19 Jan 2007 The Swirling Brain   » (Master)

Well, for me it's mostly been, working at JCPenney, selling stuff on ebay, and selling rolling ball sculptures. Wish I had more time for robotics but I sort of dance around it some.

This is probably a good opportunity to give yet another reminder about the robots.net robomenu robot of the day and rss news feeder widget!

I made a new konfabulator widget. It helps me search ebay auctions and now I can search the way I want! I've been modifying it every day and it keeps getting better and better. I'm fairly happy with it. It's got a lot of intelligence programmed into it. I need to figure out some automatic intelligence to it but I haven't gotten that far with it. I would like to get to the point where it could find an auction and if the criteria was right that it would go ahead and buy automatically. I don't know if it will ever get to that point just because I want to be able to make the final decision, but even right now, I pretty much trust it when it gives me a recommendation.

I was using jbidwatcher to do my sniping but it kept messing up. Also, I couldn't place bids from work since it was a program just running on my home PC. I decided I wanted a server based sniping tool. The cheapest one I found to do what I wanted was: Powersnipe eBay Auction Sniper. It costs about $3.80 a month ($46 a year) and I can do it from home or work and it's unlimited so I can load up as many snipes as I want. I like it a lot. Really, I wanted my little widget to do the sniping for me, and I may someday do that but it wouldn't be server based and I need to figure out more of the ebay api and ssl stuff and I'm not sure I want to waste my time with that. So far PowerSniper has been just great!

I found out something by using Powersniper. I still think it's a bug, but they disagree. What happened was on one of my snipes, I found that they went ahead and placed the bid even though there were a couple of days left on the auction. When I asked them about it, they said what probably happened was that the seller started the auction as a 3 day auction, I then placed my snipe, then the seller modifed the auction to be a 7 day auction. When the 3 day time ran out, the sniping tool placed the bid but the auction was still going on for more days because the seller had modified it. What that means is that powersniper doesn't check that the end time is still the end time before they place the bid. What's really really interesting about all this is, if I were to sell something, I could list it as a 3 day auction cheap, then when it gets down to the last day I up it to a 7 day auction and see if any snipers get caught and forced to bid with a sniping too that's not smart enough to check the end time before placing the bid. [evil grin] I'm thinking of trying it a few times just to see what happens with them snipers out there! ;-) Moral of the story? If you are creating a sniping too, it would be wise to check the end time again before placing the bid otherwise you may have some trickster like me changing their auctions to try to catch you and make you bid more than you normally would! :-) I think that's happened with jbidwatcher too but I just didn't know what was going on. I suspect most other sniping tools don't catch that either.

I've also started networking with some guys and have been able to buy and sell from them! So, now my little tiny company is making about $5k in monthly gross sales and about $500 to $1k net a month! I'm sort of excited about it. Of course, my debt is crushingly large and eats it all up so I'm not really seeing any of it. :-/ No really, I'm not kidding, it's sad! But at least it looks like there's hope finally of not going bankrupt. I'm hoping we can go on vacation this summer on the money I make from it too!

I've been doing a little PIC16f84a programming for one my rolling ball sculptures that has an elevator. You press a button and it turns on for a while and turns off. You can dial in the amount of on time with a knob. Also, there's a few blinky lights. It drives a couple of stepper motors. It turned out ok. I guess that sort of qualifies as robotics?

I've had a terrible time getting insurance for Bethany. The place where I work is just basically a temp job. Their insurance is not real insurance, it's indemnity insurance whatever that means. So anyway it caps out on the drug plan at $750 a year. Well Bethany's drugs cost over $5k a month so $750 a year is sort of inadequate! So we applied to the Texas Risk Pool. They denied us because they said we could get insurance through my work. Ugg. So after contacting our state rep, he made a few calls and lo and behold they were falling all over themselves to approve us. So she got insurance. However it's $350 a month premium with an $1100 deductable. So I've got to come up with $1450 this month to cover bills. But in the long run, I'm sure we'll make out like bandits! :-)

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