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Tiny Tip – MacTracker for Current Price of used Apple Devices

It will be hard to top the first Tiny Tip. So many people have told me they love the strategy of creating a Delete Me folder! Don’t set your expectations that high for every Tiny Tip, though. In the words of Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa, “They can’t all be winners.”

When you want the new hotness coming out of Apple, one of the ways to justify your expensive purchase is to resell your existing Apple products. The good news is that Apple devices hold their value really well. The bad news is it’s tedious to figure out what your devices are worth.

Traditionally I write down all of the specs of a machine, and then go over to eBay. I search for the same device on eBay while setting the filter to sold items only. Then I create a spreadsheet and start recording the last 10-12 that have sold recently. I keep detailed notes in my spreadsheet on how they might vary from the one I’m trying to sell.

I throw out the super high ones, which are usually those sold by a company. Then I throw out the lowest one if it’s got something clearly wrong with it or it has something fundamentally different spec-wise from the one I’m selling. I average the selling price in my beloved Excel to determine a price. If I’m selling to a stranger, that’s a fixed number, if it’s to a friend who maybe could use a little bit of help with the price, I’ll lower it a bit. At least I know the value of the equipment, but this process takes 3-4 hours.

Mactracker logoBut that’s not the Tiny Tip. For Father’s Day I got Steve a new iMac, so I needed to figure out what his old one was worth. It’s a 27″ Mid-2011 model. I was too lazy to walk all the way down to his office and pull the specs directly, so I popped open the fantastic free app, MacTracker. (Available in the Mac App Store and in the iOS App Store.)

MacTracker has been around forever, but it’s continued to get better and better over time. The developer now includes all desktops, laptops, iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, Airport routers and more. You can find out everything about these devices, up to and including hearing their original startup sounds. It’s super cool.

Mactracker showing current priceBut that’s still not the Tiny Tip. HERE’S the Tiny Tip. I looked up Steve’s iMac model in Mactracker and I noticed something new. The Initial selling price was there, but below that was “Current Price” with a US flag next to the price. Boom, you know the current selling price!

But wait, there’s more. I noticed that it was in blue, so I clicked it. I got a prompt asking if I wanted to open the link in a browser. I trust Mactracker, and it was awfully sweet of it to ask permission so I allowed it.

The price link in Mactracker took me to a site called bidvoy at us.bidvoy.net. Now here’s the really cool part. Bidvoy shows you the price over time. There’s a pulldown to choose from some standard time frames from the last 6 months to 2 weeks, or you can set a custom range. The data points even have a trendline through them.

Below the graph you get the average over the last 6 months (which is the number you see in Mactracker). You can see the weekly trend, how many auctions and the price margin. Not sure what that one was.

Below that you can even see the best time to purchase based on this historical data, and the best time to sell. For Steve’s model, you want to buy on a Sunday between midnight and 4 am, and I should try to sell it (if I’m doing an auction) on a Tuesday between 4 and 8 am. They show the prices for those two times, but it doesn’t entirely make sense. The average for Steve’s iMac is shown around $600. The best time to sell says almost $800, but the best time to purchase says $650. I would think that the average should be between the best time to sell and buy, wouldn’t you? Still interesting.

Bidvoy showing graphs

But bitvoy isn’t done yet. After the graphs, you can see a list of the same model currently-selling on eBay. For each one they show the current bid price (or buy it now price), the time left, and a red, blue or green badge telling you if it’s underpriced, normal, or over priced. If you see one that strikes your fancy as a buyer, you can click on it and go right into the sale on eBay.

One caution on using Mactracker and bidvoy. While this is easy, if the Mac you’re buying or selling isn’t the average model, the price you see here will not be representative. For example, in looking at the current auctions, I realized that this includes not just the i7 version I bought for Steve, but also the i5’s that are less valuable. I cranked up the RAM and disk when I bought it for him, so that should be taken into account too.

Using Mactracker and its connection to bidvoy is a great starting point and can get you most of the way there with the simple click of a button. I should mention that the iOS version of Mactracker doesn’t have this current price feature, so you’ll need to view it on a Mac.

I’ve just realized that the definition of a Tiny Tip is that it could be described in one sentence or two but that doesn’t mean I can’t make a lengthy post about it anyway!

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CCATP #493 Kelly Guimont on App Camp for Girls

This week our guest is Kelly Guimont. Kelly is a contributing editor to the Mac Observer and also a volunteer at App Camp for Girls, a program that introduces iOS programming to girls in grades 7-9. We talk about how a 3rd grade teacher asking her to crawl under a desk to plug in an Apple ][e turned her into the computer nerd she is today. She explains why you need a duck to be a programmer and a hula hoop to teach girls to code.

If you’d like to help out App Camp for Girls, go to appcamp4girls.com and look for the contribute button. Lend your time or give your money or buy some swag! If you’d like to follow Kelly you can find her @verso.


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Ring Video Doorbell – Mirror Mod Allows You to See the Doorstep

Ring screenshot mirror mod packageThe Ring Video Doorbell has been described as “caller ID for your front door”. It’s an awesome device that lets you see who’s at your door, talk to them or not, and do all this from anywhere you are on the planet (assuming you have internet). Another theoretical advantage is that you can see if there’s a package left on your doorstep and ask a neighbor to go get it for you before someone steals it.

For answering the door it’s awesome. For seeing the packages on your doorstep, not so much. A year and a half ago when we first got the Ring doorbell, I did a very favorable review of it, with this notable exception. The problem with the Ring doorbell is that it has way way way too high of an upward viewing angle, and not nearly enough downward view to the doorstep.

To illustrate this point, I simulated former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal standing at my front door and showed how there was a good six inches still viewable above his head. I even talked to the CEO of Ring, Jamie Siminoff, about it CES, but he didn’t seem sympathetic to this problem even after I told him about my Shaq experiment. Probably thought I was a nut job.

Continue reading “Ring Video Doorbell – Mirror Mod Allows You to See the Doorstep”

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CCATP #492 Bart Busschots – PBS 36 of x – More HTML Text Input | More Cellular Automata

Chit Chat Across the Pond this week is another episode of Programming By Stealth with Bart Busschots. I’m very proud of the fact that I completed my homework, writing a program from scratch that passed all of the tests written by Bart. It took me 12 hours, and nearly 4 hours of Dorothy’s time helping me do it, but I got ‘er done. In this installment, 36 of x, we learn some more HTML, specifically about all the cool things the input tag can do, like creating invisible forms which is just weird but also very cool. The challenge this week is a flip on last week. This week Bart has written the next bit of code for us and we have to create the tests. It’s as challenging as all the rest but it’s just as fun. And of course you can find Bart’s fabulous tutorial show notes at bartbusschots.ie/…


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NC #633 macOS Too New, Tiny Tip Delete Me, Affinity Photo for iPad Type 2, Security Bits

David Ginsburg of the In Touch with iOS podcast sent in a recording describing the unusual problem he had where Apple shipped him with an operating system actually newer than the one you can download. I’ve started a series called Tiny Tips, and the first one is why you should create a folder called Delete Me. I’ve got part 2 of my Affinity Photo for iPad review/walk through and then we’ve got Security Bits with Bart Busschots.


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Affinity Photo for iPad – Part 2

Develop personaLast week I told you about Affinity Photo for iPad, and took a pretty good run at telling you everything it could do. But as I mentioned, one segment wasn’t nearly enough time to do that. This is an incredibly powerful program and it’s time to start up part 2 of my review/explanation of Affinity Photo for iPad.

Before we dig in, I want to note that Serif, makers of Affinity Photo for iPad, Mac and Windows are not sitting on their laurels. These apps are in very rapid development. This is especially true of the iPad version. Last week I told you that the canvas rotation seemed backwards; a positive rotation number was counter-clockwise. I wrote to them and they immediately wrote back saying, essentially, yup, it’s backwards, on to the dev team. That was great.

Continue reading “Affinity Photo for iPad – Part 2”

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Tiny Tip – Delete Me

I have a tip that is one of the most useful I’ll probably ever give you, and is also one of the simplest.  I’ve been wanting to give little tips from time to time so I have created a new type of post called Tiny Tips. I even made a little logo!  No, it’s not going to be a spin off podcast…

Let’s start with the problem to be solved. We all create temporary files for a myriad of different reasons. Maybe you export images from Photos in a specific size just to post to social media. Or you print things to PDF just to send them to someone but don’t need a copy. There’s a lot of reasons we do this. And most of us plop them all on our desktops. A few of us have a tidy little folder they go in, but the clutter is still there, it’s just swept under the rug.

Eventually we buckle down to clean up this mess we made for ourselves, but we have to open each document and image to figure out whether they need to be kept.  We procrastinate and fill up our drives with useless stuff.

I have the solution. Continue reading “Tiny Tip – Delete Me”

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NC #632 iPad Pro Saga Continues, Eyecatcher, Amp vs Receiver, Affinity Photo for iPad

Why I’m getting a FOURTH 12.9″ iPad Pro (a story of AppleCare), Maria demonstrates iCatcher as a blind podcast listener, Steve answer’s Jill’s Dumb Question asking the difference between an amp and a receiver. I give you part one of my (hopefully two-part) review of the new Affinity Photo for iPad from Serif.


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Affinity Photo for iPad – Part 1

Image with burn tool and layers showingI’m a huge fan of the Mac application Affinity Photo. You may have heard me mention that 8 or 12 times before. It’s a fantastic image editor for Mac and PC from Serif that only costs $50 one time (on sale right now for $40).

But the big news that was just announced during WWDC is that Affinity Photo is now also available for iPad. I’ve been anticipating this for a long time. The ability to work with my photos on an iPad with Pencil has been a glorious dream. The folks at Serif say that the code base for iPad is the same as it is for Windows and Mac, so we’ll get feature enhancements across the board. Affinity Photo for iPad is only $20 (right now) so it seems like a good time to get you introduced to it.

Continue reading “Affinity Photo for iPad – Part 1”

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Dumb Question Corner – What’s the Difference Between an Amp and a Receiver?

Gen 4 Apple TVListener Jill sent in a great dumb question this week, and Allison decided that I was more qualified to answer. Here’s Jill’s question:

What is a “receiver”?

The reason for my question is, Apple told us at WWDC that the 4th gen Apple TV could be used as a destination for Airplay 2 (multi-room audio). But the 4th gen Apple TV has no audio out, so how can that work? I don’t want my TV screen lighting up every time I want to play a podcast! Well, I asked around, and I got told “You need a receiver that offers HDMI connections”. Hence my question. So … what is a “receiver”? Also, supplementary question – why is it called a “receiver”? I have a good old fashioned amp, because I’m nearly as old as you are. I get amps: sound sources go in; you choose one, adjust the volume, job done. You can’t buy them any more – just these receiver things, and since I never got on that train, I haven’t a clue where to start asking about them.

Good question, Jill. You actually pose a couple questions. The first is “What is a receiver and why is it called a receiver?” and the second (implied) question is “How do you play audio from a gen 4 Apple TV?”

Let’s start with what is a receiver and why is it called a receiver. There are several types of receivers but the relevant ones for this discussion are an audio receiver and an A/V (audio/video) receiver.

Continue reading “Dumb Question Corner – What’s the Difference Between an Amp and a Receiver?”

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