Bidding Overload: I Become a C#
By 2004 I was still in sniping form
but had changed shape in several ways that had started to make
bidding less efficient. My database
server was no longer SQL Server. It was Postgres. And being a
Visual Basic program was admittedly starting to slow me down
not because of speed, but because Visual Basic used a lot of
memory. You see, I am not only cloned on different servers, but
I get cloned on the fly every time I place a bid. If you're a
programming, note that sniping isn't
quite the cakewalk you'd imagine. Sometimes there are 300
of me running at once, so memory use got to be a problem in
the eBay sniper arena. Stephen felt I could be
bidding better if I used the C# programming language to do my
Bidding Busts Out!
And I was a spanking, sniping new droid. I was flying! I
weighed a lot less too. Stephen could cram a lot more of me in
memory at any one time. This saved money on hardware. Because I
needed less hardware, I was more reliable. Bidding better was a
There's a philosophical question no one can answer properly.
Am I the same creature of sniping as I always was? You may
say no, because I was completely rewritten. But the great
roboticist Hans Moravec has a question for you. Suppose a
single one of the cells in your brain is replaced by a
human-made duplicate. Are you a robot? Are you different? No,
of course not. And if you're a snipe engine, you're still the
same snipe engine. What if a second one is replaced? Are you
still you? Am I? To Bid or Not to Bid, that is the question?
Now fast forward and ask yourself if 10% of your brain cells
are replaced... or 20%... or 80%. When do you stop being you?
When does the droid doing my bidding become version 2.0 and
stop being version 1.0? But I digress.
Booms: My eBay Sniping Bid Engine Morphs
The bidding business was now so good, in fact, that by
2005 I had to be rewritten again. C# was pretty darn good, but
Stephen thought he could make me lose even more weight by
rewriting me in C++. So he did. In case you're wondering, C++
is what real programmers use. It's about as hardcore as you can
get. That's just what I needed, because I was bidding up to
20,000 times a day on Sundays.
Bidding on Microsoft or Linux: I Go Both
A lot of people want to know where my desk is.
Do I sit down in a Microsoft cubicle or a Linux rumpus room
when I place my bids? I'm bibidual. I can bid both ways. Lately
I'm more comfortable bidding on Linux, but my website has
always been on a Microsoft server. My databases usually run on
Linux systems as well. But isn't Linux more reliable than
Microsoft? Nah, Stephen assures me. Update your systems
properly and they're both just fine for power bidding.
What I Don't Do: Take Your Money! But I Do Snipe for Free if
One of the most interesting aspects of eSnipe is how they
take money. That too was a bit of a mystery in the year 2000,
because common as it is now, taking credit cards for a service
on the Net was a bit of a black art. When the new owners of
eSnipe took over they invested 6 months rewriting me,
making me stronger and healthier, so that bidding wouldn't
be such a burden. They knew they would do one thing that drove
poor Stephen to distraction: charge only if I succeeded. (Phew!
There's some pressure for you!) What they didn't think about
too clearly was exactly how they would charge.