Category Archives: Rants

10 reasons not to buy a cellphone on Craigslist

For a while I had a cute Samsung Galaxy S3. I really liked it, and it lasted a solid year with me. One free fall too many cracked its screen and now I was in the market for a new one. I decided to stick with S3, since my thinking was that I would perhaps be able to snag one from CraigsList for about $200 or $300. But after searching for about 3 weeks, it turns out that many of the S3 phones listed on CL have their own set of issues. Most of the owners refused to tell me the IMEI number over the phone – what they were afraid of, I am not sure. Rather, they insisted that I meet them in person. Not a bad idea, but driving 10 miles just to get an IMEI number doesn’t sound like an efficient exercise to me. Of course, buying a phone without checking its IMEI against the carrier’s website, such as T-mobile’s IMEI verification site is a terrible idea – the phone may have been stolen and it won’t work on most of the US carriers anyway.

Then comes the issue of price and the art of story telling. Most of the sellers on CL would launch into stories on why they are selling this phone without me even asking them. They mostly said their price was *FIRM* and they only accepted cash. I wasn’t even thinking of bargaining or offering them my credit card and the stories seemed too ready.

About 3 weeks and 7 hrs later, I realized that compared to the average price of $325 that I was getting on Craigslist, a brand new phone is actually available from Amazon for only $398!

Ordered it, got it next day via Prime, just inserted the Sim, connected to my google account, and it is ready to go. In the total time that entire thing took place, I would hardly have negotiated the IMEI number with one CL seller, if that.

In a nutshell, here are 2 (10 in binary) good reasons not to buy a cellphone on Craigslist:

  1. The phone may be stolen, and you are just encouraging theft of phones.  If your phone is ever stolen, you should report the IMEI number as stolen to your phone company, so that they can blacklist the IMEI number and the phone will then not be usable in the US.  Most of the carriers collaborate on stolen IMEI numbers.
  2. It is really not worth your time.  Other than really old phones, which people are simply giving away for free, the price difference between CL and Amazon is not worth the hassle. A savings of $75 for about 10 hrs of work is not good economics – send me your resume, and I can almost guarantee you better returns.  [You will spend half of your time browsing useless CL ads for Nokia Lumia and “I want to trade my iPhone 3S” because of the way CL search works.]

Enjoy your Android or iOS device!

Difference between making a presentation and writing a paper

Sitting through a sales presentation, I noticed the following leading sentence on the slide:

The high level approach to the implementation is proposed as follows

This sentence was one of 22 lines, and these 11 words were 11 out of 179 words on the slide. It was apparent that the presenter makes little difference between a presentation and a paper. IMO, the following phrase would have been sufficient:

Proposed high level implementation approach

Opportunities for concise messaging are readily available in most of presentations – irrespective of who makes them, so this may be a gentle reminder to keep a lookout for them. This is also quite reminiscent of the fish story in Presentation Zen.

Not so happy with Audible

Audio books are a real boon.  Especially for people like me, who have decent traffic commute as well as some occasional travel.  In the past I have usually gotten the audio books on CD from my local library.  About 3 months ago I signed up for Audible, and have been patiently listening to some audio books since then.

However, their entire user experience is based on DRM.  I cannot play those audio books on just any MP3 player, because these files are in Audible’s proprietary format.

Not good.