08/12/2005: "15% of my wife's computer"
After not being admitted to school (or, more correctly, not taking the chance of being rejected, and/or being accepted only on probation) I think one disapointment was that I wasn't going to get my own computer. However, after looking back at used Macs, I somehow managed to convince my wife to let me purchase an older used laptop. Finally, I'll have a computer that doesn't disappear when my wife does!
I've been doing a lot of reading and re-reading of the specs on older Macs from Low End Mac, from which I had decided that the G3 PowerBook (code name: Pismo) was likely the lowest I could get away with, and that I'd want to avoid any of the clamshell iBooks. (iLife 05 doesn't work with their 800x600 screen resolution.) As much as I'd love to get a G3 iceBook, they're probably out of my price point. Thus, I was looking for a Pismo.
A long-time friend and Mac evangelist/zealot (depending on your POV) put me on to EhMac, a Canadian Mac forum and classified ad board. I had been looking there for used laptops for school use, but had also seen quite a few much older portables for sale. There were a couple of really good deals, so I contacted the respective owners.
The first guy was extremely helpful. He was selling a G3 PowerBook Wallstreet series II. I had reservations about getting such a machine, as it lacked any DVD drive and more importantly, didn't have any USB ports, thereby rendering my memory stick and printer useless. But the price was right - $200, and he was willing to upgrade the drive to 20GB and put in a wifi card for a total of $270. Not bad at all. Unfortunately, I think it's just a bit below the technological threshold that I want.
Another seller had a Pismo up for grabs, and it looked like he had tried to sell it a few times before. Although it wasn't exactly a pimped-out computer, the price ($325, down from his original desire to get $600) was right. I contacted him. There was one other person that expressed an interest, but that person hadn't been heard from in a while, and he wanted to give him one last chance.
Meanwhile, I'd been scouring eBay for other Mac portables, and had quite the extensive watch list. One I was watching was still listing at $155 (USD of course) with a day left in the auction. I figured that based on the exchange rate, paying about US$265 would be equivalent to the $325 the guy on EhMac was looking for. I put in my bid at US$270, but was outbid. Strike one.
Next, there was a Pismo that had been upgraded quite a bit. Wireless card, running Tiger, CD-RW/DVD drive, and more RAM than Apple claims a Pismo can actually take. I asked the seller about this, and he sent me a screen shot showing the 768 MB of RAM being recognised by the system. Wow! The opening bid was US$300, but I figured for all the extras it was worth it.
I still hadn't heard from the Pismo seller from EhMac, despite numerous messages sent to him, so I decided to keep bidding on eBay Pismos and one way or the other I'd get one. As it turns out, I won the pimped Pismo!
Now, I didn't just win it in a normal way. I had found a few days earlier a site called BidNip, which bills itself as the eBay auction sniper. Using their servers, they hold your bid until the last possible second, swoop in with your bid, and don't give anyone the chance to outbid you. It minimizes your purchase price by eliminating last-minute bidding wars, and it worked wonders for me! I got the Pismo for US$335. That's a lot better than the US$500 buy-it-now price. So far the transaction is going very smoothly, and I hope to receive my Pismo early next week. I can't wait!
Meanwhile, if you EVER buy stuff on eBay, I highly, HIGHLY recommend BidNip. I used the free trial with 5 free (successful) snipes, and buying more is very inexpensive. Well worth it.