Ebay and Opera

I’ve just gone and got hooked on Ebay. Silly me. I’ve been to the site many times, usually as a result of people pointing out weird or cool items, but I’d never bid on anything until last week.

I’m going through a bit of an intense drumming phase right now, and a few weeks ago I got the idea that I needed some electronic drums. Needed. I love having the full drumming noise of my kit, but as we live in a semi-detached house in a quiet neighbourhood, I tend to have the quiet muffle heads on most of the time. With electronic drums, I could still play quiet, but have the full-on sound coming through a set of headphones.

Anyway, as a brand new kit would be reasonably expensive, I decided to look around on Ebay for secondhand equipment. Not to buy immediately, of course: just to see what the availability and prices were like…

But I got caught up in searching around to see what else I could find. And then last week, there was a hardback copy of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars up for auction. Even though the book didn’t have a dust cover, the opening bid was a ridiculously low £10. So created my user id (sunpig), and put in a bid. And right until the very last minute, I had the high bid, at £11.50. And then I got sniped. This is an annoying practice where someone will place a bid right before the end of the auction, giving other bidders no chance to respond with a better bid of their own.

There are two ways to deal with sniping: you can give in to the Dark Side and become a sniper yourself, or you can make sure that when you place your bid, your “maximum bid” is genuinely the maximum you would pay for the item. Ebay’s proxy bidding system will make sure that your bid stays as low as it needs to be. You will only go up to your maximum if other people are bidding against you, and they raise the auction to that level. And if it turns out that you still get outbid by a sniper then you can take solace in the fact that they won the auction because they were willing to pay more than you were–not because they used a frankly underhand tactic.

It’ll still smart, because if it’s something you really wanted, you’ll have got your hopes up. But that’s just the way auctions work. And thinking carefully about setting yourself this well-defined maximum is probably good practice for another reason: you are less likely to get caught up in a crazy bidding war. (As anyone who has played the Amber role-playing game can probably attest…)

So what does this all have to do with Opera (the web browser)?

Well, as I described in my review of Opera, one of its best features is how you can take a folder of Bookmarks/Favourites, and choose the commans “Open all folder items”. This will instantly open up all of these bookmarks, each one in its own window.

And this is a great thing for Ebay, because you can bookmark your favourite searches, and then re-do them all in one swift action! Ebay has a built-in tool for storing your favourite searches, but if you want to view them all with this, you’ll still end up clicking on a lot of hyperlinks and buttons. With Opera, you can perform all your favourite searches with a single click.

Opera rules, it really does. And Ebay is cool, too. But: must…not…get…carried…away! (Thinks back to a couple of years ago, when on weekends we would systematically scour all second-hand and charity shops in a selected part of Edinburgh, and then come home with anything up to 70 or 80 SF paperbacks in a single day…only 2 or 3 of which we would ever read.)