Why I Love eBay

Horror stories abound of online transactions made over long distances that turn sour, either because the goods are never received, or because goods received are damaged or in some cases bear no resemblance to what they were described as. Sometimes these problems are worked out, and occasionally people wind up in court over disagreements related to such services. This has turned some people off from making any online transactions, ever.

Personally I have never had a deal turn bad. I also buy online fairly regularly, for friends, family, and myself. For birthdays, for Christmas gifts, for miscellaneous goods that I either can’t get in stores in this area, or that would cost substantially more for.

One such thing I haven’t found a store for in the area (closest I’ve found via online tools is in Staunton – around 45 minutes to an hour away, depending on traffic and who is driving, etc) is model railroading supplies. Track, rolling stock, and other things required seem hard to come by, in this area at least. And that is where eBay comes in. Sure, a lot of things aren’t new, some are incredibly well used, but in the last month or so I have found some incredibly good deals that I couldn’t have even dreamed of until I received the “You won …” emails.

One such deal was for a large box of used HO scale track, mixed brands (primarily Atlas). Now, a lot of pieces have been cut off, and some of the rails aren’t attached at the ends, but nothing that can’t be put to good use in one way or another.

If I were to buy this in a store, brand new, I would expect to pay upwards of $200. There are around 10 turnouts, which, brand new, would have been worth around $20 each. Then there are several sets of 22″ Radius curves, I’d guess around 30 or 40. If I say there were 6 sets of 6, at $10 each per set, that would be around $60. Another 30 or 40 9″ straight sections as well and we’re looking at $300+ retail value when bought new. Considering all the damage done and the fact that it’s used, I might expect someone to pay maybe $100 minimum? No, with eBay I bought this for less than $30 USD. And this isn’t just a photo that the seller posted on the auction, that is the box sitting in the next room. I received it, it’s here, I’ve checked it all out. I’m excited to start laying it down in some kind of permanent setting.

Just to list off the things I’ve picked up cheaply in the last month or so, all from eBay:

– Various other rail tracks, including switches/points, rerailers, straight sections, etc.

– A flat car with two containers.

– Caboose

– Box car

– 3 40′ container models, to join my other containers that go with the container well cars I bought in New Zealand.

– 2 covered hoppers – one Southern and one Southern Pacific (the latter identical to one I already have) – the continuations of a unit train forming.

– 3 boxcar bodies for use in a storage setting.

– 10/100/1000Mbps network card (for my server, when I get around to rebuilding it).

Also, yet to receive:

– MiniDV camera (expected tomorrow)

– PAL=>NTSC Video Format converter, for my NZ DVD player and my NZ Xbox coming soon, so I can watch on the TV here.

Lights, Camera, eBay

I’ve found myself in the market for a 35mm camera. Now, at the beginning of the week I was looking non-specifically for anything good that worked well and was in good condition. I then progressed to 3 specific brands (Nikon, Canon, Olympus) and then reached a point of favoring the Olympus OM series a little over the Canon EOS series.

I like the Olympus OM series because dad owned an OM-1 (a few years after he’d owned and sold an OM-10 due to financial difficulties – that was before my time though) and it was what I learnt how to really take photos before I bought my Fujifilm S5600. So, I suppose they have a feeling of prior knowledge with me, I know what they feel like and I know what they can (and, to a large degree, can’t) do. But, when I asked dad if he had a preference (he said the OM-10, btw) he reminded me that while they were great cameras they are now getting on a bit, 30-35 years old now for the most part.

I kept a bunch of the Olympus’s on my watchlist and moved on to the Canon EOS series. Now, Kelly and I have discussed and agreed that we both want Canon Rebel’s at some point in the not-too-distant future. Whether it is the XSi (EOS 450D) model or whatever they bring out next will be decided by time, money, and available options at time of purchase. I still want a 35mm camera though.. What I hadn’t realised was that the Canon EOS digital SLR range uses the same EF Lens mount as the EOS 35mm range. There are a couple of differences being added (since the 300D, I believe) in that they are now using an EF-S, but this mount is backwards compatible, so I should be able to use any EF lenses I pick up interchangeably between a 35mm and a digital.

All the Olympus models were removed from my watch list, replaced by various Canon EOS 35mm cameras. It clearly needed to be pruned further, as I want the best deal I can find, preferably the newest camera for the lowest price possible. Time for further research on how Canon did their EOS range, compared with what is available on eBay.

Now, mostly what I’m interested in are a small range of the EOS series: the Rebel G, the Rebel 2000, the Rebel K2 and the Rebel T2. I have very little interest in anything pre-1995 anymore, and it seems most of these may be available with Lens and batteries for ~$30USD. If I have to I’ll spend a little more for a Buy Now, but I’m gonna try my luck at auctions first. I did bid on a faulty Rebel G by accident though, if someone wants to outbid…feel free…

Triumph and Tragedy

Triumph: Mostly installed qmail on Mack’s newly reinstalled server, rhapsody. A few things to finish off today.

Triumph: Installed and configured a second private hub for UCCN, hub02. Will install backup services at a later date.

Triumph: Kelly put in a job application yesterday, and another will go in tomorrow.

Triumph: The package of stuff from New Zealand arrived today, albeit slightly beaten up from its travels.

Triumph: Shaved.

Triumph: Received most of the outstanding eBay items purchased up until last week.

Triumph: Got the new router installed and running smoothly. Could use a RAM upgrade, but that will come in time.

Tragedy: A bump while drinking water last night resulted in a spill occuring directly above the macbook. It was quickly shut down, but after being left 24 hours or so, it won’t turn on. Leaving it beside the heater for another 48 or so to see if this changes anything, but my hopes are not high.

I Love eBay. Perhaps a Little Too Much…

Today I have a headache. It has been growing since Christmas day, but a sore throat emerged yesterday and I’ve spent most of today in bed pretending I didn’t exist. It didn’t make it go away 🙁

I’m growing to like eBay a lot. Having started in New Zealand with Trademe, eBay had a lot to live up to. Especially having used it once or twice from outside the US and not being able to buy anything useful – be it due to shipping costs, or sellers not willing to ship overseas.

That being said, I’ve bought 10 items in the last 6 months. The first was a power inverter, to take 110V current that is standard here, and convert it to 240V for my imported DVD player from New Zealand (I brought it with me). Surprisingly cheap, works really well. Now I just need to find a cheap PAL to NTSC converter so I can utilise it.

In the last week, however:

  • A Pentium 3 933MHz, due to arrive Tuesday. This will comprise a new firewall/router for this house, and will leave with me and Kelly when we move out. It also is physically identical to my P3/866MHz server, so they should look nice stacked together.
  • Two additional identical network cards to allow the router to route.
  • A CompactFlash -> IDE converter, to go in the above PC and allow the router information to be stored on a compact flash card instead of a hard disk. This will use less power and be quieter also.
  • A 1GB Compact Flash card, to use as described above.
  • A 4GB Compact Flash card, to use in my digital camera (upgrading from the current 1GB xD card – don’t worry, it supports both formats).
  • A capo for my guitars.
  • A small loop of Atlas N-scale settrack, to use in my coffee-table railroad project (probably some time this year).

I’m also trying desperately to get my hands on one of these (5 or 8 port), and one, possibly two of these (A G, a GL or a GS, just not a Gv7. Would take a WAP54G too, they’re just typically more expensive). I’m trying to get us to a point where when Kelly and I move out we can take the equipment we have and set up straight into an internet connection, not bothering with buying another wireless access point or anything on top of all our other expenses involved with moving – in addition to putting this house back the way it is now. Also wanting to utilise the 2 gigabit network cards I have (one in the Macbook and one in the desktop).

The last things I’m looking out for are a clip-on guitar tuner, a radio scanner, cheap video cameras (the tape isn’t important, so long as it can output composite/s-video), and a cheap video mixer.