Like An eBook, But Heavier

I need to get in the habit of putting these posts together earlier in the day, so that if anyone actually read them, they’d feel like they were involved in real time.

I ended up getting one package Monday, and I held off posting about it since I don’t really think a single item is worthy of a post, unless it’s like a gold bar or a lost dead sea scroll or a Yu-Gi-Oh card or something. Sadly nothing else came on Tuesday, but I did have a few bot hiccups that I can talk about instead. Let’s dive right in.First up we have this lovely package:

A shipping envelope about the size of a textbook.

Not much to look at really, big manila envelope (may not be actual manila) sealed up with a pound or so of clear packaging tape. Once I was able to cut my way in with an industrial laser, I uncovered:

A textbook on a shipping envelope about the size of a textbook.

“Essentials of Cell Biology by Robert D. Dyson (1975, Book, Illustrated)”. The book is in pretty good shape, no lewd drawings or anything like that, sadly. There is a name stamped on each side of the book that isn’t the spine, and I was going to post a picture of that, but I don’t know if it’s a previous owner or not, and feel like it would be a bit rude to involve someone unrelated to the eBay transaction. I did a quick Google search of the name and found a Biological Sciences Professor, so it could be that guys book, which is pretty neat. For me, not for you, since you aren’t involved in any of this. If you want to stalk a random PhD, buy your own used book!

You may have noticed the shipping cost on the front side of the envelope peeking out from behind the book. If you didn’t, the cost to ship it to me was $3.31. Total price I paid for the book was $0.99. I’m not really sure how that worked out for the seller. Did they offer free shipping by mistake? Did they expect the book to sell for more than it did? I can’t imagine a Biology book from 1975 would be in high demand… Ah, the mysteries of life.


Now then, on to matters more related to the bot itself. Today, the bot managed to trip over itself twice! This is a good example of why the bot doesn’t have my PayPal login info.

First, the bot bid on an auction, and managed to win it. This isn’t an unexpected scenario; it’s sort of what the bot is meant to do. However, for some reason (logs? what logs?) at the end of the auction it tweeted that “something crazy happened”. This is my catchall for when it can’t figure out what the final state of things is. In this case it assumes that it lost the bid and puts the funds back into the pot and tries to find itself a new auction. In my experience in testing, any time “something crazy happened”, it was always the result of a loss. This time, it wasn’t. Oops. I put more code in place to log what data it’s actually looking at when this happens now, so in the future I can actually figure out (hopefully) what went wrong. I also added some “educated guess” code to catch possible failures that could have triggered the scenario. The bot is put together with duct tape and bubble gum, so I’m not surprised when things go bad, and now you know not to be either.

So! The bot decided it lost the previous auction, and now it had money and a hankering for something new. This time it managed to pick itself an auction from somewhere in Europe, listed in Euros. This isn’t really a problem, except for the fact that the autobidder I am using apparently just assumes that you make all your bids in the same currency. The bot won the auction and quite happily noted that it won it for 1 <currency unit>. This isn’t a huge problem, as 1 EUR is 1.28 USD at the moment, but there’s nothing in place to account for multiple currencies and the money count could quickly get wildly inaccurate if foreign currency auctions are flying all over the place. I manually edited the data to reflect the amount the bot actually spent, and put a filter in place that for now rejects anything but USD auctions. Going forward I’d like to be able to properly parse the USD value, but it seems like I’ll have to do that before I ship it off to the autobidder, and for now it’s just easier to ignore those auctions until the bot gets more worldly.

We’ve come to the end of all the exciting things that have happened in the bot’s life for now. Things are going well aside from today’s hiccup, and I hope to have more packages soon. I think the pictures are more interesting than the walls of text, or less terrible anyway. I also have found myself looking forward to checking the mail now, which is a pretty big departure from ignoring it sometimes for two or three days, if I hadn’t noticed a bill or spam stuffed in there. It’s like every day is possibly a really strange Christmas, or for my family, Christmas.

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