Calculator Joke



#9

A man bought a very expensive vintage HP calculator for his retired father. The occasio was the father's 65th birthday. The day before the party, the man packed the calculator in a very elegant box. During the birthday party the father opened his son's expensive gift. Instead of the expected nostalgic smile on the father's face, the man saw a very surprised look. "A cheap $9.99 mouse for me????!!!!!" asked the father. The son explained in horror "Oh no sir, it should be an expensive vintage HP calculator!!! I bought it from eBay from this guy ... coburlin"


#10

Wow.

I am *astounded* by everyone's interest in this guy. When does the joke get old? When do we (hopefully most of us) realize it's pointless to complain, not to mention petty, small, and naive?

And on that point it's time for me to realize that commenting on other's "lack of a life" interests and posts is probably just as stupid.

But really: Lighten up. You're going to give yourself a stroke worrying about what others are "getting away with".


#11

I concur - enough Couberlin bashing. That's why I started the thread about building a better auction site. Better to devote some energy into designing something good.


#12

John,

Liked your idea a lot, even though I do not believe that there is even a remote chance for another auction site out there. Read some recent reports from eBay itself who sees trouble for its growth rate, as its best markets (USA and Germany) where 80% of the profit is coming from are showing signs of saturation. However, we might be able to come up with some good suggestions and then send it to them either as a group or in lots of emails with same content... They might listen ?

One idea: Have a cool off period before an auction actually closes of say 10 minutes. So, like in real life (going once, going twice, gone) an auction only closes after for say 10 minutes no further bids have been placed.

Cheers

Peter
(1234)


#13

Hi I wrote eBay's president about the cooling-off feature. He replied that the current feature is what most eBay members prefer.

I agree with you though. I like the cooling off feature. It will help seller get more. One point however ... if an auction becomes a heated contest and the winner (after all is said and done) realizes that he/she does NOT REALLY want to pay the winning bid. Then we have problems.

Namir


#14

No, you don't have problems, Namir...that happens enough of the time anyway. :-(

Gene


#15

You have a point. What I am saying is that it may get worse. Person HotHeadA may outbid HotHeadB by an unrealistic amount just for the moment's satisfaction, and then realize they have to REALLY pay.

#16

Extending the auction... This idea has been debated endlessly on ebaY forever! Give it up. They don't do that kind of auction. Go to an auction house if that's what you want.

Now let's apply some game theory to this mess-

1. Assume everyone is a rational bidder who understands ebaY's proxy bidding system (everyone bids their "one-true-maximum-bid").

Every auction will have a random distribution of bids going up to the average selling price of the typical item +/- some amount of deviation and then go quiet until the end of the auction. Auction extensions would only be an annoyance in this case.

But, not everyone is a rational bidder in real life. So now what happens? Well, let's see.

The players:

Rational bidders (we know what they are).

Nibblers/Snibblers = Those who don't bid their "one-true-max-bid", and treat their bids as a normal live auction, only bidding enough to outdo the previous bidder's maximum bid.

Shill bidders = Illegal bidding by seller and/or agents to drive up price artificially.

Snipers = Rational bidders who bid late in the auction to prevent retaliatory bidding by irrational/illegal bidders outlined above.

Note that rational and sniper bidders use ebaY's proxy bidding system as it was designed to work. It's fool proof and works perfectly. It's no different than if you hired/sent a proxy agent to a live auction house to do your bidding in your absence.

Auction/bidder match ups (assume no errors in listing/finding auction, outcome is typical for normal auctions, and outcomes compared to rational vs. rational bidder auctions):

Case 1:
Rational vs. Rational, R vs. Sniper, S vs. S -- Same outcome as if all bidders are rational - auction ends at market value in most cases.

Case 2:
Rational vs. Nibbler/Snibbler, N vs. N -- Depends on motivation of Nibbler - Below market value if not aware/willing to pay market value, above market value if bidding man/womanhood. Getting something for a "steal" is more rare. Tends to drive ending price up.

Case 3:
Nibbler vs. Shill, Rational vs. Shill -- Above market values.

Case 4:
Nibbler vs. Sniper -- At market value or below. (Nibbler whines about "their" auction being stolen (side effect of subconscious knowledge that they're a loser/dufus/dweeb who doesn't know/like the rules of the game).

Case 5:
Shill vs. Sniper (if at all) -- At or below market value, but below market values may be somewhat higher than straight rational bidding would result. Note that shill bidding is not an effective strategy here as seller risks eating the listing fees or exposing their shill account to unwanted scrutiny by other bidders, so this is not a common scenario.

So what happens if you add auction extensions?

1. Rational bidders no longer have any method to protect themselves from predatory/illegal bidders (sniping)-- Average auction ending bid prices go up, with an additional side effect of a larger standard deviation spread. Also, rational bidders leave, as they don't want to be taken advantage of. Result = ebaY goes to H*ll in a hand-basket.

2. Everyone goes crazy (both buyers and sellers) because they never know when an auction is really ended.

Note that I'm not going to analyze other rule changes like only allowing a *single* bid, sealed bid format auctions, etc.

The point here is that the real issues of ebaY have to do with the fact that not all bidders are rational or legal, and not all sellers are honest/ethical. Note that ebaY doesn't want to change their system as it benefits them if the non-rational bidders are present, as it drives up the ending price, and fees are based on that ending price. That's why ebaY does little tricks like sending an email if someone else bids close to your own proxy bid to entice non-rational bidders to re-bid (what, you didn't bid your "one-true-max-bid"? Sucker...)

So, consider the side effects for changing a rule to "fix" a particular bidding system.

Tony.


#17

Sbirdsan,

Just a few thoughts to your wel laid out game theory, based on the premise (point 1) that all people are rational all the time.

I think this is the very crux - people are not 100% rational 100% of the time. (IMHO - thankfully). Examples are the World Financial Markets, the effectivness of advertising for identical things like brand drugs vs generics, the price differential between japanese cars and german cars, despite the former winning almost every maintenance/repair contest, the proven inequity towards gains and losses (the latter being felt almost twice as strong as the former. E.g. - I give you 100 USD out of my pocket and offer you a bet to win 1000 with ods 1:10. Most people take the bet. However if I just offer you the bet, you would not take it, even at much better ods, say 1:3)

And last but not least prices of a couple 100 Euro for outdated calculaters (or rare paintings or jewelery for girlfriends/wifes for a happy smile on their face with a hug and kiss. Priceless.)


As for eBay, I think this is an interesting question with the outcome not clear to me.

Looking at our HP auctions, where 90% of the price action happens in the last 10 minutes, I think it is fair to say that final prices would be 10%-20% higher under a "cool off period" system. This would be welcomed by sellers and not liked by buyers.

eBay's revenues are proportional to finall selling price. With a profit margin of 50%, an increase in finall selling price by 10% would mean an increase of profits by 20% for 0 additional work/cost. Not bad.

However the other side is number of auctions. The question here is if such a system would attract fewer buyers, lowering the number of auctions and partially or fully offsetting the effect of the above.

Knowing that eBay is struggling to keep its revenue growing (see their latest announcments etc) with the US and German market moving towards saturation, I'm sure they have looked at this proposition many times and concluded that it is not in their best busines interest.

Anyway, just a few thoughts.

Cheers

Peter


#18

Sbirdsan,

Just a few thoughts to your wel laid out game theory, based on the premise (point 1) that all people are rational all the time.

I think this is the very crux - people are not 100% rational 100% of the time. (IMHO - thankfully).

Agreed. Which is why I then outlined the way things really are. Note that it’s mostly the nibblers and sellers who advocate auction extensions. Nibblers are unwilling to learn/use the proxy bidding system as it was designed. Note that it doesn’t matter *when* you place a proxy bid, but the amount (ties go to first bidder though). And no one knows whether the winning bidders’ maximum bid reserve was just a single bid increment more than the second highest bidders maximum bid or BIGNUM more. And sellers are mostly interested in the profit they make and listing conveniences. Further, there would be no protection against shill bidding for rational bidders, which is why they would end up not using the auction service any more.

As for eBay, I think this is an interesting question with the outcome not clear to me.

Looking at our HP auctions, where 90% of the price action happens in the last 10 minutes, I think it is fair to say that final prices would be 10%-20% higher under a "cool off period" system. This would be welcomed by sellers and not liked by buyers.

Exactly. The whole reason for late bidding is for good reason. Rational bidders don’t like to deal with the side effects of irrational bidders or illegal bidding. There are other auction sites that do use auction extensions, but they are not nearly as successful as eBay.

Note that eBay changed their bidding activity display pages for active auctions to *show* maximum proxy bid values for those who have been outbid. This was not done for a long time prior to late last year. They used to only display the bidder’s name and time of each proxy bid placed, and only the present “holding bid” by the present bid leader. The actual maximum proxy bids were only displayed once the auction ended. So why did they change this? Without showing each maximum under bidder’s proxy bids, when the page was loaded, you got different present bid results, depending on when you loaded/refreshed the page. Those who haunted the page constantly would get more information than someone checking the auction occasionally. This puts those without the time/energy at a disadvantage to other bidders with more time on their hands. Also, illegal bidding was harder to spot during an auction. Such shenanigans could only be properly assessed after the auction ended. This change is especially helpful to a rational bidder.

However the other side is number of auctions. The question here is if such a system would attract fewer buyers, lowering the number of auctions and partially or fully offsetting the effect of the above.

Knowing that eBay is struggling to keep its revenue growing (see their latest announcments etc) with the US and German market moving towards saturation, I'm sure they have looked at this proposition many times and concluded that it is not in their best busines interest.

Well, think about it. EBay doesn’t make changes without careful analysis before implementation. R&D costs money. So does losing quality bidders. Each tweak is designed to keep both bidders and sellers happy enough to keep playing the game. Note that rational bidders are at the core of eBay’s success. If they leave, then eBay will fade to a small shell of its present self. Rational bidders tend to have fewer auction result problems than irrational bidders. It is in eBay’s interests to have as few problem auctions as possible. Disputed auctions cost eBay money- either in customer service overhead, or lost revenues due to buyers leaving due to bad experiences.

They could have set things up as a single sealed bid auction format. But they didn’t. They also setup the rules under the premise that the auction bidding system runs 24 hours/day, 6.9+ days/week. And they knew that irrational bidding would help the bottom line. But they still have to protect the core bidders who are rational. So they have carefully balanced the auction rule structure to get the maximum bang for the buck.

sbirdasn.

#19

(If this hasn't been run already, I'd be surprised!)

A few possible answers:

a) 12:
One to screw it in, and eleven to argue about which model HP should re-release.

b) can't be done:
Classic calculators don't have back-lighting.

c) can't be done:
An LED isn't a "light bulb" and doesn't "screw in".

d) five:
One to screw it in and four more to express utter contempt at the lack of a large "Enter" key.

Others?

Edited: 3 May 2005, 11:01 a.m.


#20

1 other-brand user to hold the bulb lamp;

100 other-brand users to rotate the house around the bulb;

and a Forum contributor to compute other possibilities...

BTW, works only if the bulb is in the ground level d8^D

Cheers!

123456 to remove


Edited: 3 May 2005, 1:08 p.m.

#21

A.)One to say:
"This is a site dedicated to classic HP calculators, you should direct your questions to the forums at hp.com for help."

Often followed by a full answer to the original question and links to the appropriate supporting documents.

B.)One to screw in it and five to complain that the new bulbs don't always work even when they feel like they've been screwed in.

C.)One to screw it in and far too many others to rant about Coburlin charging too much for the superior vintage bulbs.

#22

I wonder why noone has complained about the quality of the switch that is supposed to turn on the light bulb. Probably turning off the clock will make the light work more reliably.


#23

#24

Just disassemlbe the switch and put some silicone grease in there--we would hate to see the classic light switch wear out :-)

#25

Hi all,

Nobody complained because the bulb switch has a red dot on it.

Etienne

#26

One (or many), to regret that “Reverse Polish Bayonet” (RPB) bulbs are no longer manufactured (see footnote below).

A second one to write a RPB bulb emulator, which closely resembles the original RPB bulb up to the lesser details.

A third one, using the IR port of an HP 48GX pointed to a legitimate working bulb, in order to extract the pertaining ROM contents
without getting into trouble with Edison copyrighted ideas and filament designs which, by the way, have not been disclosed yet.

A fourth one, to create a RPB bulb simulator which resembles the actual RPB bulb, but not so closely, to so avoid copyright issues.

An extra trio, analyzing how to port such emulator and simulator into a bulb-shaped device; instead of running them
in mainframes or workstations. (Skins, Linux adapters and KML files are discussed here).

Two more, to discuss floating-point and accuracy aspects of the abovementioned simulator.
(There is no point in discussing the emulator accuracy, of course).

Another one, starting an ambitious project known as “*screw”, which aims to create and profitably manufacture
universal, customizable bulbs.

An extra one, to present amazing and delightful RPB Challenges every month.

Three more, showing sophisticated and convoluted manners in which an HP12C may be programmed to fill the bulb’s role…

Note: RPB was a unconventional bulb system, based on the ideas of a master (may I say “bright”?) lightsmith from Poland;
such system is deemed as very efficient by the people that got used to it.
These persons claim that, once you learn RPB, it is very difficult to handle light bulbs in the traditional manner.
For instance, instead of just screwing a bulb in a socket, an RPB is installed by putting the bulb and the special RPB socket
in a mounting fixture (such arrangement is called “the stack”).
Once both items are on the proper stack locations, a button is pushed, causing the bulb and socket to get mated.
In case the user realizes he/she made a mistake, a “Last Bulb” button could be pressed, enabling the user to retry the operation.

The beauty in this approach is that the user starts by putting the bulb and the socket together,
"before" making the connection (that is the way you learned to install bulbs in school, after all).
The installation occurs "after" putting them together.
Regular systems set the bulb, installation operation and socket in a left-to-right order, which may be ambiguous and confusing.
The argument used to justify this later arrangement (“as written in paper”) is misleading and meaningless.


#27

Observations on the bulb install:

1. There'd be no 'missed-switch' issues, as the room would remain dark, so you'd know.

2. Would the switch be mounted at an angle on the wall?

3. Would the switch be located in the traditional place on the wall, or perhaps relocated to a lower corner, say next to the electrical outlet?

4. Dismiss number 3 above, we could just ASSIGN it to a different switch.

5. Could we adjust keytime? I'd hate to flip the switch, and have the light flicker on and off three times.

6. Would the 'ON' text be injection molded, to ensure longevity?

That'll probably do :)
EL


#28

I'd like to experiment with wooden models of various switches, to see which shape is most comfortable.


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