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January 22, 2010

Tyson Motsinger/Nebraska Book Company Responds to Complaints [Update] | Posted at 10:19 AM

Please refer to my previous posts for information on Tyson Motsinger and the Nebraska Book Company:

Before I get to the response, I want to break down and answer some common questions and rumors.

Who is Tyson Motsinger?

He is the Marketplace Purchase Manager at Nebraska Book Company and oversees (or is at least involved) in the automatic purchasing that is being done at their company.

He is not a fake person, he is real.

What does he do?

Tyson himself does not purchase the books from sellers on Amazon or Half.com. He is merely the name the automatic purchase system uses (along with a few others, I believe).

Why did they request a refund?

It is most probably due to unclear or insincere descriptions on your listing, in addition to listing it under a different ISBN number.

How can I avoid problems?

Here’s how to avoid most of the headaches with Nebraska Books and other automatic purchasers:

  • Always list your book under its correct ISBN. International editions should not be listed under the US edition. That is against Amazon policy.
  • Always be accurate in your assessment of the book’s condition. Be honest so you have evidence if the buyer claims otherwise.
  • Always ship with delivery confirmation and preferably delivery signature to verify your book was at least delivered.
  • Never refund someone before you receive the book.
  • Never pay someone for your book that they want to keep because it’s “damaged.”

There is also, supposedly, a way to opt out of Nebraska Book Company purchases. You should call (402) 237-TEXT (8398) for more information and for help on your order.

They canceled on me and are requesting a refund. Now what?

Contact the NBC at (402) 237-TEXT (8398) and Amazon Seller Support. Do not refund them without having them send the book back! Some people have commented that if you request them to send the book back, they will send it back.

Tyson Motsinger’s Response

I personally have not had a problem selling books to the NBC, however, many other people have. Here is Tyson’s response from his comment on my other post:


The author of this blog posted this above:

"I think that problems arise when you send them a book that doesn't exactly match your description and condition and ISBN number. If you are accurate, I don't think you'll have any problems."

This couldn't be more true...

If you are listing a book on Amazon & Half under an *incorrect ISBN* (i.e. international, old or teachers editions - all of which are against Amazon & Half policy) or have not clearly disclosed damage to the book in your listing comments (yes, we analyze each comment), we may buy your book believing you will be sending the correct book or a non-damaged book. Obviously, if you send us an incorrect or damaged book (which are graded liberally - according to Amazon condition standards), it's not a book we want - so we'll ship it back to you and request you refund us once you receive it. We currently ship books back to sellers at our expense. All we need is a return address. Amazon does not provide us this address, but in some cases Half.com will.

Nebraska Book Company is purchasing books from a large number of sellers on Amazon & Half and, at the same time, working to provide a reasonable process for sellers to use when incorrect/damaged items are received (which currently represent around 2% of all books received). Unfortunately, some sellers list incorrectly and either don't understand what it means to "list a book on Amazon or Half under an incorrect ISBN" and accidentally list it or even intentionally list it because a more recent or US edition of the same title garners a higher price. Granted, in some cases a listing page is unavailable for a title, there are title data issues on the site or we'll incorrectly purchase, but each of these occurrences is extremely rare - especially for the types of books we are attempting to purchase.

Even with the volume, we've had good success with packages being delivered by the USPS. Sometimes we'll run into trouble with a few packages lost by the local USPS branch, but nothing close to unreasonable given the number of packages received. Some sellers rely on USPS tracking mechanisms. Amazon encourages sellers to fully understand the significant limitations of USPS "delivery confirmation." Read the last paragraph on this Amazon page to learn about these limitations:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200222890

If you are concerned about delivery, we'd suggest UPS or FedEx. Both provide tracking all the way to the point of delivery.

We currently provide dedicated staff who monitor our seller support line (402-237-TEXT), auto-responding email information, automated ways for sellers to block us from purchasing and a very easy-to-use (and free) process to request a damaged or incorrect book back. We continue to learn about the best way to help sellers while keeping our operations efficient. We have adjusted (and continue to adjust) our processes along the way, but the idea we're some big operation scamming marketplace sellers is simply not true.

Some of you reading this post will understand the situation and some of you won't - likely depending on a large number of factors. Either way, understand our goal is to have a successful transaction with marketplace sellers and to help sellers in the event a transaction is not successful - by both getting the incorrect/damaged merchandise sent back and helping educate why the product was rejected (providing specific damage information and/or the incorrect ISBN received). Purchase volume is certainly a factor, but we do our best to create tools which help us manage issues and allow sellers to self-serv in getting incorrect or damaged books returned.

We hope this sheds some light on the "mystery." Know that we do read your posts and will take constructive feedback into account.

Tyson Motsinger
Marketplace Purchase Manager
Nebraska Book Company, Inc.
(402) 237-TEXT (8398)

I am not taking sides on this issue. As someone who has not been bitten, I cannot directly complain about the company’s tactics. One thing is clear: people have been having trouble with this company. I have Tyson’s email address but I will not post it because I don’t have his permission to do so. If he chooses, he can post it in the comments.

If you do have problems, you should call that number. In addition, if you find out how to opt out, share the link with me so I can update all my posts. I did find some sort of opt out link but I can’t verify it works or how it exactly works.

To prevent problems, you should follow the guidelines I set out above. If you did and you still had problems, you may have grounds for action against the company and should contact Amazon Seller Support.

One Sentence Review: Dragon Age: Origins [PC] | Posted at 9:55 AM

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Title: Dragon Age: Origins
Platform: PC
Blurb: An epic dark fantasy filled with adventurers and bad guys.
Review: One of the best games ever made—amazing cut scenes, voice acting, and gameplay.
Grade: A+

Buy it on Amazon

One Sentence Review: Bayonetta [X360] | Posted at 9:49 AM

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Title: Bayonetta
Platform: Xbox 360
Blurb: You are a witch that has guns on her feet and you kill angels.
Review: As ridiculous as Devil May Cry and way more fun, Bayonetta is not only awesome graphically but incredibly fun to play as well.
Grade: A-

Buy it from Amazon

January 5, 2010

Overclocking My Computer [Tedious] | Posted at 12:57 AM

Nine episodes of 30 Rock later, I think I've reached a stable OC of my computer, at least for now. I'll give it a week or two before trying anything different.

To answer my previous frustrations, the slowness has to do with my RAM and primary hard disk. All of the slow loading is gone with the OC'd RAM. However, my friend has a slower CPU but uses RAID'd raptors as his main drives and his computer smokes mine. It sucks but my Maxtor primary drive (200GB) is slower than my Samsung 750GB drives (by a lot).

This should help anyone with a similar configuration. I will update it as my config changes.

  • Gigabyte EP45-UD3R
  • Intel E8500 3.16Ghz @ 3.96Ghz
    • FSB: 415
    • Multiplier: 9.5
    • Vcore: 1.3875
    • Termination: 1.28
    • PLL: 1.35
    • MCH core: 1.3v
    • MCH/DRAM: 0.91
    • ICH I/O: 1.57
    • ICH Core: 1.2
  • 4GB G.Skill DDR800 @ 830Mhz
    • Latch: 333Mhz
    • Multiplier: 2B (2 x 415 = 830Mhz)
    • 4-4-4-15
    • Voltage: 1.9v
    • Termination: 0.9v

I can definitely tell the difference between stock settings and OC'd. Everything starts up almost twice as fast. I also get significantly better marks in 3dMark.

At a slight OC (355FSB, 710 DRAM) I got 6267 3dMarks (from Vantage), 266fps in CS:S, and 37.5fps in World in Conflict. At the current OC, I get 6455 3dMarks, 293.94fps in CS:S, and 40fps in WIC. It's pretty significant, especially when I can see the difference in startup times for slow programs (Outlook, Visual Studio, etc.).

This CPU is amazing. I was able to OC it by 25%, which is pretty insane. The reference rig I was using got it up to 425FSB and 850Mhz DRAM but I am already breaching 63C load temperatures. I want to see how this pans out with regular use.

Thanks to this thread for tips and reference.

One thing is for sure, it's good to have something to watch while you wait for endless benchmarks to finish.

January 3, 2010

Giving your Xbox 360 cheap wireless [Networking] | Posted at 11:32 AM

Over Christmas break, one of my presents was to wirelessly-enable my girlfriend's sister's Xbox 360 on the cheap. Once I was done, I had saved her $65 (plus tax).

Instead of walking you through everything, I will just give you the walkthroughs I used.

Note: This is not meant for non-technical people. It would be easier for you to buy the $100 wireless adapter. However, for techies, this will save you tons of money.

Requirements

First, let me describe what you need:

  • A primary router/modem-router with wireless capability (any router will do).
  • A DD-WRT-compatible router. A Linksys WRT54G works excellently and we bought one for $35 at a local computer shop.
  • An ethernet cable

The end result of this is as follows:

  1. The primary router, in my case located downstairs, has a wireless access point configured. I enabled WPA2-Personal security on it. If your DSL modem has wireless capability, you're all set. In my case, I had to configure the primary router to get an IP from the DSL router.
  2. The secondary router can be configured two ways: a Client or a Repeater Bridge. I chose the latter because it is easier to manage the network when all devices are on the same subnet. In addition, you get an added bonus of a second wireless access point!
  3. The Xbox 360 connects via ethernet to the second router.

To setup your second router, you will need to install DD-WRT. Do not just download it and flash it, you'll probably break your router.

How to Do It

This guide is meant for using DD-WRT, since it had the most documentation and supported Repeater Bridge mode. There also seems to be a way to do this via the Tomato firmware (seems only to support Client mode right now).

What I did was follow the excellent installation guides on the wiki. Here is the list of things I used:

  1. Read up on how to identify your router and version. I used this WRT54G guide on the wiki. Just Google "dd-wrt [your router model]" and you'll get the Wiki page for it.
  2. A walkthrough for Version 8 of my router. Note: Versions matter! The guide for version 6 (my second router) was much different than version 8 (the first router).
  3. Be sure to read the notes in the Peacock thread on the forums. Note: The only real tidbit of information that I used was to know how to do a 30-30-30 hard reset. LEARN IT.
  4. The files needed for your router and version. Search it in the router database. Note: Some installation guides use custom firmware so read the installation guide for your router just in case. This was the case for me with my secondary router which used version 6 software.
  5. Read the guide on Client mode or Repeater Bridge, depending on your needs. I chose the latter because it was simpler and easier to manage.
  6. Be patient. When steps tell you to wait five minutes, wait five minutes. I used Online Stopwatch to time everything appropriately. The whole process of setting up two routers with DD-WRT and configuring everything took about 4 hours (since the second router wasn't working right at first using client mode). The end result was awesome, though!

Notes

In my case, there were some things the wiki and thread said would be a problem but turned out not to be.

The guides say that when you flash the firmware with TFTP on Vista/7 you have to time it right. This wasn't a problem for me. I simply restarted the router, ran the command to flash the firmware, then hard reset the router again. I didn't run into any problems using Windows 7.

Some guides say it's not possible to manage both routers under a Repeater Bridge configuration. That's not true, if you set up and remember the local router IP, you can still manage it. I made it easy. My primary router was http://192.168.1.1/ and the secondary one was http://192.168.1.2/ since the primary router gave out IPs after 100.

Additionally, it's a good idea to enable/disable your LAN card on the computer you're using to flash the firmware once you change wireless modes on the router. It is also a good idea to clear the cache in Firefox/IE each time you flash a new firmware, to make sure you're getting the right pages.

Initially, I had tried to configure the second router as a wireless Client but it wasn't working. It was much easier to configure the router as a wireless bridge or repeater bridge. That's what I'd recommend. For the client mode, you might need to configure advanced routing and such… for a repeater, the guide was insanely straightforward. Additionally, client mode separates your network into two subnets: 192.168.1.* and 192.168.2.* which can make it harder for devices to talk to each other. Apparently, version 6 and version 8 WRT54G routers don't work well in that situation. A repeater bridge is almost like a bypass of your second router, it doesn't assign IPs, it passes all traffic to the primary router.

Results

The results were excellent. The Xbox 360 worked great on Xbox Live and I saved them $65 compared to buying a wireless adapter. In addition, they get a second access point upstairs!

Another solution, and simpler but less flexible, is to use a laptop with a wireless card and ethernet card. Bridge the connections, hook up the Xbox to it via ethernet, and then connect to wireless. This also worked for me using Windows 7 in about 5 minutes. However, you always need the laptop to connect to Xbox Live.