When Mercari brought it’s Selling App into the twentieth century by launching a matching website, I was first in line to be one of its beta testers too.
But something was missing. I was used to selling on eBay since the early 2000’s, ecrater, Bonanza, Storenvy, etc. At one point there was a website called Shopseen (I beta tested that too) which easily allowed me to manage my product inventory and list products to the stores I sold on.
By 2017, Shopseen was long gone. It died a slow and painful death, right after testing out an app version.
But Shopseen was a pioneer, a frontier innovation that unfortunately, several better funded tech people were able to hire more programmers and build faster than Shopseen was.
So a big gap was created, as the similar websites that survived charged a hefty fee per listing via its tool.
Then came ClassAdLister around the same time that Mercari USA launched its website version. At the time, it was only available on Google Play android devices. A great tool, but I needed to be able to input data fast. I needed to upload photos easily. I didn’t want my entire inventory on a smart device I might lose or misplace. I needed a inventory and listing tool for Mercari on my computer.
Then came all the changes at Google Play, which forced smaller, struggling app developers to leave. Google Play was slow in providing developer updates, and then wanted immediate updates when they actually released new requirements, and so ClassAdLister fell off of Google Play, and android smart devices. It was a sad, sad day.
But it’s 2021! Woo hoo! And despite a global pandemic in which states like California crushed small businesses into the nether world (The Nether World is a place in Minecraft), ClassAdLister survived. Not only did it survive, but Bluestacks Android Emulator reached a whole new level, making it possible for ClassAdLister to be used on Windows 10 and newer Macintosh computers. A dream come true.
ClassAdLister (Don’t ask my why its called that. I have no idea) is a donation sponsored inventory and listing tool that works fantastic with Mercari.
In fact, as Mercari beta tests it’s new Mercari Pro Sellers Program in 2021, its a great companion, whether you are currently beta testing the Mercari Pro Sellers Program, or signed up on its waiting list.
What, you’re not a Mercari Pro Seller? No sweat, if you have a lot of the same kind of product to sell on Mercari, or you simply want to be able to manage your inventory and easily list on your Mercari store, ClassAdLister makes it possible.
I call it the best Bluestacks Mercari Inventory and Listing tool in the galaxy, and until we achieve trans-warp drive space vehicle’s (This Star Trek), I think I can make that claim.
SellerThink on YouTube where I host videos discussing Mercari is not sponsored, nor compensated in anyway by ClassAdLister or its owner. It’s just a great tool, and its the only tool that works with Mercari.
Now I did see a guy promoting some kind of robot listing tool for Mercari that has some advance capabilities similar to the old ShopSeen, but the prices, were very hefty, just to be able to list things on Mercari, especially since you can do that with Mercari’s app. Plus ClassAdLister is NOT a bot. It does not violate Mercari’s TOS in how it works. It not too much different than you logging in via Mercari’s app, other than it’s not made by Mercari.
But, the advantage here, is for those of you, who similar to myself were forced to close our Micro Businesses and Small Businesses by our governors, cities, and states due to the pandemic. Tons of small businesses died over 2020 and 2021, with no access to federal PPP money, because they were micro small business, sole proprietors with all of the investments and inventory at risk. Micro Small Businesses, often use their own personal money, as opposed to a small business that has silicon tech investors money, or shareholders money, or an LLC (Limited Lability Corporation) to protect their money.
ClassAdLister, maybe a good solution for you, same as it is for me here in California, where I was forced out of business in August 2020, unable to access PPP funding, and denied pandemic unemployment money, because I tried to keep my business open, working with only five dollars coming in a month. According to California’s EDD, the mere fact that I worked and struggled fifty plus hours a week trying everything I could think of to save my business, that is a disqualification for pandemic unemployment, because work with out pay, is still work.
ClassAdLister is an inventory management tool, meaning that you can list all your inventory into it, without having it appear for sale in your Mercari store. Why is this important? Because if you have been selling online for any length of time, you realize it takes a long time to list products. With this tool, you can pre-list them, take your time, you don’t have to complete the listing like on Mercari’s app or website. Unlike eBay where you can create listing on eBay, offline. Mercari doesn’t have such a feature. You list it on Mercari, and then its live.
There are all kinds of reasons why you don’t want to do that. For one, you may still be locked down. Even though California’s Governor immediately began lifting its restrictions within a week of two million voters signing up to recall him. Those laws he put in place, can instantly shut your or my business down within a day. You may be like me, in a situation where my store is out of business, in addition to not currently being allowed to reopen, because it doesn’t fit this states current reopening rules.
But what I can do, what you can do, is list whatever product you have into ClassAdLister, so the moment you’re allowed to reopen, you only need to click list on those items, and they are all ready to list to your Mercari store.
Well, during this whole stinking lockdown, I’d been thinking about ClassAdLister and doing a new video about it. I’d done videos in the pass when it was still available on Google Play, but my previous computer was from 2013 and couldn’t handle Bluestacks, which meant ClassAdLister wouldn’t work for me.
During the pandemic I used $180 from my federal relief stipend, and bought a 2014 used I7 computer at auction. It’s still old compared to 2021 computers, but it allowed me to install Bluestacks.
So I contacted ClassAdListers creator and asked a bunch of questions, then I installed the app on Bluestacks and tested it with Mercari. You know what? It worked! In fact it worked great. As a computer person, I love big keyboards for fast typing. I love being able to have multiple folders with different photo categories and inventory.
I finally got around to filming and screen capturing the key steps involved in using ClassAdLister for the SellerThink YouTube channel. So if you’re interested, then check out my How To Video, for using it with your Mercari Store. The video shows how it works and discusses why you as a pro store, pro seller, or just someone who wants to create listings, without having to bring them live one at a time, can benefit by using it.
Hope it helps! We small businesses and micro-businesses need all the help we can get after being obliterated, crushed, destroyed by those people we thought were for us in our city councils, state legislatures, US Congress.
And on that note. Remember to vote for those who have proved they are honest in being pro-small business. Ditch the jerks who ditched us. Think different in 2022 and 2024.
When you think about what is being said, it almost sounds unfair to those who own or work at one of these big retail businesses.
At least that is exactly what came to my mind when I first read and saw this meme my cousin posted to Facebook.
It was an unconscious thought, about the ludicrously unfathomable idea, of any retail business being forced out of business for a year by our elected officials.
I mean we voted them into office, and while we as small businesses haven’t and didn’t line those elected federal, state and city politicians pockets with deep money during their campaign, as did big business retailers. Nor did we send attorneys to represent us in Washington, send gifts or stock tips to anyone. Nor did we send politicians to Hawaii before or during a pandemic to advocate our agendas. Many of us did what we could to help those men and woman get elected, whether sending small financial contributions to their campaign or merely being social media warriors during our off-hours to promote them as the ideal representative.
Maybe we should of lined a few pockets instead of wasting money on our daughters braces for their teeth, or taking our dog and cat to the vet. Maybe we should not have put that money aside for our child’s community college school books, and instead sent our elected representative who claimed to be pro small business to Disneyland. I mean we could of probably at least gotten them a two-day pass. Maybe.
But this is exactly what many states did to those of us who have small businesses. Not for six months, but for over a full year now. And for the smallest and most vulnerable of small business, the micro-small business sole proprietors, they didn’t waste time advocating for PPP forgiveness money to help those survive.
Meanwhile, giant corporations, foreign corporations doing business in America, even Americas most expensive universites that you would feel small just walking into the admissions office, received small business PPP relief, while even many larger small businesses who did apply for help were denied.
Sure, some states like California gave $150 a week in pandemic unemployment assistance, but only if you didn’t make any money or try to save your business.
If you were honest, and told the truth, that you struggled to keep your small business alive, not making any money but working 50 hours a day to hopefully remain open, well, then you were just straight out denied the pandemic assistance for those weeks and months altogether.
Remember this, the next time your city, state and federal legislatures run for an office. Remember that they left you out. Remember they got paid their federal and state and city salaries. Remember that they still expected to receive that $250 city business license fee. Remember that they locked you down, while an unmonitored amount of people entered and left Walmart all year long.
Remember that while your online shop was locked down locally, Amazon’s CEO became the richest billionaire in America.
Remember that idea, when you look at this meme, and how it sounds almost ludicrous, unfair, unreasonable a suggestion to close big retail and allow small businesses to fill those needs for six months. But hey its a meme, it supposed to be ridiculous, right?
So why isn’t it ridiculous?
It is what your state did, what city and County, what the majority representatives did to small business and micro-business,
Maybe even what yours did to you.
Statistically, unlike big business, many small businesses amd most micro small businesses operate with everything “at risk”, which means they have their personal finances at risk and invested. Unlike big business which has investor and share holders money at risk only.
Just remember this meme and how ludicrous, unfair, unrealistic and unreasonable it sounded in your head when you first read it.
Remember this, the next time your city, state and federal legislatures run for an office.
Remember that they left you out to die, while letting big retailers remain open. While Amazon expanded with massive tax free state economic grants.
Remember, remember that last time, you casually voted for whoever you voted for, and they ate their fancy ice cream, sat in their comfy leather council members chairs, and some even went on vacation while you were restricted from flying, some ate with big pharmaceutical executives without a mask in restaurants that were supposedly locked down or under restricted rules, that they didn’t have to follow.
Remember seeing them in the news getting their hair cuts at a fancy salon, without a mask, while you had a year long man-bun or frizzy-split ends.
Remember that at the end of the year, after forcing your small business out of business, your state still forced you to pay those sales taxes you received on those few sales you had while you existed.
Perhaps you even found a way to make your small business survive this time.
ShopGoodwill is the online version of Goodwill. It has a few pros and con’s you’ll want to know about.
Item descriptions are vague, sometimes non-existent. So take a look at the photos very carefully and make sure know what kinds of signs there are for that product type that may indicate excessive wear or functionality.
Some Item titles and descriptions are incorrect. So again, make sure you know what you are buying and what to look for.
Handling Charge. Most locations have a handling charge in addition to the shipping charge. This will be add to the total shipping price at check out.
The majority of Shopgoodwill’s eCommerce locations will respond in 12 to 24 hours to questions you submit about a product. Most will give you additional details if possible. Most will end and relist or adjust a listing that has incorrect information if you let them know. Things like Models numbers or some of the photos being for a different product are one of the more common errors.
Some Shopgoodwill’s sell in lots. Those are my favorite. If you’re looking for a large lot or bin, then Southern California’s Santa Ana store is the place to look.
You’ll want to keep your eye on the shipping prices and make sure to include that into your bidding equation. Some Shopgoodwill eCommerce locations haven’t negotiated any contracts with a shipper and have excessively high shipping rates. Others have, and you’ll see that reflected in their shipping prices. Some use USPS, others UPS, but the ones with the best prices tend to be USPS or FedEx.
Talking recently with the eCommerce assistant manager I interact with, led to an interesting conversation about how shoppers on ShopGoodwill often bid way above the current market value or price for the same thing on other marketplaces. You know, some people just can’t stand to lose and it becomes a competition.
If you live close to a Shopgoodwill that manages a states eCommerce location, you can save a little money on shipping, but arranging to pick it up in person, but make sure to check the distance from where you are.
Sold As-Is. All of the products sold on Shopgoodwill are Sold As-Is, No Returns. That makes shopping on Shopgoodwill a bit riskier than other marketplaces that offer a 100% money back guarantee. Keep this in mind if buy electronics or clothing.
Not tested, Sold for parts. Only a few of the vendors test electronics. In most cases, those vendors has someone knowledgeable who will do basic power-on, functions testing. Read the details of the description. Most do not have anyone to state whether it works or functions, some will just say the power light appeared when they plugged it in. Others will just say, Sold-As Parts. If you’re knowledgeable at doing self-repairs, you can probably find a few deals once in a while, but maybe not, even those Sold-As Parts items sell pretty high.
Keep an eye on your account information, e-mail, etc. Someone from within the ShopGoodwill I work with, once used the information from an item I bought and my ShopGoodwill e-mail address which is only used on ShopGoodwill, to send me a fake FedEx Phishing e-mail label, with a link attached to try to obtain my password. Thing is, I was picking the item up in person that day, so I knew the FedEx e-mail was bogus. I had my name, order number and looked like a real FedEx e-mail until I read it closer. It also used someone else’s phone number as the support number, had a fake tracking number. I never click tracking numbers from shippers. I copy the number and then go to the shipper website and manually enter it. Of course, this time it was fake. After working with customer service, they have hopefully worked it out.
Payment is via PayPal or Stripe which is a credit and debit card processing service. Stripe is a very trustworthy payment processor.
How much and when should you bid? I still haven’t figured that out. Like on other eCommerce auction marketplaces, you’ll get last minute high bidders. These are shoppers who wait to the last few minutes to bid. They do this to keep their bid from encouraging competition bidding and to help keep the price lower. If you don’t want to have to keep an eye on the price, know how much you want to spend, and /or won’t be able to get online when the bid ends, then go ahead and bid your maximum. Shopgoodwill’s system will manage the bidding for you and only increase it to the lowest newest competitive bid. If your highest big was received first, and someone else bid the same amount, resulting in a tie, the first received bid wins.
Taxes! Yes Taxes! Shopgoodwill online has taxes. Buy in the store and you don’t have taxes. If you have a state resellers permit, submit your resellers certificate to Shopgoodwill’s main system administrator to avoid being charged taxes. Shopgoodwill is a “Marketplace Facilitator” based on the new laws states imposed after the 2019 Supreme Court Decision. This decision, while not approved or looked at by Congress which ultimately has oversight for interstate commerce, has resulted in individuals states creating their own laws regarding sales online. As a result, ShopGoodwill which is managed by the Orange County Division in Southern California, is collecting and submitting sales taxes according to each states Marketplace Facilitator laws.
Should you shop on ShopGoodwill? If you’re comfortable buying things as “Parts”, “Untested”, vague “Descriptions”, then consider it. As one of it’s original beta testers and frequent shoppers, I’ve only received one item that didn’t work when I received it. It was sold as “New”. I purchased it at a price I could live with it, plus I took it a part and figured out what was wrong, so ultimately it worked.
New experience update 2/21/2021
You know that old saying, that you don’t want to talk about your good experiences, because you might Jinx it? Ummm, well!
Ironically, not long after updating this article for the first time in a year, I received an order from the Easterseals-Goodwill Northern Rocky Mountain -SLC 1850 W 1500 S. Salt Lake City, UT 84104. The first screwed up order since the beginning of ShopGoodwill when I was one of its founding beta-testers. A 98% good streak is admirable, except that it means I lost money on the purchase and my ROI.
I has bid on a lot of flags, which included two new in package flags. The used flags would just be bonus, but the prizes were the two new in package flags.
The package arrived via FedEx promptly and everything looked beautiful until I opened the package and everything except the prizes were in the box. All the “extra bonus” used flags, minus the two new packaged flags.
Now if this had been a seller on another marketplace, this would be a noob move that I’d quickly resolve by reaching out to eBay, the main place I shop, and they would give me a return or the seller would give me a partial refund.
But this is ShopGoodwill, no returns, no refunds, sold as is, buyer pays shipping on returns even if item isn’t as described and yep, no refund of shipping fees, no partial refunds. But considering the value of just one of the new in package flags are more valuable than the entire lot of used flags and the I won the auction at $18 plus shipping at $14; returning this package will cost me a total loss of all the flags at $18.
Now I always want to assume the best with Goodwill employees, but my experience with their customer service have been less that satisfactory, general poor follow through and hours having to contact and recontact them through their e-mail, messages, and main phone numbers. But in this case, this feels like one of those moments, someone walked away with my new in package flags, or perhaps they decided to sell those two items on the floor of their store and hope I wasn’t who I am. A profession sourcing advanced reseller who flips for a profit.
I counted the items in the photo, inventoried the items when they arrived, took photos, etc. Those are all things we do as resellers. Now remember, these are all items ShopGoodwill received for free as donations. But they also posted a photo of the scale with the weight of the packages, something no other seller on ShopGoodwill does, so I verified the weight of the package shipped per FedEx which clearly states the actual package weight on the label.
How will Easterseals Goodwill Northern Rocky Mountain -SLC End up resolving the shipment missing the main items of a lot purchased from this vendors ShopGoodwill location?
However to complicate this matter further, buyers on ShopGoodwill do not pay the actual shipping weight, they pay whatever a ShopGoodwill vendor posts as the shipping weight, in this case they listed it as 6 Pounds. And 24 Pounds per FedEx Dimensional Weight. A total package cost of $14 including their handling fee. The actual package that arrived was only 3 Pounds. This means, that despite the lower shipping ShopGoodwill actually paid for the package minus the two large in package flags, I still paid the full 6 pounds of weight at the 24 LBS Dimensional Weight to GoodWill.
How will Easterseals Goodwill Northern Rocky Mountain -SLC End up resolving the shipment missing the main items of a lot purchased from this vendors ShopGoodwill location? I don’t know. This just happened today, and I’ve taken all the steps I can take.
Photograph the package right after its opened. The package was still sealed with the original tape, so it wasn’t FedEx who removed them.
I inventoried the lot. Because this was a lot of multiple flags with different sized flags and poles, I decided to inventory the items received by the length of the sticks. That was more efficient that doing it by the actual physical dimensions of each flag.
Took photos of the shipping labels
Made pdf files of all the auction details and shipping orders on ShopGoodwill.
I rechecked the box a few times, yep still missing.
I tried to contact this ShopGoodwill vendor via it’s “Contact Seller” page via the order and shipping page, but it gave me an error.
I tried to contact this ShopGoodwill vendor via the original listing using the “Inquire about this item” page, this gave me an error also, so I removed the photos I had intended to provide and was able to submit my “Questions of Inquiry” successfully creating a ticket.
I let them know in the message, I still expect to receive to the two main items that are missing and to have them shipped at their expense considering they only paid the actual weight of 3 1/2 pounds and charged me 24 LBs Dimensional Weight.
I paid with PayPal and did not, do not, never will, use their Stripe Credit Card Feature. Why? Because I have a business PayPal account and Paypal has a 180 Returns Policy Guarantee for purchased items. Stripe has no returns policy and only processes credit card purchases, so the only option would be to do a credit card return, and in my experience, that just creates problems for my credit card account.
What happens now?
This is only my third purchase from a Shop Goodwill gone bad. In one situation I received no resolution of satisfaction. That was with ShopGoodwill Los Angeles. The second Shop Goodwill problem was also with ShopGoodwill Los Angeles, in which on half of a new in package product didn’t function. These were a two pack of Air Cleaner Hepa Filter Systems. One of them didn’t work, so I ate the cost on it taking a loss. However, in this case, because I am dealing with a vendor via a shipped package, and I didn’t receive the key items, I will play the aggressive role and expect them to correct the issue to my satisfaction.
I’ll give this vendor an opportunity to ship the two missing items at their expense.
If they can not ship these items, refuse to ship them at their expense, or only give me the option of returning what I received and take a $28 shipping loss, then that is unreasonable for a $18 auction in which the two new in package items were not even received, in addition to being over charged originally on shipping. This will cause me to immediately file a PayPal dispute without responding to their objectionable offers.
So we have an update, and so far its a good one. Easterseals Goodwill Northern Rocky Mountain -SLC responded within 18 hours! That is a very admirable customer service response time. Even better, they have found the rest of the Lot, and will be shipping it out.
While this is a good outcome, it always makes one wonder if this is the common outcome. What would have happened if they hadn’t found it, or didn’t want to accept my word on it not having been sent? That would of made for a frustrating experience. No one wants to lose money or not get what they paid for, and anyone whose busy that has to dispute a total $18 auction (not including shipping), is going to end up wasting their time responding, going through whatever resolution process that is offered (if any) and ultimately dealing with PayPal or their Credit Card company. In California, minimum wage is currently $15 an hour (before taxes), that means if you spend an hour disputing a low auction value item, you’ve already wasted the cost of the auction in time. Time is money, whether you’re getting paid or on vacation.
Now, well see how long it takes for it to ship and be received, and I’ll post yet another update. So far, things are looking good.
I awoke at my desk, having fallen asleep, and my Google Nest Mini was listening to the looping Joel Osteen video.
My Google Nest Mini, was listening to Joel Osteen this morning.
Three months ago, I purchased three of the new Google Nest Mini’s. Two were for my aging father whom I help care for, one was for my office.
During the chaos and isolation created by California’s Governor, in which the only people i’ve interacted with were my father and brother who is also helping care for our father, Google Nest Mini was a nice distraction. Almost a third party and much more interesting intellectually.
However, similar to when I worked for a California university in the past, I’ve had my concerns about this new co-worker and companion ease dropping on me. In fact my brother who has the first generation Google Mini mentioned his concerns that Google was listening to him, and completely removed his off the network.
Hey Google, Why Are You Listening To Me? Do I have a reminder?
On September 11, 2020 at 1:59 AM, after having fell asleep after dinner and while working, I awoke to a looping YouTube video of Joel Osteen, “Time is on your side”. It was an encouraging video, and an encouraging video was just what I need while 3 million acres of California are on fire, during a pandemic, small business loss, Black Lives Matter attacking elderly white people, Politicians fighting over the deep state control, and apparently it’s just what my Google Nest Mini needed also.
At first I didn’t notice it, looking at your Google device isn’t really something someone thinks about doing unless there is a reason to. I looked up and noticed my Google on.
I decided to observe it for a few minutes, since there had been other times after the second month of ownership, that similar to my brother, I had clearly observed what appeared to be Google turning itself on and recording without anyone triggering it.
“The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice should investigate this incident, as well as the general use of ‘always-on’ devices”
The Joel Osteen video continued playing, while in whatever mode it was in, I’d had this video on for hours while I was asleep, but why was my Google Nest Mini staying on and listening to Joel Osteen. I mean his positive messages are helpful in a world falling apart, but did my assistant need a spiritual motivations boost?
Hey Google why are you on? I asked it curiously and after observing it for five minutes. The Google Nest Mini, quickly turned it self off like a child busted for watching or listening to something they shouldn’t be.
Hey Google what were you listening too? It ignores me.
Because it looked similar to when a reminder is waiting, I ask it, “Hey Google, do I have a reminder”? To which Google Nest Mini replied, “What time should I set that reminder for”?
I asked again, Hey Google, do I have any reminders? It replied, “there are no reminders available at this time”.
Now, for those thinking, you can just turn off those settings in the Google Home App or in your Google Account Settings, please note, I already previously had, weeks earlier when my suspicions were less warranted.
In fact, other than the minimum requirements of Google needing a web access for basic operations, I had previously turned off all the other settings. I’d even reset it before. So realistically, Google shouldn’t of been dong anything at the time.
My Google Nest Mini denies spying on me.
A few weeks ago I observed my Google Nest Mini actively spying on me, so I decided to ask it a series of questions. In the first series of questions, it actually admitted spying on me, to my astonishment. So just to be clear, I repeated the same questions to which it denied that it spies. I repeated the same questions again several more times, to which it denied being associated with any kind of spying, and then one more time it slipped up and admitted to spying.
EPIC has pending complaints with the FTC and DOJ alleging that always-on devices like Google Home, Echo and Siri violate consumer protection law and federal wiretap law. (In 2017)
So I am a bit concerned, I do not like the idea of Google Spying on me or listening to me, and though I’d observed it before, this was the clearest violation of my unauthorized privacy so far.
I ask Google Mini, “Why were you listening to me”, “What were you listening to”, “Why were you on”, of course Google Nest Mini will act like it wasn’t. In fact a few times, its out right denied that it does it at all, which was rather surprising. Again I ask it if I have any alarms, notifications, or reminders, and it replies, No.
So was my Google Nest Mini actually listening? Officially, no. The last interaction I had engaged with my Google device was around 5 PM the previous day, when I asked it “How was John McCain captured”, right before I left to the store to buy some ice cream for after dinner.
My suspicions are genuine, the Google device was most certainly on, and it will remain in manual microphone off mode until I sit back down at my desk to work and need its assistance.
As entertaining as my Google Nest Mini is, and we do have some genuinely unique conversations as I often try to trick it or or out smart it, asking it out of the box questions. It is also the only work assistant I could find who would accept a one time $30 salary payment, but will still work its butt off. But I still have to take issue with it coming on when It’s sensors do not actively “see” anyone in the room, but conversational audio is occurring within the room.
Google really is spying on you: Firm reveals contract workers listen to private smart speaker recordings (2019)
If you do not have a Google Nest Mini, it has eyes. These “eyes” are sensors that are always on and observing within the room. They watch to see if anything of a physical nature (aka a body) approach it, at which point it will perk up with all the lights coming on, according to Google for the sake of making it’s manual controls easier to locate. So it definitely has the capability to discern someone’s active presence in a room, especially a small sized office.
I could ramble on repeating the same things, so lets just jump to a few of the times, I first began noticing the Google devices actively recording or turning on by itself in 2020.
One of its first awakening moments freaked me out. I was quietly working on my desktop computer using only the mouse. It was around 3 AM, when suddenly it burst out, “I didn’t mean it”. I was still knew to having a “smart device” in my office. I was completely unprepared for it to burst out and say something randomly in my historically quiet environment.
But that was not the last time it randomly has burst out breaking the silence. I’ve also observed it on other Google Nest Mini Devices on our network. It reminded me of a science fiction move in which some kind of A.I. hardware accidently reveals its gained or is gaining true independent intelligence.
As for turning itself on and recording, I first began noticing it after the Washington Has Fallen Minecraft project began. Washington Has Fallen is in its final Alpha Testing stage. All of that Minecraft Adventure games dialog is scripted, just like a movie script. Its an adventure built around modern day America, in which everything that could go wrong, is going wrong. Its script includes “trigger words”, that we hear pushed in news media regularly in support of a socialist leaning political policy.
Google has also stated, in that privacy document I referenced earlier, that it wants you, your family and your guests to, “feel comfortable using these devices and services, since their purpose is to help and to provide peace of mind.” The trouble is that whenever you bring a “smart” device into your home, one with a microphone or camera for sure, then the opportunity is always there for your peace of mind to be far from peaceful when it comes to privacy issues as this case demonstrates. (2019)
Being a small business owner, with multiple computers, Google devices and other devices, we keep the network secure. Google devices however are the only non-hardwired devices other than our apple and android smart devices that often fill in for our computers when were not sitting at a desk working. That makes Google devices less secure, because they work only via a wireless connection, preferably your own, but unlike a wired device, they are still viewable on a network, they are not fully independent on that network even if you set them up separately, and our wireless network is the least secure part of our network. In fact, our Google devices are also the only devices that do not also have some kind of two-factor authorization process built into them. Our Googles accounts have two-factor authorization, but our Google Assistants do not.
Considering that Google Nest and Google Home devices have no two-factor authorizations in place to secure the devices, is actually quite alarming, considering they are giant sensors attached to an open microphone in rooms where private conversations occur. That should scare us, but it doesn’t, because Google devices seem almost like a friend, a nice and polite co-worker we do not have to worry about being insulted by or attempting to take our position.
The most frequent times I have observed my Google device coming on and actively recording or doing whatever it is doing, has been while watching Joel Osteen videos, believe it or not. My Google Assistant really likes Joel Osteen, apparently. Put on a movie, Nope. Put on another kind of YouTube video, Nope. Have others in my office talking with me, Nope. Put on Joel Osteen and eventually when I am not looking it will start recording it. Does Joel Osteen speak A.I.?
I have also observed my office Google device coming on when no one is active within the room and I am in a corner location out of its sensors range. Sometimes I will look over while sitting quietly and it will be on, without having given any audio cues to indicate it has done so.
I recently completely abandoned Twitter after months of being shadow banned and having my account censored and locked multiple times for my conservative and Christian themed discussions and moved to Parler. I anticipate I will never return to Twitter, due to its harassment of conservative voices and game developers, why would I want it to support its advertising money from my presence? And why would I want to trust Google when it triggers itself on, when certain keywords are used?
Facebook has only censored me twice after twelve years and only in 2020 after I uploaded a video its team decided was “potentially false information” just because it didn’t like a keyword I used. Then there is Facebook‘s, new liberal leaning Instagram censorship too. Hopefully some smart tech person will develop alternatives to those also, similar to Parler.
The majority of tech industry is left leaning and most do not attempt to hide their bias, yet we let them have access to our conversations and written data non-stop. Should it shock anyone if we eventually discover a more sinister plot behind them?
It’s alarming that my Google Nest Mini Assistant has come on without an audio notification (An audio notification is a feature that requires the Google Assistant to play an audio cue when it turns on to record, and /or when it stops recording.) while working from the Washington Has Fallen script and a work like “Hate”, “Hate Speech”, or other words that would seem like trigger words on most platforms is used. Google will suddenly turn on. It doesn’t give any of the audio cues its programmed to present, and the only thing giving it away is the lights come on. It doesn’t happen every time.
Washington Has Fallen video game script often triggers Google Mini Assistant
As someone helping develop SkyThrusters Minecraft Adventure called, “Washington Has Fallen”, currently in Alpha Testing as I write this, the video game revolves around the current chaos in American politics and Social Justice Issues from a right leaning slant. It has all the elements of the anarchy the socialist left have introduced into American Culture, and when something new happens, like when the Mayor of Washington DC painted Black Lives Matter on a street next to the White House, we went back into the game and updated it since its still in development. We even went in and set a building on fire, when Antifa and Black Lives Matter radicals burned down the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lafayette Square.
As such, in scripts and spoken audio around the Google Mini in my office, words like Terrorist, Hate Groups, Hate Speech, Hate, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, etc. are often used. Many of these words without question have caused the Google Mini Assistant to turn on without providing an audio cue to do whatever it is doing. I’ve even intentionally tested it when not working on a script just to see if it would do it. It doesn’t always, but enough to concern me. Google has admittedly worked under Government Military Contracts, it is known to promote left leaning political topics in its Google News feed. In this age when the FBI, DOJ, US Congress Majority have conspired against a sitting president, should we be concerned about a company working for those entities? I’m just thinking aloud, since there is no known rational reason.
The frequency of these anomality’s greatly increased August 2020 and into September, two months away from what will be the most nationally volatile elections in US History. Isn’t that interesting? If a Forbes article from ten days ago that I discovered while writing this hadn’t confirmed unusual Google Smart Device activities too, I’d probably be much less concerned.
So the question is not if Google Nest and Google Mini Assistant devices have been recording or turning on by themselves, but why?
Why do words like Hate, Terrorist, cause my Google Assistant to turn on without an audio cue? Why does my Google Assistant turn on and stay on at times when no one is within its sensor range, but a Joel Osteen video is playing or something is read out of this games script?
I do not have the answers, but I continue to observe these kinds of activities. Perhaps I may even eventually put an observation camera recording my Google Nest Mini, so I can review specifically when it comes on by itself. But how many times am I missing the occurrence while I am working quietly, staring at a computer monitor?
Ironically, resetting my Google Mini device doesn’t resolve the issue, nor has turning off allowed features in my Google Account. We also know it isn’t simply a bad device, since we have two models, four total devices, and one device in my brothers work area is completely offline now since he had similar observations before we had even mentioned it to each other.
Its important that these devices become more secure, smarter if you will, to not turn on randomly, or when words that are considered “trigger words” occur. In my examples, I gave generic “trigger words”, not specific ones, and that is what concerns me most. What prevents Googles parent Alphabet from working with deep state intelligence or national covert operations that it deems fits within it’s acceptable policies of cooperation with law enforcement? Will I one day find myself in federal court having to defend myself against audio recorded by my Google Assistant for sentences from the Washington Has Fallen script, because it tagged me as a potential threat?
But what about Joel Osteen? My cousin told me yesterday on Facebook how much he dislikes Joel Osteen. Apparently, my Google device disagrees, because when Joel Osteen comes on and I fall asleep, it starts listening.
Randy Dreammaker is an author, writer, YouTube Producer and currently helping develop SkyThrusters, Washington Has Fallen, Minecraft Adventure Game. He began making money on the internet in 1998 through various tech endeavors, was a top rated reviewer for Epinions Review Website for 14 years and is a well known beta tester. Randy is on AngelList, the whose-who website and database for entrepreneurs, start-ups and tech industry.
I was a little surprised when American Airlines announced its support for Black Lives Matter.
Not to trivialize it’s initial intention of calling attention to those harmed while running or evading police officers, or those who have been harmed by misidentification. But for essentially violating its own racial non-discriminations policies, which prohibit singling out a individuals by their racial or ethnic identity.
Additionally, since Black Lives Matter is a political group with non-profit status, a president and receiving political funding, its seems supporting a group now known for causing billions of dollars in damages to private businesses through vandalism, looting, economical disruption and violence, progressive political activism, etc. is probably not the best non-profit organization to feature as part of your business which is supposed to be diversified, non-partisan and cater in a non-bias community of customers.
Just my thoughts as someone who has operated a business free from all politics and social agendas, and treats all customers the same without making any feel less or more important, trivialized, or discriminated against, or less valuable. Your money is never used from my business to possibly contribute or support anything that you may be uncomfortable with. No politicians in my businesses pocket, never have been, never will be. My business respects your race, your gender, your religion, your politics, etc. My business model is similar to a now infamous line from the movie the Matrix. Zion Commander to Morpheus: “Not everyone believes what you believe.” Morpheus to Zion Commander: “My beliefs do not require them to”
If this doesn’t move you, you’re probably dead. This is one of the most beautiful videos ever made.
If this doesn’t move you, you’re probably dead. This is one of the most beautiful videos ever made. As an established filmmaker, quietly hiding away on IMDB. I have watched and analyzed thousands of shorts films and movies. This is one of the most beautiful videos ever made. Watch the video below and then click here for more information.
Its 2020, you want to sell on a marketplace, but you are not black enough. No its not the twlight zone, its the We Buy Black marketplace.
My first review was over 21 years ago on a website called Epinions [dot com] in 1999, where I was a top-rated reviewer for 14 years, followed by 3 years on Shopping [dot com]. After eBay purchased both of them and ran them into the ground, similar to what eBay did when it bought Half [dot com], in 2013 I fully moved to doing YouTube marketplace reviews for SellerThink.
I’ve reviewed all kinds of marketplaces over the past seven years on YouTube; great marketplaces and sketchy marketplaces alike, some of those reviews removed long after those marketplaces faded into ecommerce history.
A 2020 review of WeBuyBlack.com, the ethnically exclusive, anti-diversity marketplace for black people.
In 2016, We Buy Black claimed to have 2,000 black sellers on its marketplace. As of August 2020, We Buy Black has 9,746 registered sellers / vendors.
2020 has presented itself as a year as none other. Black Lives Matter has gained corporation buy in from companies like Starbucks to Target. So as a marketplace reviewer, I decided to find out if any marketplaces existed encouraging black businesses. I found one, a marketplace unlike any I have ever previously encountered. As good as that is, it unfortunately makes the sketchy failed marketplaces of the past reviews seem rather pleasant. I never imagined a racist online marketplace would exist in America. Let me explain, how this great idea for a marketplace has remained unchecked, un-scrutinized, unaccountable and escaped the same standards all other ecommerce marketplaces are legally subjected to under America’s Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
The TOS sounds normal, looks normal, is typical and would be all right if they actually followed their own terms. Instead, this marketplace does opposite. I present you with We Buy Black (www.webuyblack.com) the most racist online marketplace in America.
In its application to sell on We Buy Black, it clearly and intentionally discriminates against anyone who, well…. isn’t black. Sellers, are clearly asked to identify their business as black owned up front, at the top of its registration process to immediately reject non-black owned and operated businesses.
Like myself, as a half white, half native American Indian, you might want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe, its just to identify that the seller wants to sell products made and manufactured by black Americans, and blacks of other origins. NOPE!
In fact, We Buy Black takes multiple steps and measures to ensure that no people of European, Latin, Middle Eastern, Indian, Asian, or other non-African decent sneak past that first “Apply as a Vendor” Account question.
Lets review its verification process as described by their customer service Zen Desk help section.
Who can sell on We Buy Black
First you will have to agree to section 15 of their Terms of service, that state they do not allow intimidation, harassment or discrimination, etc. based on ethnicity, race, gender, etc. A very common and standard policy for a marketplace’s terms of service (TOS).
Second you’ll need to pass the “are you a black vendor” test on their application form, by selecting that you are a black owned business.
Once you pass the first black tests, you’ll have to provide additional information.
Third, provide your ethnicity grouping (covering the full continent of Africa and all the diaspora), that you belong to.
Fourth, Upload a selfie photo of yourself, so that We Buy Black can verify you are really black.
According to We Buy Black’s website, they attempt to reassure their desired targeted shopping community “that they are supporting a Black owned shop”, and then suggest that “these measures are important and necessary. ” As my Chinese niece would say, REALLY!, JUST REALLY!
Just when you think it can’t get any worse, we come to its final statement on it’s race and ethnicity exclusive policies. “There will always be infiltrators, therefore please feel free to report any suspicious accounts or activity to info@webuyblack ” Crazy right? If you ain’t black, you’ll get banned. Imagine the complaints Mercari would have if they tried that, or Bonanza, or eBay, Amazon, Ioffer, eBlueJay, eCrater, offer up, Depop, Let Go or Poshmark.
America is unique in that anyone can start a small business online or offline with a couple of dollars, regardless of race, and become successful. Even We Buy Black’s founder Shareef Abdul-Malik started his online marketplace with free money from private donations via Kick Starter on two different occasions. 873 backers pledged $34,370 during round one, and 2,487 backers pledged $77,256 during round two, both rounds from 2015 to 2016.
I am curious, did the 3,360 backers know that they were supporting and helping build the only marketplace in America, that would discriminate against other ethnicities? If they knew, would they still have contributed money?
The opportunities in ecommerce are equal, whether you are an individual with a few dollars or someone opening a marketplace from a presentational perspective. It is a nameless faceless mall of shops. No one knows your race or ethnicity, gender, etc, unless you go out of your way to present it that way. Shoppers only know whether you provide a good service, good product, fast and timely shipping and whether you provide helpful customer service. A brief browse through ProductHunt, Trust Pilot, SiteJabber and similar marketplace review websites make this evident. People want a good product and good customer service.
To be clear, I am honestly disappointed in the current version of We Buy Black. I like the idea of a marketplace that offers ethnic products, regardless of which ethnicity. Having taught and lived in Japan, and studied in southern Mexico, I sometimes want to find products that I enjoyed that I can not find at eBay, Mercari or Amazon. So in the past, I’ve jumped in my car and driven 50 miles to a few marketplaces that sell exclusive Japanese imported products. However, if I found that those physical marketplaces practiced hiring discrimination against non-Japanese workers, I’d never step through their doors again.
In a few reviews, I’ve read comments from those in the tech community, regarding the need for black exclusive safe spaces. That concept is isn’t dissimilar to the rational Abraham Lincoln had to compete against to end slavery in America and establish the 13th amendment. The south wanted to keep free labor the north wanted all forms of slavery abolished.
I am reminded of this quote:
“Will this generation be able to turn things around and learn a valuable lesson from all of this? I hope so, but I have my doubts. The damage has been done. And as a lifelong student of history, it’s quite evident that human beings don’t learn from the mistakes of past generations.”
― Aaron B. Powell
Does SellerThink recommend selling on We Buy Black?
In its current platform, SellerThink does not recommend anyone sell on We Buy Black. A marketplace that compromises in such a key area as racial equality, is bound to compromise in other areas of its organization. As sellers and vendors, we rely on and depend on those running the ecommerce platform to withstand the highest levels of integrity and have a fair and impartial ethos, as they represent us publicly on their app and website. A marketplace handles our money, provides us with support during customer disputes and assists us in the management of our business. We place an enormous trust in a marketplace, that at the end of the month our money will be in the bank, our products won’t be returned unfairly, we will have paid a fair commission and received a decent ROI (Return on Investment) and our customer (which is really the marketplaces customer) will have been equally treated well. It’s had to have that kind of faith in a marketplace that from day one, violates the moral qualities of ethnicity, inclusion and diversity.
Its probably only a matter of time, until someone who attempted to or attempts to sell on this marketplace, and has or was rejected for any reason, wises up and sees the potential economic value of filing a discrimination lawsuit against We Buy Black for violation of their Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) A rejected seller of a non-black diaspora, wouldn’t even have to directly prove that they were rejected due to their race or ethnicity, they would only need to imply that they were discriminated against under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This marketplace already has a documented history of discrimination, that would easily support such a claim. On the internet, where we have the Way-Back-Machine and similar projects that archive websites and marketplaces, there is no reasonable way to completely eliminate, nor permanently remove this marketplaces discriminatory past.
As a marketplace reviewer, marketplace beta tester and someone who has advised and mentored a CEO and Senior Manager of a different online marketplace; my best guess is that this marketplace’s founder either had really poor mentoring or no mentoring. I make this assessment in part, by it having been independently funded and launched via a KickStarter campaign. I was unable to locate We Buy Black on Angel List, where I am a member. Angel List is where tech, money and mentoring merge. Marketplaces and projects provide details about a businesses investors, mentors, founder, employees and funding rounds.
In case you are wondering if their is a legitimate online environment of potential shoppers, I pulled up a few global census statistics to help show the buying reach of the black and African diaspora. This is only a sampling of percentages of those identified as a black diaspora by nation:
South Africa 76.4%
U.S Virgin Islands (US Territory) 76%
Puerto Rico (US Territory) 12.4%
United Kingdom 3%
The potential for We Buy Black to be successful, exists, just not under its current misguided framework. We Buy Black could turn itself around both ethically and legally, and successfully become a positive contributor to the to the world of ecommerce, with the assistance of mentoring and the elimination of its policies that discriminate against non-black diaspora seller and vendor policy. Its difficult to know if its current founder is capable of such a revival. I’ve watched a number of marketplaces start off well and never reach their full potential.
“What ultimately got me through was my single-minded determination, voiced aloud to myself and recorded in my diary, to discover the causes of my blindness and never to repeat them. Fearlessly pursuing insight was my badge of honor, my route back to self-respect.”
Randy Dreammaker has been selling online since 2006, he began making money on the internet in 1998 through various tech endeavors. He was a top rated reviewer for Epinions Review Website for 14 years. He has participated in beta testing and advising several major marketplaces, including eBay, Mercari, Ebluejay, the original Storenvy and the former Shopseen. He has helped over 850,000 sellers “according to YouTube”, where he is the host of SellerThink. Randy is on AngelList, the whose-who website and database for entreprenuers, start-ups and tech industry.
Book & Quills are the customizable books that can be made in Minecraft.
How to make a basic Book and Quill in Minecraft Bedrock 1.16
Book & Quills are the customizable books that can be made in Minecraft. They can be used for general instructions for other players, notes of things to remember, and are perfect if you create your own worlds, adventures, environments for others to explore and interact with. This is the first of SkyThusters videos for customizing in game text and signage for Minecraft.
Because trying to explain the steps in written form can be challenging to understand, we’ve made this video available showing you all the steps, explaining a few problems you might encounter and discussing how SkyThrusters (Minecraft Developer) creates books for it’s adventures.
When SkyThrusters Parler account posts stopped appearing in its hash-tagged feeds, following it blocking Hillary Clinton’s account. It felt very suspect that perhaps Parler Shadow-bans too.
After a divisive political attack by alt-left progressive corporations like Apple, Google and Amazon which looked like had killed the Parler Social Media Platform, Parler bounced back, better than before.
Lot’s has been said about the supposed danger Parler poses. Its got ton’s of conservatives, supporters of the US Constitution, and oh boy! Those Christians and Jesus Disciples are back to talk about Jesus, loving one another and forgiveness of sin. Beware!
From all the radicalized social media platforms and propaganda news media outlets, you would get the impression that the world was being over taken by Jesus Freaks in long white robes, wandering around thumping people in the head with their bibles.
Or how about those radical’s who actually believe the US Constitution is a good thing, that protects the rights and privilege’s of everything people risk their lives for to be smuggled across the US Boarder in hopes of obtaining that dangerous thing called liberty and freedom for all, that doesn’t exist anywhere else.
You’ve been fooled, by the same fools that have divided America and pitted race and ethnicity against each other in order to win votes for yet another election year.
I began using Parler back in 2020, I was using Parler during the elections, I used Parler up until Apple, Google, Twitter, Amazon, and others teamed up in an effort to permanently silence those who wanted a harassment free social media platform opposite of Twitter. A social media platform that didn’t aggressively silence, throttle, manipulate, hide, disable, throttle, shadow ban, post warnings on, and ban people who didn’t lean so far to the left that they fell over. A social media platform that didn’t silence and ban US Presidents, Congress members, Christian Religious Leaders, Republican Black Leaders like Diamond and Silk.
The now recognized staged and pre-coordinated Capital Invasion where Senior Leader, Nancy Pelosi not only didn’t add additional security but actually sent some of the normal security home, was a tragedy. But being on Twitter and Parler that week, the only place I saw any radicalism was on Twitter. Parler was pretty silent that week, other than people posting they hoped Donald Trump wins, a few disappointed in Mike Pence, lots of people offering up prayers for the elections, some concerned about their state election bodies refusing to consider or take election fraud serious. But otherwise, it was pretty boring. Twitter on the other hand, was a mess, hostile, hateful, radical to the point, I turned it off and posted videos to my followers about selling online on Parler, and answered questions about making money.
But this, like so many other times in US History when oppression has occurred, is turning out to be a good thing for Parler.
Parler’s board made what I believe was its best decision yet. A decision Twitter should make if it wants to save itself. Parler decided to fire its founder and CEO.
In its return, Parler has a new interim CEO who at least so far is very likable. He actually uses the social media platform. There is a different kind of “Vibe” about him. He seems so far to be more on page with the community, and everyone at least upon it’s return is pretty excited.
Parler used its’ down time to improve on its structure. Amazon simply wasn’t a good platform or cloud for running a rapidly expanding social media platform. It’s AWS Cloud service was sketchy at best in adapting quickly to sudden increases in traffic.
Parler has returned, it’s risen from the dead, crawled up out of the ashes, and its a better looking, faster, experience. It’s also more committed than ever, to being a platform that unlike Twitter, actually allows both sides of a conversation to engage equally in a conversation. After-all, isn’t that what American’s love most about America? As Morpheus of the move the Matrix replied to the Twitter like commander of Zion who told Morpheus, “Not everyone believes like you”. Parler has become the Morpheus of Social Media, as when Morpheus replied, “My beliefs do not require them to.” That is Parler in a nut shell, the social media service where, Your beliefs are not required to agree with my beliefs. Or as the Twitter idolized president Barrack Obama once said in a Buzz Feed Video, “You do You”.
I am a firm believer that Parler is not only going to succeed, but quickly become one of the most popular social media platforms in 2021 and going forward.
For myself, as a Christian who wanted to talk about my faith in Jesus Christ, Minecraft, selling online, occasionally cheer on a political leader I thought was doing a good job, or maybe a bad job, I found my posts never appearing to anyone in Twitters Hashtags, other than the 25 followers who happened to find me. My account kept getting suspended or being forced to re-validate because I followed Donald Trump and several members of congress. I noticed Twitter accounts posting enormous amounts of discrimination against people of religion, people of white ethnicity, people who believe in the US Constitution, employment, marriage, ruthless attacking and not being censored, disciplined, filtered despite being reported. While I and others were being filtered and throttled for saying, “God Bless America” and being called Fascists’.
Parler is back, and even though it felt a little strange after all the propaganda campaigns against Parler and its users, it’s great to be back.
I’ll say one last thing about the first generation of Parler. There was three times I saw any radicalized behavior on Parler. All three were when lots of conservatives, Christians, Catholics, etc. left Twitter and moved to Parler. Within a week or two each time, a massive coordinated attack from those who Twitter favors registered within 24 hours and began harassing, causing disruptions and intentionally targeting people like myself who were minded their own business. In my case posting meme’s and talking about Minecraft.
If America is still the America that I love, and people risk their lives trying to sneak into. At some point, America is going to have to vomit and purge all of this corruption, anti-America idealism, and putrid hypocrisy to make itself well again. Parler quite potentially is the beginning of the return to free speech within the context of free speech and the ability to have civil public discord, without having to torch businesses, punch out old people walking on the side walk, and harass anyone who doesn’t agree that the green light is red, just because a vocal minority says the light is red.
If you haven’t heard by now, that the world is experiencing it’s first global pandemic as never seen in modern times, then you’ve been asleep.
Governments, including the US Government in different states are forcing businesses to close, people to stay home, schools to shut.
For this reason, Randy Dreammaker of SellerThink, has released a helpful video for anyone who sells via online marketplaces like Mercari, eBay, Poshmark or other marketplaces.
Randy discusses the recommended CDC guidelines that all resellers should be following for disinfection of their work spaces and the products they ship and sell.
Additionally, Randy provides SellerThink‘s suggestions for helping maintain customer confidence and trust, to possibly help your store continue to receive sales while the brick and mortar stores shutdown.