Passive Income – April Update

My passive income experiments, so far, haven’t been very productive. One reason might be because I switched team at day job a couple of months ago and I was trying to catch up with new team, so ended up putting in extra hours at the day job. Thus leaving me with less time in the evenings for my side projects. Now they moved me to another team, so I might have long work days for next few months again.

Then to be honest, I have been working on multiple items at once. I should focus on one project at a time.

Anyways here is a quick update on my experiments:

T-Shirts on Merch by Amazon

So far I have had zero success on Merch by Amazon. My t-shirt designs have been mostly simple text based. There is so much hype about Merch by Amazon, I was thinking it was a sure bet. I also used up my free bing advertising credits but still no sales.

Now I am going to delete a few older t-shirts and create new designs that I want to wear. Also going to experiment with Facebook Ads. Probably, for each t-shirt, I will have $10 advertising budget. If t-shirts doesn’t sell, I will delete the t-shirt and try a new design.

Amazon FBA

So it looks like things that gonna sell, sell within a week. Rest of inventory is still sitting, and haven’t had a sale in more than a month. I have given up on this, instead going to support my brother with his retail arbitrage experiments.

Freelance Web Development

This is not really passive but I had one project earlier in the year where I outsourced most of the work on UpWork.com. So it was semi-passive. But this is not something that can be scaled while working full-time. I had several phone calls afterwards with client to explain various things. For now, I will not accept anymore such projects.

Blogs/Websites/Podcasts

I had added Google Ads but since then removed them. Ads do make your blog look cheap. And Google Ads pay minimal. I am going to focus on building traffic on blogs first before adding any ads.

Also I have been thinking of building informational websites for various topics. Not blogs but simpler websites hyper focused on one topic. It is sort of a way for me to learn more about topics I care about such as history, philosophy, science. I could create quizzes or other learning activities too so that users can keep track of what they have learned.

Then lastly I have been looking into Urdu podcasts. I sort of want to copy Side Hustle School idea but podcast in Urdu to promote entrepreneurship in Desi community.

Apps

This is probably the most realistic way to generate passive income but I have not done anything here. I really should focus on building simple apps, if nothing else, I could learn a new skill.

Going Forward

In order to better focus, my top priority would to work on t-shirt designs. Make one new design per week, and use $10 advertising budget to decide if it is good or not. After I have created the t-shirt for week then I will focus on next project.

Next I cannot decide at present if I should focus on blogs or apps. Blogs or informational products are easy, you just create content that interest you. But chances of generating passive income is very low.

Apps building is a new skill for me to learn but there is higher chances of generating income. Plus it could help me become better programmer at my day job.

Free Stock Photos for Blogging

Usually I use my own photos on my blogs. But my collection is not that big and needed some photos for one of my other blog but none of my photos matched the subject. So I have been started using these sites for free stock photos:

  1. https://www.pexels.com/
  2. https://unsplash.com/
  3. https://pixabay.com/
  4. https://stocksnap.io/

Photo by Kristian Karlsson, https://stocksnap.io/photo/8F830E9235

Error: xcode-select: error: tool ‘xcodebuild’ requires Xcode, but active developer directory is a command line tools instance

I have been playing with Cordova lately and was getting this error when building iOS version:

Error: xcode-select: error: tool 'xcodebuild' requires Xcode, 
but active developer directory is a command line tools instance

Even full install of Xcode didn’t fix this error.

The solution was to run following command to use full Xcode instead of command line tools version that I had installed earlier:

sudo xcode-select --switch /Applications/Xcode-beta.app/Contents/Developer

Passive Income 2017 Q1 Report

So far Passive Income experiments are not going good.

Amazon FBA

Initially, I had success with selling old books and video games on Amazon using FBA. A lot of stuff was sold within a week. But the stuff that didn’t sell within a week is still there after several weeks.

Then I sent in three more shipments to Amazon FBA. They lost all three shipments. After 4 weeks, they issued me reimbursement for lost items. To be honest, they were fair with pricing and it almost was awesome. Then a week later they found my lost shipments and reversed reimbursement. This is double sucks because first I cancelled my Amazon Seller Pro account trial. So now each item sold, cost me extra dollar.

Then on February 26th, Amazon FBA fees went up.

At this point, I am not really interested in further experiments with FBA or retail arbitrage.

Freelance Web Development

This has been one of most realistic experiment in semi-passive income. I had only one client but I outsourced almost 75% of her project. This saved enormous time, and I would say that is pretty passive. But since then I haven’t tried to pick up another project. It just seems like too much responsibility. I don’t want deadlines outside of my regular job.

T-Shirt Design

Just last week, I was accepted into Merch by Amazon program. There is 10 t-shirt limit on me for now. Many sources on web seems to imply that Merch by Amazon is the best place to sell t-shirts online. Some people claim they make $10,000+ during holiday season. I haven’t made a single sale yet but we will see.

Blogs

I have added Google Ads here and on some other blogs. But I should really focus on building traffic first. This blog is getting about 70 unique sessions per month. Photography and programming related posts seems to be most popular here. But any chance of making realistic money from this blog is not there.

Apps

I have been programming couple of Android Apps. This is tough for me because while I enjoy programming I find it harder to code after work. Also I don’t really enjoy UI design and Android development is mostly UI programming. I am also playing with Cordova so that I can use same source and compile app for both Android and iOS.

Microstock Photos

I haven’t uploaded any new stock photos since last year but I continue to sell some. I received 1099 from Fotolia and was surprised to see that I made $15.

However, I don’t plan to do more stock photography at this time.

San Juan, Puerto Rico Trip 2017

Beach San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal View of Old San Juan from Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Soldier's Quarters at Castillo de San Cristóbal Soldier’s Quarters at Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal View of sea from Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

Castillo de San Cristóbal Castillo de San Cristóbal

San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico

Cathedral of San Juan Bautista Cathedral of San Juan Bautista

San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

I learned of Mark Manson through his blog, especially this post, 7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Purpose. Since then I have been on and off following his blog. He usually has a lot of good advice, so finally I decided to get his book. Makes it easier to have all information in one place.

I had no idea what Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck was about. It was an impulse purchase, perhaps to support his blog. It turns out to be a really good book. As a semi-regular reader of his blog, I sort of knew what his philosophies were. Still it was good to read everything in one place.

He is not encouraging to not care about anything but to care about things that matter. It is human nature to care. But a lot of us start to worry about things that don’t matter. Sometimes, it is because we have nothing to care about. For example, elderly lady in retirement home who has all her needs met, would get really pissed if her coupon is not accepted at super market because that is all she got.

Sometimes, we care about useless issues because real issues are too hard to deal with. For example, unemployed person may go back to school for their 3rd degree just because they are unable to get a job.

The basic idea is everyone cares about something but is it the right thing. His philosophy is very similar to Stoicism or even Buddhism philosophy.

The book is written well and easy to read. If anything negative, I would say that he is a bit verbose. Some of stories in it dragged on a bit too long. For example, when he was in his principle’s office, it was clear about what was going to happen but he dragged on that scene a bit too much.

Overall, I highly recommend this book especially if you are interested in some sort of self-help book.

Maui 2015

Island of Maui from Plane Island of Maui from Plane
Just Beach - GoPro Photography Just Beach – GoPro Photography
Driving in Maui Driving in Maui
Sheraton Maui Resort Sheraton Maui Resort
Ziplining in Maui Ziplining in Maui
Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
Sunrise at Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii Sunrise at Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
Driving from Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii Driving from Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii
Drums of the Pacific Lu’au Drums of the Pacific Lu’au
Whale Watching Catamaran Whale Watching Catamaran
Whale Watching Catamaran Whale Watching Catamaran
Whale's Tail Whale Watching

Exchanged MacBook Pro with Touch Bar for One without Touch Bar

It didn’t take me long before I started to miss function keys. Yesterday, I exchanged my laptop for MacBook Pro with Function keys. So far this is my favorite laptop.

The main problems with Touch Bar are:
  1. No tactile feedback. While Escape key is always visible and easy to press but without tactile feedback, you are never certain if you pressed it or not. I am so used to certain key combos in vim that without physical Escape key, my fingers could not even find regular keys without me looking down at keyboard.
  2. Cannot adjust brightness of Touch Bar. When working in dark at night, Touch Bar is too bright and distracting.
  3. Drain on battery. Finally, online reviews show that MacBook Pro with Touch Bar have shorter battery life than the one with Function Keys.
  4. Cost – after dealing with above issues, I didn’t think it was worth spending extra $300 for Touch Bar and small performance improvements.

Here is blog post of another programmer who did same exact thing as me because lack of function keys on Touch Bar model.

Pros of Touch Bar

However, I was really impressed with some of the functionalities of Touch Bar. I just wish Apple had included functions keys along with Touch Bar.

  1. In Photos app, you can see and scroll through your photos. I think it was easier and more natural to use Touch Bar for this.
  2. It shows slider when watching YouTube videos. Again it was more natural to use slider on Touch Bar than use slider with mouse. You can also perform various actions like liking a video there.
  3. While typing it shows possible word choices, I can see it increasing typing speed, at least for me.
  4. And of course, login with Touch ID is awesome.
MacBook Pro with Function Keys

Now I have slightly slower MacBook Pro without Touch Bar. I got the base model with i5 2.0GHz processor, 8GB RAM, and 256GB SSD.

However, in my usage so far I haven’t noticed performance difference. During initial setup, beach ball appeared more often on the current MacBook without Touch Bar than the previous one. However, I was able to render 5 minute 1080P GoPro video in less than five minutes. About same speed as my i5 2.9GHz MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. This is no scientific measurement but good enough for me.

My big concern now is SSD space. With only 256GB, it will require me to think about what to store on this laptop. However, I have rethought how I store data. Most of my data is in the form of photos and videos. Perhaps I should start storing these in external harddrives. This might be useful in long-term as then I can upgrade my laptop without thinking much about how to transfer my data.

UPDATE 3/27/2017:

Last Friday, I dropped my Macbook Pro damaging on corner a bit. As you can see it below. Luckily, it still works. But I guess now I am officially stuck with this computer as the resale value of is shot. And while Apple’s Return Policy is only 2 weeks but I still had option to sell it if it was not working out.

Laptop Trial #3: MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

In last two months, I have tried 2 different laptops, and now I am on my third laptop, 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

The first laptop was Surface Pro 4. I really loved it. It was perfect balance of power, size, and cost. I loved writing on it with stylus. But its biggest flaw for me was flimsy keyboard and its lack of “lap-bility”. (My Surface Pro 4 Review).

Next I decided that maybe mobility was not that important to me. I decided to go for max performance and ordered Dell Inspiron i7559 (Affiliate link). It is a gaming laptop with i7 and powerful GPU. Rendering movies on it was a pleasure, small 5 minute clips rendered in less than a minute. But it was too big. It also felt cheap and uninspiring. I ended up returning it too.

Finally, I decided to give 13″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar a try. I spent a lot of time comparing Touch Bar version with Non-Touch Bar version. The performance difference between two versions is less than 5% according to Geekbench scores (reference: the Wirecutter). But the price difference between two versions is $300. That seems like too much money for Touch Bar and two extra USB-C ports.

But I played with Touch Bar in Apple store.  While gimmicky, it seemed useful in many applications. As a user of Lightroom and Photoshop, I can see how this can be very helpful. In Photos app, it shows photos, you can scroll and select photos from there. I just wanted to try it.

Then MacBook Pro with Touch bar uses faster RAM and slightly better GPU. I believe Geekbench tests memory but not GPU. So actual performance might be even better.

——

UPDATE: However, I missed functions keys more than I though I would. So I exchange this MBP for one without Touch Bar.  New blog post: https://chaosplay.com/exchanged-macbook-pro-touch-bar-one-without-touch-bar/

Honolulu Trip December 2016

Aloha, Welcome to Hawaii

We went to Honolulu, Hawaii in December for our 5 years anniversary.

Ocean view from our hotel balcony

We stayed on Waikiki Beach. It was very touristy area but it was not too crowded.

Manoa Falls Trail

We went for hiking at Manoa Falls.

Waiting for T-Rex at Manoa Falls Trail Danger at Manoa Falls Another view from our hotel Sandy Beach Park Waves at Sandy Beach Park

I really enjoyed waves at Sandy Beach Park.

Rabbit Island and Bird Sabctury from Kaupo Bay