Auction Podcast Episode 1 – AuctioneerTech

You’re listening to the AuctioneerTech Auction Podcast for the week of 8 September 2008.

AuctioneerTech – Technology, auctions and auctioneers – auction tech for the auction industry

Hello and welcome to the first episode of what I hope will be many podcasts covering technology, auctions, auctioneers and the auction industry. My name is Aaron Traffas and in this first episode I’ll talk a little about the plans for this podcast, it’s purpose, some of the challenges and how I’ll handle them, and end with a little about me. Since this first episode is really about setting the ground rules, I won’t be offended if you want to skip ahead to the meat of episode two, a primer on advertising for Internet only auctions.

It is my goal to spend five or ten minutes each week covering the top stories on auctioneertech.com. I’m going to do my best to try to relate what’s happening today in the worlds of gadgets and software to the worlds of gavels and box lots. I’ll review new services and software, tell you how to use some of the newest gadgets, provide tips on how to build more accessible and usable websites, and discuss marketing theory with regard to all the new venues that the Internet provides us as auctioneers. I have many friends and acquaintances in the auction industry and I eventually would like to ask many of them to join me to discuss some of the things that they do and the products and services that they use, since I don’t have the opportunity to use all of the offerings and products available in a real auction situation.

There are many challenges relating auctioneers to technology. The auction profession is a grand, time-honored profession with many of the greatest auctioneers having never used a computer until very recently. Even those auctioneers who recently began using the Internet may have difficulties relating the new benefits it provides to the profession that has continued to serve them well for decades.

On the other end of the spectrum, many of the new members of the profession have grown up using computers and already have a solid understanding of technology but may be looking simply for better ways to use that technology to help them be better auctioneers.

I’ll try to accommodate all auctioneers on this podcast. The wide range of experiences gives me license to cover just about anything, and indeed I’ll be covering some fairly low-hanging fruit at times because I don’t feel solid about talking about using a product that I haven’t explained in full. However, there will also be episodes where we’ll get into some higher level theory and techniques. As on auctioneertech.com, when I introduce a new term, I’ll try to throw out a quick definition or explanation and perhaps include a reference for more information in the show notes or at the end of the podcast.

I’m not actively soliciting advertising or sponsors for this podcast. While it seems initially that it will be a significant undertaking in both time and effort, unless it becomes wildly popular I don’t anticipate any out-of-pocket expenses for hardware or bandwidth. I will say that any sponsors I may accept will not be auction vendors. I want there to be no question of impropriety regarding the genuineness of my opinions regarding the topics that we’ll cover here.

I’m a strong believer in the National Auctioneers Association. While this podcast will cover current events and include some how-to episodes, it is not a replacement for the Auction Technology Specialist designation. If you want a solid understanding of how to generate leads, market assets, conduct auctions and build your customer community using modern techniques, from coursework written by many of today’s leading auctioneers in the field of auction technology, I strongly encourage you to enroll in the Auction Technology Specialist course offered by the NAA. You can find out more about this designation, as well as upcoming class dates and enrollment forms, at the NAA website at http://www.auctioneers.org.

Another great resource for information on auctions from auctioneers is the discussion forum offered by the NAA. It’s probably the greatest member benefit and it’s used by hundreds of auctioneers on a regular basis.

About me

Finally, I’d like to provide a little of my background. I’m a proud member of the National Auctioneers Association and the Kansas Auctioneers Association. I have recei ved the Certified Auctioneers Institute, Auction Technology Specialist and Certified Estate Specialist designations from the National Auctioneers Association Educational Institute and I’ve been asked to teach for both ATS and CAI. I’m currently serving on the Technology Committee for the NAA.

I’m a first-generation auctioneer from Sharon, Kan. I began my career in the auction industry while I was in college at Kansas State University in 2001, when I started working at Purple Wave Auction Co. in Manhattan, Kan., developing systems t o better handle the auction merchandise and our ever-changing inventory.

I’ve been involved with every aspect of the auction business, from setting up on-site estate auctions, to floor manager at our consignment operation, to Vice President of the company until the summer of 2007. I’m now VP Technology for Purple Wave, Inc., and I spend my time building the systems that we’re using to scale to multiple locations across the country.

Finally, I would like to mention that the views and opinions expressed on this podcast, like those at auctioneertech.com, are mine and mine alone or those of my guests, and not necessarily those of Purple Wave, the NAA, or the associated firms of guests I may entertain on this show.

That’s it for episode one. When I sat down to write it I expected to have trouble coming up with enough content, but it seems that wasn’t a problem. Hopefully future episodes will be as verbose.

You’ve been listening to the Auction Podcast from AuctioneerTech. If you have suggestions, questions or comments, or are interested in being a guest, please let me know by going to http://www.auctioneertech.com/feedback and leaving a message. You can also post public comments about this or any other episode, as well as find show transcriptions, on the auction podcast page of auctioneertech.com.

Thank you for listening. Now go sell something.

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Proxibid on Chrome

Image representing Proxibid as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

My friend and fellow auctioneer Don Hamit pointed out to me at the KAA auctioneer contest yesterday that the recently-released Chrome doesn’t work with the recently-funded real-time Internet bidding platform Proxibid. I was able to get the Proxibid Bidder App to run in Chrome on XP and Vista. Here’s how to get it, and other Java applications, to run on Chrome.

Java is a browser add-on that functions as a virtual machine. It’s a way for programmers to write code for an interpreted environment which in tern can be installed on multiple devices, operating systems and browsers. Rather than writing specific code for IE on Windows and then starting from scratch to write code on Safari on Mac, a programmer can choose to write an application in Java and have it run in the Java environment on multiple platforms.

Chrome doesn’t work with any current version of Java. In order to get Java applications to run on Chrome, you have to download a pre-release, or beta, version of Java called Java SE 6 update 10 RC.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed it, the only other difference between Chrome and other browsers I’ve used is that Chrome treats the Java .jnlp file as a download rather than something that can be automatically executed. That only means that you have to open the file once it’s downloaded. I was able to simply click on the file at the bottom of the screen to get it to run in XP. In Vista I had to click the arrow to bring up the menu and then select ‘run’.

If you have other difficulties with Proxibid or find other applications that don’t work in Chrome other than the previously-mentioned Secunia web scan, let me know in the comments.

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Twitter keeps friends and followers up to date

Twitter logo

Twitter logo

Twitter is a popular social network that can be called micro-blogging.

Think of it as a way to post updates about what you’re doing. These updates can be sent by text message to update your status on twitter.com. Through the use of various plugins, you can incorporate these status updates into Facebook, MySpace, WordPress, Friendfeed and many other websites and website-management systems. I have Twitter integrated with Facebook and my website so that every time I tweet it updates my Facebook status and my website.

You can also use Twitter as a messenger service of sorts, using its ability to send direct messages to other users.

Twitter is simple to use. Simply create an account, enter your mobile number, and Twitter will send a text message to you. When you reply, you’ve authorized your phone so that every time you send a message to that number it will update your Twitter page – this process is called “tweeting” or posting a “tweet”.

You can use Twitter effectively without the text messaging part, but it’s not nearly as fun. They do have applications for all operating systems as well as a Firefox plugin, but nothing seems to be as cool as the phone integration.

As a Twitter user, the two numbers that you grow are “followers” and “following”. “Following” describes those other users to whose updates you subscribe and “followers” describes those users who subscribe to your updates. As of today, the leader on Twitter is Barack Obama who has 76,691 people following him, followed by Digg founder Kevin Rose who has 62,679 followers. I think I have 25. :-[

The take away is that Twitter can be used as a bulk text messaging service. If your followers have device-updates enabled, each time you tweet they will get a text message with the contents of that tweet. Since they can follow you without turning on the phone updates, you don’t know how many people actually get a text message, but if your followers go to twitter.com they can see your status.

It took me a while to find the value in Twitter. Since the people I initially followed didn’t know me, it kind of felt like I wasn’t involved with the community. Over the last six months that I’ve been using it, I’ve convinced some of my friends to join and so now the updates I receive and send become much more relevant. It’s quite fun and makes quick updates to websites very easy.

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Live blog – Kansas Auctioneer championship

8:30am
Just passed Junction City, KS, on I-70 headed to the KAA bid-calling championship at the fair. I’ll be updating this post in real time today so long as I have a charge on my phone, so check back regularly.

Waiting in the green room to be called in for the interview

Waiting in the green room to be called in for the interview

10:30am
I made it here to find Alan VanNahmen, Jeff Ruckert, Megan McCurdy and an auctioneer from northwest Kansas named Lance all loitering around waiting to draw for order. I’ll post an updated roster and the order after we draw.

11:00am
We 19 contestants have drawn our order and are waiting to interview. I drew number 6. I think it was really a 9 but peer pressure said otherwise.

11:50am
I’ve completed the interview portion. I’ll post the questions after everyone’s done. I feel solid about my performance. While we wait, here is the list of contestants in alphabetical order.

Milling around the merchandise at 1:30pm

Milling around the merchandise at 1:30pm

Byron Bina – Herington
Eric Bloomquist – Assaria
Eric Boone – Yates Center
Charly Cummings – Yates Center
Kevin Ediger – Windom
Greg Foote – Bucyrus
Lance Kinderkneckt
John Kisner – Hays
Tom Lindsay – Shawnee
Megan McCurdy – Wichita
Aaron McKee – Manhattan
Ty Mitchell – Oxford
Dennis Oller – Turon
Jeff Ruckert – Manhattan
Glen Suppes – Lindsborg
Jayton Tautfest – Park City
Jeff Temme – Petersburg, NE
Aaron Traffas – Sharon
Alan VanNahmen – Manhattan

…more in a few minutes.

1:30pm
We’re milling around, perusing the merchandise, waiting for the contest to start at 2 p.m.

Byron Bina, Aaron McKee, Megan McCurdy

Byron Bina, Aaron McKee, Megan McCurdy

2:40pm
I just finished competing. now I wait to see if I make finals. There are some great auctioneers here, so it’s anyone’s guess.

3:46pm
I made finals…already sold again, better than first round…happening fast…results soon…

4:07pm
Here are your results.

  1. Byron Bina
  2. Aaron McKee
  3. Megan McCurdy
  4. Charlie Cummings
  5. John Kisner

9:33pm
Fixed formatting

10:45pm
Added pictures

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Secunia checks your PC for vulnerabilities

Secunia

Image via Wikipedia

The tubes are full of baddies. It’s not enough anyomore to simply install an antivirus package and pay your yearly virus tax. Antivirus is becoming outdated. Granted, it’s still a requirement for all but the most elite computer users, but in the time of the always-on Internet connection we need to protect ourselves against all kinds of attack vectors. An attack vector is a means by which someone or some automated program can compromise and, in the worst cases, gain access to an innocent user’s computer or network.

As today’s software becomes larger and as release cycles become shorter, there are security holes in everyday packages like browsers (IE, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Chrome), add-ons (Flash, PDF readers, Java machines), utilities (OpenOffice, Microsoft Office, Picasa) and even the operating system itself (Linux, OSX, Windows).

Maintaining a constant watch over all of the programs that you may or may not even know you have installed can be a daunting task. Luckily, for the majority of you who are Windows users, a product called Secunia can help put your mind to rest.

Secunia offers three levels of protection. The first level, which is a no-brainer for everone, is a free web scan. Simply launch your Java-enabled browser and it will scan 70 common programs to be sure they’re up to date. If it finds a program that’s not the most current version, it lists it and provides links to explanations of the vulnerabilities in that older version. I wasn’t able to get the program to run under Chrome. Since Chrome requires the latest Java 6 update 10 release candidate, it’s not all that surprising that it doesn’t support everything we throw at it. Just run Secunia’s online scan in IE for now to check your system.

The second level of protection is their PSI – Personal Software Inspector. The PSI is a free-for-personal-use application you download and install. It scans for over 6,900 possible programs to be sure all the software on your computer is up-to-date.

The third level of protection is for business and is called the NSI – Network Software Inspector. It makes it easy to maintain the same level of updates as the PSI but on a multiple-system scale. It costs $30 per system per year.

I pride myself on keeping my software, nearly all of which is open-source, up to date. I have yet to run a scan on a machine where Secunia didn’t tell me at least one package was vulnerable. I’ll admit the business solution is a little steep for the average business, but the web scan is something that you should do right now and once every month. It’s free and crazy-easy and is one more asset in the reponsible computing tool belt.

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