Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ebay Annoyances

I buy stuff on ebay occasionally. My annoyance is not with ebay itself but rather with people who I shall call micro-bidders. Micro-bidders are those people who make bids on items that are only a few dollars above the current winning bid. I have to admit that this is what I did when I first used ebay. Micro-bidding is time consuming and I believe it inflates the price of the item too high, mostly through petty bidding wars that develop from a win at any cost attitude. Great if you are selling, but annoying to other bidders.

Fortunately, as I'm sure most people realise, ebay will bid on your behalf. All you need to do is pick a price and as other bidders make bids under your maximum bid ebay will automatically bid for you. Once the maximum bidding goes above your maximum bid you are out of the race. If you wish to go on, enter a new bid, otherwise give up. Ebay has made the function available, use it.

To get the most out of this function you should do your homework first to see what similar items are going for and use that as your benchmark (indeed shop around elsewhere as sometimes the prices people pay on ebay are too high). When the item comes up again, bid early and make it your maximum bid. If I'm a bit desperate I will add a bit to my maximum bid, say 5 - 10%. If you get outbid so be it, but there is also the chance that you will win the item at a much lower price.

A trick I use to fool the micro-bidders is if they are really active for a particular item is to make a bid of an unusual amount. By unusual amount I mean instead of bidding a flat bid of $56, bid $56.37. I have won a few auctions by the skin of my teeth using this tactic. It is funny to look at the bidding history after the auction and seeing that the last bidder that tried to outbid you made a bid of $56, if they had gone $1 higher they would have won. The best bit is that you still get the item for a $56.

Moral of the story, micro bidding is annoying and can drive the bidding too high. Know your limit, stick too it, and bid smart.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pixel Art

A Recipe
  • Take one random photo.
  • Open in image viewing/editing program, I used Irfanview.
  • Crop the feature you want to' pixelise'.
  • Reduce the colour depth to something manageable, say 16 colours.
  • Reduce size of selection to something manageable, say 64 x 64 pixels.
  • Copy into Paint (or other raster image editor).
  • Remove dithering and smooth out areas using the basic set of colours.
  • Add highlights and shadows (I actually did this as part of the above step, but not very well).
  • Resize at will (do not re sample) making sure the aspect ratio preserved.
  • Save as PNG. Or if you want an icon ICO (in Irfanview of similar).

The perspective is completely out, the shadows are kind of weird, and all undercarriage detail is missing. For my first real attempt at creating pixel art, I'm quite happy. Supposedly you are meant to put everything in cartoon like black lines as well. It reminds me of the artwork in old DOS games.

There are no doors or windows on the side either, they are too hard to draw.

Oh and this is the rear of the train in case you didn't realise.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Rimmer Experience

Today I bought a 250gb external hard drive. Lately I've decided to name all my computers and drives after things and characters in red dwarf, so I decided Kryten would be a good name. My computer is called Red Dwarf and I have a flash drive called Starbug. So while looking for an icon to use for the new drive I got a little distracted in the sea of all things Red Dwarf. In fact I stumbled over something I had completely forgotten about. The Rimmer Experience, which takes place in the 7th season of the show, when Rimmer travels away from Red Dwarf as Ace Rimmer (fellows, smoke me a kipper I'll be back for breakfast.). I'm much more familiar with the first 4 seasons, anything after that I've only seen once or twice.

The Rimmer Experience

I would embed the video, but BBC Worldwide has disabled the embedding feature. There are others but this is the fullest version I could find).


Now if you don't mind, I've got some skutters to attend to....

If you've got this far you've done well. if you liked the Rimmer experience you'll love tongue tied. I have a vague recollection that I made a post about tongue tied some time in the past, but it was before I started tagging posts so it's a bit hard to find right now. Go look it up on You Tube.

And after all that I still haven't found a decent Kryten icon to use...