Major upgrade to IMS website

IMS rolled out a major upgrade to their website today. I haven’t gone through everything yet, but it looks like there is some really good stuff in there.

* On most search results pages (like the marketplace for example) you can choose how many results you’d like to see.
* Marketplace images are now larger. It doesn’t look like you’ll need to re-upload images if you posted large images pre-roll-out.
* Bugs in transaction history “pagifying” have been fixed.

I haven’t tested yet, but I’m hoping that this upgrade also included real-time transactions. Previously it would often take a day for transactions to show up on the website. IMS technical staff in the past said this was something they were working on so I’m guessing that it was included in this roll-out. I’ll find out for sure next time I post a transaction.

I’m still seeing some new roll-out bugs, but that is to be expected with such a big upgrade. I’m sure they will sort it out in a few days. If you are having difficulty with the site in Chrome, give Firefox a try.

How to barter for private school

My twin boys are in 5th grade this year.  Because the school that they were going to last year only goes to 4th grade, my wife and I needed to find a new school for them this year.  We knew that we wanted to send them to a private school, but we also knew that we didn’t have the cash to do so.  This is how we successfully found  a great school for them 100% on barter.

  1. First we put together a list of requirements for school prospects and found schools that fit our requirements.
  2. We called up all of the schools on our list toward the end of last school year and asked to get a tour from the principal and for our boys to have a “shadow day” at the new schools.  This got us a good feel for the school and gave us an introduction to the principal.
  3. We then put together our final list of schools all of which we thought would work for our boys.  We ended up with 3 contenders.
  4. I then put together an email to each of the principals.  I requested that the principals share the email with their school board.  It explained that we are interested in their school and  that we would like to pay the tuition in barter.  I gave a sample list of products/services that we’d be able to provide.  I was also clear to point out that there was almost no additional cost to the school by enrolling my kids.  I explained that the school would have a credit with me for the total amount of tuition (about $10k for 2 kids) and that the balance would decline as I provided products/services throughout the year.
  5. Of the three schools, one was interested in a trade.  I was invited to present my idea to their school board and they accepted.  My boys started school 3 weeks ago and everything is going great.

As I’ve noted before in this blog, some people “get” barter and some people don’t.  That was the problem with the schools that declined my offer.  Instead of understanding that I wanted to pay the full tuition, they would offer for us to apply for financial aid.  There was also a concern that our deal might make other parents that volunteer, unhappy.   I tried to explain that the types of things I could provide on trade were generally not the type of things that folks could volunteer to do, but that mostly fell on deaf ears.  The craziest objection I heard was from a school board member that insinuated that if we weren’t paying cash we wouldn’t be as committed to the school.  I’m afraid the joke is on him because as we all know, barter relationships are much more involved and comprehensive than cash ones.

It was a lot of work to set up this deal, but I’ve been really pleased with how it’s been going at my boy’s new school.  My goal now is to make sure the school board is happy with the deal so they will be open to it in future school years.  I’ve applied to join the school board because I think I will be more effective at finding good ways for them to spend their barter if I’m more involved in the school’s inner-workings.

The politics of barter

As a barter fanatic that is politically conservative I find myself sadly disappointed in my fellow right wingers and their lack of interest in barter.  But I’m starting my story at the end instead of the beginning.

It all starts a couple years ago when I started bartering as a business strategy.  I live in California which is of course known for it’s liberal leanings.  Within this generally liberal atmosphere there are also pockets of folks that lean even further to the left.  That is the case with a town about 15 miles from my home town.  It’s proud of it’s leanings to the far left, has a sign on the way into the town declaring it a “nuclear free zone,” and it has a greater share of vegetarian restaurants than anywhere I’ve been (all tucked neatly between the organic wholefood stores, the smoke shops, and the yoga studios).  Of course I was (and still am) happy to barter with anyone regardless of their political affiliation.   But a funny thing happened over the years.  Even though I happily traded with all comers, I continually found that a significantly larger percentage of my trades happened with business in this extremely liberal town than anywhere else.  Although I’ve lived in the same county for almost my whole life, historically I’ve never spent much time in this town, but now I find myself constantly in this town to work with clients/vendors that I barter with.  Keep in mind that the barter exchange I use  the most is in my home town, not this neighboring town I’ve described.

I can’t help but come to the conclusion that liberal folks are more pro-barter than right wingers.  Based on the huge volume of evidence that I have, I can’t come to any other conclusion.  Where it becomes interesting is trying to figure out WHY.  I currently have a multi-pronged theory about this.  My conclusions are totally unscientific and cannot be proven, but I think they are worth considering.  Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Liberals are more open to out-of-the-box ideas like barter than conservatives.
  2. Liberals feel that big business is evil.  Barter is intrinsically folksy and relationship based.  It is true that giant multi-national companies barter, but for the most part the companies that you and I are most likely to barter with are small.  I think that liberals feel that barter brings “power to the people” and that by using trade they are “sticking it to The Man.”
  3. Liberals unconsciously (or maybe even consciously) think that money is evil.  I think that somewhere in the backs of their brains  liberals think that physical currency, the green-backs themselves are dirty and will somehow defile them.  So…the idea of commerce w/o cash is very appealing.

What is the take-away here?  What is there to learn?  Honestly I have no idea.  This article is just my observations.  Am I crazy?  Have you readers run into this too?  Please comment back and give me your feedback.