Redbeacon wins TechCrunch50

Held every year in San Fransisco, the TechCrunch50 Conference showcases the best and brightest startups. We wrote about the 2007 winner, Mint, which this week announced that it has been acquired by Intuit for $170 million.

The experts panel this year included tech and investor rockstars including Kevin Rose, Robert Scoble, Marissa Mayer, Yossi Vardi and Tim O’Reilly – to name a few.

This year’s winner was Redbeacon. Here’s the company’s description from the TechCrunch50 website.

Redbeacon allows consumers who need a service performed to find and interact with local businesses and professionals.

Redbeacon goes beyond returning business listings with ratings and reviews by helping consumers determine the right service provider for their specific needs and allowing them to compare price quotes and book appointments online.

Watch their presentation.

The runners-up.
Threadsy – runner-up
Citysourced -second runner-up
AnyClip – third runner-up
Trollim – Best international
iMo – Best presentation

The blogs will be lit up tomorrow with gossip about founder Michael Arrington’s fit-throwing and stage-leaving episode immediately before the finalists were announced. We’ll be reading with popcorn.

It’s always good to stay abreast of what new and exciting companies may change the way we live. Did you have other favorites from TechCrunch50? Let us know in the comments.

Posted in services, software | Tagged , , , , |

Opera 10 module 9 error solved

Image via Wikipedia

We love us some Opera. We’ve been advocating the Opera 10 web browser since the first alpha version was released last December. We even wrote about it in March. We’ve been faithfully using it through the beta releases and release candidates. The final version was recently released and it’s stellar.

Today, we were routing out a fairly pernicious installation of – what else – Adobe Flash on one of our Windows 7 test machines and decided to reinstall Opera 10. After removing and reinstalling, we were presented with the following error message.

Error initializing Opera: module 9

We tried several times to clean out whatever remnants of previous installations might be causing problems, as well as a fair amount of Googling to find resolutions to the problem but our efforts were to no avail. We finally found a post on the My Opera community forums where user markcs pointed us in the right direction.

The solution lies in the operaprefs_default.ini file that can be found in your installation directory. Ours is located at

c:Program Files (x86)Operaoperaprefs_default.ini

After our fresh installation, the file contained the following lines.

[User Prefs]
Language File=C:Program Files (x86)Operalocale\.lng

The language file needs to be specified. Adding ‘en’ in two places in the line fixes the problem like so.

[User Prefs]
Language File=C:Program Files (x86)Operalocaleenen.lng

Hopefully this patch works for you if you experience the Opera 10 module 9 error on Windows 7. Remember, this is apparently a rare issue with the Windows version of an otherwise trouble-free, lightning-fast, feature-complete browser that you should take for a spin if you haven’t already.

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Auction Video Podcast Episode 4 – Benefit Auction Lifetime Experiences

Brendan Lillis talks with Aaron Traffas from AuctioneerTech about Benefit Auction Lifetime Experiences. Recorded at the 60th International Auctioneers Conference and Show in Overland Park, Kansas, on 18 July 2009.

Posted in Podcasts | Tagged , , |

LiveAuctioneers releases BlackBerry application


image from

In July, Internet bidding provider LiveAuctioneers announced the release of an iPhone application that allows its users to view auction inventories as well as to participate in auctions by placing pre-auction Internet bids.

Yesterday, LiveAuctioneers announced the release of an application for BlackBerry devices that has similar functionality but, unlike the iPhone application, is free to download and use.

While some other auctioneers attempt to deliver their bidding pages  so that they render easily in mobile browsers, LiveAuctioneers is instead developing applications that run natively on the devices. This approach has the benefit of creating a more controlled user experience for the supported devices. Unfortunately, it only works for supported devices. We still haven’t seen any provider release an application for Windows Mobile or the Palm Pre, though we’re guessing someone’s working on it.

Here’s the BlackBerry release.

NEW YORK – Following closely on the heels of its revolutionary iPhone application (“app”) with auction-bidding capability, LiveAuctioneers App Technologies has announced the release of a similar product for Blackberry devices. The new Blackberry “app” has the capability to connect users with catalogs from any auction house utilizing’s Internet-bidding services. Additionally, it is the first Blackberry app to enable absentee bidding through LiveAuctioneers. It also includes an auction archive search function for accessing prices achieved in past sales.

The app is compatible with all current Blackberry models – Bold, Storm, Curve, Pearl Tour and 8800 series – and supports all major Blackberry service providers.

“We fully expect that Blackberry users within the fine art and antiques community will embrace this innovative technology, which includes immediate access to any auction catalog listed on LiveAuctioneers and the ability to leave absentee bids through our Secure Bidder Network (SBN),” said LiveAuctioneers LLC’s CEO Julian R. Ellison “With SBN functionality, which is unique to LiveAuctioneers, your absentee bid is kept private and unknown to anyone until auction day, when it goes direct to the auction house.”

Ellison said he placed top-priority status on the development of the iPhone and Blackberry apps because he wanted both to be finalized and available for download in advance of the fall auction season.

“From conversations we’ve had with auctioneers who use our services, we believe the next quarter may be the busiest ever for LiveAuctioneers,” Ellison said. “Some very exciting sales are going to be announced, and now with the addition of our new apps, auction houses will see bids coming in from all directions. There’s no reason why anyone should miss out on bidding now that our app technology is so widely available.”

The LiveAuctioneers app for Blackberry devices is free of charge and can be downloaded by visiting

Have you tried either of the mobile bidding applications from LiveAuctioneers? Let us know it worked in the comments.

Posted in announcements, gadgets, services | Tagged , , , , , , , |

Don’t penalize Internet buyers

Our friend John Schultz wrote a great blog post this morning about the importance of ensuring that registration requirements were similar for Internet bidders and live bidders. He describes the effect of restricting Internet bidders as follows.

John Schultz

Auction companies need to apply the same set of registration terms to both online and onsite bidders. In fact, approving an online bidder to participate in your auction that has a history of purchasing and paying for items is safer than handing bidding numbers out to anyone that produces a valid photo ID in person. By overly restricting online buyers, auctioneers are dampening the impact online buyers will have on the bottom line of an auction, and are not serving the seller’s best interest.

We completely agree. We’d like to take that thought a step further, however, and say that there should not be a difference in cost between bidding live and using Internet bidding.

Many auctioneers charge a higher buyer’s premium to Internet bidders, usually because there is a sell-through percentage charged to the auctioneer by some Internet bidding providers. The sell-through percentage is a fee charged by some bidding providers that is a percentage of each item sold to Internet buyers. Most auctioneers elect to pass that sell-through percentage on to the buyers.

Here’s the problem. A higher buyer’s premium charged to Internet bidders is absolutely a penalty for placing Internet bids as opposed to placing bids at the auction. The incentive is to not place Internet bids, and the bottom line of the auction suffers.

How, then, can an auctioneer pay for the sell-through percentage charged by the Internet bidding provider if he uses a provider with such a fee structure? Is it simply a cost of doing business like credit card fees? Should it be passed to the seller?

The majority of the costs of conducting an auction are incurred because of the live bidders. The live bidders require bathrooms. The live bidders require labor to clean the auction location. The live bidders require paying a ring staff, bid callers, cashiers – all sorts of expenses that are in addition to and greater than the after-auction labor involved with handling the Internet bidding. With this regard, it absolutely makes sense to increase the buyer’s premium for live customers at least to match that premium incurred by Internet bidders.

Auctioneers who figure out how to make not only buyer registration requirements the same but also make sure that there is no financial penalty for placing Internet bids will see more participation from Internet bidders and do a better job for their sellers.

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