September 25, 2005

Why auction sniping is bad for business

Auction sniping is the act of using automated software to bid the minimum extra amount, often $1, in the closing seconds of an auction in order to win an item. This practice is damaging to sellers, buyers and the companies that make a profit from online auctions.



Why is it bad for sellers? Firstly lets see why its bad for buyers.



As a buyer, you lose out because some one has out bid you with out giving you a chance to respond. You could be in the position to be willing to bid another extra $10 but there is nothing you can do - the auction has ended, some one else has walked away with your sought after item for an extra $1. If this has ever happened to you, you know how frustrating this is. Its the lack of ability to respond to challenging bids that makes auction sniping unethical - every one is suppose to have an equal opportunity to bid, not just the people who have a high bandwidth or employing auction sniping software.



Its easy then to see why auction sniping is bad for sellers - you have a customer willing to pay more than the closing amount but they can't because they have been snipped. You end up selling an item for less than its market value, and that's bad for business.



It follows then the companies who make a profit from hosting online auctions by taking a small commission from the sale also loses out - a lower closing amount equates a lower commission. Its obvious that its in every one's interest but the sniper's to put a system in place to prevent auction sniping - and such a system exists.

Auto-extension
is implemented by trademe.co.nz, a New Zealand online auction site. This extends the auction by 2 minutes when any bid is placed in the last 2 minutes - the auction will only end when no bids has been placed in the last 2 minutes, giving every one equal opportunity to bid, giving sellers maximum sale value, giving trademe.co.nz maximum commission. Every one wins.



Auction sniping not only deprives buyers of equal footing, it also robs the seller and hosting company of profit - it should be banned and people who use it be dealt with as frauds.





Cheers,

Steve

September 24, 2005

U.K Travel Warning

All travellers planning on carrying delicate computing machinery should take care when travelling in the U.K as to avoid being arrested or shot for being suspected of being a terrorist. The following are helpful tips on how to act and travel with in the U.K.
  • Always stare at police officers so you are not deemed to have been "avoiding" them.
  • Ensure that no one else is entering a station or bus stop, or any place of importance when you are - always enter alone to avoid the suspicion you are an accomplice in a terrorist attack.
  • Avoid wearing enough clothing to be comfortable - wear enough so you are not freezing to death. Otherwise you may be arrested for being dressed "too warm for season".
  • Its imperative you use several small bags rather than a single large one as to avoid appearing to be carrying explosives - this applies even if it severely inconveniences you by forcing you to put your laptop in one bag, charger in another with other media, and another for normal every day items.
  • In relation to the above, regularly leave all your bags alone and walk away so you are not at risk of being accused of "keeping your bags with you at all times". Whilst this does significantly increase the risk of theft, its nothing compared to the inconvenience of being arrested under the new Terrorism Act.
  • Do not at any point look at people coming on the platform, except if they are police officers. Terrorist always look at people coming on the platform - you really don't want to be mistaken for a terrorist in the U.K these days.
  • If your phone rings, do not answer it or attempt to send a SMS in reply. Nor should you take any pieces of paper out of your pocket and read it - these acts makes you a terrorist suspect.
  • Make no attempt to protect your belongings - laptops included. Do not appear to be protective of your bags - you could be mistaken for being protective about explosives.
  • Always ensure to dress in the latest fashion - terrorists never dress properly and stand out from the crowd.
  • In no circumstance should any wires be seen protruding from your bag - this includes ear phones. Wires sticking out of your bag(s) is a sure sign you are a potential terrorist and may need to be shot on the spot, especially if you appear to be scared of plain clothed men running towards you with drawn guns.
  • Even if the train is late and you are missing your promotional interview or a similarly important event, appear calm and collected. Do not check your watch, do not pace, do not mutter "where is the f**king train" under your breath.
  • If you have problems with crowds or do not feel comfortable around people, public transport is severely discouraged - terrorists often have the same problem and its difficult to tell you and them apart. Taxi is recommended if you can afford it, otherwise you can always walk to your destination.
Failure to adhere to guide lines above will result in arrest, house search, and confiscation of personal items.

Information compiled from the International Association of Chiefs of Police training guide regarding suicide bombers.

September 18, 2005

Firefox theme to wet your pants

For those of us who use Firefox on OS X, you can't beat GrApple's theme for OS integration:
[ GrApple preview ]

Cheers,
Steve