we got close to one another. The plan was to be on 146.500 MHz.

You know what they say about best-laid plans, don't you? Well, I was able to broadcast and my friend heard me just fine. When he transmitted back to me, I could clearly see his signal via the S-meter on the screen of my Yaesu VX-7R. But there was no sound. Yes, I did have the volume up. He was deaf to me, if you get what I mean.

Because he was an experienced operator, he instantly knew what the problem was. But alas, he couldn't tell me how to fix my radio settings because I couldn't hear him.

It was so easy. I had my Tone Squelch setting set to On and had a preset tone set up.

You may not think that's a big deal, but the purpose of these Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System (CTCSS) tones is to keep a radio quiet until it hears this simultaneous sub-audible tone during the voice transmission. These CTCSS tones are very low frequency audio tones, usually less than 300 Hz, that are overlaid on the radio frequency. These also are helpful in activating repeaters. But that's a subject for another day.

Since my radio was set to listen for such a tone, it did it's job and sat there oh so quietly.

It's also mandatory that you turn off the + / - repeater shift function on the radio. If you don't you'll be transmitting out at .600 on any simplex frequency in the 2-meter band you've chosen. This means my friend could not hear what I was transmitting, but I would have been able to hear what diner he was at.

Once my mentor and I caught up with one another on a local repeater and sat down for breakfast, we were able to get my radio working perfectly in less than 30 seconds. Once I turned off my tone squelch he pressed my talk button and it automatically made his radio chirp.

Additional Simplex Operating Tips:

Altitude is everything. When you operate in simplex mode, you want your radio waves to reach out as far as possible, especially if you're working with a low-wattage handheld (HT) radio like the Yaesu VX-7R. It only transmits at 5 watts. But 5 watts broadcasting from on top of a mountain can carry quite a distance indeed.

If you're blocked by terrain, trees, buildings, etc. simplex might only reach out a mile or so and even less.

Remember that propagation changes as the sun rises into the sky and excites the atmosphere. You may be able to work simplex early morning and evening with great success at a given distance, but have issues at high noon and midday.

Posted by Tim Carter at 8:38 AM | Comments (2)

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