Argh! Fucking eBay glitch fucked me over again

I never would have considered myself a “sniper” prior to a few weeks ago. Now, I’m no Lee Harvey Oswald, but I’m now forced to acknowledge that I am, indeed, a “sniper” since I heard the word used some weeks ago to contrast Yahoo! Auctions and eBay. I never knew there was a term for the practice of waiting until the last few seconds to make a bid on an auction. I always figured it was just common sense to wait until as close as possible to the last second to place a bid. At least that’s how I’ve always done it. Apparently this isn’t how it’s done on Yahoo! Auctions though. I, of course, not being a user of Yahoo! Auctions, don’t know for certain if that’s true since, even if more sellers did ship internationally, I don’t have a Japanese credit card and most sellers don’t accept PayPal. I suppose if an eBay auction ended in the middle of the night or during a time when I’m without Internet access I would bid whenever I could, but usually I’m able to bid when there are only a few seconds left.

That’s why it so frustrating when eBay kicks you off because of this glitch I’ve noticed. Granted, it’s possible it’s something to do with my browser settings about cookies, but I prefer to think that it’s eBay’s fault and I’m blameless because I prefer deluding myself to acknowledging my shortcomings. There were about ten seconds left in an auction for a 160GB laptop hard drive and the price was only USD 16. I had finally tasted success and had zombied together some parts I’d had lying about for months into a functional PS3 so I needed a hard drive for it. The nice part was that, rather than requiring a costly power supply replacement as I had initially supposed (~ USD 30), the system just needed a power switch replacement (the thing to which you connect the AC adapter which cost me only USD 1). This was perfect. The glitch, however, occurs when you open an auction page after your login has partially expired. That is, your username still appears at the top of the page and, if the item is in your watchlist, it will still appear in blue, but it’s been long enough since you logged in that, when you try to place a bid, eBay will ask you to enter your password. At least, this is how it’s supposed to work. However, if, while you have the auction page open, you open another browser tab and visit a different page within eBay and do something that requires you to enter your password in the new tab (such as visit “My eBay”) then, when you go back to the first tab to bid, instead of letting the bid go through or prompting you for your password, you get logged out of eBay immediately, without explanation.

This is what the expression “kick in the teeth” was invented for.

Kamisama no Memochou made me yearn for that OSX86 setup I once perfected

The only thing I can say now that I’ve finished watching this show is that it made me really want to buy a Macbook Pro, a Mac Mini, an iMac, an iPhone, and an iPad.

It’s always been more or less hit-and-miss installing OS X on AMD hardware. You’d think that, being the compulsive buyer that I am, I’d have a Core 2 Duo system around here somewhere but, for some reason, I don’t. I’m glad I documented everything I did to get it working on my A8N5X since I’m hopelessly out of the loop now. The HDD that had my working OS X installation on it exploded one day along with several hundred gigabytes of stuff I was seeding, so if I want OS X now I’m going to have to start from zero. That’s what I get, I suppose, for using for bittorrent a partition on a disk that had an OS on it. It’s just not the safest thing in the world.

Now I’m waiting for an HDD to arrive so I can see if I can install Lion. That would be very, very satisfying if possible, but, from what I understand, there’s not yet a modified Lion kernel available that works on AMD processors. If that’s the case, I’ll try Snow Leopard. I have a retail Snow Leopard installation disc anyway and there is more information available about it.

I’m so totally buying an Intel processor next time I revolutionise my setup here. I hate how all of the nice things you can do on a computer are Intel-only. It’s not just OS X; I have to use real PS2 hardware to play PS2 games because, regardless of how much RAM I have, which video card I have installed, or how many cores my processor has, PCSX2 performs poorly on AMD systems.

I find Murdoch as repulsive as the next guy…

but I was watching the local news on Fox because it’s on at 10:00 instead of 11:00 and I need my beauty rest. The anchor is also much better looking than the anchor on WPIX, the only other channel with local news at 10:00. The news is mostly promotions for other shows on Fox, but they mentioned in a fluff piece that parents are up in arms over “in-app purchases” on Apple devices. Like this:
8-Year-Old Girl Racks Up $1400 Bill Buying Smurfberries in Smurf’s Village

Well, that’s nothing. I can spend that much on smurfberries in sixty seconds on iSRO.

Tee-hee: I bought a Sega Saturn (I told you I quit anime!)

But I am disappoint. I bought it in “as-is” condition on eBay. Here’s the “before” picture from the auction page:

It was homely, to say the least. But here’s what it looks like now that I’ve had a chance at it:

Obviously, I wouldn’t have purchased the system if I was sensitive to aesthetic issues like the appearance of the console, but I was, nonetheless, curious as to what proportion of the imperfections visible in the “before” picture were just dirt that could be cleaned away and which were actual scratches. I was happy to find out that there are really only two actual scratches of any significance; everything else was just dirt, stains and even what looked like bits of paint, all of which were easily removable with typical household cleaning products, lots of isopropyl alcohol, and considerable elbow grease.

I have mixed feelings about buying badly worn-out consoles or other electronics. On the one hand there’s no feeling quite like taking something that’s been well-used or even downright poorly taken care of and making it look like new, or at least as pretty as possible. It’s an extremely satisfying feeling. On the other hand it’s very hard work cleaning these things and I sometimes wonder if I would be happier to just buy items that are already in decent cosmetic shape, saving myself the work.

Cleaning up used controllers is especially hard work. As for the Saturn above, I used cotton swabs and toothpicks dipped in alcohol to clean out the indented areas, such as the letters on the “Reset”, “Power”, and “Open” buttons. The rest of the cleaning work could be done with paper towels and cotton balls, since there are relatively few fine spaces. I did clean the inside as well though and for that I had to use cotton swabs, since I didn’t want to damage anything. Cleaning the inside might have been overkill though. Although it really was pretty sticky underneath the disc drive cover, almost as though someone had spilled juice in there or something. The point though is that there aren’t too many narrow areas or grooves where you need a tool with a thin point to clean. Controllers, however, have all sorts of little tiny areas that need to be cleaned with toothpicks or straightened-out paperclips dipped in alcohol. Even with tools like that, however, it’s tough to make sure you’re actually removing the dirt, crud, and gunk from the grooves rather than merely pushing it around and causing it to accumulate into lumps at the end of the groove. Also, certain indented letters are easier to clean than others. The letter “O” is very easy to clean since it has no corners. A letter like “E”, however, is very difficult to clean since dirt gets stuck at the many corners and ends. Cleaning controllers is satisfying work, of course, but it’s even harder than cleaning a console or other large electronic device.

The ease with which the console could be cleaned made me happy. Furthermore, the reason I am disappoint is not that the system doesn’t work; it does, in fact, appear to be fine, despite the typical veiled meaning of the phrase “as-is”. I’m disappointed because I bought the thing without any accessories at all: no controller, games, or cables of any sort. I knew I could use more or less any power cord that I had lying about, but, to my chagrin, when it arrived I saw that the video cable required needed some kind of special connector which was not common to any other game console I had. I had to bite the bullet and purchase an S-video Saturn cable online for 13 USD. I had hoped a Dreamcast or Playstation RCA cable would have worked, but I was wrong. I suppose I should have done my research on that beforehand.

So that meant that I had to wait about a week before I could really ascertain if the console worked. I did turn it on, of course, but I had no controller or video cable so even though the green light turned on I couldn’t be sure that it was actually outputting video, let alone whether it could read game discs.

Silly me; I just had to go and get the standard North American controller

I intentionally chose not to buy a controller until after the console arrived. I wanted to make sure the console powered on before spending money on a controller. Once I knew that it did, at least, power on, I bought a controller before knowing whether it output video or played games. The controller arrived yesterday and the video cable arrived today. I’ve had the console for a bit over a week now.

I attached the video cable today and was so happy that it worked, that I immediately snapped a “victory” photograph of the thing outputting video. “This is it”, I thought, “this is the sign that it’s safe to drop the 30-something USD on a modchip that I want”.

My heart was racing as I grabbed the controller. The thought flitted through my head that the fact that the Saturn was displaying the setup screen could be an indication that the save battery needed replacing, another cost I’d have to incur, but I was too excited to let that get me down. Slowly, with a sense of exaggerated solemnity, I pressed the A button to select “English”. I waited a moment, expecting something magical to happen. When nothing happened I thought that perhaps I had gotten confused, assuming that the A button had the “confirm” function, as it usually does on Nintendo games. I tried pressing Start, then X, Y, Z, B, C and A again. I tried the right and left shoulder buttons as well. I became frightened and tried combinations of various buttons simultaneously. I tried connecting the controller to the player 2 slot. I tried resetting the console, unplugging it from the power adapter, blowing on the controller connectors, and finally, I noticed the following devastating peculiarity in the controller connector:

It was missing a pin. A quick Google search told me that Saturn controllers have 9 pins. This one had 8. Well, perhaps this was a special-edition controller that only needed 8 pins. That line of self-delusion was plausible to my frenzied mind. But if that was the case, the fact that it wasn’t working must mean the Saturn itself was broken. So I made the cheaper assumption and concluded I bought a broken controller. Stupid me.

I had had grandiose plans for this console. I wanted to buy a mod chip for it and do the region switch modification. I was going to amass a collection of original copies of only the greatest franchise-starting Sega Saturn games; the ones that went on to become legendary, like Lunar, Langrisser, Tengai Makyou, Panzer Dragoon, NiGHTS, and Sakura Taisen.

I really shot myself in the foot because, after long deliberation, I had chosen to pass up the opportunity to buy a 3D controller from a seller in Japan for 13 USD in favour of the regular controller I bought for 11 USD from a U.S.-based seller. I made the decision because I wanted to save the 2 USD and get the item sooner. The USA seller was someone I had never purchased from before whereas the Japanese seller was somebody from whom I had made many purchase in the past and knew to be quite reputable. But it was because of my impatience and penurious ways that I bought from the U.S. seller and got ripped off. To add insult to injury, the controller from the U.S. seller didn’t even arrive very quickly because the seller was located in Washington and I’m in New York, something like 4000km away and Hurricane Irene delayed all mail considerably. I really should have purchased the 3D controller. It looks more comfortable anyway. It looks a lot like the Dreamcast controller which, in my opinion, is one of the most comfortable of all game controllers.

Now I’m going to have to wait for the next time the seller that I like on eBay offers a Saturn 3D controller for sale. I won’t miss it the next time he sells one. Zettai ni…