First sale on eBay

It is not uncommon to have purchased something from eBay, I’ve had an account for several years and tend to buy something every couple of months.  Most of the items I buy on eBay are low cost and generally hard to find locally.  I’d often thought about selling stuff on eBay but just never got started.. until now.

What started this off was a sweep through some of the gadgets and whatnot that we’ve got cluttering up our home office.  This stuff has to go, and if it has value let’s sell it – otherwise its time to eCycle it.  I initially thought I’d start by selling some N64 games, but the game values (<$5) far outweigh the shipping costs.  So I figured I’d move onto the iPod that was no longer being loved ever since the iTouch arrived.

I used eBay to research what the going price was for an iPod in the condition mine was, and priced it on the lower end as a starting point.  I set a $10 USD flat rate for shipping since if I shipped to California it would be around $8 shipping + $2 for the bubble mailer.  Had someone in Vancouver bought it, I would have lost money on the flat rate shipping (about $4)!  Shipping is the first real hurdle you need to get over as a seller, and I think it is worse for Canadians (both as sellers, and buyers).

Lucky me, as a first time seller my first 5 listings are fee free!  Cool.  Of course, it took nearly 24hrs for my item to appear in any search results (trust me I tried).  No worries, it was a 7 day listing so lots of time for people to find it and bid.

Days passed.  I watched several broken iPod’s get more bidding activity and a higher price than my item.  I could see from the eBay dashboard that after 6 days, only 5 page views of my item had happened (2 which were mine!).  Then on the 6th day, the watchers arrived – 8 watchers tracking my item – there is hope.  The number of views rapidly climbed.

With less than 6 hours to go in the auction the bidding started.  My $30USD start price, jumped up rapidly.  17 bids later it sold for $76USD + $10USD shipping, the winning bid was made in the last minute of the auction from a bidder with no previous bids on my item.

After that it was smooth sailing.  Payment was via PayPal (who take a small percentage).  A quick trip to the post office and the iPod is on its way to the winner.  It has been an interesting experience, one I plan to repeat.


Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but I decided to sign up with twitter.  Aside from Linked-In, I’ve avoided mostly all of the social networking sites (fads?) thus far.  Who knows, maybe I’ll break down and get a Facebook page soon.

Living in North America, and (oh my, I”m actually going to say it..) especially people of my generation don’t tend to use text messages (SMS).  There are a few friends at work and I who do text each other, but I generally use less than a handful a month.   I’d like to change that, and I think twitter may be the catalyst.

There are lots of way to use twitter, but at the moment I see it as a way to get that hallway conversation feeling across the wire.  I’ll likely use it to give mood updates, vent my frustrations and as a place to put my half baked thoughts that I don’t feel are worth a blog posting.  You might laugh, but I tend to spend about an hour or more on each of these blog entries – I’ll probably spend about 30seconds thinking about a tweet.

While a large part of my waking day I’m in front of a computer, there are times when all I have with me is my phone – a Nokia 5310.  Sure I have internet on my phone, but without a data plan it gets expensive fast ($13 for 460kb last month).  SMS is a natural fit for twitter’s short updates, too bad the Canadian cell providers aren’t twitter friendly. [edit: see comment below, seems that Canadians can twitter vis SMS as of very recently.  This makes my plan in the next paragraph basically just a neat idea, I’ll likely not do it.]

My plan is to build my own SMS gateway to twitter.  I can use SMS to send an email and there is a way to send a text message via the web to my phone, so I’ve got a two way conduit.  Now I just need a daemon to sit on my server and respond to events.. more on this once I figure out exactly what I’ll do.

Of course, twitter is a lonely place with no friends.  It turns out many of my friends are already out there on twitter (ok, so I’m a late adopter).  What did surprise me was that I started to follow some friends, and then suddenly I had followers!?  Well it turns out [obvious] that by default you get email when someone friends you, so two way connections shouldn’t be a surprise.  What was a little odd was that a few friends found me without me friending them, within hours.  Neat, I feel popular.

Now in terms of a client – there is always the web, but I wanted to play around with some of the twitter specific apps.  On Windows I installed Twitterlicious which has some quirks, but seems to do the job – I may later try twhirl.  On Ubuntu I’ve tried and failed so far to use gTwitter but will persist.  The neatest client I’ve tried so far is DSTwitter, turning my Nintendo DS into a twitter client.

So how do you use twitter?

Reading Material

img_1094I read regularly – aside from spending countless hours in front of a computer screen I also like to sit down with a book.  My collection is pretty heavily skewed towards speculative fiction.  Similar to my DVD collection which I re-watch, I like to re-read books.  Some of the classics (Dune) I’ll read every couple of years, most go longer between reads – but there is hardly a book in my collection I haven’t read twice.

This year I’ve read a lot of Neal Stephenson’s work – having finally got my hands on the last two books in the Baroque Cycle, I re-read Quicksilver and worked my way through the whole series.  If you haven’t read any Neal Stephenson, start with Snow Crash.  Lots of his more recent work is more of a slog through, and the style won’t suit everyone – I personally enjoy it, but it does take a few hundred pages to get into.  I very recently finished Anathem – again, not for everyone, but I thought it was a great read.

There have also been a few eBooks I’ve read through.  I still really like having a physical book, so the eBooks I’ve read have been free ones – but there are some good free books out there, and its possibly going to get me hooked on eBooks.

  • Little Brother – Cory Doctorow
    Very entertaining.  I read Eastern Standard Tribe (physical book) and wasn’t as impressed.
  • The Hacker Crackdown – Bruce Sterling
    I may have read this when it came out, but its referenced by Little Brother and a neat companion read.
  • OVERCLOCKED – Cory Doctorow
    Some short stories, and like all of Cory Doctorow’s work is available free.  (Yes, you can also buy his books from bookstores)
  • Hal Spacejock – Simon Haynes
    This is the first in a series, I’m only part way through it – fun so far.  The rest of the series is non-free.
  • Fallen Angels – Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven and Michael Flynn
    I haven’t gotten to this one, but with these authors I’m sure to enjoy it.  This one comes from the Baen Free Library which has many more titles.

I’ve been reading these on my NDS using dslibris.  Using to export to xhtml, I did have a problem with the export but found this helpful explaination that lead to the fix.  I did already have a java runtime installed, but needed to be configured to know about it.

Books are sort of like software, eBooks more so.  It is interesting to see what has happened to music through the digital revolution (mp3’s), and now we’re starting to see TV and Movies go through the same transformation.   What happens when matter assemblers become available?  Suddenly even physical objects will be trivial to replicate – once the cost gets driven down, what then?  Time to go read some fiction..