A Lesson in “Auctionese”: Learn to Talk the Talk at Storage Auctions

So you’ve finally saved up enough cash to go to a storage auction. You’re eager to buy your first unit and are planning on doing so no matter what. As you make your way through the crowds at the storage facility, you feel confident that no one is going to outbid you. But wait-do you know who the whale is at this auction? Did you just overhear someone talking about phantom bidding? Is there another new blood to contend to? Better yet… do you even know what any of that means?

If not, hold your horses! If you want to walk the walk, you gotta talk the talk. Over time, the auction scene has become somewhat of a subculture, and as with all good subcultures, the bidders and auctioneers have developed slang and secret codes. Knowing their language is indispensable in being successful.

Look around. Get a feel for the crowd. Listen. Hear what people are saying about the other bidders, about the units, and about the auctioneer. Here are a few phrases to listen for at the next auction that might just save your career.

Caravan auction – a series of site auctions advertised through a common promotional campaign. Caravans are usually led by the same auctioneer, who will lead the “caravan” to different unit facilities throughout the day. Find out if the auction you’re at is part of a caravan-you might have an opportunity to visit more than one facility that day!

“Fair Warning” -if you hear the auctioneer say this, listen up: if you haven’t bid on the unit and would like to-do it now! The auctioneer is about to close the bid, and is alerting you that he/she has given you “fair warning” before doing so.

Jump bid – a bid made of a much higher increment than the previous bid. Usually employed by a serious bidder who wants others to know that they mean business.

Looky-loos – a person who goes to an auction purely to spectate, with no intentions of bidding. Looky-loos can be frustrating to both the auction goers and the auctioneer, as they crowd the space and make it harder for potential bidders to see the units. The amount of looky-loos has increased in current times due to the booming popularity of storage auction reality TV shows.

New blood – a newbie; a person who is new to bidding. Don’t underestimate the new blood, they can be just as fierce as the seasoned pros as they’re trying to prove their worth amongst the other bidders and carve out a place in the business.

Pickin’ bid/phantom bid – a nonexistent bid called by the auctioneer to pique interest in the bidders. Be warned-this tactic is considered improper and in many jurisdictions is illegal.

Quarter/”Gimme a quarter… ” – no, the unit is not selling for 25 cents. The auctioneer may refer to a $25 bid as a quarter. “Gimme two quarters” would obviously mean $50.

Shill/shilling – a type of bid; bidder who is working for the auctioneer to inflate bids. Watch out for this one. Ask around for the inside scoop. Does the auctioneer make a profit off the units sold, or do they get a flat rate salary? Know your crowd, and more importantly, know your auctioneer.

Staged – relating to storage units, this describes a unit that has been tampered with before the day of the auction. Items of interest may have been pulled to the front in order to entice bidders, such as electronics, brand name purses, etc. Look for signs of a staged auction by disrupted spots of dust or an awkward, almost too perfect look to the setup of the locker.

Valuation – estimation of the worth of an item, or a storage unit on whole. After enough auctions and research, valuating will become much easier for you. Valuating is important in deciding what you maximum bid on a unit should be. Obviously, if the bidding goes higher than your valuation, you should step out.

Whale – a seasoned buyer who attends the same auctions very frequently. You’ll probably pin point the whale very quickly, and many people may be talking about them. They are usually tough to outbid if they have their sights set on a unit, and most likely have a lot of cash to burn!

“You’re out!”- a tactic used by the auctioneer after you have been outbid. Auctioneers often interact with buyers this way in order to fuel further bidding.

Are you feeling comfortable yet? Try some of them out, see how they feel! Who knows, you might just impress the other new bloods and the whales alike at your next auction.

For some more fantastic auction speak, as well as some of the phrases from this article, check out “Slang: The Topical Dictionary of Americanisms” By Paul Dickson.

Revealing The Top 5 UX Design Trends To Follow In 2017

Fads are meant to fade. Trends make entry to exit. Being concerned with the similar fashion, it becomes gruesome to follow the hierarchy of elements that binds a rudimentary design. Since 2017 is on the tip, and web design industry is also ready with the key changes and updates to roll out in the successive year. Here is the list aggregating the User Interface UI design trends that will make the developers think twice before using. Take a sneak peek.

  1. ODD COLORS AND BOLD TYPOGRAPHY

This year we all have used and seen the domination of super rich and bold color tones brightening up the user interfaces, the penchant of these vibrant hues has even confirmed its effortless presence in the leading year, thereby, opening the gateways for more bright interfaces, vivid color palettes, duotones and bold gradients in UIs.

Additionally, Typography is accentuating the tones and styles of the websites by giving the websites a personality. Prediction reveals 2017 will pick up handcrafted types in designs.

  1. MOBILE-FIRST DESIGN

Although mobile-first or responsive design is something which has been around for a few years, what we predict to see over the coming year is an even bigger uptake of responsive with the backing of progressive web apps and accelerated web pages.

Note: Progressive Web Apps describe a collection of technologies, design concepts, and Web APIs that work in tandem to provide an app-like experience on the mobile web.

  1. BESPOKE ILLUSTRATIONS

Forget the days when one had to research stock imagery, videos, and icons to convey a product functionality or service explanation. Today customers and users seek authenticity and immaculateness from the brands they use.

Infographics, vertical scrolling, icons, animated elements, and bespoke illustrations, creative visuals which are playful and friendly enough can add an element of fun while maintaining the authenticity.

  1. VIDEO WILL RULE

A moving image immediately grabs the users’ attention, taking them across the brands constructed message and story. Video is a versatile medium that plays a role of conduit in story-telling, marketing and vlogging. Above all, there is no need to read, search, or scroll for the information with it. It is dynamic and engaging.

  1. RAPID PROTOTYPING

Rapid prototyping is the process of quickly mocking up the future state of a system, be it a website or application, and validating it with the client and broader team of users, stakeholders, web developers and UI designers. Adopting this method saves hours of work and rapidly and iteratively generates feedback in the process, improving the final design and reducing the need for changes during development.

So, basically you will see a shift from prototyping to rapid prototyping, thereby, eliminating any pressing setbacks in the project.

All in all, there will be hundreds of trends going in at this time in order to chase the clean web design movement of 2017. The proliferation of mobile and tablet devices whose screen sizes used to dictate simpler navigation and layout options will now be more simplified to deliver the subdued experience to the users.

How to Choose and Match Brick Veneer For New Construction and Additions

My neighbor spent well over $ 200,000 to add a beautiful addition to her traditional brick veneer Cape Cod home. But when the masonry contractor put up the brick he failed to even come close to matching the color of the mortar to the original part of the house. Even worse the new bright white mortar clashes with both the new brick and the old. The house now has a garish and jarring appearance and the cost of repair is prohibitive.

Brick veneer is the most durable and beautiful material that will protect your home from the elements. Brick is essentially maintenance free and will last for generations. Living in the Detroit area it is plain to see the brick in all the dilapidated buildings is still in beautiful condition and in most cases can be salvaged and reused. Brick veneer is more cost and you will have to live with your choice for as long as you own your home. If you're planning an addition or building a new home the money, time and effort invested in choosing the design, brick, mortar and most importantly the contractor will be returned many times over in long-term value.

These are some ideas to consider when choosing or matching brick veneer

• Cost: maybe it would be better to sacrifice square footage for quality and beauty

• Design: Long, high walls need to be broken up with a vertical course of brick, a ledge of stone or by brick that varies in color and texture. Design in offset walls with interior or exterior corners to give vertical definition to the house.

• Use "offset" (brick that protrudes from the wall in patterns or randomly) of bricks to create interest

• Make the addition narrows or wider than the existing home for interior or exterior corners to make brick and mortar matching easier

• How does the house fit into the neighborhood? A traditional styled house needs darker reds and more texture with gray mortar. Fieldstone, granite or sandstone can be used carefully

• Contemporary houses can use whites, blushes or neutral colors and smooth to glazed brick. Mortar can be bright white

• A skilled and experienced mason will take the time to try out various mixtures to match the mortar. Remember it is the SAND in the mortar that must match. Ask to see other work the mason has done and be prepared to pay a little more

• There are many sizes and profiles of brick available. We have a ranch house built on a slab in our neighborhood that used long, low profile brick with a mixture wavy texture. Along with a double-hip roof and deep eves this house would be the envy of Frank Lloyd Wright himself!

• Design the roof and gutters so the downspouts can be used to hide the seam between the old and new brick. There are many decorative gutter and downspout products available. Visit a local siding and gutter supply house

• A faux copper downspout with an elegant leader head (or conductor) can be used to hide a seam too

• Many faux half columns are available in various metal and paintable materials

• Use high quality beveled horizontal or battened vertical siding carefully in your design

• More and / or larger windows, entry doors, shutters and small round or octagon shaped windows can be used to breakup large brick walls

• Be careful using brick up into gables. Because of the roof slope at each end of the brick courses, the careless mason will loose his way; the vertical joints will not line up and the wall will have an undulating and amateurish look. A small window high in the gable would be good in this circumstance

• And remember to choose your roof shingles and materials at the same time. As an example, using a metal roof on an addition can be a way of making the addition "compliment" the original house instead of trying for an exact "match" (for the few of you that are self-confident, brave and daring you can use a combination of materials and design to "contrast" the original house; I've seen it done and to wonderful ends!)

And finally a special mention when using stone. A cobblestone cottage looks the way it does because it's a cottage! A cottage is a small house. A large stone house must be very carefully designed. Avoid long, tall walls of stone veneer.

Mixing stone with brick veneer can produce a pleasant effect. Try to imagine you are building your house on the ancient ruins of stone fence or an old country manor. The lower corners, some around the entry door and a few randomly located places in the wall are all that is needed.

Brick has been made in local kilns using clay dug up from nearby river banks for centuries. The brick you find made in New England may clash with the landscape of the house you build in Texas. The same is true if you use that blush pink brick that you loved in Florida for a house built in Wisconsin. The brick must be from the same origin as the house. Contemporary or traditional; single story ranch or two story colonial; split-level or townhouse; new construction or addition, all need the appropriate brick veneer to enhance long term value and style.

Photography For Beginners – Make Your Subject Really Stand Out

Great photography subjects are all around us. You do not have to go far to find interesting people, flowers, or wildlife. The real test is to use your skills to create a photo with genuine impact.

How do you make your subject really stand out in a photograph? It is tempting, but quite wrong, to blame the camera when your photo does not work out the way you want. You need to know right now that a more expensive camera will not automatically make you a better photographer. In truth, the techniques in this article will work for almost any camera. All you need are manual aperture and shutter speed settings, and a decent zoom lens.

Here are a few simple tips for adding impact to your subject.

Tip # 1. Highlight A Brightly Lit Subject Against A Dark Background. If you are shooting a subject in full sunlight, with a shady background, the subject is always going to stand out. This is a simple principle to understand, but it is a little easier said than done.

When your photograph has two very different levels of light, the lightmeter in your camera can be confused. It may expose for the dark background, causing your subject to be overexposed. The trick is to expose for the subject.

You can not do this on automatic. What you need to do is switch your camera to manual, and adjust the aperture and / or shutter speed settings until the photo is underexposed by one or two stops (depending on the lightmeter). When you get the balance right, you should have a dark background and a perfectly exposed subject.

Tip # 2. Use A Small Depth Of Field To Blur The Background. You have seen plenty of photos where the subject is sharp and clear, but the rest of the picture is completely out of focus. You will find this an easy way to add impact to the subject, and a three-dimensional effect to your whole photo.

To achieve this, you use a combination of a large lens and a wide aperture. First, zoom in on the subject with your largest magnification. This will naturally reduce the depth of field. Then adjust the aperture to its widest setting. A wide aperture will reduce the depth of field even further.

The closer you are to the subject the more pronounced the effect becomes.

Tip # 3. Use A Wide Angle Lens To Exaggerate Perspective. This technique is almost the opposite of Tip # 2. A wide angle lens makes everything in your photo appear much smaller, so objects in the distance seem much further away than they really are. Meanwhile, you can stand very close to a subject in the foreground (a person, animal etc) and still fit it in the frame.

As a result, your close-up subject will appear to tower over a background in which everything else looks very small and distant. Although the surroundings will be mostly in focus (the wide angle lens has a much larger depth of field), they will seem reliably small and insignificant, making your subject seem larger and more dominant by comparison.

So there you have three fairly simple ways to add impact to the subject in your photos. Because my background is in nature, I usually think in terms of wildlife, but you can probably think of many subjects that will benefit from these techniques.

The great thing is, you do not need a professional camera to try these ideas out. As I said earlier, if you have a zoom lens, and manual control of your aperture and shutter speed, you can add impact to your photos with just a little practice.

Even better, in the age of digital photography, practice costs nothing … so get out there and start snapping!