ebaY continued

My first ebaY auction closed on Sunday. The “winner” sent a polite email with his ship-to address and a request to specify the shipping cost, for which he was responsible under the terms of the sale. I knew that the item weighed about ten pounds, which was enough to get a reasonable estimate from the U.S. Postal Service and United Parcel Service sites. I had no idea how much it would cost to stuff the item in a box with packing peanuts. I estimated five dollars.

On Wednesday I received a cashier’s check in the mail from the buyer.

Today I shipped the package from a “UPS Store” that until very recently was a Mailboxes ETC. The boxing cost turned out to be ten dollars instead of five. Not a huge deal. The guy at the desk said that, had I called, he would have told me the cost over the phone. This was the only way to get the boxing cost, it didn’t appear anywhere on the UPS web site. Ah, yes. The phone, how quaint.

So…so far, so good with selling on ebaY. I emailed the buyer the UPS tracking number this afternoon. Hopefully he will enjoy his purchase. I guess I’ll move on to the collection of DSL and cable modems that is now collecting dust in my garage as a result of switching Internet providers several times over the last few years.

20 years later…

My first computer was an Apple II plus. 20 years later I have my second Apple, this time a Powerbook. My favorite part so far? I was able to determine my MAC address by dropping down to a shell prompt and typing ‘ifconfig’.

Milestone: today my wife and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary.

Colds, FreeBSD, ebay

The family caught a cold this week. Daddy, mommy and baby all stayed home yesterday and today. Since I do most of my work at the computer, I was able to stay reasonably productive.

In my free moments I’ve been getting a spare machine set up with FreeBSD to expand my horizons. Thanks for the CDs, Mike! Things are going reasonably smoothly though I have to continually re-calibrate my sense of what is “standard” UNIX (where’s /etc/inittab?). Up and running: samba, rsync, aolserver4.

My very first item for sale on ebay now has three bids!

Attempting ebay

Yesterday I set up an ebay seller’s account to try and unload some of my unused electronics in an environmentally friendly manner. You know, give them a good home. The process was pretty painless. Slick even. Especially the multitudinous ways ebay has found to extract a few bucks here, a few bucks there from you. I put my first item up for sale, and already have one whole bid. How exciting. Let’s hope I don’t get hooked and wind up like this guy 🙂

OSCOM wrap-up

First, some quotes

“I am a sociologist. I study open source programmers.”

“She works for SUN!”

“What I want…I want not to be like what you just said.”

“Brent’s law of CMS URLs: the more expensive the CMS, the crappier the URLs”

CMSes that seem to have traction

There were lots of talks by CMS vendors. The following CMSes stood out as the subjects of talks by people who are deploying with them:

WebGUI – To be used by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard

TYPO3 – In production at the University of Missouri/Rolla

Zope Content Management Framework – Powers the next version of Boston.Com, which will be going live some time this week

Open source: what and why

A recurring theme was what it means to be open source and why to be open source. The first panel on Wednesday had representatives from several open source companies. They were charged with answering the question, can you make money with open source? The answer was of course, “yes, and the fact that we’re here proves it.” But this is a glib answer because it doesn’t take long-term viability into account.

A poignant answer came from Ed Kelly, an attorney who services a number of VC firms. He summarized the VC viewpoint thusly

It’s hard to make money from software no matter what. You give up certain business advantages by being open source, so you’d better be able to a) show that you planned to be open source all along
rather than having stumbled into it b) point to specific business advantages that motivated your choice.

The open source companies pointed to the marketing and labor advantages of being open source.

I was mildly disappointed that this panel was oriented towards business. Profits are concrete and indisputable. From a pure business perspective it’s hard to argue for giving up a revenue stream. Well I guess it’s the Ph.D. in me, but I would have really enjoyed more discussion about philosophy and the effects of economic models on innovation and distribution of wealth.

In his keynote, Dave Winer asked the end users in audience why they would choose open source over commercial software (he didn’t like the term “proprietary”). The consensus was:

1. I don’t want my data locked in a closed format.

2. I want to be able to pay someone to fix bugs in this program five and ten years from now.

Dave pointed out that these goals can be accomplished with software that is not freely redistributable. Some of Userland’s products, for example, ship with source code because Dave knew that a small portion of users would actually inspect and maybe change it. Dave’s assumption was that this wouldn’t lead to massive amounts of unauthorized redistribution. This is an interesting middle ground. Another option batted around was the idea of putting source code in escrow, so that consumers wouldn’t be helpless if the producer went out of business or otherwise failed to fix bugs.

Okay this isn’t everything but I’m tapped out.