West Coast Online - Issue 29 - page 20 orangebar.gif

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Usenet - Rags to Riches?

(By Omar Eljumaily)

Did you know that old Apple I computers have been known to sell for as much as $20,000? Let me guess - You found yours in the garage and threw it away because you thought that even Goodwill wouldn't take it.

Before you throw anything away, consider posting a message about it in one of the newsgroups, just to see what happens. I did that with some stamps my wife got from the post office back in 1990. She bought a sheet of stamps for $12.00 and noticed they were flawed, so she kept them in a Tupperware container for a few years.

Just for kicks, I posted a question about the value of the stamps on rec.collecting.stamps and got a flood of responses. Many people offering to buy them for a lot less than they were worth, but a few honest people let me know the book value of the stamps was more than $10,000! We have since taken the stamps out of the Tupperware and put them in a safe deposit box.

Newsgroups often provide very interesting reading and it's not unusual to find buying and selling taking place. The wannabee seller posts a description of their product on the appropriate newsgroup. Individuals use private email to send bids to the seller and he/ she posts regular updates on the current bid to the newsgroup.

In alt.collecting.disney, I found an auction going on, with the high bid for a copy of a "Lady and the Tramp" video at $255. A snag developed when someone posted a rumor that Disney planned to release the video again in 1996. Some of the follow-up messages suggested that even if it was re-released, there might be changes - making the older version unique. Others pointed out that the original reels of "Aladdin" are valuable because the soundtrack on the video was changed for reasons of political correctness. I guess if you had an original "butcher" copy of the Beatles' "Yesterday and Today", you'd be a billionaire.

Be Careful

Be cautious when buying, selling, or even taking advice found in the collecting groups. A lot of people see the Net with cash register signs popping up in their eyes. I don't think there's anything wrong with making money on the Net, but in the case of collecting, it is possible to be taken for a very expensive ride. In the case of my wife and I, if we sold $10,000 worth of stamps for $100 like we were offered...

Besides getting less or paying more than an item is worth, there's the risk of physically exchanging the goods. "Net protocol" seems to be that the person selling the goods delivers them before the buyer pays. The seller takes the risk of sending something and never seeing it or the money again. Some sellers ask for references before sending the goods. In the case of expensive items, both parties should have a face-to-face meeting of some sort. Of course, dealing with money commonly leads to a certain degree of trouble. I've seen postings about disputes over 78 cents for postage, to cases of outright fraud involving hundreds of dollars.

If you want to buy and sell without a lot of risk, alt.collecting.8-track-tapes boasts some of the more inexpensive collectibles you'll find on the Net. Eight-tracks are sold for a few bucks to about $15 for sealed tapes in original packaging. The most enthusiastic participants of this newsgroup are called "Trackers". The Trackers in the newsgroup discuss the magazine "8-Track Mind" and the movie "So Wrong They're Right". They talk about the movie and the magazine a lot. I imagine the movie plays often on VCRs in living rooms across America dedicated to 8-track tape collecting. In alt.collecting.8-track-tapes, you can also find advice on how to beef up your collection including suggestions on "dumpster diving" at the local Goodwill. So, if you're looking for a vintage copy of Tom Jones' cover of "Sugar Sugar", go for it!

Among the other newsgroups, the sports card collecting groups are very active. Sports card collecting is serious business, and you'll see a lot of buying and selling in rec.collecting.sport.* (baseball, basketball, etc). For coins, try rec.collecting.coins.

On the WWW, a good place to start is http://iquest.com/~tstevens/collecting/ (no longer around), a part of the World-Wide Web Virtual Library. This collecting page has links to an abundance of collecting information.

One of the more interesting stamp collecting sites is the U.S. Postal Service site at www.usps.gov. It's not a stamp collecting site - it's centered on postal rates and customer information. However, you'll find images of recent U.S. stamp issues and other information of interest to the collector. For general stamp/coin or any other kind of collecting, try www.collectors.com. For coin collecting, the same site's coin section has a cool background image of U.S. quarters, dimes, and pennies. It makes it a little hard to read, but I was mesmerized by all that money.

A good trading card and phone card collecting site resides at http://www.tradingcard.com/collectors/cards/sites/cardvlib.html. (no longer around, instead try www.collectiblesnet.com) Phone cards are a funny kind of thing to collect. We don't see them much in the US, but they're used extensively in the rest of the world. They're hot collectibles.

If you're into insect collecting, try http://iris.biosci.ohio-state.edu/inscoll.html. It's the home page of the Ohio State University Insect Collection. Brush up on your junior high school biology because the collection is organized by the zoological classification.

If you want information on auctions, try www.syspac.com/~usaweb/auction.html. Here's some more advice, stay away from the "get rich quick on government surplus auctions" schemes. If the government doesn't want it, I doubt you would either. Real-time online auctions take place occasionally on IRC, but I've heard of various bugs that need to be worked out.

Anyway, you can find anything from pogs to pot holders on the Internet. You may be very surprised to see what's valuable. Who knows, maybe someday that copy of "WCO" you're reading?


Page 20 had ads for The Libertarian Party (www.libertarian.org), Launch Point, Virtual Vegas (www.virtualvegas.com) and Waite Group Press (www.waite.com).




Installing IRC Clients

(By Kevin Elliott)

Last issue, I covered the process of installing an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) client on a Unix Shell account. For those with a PPP or SLIP account, installing a client for a Windows or Macintosh computer is even easier.

Macintosh Installation

The best IRC client for the Mac is Blue Cow Software's Homer. Homer is efficient, appealing to the eye, and easy to use. Getting connected to IRC couldn't be easier:
Windows Installation

Of the number of IRC clients available for Windows, I recommend "mIRC"(latest version 3.42) and "WS-IRC" because they have a full feature set, and are easy to use. To install mIRC:
Using IRC

After connecting to an IRC server, you will see a MOTD (Message Of The Day). Usually, this welcome screen lacks useful information - like the events happening, or which channels you might want to visit among the vast number of IRC channels.

To join a channel, just type /j #<your_channel_name> in the window. A window will pop up with information for that channel. To create a new channel, just join a channel that does not exist, or an empty one. Here are a few channels to start you off, the leading # is necessary to join any channel:



The Nature of the Web

(By Richard Wolinsky)

Imagine a giant jukebox with a virtually unlimited number of CD-ROM disks at your disposable. The world-wide web can be just as exciting, presenting information or entertainment you never knew existed. Each location, or site, on the Internet has a unique address which takes you to the "home page," or main menu. Each site is a collection of pages of text, graphics, and animation. Access to these pages is controlled from the home page.

Addresses to commercial sites are becoming commonplace. Look closely at the movie ads in your local paper and you'll often find a web site listed. In many cases, these sites are more interesting than the movie! Also, commercials are starting to list web addresses for TV shows.

Getting from place to place on the Internet is easy. If you know the address of a site, type it in and away you go. You can identify a worldwide web address by its structure. The address must begin with http://, but sometimes it's printed in shorthand as www.company.com. The complete address would look like http://www.company.com.

If you are leery of typing long web addresses, you can start your journey from the Yahoo Directory (www.yahoo.com), a compendium of web sites organized by topic and title. Most web browsing software can be configured to start by putting a Yahoo choice at the top of your screen.

From one site you can commute to another using the "links" that join them together. Finding a good site is half the fun. Watching it grow and change is the other half.

Most anyone can afford to build a web site, which is really a collection of files stored on a server (another computer) connected to the Internet. Once you are on the web, you can find all the information you need to learn how to create your own home page.



Page 21 had ads for Nolo Press (www.nolo.com), Lincoln's Cabin BBS, Coriolis Books (www.coriolis.com), The Coalition of Parental Support (www.copss.org) and Byte Communications (www.bytenet.com).

Pages 22-28 of WCO magazine listed thousands of BBSs and web sites.

Pages 22-28 had ads for Grafix (www.grafix.com), Pacific Exchange BBS, UNIROM (www.unirom.com), and WCO (the ISP).


End of Issue 29. Go back, or to Issue 30, or to Mark's home page.