Blog entries tagged with "ebay"

My car has more of those tunes

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 at 11:17pm

Over the past year I have had occasion to be driving for moderate distances. This includes a weekend away with the camera club down to Phillip Island, another weekend up to Mansfield and a variety of Sunday outings.

While the stock stereo in my car does feature a six CD changer, once radio reception fades away (or there is nothing good on) there is only so much music that six discs can contain. So I started investigating MP3 options, where I first looked at options that replaced the stock stereo with an aftermarket unit, ideally one that could play MP3 files, ideally from USB.

I started my reasearch online and concluded it by visiting a number of stores with both a USB stick and an iPod to experience the interfaces first hand. I found that:

  • A front USB port is very common, but irrelevant to me as I do not was a USB drive or cable hanging out the front of the head unit all of the time.
  • A rear USB port is much less common, but what I wanted as it would allow the cabling to be routed into the glovebox to keep it all neat.
  • On current units the USB port can be used for an iPod with a simple USB to dock connector cable
  • Some units only have front USB, but may include a rear connection for an iPod
  • Support for USB drives appears to be universally sucky. In my price range I didn’t find a single unit that could scan the USB drive and read the ID3 tags. Instead you might be able to browse directories, but otherwise you accessed the music from track number 1 and on. Their implementations are so minimal that the files are not even sorted by name, they are listed by the order they appear in the file allocation table.
  • Support for iPods is much better, you can browse by artist, album, song, genre, etc. Offloading the processing to the iPod which already does all that does seem to make some sense.
  • Display of the current time (because my car doesn’t have a standalone clock) was generally pretty poor and the buttons are harder to use, but my stock unit does have nice large buttons.

I did decide on a unit and went so far as ordering one, a fascia kit (because the stock unit is double din) and almost booking in a time for installation. That is, before I was reminded by a co-worker about the no-name kits that connect via the CD changer port on the rear of the stock unit. Further investigation along this path did indicate it should work in my car (even though intended for newer Mazdas) and there was actually an official Mazda version that gave me more confidence that it might work.

These cheaper units are much more limited. You can use any player you want with an AUX input, but that doesn’t give you control via the stereo or power to the player. Otherwise you have to use an iPod that does have basic track control, but still no information displayed as the stock stereo cannot display text.

After verifying that my stereo has the port for the external CD changer, I decided that it would be a worthwhile experiment to get the cheapest kit I could find on eBay. This was shortly before Christmas and I also bought an iPod, one that played music fine, but had a broken backlight for the screen. Cost of this was less than $100, while aftermarket unit and fascia was over $300.

The kit arrived today and it took less than half an hour to install, where most of this time was deciding where to route the cable and to experiment with the interface. It isn’t the best, but I expect that on my next big drive (out to Ballarat for Linux conf later in the month) it should prove useful.

The co-worker who reminded me about these kits also bought one, but a “better” one that he also got with a bluetooth kit for his phone. His also arrived this week, but he hasn’t installed it yet (the install in an RX-8 is more involved than in the 323) so I might borrow it to see if there is any benefits.

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The Indys are finally up on eBay

Sunday, December 13th, 2009 at 11:18pm

After listing my PowerBook on eBay earlier tonight, I continued on to finally list the two SGI Indys as well.

This comes after a break of almost two months in the downsizing of my computer collection. Now hopefully the Indys will be sold and picked up before Christmas, while I continue to sort through Apples.

The listings:

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Goodbye to my precious

Sunday, December 13th, 2009 at 10:04pm

Five and a half years ago I bought a 12″ PowerBook. It was a brilliant little machine that I used a lot in the first few years. But over time I used it less and less, until I didn’t even bother taking it to work with me. At that point all I was using it for was to sync my iPhone, but a few months ago I stopped doing even that when I started syncing contacts and calendar over the air to Google.

So the other day I finally made the decision … the decision to sell it. I probably will only get a few hundred dollars, but it is now up on eBay.

Two conferences have proven that at the moment all I need when away from home is my iPhone, but I’m thinking that if I do need a laptop again I’ll probably get some form of netbook.

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Want some Lego or old Apples?

Sunday, October 18th, 2009 at 04:50pm

It’s been an afternoon of sorting and then listing items on eBay.

First was a couple of the Lego sets from the bulk lot I picked up a few weeks ago. I am keeping the car chassis and the pneumatic excavator, but I am selling the others as I have no real interest in them.

I also continued with the downsizing:

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The downsizing commences

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009 at 11:36pm

I announced a few weeks ago that I was going to downsize my computer collection. Over the past few days I made a start and tonight the first items are on eBay.

I haven’t yet listed the Indys, but I have started with the bulkiest Apple items, each for $0.99:

I was also going to list the black PowerMac 5500, but that one is completely dead. It might have something to do with the evidence of water damage on the back of the logic board (a buildup of rust…), but I’m not going to bother finding out. This is a definite for the hard rubbish, but I will list the black keyboard and mouse combo.

Speaking of hard rubbish

This weekend is BarCampMelbourne, so I will be busy. The following weekend is when I have to have the items out for the hard rubbish collection. So the bulk of what I am going to list on eBay will be listed prior to the weekend. If it comes to it I could list items for five days next Tuesday, three days on the Thursday or even one day on the Saturday, but the chance of someone seeing those listings gets lower and lower.

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The collection will be downsized

Monday, August 17th, 2009 at 10:24pm

I have been neglecting my computer collection. The last time anything changed was when I acquired the Apple IIc with LCD, and apart from booting it up once and taking a photo it has sat idle for almost 9 months.

Two years ago I handed off my IBM PCs and IBM PS/2s. One year ago I eliminated the Sun items.

This time I am going to be ruthless, and most of the collection must go as the space could be better used for other things. For example camera related gear.

But what few items will I keep? I have thought about this before and from a glance around the shelves here is a list, ranked by likelihood of keeping:

I have a lot more, both systems and peripherals. My priority will be in downsizing (via ebay) the systems as they take up the most space. First to go will be the SGI Indys and then I will start on the variety of Macintosh and Power Macintosh systems.

Although this has been on my todo list for a while, I only realised today that the Annual Hard Rubbish Collection is just over a month away (for the area I am in). This means I don’t have much time and while I will start with the more signifigant items, if I don’t get organised a number of systems will be thrown out.

Not necessarily the best outcome, but unless I set myself a deadline, nothing will change for another year…

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A proper tripod. Cheap.

Thursday, October 30th, 2008 at 08:44pm

Another thing I picked up at the digital SLR course was how much better a proper tripod could be. For the long exposure shots in the last class I was lucky enough to use Moses’s Manfrotto tripod with its 486RC2 ball head. It was rock solid, yet so easy to adjust … but almost anything would have been an improvement over the $15 tripod that I had.

So I started watching eBay and it wasn’t long until I got a 484RC2 ball head – the smaller version of the 486RC2 but still ample for my camera – for $78 inc postage. This wasn’t much cheaper than it was listed online, but I was happy.

Now I needed something to attach it to and I was lucky enought to come across an older, but unused, Manfrotto 190 tripod that had no bids – because the tripod was pickup only from Frankston. So for one bid and a drive later I had it for $82 including the EastLink tolls.

But it gets better as I didn’t just buy a tripod. I bought a 190 tripod with a 141RC head, which I have recently sold for $56. This means that it ended up costing me $26. ie just over $100 for an excellent tripod and ball head.

I am quite happy with it.

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Where is the eBay iPhone app?

Monday, September 8th, 2008 at 07:32pm

This afternoon something, I can’t remember what, reminded me of an official iPhone app for eBay. I have been using the mobile interface, but a native app should be a big improvement.

So where is it?

A search for ‘ebay’ in the app store (both on the phone and through iTunes) returns four results. None of them the offical app.

A google search for ‘ebay iphone app‘ finds, currently as the third result, the official eBay on iPhone page. This looks promising, but it says “available exclusively via the Apple App Store” in the fine print.

Wasn’t I just there and didn’t find it? Yes.

Then I realise that the words “Available Now” is a link to the App Store. Following that link on my PowerBook starts up iTunes, which is promising until I get the following message:

“The item you’ve requested is not currently available in the Australian Store.”


I go back to the eBay page to double check the fine print. There is nothing I can see about any region restrictions and I now remember seeing the eBay logo on one of the Apple pages, which I would consistenly be redirected to the Australian versions of.

And there it is. On right hand side of the Australian page for the iPhone 3G page, at the top of the Top Apps section on the right is a link to the eBay app. Again with an iTunes link that gives me the same not available message.

I’m confused.

The eBay page I can sort of understand as there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent page on the Australian eBay site. But the Australian iPhone page? I would consider it reasonable for the regional page to only list apps that are available in that region’s store.


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A walk-around lens

Sunday, March 16th, 2008 at 09:17pm

The kit lens from my digital SLR is a Canon 18-55mm lens. As well as the quality not being the best (I am far from alone in that opinion) it doesn’t have the zoom range that I want for a general purpose walk-around lens.

A few weeks ago I went into Luna Park with David to take some photos. For this I borrowed Hamish’s Canon 28-90mm lens (that he has since sold) and the extra length was good. However 28mm just wasn’t wide enough.

Last week I went to the Steamrail open weekend (repeating last year with a better camera) and this time I took along Hamish’s Sigma 18-125mm lens (that he has has his main lens). Although this is both longer and shorter than the 28-90mm, it is the shorter length that I used the most.

From a number of options I has narrowed down my choice to the Canon 17-85mm IS lens and for the past two weeks I have been monitoring eBay. After bidding on a few listings, last night I was the winning bidder for the lens, a hood and two UV filters for half what they would all cost new and consistent with the final price of other listings. Fortunately the seller (from the other side of the city) was coming my way and they delivered it today.

I knew it was physically bigger than the 18-55mm kit lens, but until I had handled it I hadn’t realised how much. Compared to my 28mm it is massive:

Canon EF 28mm and EF-S 17-85mm IS lenses

This difference means that the case I got a few weeks ago is now not big enough for this lens, and it is a bit too big if I have the 28mm on. Maybe I should have got a slightly smaller bag for when I will just have the 28mm (such as the upcoming Pub Standards meeting) and a bigger bag to take the camera with 17-85mm attached and the 28mm in a pocket.

That photo above of the two lenses was taken against some off-white paper (slightly larger than A3) curved up against the wall and with a business card to bounce the flash off the (white) ceiling. So it didn’t look dull I had to adjust the fill light in Picasa which resulted in it being a bit grainy. That is why I need to make a lightbox. Decent external lights (flash or floodlights), the camera on a tripid and controlling it via software would be a massive improvement.

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Playing with my handheld GPS unit

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007 at 08:12pm

After I posted my thoughts on getting a handheld GPS unit last week I realised two things:

  1. I do not need the electronic compas or barometric altimeter. So I could step down from the eTrex Vista Cx to the eTrex Legend Cx.
  2. I do not really need the basemap in the unit to be for Australia. Most of the units I was looking at on eBay were US models that had Australian maps loaded.

So on Sunday I was the winning bidder for an eTrex Legend Cx with Australian maps for two thirds of the cheapest price I could find locally.

It arrived today and for the past couple of hours I have been playing around with it. What do I now know?

  • The Australian maps take up 96MB of the 128MB microSD card (included instead of the supplied 64MB card) so it might be necessary to get a bigger card, especially if I do by detailed maps. Currently a 2GB card is under AU$40.
  • Logging the track to the card means they are available to any computer without special software by putting the unit into mass storage mode.
  • The Trip & Waypoint Manager software that came with the unit lets me upload a route to the unit. The track log can also be downloaded using this software.
  • Routes exported from Bikely as GPX need modification (stripping out elevation tags) before the software will accept them. I just used gvim but a simple perl script should also do the trick and could automate other cleanup tasks.
  • With only 500 possible waypoints, any route that I plan out using Bikely will need to be drawn fairly coarsely. But that is ok for a plan.

Tomorrow is the monthy Melbourne Perl Mongers meeting so I won’t be riding to work. But I will take the unit with me to record my journey anyway. I also bought a bicycle mount, from a different seller on eBay, that should arrive in a few days, ready for my first ride with a GPS on the weekend.

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Missed It By… THAT Much!

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007 at 08:26pm

Last night I spotted a NeXTstation on eBay. It had a starting bid of AU$150 and a buy it now price of AU$250. As it was only the unit, keyboard and mouse (no display) all I did was add it to my watch list.

Tonight when I got home I was prepared to opt for the buy it now option with the intention of getting it operational at a later point. Unfortunately I was too late as this is what someone else did.

This would have been a nice addition to my collection, especially considering how rare they are in Australia.

I did have a quick look for NeXTstations from international sellers. There are a couple of complete systems but they are way out of my price range, and that is before considering the shipping costs…

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A decked out JX

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007 at 10:28pm

Right now there is a IBM JX listed on eBay. Don’t I already have one? Yes, but nowhere near this good.

While my JX features a display, system unit, a pair of keyboards and some boot disks the system listed includes:

  • the rare hard disk;
  • the as rare 5.25″ drive;
  • software and manuals; and
  • a swivel stand for the display

The listing has six days to go, with no bids so far, and it is even located in Melbourne which means I could pick it up. However there is one problem, the listing price is almost AU$1000 which is about three times what I would consider spending…

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Lose some, win some

Monday, December 18th, 2006 at 07:29pm

The Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh that I spotted on eBay last week finished today. I was the winning bidder for a few seconds and it ended up going for over AU$1000, a few hundred more than I was willing to pay.

On the bright side my order of television DVDs arrived today after a long wait:

This adds up to over a hundred hours of viewing. I hope I get through them by March.

I also bought myself a new SD card for my camera. As well as doubling the capacity the 2GB SanDisk Ultra II Plus card that I got has a built in USB connector. This means that I can easily copy photos off (or other files onto) the card on any computer with a USB port.

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How high will I go?

Thursday, December 14th, 2006 at 09:37pm

Yesterday I spotted a Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh on eBay. It is currently sitting at AU$325 with three and a half days to go. This would be an excellent addition to my collection so I am considering going to twice that price, ie AU$750, or even higher.

Unfortunately there have already been bids from five separate bidders which indicates that there is a lot of interest.

As an aside it was interesting to see that a few days ago eBay stopped showing the names of other bidders, all you now see is ‘Bidder 1’, ‘Bidder 2’, etc. In the past I have found it enlightening to look through the history of the other bidders in order to see what sort of items they have bought or sold. This can give an indication of how much they want the item. Alas, I can no longer do that.

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$1 DECstations on eBay

Thursday, March 9th, 2006 at 06:37pm

A few days ago I decided that a week was long enough to wait for a response since I offered my two DECstations to the ClassicCmp mailing list and I would probably have a better response with eBay. So after lunch today I listed them for the grand total of AU$1 (buy it now) and by the time I got home someone had bought them. I haven’t been in contact with them yet but I expect that by the end of the coming weekend they will be gone…

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Must remember to bid on eBay items…

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2005 at 12:05am

Last week I found an item on eBay that I was really interested in, a brand new set of Apple Design Powered Speakers which are pretty hard to find. So I placed a bid but as I was shortly outbid I decided to return just prior to the end of the listing like I normally do.

For some reason I thought it ended on the midnight that is on Monday night, not the midnight that is at the start of Monday, ie Sunday night.

A quick search that includes items by international sellers brings up a similar but different set for a very low price. Unfortunately the stated shipping cost from the UK is huge.

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