The nose knows

pew!We call it The Red Devil — a 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee V-8 I bought online earlier this year mainly to pull a trailer filled with airplane parts. But perhaps we should have named it Stinky, because that’s what this column is all about. When buying something on the Internet, how can you make sure it doesn’t smell terrible?

You can’t.

I should have known. The price was too low, the pictures too good, but the seller had sold hundreds of cars online and boasted a 100 percent satisfaction rating. So did I, but my 82 transactions had taken 13 years to accumulate.

When the car arrived it looked great but it smalled like a thousand mice had been camping […]

Bug or feature? eBay drops wildcard search

eBay, the dominant auction site, this week took away from users the ability to search auction listings with wildcard keywords, which can be very useful to buyers looking for very specific part numbers or product series. It is (or rather was) easy to store wildcard searches on eBay as a powerful way of drilling down through millions of items as they are listed. No more. And eBay’s reason for eliminating wildcard searches? “Our research showed that using specific terms to expand one’s search was a more effective method than wildcard searches, which oftentimes included unexpected variations that cluttered search results. By removing the wildcard (*) advanced search functionality, we’re able to deliver search […]

Why Microsoft bought Skype

There is so much to write about but I’ll begin with Microsoft buying Skype for $8.5 billion. The pundits are debating whether this move by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer makes good business sense, but that’s the wrong way to look at it. The better approach is to wonder what would have happened had Microsoft not bought Skype? Based on the high price alone I’m fairly confident that Ballmer felt he had no choice but to buy. In fact I’m fairly certain he felt that not buying could have doomed Microsoft.

Remember eBay bought Skype a few years ago for $2.6 billion, failed to make a go of it, then took a big write-off and sold much […]

By |May 12th, 2011|2011|206 Comments