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JBidWatcher snipes

Posted by brinkley on September 8, 2005 at 9:38 AM PDT

I admitted it, I'm a ebay sniper. Those ebay buyers that step in at the absolute last second and take the bid away from perspective bidders. Until recently I would watch individual items as the ending time approached. It got so bad that I would even use my cell phone for those have to items. But no more, I've been liberated.

Last week Best Buy did me a "favor" and reduced that LCD HDTV set $600.00 which immediately turned into a purchase. Of course this meant that all the satellite equipment had to be upgraded and not just upgraded but expanded. I needed a new HD receiver, gramma wanted her own receiver, the LNBs had to be upgraded, and the legacy system needed an adapter to work with the new LNBs. I could have called my satellite provider and had them install everything but that would have cost me a lot more than the $600.00 I saved. Besides, I installed the original system myself so why not do the upgrade. All I needed was the parts and ebay was the place to go.

Once on ebay I realized that it was time for some good sniping software. Google searches revealed several interesting offers. Wow, for $9.95 a month I can have all the snipes I want. $9.95 are you kidding? If I didn't install the extra line in gramma's room for 4 months you think I'm going to spend $9.95 a month just to snipe?

Then I found JBidWatcher. JBidWatcher is a free open source project currently developed on Source Forge (sigh). As the JavaDesktp Community Leader it had immediate appeal. It was FREE, it was a Java client, I could run it on my own machine(s), it was FREE.

I first tried running it on my windoze laptop. Unfortunately, the VPN network connection was like a yo-yo. The prospect of losing a bid because the network disconnected was not acceptable so I moved the jar file to a Unix box connected directly to the network. What do you know, write once run anywhere actually works. The new software was up and running in less than 20 seconds. The interface changed slightly because I running on a Unix platform but it was still the same ole application.

I was psyched. The interface was easy and I no longer had to be home to place those last minute bids. I also discovered a really useful tool called multi-snipe. In a multi-snipe you place a max snipe bid on several items. Once you get one of the items all the other snipes are canceled. I sat down and culled the ebay list of HD receivers I was interested in to about 5 entries that were closing that night. Set my max price and went up for dinner.

I checked the progress a couple of times. After all, this is software and anything can go wrong and usually does. Lost the first two bids by $2.50 when earlier bidders set their max bids slightly higher. The snipes worked, I just wasn't the high bidder. Drat!!! At the end of the night I had nothing. I had lost two bids and other 3 were above my max when the snipe would have executed. So I loaded up another set of acceptable entries and tried again.

The neat thing about the multi-snipe feature is that you can add another item. Select it along with the other multi-snipe items, press the multi-snipe button and walla, it's added to the multi-snipe. The addition saga continued until the 10th try when JBidWatcher sniped in with 10 seconds left to take the bid for $7.50 less than my max. I got the lowest priced HD receiver that week and it was $250.00 less than retail!!! Same results with the other items. In the end I found every item either at or below my max bid.

The Java client JBidWatcher was exactly what I needed. Now if I could just get the author to move the project from Source Forge to the JavaDesktop Community it would be nirvana. :)

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