YOIS News Archive

10/29/2017And back again.
10/21/2017I have company visiting for the next week, and I won't be able to fill orders, so the Shoppe is temporarily closed. Sorry for any inconvenience.
03/25/2017Any Shoppers going to Midwest Gaming Classic in two weeks? I'm considering it. An opportunity to meet with some fellow collectors would definitely influence my decision. Let me know.
03/18/2017Sorry for the delay, everyone. I finally got around to listing some of the stuff I've accumulated over the past few months. Lots of WWII and other historical simulations this time. There's more (there's always more) but I need to list some non-Shoppe stuff on my Bonanza page first. My basement is starting to look like one of those hoarding shows and I'm trying to stave it off while there's still time.
02/14/2017Just in case anyone wasn't aware of this and wanted to support a former Infocom Implementor, Bob Bates has a Kickstarter project for a new text adventure game. The goal is already met but it's still got about a week to go.
02/12/2017I've finally found the time to post this after my January trip. I didn't mention it in advance because I didn't want to announce my absence to the whole world. Too many stories about people broadcasting on social media when they won't be at home, so it's a great time to break in. This is as close as I get to social media, but still. Not that I suspect any of my fellow collectors would ever do that (maybe Eyal Katz) but it's the Internet and you never know who else is reading except probably someone from the government.

Anyway, I took a week-long trip to upstate New York (paid a little extra and risked a tight connection at O'Hare to avoid a stopover in Detroit), and one of the prominent stops was the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester. I spent a full day in their archives, going through the internal Sierra On-Line materials on loan from Ken and Roberta Williams themselves, my excited collector hands in white cotton gloves so I wouldn't drip sweat all over the unique documents. I got to read some of Roberta's original design notes on the early King's Quest games, The Black Cauldron, The Colonel's Bequest, and the master shooting script for Phantasmagoria complete with notes and excised scenes. They also had a letter to the Williamses from Steve Wozniak, some photos of the Sierra founders from the company's early days, and a rare copy of the single-issue On-Line Newsletter from June 1981 (which I can't help pointing out that mine is in better condition).

I took photos of some of it, and most of them came out acceptable even with my low-end point-and-shoot. Unfortunately they have you sign an agreement that any pictures are for your personal use and won't be distributed elsewhere, so I can't post the zip for download here, but if anyone stopping by the physical Shoppe wants to take a look I'd gladly share them in person. The Strong is pretty protective of the materials it hosts - In addition to the aforementioned archival gloves, I wasn't allowed to use any ink pens (pencil only, which they provided) and had to disable the flash on my camera. Other than that they pretty much left me to myself to pore over the materials. I found the lighting at the viewing tables to be adequate but it's a little better directly above the reception counter, so I carried a few of the more interesting pieces over there to photograph them.

If you're going to be in that area I highly recommend making time to see all of this yourself. You can find their list of available materials and make arrangements to see them on The Strong's library page. Julia Novakovic is the archivist I worked with; let her know I sent you, and I'd be happy to provide you with the materials list I put togehter to save you the time of recreating it yourself. I suggest allocating at least two days - I spent so much time in the archives that I only had about an hour left to enjoy the museum itself, which showcases a staggering number of toys and games from the 1800s to the present. In the display cases I spotted a couple of Infocom folios and some other titles that I've had in the Shoppe. It's heartening to know that people care about these games enough to include them in a museum.

Jon-Paul Dyson, one of the other curators, told me that they had just received all of Brian Fargo's design notes and were still in the process of cataloguing them, so I may be taking another trip back in a couple of years to examine those. The museum even had a copy of the rare 1981 Saber Software release of Demon's Forge which was Fargo's first game, which explains why such an obscure title was so prominently featured. It was in pristine condition, so it was almost certainly an unsold copy Fargo himself had held onto over the years, similar to the unnumbered extra copies of Akalabeth that Richard Garriott gave away to a few people a decade or so ago.

The rest of the trip involved a drive across the state to see a friend, stopping at every retro game store and game-themed business I could find along the way. I ended up mailing three boxes of stuff back to myself, not much of it particularly rare or valuable, but things I couldn't pass up at that price. Just before I flew out I received a bunch of buy-one-get-one-free Subway coupons, so I took them along and ate as cheaply as I could, subsisting on a diet almost exclusively of Subway sandwiches. Exactly like Jared except for the secretly being a child molester part. In Rochester I do suggest the Swillburger, a combination arcade/bar set up in what used to be a church. (I don't normally post sociopolitical views here but I've long felt this country needs fewer churches and more game-related businesses.) The game selection was decent, though not as big as the Analog Arcade Bar in the Quad Cities and nowhere near Galloping Ghost in Brookfield. They did have the best fried chicken sammich I've had in a while.

If you're planning a trip to The Strong next year or in 2019, let me know your schedule and maybe we can meet up. I've heard Stanford has the bulk of the Infocom collection so I'd like to eventually check that out as well. I'm also going to Midwest Gaming Classic again in April.

There's one other thing coming out this year that I want to post about... but I can't just yet. As soon as I get the okay from the lawyers I'll announce it here.

New Shoppe items going up soon, and hopefully I'll get that last Personal Software Zork posted to BetterThanTheBay as well.

12/31/2016Just mopping up a few things before the year officially ends:

I've essentially accomplished what I was hoping to do this year. The Vault is up to date, with the exception of a few boxes of non-game items that don't fit easily on my shelves, and the rest of the Langosy items I still need to pick through. And I'd like to take an updated picture but there's still a bit too much stuff in the way. My 2017 goal (I won't use the "R" word) is to get my wanted list current again. I think it's been a good decade since I touched it last.

Does anyone know of a place that sells acid-free plastic storage bags larger than 16.25 x 10.5? Those are sometimes called "treasury bags" and are the largest size I've ever found, but I have a few oversized items (Starcross saucer, Suspended mask box and the Digital Infocom folio releases for DECmate and DEC Rainbow) that don't fit them.

I've heard from two people for whom the Shoppe site is not working at all. They say that no matter what page they try to access, they only get a blank browser window. I have not been able to reproduce this issue. If you encounter it, please let me know at yois@if-legends.org. (Might want to grab that address and save it somewhere in case this starts happening to you.)

Recently I played through the King's Quest reboot and had a pretty good time with it. It was obvious the developers loved the original series, and they worked in a lot of obscure references, my favorite being the "impossible riddle" which I assume refers to guessing the old gnome's name in the first game. And it may be just my imagination, but I swear the blacksmith lady was modeled after how Roberta Williams looked in the 1980s. It was a nice blend of traditional LucasArts-style point and click and the choice-driven narratives popularized by Telltale.

I realize that serial games tend to get some criticism because the choices players make don't truly affect the direction the story takes, but I tend to view them the same way as real life: In cosmic terms, nothing we do matters. In a few billion years the sun will bloom into a red giant and either scorch or entirely engulf the earth, the universe will continue without us, and it won't matter what we did in our lives. But it has meaning to us now, as we're living them. I see Telltale games as being like that. Your choices are important to you when you first play the game. It's only after you start looking at the big picture of how the game works that you realize you didn't really have that much of an impact. (I know some people who can't bring themselves to play those games more than once, because they feel it would cheapen the decisions they made.) Even the text parser games of yore followed a predetermined plot.

I keep hoping someone will eventually do something interesting with the Zork IP. It would be a shame to have its last gasp be a crappy free-to-play browser game.

January is shaping up to be a busy month, so I might close down the Shoppe until I have time to handle things again. Have a safe and happy New Year, everyone.

12/16/2016Whilst toiling on my Vault Organization Project (I'm almost done with Infocom!) I noticed some of my box variations for Zork Nemesis and the Legacy Collection were incomplete. Because I take in loose parts whenever I can find them, I was able to pull an inner cardboard piece and a reprinted map out of existing Shoppe items. Ah, the benefits of compulsive hoarding.
12/10/2016If you live in Spain, France, Italy and possibly the U.K. and are willing to help me track down a few items, please get in touch with me. Nothing particularly rare, or even old, I'm just trying to plug a few gaps in my Activision-era Zork shelf. You'll be compensated for your efforts. Thanks in advance.
10/30/2016Yesterday I drove about an hour to pick up a trunkload of stuff from a guy who used to work for IBM and was looking to de-clutter his house a bit. I haven't gone through all of it yet, but there's a lot of original IBM promotional materials and old business software as well as games. Let me know if you're looking for something specific, and I'll let you know if I find it in the pile.

Update: Just to clarify, I was referring to the business software and IBM promotional materials, trying to gauge if there was any interest here for that. Any worthwhile games will eventually end up on the Shoppe or BetterThanTheBay.

10/23/2016Wow, over two months since the last update. Time flies when you're having fun and simultaneously dealing with annoying bullcrap. Quick rundown of all things C.E. and YOIS. This'll almost be like a mini Shoppe column:

AAA? More like FFF.

In August, following a reasonably successful Saturday of vintage game hunting in the west Chicago suburbs, wherein I scored an Infocom Science Fiction Classics triple pack (in the wild!) I went to meet my cousin for breakfast on Sunday morning, and my car broke down. Specifically, a U-joint on the front axle broke, rendering my 15-year-old Focus solidly undriveable.

I was a AAA member - emphasis on "was" - so I called them for a tow. AAA told me that the nearest garage that was open on a Sunday was 13 miles away and that there would be a surcharge because of the distance. I agreed to this, since it meant my car would at least be looked at that day, and possibly fixed soon enough to still get me home at a decent time, if I was lucky. But then you would have missed out on yet another tale of me receiving crappy customer service when I needed help the most.

It turned out that, even though I was told the garage was open that day, it was only the oil change mechanic on duty. There was no one there who could do more advanced repairs. Naturally I was pissed, because the only reason I chose to have the car towed 13 miles to that particular station was because I was led to believe that "open" meant there was somebody there who could actually look at my car. I don't think that was an unreasonable assumption on my part. (Is a restaurant "open" if there is someone there to walk you to a table and fill your water glass, but no one to cook food?)

So I ended up wasting $40 on a tow I didn't need and then piddling around half the day until someone actually bothered to tell me that there was no one who could help me. Ultimately my choices came down to: (1) leave the car there, spend money on a motel room, and wait for them to start working on it the next day, missing at least one day of work, possibly two, at my new job where I really didn't want to miss any work that soon after just starting it. (2) Rent a car and drive back home, except then I'd have to drive the rental car back, pick up my car, and drive my car back again, six additional hours of driving I didn't really have time for. Or (3) pay for a tow of my busted Focus all the way back to Peoria, which is the one I went with.

It was the least shitty of three extremely shitty options, and it wasn't cheap. Cost almost as much to tow it as it did to have it repaired. But I finally got back around six that night and got the car fixed two days later. (My mechanic place actually had mechanics.) And I was able to salvage some of the total cost. My insurance covers me for tows up to a certain amount, and I pestered AAA enough to reimburse me for the original $40 tow, plus the portion of the second tow that was due to their fuckuppery - they towed me 13 miles further away from Peoria, so I reasoned / nagged them into paying for 13 miles of the tow back.

But negative first impressions are very hard for me to shake off, and as a result (do I even need to say it?) I'm not a AAA member anymore. They've been sending me mail trying to get me to renew, and to sign up for their line of insurance, and I've been sending them back stamped with a middle finger shaped rubber stamp I acquired from a co-worker at a previous job. I call it the "birdie stamp." Real mature, I know. But it makes my feelings feel better.

If you're a AAA member, this could happen to you. It probably won't, and I hope it doesn't. But it could. Consider yourself cautioned.


The Most Expensive Free Game Console Ever

This one is shorter, I promise.

Literally five minutes before the car broke down, I had passed a house with a bunch of bags and boxes out on the curb, like the remnants of a garage sale that the owner didn't want to bother dumping off at Goodwill. Now I'm not above a little trash-pickin', and I could see from my driver's seat that the pile had an old game console in it. So I pulled up, got out, nabbed the console and spent a little more time going through the rest of the pile, but didn't find anything else. At the very next traffic light was when the car crapped out.

So, even though it was pure coincidence, in my mind I can't help thinking of it as the most expensive free game console I ever acquired. Still, I was able to sell it at the local flea market to recover a bit more of the car repair bill.


Various and Sundry Items

  • I went to Vintage Computer Festival Midwest 11.0 back in September and found some goodies, some of which will be listed here. There were several Infocoms, incomplete but cheap, that I almost bought up but wanted to look around a bit more first. When I went back later, somebody else had nabbed them, but I got a few things they didn't get! Spent a good half hour rummaging through a box of PDP materials. Still hoping to find a PDP-11 Zork some day.

  • The server on which YOIS is hosted recently underwent a migration. Everything seems to be working fine, but please email me if you encounter any issues.

  • I've finally had the time and energy to work on the Vault some more. Going through the Infocom shelves now, listing new stuff I've acquired (even though "new" in some cases doesn't really apply anymore). After that I've got my cassette games, several shelves and boxes of uncatalogued items, and ultimately my personal want list. Oh, and maybe a new picture, as the current one is from my old apartment which I haven't lived in for almost 10 years!


Which Brings Us to the Present, and Also the Past

Exactly 10 years ago today, my eBay account was hijacked by someone who used it to list a bunch of pirated DVDs. eBay caught the suspicious activity and locked the account until I called to confirm I was the actual owner, then they unlocked it again. However... The people who fixed my account did not report the hijacking to the VeRO (copyright infringement) department, so the next day my account was suspended because they believed I was the one who had listed the bootleg DVDs. All of my valid auctions were pulled from eBay with absolutely no warning, and I spent between 15 and 20 infuriating hours cleaning up eBay's mess.

I realized the exact same thing could happen to me again, at any time, without any warning, so I decided I was done with eBay. But I'm obsessive-compulsive and I mentally need closure, so I took steps to permanently delete my account. Due to eBay's incompetence, this took much longer than it should have, and eventually to amuse myself I started messing with the eBay support staff, wasting their time. The art of eBaiting was born. (Like scambaiting, but with eBay.) The concept never really took off like I had hoped it would, but I've maintained a steady trickle of emails from similarly dissatisfied eBay users over the years.

This is the important stuff: In honor of the 10th anniversary of eBaiting, Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe is having a special 10% off sale. The sale begins on October 26th, the 10-year anniversary of the day I originally put in the request to close my account, and ends on May 14th, 2017, the 10-year anniversary of the day my eBay account was finally closed. So, a 200-day sale. (Suck it, Black Friday!) The 10% discount applies only to the price of items where you make an offer which is automatically accepted by the Shoppe. That is, it does not apply to items where you make a lower offer and I later accept it manually, does not apply to item-for-item trades, does not apply to shipping costs, and does not apply to any BetterThanTheBay auctions... of which I do still have a number to list. Damn, the last few months have been distracting. The discount will be in the form of a PayPal refund, because that functionality isn't built into the site, and I haven't had time to code it.

And with that, I think we're caught up. Class dismissed.

08/10/2016Sometimes I feel the email scammers just aren't even trying anymore. I got one today of the "Amazing Thing" variety, which (presumably, I didn't open it) contained a sketchy link to some malware and a vague reference to something I'd "definitely enjoy." The best part was that it was sent by "Adam Trojanowski." Really, dude? Trojanowski? That's the surname you're going with? What's your girlfriend's name, Adam? Jennifer McKeylogger?

D-minus, but only because you made me chuckle.

08/09/2016This week the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) petitioned the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to consider making laws requiring companies to disclose on their products' packaging whether they contain any Digital Rights Management (DRM). I know, lots of 3-character acronyms, WTF? The EFF sent them a letter detailing 20 DRM horror stories from consumers, and one of the ones included was my very own Saga of the Failed License Transfer... or at least a very succinctly summarized version of it.

You can read the full letter on the EFF's page. Special thanks to author and EFF activist Cory Doctorow for helping consumers fight back against this sort of nonsense. Remember, never buy digital, only physical, because if you "buy" digital you don't actually own it.

I've got a bunch of stuff waiting in the wings including more YOIS stock, why AAA roadside assistance gets a triple-F-minus from me, and the story of the most expensive free game console I ever acquired. (The last two are tangentially related.) Not sure when I'll get it all posted, as No Man's Sky releases tomorrow. Naturally, I pre-ordered a physical copy.

07/22/2016I just listed a few Zork titles. More Shoppe goodies to come when I have time.

Speaking of time, please spend yours doing something else if you're the nardtard who keeps spamming me "Documents from work" and "Scanned image from copier" emails with the YOIS address spoofed. I'm never gonna fall for it. I don't send work stuff to my YOIS address, ever. If you really want to get me, send me an email whose subject says... OH HO HO, nice try! Almost had me there you clever bastard you.

I've also gotten a few of those scam phone calls from someone claiming to be with the U.S. Treasury, but it's always when I'm at work. If they ever call when I can answer, I'll record my interaction and post it here for your amusement. I have a character I've been working on. (Yeah, recording phone calls without consent is technically illegal in my state, but... what are they gonna do about it? "Help! Police! Someone recorded my attempted scam call!" Heh.)

07/17/2016Yesterday I learned that Retro-Tech, the electronics recycler where I'd occasionally find old software that people donated, is closing up shop for good. They were my last reliable local source for this stuff, and they were good people. I did buy one more bag from the pile of old software that they were kind enough to let me dig through, and will be listing some of that in the coming days... along with a bunch of other stuff I haven't gotten to yet. But it's a little depressing.

RIP, Retro-Tech. I'll miss you guys.

07/15/2016I just listed a stack of other loose game parts, mostly Wizardry-related. (Wizardry is not as widely collected as Ultima, so it doesn't get its own Parts Day.)
07/14/2016Happy Ultima Parts Day, everyone.
07/12/2016Wednesday is Ultima Parts Day at Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe: I'll be listing a ton of loose Ultima game parts, from manuals to reference cards to cluebooks to even a couple of cloth maps. Mark your calendars! (And if you're in Europe it'll probably be after midnight on Thursday morning... Sorry, time difference, and that's just when I get off work here in the States.)
06/26/2016I'm opening the Shoppe again, although I'm still kind of busy and there might be a delay in getting things shipped. Watch this page, as I'll be listing a bunch of new items in the coming days/weeks. I scored a huge box of Commodore stuff from a local source.

The issue with receiving PayPal emails, it turns out, was not actually with PayPal but with POBox.com, my mail-forwarding service. I'd been receiving a lot of spoofed PayPal emails lately and they were incorrectly flagging the valid ones as spam. That should be sorted out now. So, I apologize to PayPal for pegging them as the culprit. They didn't screw up... this time.

05/29/2016Okay, I think the issue with dollar amounts being formatted with a comma instead of a decimal has been resolved. Please let me know if you're trying to pay via PayPal and getting an error that the amount is incorrectly formatted. Speaking of PayPal, if I can just get them to fix the damn email notification issue on their end, I can reopen the Shoppe.
05/06/2016Among the many site issues I'm currently dealing with, I'm not receiving any PayPal payment notifications. If you send me a payment, please also send a separate message letting me know. My email address should be at the bottom of every YOIS page. I did some research (also known as "Googling") and I'm not the only person who is experiencing this issue, so it's definitely on their end.

I suspect their entire site is still a broken mess from all those years they were partnered with eBay. But then, my site is currently something of a broken mess as well, which means my web coding skills qualify me to work at PayPal. Dang. I should have applied when I was job-hunting earlier this year.

05/04/2016I just got done with some site maintenance. Please let me know if you encounter any error messages.
05/01/2016There have been a number of technical issues with the site lately and I've sort of been slammed with other things. So I'm temporarily shutting the Shoppe down until I can get things caught up. Feel free to go ahead and reserve items if there's something you want to buy, just be aware that I won't get around to shipping anything for probably a week or so. Appreciate everyone's patience.
04/30/2016Can somebody who's registered with BetterThanTheBay let me know if you received the auction reminder email I sent out yesterday? I've been having some trouble with mail I send from IF-Legends not getting delivered properly, and I'm trying to determine the cause.

Thanks.

04/29/2016My last Hitchhiker's Guide press kit and the Devil's Tower cover painting are ending in a couple of days. If you haven't bid on them yet, it's your last chance!
04/20/2016Well, it doesn't look like I'll be listing any more of the Activision-era Zork photo positives due to lack of interest. No bids yet on the Devil's Tower painting, despite a nice plug in an article about early game cover art. (Liza Daly... I know that name. Why do I know that name?) For the benefit of anyone new to YOIS, don't let my obnoxious BetterThanTheBay logo turn you off from bidding. It gets normal after you're signed up and signed in.
04/13/2016Just a reminder that BetterThanTheBay auctions are ending over the next week. I'll try to get a couple more things posted this weekend. Busy, and still recovering from surgery.
04/10/2016Ordinarily this would be the post wherein I detail my Midwest Gaming Classic experience, but... I ended up not going. Apologies to anyone who was hoping to meet up there. Next year for sure.

The reason I didn't go follows in my proud tradition of sharing way more personal medical info than most of my readers probably want to know. (Side note? Look at the date on that post, and then Google the date Facebook was originally founded. I was needlessly sharing personal details online well before the rest of the world started doing it.) My MGC absense was caused by a kidney stone that's been plaguing me for the past month. When the pain first hit - and I wouldn't wish that pain on anyone, not even Eyal Katz - the stone was identified as being 4mm in length and I was told that it would probably eventully pass. Over the next month I had about one flare-up a week, lasting no more than an hour, and I took painkillers to deal with those. I was planning to live with it until the stone passed normally.

Yesterday the pain hit, worse than ever, and it didn't go away. So I spent the night in the E.R. while they gave me a series of IV drips to try and flush the stone out. When it was still there this morning, they wheeled me up to surgery, where they performed a "ureteroscopy with laser lithotripsy" which is basically medical-speak for "They stuck a laser up my dick... and played Asteroids."

So that ended up being my classic gaming experience this weekend. I was the Asteroids cabinet. Fortunately, the doctors got the high score.

Heh. Once my drugs wear off, this post will probably be pretty embarrassing. But right now I just couldn't resist saying it.

04/02/2016I finally got around to recording and uploading my answering machine message for Thimbleweed Park. Yeah, I'm one of the voicemail backers. Assuming Ron Gilbert doesn't disallow my shameless capitalist pig-dog self-promotion, Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe will be immortalized in the game. I figure he owes me that much for all the time I spent trying to fix the "out of order" stairs in Maniac Mansion.
04/01/2016New BetterThanTheBay auctions are posted: Hitchhiker's Guide press kit, some variations on the usual Infocom sale sheets, and a piece of original TRS-80 game cover artwork.

I'm still experiencing possible issues with the USPS website, so the postage calculations given (for both BTTB and the Shoppe) may be reporting low. Feel free to email me for a quote.

03/21/2016Fixed. (The YOIS Canada issue with the USPS API. Not the USPS API itself. The USPS API is still broken and always will be.)
03/20/2016New BetterThanTheBay auctions have been listed, including a Trinity press release and Suspect press kit. Sorry about the delay... I start my new job on Monday and have been getting things wrapped up at the old one. I'm hitting Midwest Gaming Classic again this year, so let me know if you'd like to meet up. (I'll be the one in the YOIS T-shirt with the QR code on it.)

*sigh* It looks like the USPS's postage calculator is fighting with YOIS again. If it's quoting international shipping options for $0.00 or between $2 - $3, that's obviously not right. Let me know if this happens to you. So far it seems to be confined to Canada destinations. I'm looking into a fix.

Update: Okay I give up for now. I have an email in to their support.

I've identified the source of the problem: At some point the international rate calculator API started expecting the origin and destination postal codes for packages going to Canada. When I try to make an API call with a Canada destination, I get this error:

"The element 'Package' has invalid child element 'OriginZip'."

But if I leave OriginZip out, I am told:

"OriginZip is required when DestinationPostalCode and AcceptanceDateTime are populated."

And if I leave out DestinationPostalCode and AcceptanceDateTime, that's what leads to the $0.00 Priority Mail quote. So at this point my best guess is that it's a problem with the XML elements being in the wrong order. I've experienced that before, with the length-width-height issue a couple of years ago, which came dangerously close to making me mentally ill. I've said this before, but I despise the USPS's poorly-documented API. It is a beast of a bear of a BITCH to work with.

BetterThanTheBay uses the same API to calculate rates, so it's probably being affected too. Canadian bidders, please email me for shipping quotes. (Sorry, it's not free.)

02/25/2016So I finally rented and watched The Martian (I don't go to movie theaters anymore; long story) and was astonished to see a Leather Goddesses of Phobos reference in it. In a gag moment, Matt Damon's character finds the game on one of his fellow astronaut's laptops. Of course the film shows a graphical title screen, and it was an all-text game. It looks like the image was taken from the title screen from LGOP 2 and altered, removing the girls in the space car and the numeral "2" over Mars' moon, and enlarging the title itself.

It's weird, I can suspend disbelief when films flub computers in general, but it really bugs me when they take liberties with a classic game. I totally get it, they wanted a visual to go along with the game's title to make the bit funnier. But it's still a little irksome. Here's hoping Spielberg gets the details right with the Ready Player One movie.

02/21/2016I've relisted the previously unsold BetterThanTheBay auctions. More will be listed eventually, I promise, including that last Personal Software Zork. I think my quest for a different job is nearing the end, and that's what has taken priority for me lately.
02/09/2016Attention Infocomme Shoppers:

I fixed a couple of minor issues with the site, including a bug that was preventing some BetterThanTheBay user pages from displaying properly.

Things are finally starting to return to normalcy for me. I got a refund from the U.S. Postal "Service" for the damaged N64, though I had to file another credit card company dispute to get the postage back. In my claim I equated the USPS's actions - breaking an item they delivered and still charging me for the delivery - to a hypothetical restaurant where the server dropped my meal on the floor and then expected me to pay for it anyway. The credit card company ruled in my favor. Useful analogy to remember if you ever find yourself faced with this situation.

I may be close to landing a new job. I've had several promising interviews and have been offloading my current responsibilities, which makes me feel better knowing I won't be trapped there forever. I've also sold a ton of stuff through the Shoppe the last couple of weeks, and that extra income is helpful in spurring me to start picking up the BTTB auctions again. Just the basement is so damn cold right now. Frikkin' Illinois winters.

01/12/2016Sorry about the lack of updates. Between playing catch-up, the cold weather, a deep and soul-crushing dissatisfaction with work, and a tendency to escape into Fallout 4 because of that, I just haven't had the energy for any Shoppe work beyond fulfilling the regular orders.

There's another set of API changes coming from the U.S. Postal "Service", and I doubt I'll have time to do any testing before they go live. So if you get an error on the Shoppe's postage page, let me know and I'll weigh and quote manually until I can get a fix in. Wouldn't be the first time.

The quotes around "Service" are there because I have another story about them. So, did you know that the USPS can refuse to issue a refund if they overcharge you on postage? It's true. This happened during the Three Days of Icy Darkness, when the power went out and it was freezing. I had absolutely nothing else I could do, so I walked to the post office to mail a package -- I've had a lot of trouble with my garage door this year and didn't want to risk anything going wrong again by opening it manually to get my car out.

Anyway, I found out one of the automated kiosks at my post office had the scale incorrectly calibrated, and it was adding a few extra ounces. Unfortunately I didn't find out until after I'd already paid for and printed the postage. This was after-hours, so the next day I walked back again -- power still out -- and was told by the friendly uniformed cuntshrew that there were no refunds on postage... even though their machine was in error! I disputed the difference (not the full amount, that would be dishonest) with my credit card company, and they gave me an instant and automatic credit. Thank you, 800+ credit score.

Still waiting on the insurance claim for an N64 I sold and shipped that got smashed up in transit. When the buyer initially took it to his post office, they tried to tell him it wasn't insured... despite the fact that ALL Priority Mail now includes $50 in insurance, and I have the receipt specifically saying it did! Dirty, filthy, stinking, rotten, lying liars telling lies.

I'm seeing a lot of Craigslist ads for post office jobs lately. Maybe I should apply, and sabotage them from within. That would also solve my job dissatisfaction problem at the same time.

12/31/2015Ugh. Peoria got nailed on Monday with a massive ice storm that knocked out power all across the state. So, once again no progress on the Shoppe or auction front. I'll keep trying.

After three days and nights of freezing my ass off while bored out of my mind, I'm treating myself by turning the thermostat up to 88, which is as high as it goes. Either I time travel back to 1955 and meet my parents as kids, or I get to sleep nude with no covers in the middle of winter. Both good outcomes.

12/02/2015I suppose I owe everyone an update, as I'm starting to get people asking where I am. Apologies for the lack of response lately. Currently I'm right in the middle of what will most likely end with me switching jobs. So I need to get everything settled with the current one, and teach myself a few new skills in preparation for the new one.

Between that and the holidays, I know I'm not going to have time to prep and mail a bunch of additional packages, so I've set aside the auctions for now. (You may have noticed that the last set ended with no bids at all. That's partly because I didn't have time to promote them like I normally do.) Once things settle down, hopefully early next year, BetterThanTheBay will be back, with that Personal Software Zork I've been mentioning for so long.

In the meantime, everyone have a pleasant Holiday of your Choice.

11/09/2015I've listed a few BetterThanTheBay auctions - another set of sale glossies, an Infocom holiday card, and than damn damaged Dan Kitchen (say it three times fast) Crystal Caverns, which I suspect I'm going to end up stuck with until the day I die. I'll try to get some more rarer pieces up later this week. Last Thursday I got hit with either stomach flu or food poisoning, I'm still not sure which, or they would have been posted then.
11/04/2015Sorry for the delay, everyone. A couple of things came up that have held me back from updating the Shoppe. First were some issues with work. I'd better not say too much beyond that, since I'm sort of looking for a different job and don't want Google telling any prospective employers about me bad-mouthing my current one. That's a serious concern these days, and I've experienced the negative side of that before.

The second issue was, my digital camera died. So before I could take any more pictures of auction items, I had to research and find a new one I liked. I ended up going with a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W830 (man the cameras these days have catchy names) since it's an easy to use point-and-shoot, wasn't expensive and takes decent quality pictures, especially compared to the old HP PhotoSmart R717.


See?

New Shoppe items are now posted for sale (scroll down), and I'll get to BetterThanTheBay soon. I promise.

And since the holidays are barreling toward me faster than I'd like, here are the USPS's cutoff dates for guaranteed Christmas delivery:

  • Domestic (U.S.):
    • Parcel Post: December 15
    • Priority Mail: December 21
    • Express Mail: December 22
  • International:
    • Priority Mail: December 11
    • Express Mail: December 15


10/14/2015I'm sorry about the wait on the new auctions. The last couple of weeks at work have been stupendously awful, and I just haven't felt like dinking around on the computer even more when I get home. I'll get a few more things listed as soon as I feel up to it.
09/27/2015I'm back, everyone. I would have been back sooner, but... I got Super Mario Maker for Wii U, and it's been taking up a lot of my time. I've wanted to make my own Mario levels since 1989, when I first played the original on my cousins' NES. (My parents wouldn't buy me a game console. I had to save up my money and buy my first one myself a few years later. TurboGrafx-16, and I still have it.)

Back in the 1980s, there were two computer game creation tools into which I sunk months of my childhood: There was Broderbund's Lode Runner, which came with its own easy-to-use level editor. I'm pretty sure I figured out every possible trick that could be done in that game. Some of my levels were even harder and more intricate than the ones in Championship Lode Runner. The second tool was Adventure Construction Set, which let you create tile-based adventure games with some light RPG elements, everything from items, obstacles and creatures to redoing the graphics themselves if you wanted to.

There are other modern equivalents of course, but none of them have been as satisfying for me. The RPG Maker series for PS1/PS2 was too limiting for my taste. I find LittleBigPlanet too clunky to use with a game controller. I just couldn't get into Terraria for whatever reason. And I can't play Minecraft because the low-res textures at 60 FPS give me a mild form of motion sickness. So Mario Maker is my choice. If anybody wants to swap levels or friend codes, you know what to do.

Side note, does anyone know if the Rivers of Light game included with ACS was actually winnable? I recall one puzzle with a mouthless spirit, and you had to get it to speak in order to learn what to do next. Using ACS itself to peer into the inner workings of the game, I found a "mouth" item defined in the object library, and I remember systematically searching every square of every room of every area, trying to determine where in the game it was located, and never found it. 25 years later, this is still bothering my OCD-ravaged mind, and it seems to be the one classic game for which no complete walkthrough exists.

Anyway. The Shoppe is open again, and I'll try to get a few BetterThanTheBay auctions posted in the coming week. I know several of you are eager for the chance to win that last Personal Software Zork. I also have some regular sale items to catalogue and list.

Results of the poll are inconclusive, matching my own thoughts. I still haven't seen any of that guy's items listed, making me suspect it was someone taking a picture of some of their own rare stuff and trying to bait me, for whatever reason. Although... I did notice the one Akalabeth that went up as a regular auction, then suddenly changed to a BuyItNow for only $500, and immediately got snapped up. If you're the person responsible for that, please let me know. I would love to post your information and publicly shame you for being a sneaky weaselbastard. Er, I mean, um... congratulate you on your winning! Yes, that's what I would like to do. >:}

08/03/2015Due to my schedule, I'm closing the Shoppe for the next few weeks, until things settle down. But here's a lengthy post to entertain everyone until I reopen.

Probably the biggest collecting difficulty I have these days is the lack of a consistent, reliable source. I just don't find the stuff in the wild like I used to in the days of Cyber Exchange and Software ReRuns, and I've willingly closed off certain... "venues" to myself. So I post a lot of online classifieds asking for vintage software, and sometimes I get a bite. Recently I got an offer that seemed too good to be true, and you know what they say about those. Here's the picture they sent me. Go ahead and click it for a better view.



Wow. Cue unearthly angelic choral music rising in the background. Personal Software Zork (the Apple version!), Space Gamer magazine #28, May/June 1980, with the Denis Loubet demon Akalabeth artwork, California Pacific Akalabeth... and below that it sure looks like one of the dozen or so handmade copies that Richard Garriott sold as a teenager through the Texas computer store where he worked... or at least one of the leftovers he sold a couple of decades later. Any serious collector would beg, borrow or cheat honest bidders for the opportunity to own this lot.

Except, here's the full message that accompanied it:



Note the liberal use of emoji and the blatant blabbing of family dysfunction that, if real, would seem a bit too personal, such as the reference to CPS (that's Child Protective Services)... To me it lends the whole thing an air of deliberately constructed wackiness that makes it hard to take seriously. I'm no stranger to collector pranks, having engaged in them myself.

On the other hand, the picture wasn't lifted from a current auction, and a Google image search did not turn up a source. My scrutinizing eyes could detect no Photoshop at play here. The items do not appear to have been cut-and-pasted together, they overlap each other and appear to all have existed in the same place at the same time when the photo was taken. In particular, the stripes on the pillow, visible through the CPC Akalabeth plastic bag, would have been difficult for an amateur to pull off. I suppose the image could have been saved from a long-expired auction that would no longer show up in search results, but who would go to that much trouble? (Does anyone else recognize it?)

So I wrote back, careful not to get my hopes up. I was honest (always try to be) and informed him that the Zork and Castle Wolfenstein were easily worth three figures, and the Akalabeths probably four figures each. I told him that they are seen for sale infrequently enough that it can be difficult to put a definite price on them. I asked him about the origins of the self-published Akalabeth, if he knew where and when "Dad" had obtained it. And I let him know that I'm a dealer as well as a collector, so if he sold to me I would make an offer based on, but somewhat less than, what I would expect them to resell for (sort of like an estate sale broker or a consigner who takes care of pricing and selling things in exchange for a percentage, except I typically pay in advance, before anything is sold), and that if it turned out one or more of them went for a much larger amount than what I paid him for them, I would split the extra with him. I requested larger pictures of the individual items, mostly to serve as proof that he actually had them, though I didn't say that, and asked if I could meet and inspect them personally, since it seemed unlikely that this individual with (possibly) an Original-12 Akalabeth just happens to reside in the Peoria area. I mean, what are the odds? I couldn't do an IP check on the email, as it gets routed through a Craigslist exchange for privacy.

His reply, the following day (curiously emoji-free):



Fair enough on the reselling, although it does make me wonder why he didn't simply auction them to begin with. In the past, some people have sold me collections they don't want to mess with selling piecemeal on their own. If you're wondering why I laid all my cards on the table and told him I'd be reselling, it's because (1) I was already pretty convinced this was a prank, and (2) even if it wasn't, I wasn't keen on dropping several thousand dollars on things I would just turn around and resell. With the Infocom lot there were enough pieces going into my own collection to justify it, but I already have a manual for the PS Zork and didn't want to drop that much cash just to obtain a disk, and I'm not an Ultima / Akalabeth collector. I was actually sort of hoping he'd go the online auction route, just so I could see if it was real. If you're wondering why I didn't try to lowball the guy, it's because (1) honesty is important to me, and (2) since I half-suspected it wasn't real, I considered that it might be someone testing my honesty. I've done that before as well.

Other pieces of the exchange that don't quite fit: He doesn't even address my suspicion that it's a prank. Most serious sellers, and most serious scammers for that matter, would try to convince the person that they are in fact for realsies. Then there's the paranoia over meeting in person, although that's somewhat understandable, but I suspect he's exaggerating or misquoting about the shooting and carjacking IN an actual Walmart parking lot. I couldn't find an actual news article, but Walmart incidents have a tendency to spread across the Internet, at least in America, to the point where it's kind of impossible to miss hearing about them. And there's the mention of "Ma" again... Doesn't she let Gregorie and Bobbie have their own eBay and PayPal accounts? How old are these people anyway?

I did write him one more reply wherein I recommended listing the items individually instead of as a single lot, and cautioned him against the backdoor bidders making an offer that sounded good, but would in actuality be significantly less if he just let the auctions run their course. I haven't heard back, and as of this writing the games have yet to turn up on any auctions. If you do see it, please let me know. (Don't worry, I'm not gonna bid against you. It's eBay, remember?)

So, what does everyone think?

I'll close the poll when I reopen the Shoppe.

07/28/2015I just wanted to say that I can't think of a more appropriate place for a Satanic temple to be located. ^^)
07/26/2015Aaaaand, DONE. The Vault page is current, except for Infocom, the small-case cassette games, and several shelves and boxes of stuff I haven't gone through yet. Plus I really need to un-clutter things enough to take an updated picture. The current one still shows my old apartment, and I haven't lived there in over ten years!
07/24/2015Just a reminder, this weekend is your last chance to bid on the Microsoft Adventure and my other auctions. I've been really slammed with both work and things I need to do at home, and it doesn't show any sign of letting up soon, so this will probably be the last batch for a while. I still have quite a few things left to list, including one last Personal Software ("Barbarian") Zork. If you're on the mailing list, you'll receive an email notification when new auctions are posted. (Be sure to add "yois@if-legends.org" as a trusted sender, as I have had a few emails bounce back rejected.)
07/12/2015I just got back from VGS, and am a bit exhausted from the drive. It's grown a lot since the room where I, Jim Leonard, TomMage and a few other people would set up tables, years ago, and end up mostly browsing each other's stuff. Thanks to Dan Iacovelli for putting it all together. Like Midwest Gaming Classic, it's primarily geared toward consoles, although I did find exactly one boxed Amiga title (Dragon's Lair II) and a box of loose PC and Commodore disks. There were some rare titles, but the guy wanted too much for 'em, considering loose disks don't seem to generate much interest. Like at the moment, there are no takers on a $10 Mystery House. (Hint??)

One guy beat me by seconds to a decently-priced pair of Genesis shoot-em-ups... although he referred to them as "shmups." Personally I can't stand that name. It sounds like the result of an unholy sexual act between the Smurfs and the Muppets. "Shmups." Blecch.

Another game-related term I dislike is "feelies." You know, the story-related props that came with Infocom's games and a few others. Just call them props. "Feelies" sounds like a bad touch. I have a bunch of the things in my basement, and you can have them if you want. I will give you feelies. In my basement. If you can't pick them up yourself, send your wife. I will give your wife feelies in my basement. Actually there are probably more than she can carry. Have her bring your kids along too. I will give your wife and kids feelies, in my basement. See? It just sounds inappropriate.

If the Smurfs and the Muppets give each other feelies, you're going to end up with Shmups.

Okay, clearly the sleep deprivation is taking its toll. 'Night.

07/08/2015Any collectors out there familiar with this game? Medieval Quest by Instant Software, published by Panasonic for their personal computer, the JR-200U. I found it during my recent Vault excavations. The blurb on the back reads:

Welcome to the chilly castles of Olde Normandie. So you've
come to save Sir Hedric, have you? Then beware the torture
racks and poisoned arrows!

Your noble friend, Sir Hedric, is about to lose his betrothed
to the Black Knight. He must stop the wedding in time! But
the Black Knight has locked Sir Hedric in his dungeon. An
expert in the practice of medieval torture, the knight has left
orders to be sure Sir Hedric does not get out alive.

You must guide Sir Hedric to the palace in time to stop the
wedding! Get past killer gurads, down dimly-lit spiral stair-
cases, through iron gates, across dangerous drawbridges,
past troops of trolls... You formulate the strategy. You make
the decisions. Sir Hedric's life depends on you.

Will you take on the adventure? Can you find the way out of
the perilous dungeon?

I haven't been able to locate much information on this game, just this mention on Armchair Arcade. I wrote Bill a while back but didn't get a reply. My copy is sealed, but I would like to get a look at the manual and find out what type of game it is: Strategy, RPG, parser adventure, or something else. That's likely why it ended up buried in the "I'll get to it" pile of the collection room.

I'm finished up through and including Sierra on the Vault organizing process, but still need to enter the changes into the database. I've been trying to put in an hour most nights, comparing the online list with the actual shelves and jotting down uncatalogued acquisitions, all while chanting "Game Hoardaz" from the latest column. If you heard me doing it, you would laugh and make fun. This is why there will be no YouTube video.

Also don't forget that there are a few auctions ending in the next couple of days.

07/05/2015If anyone's in the Chicago area next weekend (the 11th), I'll be at the Video Game Summit for at least part of the day.

Sorry no updates for a while. My efforts to organize the Vault sort of fell by the wayside as outdoor projects have taken over. But I'm hoping to get back to it this week. In the meantime I've listed another set of the Infocom sale sheets on the auction page. Part of it is, after sitting in front of a computer at work for eight hours, I rarely feel like doing it some more when I get home.

I've told people this in person, but I might as well confess it here, too: I've grown to hate computers. When I was a kid I loved them, because back then not everybody knew how to use them, especially in my little bumblefuck home town, so it made me feel unique and smart. Now they're freakin' everywhere, they're a thousand times more complex, with ten thousand times as many things that can go wrong with them, and endlessly infuriating. If I'd known the future back then, I might very well have chosen a different career path.

I'm starting to get fed up with the state of video game consoles as well, because it feels like they're slowly turning into computers. (Yeah, I know, PC Master Race, blah blah blah, you don't need to say it.) But prior to the Xbox 360 and PS3, there were no Internet connections, no firmware updates, no game patches, no digital rights management... You put in the game and you could immediately start playing it. I miss those days. This sums up my feelings nicely.

06/26/2015Auctions are ending tomorrow, and some new ones are posted, including a Microsoft Adventure for PC and a Mystery House disk for Apple II.
06/25/2015I'm looking at cleaning up the waiting list sometime in the coming week, as some of those entries have been around since the current incarnation of the Shoppe launched, clear back in 2003. I've just sent out an email notification to everyone with a pre-2015 entry, and will be scrubbing those with hard-bounce unreachable addresses.

If you've changed your email address, or if you've acquired anything you're still on the list for, please let me know. (I'll assume everyone IS still looking for their items if I don't hear otherwise.)

06/20/2015Auctions are ending tomorrow. I've been really busy the last few weeks, but will try to get some more listed soon.
06/13/2015I've just posted a few new auctions. Don't forget, you can sign up for the mailing list if you want to be notified when I do this.
06/09/2015Just a reminder to recent BetterThanTheBay auction winners: When you have a chance, please send payment for your auctions. It's fine if you'd like to pay just the item price, and wait to have multiple winnings mailed together. But I'm running into the rule I coded where I can't post anything more until I leave overdue feedback, which I can't do until I've received payment. (Yes, I am bound by the same site rules as everyone else.)

Thanks.

05/28/2015ProTip for anyone who ever wants to help Amazon correct inaccurate data on their website: Don't bother trying.

I sent them my correspondence with the author of Building Applications with Cornerstone, to illustrate that the Addison-Wesley version listed on their site was never published, and sent them cover scans showing the ISBN of the actual book (which they don't have listed). In response, they sent me some links to a couple of other sites that also list the Addison-Wesley version... one of which actually stated at the bottom that their information was obtained from Amazon's pages!

So, garbage in, garbage out. Enjoy your garbage, Amazon. I tried.

05/27/2015New items for sale have been listed. This includes most of what I found from my hunting expeditions in April, and a few things excavated while cleaning up the Shoppe. I have a few rare pieces which will probably end up getting auctioned instead.

As far as updating the Vault, my Adventure International list is now current, except for the cassette games which I keep in a separate area of my collection room and haven't gotten to yet.

I'm looking for some information from anyone who collects Level 9 games, regarding the company's address on the back of their box and plastic wallet packages. I've noticed their usual address is a 229 Hughenden Road, but I have one Return to Eden wallet with a PO Box 39, and several with no address at all. I'm trying to determine how many variations exist, so I've put together a .csv file of what I have. If any Level 9 experts are inclined to compare it to their own collections, I'd appreciate it.

There's also a revision to the Cornerstone Database Database, after hearing back from the author of the Building Applications book about the alternate version that was slated to be published by Addison-Wesley.

Finally, this Sunday, the USPS is once again making changes to their web API, which YOIS uses in determining postage, both for the Shoppe and the shipping cost displayed on auctions. I don't think it will affect any of the features I use, but unfortunately I'm not going to have time to test it until after the changes are live. So if anybody encounters any problems with it, please let me know.

05/22/2015New auctions are posted.
05/09/2015New BetterThanTheBay auctions are posted. Just a few to start with, but as always I'll add more and cooler stuff in the coming weeks.

I've also made a pretty massive update to the Cornerstone Database Database, finally adding notes on the new materials I've acquired. As always, contributions are welcome. Would you believe there are still people actively using Cornerstone, after more than 30 years? Just this week I got an email from someone who bought a business and found their computer systems set up with it. They were looking for documentation, but unfortunately I'm out at the moment. I did point them to some (fairly expensive) copies on Amazon, and confirm that it was what they needed.

(Lately I've also been receiving an inordinate amount of spam wherein there are allegedly many local hot MILFs desirous of meeting me. These I ignore.)

05/05/2015Okay. April is finally over and now I have some weekends open. First order of business, I intend to post some more auctions this Saturday. It probably won't be much at first, just a few repeat listings of old favorites, but after that I'll get into some new pieces you haven't seen yet. Second, I need to go through the acquisitions from the last couple of months, organize and list those, and also prep for the local flea market which I am doing the last Sunday of May. Third, pick up where I left off cataloguing the Vault. I'm current through "P" (Penguin/Polarware) as far as inventorying it, though I do have some notes and updates I haven't had a chance to enter into the database. After that, my want-list, which is even further behind than the Vault.

That's the plan. Now let's see what comes up to unexpectedly wreck it.

05/01/2015Sorry about the lack of updates. April has been insanely busy, but after this weekend it should quiet down. My German buddy is passing back through town tonight, and then we're going back up to Chicago for his flight home. I'm dropping off a stack of disks from my collection for Jim Leonard to archive. Non-shrinkwrapped items only, of course.

Next weekend I hope to start listing auctions again, as well as some regular Shoppe items. Between the lot I bought from the IBM guy and a stash from a game store I hit in Chicagoland a couple of weeks ago, I've got some interesting stuff piling up here. Seeing as how it's the one-year anniversary of the relaunch of BetterThanTheBay, is anyone interested in trying it out as a seller? If so, drop me a note.

04/13/2015 Had a blast at Midwest Gaming Classic this weekend. Here's a quick rundown:

Left straight from work and drove three and a half hours up. I have got to stop talking to my GPS. I call it "Carmen", because that rhymes with Garmin, and also because "Carmen Sandiego", since I always know Where In The World I am. Nothing to do with the opera, although it does have a pleasant voice. I'm amazed by how often it perfectly syncs up to the electronica I have playing on my car stereo. Sometimes it hilariously mispronounces names, for instance it refers to GameStop as "ga-MESS-top", which, depending on how you feel about GameStop, may be strangely appropriate. I find myself thanking Carmen after navigating a confusing section of roads, and even having little one-sided conversations with it. I am so very alone at times.

*ahem*

Got to the hotel, checked in, enjoyed the pool and the hot tub. Back when I registered, the Sheraton was already full so they refered me to another nearby hotel. Lots of other people too, apparently, as I started receiving StreetPass tags on my Nintendo 3DS as soon as I checked in. That never happens in Peoria. I'm lucky to get even one after a day running errands.

I got to MGC early the next morning. Before event security, it turns out. Nobody asked for my ticket, and I was able to wander the arcade room and play a few games before they booted me out because they were still setting up. Got the high score on the R-Type standup, and it was still there when I left the show. Explored the museum areas, where they had vintage consoles and computers set up for people to play. Blazed through the first third of Dungeon Explorer on their TurboGrafx-16. The family used to do 5-player on it in my teen years, so I can play that game from memory. One of the computers had Zork running, and there was a Hitchhiker's Guide grey box for TI-99 which was the only Infocom item I encountered at the entire show. The owner also had a Scott Adams Hint Book on display. Alas, not for sale.

I spent most of the morning and part of the afternoon browsing the vendor tables, which were in a huge tented area attached to the hotel. Not a lot in the way of computer games, and when I did find them they were mostly more recent CD-ROM titles, and just a couple of vastly overpriced Commodore games. Console game heaven, though. It was the first place I'd been to in years that actually had TurboGrafx games. While browsing, I realized that I own some rare, valuable console titles. Games I picked up just to play that are now highly desired and impossible to find cheap, such as Haunting Ground and Rule of Rose for the PlayStation 2. Also saw some stuff I had as a kid that I wish I'd hung on to, particularly the Pac-Man miniature tabletop arcade game by Coleco, now selling for at least $100. I still have some Q*Bert plushes in my closet. Wonder what they'd go for?

On one end of the tent row was a stage where bands would play tunes from classic games (liiiitle too loud for my sensitive ears; I felt bad for the vendors who had to set up shop right next to them). At the other end was a tabletop gaming area where I'd sit for a few minutes after each pass around the vendors and check my 3DS for StreetPass tags. I got almost 150 tags in a single day, and would have gotten more if a 3DS firmware update didn't limit you to 10 at a time now. (When my friend Pix_Z and I went to E3 in 2012, she got half that many before noon, without having to stop and check and clear out the old ones.)

I found exactly one item for my I-F collection, a U.K. version of the most recent Space Quest compilation, but I bought a bunch of console stuff as well, and definitely spent more than I should have. Bought one game that ended up not having the disc when I removed the vendor wrap, but I did think to snag a business card from the dealer so I'm hoping they're honest. (Note to self and others, always open vendor-sealed items in front of the vendor immediately after you buy them.)

The show was fairly crowded, not nearly as bad as E3, but it wasn't uncommon to have to stand a bit at the vendor tables before you could get close enough to actually browse their wares. There were quite a few cosplayers walking around. I saw two or three Marios, a Luigi, Princess Peach, Bub and Bob the dinosaurs from Bubble Bobble, an excellent Joel from The Last of Us, and a couple of women in outfits I didn't recognize, who may have been actual game characters or may have just been using the event as an excuse to walk around in public while wearing not too many clothes.

At this point I still hadn't officially checked into the show. I was able to pass freely between the hotel lobby, arcade room, vendor booths, and museum rooms, and nobody stopped me even though I wasn't wearing the blue wristband indicating I'd paid the admission. Finally I found the right place to check in on my own, got my pre-printed ticket scanned, and got the wristband. This was well after noon, meaning I'd meandered back and forth across the event for half a day without being noticed. Tip for next year, in case anyone from MGC reads this. Security at E3 was much, much tighter.

Back into the hotel and down a set of stairs, there were conference rooms where more museums and smaller events were set up, and even some actual hotel rooms where indie developers and Internet gaming site operators had set up shop. I scored a nice pile of swag from the Nintendo room... played a variety of Pac-Man machines in one room as kids and parents made Pac-Man themed get-well cards at a nearby table for hospitalized children... decided NOT to make a fool of myself on the Dance Dance Revolution game (for 40, I'm still fairly awesome at DDR with my RedOctane Ignition 2.0 pad at home on the PS2, but I've barely set foot on the arcade version)... saw the alpha version of SkyCurser, an absolutely awesome old-school 2D shoot-'em-up (I hate the term "shmups", it sounds like the retarded mutant offspring of the Smurfs and the Muppets)... and in one room they had more original Xbox Steel Battalion controllers in one place than I'd ever seen before. (If you haven't heard of it, it's THE most complicated game controller in existence.)

Between the vendor booths and Nintendo I made 3 trips out to the car and back to make loot drops. At that point I had exactly three dollars left, so I decided I'd better keep myself away from the vendors, even though many of them do take credit cards. I caught a presentation in the hotel restaurant/bar from two of the developers of Gottlieb's Exterminator, which I remembered as one of the oddest, most unique arcade games ever made. Then back to the arcade until about 7:00 when I started to get tired, so I found a great little BBQ rib place (I hadn't eaten all day), spent my last $3 cash on a chocolate custard cone (Wisconsin is famous for this... and cheese... and legal fireworks sales if you live in Illinois), then drove back to the hotel and hit the pool and hot tub again.

I'd only bought the one-day ticket, and to be honest I felt like that was enough, so I spent Sunday driving around to various stores I found online that sounded promising. Didn't find much, but a couple of them looked like they'd be worth checking again the next time I'm up there. One comic and game store had a kitty wandering around that let me pet it. It was a grey tabby like mine, but smaller, but equally noisy. Google Maps needs up update, as lot of the places I investigated were no longer actually there, and the address of one was clearly in the middle of a residential neighborhood that was rather... economically depressed, that's a nice way of putting it. For the record, the Mega Media Exchange on Farwell in Milwaukee, BattleBox Video Games, Northern Novelty and the Music Recyclery at the Shops of Grand Avenue all appear to be defunct, as is GameCorner in Beloit. Fortunately I had Carmen to navigate. Took a slightly longer route through Rockford to bypass the Chicagoland tollways, since I didn't have any cash left to pay them and didn't feel like messing with paying online. Got back home about 6:00 last night.

TL;DR version:

If you love console and arcade games and live within driving distance of Milwaukee, definitely check out Midwest Gaming Classic. Bring lots of money for the vendors. If you're only into computer gaming you won't find as much there, but it might be worth checking out, and maybe you'll get lucky. If you're a sneaky miscreant you might be able to slip in undetected.

I may go again next year. Drop me a line if you'd like to meet up.

04/02/2015Sorry about yesterday, I couldn't resist. As long-time visitors to the Shoppe may recall, I loves me some April Fools' Day. The next real auctions probably won't go up until May. I just have too much going on right now, between work, Midwest Gaming Classic in a week and a half, yard projects I need to get started on now that the weather is decent, and my German buddy passing through again.

Vault-wise, I'm up into the M's, specifically Melbourne House, but bypassing Infocom for now and I still have some Adventure International additions and revisions to make.

04/01/2015To celebrate the beginning of April, three very special BetterThanTheBay auctions have been listed for one day only! Don't miss out!
03/29/2015Had a great little road trip yesterday. It reminded me of the old days when I would just drive around to places and look for games, then stop at TomMage's and dig through his storage lot, back when he still had the storage lot full of games. Got back at about 10:30 last night, totally exhausted. The guy I met with had some good stuff, though not as many older games as I'd initially believed, and not as many rarities. I did score a Microsoft Adventure in the grey plastic folder, and a few other early Microsoft items. Lots of early IBM marketing and technical materials, if anybody collects those. Need to get everything organized and photographed. The non-game stuff will probably go up on my Bonanza booth.

I was also lucky enough to raid the free bin at Disc Replay in Hoffman Estates. Scored a bunch of Family Guy DVD box sets that they couldn't buy from the person who brought them in (already overstocked), and that person didn't want to lug them back home. So they let me take them just to get rid of them. Something to add to my flea market table this year.

In two weeks I'll be at Midwest Gaming Classic 2015, if anybody wants to meet up.

03/26/2015Had a great time seeing my German collector friend again. We went around to a few stores in the Naperville area, got some American food (Portillo's, very tasty), then drove back to Peoria where he went through the Shoppe, browsed my collection, and he presented me with a shrinkwrapped Deja Vu by Axis (a German text adventure, not the same as the ICOM title). He and his girlfriend are on a road trip across America for the next five weeks, but he'll be stopping back again before he flies back to Europe.

Inventorying the Vault, I'm up to "L" alphabetically, although I did bypass Infocom (which is like a third of my entire collection) until I get all of the promotional stuff bagged and shelved. I have notes on Adventure International but haven't had time to make all of the additions and adjustments yet. Oh, and I found the missing Wombats! It was on a nearby shelf, moved out of place at one point when I was shifting things around. To mark the occasion, I used it for the first vault item page since, I think, 2003. I'll put up more if I can find the time, but I'd like to get the collection itself organized first.

This weekend I'm meeting with a guy who used to be an IBM PC dealer in the 1980s. I met him at a ham radio expo, where I bought the one game he brought with him to the show, a graphic adventure version of Wayne's World similar to the early LucasArts point-and-clicks. He said he still has a lot of software from back then, so I'm hoping to bring back a carload. Kind of like the old days.

Oh, and watch for more BetterThanTheBay auctions next week!

03/13/2015Has anyone here used Dwolla before? I'm considering joining, and adding them to the site as an alternative to PayPal, since they only charge a 25-cent fee, no percentages. Then for a period of a few months I'd also credit Dwolla buyers with half of what the PayPal fees would have been, to encourage its use. I'd save half my PayPal fees, you'd pay a bit less for your Shoppe orders. Sadly, they're currently U.S. only, so this wouldn't benefit my international buyers.

I looked around a bit and while Ripoff Report has a few complaints about Dwolla, it's nowhere near PayPal's almost 3,000. And don't worry, I haven't had any bad experiences myself with PayPal, and I'm keeping them. Just investigating other options to maybe include alongside them. To be honest I feel better about using PayPal now that they're getting out from beneath eBay's tuchus. That arrangement has been bugging me since 2006.

03/10/2015I've encountered my first missing game discrepancy in my "organize the Vault" initiative. One I know I had, but it's not on the shelf where it should be. It's Dynamic Software's Wombats I: Gazumba the Great and the Wombats of Borozoa. The most likely possibility is that the game package didn't identify the developer/publisher, so I tucked it away in my "to be dealt with later" box. Somewhere along the way I discovered the company behind it, so I updated the database entry, but didn't actually shelve the game yet. It should turn up once I get around to excavating that area of the collection room. Until then, One of Our Wombats is Missing. (That's another wombat-themed text adventure game. They were very popular in the early 1980s. Not in Australia, though, curiously.)

Also I just noticed the pictures at the top of the Vault page... Those are ancient, from the days when I still lived in an apartment! I have SO much more crap now than I did back then. I'll get some updated pics once I clean up a little more.

03/09/2015Sorry I haven't posted any updates this past week. I'm getting ready for a visit next weekend from a German collector friend whom I visited a couple of times about 15 years ago, but we haven't seen each other since. Most of my effort has gone into cleaning up the collection room a bit. You can sort of walk around in there now without worrying too much about stepping on stuff.

I've also been trying to finally get the Vault page up to date. I have so many items in my own collection that I've obtained over the last few years, but haven't gotten around to listing. Been meaning to get that current for the longest time, because it serves as a record of everything I have. Quick reference, insurance purposes, bragging rights, et cetera. I put in a solid hour on Sunday before remembering it was the start of Daylight Saving Time, so technically I guess I put in a solid two hours... but not really. I did get all the way through the A's and B's, with the exception of Adventure International, which will be the most time-consuming since I have that shelved by number for the Scott Adams 1-12, and by subgroup (Other-Ventures, Questprobe, etc.) for the rest, but the Vault page code displays it all alpha by title. But definitely watch for new games appearing on the Vault list, and once I get that up to date, maybe some new individual item pages with pictures. Feels good to scratch that OCD itch again.

03/03/2015Didn't much done in the Vault room this past weekend, mostly because it was so frikkin' cold. I'm starting to really dislike Illinois winters. I can't bicycle and I always seem to put on weight.

Anyway, if anyone's interested, I've got some old computer magazines: Analog, Antic, SofTalk, possibly Computer Gaming World once I check for duplicates. The Questbusters have been spoken for, by a Shoppe visitor who responded about the questions I had. Still need to look at a couple more before I can feel my theories on some of the early issues are 100% confirmed.

If anyone has any 1980-1983 issues of DEC Professional I'd be interested in possibly buying or trading for those.

Finally, I can't be certain, but the Shoppe may have been visited by an old friend. Remember the jerkwad who was selling self-printed Infocom T-shirts as originals, years ago, and went psycho stalker on me when I busted him? The full story is in YOIS' Secret Column, which is only accessible to pre-approved viewers. Anyway, I got a number of hits from his old IP address. (Yes, I keep track of such things.) If you read this, James, let me know if it was you. Nicely.

02/24/2015I've posted the final auction for now, and will pick up again in few weeks.

Making slow progress on the collection room. I cleared out a bunch of shipping boxes last night, enough to move other things around and clear a path so I can actually walk in here again without stepping over stuff. Next phase is to finish organizing my old computer magazines, possibly sell some of them because it's getting ridiculous, and in the process hopefully excavate my New Zork Times and Status Line issues, which are missing in action at the moment. (Found XYZZYnews though!)

Here are a couple of pics of what it looked like before I started cleaning, if anyone is interested:

   

It's a very special Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe episode of "Hoarders".

02/23/2015While cleaning up a corner of the Shoppe last night, I unearthed a small treasure trove of Shay Addams' Questbusters newsletters I'd forgotten I had. Does anyone else have any of the earliest issues from Volume III, which were the first ones to be printed on 8.5" x 11" paper, and the first two volumes which were printed on smaller pages? I'd like to compare mine with yours on a couple of things, if you have a moment. (Thanks in advance.)
02/22/2015BetterThanTheBay auctions are ending on Tuesday the 24th, and the rest a couple of weeks after that. I'll be listing a couple more, then taking a break to give everyone's disposable income a chance to regenerate.

In the meantime, I've forced myself to spend an hour a night in the collection room, organizing stuff. My collection and want list have been outdated for years now, and I'm determined to make this the year I fix that. I also realize that I say that every year, but this year I finally seem to have the time and the ambition. (Now just waiting for some real-life crap to hit and derail my efforts yet again...)

I did finally get around to cleaning up the badly decayed links page. All of the sites still in existence now have their locations updated, and I've removed the defunct ones. If you have a page, or know of a good one I've left out, please tell me and I'll set up a link to it. It does need to contain information about collecting or playing vintage computer games. If you have a page where you sell such games, that's fine too, but please no links to your eBay items.

I'm also planning to attend Video Game Summit and the Midwest Gaming Classic (possibly as a vendor) this year. Anyone interested in meeting up?

02/08/2015New auctions are posted. Got a Suspect press kit, shrinked Sorcerer folio for a rare platform, and the last Moonmist poster and Spellbreaker launch invitation I have. Don't miss out!
01/25/2015New auctions are posted. Got a few relists of previous items, a Hitchhiker's Guide press kit, an invitation to a Lurking Horror and Stationfall promotional event featuring The Second City, and a Wing Commander III Deluxe Edition I picked up a while back.
01/20/2015I'm back, sorry for the delay. The holidays were really horrendous this year, and I can officially add Amazon to my crappy customer service list. Just got back from the WCRA Mid-Winter Hamfest, which wasn't as big as I'd hoped, but I did make contact with a guy who was a software dealer in the 1980s, and he said he's still got some games, so we'll see what I end up with there. In the meantime, a few new Shoppe items are listed. BetterThanTheBay is still vacant, but I'll try to get the first new batch of auctions listed this weekend.
12/12/2014It's official: The combination of workload, real-life issues and holiday stress has become unsustainable. So I'm shutting down the Shoppe until things settle down after the first of the new year.

There is one BetterThanTheBay auction still active, so I'll wrap that up as soon as it's done. If you have open transactions, I'll get those finished as soon as possible. Any other issues, you are welcome to email me, just be aware that I may not respond quickly. Just wanted to remind everyone how much I love being repeatedly pestered when I'm busy and stressed. Which is to say, not in the slightest. Please, don't be this guy.

I'll see everyone after the 1st, with new Shoppe games and new auctions of rare promo Infocom items. Safe and happy Christmas / Hannukah / Kwanzaa / Eid al-Fitr / Festivus / Winter Solstice / I hope I didn't exclude and offend anyone.

11/16/2014I've posted a set of 5 Infocom sale sheets for auction. This will probably be the last auction for the year. Sorry, but I've been busy as heck the last few weeks clearing out things for the flea markets, and my schedule is going to get really full in December. I'm pet-sitting for a family member for the entire month and will have quite a bit of holiday-related family activities that will take up a lot of my time. Once all of that settles down, I will be back with more auctions.

If I don't post again before the end of the year, everybody have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

11/02/2014In case you noticed that the Zork Trilogy sale sheet and postcard auction is gone, here's the explanation:

A previous bidder contacted me, seeming to indicate he was expecting to receive this, even though I don't have him as winner. I'm not finding the item here, so I've asked him for clarification. I deleted the auction listing (even though I'm loath to do that) until the confusion gets straightened out.

For the record, any questions about an auction after you win it can be emailed to me directly. The "everything is public" rule only applies to active auctions, to eliminate backdoor deals and other miscreant behavior. Once you win an auction, any questions or concerns you have about delivery, condition, completeness, etc. can be followed up with me privately.

11/01/2014New BetterThanTheBay auctions are posted. With winter setting in, I'll be spending more time indoors once I'm done with the flea markets and the end of the month and I get all the leaves raked. My goal is to finally get all of the Infocom promo items organized this winter, as I've had them for an entire year now, and have BTTB auctions running well into next year.
10/27/2014The flea market went pretty well. I moved some stuff, made some money, met some area collectors and handed out a few business cards. No takers on the Infocom items, but I had a few people recognize them. I also had one person recognize me from my cameo in the "Get Lamp" documentary, and I met the members of a local band named Encounter at L-5, after the Atari 2600 game. Which I actually had a copy of, so they bought it. Sorry the label was in crap shape, guys.

Normally the flea market is one Sunday per month, but in November they're doing another on the 9th, so I signed up for that one as well. I have a small gold mine of consoles I'd like to get tested so I can bring them to sell, but I'll also try to get a few more BetterThanTheBay items up.

I've found myself with a lot more free time since suspending my Dish satellite TV last week, after their corporate toddler-fight with Turner Broadcasting caused them to drop Cartoon Network and several other channels from my subscription package. (You do not come between a man and his Adventure Time.) On top of that, I'm about to replace my phone and Internet services after a pointlessly crappy experience with AT&T. That's another mini-saga that I'll post once it all wraps up. Add them to the list behind eBay, Microsoft, the U.S. Postal Service, and two local car dealerships. *sigh* I just can not get along with anyone, can I?

10/21/2014BetterThanTheBay auctions are ending tomorrow. I'll try to get some additional items listed this week, but I'm pretty busy prepping for the flea market this weekend. Need to clear out some of my console game clutter. I always take a couple of Infocom items along as well, just to fish for local interested parties.
10/10/2014I've fixed an issue with the postage calculator on BetterThanTheBay. It wasn't grabbing the package weight from the database correctly, so the calculated amount was a bit low. To anyone with currently active bids, if the higher shipping cost affects your max amount, please let me know and I will adjust it (just this once, since it's the result of a coding error on my part). And as always, if it turns out you got overcharged on shipping, just let me know and I will refund the difference. I use a physical scale for weighing, not electronic, so sometimes the weight shows as off by a few ounces which can affect the price. I've ordered some slightly smaller Priority shipping boxes too, which should cut down on the packaging weight for BTTB items, while still providing adequate protection.

I know I'm always ranting about the issues with the USPS's website, but this time it was my fault. Let it never be said that I'm unwilling to self-criticize.

At the request of a user, I've also added a PayPal link to the auction detail page, in case I'm a bit slow sending the invoice and you'd like to go ahead and pay. If you want to combine auctions, or have an auction and a YOIS order shipped together, just let me know and I'll get you a revised postage quote. Please let me know if you experience any other issues with it.

10/04/2014Yeesh. September was really busy, but I think things are quieting down now.

If you're ever in the Chicago area, be sure to check out the Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield. It's by far the best video arcade I've seen since the glory days of the 1980s. The building is larger than it looks on the outside, and it's got several rooms crammed with arcade cabinets, most of them original, all organized by genre. My cousin and I had 4 hours fly by here, barely realizing it. I spent a good slice of that playing their Ikaruga (kit-built, not a Japanese original), Darius, R-Type, Mars Matrix... pretty much any 2D scrolling shooter you could possibly want. (Radiant Silvergun, alas, was down for repairs.) Brought back a lot of memories.

I've listed my loot from VCFMW and ECCC below and on the sale pages. Mostly Amiga and Commodore items. I also came across a Wing Commander III Collector's Edition, in the huge box with the metal film canister, and I'm debating whether to list it in the Shoppe or on BetterThanTheBay.

Segueing into BetterThanTheBay, there are more auctions ending this weekend, and almost no competition. I can't help but notice I've been listing (what I think are) a lot of awesome items, but they just aren't drawing many bids, and I'm wondering why. So, please tell me: What's holding you back from using BetterThanTheBay? Is it that I'm setting the starting bids too high? The fact that you only get to bid once? Not being able to watch the price go up as the auction runs? The "no reselling on eBay" clause? Please let me know. I'm a bit disheartened by this, and am considering switching the rest of these items over to the trade-only system if things don't pick up soon.

1337 haxx0r, 3h?

Remember my Chinese script kiddies? YOIS experienced another hack attempt earlier this week, this time in the form of a full-fledged automated assault that probed for all kinds of security exploits and vulnerabilities. This one came from Canada. And we all know what Canadians are like, don't we? Heh. I hope the source of my next hack attempt is American. I already have a clip picked out. It's a good'un.

The script ran for about an hour before I noticed it, but didn't do much actual damage, aside from creating a crapload of fake survey responses I had to clear out, and hammering my inbox with an avalanche of automated emails generated by all the webpage calls. At first I thought it was a denial-of-service attack, but I could still get to all the pages, so I was able to view my private logs. Fun fact, I've had a lot of warning systems and precautions in place to monitor the site since the days of the first attempted Shoppe "hack", the twatnougat who went nuclear on me after I busted him selling self-printed Infocom T-shirts as originals... Remember that guy?

So it was easy to see what was happening, and the undoubtedly hockey-loving script kiddy's IP was blocked after a quick email to Stefan, the IF-Legends admin, who suggested it was probably eBay, Microsoft and Sony all ganging up to annoy me. ;) Forwarding the relevant portions of my logs to his ISP seems to have fried his Canadian bacon for good.

I've also installed a honeypot in a remote corner of the Shoppe, to help catch other miscreants who would attack sites in a similar manner and/or harvest emails for spam. In the spirit of Zork, I've christened it "Flood Control Dam #3".

Think that's everything for now.

09/22/2014New BetterThanTheBay auctions are live! Lots of rare pieces this time, including a Moonmist poster, Spellbreaker launch party invitation, and an issue of the Infocommuniqué newsletter. More to come!
09/20/2014Didn't find much at the Peoria hamfest as far as vintage games. I did take home a box of older game consoles from a local electronics recycler's booth. Now I need to find time to clean and test them.

New BetterThanTheBay auction items are going up tomorrow night.

09/19/2014Just a reminder, BetterThanTheBay auctions are ending over the weekend. It's also the annual ham radio and electronics expo here in Peoria, so I'll be out hunting for games and old computers to buy up. I still have a box to go through and list from the shows in Chicago last weekend, and I'd like to finally get some more auctions posted as well. This month has been especially busy.
09/15/2014Had a good time at the Vintage Computer Festival Midwest and the Emergency Chicagoland Commodore Convention on Saturday. Made some contacts (one guy had a booth featuring Infocom games and their props), found a couple of possible leads on a rare item, and bought up quite a few good pieces for both myself and the Shoppe.

Did not have as much fun going around to places in the West Loop, since that day was Riotfest in Humboldt Park. You know how people say, "Everybody's gonna be there"? Well everybody was. Ugh. >.<

09/09/2014I can now officially confirm beyond any doubt that Sony's customer service department is every bit as incompetent as Microsoft's.
09/07/2014New BetterThanTheBay auctions are posted. I'll try to keep a steady trickle going, but September is going to be a bit iffy as far as new listings. I'll be occupied with other things on most weekends, plus I may end up feuding with Sony over a PS3 repair issue. *sigh* They're showing early signs of possibly turning into another eBay or Microsoft. These things always take an unbalanced amount of my life to rectify. (Why must I be tormented so?) On the plus side, this news nugget did lift my spirits, not to mention my schadenfreude-meter. >:}

Just a heads-up, there may be issues with the postage quotes tomorrow, both for BTTB and the main site. The USPS is dinking around with their API again. I read through the notes and I think the Shoppe is compliant, but they've thrown me in the past. I'll log on tomorrow when I have a chance and check it to be certain.

08/23/2014New BetterThanTheBay auctions are posted! Right now I'm about one-third of the way through organizing the promotional Infocom items, though only a small percentage of what I have has been listed so far. Keep checking, as I'll try to list a few more every weekend.
08/22/2014Just a reminder to everyone that the first new batch of BetterThanTheBay auctions are ending tomorrow. A few new ones will be posted tomorrow morning as well. I've finally got all of the promotional items unpacked and organized, and will be taking pictures this weekend. As well as pulling the pieces I intend to put in my own collection.




08/17/2014I've listed some more Shoppe items, mostly InvisiClues, and a couple of repeat BetterThanTheBay items. Still need to go through that lot, but I'll try to get to some of the more interesting stuff soon. (Combination of busy, and waiting to see how many of the early listings show up on eBay again.)
08/09/2014BetterThanTheBay is back online, with four major changes, based on what I learned from the test run back in May.

The first and most important change is that users now need to declare that they are not going to resell BTTB items on eBay. Given my long history of disgust with eBay, not to mention the name of this site, I didn't think that was something I needed to explicitly state, but apparently I do. I've added another checkbox to the registration process for this. Existing users, this means you will need to register again. I've sent everybody who signed up before a notice about this.

The original intent with BetterThanTheBay was to get these rare items into the hands of fellow collectors who would appreciate them. It was not to make myself a cheap source of rare items that people could immediately resell at a huge personal profit. When I bought this lot of promotional Infocom items from my source, I made a promise to her that, should any of them end up going for an insanely high price, I would share some of that windfall with her. Flipping items on eBay at a huge markup will rob her of that. This is not just about me or you. Out of respect for her, I'm asking everyone nicely not to do this.

There is now a (not-so-nice) contingency plan in place, so I won't get blindsided like that again. If I catch anyone flipping these items on eBay -- and I have automated searches set up through multiple sites -- I will switch the remainder of them over to a new system which is already set up, tested, and ready to go. This will permanently replace BetterThanTheBay, and the BTTB page will feature the full contact information of whoever is responsible, and it will never, ever be taken down.

Oh, and as a little gift to myself, the first auctions are set to close on my birthday. So you'll be spoiling my birthday present if you take them to eBay. Just a little extra guilt-trip there. ^^)

Second, I'm streamlining the shipping process. Both U.S. and international shipping will be via insured Priority Mail only, since the boxes are free and uniform in size. It saves me the trouble of hunting for the perfect one. Also, to speed up turnaround and further discourage flippers, any combined shipping will only be done with auctions ending on the same day. Otherwise, everything gets paid for and shipped individually. (This does not apply to YOIS. You can still combine items from the regular Shoppe, like always, and you can still combine YOIS and BTTB items. Just no more holding auction items while waiting for other auctions to finish.) To reflect this, I've also shortened the expected transaction turnaround time from 30 days to 10 days.

Third, I've added another checkbox to the registration process, asking people to verify that their YOIS mailing address and their PayPal mailing address match. With the original batch of auctions, I had a couple of cases of mismatched addresses, one of which resulted in a package being sent to the wrong place. (It seems to be PayPal's fault. They keep bringing back people's old addresses for some reason.) I'll be comparing them myself, and if they don't match I will cancel the payment and ask you to resend it once they do match. This will delay the shipping of your items, so please check in advance.

Fourth and finally, all bids are now hidden until the auction is over, with the exception of the minimum starting amount. This will eliminate any influence one person's bid might have on another's, which is something I noticed happening during the trial run -- People bidding $1 more than the current maximum. From now on, bid what you feel it's worth, not an amount based on what any other bidder before you has said. Once the auction is over, all bids will be revealed in the usual manner -- amounts including the winner's true max visible to everyone, user IDs only visible to the seller and participants. Again, with BetterThanTheBay, you bid once, so always enter your true maximum.

Not specific to BTTB, but still worth mentioning: I have fixed the issue with the international shipping calculator. Again. I still loathe the U.S. Postal Service's website. Should that ever change, I will shout it from a mountaintop. I do not suspect that it will.

That's everything. I appreciate everyone's patience while I sorted all of this out.

Before I go, a special shout-out to the Chinese script kiddies who've been poking around the site: Hi. I see you. Even through all the smog over Beijing, I see you. SQL injection attacks, really? That's what you're pitting me against? Don't look now, but I think I see some Mongorians attacking your shitty wall. (P.S. Learn SQL.)

07/27/2014With my outdoor summer projects mostly out of the way, I have reopened the Shoppe.

BetterThanTheBay is still offline, but I finally have time to start work on the changes I need to make to it. There will be a detailed post once that's complete.

05/21/2014Just received word that our old friend Eyal Katz has bought a California Pacific Ultima on eBay (user ID "jeffcowe"). If you see him peddling any in the future, they're likely to be fakes.

Why people don't just block the little twerp from bidding I will never understand.

05/14/2014I'm seriously starting to believe BetterThanTheBay is cursed.

I had one package undeliverable because PayPal merged the buyer's old address into their new account. Still waiting on that mess to be resolved.

Then there's the address in Canada that the USPS (yes, THEM again, *sigh*) doesn't recognize. I tried to buy the postage online because it's a bit cheaper that way, but you have to choose a city and province from a drop-down and then they give you a list of valid postal codes... Only my buyer's isn't showing up there! So I get to diddledick around with that, too.

The third buyer is paying with a wire transfer. Don't worry, it's someone I know and trust, or I wouldn't even accept that method. But I still can't wait to see what could possibly go wrong with THAT.

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother trying.

05/09/2014The initial test run of BetterThanTheBay has completed. I need to do some recoding to correct a few issues, and implement some changes based on what I've learned and suggestions others have made.

Unfortunately, with the weather turning good, outdoor projects and bicycling are calling me, so I don't really have time to mess with it right now on top of everything else. Plus, the whole experience of seeing the BTTB items immediately flipped on eBay sort of pissed on my fire a little. I need some time away to get past that and think about the best way to handle future auctions.

I'm shutting down both BTTB and the Shoppe for a while, until I take care of other things and get my ambition back. If you have open transactions I'll finish them up. If you want to place new orders, please go ahead, and I will get to them when I can.

04/29/2014Hmmm. Perhaps I should have seen this coming.

All that effort. All the hours of hard work coding and testing I put into BetterThanTheBay... and the very first items I sell immediately get listed on the very site I was trying to get away from. It just... feels like a real slap in the face.

The idea was to get rare promotional items to collectors who wanted them, at a price dictated by the bidding itself. It was not intended to give people a cheap, secret source of rare items they could turn around and flip at a huge profit.

It's my own fault, really. I'm too naive and trusting. I try to be honest and fair, and I tend to assume other people will treat me the same way. But apparently greed still trumps friendship in the vintage game collecting world.

I wonder if he was ever going to tell me, or just keep using me? Needless to say, this individual is blocked from any future bidding. I won't take back the positive feedbacks, since he did pay on time. But I don't have to keep putting up with this.

Enjoy whatever profit you might make. You lost a potential friend in the process. I hope it was worth it.

04/23/2014I just listed the pile of loose manuals I found a week or so ago. Nothing rare, but maybe you'll find a missing piece you need.
04/19/2014A Shoppe visitor pointed me to these links, showing a guy who made his own zorkmid coins using a 3D printer and is offering them for sale. Judging from the pictures, the details came out very well. He also says he can replicate the bronze coloring and the "aging".

At least he's not attempting to pass them off as originals, but that wouldn't stop someone unscrupulous from buying and trying. Unfortunately my days of fighting counterfeiting on the front lines are long over (I don't have the time or energy, and the last time I ended up feeling distinctly unappreciated), so the best I can do is put the information out there so people can be aware.

Be extremely cautious when buying zorkmids, be they loose, still in the baggie, or even sold with the Zork Trilogy. I have a known original so I'd be happy to do an appraisal of yours and give my opinion, if you're at all uncertain. If anybody buys one, I'd appreciate the opportunity to examine and compare it myself. I'll pay for the shipping both ways.

04/18/2014One final reminder, there are auctions ending this weekend.

I've got a full schedule of yard work and family obligations planned, so I won't be able to monitor the site as closely as I'd like. If you're planning to bid on one of the 3 items closing, please don't wait until the last minute to request BetterThanTheBay access.

More items coming once I have time to list them. This week has been insane.

One other thing, I cleared out the undeliverable addresses from the YOIS mailing list. There were a bunch of 'em, not surprising since I hadn't used the mailing list in years and only just started again recently. If you haven't been receiving BetterThanTheBay updates and you want them, it may be that you were signed up under an old address that's no longer valid. Please feel free to sign up again.

04/16/2014The first BetterThanTheBay auction closed successfully yesterday. I've made one adjustment to the auction page: It now displays just the insured postage options, based on your registration info and the current bid price. The external link to USPS is displayed as a default if the site isn't able to calculate your postage on its own.

Please let me know if you encounter any problems or strange behavior from the site. I've fixed a couple already. And don't forget the other auctions ending this weekend.

04/12/2014I've listed a few more items I found in a box while doing some rearranging. Also found a bunch of loose manuals and reference cards that I'll get posted when I have a chance.

The first auctions are ending next week, the first on 4/15 and a few others on 4/20 (YOIS server date and time, check how that compares to your own time zone).

04/06/2014I just posted a few more auction items and will list more in a few days. To be honest I'm a bit torn between posting a bunch of these at once, or spacing them out so people can replenish their collecting budgets. I don't want to impact anyone's wallet too harshly (I see there's a bid on the saucer) since it was always frustrating to me when people listed more stuff at once than I could afford to bid on. If you're concerned about this please let me know. Unlike a certain other auction site, I will listen.
04/04/2014As things seemed to go pretty smoothly with the BetterThanTheBay launch, I've reopened the regular portion of the Shoppe. Still might be a bit slow the next few days because I'm kitten-sittin' again this weekend. But I do plan to post more auctions as well.
04/02/2014If you noticed a message saying you were the high bidder in the auctions, despite not actually bidding, that is fixed now. How the heck did I miss that one?! Anyway, thanks to the person who pointed it out to me, and if anybody spots any other odd behavior, please let me know.

(Yes, the auctions are still up, because that was not an April Fool's joke. I'll be listing more in the next few days when I have time.)

04/01/2014We're live! You may have noticed the "auctions" link added to the main page. You can read more about this new feature in the latest Shoppe column, or just jump right in.

I've started things off slowly, just a few listings at first, to make sure the impact is minimal if there are any issues. (Shouldn't be, as I tested the heck out of things.) I have many, many more awesome Infocom goodies to list, and I will begin adding them in a few days.

My thumb is much better. Still a little pain and stiffness, but I could hitchhike if I wanted to. I should probably hold off on declaring any thumb wars for a while yet.

These are very exciting times. In addition to the new auction feature, I am currently in negotiations with Facebook to sell Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe. They will be adding a dedicated team of web designers to improve the look of the site and greatly expand it and fully integrate it with Facebook, to become the premiere selling and trading site for vintage computer games. I've signed a non-disclosure agreement saying that I can't talk about the price until everything is negotiated, but I will be posting what updates I can as the Facebook deal commences.

03/30/2014I've closed the Shoppe for the next couple of days, to allow myself to deal with any issues arising from the new site feature (which launches Tuesday). You're always free to place orders, just be aware I might not get to them right away next week.
03/21/2014Testing on the new site code is more or less complete. I still have a few things to get ready, and there are some back-end functions I'd like to code for myself, but the core functionality is working great. I could launch it now if I wanted to. I will definitely be launching it April 1st.

The other day I managed to pop a joint in my thumb, don't ask me how. It's still pretty swollen and sore, but not nearly as excruciating as when it first happened. Fortunately it doesn't interfere with my typing, though it has made it painful to operate a game controller. Which means I have to delay starting Dark Souls II until it heals. And just when my schedule was about to free up. Talk about agonizing. (I loves me my Dark Souls.)

03/12/2014Testing the new site code is going well. I've had the expected formatting errors and typos the PHP interpreter couldn't catch, but nothing game-breaking so far. A testament to really planning out and thinking through the design in advance, I guess. Really excited to show everyone what I've been building here. I think I will do what I joked about before, and launch this on April 1st.

On a less positive note, did you know the U.S. Postal Service (yes, them again) charges you six dollars to open an investigation into the disappearance of a money order THEY lost? I didn't know that until this morning. I also know I'm not buying a postal money order ever again.

03/08/2014If you don't mind, I would like to rant a bit.

I need more hands.

Because, whoever coded the U.S. Postal Service's online rate calculation API and wrote the documentation for it, I want to punch them in the stomach, the throat, the nose, the mouth, the genitals, and both eyes, simultaneously. To do that, I need more hands.

I have figured out the problem I was having with the API, and it was head-poundingly stupid and infuriating. This is an example of the API call I was passing them, which was failing:

http://production.shippingapis.com/ShippingAPI.dll?API=RateV4&XML=
<RateV4Request USERID="XXXXXXXX" PASSWORD="XXXXXXXX"><Revision/>
<Package ID="1ST">
  <Service>EXPRESS</Service>
  <ZipOrigination>61612</ZipOrigination>
  <ZipDestination>90808</ZipDestination>
  <Pounds>8</Pounds>
  <Ounces>1</Ounces>
  <Container>RECTANGULAR</Container>
  <Size>LARGE</Size>
  <Length>18</Length>
  <Width>12</Width>
  <Height>12</Height>
</Package></RateV4Request>

(Obviously I've withheld my login and password, lest others misappropriate it.) And here was the error I got:

Invalid XML Element content is invalid according to the DTD/Schema. Expecting: Height, Girth, Value, AmountToCollect, SpecialServices, Content, GroundOnly, SortBy, Machinable, ReturnLocations, ReturnServ....

The maddening thing is, I was clearly including Height. And all of the other elements are listed as optional in their online documentation, which admittedly in the past I have found to be infested with errors, so I had no reason to suspect that now is any different.

But thanks to this wonderful, WONDERFUL thread, I was able to figure out the problem. It expects width BEFORE height! Yes, everywhere ELSE on their stupid website, it prompts you to enter length first, then width. But here, it wants WIDTH first, and will fail otherwise.

http://production.shippingapis.com/ShippingAPI.dll?API=RateV4&XML=
<RateV4Request USERID="XXXXXXXX" PASSWORD="XXXXXXXX"><Revision/>
<Package ID="1ST">
  <Service>EXPRESS</Service>
  <ZipOrigination>61612</ZipOrigination>
  <ZipDestination>90808</ZipDestination>
  <Pounds>8</Pounds>
  <Ounces>1</Ounces>
  <Container>RECTANGULAR</Container>
  <Size>LARGE</Size>
  <Width>12</Width>
  <Length>18</Length>
  <Height>12</Height>
</Package></RateV4Request>

When I switched the positions of the two items in red, IT WORKED. Posting this here so others might find it and avoid the aggravation I went through.

Now, I'll admit, in their online documentation, they do list Width before Length. But, one, they could have called attention to the importance of the order somewhere in said documentation. And, two, my frustration was compounded by an error message that had NO BEARING on the actual problem. Why not change the error to something like "Expected Width before Length"?

To the person or persons responsible for coding the U.S. Postal Service's online rate calculation API and writing the documentation for it:

I HATE YOU.

I will not track you down, because I have more important uses for my time.

But if the randomness of the universe ever presents me with the opportunity to punch you in the stomach, the throat, the nose, the mouth, the genitals, and both eyes, simultaneously? I am carpe-ing that diem.

All right. I feel better now. Back to testing the new site code. >.<

03/07/2014I hit a major milestone on the new site code tonight: I finished coding, and got the page to load for the first time. Granted, it doesn't look like it should yet, but it loads. I hit and fixed 34 distinct typos across 2,100 lines of code. I'm astounded that number was so small.

Next, I've got a lengthy document detailing every aspect of the new code I need to test and verify. That'll take up the coming weeks, as time permits. It's getting there.

02/28/2014It's getting there, I promise. I finally finished the actual coding for the new features, now I need to start testing everything. Right now I'm a bit reluctant to even load the page, because I don't want to confront how inherently flawed my coding may be. So I'm going to enjoy the illusion that it's perfect, just for a little bit.

I'm also kitty-sitting for a family member this week so I don't have as much time. But it is coming, I promise.

Hmm, maybe I should aim for April 1st as a launch date, then no one would know whether to take me seriously.

02/22/2014I'm wrapping up the new coding and am hoping to finally start testing the new site functionality in another week or so.

In the meantime, has anyone else successfully used the USPS's rate calculation API? After days of non-response, they're telling me they don't provide the level of technical support I need. The issue I'm having involves packages over 4 pounds, where you have to specify the box dimensions. I've quintuple-checked the XML and their documentation regarding what is required, it looks right, but obviously something is still wrong since it's not working.

UPDATE: I've changed the error message for packages over 4 pounds so it's a little friendlier, until I can get this fixed. Just contact me and I'll get you a quote manually.

If anyone else has gotten the USPS's API to work for packages over 4 pounds, please contact me. If you can get it to work for me too, I will pay you for your time.

02/17/2014I finally had time this weekend to put in a marathon coding session, so the new site functionality is close to being ready for testing. Assuming that goes fairly well, I'm hoping to start selling some of the rare Infocom pieces toward the end of the month, or early next month.

Still no response from the USPS about the issue I'm having with their rate API. I like to think they're miffed about the Consumerist thing and are giving me the pouty silent treatment.

02/09/2014There's an issue with the USPS rate calculator (what else?) not returning data for large packages over 4 pounds. I'm awaiting a response from them. Smaller packages should still work fine. If you encounter this please send me a message and I'll weigh your package manually until I get a fix.
02/05/2014Moving my domain names turned out to be far less painful than I had dreaded. I went with NameCheap. They're running a "Move Your Domain Day" special today, where you can transfer a domain for $3.98 with promo code NCMYDD and get 75% off hosting with HOSTWITHNC. Their interface is a lot less bloated and cluttered than GoDaddy's, and they don't make you click through five pages of "Hey look! Buy this too!" before you check out.

I am not in any way being compensated for posting this. I just had a completely positive experience with this company and wanted to share it. Since I do tend to piss and moan a lot about negative experiences. (Today is Opposite Day, in addition to being Move Your Domain Day. It is allowed to be two Days at once.)

02/04/2014Check it out, my recent rant against the Post Office made the Consumerist blog. On my last visit there I didn't see any addressed packages piled around, and all of the Priority Mail displays were overflowing with boxes, so maybe they got my message. Now if we could just solve the Mystery of the Vanishing Money Order.

I'm slowly but steadily making progress on the rare Infocom items. Can't give an exact date yet, but they are coming, I promise.

01/30/2014Fixed a minor issue with the shipping. It was still showing insured Standard Post as an option (and at a very discounted rate) even if Standard Post was no longer available to your zone. Other than that, the new postage rollout seems to have been uneventful.
If you use PayPal (and I don't know of many collectors who don't) you might want to give this article a read. Short version, this guy had his website hacked by someone who managed to social-engineer the last 4 digits of his credit card out of PayPal. I strongly suggest calling PayPal and asking them to put a note on your account, telling them NOT to release any of your details over the phone.

I have to take this seriously, because this is the sort of crap that happens to me. Whenever I have a customer service issue, I seem to fall through every single crack in their support system. It happened with eBay, it happened with Microsoft, it's happened with a few local businesses I've dealt with. I've found the best way to avoid it is to imagine the worst-case scenario, and take steps to derail it.

Needless to say, I will also be transferring my domains off of GoDaddy.

01/29/2014I've just learned that David Lebling, co-author of Zork and co-founder of Infocom, wil be doing an hour-long Classic Game Post-Mortem panel discussion at this year's Game Developer's Conference, where he'll talk about the early days of the company and the creation of the mainframe and personal computer versions of Zork.

Very interesting, if you can afford the admission. I checked with the organizers, and it requires an All Access or Main Conference Pass to attend, and those are kinda pricey. But I'm sure they'll make it available for viewing after the event.

01/28/2014On today's episode of Post Office Incompetence Theatre, we find our lovely Peoria post office completely devoid of Priority Mail boxes. That's right, the service they keep pushing on us, the service they're trying to get more people to use by eventually dropping Standard Post from some zones, the service you see commercials for on TV about how fast and convenient it is and the boxes are free! Aaaaand then they don't HAVE any frikkin' boxes there for you to use.

*clap*

*clap*

*clap*

Brava, Peoria post office. Bra-VA.

01/26/2014Given my USPS experiences of the past couple of weeks, I was beginning to dread the launch of their API changes, but after doing some testing it appears to have been successful. I guess the law of averages worked in my favor this time. Please let me know if you experience any problems with the Shoppe's shipping calculator.

I've started going through the second batch of Infocom items, and... there is some amazing stuff here. I'm hoping I can finish coding and testing the new venue for selling rarities soon.

01/21/2014Adding to my rant about the Post Office: This morning I went in to mail a stack of packages... and there were two large piles of people's packages just sitting there in the lobby! One batch was underneath the cylindrical package drop, where you tilt the handle and it slides the package into the back area, because apparently the back area was already jammed full of packages and no one could put any more in. The other batch was stacked neatly beside a service door, indicating that someone who works at the Post Office was supposed to take them into the back, but hadn't.

This is ridiculous, and more than a little bit horrifying. Any joker could simply walk in and walk out with several armloads of packages, and no one would ever know what happened! Hell, I could have done it if I'd wanted to. Needless to say, I gave my YOIS packages to an actual person at the counter after buying the postage from the automated machines. And I pointed out the situation to them. Hopefully they addressed it shortly after I left.

Here are a couple of pictures I snapped using my Vita. (Yes, Vita. I still do not, and never will, carry a mobile phone.)





01/19/2014I'll try to go through the second batch of Infocom stuff this week. Just been having delays, and lots of orders to fill.

Has anyone else experienced a sharp decline in the quality of the U.S. Postal Service, starting around mid-December? Since then I've had:

  • One package sent to me that showed no tracking information for almost a month until I filed an insurance claim, then said it was being returned to sender because of an error in my delivery address, then finally turned up on my end, with absolutely no address problems whatsoever.
  • One $300 money order, sent to a local business, that has not been delivered after a week, and for which I must wait 60 days to file a claim of loss.
  • Consistent long lines at the counter after 5PM, waits of 45 minutes to an hour, with only one person manning them.

Based on this, I must conclude that the congressional mandate forcing the USPS to pre-fund retiree benefits is not the only reason the organization is in desperate trouble.
01/11/2014Today I sat down and figured out the upcoming USPS website changes. Hopefully there will be no interruption to the site's postage calculator. Aside from updated prices the only thing that affect us is, apparently they are eliminating Standard Post (formerly Parcel Post, the cheapest domestic shipping method for heavier packages) for people in Zones 1-4 from me. This only affects domestic customers, not international.

U.S. Postal Zones refer to areas based on distance from the sender. You can use this tool to see if the change will affect you. Just enter 616 (the first 3 digits of my ZIP code) and find the range with the first three digits of yours in the table it generates. If your Zone is 1-4 from me, you might not have the Standard Post shipping option after January 26.

01/10/2014Oh wow. Remember my ongoing battles with the U.S. Postal Service's webpage, where they were always changing their postage calculation API without telling me? Well today they actually emailed and told me they are making changes. Even more impressively, they informed me in advance, rather than after the fact! So I should be able to adjust the Shoppe's parsing script, with no interruption to service. Is it too late to deem this a Christmas Miracle?

Now, if my computer actually works after I pick it up tonight, I just might start believing in a higher power.

UPDATE: I am posting this from my home PC!

Some kind of power short, that's the final diagnosis. The good news is, they were able to transfer the hard drive contents, so I didn't lose a ton of work and settings. The bad news is, for now I only have one and a half working USB ports (one that's fine and the other which is a little finicky, but I've figured out how to work with it). Going to pick up a powered hub and see if it can handle that. Short of replacing the mainboard entirely, there doesn't seem to be much else I can do about that.

To celebrate this... well I wouldn't call it a victory... "mitigated clusterfuck" has a certain ring to it. To celebrate this mitigated clusterfuck, how about a few new items? (Scroll down.) Couple of greys, a folio, an Ultima cluebook, and the rest of the Building Applications with Cornerstone copies I was able to obtain. These are most likely the last ones I will ever get, for realsies this time.

With the weather back to the point where I can work in my basement without freezing, I've set aside this weekend to work on various Shoppe machinations, and will try to do the same for the next few weeks, assuming the computer holds up. Come on little guy, you can do it.

01/09/2014Okay. I think things are slowly re-approaching normalcy.

*sigh* December was pretty much a perfect shitstorm. Work was aggravating and stressful, then there was all the holiday-related crap I had to run around and take care of. So when the computer screwed up I pretty much shut down for the rest of the year. I can only deal with so much aggravation at once, and when I hit my limits I tend to hit them HARD.

Just ask the guy who is now blocked from using the Shoppe. I warned him on this page, and I warned him over email, and he just would not stop asking, "Are we there yet?" And finally I just turned this car around. (I'm not worried about losing his business. He was attempting to lowball me at every turn. $20 for the sealed Infocom sampler? Puh-leaze.)

After Christmas I started shopping around locally for a repair service or replacement computer, because I just didn't have the energy to dink with it myself. Then the winter storm hit, and the cold and the roads were bad enough that I didn't want to drive anywhere. But this weekend, I should finally have a working computer again. Which means I should be faster at filling orders now, and I can pick up coding the new functionality for selling the rare items.

Speaking of those, I have the second Infocom batch on the way, lots of promotional and internal items in that. Then there's one final batch after that, with some T-shirts and maybe a few other things. Oh, and the the "interesting artifact" I mentioned back in November? I was able to obtain it for my personal collection. More details when I'm ready to share. Keep watching.

12/17/2013 Aaaand we have our first blocked user. Anyone else?
12/12/2013Welllllllll FUCK. Just got the diagnosis from the repair place. Hard drive failure.

*sigh* Since I have neither the time nor the inclination to dink around with setting up a new computer at the moment, I'm living without one. I'll do my best to keep the Shoppe running, but this means slower response, and none on weekends. This is also going to indefinitely delay the coding of my method for selling the rare Infocom pieces.

First person to ask "Did you get my message?" gets banned from buying. I'm serious.

12/09/2013Heads up to everyone, my stupid computer is acting up again so I'm probably going to be slower responding to emails until it gets fixed. I'm also really busy and stressed, so I'm probably going to be less patient when responding to people asking why I'm slow responding. Just sayin'.
12/07/2013Just going through my collection database and updating the values on the Adventure International titles based on the recent auction insanity. It's been fascinating to see how the 1% collects. ;p
12/04/2013Holy crap... Have you seen what sealed Adventure International games have been going for at auction? And not their actual adventure games, I'm talking $250-$300 for a sealed Rear Guard, and even $600 as a BuyItNow... Unbelievable!

Thanks to the fellow collector who sent me this tip. That definitely explains the guy who just tried to buy all of mine up at once. Hmm, maybe I should start using the 'Bay as a price guide again. Do you still have to be a member to search completed listings?

UPDATE: It looks like it may have been a passing fad. This one cracked $50 but didn't go much higher. I'll keep monitoring them. So for a few brief hours I thought I was suddenly thousands of dollars richer, but then I lost it all. This must be how day traders feel, at least the ones who are bad at it.

Topic shift... Has anyone else had problems using the "yois.biz" domain to access the site? It's set up as a redirect to yois.if-legends.org, but it seems to be frequently problematic, for me at least. I may have to Go chat with my Daddy about this... *sigh* My labors are unceasing.

12/02/2013Just a reminder, the YOIS Black Friday / Cyber Monday deal closes at midnight tonight.

I'm putting together packages tonight, and will get everybody's items in the mail first thing tomorrow morning, and then your refund amounts back to you later in the day.

11/29/2013The YOIS Black Friday deal is officially extended through the end of Cyber Monday. Because why not.
11/28/2013Today's listings:

  • The last of the grey boxes, including several shrinked.
  • The last Fooblitzky.
  • The last Classic Mystery and Sci-Fi Classics slipcovers.
  • The last Infocom Sampler.
  • Plus I added a few loose disks and parts to some of the incomplete items.

That's pretty much everything for now. Check back in (hopefully) December to see the new system for selling rare items and some stuff you couldn't buy in stores!

11/27/2013All right, I have Decided. The YOIS Black Friday deal is a go:

  • $1 off every individual item priced at $10 or higher.
  • Plus 5% off all orders totalling $100 or more (before shipping).
  • Plus half price shipping on ALL orders.
  • And your choice of a free InvisiClues pen or Moonmist "Legendary Ghosts of Cornwall" booklet with ANY order, while supplies last. (Which they should... Seriously, I have a ton of these things.)

For all orders opened between Friday, November 29th and Sunday, December 1st. I say opened because I work with flexible prices, and sometimes hammering out a deal can take a few days. So as long as you start the trade discussion during those days, the deal is still good. And since I'm personally in U.S. Central Standard Time and the YOIS server is on UTC/GMT +1 hours, I'll even be somewhat flexible with the cutoff time.

Just place your orders as normal and I'll do a partial refund afterward, since there's no way I will have time to code this into the site before then.

Maybe not as good as what you can save at Best Buy or Wal-Mart, but c'mon, they're megacorporations, and I'm one guy with a basement. Plus here you don't have to wait in lines or fight crowds.

11/24/2013Starting to wrap things up. Today I've listed:

  • The last of the InvisiClues.
  • The last of the Infocomics, including some packaging mockups for ZorkQuest #2. (In case you missed it, that's the first official hint I've dropped as to where all of this stuff came from!)
  • A few loose game pieces.
  • Loose InvisiClues pens.
  • A couple of Cornerstone demo kits.
  • Science Fiction Classics slipcover set.

There will be one more wave of greys sometime next week, but nothing I haven't already listed. And I have a stack of loose disks to go through and possibly complete some of the incomplete packages. Email me if you've bought an incomplete one in recent weeks and I can send you the disk, no extra charge. After that I'll begin seriously working on my method to sell the ultra-rare pieces... and preparing to acquire the second half of this amazing collection.

Yes. There is more. :O

I may need to hold a Black Friday sale.

11/23/2013Another batch is up. I'm at the point where I can fit the unlisted stuff on a single table. The collection room is actually starting to feel a bit empty when I walk in now.



I'm also on the trail of an interesting artifact from the Infocom era that I stumbled across last night. Hopefully it's still available; I need to call the place tomorrow and find out. (Sorry for being deliberately vague. I'll share more details once I have it confirmed.)

Oh, and the copy of Building Applications with Cornerstone that I have listed? Turns out it might not be the last copy I get after all. Fingers crossed.

11/19/2013To those of you who wrote to check, yes, I'm fine after yesterday's tornadoes (and thanks for asking). Peoria dodged them but they hit several towns across the river. The worst the Shoppe had was strong winds, blinding rain and pea-sized hail for about an hour. I have been pondering my good fortune.

If you want to help others who weren't so lucky, please go to the Red Cross or Salvation Army. Beware of charity scams, as this is the kind of thing that brings them out in droves.

I'll post more items tomorrow.

11/17/2013I just listed about 20 more items, including a copy of the Building Applications with Cornerstone book. It's quite possibly the last one I will ever get in stock.
11/14/2013More greys listed. At this point I'm about halfway there. The pile is shrinking noticeably as I list and shelve them:



Also, spammers? Please stop sending me messages about the amazing video that will show me how to seduce any woman I want. I am not and will never be desperate enough to open one. Seriously, it was mildly amusing at first, but after about 500 of them it's just sad. Try something original.

(Yes, I know they will never read this. I just wanted to say it.)

11/10/2013New items are up. And it turns out, so is my regular Post Office, thankfully.

Just a reminder, you can ask for pictures of anything if you feel my text descriptions are inadequate. Even though all text worked well enough for playing Infocom, it may not be quite as ideal when you're collecting them. I've had photo functionality written into the site for a while. Maybe once I get all of this listed I'll actually try it out.

Finally, if you have something reserved and you get the automated warning from the site, you'll need to either send payment or drop me a note to refresh the trade. This system was put in place when I designed the site, to keep items from being reserved indefinitely for people who never respond. When I get busy like I currently am, I don't always have time to check and refresh for you, so definitely send a reminder, or your items may get freed up for someone else to buy. (Thanks.)

11/08/2013More listings. I'm trying to plow through the grey boxes and InvisiClues, while throwing in the occasional rare gem. Saving the rarest for last, as I'm still coding up my method for dealing with those.

I might be slow shipping things out, depending on my Post Office. On Wednesday they were completely shut down, citing technical problems, which I assume meant their entire computer system. I ended up driving to the downtown distribution center, which meant navigating a maze of twisty little one-way streets and lane closures due to construction. Signage was inadequate, so attempting to find my way around was a complete painus in the anus. I couldn't even drop a different item at each intersection to help me make a map, because of littering laws. I'm not enduring that again, so if my usual P.O. is still closed, mailings will have to wait until I can get to the one in the next town over (meaning weekends, probably). Apologies in advance if that's the case.

11/06/2013Another dozen items listed, including the original Infocom Sampler. Probably nothing tomorrow night, as I need to get laundry folded.
11/04/2013Quick question for collectors in Europe: Have any of you seen this variation on the Infocom Masterpieces collection disc?



The "Made in EU" notation leads me to believe it came from the blue "Essentials" release, but mine is sealed so I can't (won't) check. If someone out there has an opened one, can you confirm?

Thanks in advance.

UPDATE: Confirmed, it is from the European "Essentials" release. Thanks, Karl!

I'm busy putting together packages, so no new items tonight, sorry. Check back tomorrow. But I did want to mention musician Tony Longworth's Infocom-inspired album. At the moment it's only available as an MP3 download, but he's planning an eventual CD release through Kickstarter, with a deluxe grey-box style packaging. If you want this as badly as I do, please email Tony and pledge your support.

11/03/2013More stuff listed! Enchanter Trilogy, unused Classic Mystery Library slipcover, more unopened InvisiClues packs, another Fooblitzky plus I've got a disk for the first one. Right now I'd estimate I'm between 20-25% of the way through this huge collection. More to come. If you're looking for something specific please email and let me know. I'm not doing any off-Shoppe deals because it's just too much for me to keep track of, but I can move items of interest to the top of the pile and get them listed faster. The exception is the ultra-rarities (you may have noticed the Starcross saucer in those pics below). Things like that are hard to price, but I'm working on a method that will allow me to sell them a bit differently from the regular Shoppe stock.

I've updated the Cornerstone Database Database with a few new details I've learned. And yes, there will be more Cornerstone related items listed eventually.

Finally, a special welcome to all the visitors from You Suck at Craigslist. As you can see I am deliberately, even defiantly, retro in my site layout... which is a nice way of saying I suck at web design. Special thanks to T.C. for showing me the YSaC blog a while back and suggesting I put an ad up there.

11/02/2013Another batch listed. Tonight's highlights include a Cornerstone box (alas, incomplete), shrinked Deadline folio, and another Sampler. More to come! It's great to have actual Infocom items back in stock again. I'd honestly forgotten how much fun I have doing this.
11/01/201325 new items listed. Don't miss the Fooblitzky, the sealed InvisiClues packs and the later Infocom Sampler!

This is definitely the way I'll do it, pace myself, list a smaller batch every day or two rather than stress out trying to get everything listed ASAP. Some of the rarer items I'm still not sure how to price, so I'll also be working on a solution to that.

Then, once I'm ready, I'll reveal from whence all of this treasure came. Stay tuned.

10/31/2013Okay, I'm back with working USB ports and an all-new neurosis about this computer. Need to spend tonight catching up on things from the last 4 days, then tomorrow it'll be back to listing stuff. Infocom stuff!
10/28/2013Explaining the lack of updates over the weekend... My computer (the new one which I finally bought) apparently decided having 8 USB ports made things too convenient for me, so it chose to have them all stop working. No keyboard or mouse = no input = no updates. Until I can get that fixed, I'm going to have to list them at work when I'm not on company time, which is going to throttle progress tremendously. Same for responding to emails, so your patience is appreciated.

In the meantime, I did empty out the two huge boxes and sort of organize everything on some folding tables. Please stare in awe at what is soon to come your way (faster if I can get this retarded computer functional again):



(Sorry, no off-Shoppe advance purchases, so please don't ask. I've got enough to do without trying to keep track of that as well.)

10/25/2013Another day... another lack of listings. *sigh* But I'm not slacking off, I promise. Tonight I spent about an hour moving stuff around so I could put in some new shelves. Then shifting over half the Shoppe inventory onto the new shelves so I could keep everything in order. And even after all that, it's still not going to be enough space to house... well... THIS:



*sigh* First-world problems at their finest. :\

10/24/2013Fixed the shipping problem! The USPS changed the name of Parcel Post to "Standard Post", that was what was screwing it up. Spent an hour and a half tracking that down (so, no time for new items tonight, sorry). Jeez. Talk about a painus in the anus.

Anybody else use the USPS's API for calculating postage? If so, how do you deal with it when they change stuff around like that? I never get any notifications, I just end up finding out when it starts returning the wrong amount. There has got to be a better way.

10/23/2013In case you're just joining or hadn't noticed, I've stepped up my listing and am trying to put up a few new items every night. I really want to get everything listed so I can start updating the vault and want-list, plus double-check to make sure everything currently listed is actually in stock. This is sort of shaping up to become my project for the winter.
10/22/2013Just noticed that the postage calculator is acting up again. It's giving really low insured parcel post rates for domestic shipping, and is allowing Media Mail when it shouldn't. If you submit a purchase through the site, I'll need to follow up with you on the shipping costs.

*sigh* I'll get it fixed when I have a chance. Trying to get this huge backlog listed.

10/13/2013If you submitted a trade offer and got an error message, please try again. I fixed the error, it was related to the recent server migration.
10/11/2013Finally, new items listed!

Quite a few gems this time, including those Japanese items I asked long ago whether anyone was interested in. Some of them, I'm interested to see if anyone else even knew they existed. This update has been a long time coming, as I have been extremely busy lately, and will likely continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Right now I'm in the process of acquiring several large collections, so there will definitely be a lot more listed. I'll share more details when I'm ready, but for now let's just say I'm putting the Infocomme back in Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe. You've probably noticed over the years that my Infocom inventory has gradually depleted, replaced by games from other companies. That will be changing, beginning very soon. The plan is to try to keep to a regular schedule and list a batch of new items on a weekly basis, probably on Sunday afternoons, around 2-3PM CST. But I've also been doing flea markets on Sundays, so there's no guarantee I won't skip an occasional update, or post on a different day and time.

Since I'm sure this new lot will spawn many requests for pictures, I'd like to recommend that newcomers and people who have been away from the Shoppe for a while take a moment to re-familiarize yourselves with the FAQs, especially this one. As I said, I have been extremely busy lately. If you pester me with a question that is already covered in the FAQ, I will only respond to you using Internet memes. Because Internet memes are tired and annoying, just like those questions.

Have fun browsing, and check back regularly.

08/16/2013If you were having trouble viewing individual items for sale over the last few days, that problem has been fixed. (Thanks, Stefan.)
04/05/2013Last call for Japanese Ultima games and books. I'm placing the order with my source next week, so LMK if there's anything you want.
03/20/2013Question for the Ultima collectors out there: How interested are you in Japanese Ultima games, clue books, and other tie-ins? How would you value these in relation to their North American counterparts? Higher, since they're harder to obtain, or lower, since they're all written in Japanese?

I have an opportunity to purchase a sizable quantity, but wanted to gauge the interest first, to make sure it's worth it.

Thanks.

02/08/2013Okay. The automatic postage calculator should finally be fixed for both domestic and international Shoppers. Talk about an ordeal. The USPS started blocking direct page calls from YOIS last year, so I had to recode my process. Their API is kinda persnickety, their documentation is outright wrong in several places, and their technical support is as annoyingly unhelpful as... certain individuals from SWCollect I won't mention by name. It's like trying to read braille using your elbows. If anybody needs to pull USPS postage rates for their own website, just email me and I'll send you the code I used, save you a lot of aggravation. And if you do still encounter an error with it, please let me know.

One thing that's changed is Media Mail. USPS is telling me I can no longer use this method unless every single item in your order is a book (and the fact that Infocom games have the browsie doesn't count, in their eyes). So the Shoppe checks first, and won't offer it unless it qualifies. Sorry about this. It's their call, not mine, and I don't want to lose money on returned packages. Same with international orders, I have to declare the full value on the customs forms. Please take that into consideration when deciding how much to spend.

I know I haven't done much with the site lately, but wanted to reassure everyone I'm still here and still collecting. Admittedly it's much slower without eBay, but I'm still not going back to them. I do have a couple of big boxes full of various items that I need to list, but I'm waiting until Rick Thornquist's book comes out (hopefully this year) since it reveals a number of relatively unknown items, of which I've slowly been accumulating stocks. Yeah, still as capitalist pig-dog as ever. (Not selling any of it off-Shoppe, so please don't inquire.)

10/03/2012Anybody in Germany who can order a couple of items off of Amazon.de for me? I'll pay you back, or offer items from the Shoppe of equal value as a trade. Thanks in advance.
09/10/2012The "yois.biz" redirect is currently down due to the GoDaddy hack. You can still get to the server by entering the hostname directly: yois.if-legends.org. Though if you're reading this, I guess you already knew that.
07/25/2012Okay, I could use some help here from anyone familiar with PHP and XML.

I am trying, and have been off and on for weeks, to update the Shoppe's postage calculator so it uses the U.S. Postal Service's rate API (as my old method is no longer working). Their API is an absolute pile of crap, and their technical support is just as bad. I have tried everything I can think of to fix it, so I am down to asking for assistance.

I will offer your choice of any item from the Shoppe, excluding ultra-rarities, to anyone who is able to figure it out. Please contact me if you wish to undertake The Challenge, and I shall provide the full details.

No wonder the USPS is going bankrupt.

03/06/2012Having a problem with the USPS website when calculating postage. It's returning an error message when the Shoppe attempts to open a pricing page, but if I enter the URL in my browser it works fine.

I have a case open with them, but for now you'll need to go to the page itself (there's a link in the YOIS error message) and choose the postage option you want. Then I'll either send you a PayPal invoice, or you can initiate a payment and manually specify the item cost and the shipping cost.

Not the most convenient methods, but the issue is on their end and there's not much else I can do until they fix it.

01/26/2012I realize it's been ages since I've posted anything other than new sales items here, and perhaps I'm late to the party and everybody already knows about this. But I wanted to make everyone aware that Infocom collectors now have to worry about re-minted zorkmid coins possibly being passed off as originals.

Another collector, Jason Joyce, wrote to me saying he had found a Zork Trilogy which appeared to be complete, except the zorkmid was not an original. In his exact words:

"After I got it back home, I noticed the Zorkmid didn't look or feel right. Significantly lighter than the other Zorkmid I have. After a casual inspection turned up a seam on the edge of the coin (not centered, but toward the obverse side of the coin), I knew why.

Apparently someone's gone in to the Zorkmid "minting" business by cold casting coins with a mold, resin and bronze powder."

This thread is a fascinating step-by-step of how he did it, complete with photos, including a comparison between an original and his re-mint showing the difference in the metal. The discussion is a couple of years old, but I wasn't aware of it until Jason pointed me toward it. I'd heard of interest in making new zorkmids before, most notably Robin Lionheart's Zorkmid Project, but this thread is the first time I've actually seen one made.

My position on this remains the same as I told Robin years ago. So long as the recasts are clearly identifiable and are not being sold as originals, I have no problem with this. The creator, whose name appears to be Todd, clearly states his intent to mint more of them, and if he has it would definitely explain how one ended up in the original package Jason found. Even if Todd is honest, you can bet there are people who are not, and who may try to pass a replica off as an original. Be careful if buying on eBay, and always ask to see pictures of both sides, and the edge to check for seams. They were originally in a small plastic baggie, not loose, so that's a good indicator of authenticity. Zorkmids are valuable and highly sought after these days, which makes them an obvious target for counterfeiters.

(Also Todd's comment about the coin never being sold by itself is incorrect. Infocom did offer them through The Status Line at one point, both as contest prizes and through direct sales toward the end of the company's lifetime.)

01/25/2011Just a heads-up to my international buyers: The U.S. Postal Service went and changed their site again, and instead of displaying every mailing option at once now has them hidden behind tabs that need to be clicked to display. This means not all of the shipping prices are coming across correctly, most notably Priority Mail which is displaying as "$0.00".

Much as I'd like to be able to, I can't afford to give everyone free Priority Mail International shipping. I'm awaiting a response from them, but until then I'll be contacting overseas buyers and letting them know the shipping quotes manually.

Sorry for the inconvenience. And damn the U.S. Postal Service, or at least their webmasters.

01/13/2011Please let me know if you've recently had an open trade expire but didn't get the advance warning, or if you didn't get a confirmation email when you registered. I have reason to suspect that some ISPs are incorrectly flagging the automated emails from YOIS as spam, and blocking them. I'm looking into it but the more data I have, the better. Thanks.
06/29/2010I've just been informed that the art dealer who sold me the Zork Chronicles and Lost City of Zork paintings has also managed to track down the original cover artwork for Wishbringer! I should know more in a couple of weeks.

Enchanter, unfortunately, appears to be lost. The last I heard it was owned by Byron Preiss, the author and book publisher (who co-wrote Dragonworld). He passed away in 1995, and his company filed Chapter 11 a year later. No idea what happened to the painting, but if the original owner happens to see this, I'd greatly appreciate being contacted.

05/10/2010Okay, here's the big news, a bit late: I have acquired the original paintings used as the cover art of the two Avon Zork novels, The Zork Chronicles and The Lost City of Zork! Pics coming, eventually. I'm in the process of tracking down Enchanter and Wishbringer.
04/27/2010I'm in the process of listing the sell/trade items I've accumulated over the past few months. Anybody still need a BattleTech pin? I've got one. Quite a few loose parts and cluebooks as well.

(This is not the "significant news" I mentioned the other day. Should have that by the end of the week, or early next.)

04/24/2010Hey all,

The Shoppe's postage calculator is finally fixed. Sorry it took so long.

I know I've barely posted in over a year, but in about a week or two I should have some very significant collection news to share with everyone.

03/29/2010If you're getting an "Unable to acquire postage data" error trying to check out, I think the USPS changed their page layout on me again. I'll look at fixing it when I have the time. In the meantime you can just email me and I'll quote you a price based on the items you've reserved.
04/23/2009I've just imported every listing in the Shoppe over to my GameTZ account. (Actually the GameTZ staff did it, I just provided them with the database extract.) If you're a member there and want to build up your score, I'm happy to work the trade through their system.
04/21/2009Finally.

After three whole months, I am finally down to the Last. Frikkin'. Box.

And for all intents and purposes, we're done. The last box is just 30-odd copies of Third Courier, and I'm not gonna bother listing them all. I've already put up a dozen or so, and the Shoppe is overflowing with duplicates as it is.

So that's the entire TomMage haul, and probably the last Shoppe update for awhile. Hope you had fun, I sure did.

04/15/20092 boxes left! (Sorry for the delay between updates, things got kind of busy at work and I had to work through lunch.)
04/09/20093...
04/08/20094...
04/07/20095...
04/04/20096 boxes...
04/03/20097 boxes...
04/02/20098 boxes to go...
04/01/20099 boxes to go...
Legends of Zork is live! Haven't had a chance to try it yet.
03/31/2009I've listed another box of games. We're down to the final 10 now. Think I'll try to make a push to get everything else listed within the next 2 weeks.

And with that, I give you (as promised), 8-bit nudity.

03/28/2009Just heard from another collector who confirmed that both Goodnight, Cruel World and Parisian Knights by Abstract Concepts were definitely unreleased. (Info thirdhand but originated from Fergus McNeill himself.)
03/23/2009Listed one more box, mostly MicroProse / MicroPlay titles. That's probably all for this week unless I feel really ambitious.

Coming up next: 8-bit nudity!

03/19/2009Another 3 boxes of items listed. This update has the bulk of the SSI games, though there are a few more coming. I'm starting to feel a little burnt out by all of this, so I may take a couple of weekends off, or at least cut back to a single box at a time for awhile. Plus I still need to shelve a lot of the stuff I've listed. And get more shelves.

BTW just in case you didn't notice, I've listed most of the badly-damaged items for very cheap, $2 or $3 at most. And I'll go lower if you're buying in bulk, just to move them.

03/16/2009I've reactivated my account over at Game Trading Zone, if anybody wants to do their trade through that site. Right now I'm trying to find out if I can bulk-load my available list with the Shoppe's data.
03/14/2009Just added 3 more boxes' worth of new item listings. Only 15 more boxes to go!
03/07/2009New items are up, 5 boxes' worth! I also recoded the page to only display items added within the past week, which should make the list a bit easier to sift through. Lots of damaged items, lots of Slash... Remember that huge lot of 10,000 games that Tom bought years ago, from a guy in Pennsylvania (Eli Tomlinson, I think)? A lot of this stuff came out of that, before he sold the remainder to JocksitterDragon.

On an unrelated note, don't use BillMeLater.com as an online payment service. I found a fraudulent charge to my account this week, and getting them to reverse it has been... a lot like dealing with eBay. (Check the 2006 news archive if you're curious.)

03/04/2009Well, between a busy work week and a fraudulent charge to my BillMeLater (I better not find out it was anybody here B-), I haven't gotten much done on adding the latest batch of items. Aiming for this weekend now. I don't think I'm doing anything Friday night.
02/26/2009Another box listed. Mostly crap this time around, but at least it's priced cheap. Grab a $1 or $2 item with the rest of your order. I'll try to get a few more boxes catalogued this weekend and listed early next week.
02/25/2009Got the last of the stuff from Tom on Sunday. Not nearly as much this time, a full trunk and part of the back seat. Still need to sort it into keep versus recycle.



I've been kind of busy with other stuff this week, so it's looking like the weekend for the next batch of new listings. I'll try to get a couple of decent non-IF boxes added in addition to the budget IF stuff.

02/20/2009New items are up, 3 more boxes down! There's one more box of budget IF stuff -- Keypunch, Mastertronic -- then we'll be into the non-IF games. All 20 boxes of them.

On Sunday I'm heading back up to Tom's place to get the last shelf of stuff. (Yeah, there's more!)

02/17/2009Just a quick note on some of the games from this huge lot. A couple of people have asked me about the "smoke odor" in some of the descriptions. I've noticed it when opening some of the boxes to catalogue the contents, but not really on the boxes themselves unless I sniff 'em up close (weirdo). I mention it in the item descriptions when the scent has made a "strong" enough impression on me, in case this is something that really bothers you. Personally I'm more turned off by a box in rotten condition, but I know some collectors who absolutely loathe the smell of cigarettes on their games.

For what it's worth, I've also found that spraying a little Febreeze on a soft cloth and wiping the game box or materials with it can sometimes help alleviate the odor. I'm kind of pressed for time and trying to get these listed fast, so I haven't done it myself. But if it makes the difference between a sale and not, I'd be glad to do it and let you know if the odor subsides.

Aiming for Thursday for the next update, which will add 3 more boxes. More Sierra, a number of Telariums and tons of Mastertronic.

02/14/2009I've just listed the first two boxes of games from the TomMage haul: Infocoms, Sierras, several copies of Realms of Darkness by SSI, and a few oddities. Unfortunately in the list below it's mixed in with the other stuff I added recently. Sorry, not much I can easily do about that. Just have to pick through the list again or wait a few days for the older stuff to disappear.

Much more to come.

02/04/2009Just listed some new items. Note that these are not from the TomMage haul. These are items belonging to a friend, and some of my own, that I was planning to list before I bought up the huge lot. Finally getting around to uploading them.

I'll start on the first box of TomMage stuff tonight. It's going to take awhile -- I need to price, weigh, and write descriptions for every single piece, then generate a script to bulk-insert them, since that's still faster than entering them all manually.

Anybody in the Peoria area looking for a temporary job? B-)

01/31/2009This past week I finally got through the entirety of the TomMage haul. That means it's all sorted, now I have to actually describe and list it all. Trying to push myself to get a little bit done every week, so expect regular updates this year. A few highlights:
  • Twenty-six boxed copies of National Lampoon's Chess Maniac 5 Billion and One.
  • Forty-five boxed copies of The Third Courier, by Accolade.
  • Thirty or so various boxed Cinemaware titles (Defender of the Crown, Rocket Ranger, Sinbad and the Throne of the Falcon).
  • More boxed Mastertronic games (Demon's Forge, Demon's Tomb, Time to Die / Borrowed Time) than I bothered to count.
  • Eight early strip poker or similar adult-themed games (yay for 8-bit nudity!)

Here's the final tally:

Infocom games: 1 large box.



Non-Infocom I-F games: 5 large boxes.



Non-IF Shoppe-worthy games: 20 large boxes.



To be sold through Amazon Marketplace: 7 large boxes.



Donated to my local computer recycler for a nice tax deduction: 4 small and 2 large boxes.



Kept for myself: The equivalent of 1 large box.



Thrown away: Absolutely nothing.

01/24/2009As of today I can see my floor again.

This is a great way to unwind in the evenings. I'll come home from work and spend an hour, hour and a half working through the pile. I've started eating dinner later, so I'm not hungry enough to have something right before bed, plus I'm getting lots of exercise from all this lifting and bending down. And some people say this obsession is unhealthy. Pfff.

01/23/2009Still digging into TomMage's lot. This is how far I got last night. The sad part is this is just organizing it. I still have to write descriptions and list all this stuff.


01/21/2009Since almost all of my actual gaming over the past two years has been on consoles, I've added a list of console games I'm looking for. There's also a link on the Want-List page. I'll trade Shoppe items or offer cash for any of these.
01/20/2009What a weekend! My father and I took separate cars up to TomMage's to clear out a ton of his games that were taking up space in his parents' basement. Check out this haul:

We loaded up more than five bookcases of games, five shelves apiece, two rows per shelf, and came home with two cars stuffed full. Now I have to go through all of this and organize it. Expect a massive Shoppe update, or maybe more realistically, a series of smaller ones.

01/14/2009This looks interesting. A company in Ireland has signed a deal with Activision to create a Zork MMO. Looks like it'll be graphical, rather than text-based, and will play on PCs and iPhones. No word yet on subscription costs.
01/06/2009New members: Is anyone having trouble registering with the site? I got an email from someone who said the form wasn't accepting Alaska as a valid state. Haven't had time to look at it, but I'm wondering if anybody else had similar trouble. Thanks.
09/05/2008The postage calculator is fixed... again. (Damn U.S. Postal Service, they keep changing their website!) Let me know if you continue to have problems with it.
07/02/2008Okay, I'm pretty sure the postage calculator is fixed now. Please let me know if it still gives you problems.
06/24/2008Well, seeing as it's been over a year since I quit eBay, I decided it's about time to put the auction deadbeats list to rest. 90% of the people on the list, I can no longer remember the details of why they were added. Those who remain here are the jerks I actually remember in detail, the ones who went beyond mere deadbeatery into the realm of scamming and cheating. Their legacies will live on long after I'm dead.

Also I'm aware of the problem with calculating postage, I just haven't had time to fix it. Until then, if you're buying and ready to checkout, just mail me and I'll calculate the postage manually.

03/18/2008Been cleaning out my storage room, so I'll be listing some new items today. Found a couple of very early Broderbund titles.
02/04/2008I'm doing a YOIS trade with a collector in Europe for some console games, and realized others might be interested in doing the same. I have want-lists handy, and can track down most U.S. console games (I know some titles are unreleased or banned in other countries) if you have a method around the regional lockout.
01/11/2008At LAST.

I've been working since before Christmas to organize and catalogue the 10+ boxes of games I've accumulated over the past year. There are now over 300 new items added. The Shoppe is stuffed to the rafters.

Apologies to those of you who are signed up on the waiting list, but... With this many items I just didn't have the time to list them all individually. Instead I used a bulk-insert script which unfortunately meant bypassing the waiting list check. So if there's something that would have matched, you won't get a notification or reservation. To be honest I've thought about doing away with the waiting list altogether, as nearly every entry is for something either so rare or in such pristine condition that I'm extremely unlikely to ever get it in. Let me know if there are any strong opinions on this one way or the other.

And finally, I'm afraid I have no idea what the deal is with the SWCollect list. The last I heard it was supposed to be up again soon, however that was weeks ago. If I do hear anything I'll post it.

12/03/2007If you tried to access if-legends.org yesterday, you may have noticed it was down. Stefan tells me we had a hard disk crash and the server went down to prevent any data loss. The defective disk got replaced and everything should be working fine now. Sorry for any inconvenience.
09/30/2007Okay, we should be completely migrated over to the new server now. I haven\'t noticed any problems, and have had several orders come across successfully. But let me know if you find anything that doesn\'t work.
09/25/2007Sorry to anyone who had trouble accessing the site the last couple of days. Stefan migrated us to a new server and I just got the yois.biz domain name pointed to it. The new main page is at http://yois.if-legends.org.
08/13/2007Update on the Planetfall 2 auction: The winner is a member of SWCollect and he's going to make sure the game (it's a playable version) is made available. I'm getting a copy from the seller too, turns out he's a former Activision employee I bought a bunch of stuff from a few years back.
08/10/2007Anyone thinking of bidding on the Planetfall 2 demo currently listed on eBay, beware. The seller has 88.2% positive feedback, which is pitiful. Even if he got it from "someone at Infocom", I'm reasonably sure this is just a copy of the demo that came on the Masterpieces CD, which has been freely available at Jim Leonard's site for years now.
07/20/2007The Shoppe is temporarily closed for a couple of weeks. Vacation is coming up, plus I'm dropping completely off the Internet for a few days to avoid any Harry Potter spoilers. (Yes, I'm a freak... This is news to us HOW? B-)
07/04/2007Happy 4th everyone! I'm celebrating the freedom of my country by cleaning up a bunch of the crap I've been dragging into it. Unearthed a big box of Adventure International styrofoam packages (arcade stuff, no adventures, sorry) and am currently adding them to the Shoppe database, along with the latest thrift and computer recycler acquisitions.
06/12/2007I've finally gotten around to fixing the postage calculator after the USPS rate change. If you've been having problems getting shipping quotes from the site, it should be fixed now. But let me know if you see any odd behavior. I still haven't learned all the new mailing rules yet but I'm working on it.

There have been significant changes for international postage. First and most noticeable, there is no longer any "surface mail" option. Everything goes either First-Class Int'l (if it's light enough) or Priority International. The good news is that insurance up to about $65 is now included with any international packages. The bad news is the overall cost is way up, especially to Canada.

03/18/2007I've been asked to participate in Get Lamp, a documentary film about text adventures. More details as I get them myself.
11/17/2006After seeing the insane prices they're fetching, I decided I can wait another 4 months to play Twilight Princess. My Nintendo Wii is listed on BidVille. First bid wins. (Please don't bitch to me about the price, bitch to everybody who's bidding even higher on eBay.)
11/14/2006It's amazing, in the last couple of weeks I have had THREE people ask about buying my eBay account. Wonder why nobody wanted it when it was still open? I'm trying to get eBay to stop the cancel process so I can sell it. Right now it's up to $20 but the other two buyers haven't made counter-offers yet.
10/27/2006This is going to sound like a strange request, but... If any of you get any of those "419" Nigerian scam e-mails, can you forward them to me? (Address is at the bottom of the page.) These are the e-mails from somebody in Africa, or sometimes other places, offering you a cut of a huge sum of money if you help them out by sending smaller amounts for various "fees" and such. Of course it's a total scam, but I found a great website that messes with these people, and I want to try something. I promise it'll be a great story and I'll post it in its entirety when I'm done.
10/26/2006It is done. As of this morning I am no longer a registered eBay user. It's a surprisingly quick process to cancel an account, faster than listing an auction I think. They tell me my user account may still appear in their system for up to 180 days, but I can no longer use any eBay features that require me to sign into the site. I am DONE with this putrid company and everything they stand for.

One of the screens I had to click through as part of the process stated that someone from eBay customer service might contact me to see if there is any way they can get me to stay. OHHHHHHH GAWD I hope they do.

10/23/2006About 5 days left... I have lowered the starting bid on my eBay account auction to $10.
10/19/2006We're down to 10 days remaining on my eBay account auction, and still no takers. If the $50 starting bid is too high I will consider lowering it at this point, so feel free to e-mail me with your own offers. I'm going to unload the account one way or another, but would prefer to get something, anything, for it. Beandip the Kitty will thank you. If you already have an eBay account they have a way to merge the two and consolidate your feedback.
10/10/2006I had faint hopes for a moment this morning, when I saw a message from eBay in my box. It turns out they wrote to tell me that the "violations that were committed by a third party have been overturned". Gee, thanks, only took you morons an entire WEEK to answer the e-mail I sent last Tuesday. God, is it any wonder I'm quitting??

On that subject, my account auction has had almost 100 hits since yesterday. That's a lot for BidVille. If anybody wants to bid on it just e-mail me and, assuming you're capable of forming sentences so I don't mistake you for a Nigerian scammer, I'll let you in. (Yes, the irony of blocking zero-feedback bidders on an auction for a way to bypass zero-feedback-bidder blockers is not lost on me. B-)

10/09/2006Well, I thought long and hard about my eBay griefs last week, and after much consideration, I came up with a course of action that supports my desire to dump eBay, Jim's idea of exploiting them to make money, and Peter's suggestion that I give it some time first (20 days ought to be enough). Let me know what you think, if you're so inclined.

If no one else wants it after this time, then I will quietly close the account. However it may turn out, I can rest assured that I will:

  • Never again have to deal with a deadbeat bidder.
  • Never again wish I had bid more on an item I didn't win.
  • Never again feel like I bid too much on an item I did win.
  • Never again have to pay to list items that don't sell.
  • Never again surf eBay when I'm bored, wasting time looking for stuff I don't need.
  • Never again get all worked up over someone tricking a seller into selling privately (because I won't see it happen).
  • Never again have to look for a seller who doesn't charge 7 dollars to ship a DVD.
  • Never again pay for insurance and have my package mailed without it.
  • Never again have to take a chance on getting a crushed / worn / incomplete item that's described as "like new".
  • Never again have to slog through 6 pages of crap to sell an item.
  • Never again get listing or final value fees raised on me.
  • Never again have my listings removed without warning because of some stupid rule.
  • Never again have to enter barely discernable codes in order to send an e-mail to someone.
  • Never again be unable to see the bidding activity of a foreign bidder who is allowed to see mine.
  • Never again have to worry about my account getting hijacked and wasting 12 hours explaining the issue over and over again to eBay support staff.

To me, that's a LOT of peace of mind. In return, all I have to do is:

  • Give up bidding on rare collectible games through this one particular venue (which I seldom end up winning anyway).
  • Give up trying to get bargains on newer console releases through this one particular venue (which is less fun than finding them in the offline world).
  • Give up selling through this one particular venue (which admittedly has good traffic, but is it really worth all the crap I've listed above?)

Others will disagree, but to me this sounds like an excellent trade-off. Just imagine, the best deal I will ever get from eBay could be from leaving it.

Hmm, that might be profound if anyone besides me was sayin' it.

10/05/2006After getting some thoughts from the SWCollect crew yesterday, I've decided to give eBay one more chance. Howard found an old e-mail for Bill Cobb, the President of eBay, which people could supposedly write to at one time to get personalized, non-canned responses. (It's billcobb@ebay.com.) That was a year or so ago, no idea if it's still being checked. But I feel I deserve some sort of compensation for all the trouble caused by the screw-ups of eBay's customer service. It doesn't have to be much, just something other than words.

I'll let everybody know what Bill / his secretary / the canned response / the undeliverable mail notice says. Or if I don't get a reply, I'll let you know that too. I'll give them until Saturday morning. That's 48 hours, which is the longest eBay's normal mail system is supposed to take.

10/04/2006Just when I thought it was all over...

This morning I signed into my e-mail and there was ANOTHER VeRO violation notice! That's right, after all the time and effort spent talking to people yesterday, explaining my situation over and over, they STILL managed to fuck it up. In addition, the rest of my valid auctions Tricia said would be relisted yesterday weren't, and I found a discrepancy between my current balance on the summary statement and the details. Not a big one, just a couple of dollars, but I'll burn in Hell before I lose any money over this mess.

Back to chat, and another hour and a half pissed away on this. I had two sessions going at once, one with VeRO and one with billing. The VeRO guy got all of my valid auctions back and assured me the VeRO violation notices would stop. The balance, the billing guy explains, is out of whack because my account is currently in the invoicing cycle. (They billed me my remaining balance when they suspended me.) He says this is a known issue they are woring to resolve, and assures me the numbers will clear up when the process is complete. You better believe I'll be checking up on it, and taking it up with my credit card company if the numbers are still wrong.

I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. I've given myself a lot of time to ponder this, both during times when I was furious and after I'd calmed down, and I think if I get any more hassles over this, I'm leaving eBay permanently. I will close my account with its 1500+ feedback and will never buy or sell there again. People who know me know that when I say things like this, I am serious. This was not a decision I made lightly. Getting suspended really made me take a good hard look at the role I let eBay play in my life. Would I still be able to collect without them? Perhaps, although certainly not as easily. I'd miss out on rare items, auctions by former Implementors like Brian Moriarty, and bargains on more recent console stuff I like to play. On the other hand, there have been times in the past I've felt like a slave to eBay, getting caught up in bidding and spending far too much money. The grief of the past few days alone makes me question whether it's worth it.

Check back tomorrow morning for my final answer.

10/03/2006Hmm, it seems eBay is not nearly as competent as I thought. I got a suspension notice from them this morning, apparently whoever fixed my hijacked account did not report this to the VeRO people, and my account is now suspended due to the bogus DVD auctions I did not list.

NOW I am pissed. Stay tuned, this page is my bitching soapbox.

UPDATE:

Okay, here's what's happened so far. I tried using the same LiveChat link from yesterday, and got someone who identified him/her/itself as "Golden G." (Last name "Goose", perhaps? Or maybe he's a rap dude and the "G" is for Gangsta? Word.)

Anyway, short story long, Golden tells me his department did not suspend my account and thus is not able to reinstate it, blah blah blah. You can read the whole chat transcript if you want. One interesting thing was that this individual chose not to tell me about the satisfaction survey I could fill out if I held down "Ctrl" when I closed the LiveChat window. Possibly because he saw I was very unhappy with the answers he gave me. Fortunately I remembered how to do it from yesterday. B-)

Golden mentioned asking in the general LiveChat, so I go back to eBay's main page and try there. It's a lot faster to get someone there, but same problem, nobody has the power to do anything. Janet (that's who I got) did try to reassure me by "checking on" my case and telling me Trust & Safety was reviewing it "right now", but long story short, eBay does not handle suspension issues over the phone or through chat.

Next thing I did was try the link in eBay's suspension notice e-mail, but that took me to this horrible page telling me I had to snail or fax them some documentation proving who I am, along with a statement promising never to list bogus items again. Screw that, it reads like I'm signing a confession for something I did NOT do. I poke around Help a little more and come up with this link, which allows me to appeal my suspension through e-mail. I hate this because there's no way to know how long it might take before they decide to respond, but at the moment it's all I've got.

It's hard to describe the frustration I'm feeling over this. It's like being falsely arrested for a crime, and not allowed to speak to anyone who can do anything to help free you. They say anytime someone compares something to Hitler or Nazis, they automatically lose their argument, but screw it, that's exactly what eBay looks like to me right now.

Much more to follow, I'm sure.

UPDATE #2:

I've made some more progress. Because one of the items was bought before eBay canned them, I had a buyer's e-mail. I contacted him, explained the situation, and asked for a copy of the auction if he still had it, or any information he might have on the hijacker. Even though we didn't have a valid eBay transaction. (Heh, what are they gonna do, kick me off the site?? B-)

This guy was awesome. He was very understanding about the auction (and I felt really bad because he told me it was a present for his wife's birthday), and he forwarded me a copy of the PayPal transaction. Yeah, he'd already paid for it, I'm working on getting that straightened out now too. Hopefully eBay communicates better with PayPal than they do with themselves, and the money was already refunded to this guy.

But the good news is, I got a name for the hijacker, "Guotong Wu", and an e-mail address, bmaoed@hotmail.com. He'd left my account information alone, and just entered his own PayPal e-mail address when listing the fraudulent auctions. So it looks like the people on SWCollect who suggested this were right. (If I haven't said this already, thanks to everybody there for their support, and for putting up with me while I deal with this, I really appreciate it.)

Not surprisingly Google came up empty. But it was enough to send to eBay and PayPal as proof that this wasn't me. Just for the hell, I e-mailed the guy and asked how he accomplished the hijack. I'm sure he'll respond as soon as eBay completely eliminates the possibility of fraud from their site. B-)

Hey, I can joke again, things are looking up. Still waiting on eBay to unfreeze my account, and I suppose I'd better check the bank account I use on PayPal and make sure I can still use that... I don't trust PayPal to not overreact just like eBay did. Fortunately I think I only had like $1.66 stored there.

Oh, and if anybody out there happens to know this Guotong Wu guy, and can tell me where he lives, I will pay you for the information.

FINAL UPDATE: (Unless more shit happens tomorrow morning.)

And just like *that*, things are back to normal.

I got a call (an actual phone call) from Tricia at eBay, who reinstated my account. She even said she'd reinstate the valid auctions I had running when this whole mess started, except they'd show up in my "Sold" tab where I could then relist them. Yes, apparently they can do that. I refreshed the page as she was saying this, and saw 3 of them appear right away. The others, I'm still waiting on, but she assures me they'll get here sometime today. I wish I shared her confidence.

I offerred her the information my detective work had turned up on the hijacker, but she said the appropriate department already knew about the PayPal transaction and was working with PayPal to pursue it. The buyer has already gotten an e-mail explaining how to go about getting his money back.

Tricia was unable to determine for certain how my account was compromised. She says there were two password requests on Monday. One was mine, but she says there was one other one. That one could have been when they reset my account and sent me a new password, or possibly by someone who got into my e-mail, she wasn't sure. I asked her if it could have been an eBay flaw, but she didn't seem to have any idea how that could have been. They couldn't determine what time the password requests happened either. Anyone else waiting to exploit eBay security, there's one weakness for you.

One thing I did get her to do was get her to pass on a complaint to a supervisor, to reprimand the person who reinstated my account the first time. She said that person was supposed to (but didn't) forward the info to the VeRO people so they would know not to suspend me because of the hijacker's listings. I asked if there was anything eBay planned to do to make amends for the time and trouble they cost me. One guess what the answer there was. Just for fun, I searched Help and found the page where you can permanently close your account. There's a contact link there where you can write them with your concerns before you actually go through with it, and I sent them a quick message. We'll see if I can squeeze anything out of them.

Our company has caller ID so I wrote down the number she called from (866-317-3229) but all it gets you is an automated recording. Tricia says eBay support staff's phones can only make outgoing calls.

In the end this just reinforces what I've always believed about eBay. 99.9% of the time things go very well. But that 0.1% when they are bad, they are abysmally bad. And I'm the tip of the iceberg, I'm sure there are many far bigger horror stories out there than mine.

Hey I just realized, this was practically a Shoppe column!

10/02/2006I know it's been forever since I've posted anything here, but this one's important. This is a good message to save in case this ever happens to you. And it CAN.

My eBay account was hijacked early this morning. I tried to sign on repeatedly but it would not take my password. I also found a message from eBay that a bunch of listings had been automatically cancelled because the activity was suspicious. This was not a phish, it had my actual name and other info on it, and no links to bogus sites. The e-mail listed a bunch of DVD box sets I did not put up for sale. There was even one e-mail from a listing that ended, and when I looked up the item number it said the listing had been removed from their system. Apparently the hijacker listed a bunch of items at a bargain BuyItNow of $100. I was impressed, eBay was pretty damn sharp picking up on this.

I tried requesting my password by email, and the system accepted the answers to my secret questions, but I never got the password. I figured whoever took over my account changed the e-mail address, but none of my other information. Immediately I Googled for eBay's phone number and kept hitting "0" to coast through the automated system, until I got a message that their customer service is 8:30 - 5 PST. So I went online to eBay's safety center and reported my account as compromised, then started a LiveChat session. I caught this just after 8:00 AM CST, and there was a wait of about half an hour before I got a representative, which was close to LiveChat's estimate, but still long IMO.

Once I got a rep I had to verify my phone number so he could call me and see that I was the actual account holder, then we went back to chat. He had me confirm that I did not list the DVD box sets, copy-pasted some of eBay's standard answers about security and fraud, then reinstated my account with a temporary password.

He told me my email address had not been changed, so I'm guessing the message eBay sent out when I clicked "Forgot Password" just got lost in my spam filter. None of my contact information was touched, and I don't believe my password was ever changed, eBay simply blocked my account when they caught the suspicious activity. All of my existing valid auctions were left alone (both by eBay and by the hijacker). They did not bid on anybody else's auctions using my ID. My PayPal account was not touched, because it has a different password than the one I use for eBay. If you use the same password for eBay and PayPal, CHANGE IT NOW.

I have no idea how the person who hijacked my account got my password. Obviously I don't share it with anybody else. I am well aware of phishing e-mails and never respond to them, or click any of the links in them. I use anti-spyware and personal firewall software. Somehow, somebody got through. I'm in the process of calling all my credit card companies and verifying that there haven't been any fraudulent charges, and am on alert for possible identity theft. So far it looks like the eBay account was the only damage. Aside from the initial wait time I was very impressed with their response to my crisis.

Here's the LiveChat link if you ever need it. And just in case anyone's interested I've uploaded the complete transcript of our session, and my account page showing all the unauthorized activity.

08/27/2006Seems like forever since I got anything new in, doesn't it? This stuff is getting harder and harder to find in the wild, but I've accumulated enough for an update. Lots of incomplete/damaged Infocoms for cheap, if you need parts. Also one of my Cornerstone book trades fell through so I have that now too. (Hint: It's not going cheap.)
06/16/2006I'm back from vacation. TomMage, PixZ and I had a great time exploring the caves in central Kentucky. I tried to get us into Bedquilt (the inspiration for the original Colossal Cave adventure) but it turns out they only let scientific expeditions in there anymore.

I know some of you have been seeing the "too many connections" error when you go to view any YOIS pages, I've been encountering it too. IF-Legends' hosting provider is supposed to be looking into it. It's intermittent, so if you run into it just try coming back later. I'll post as soon as I find out what's going on.

04/01/2006Just posted a new column. Heehee, I can't wait to see what everybody says about this one!
01/30/2006I was getting that "Too many connections" error again today. Usually it seems to happen around 2:00 - 3:00 in the afternoon (Central Standard Time). Anybody else running into it?
01/17/2006Has anyone else been getting this error on YOIS? I've had this happen a few times today. It actually took me several attempts to get this posted.

Warning: mysql_connect(): Too many connections in /home/sites/site7/users/yois/web/libyois.php on line 57 Error connecting to YOIS database.

01/16/2006Posted some more auctions over at eBay, check 'em out. It's all junk this week, but the coming weeks will feature some recent adventure games for PC and PlayStation.
12/29/2005Added my infamous mousepad auction to the Miscellaneous Diversions page.

Also, don't forget about the Postal Service rate increases that go into effect January 8th. I'll be keeping my tradition of charging only the actual shipping costs, but they will climb a bit higher. See USPS.com for full details.

Watch my eBay ID as I should start listing stuff again come mid-January. MobyAuctions will pick up again probably around February.

12/15/2005Wanna get free cool stuff, like an iPod or game systems? If you help me earn mine, I'll help you get yours. Here's all the details. I learned about this from somebody at work, and I've seen it work. He's gotten a bunch of free stuff from this site.
12/03/2005Any Shoppe visitors in Japan? I need a Japanese address for ordering a game-related item off of Amazon.co.jp, as they won't ship it to me in the U.S. I'll order the item myself, then pay you back for mailing it to me, plus a little extra for your trouble if you'd like. Thanks in advance.
11/25/2005Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving. To add my little part to the holiday-shopping mayhem, I've listed some new Shoppe items below, treasures unearthed during my Vault cleanup. Also got some game consoles on eBay if you're looking for one. (No XBox 360, sorry.)

Watch for more MobyAuctions on Sunday.

11/21/2005Picked up a half-dozen more boxes of Jim's stuff the previous weekend, and I will be listing some more MobyAuctions until mid-December.

This one, however, is entirely mine! B-)

11/06/2005*Whew*, almost lost the YOIS.BIZ domain name! I renewed two years ago and didn't realize the credit card I'd used was no longer active. So when it tried to auto-renew the charge didn't go through. Think I rescued it from squatters just in time. B-)

BTW, don't forget, the last batch of MobyAuctions ends tonight. I'll be listing a few of my own items for a couple of weeks, until I can get back up to Jim's to haul another carload back. Should be later this month, assuming gas prices remain tolerable.

10/31/2005The seventh and final (for now) batch of MobyAuctions is up. These have gone so well that I've decided to list some items of my own, recently uncovered during a massive Vault cleanup effort. Watch this page, I'll post as soon as I start listing them.
10/23/2005I spent part of my weekend digging through the unfiled items in my collection room, and found quite a few semi-rare duplicate pieces to sell. (No, I don't have a list, before anybody asks.) Since the auctions of Jim Leonard's games have been going so well, I thought I'd try listing a few of my own in the coming weeks.

Speaking of auctions, the sixth batch of Moby items will go up later tonight.

10/18/2005Followup on "weblogic81":

great. You make me laugh. I WON A GAME AND YOU PUT A NEGATIVE FEEDBACK FOR ANOTHER ACTION. IF I SAY TO YOU FUCK YOU BUT I PAY AN OBJECT YOU WILL GIVE A NEGATIVE FEEDBACK, will not?. I've never had this problem with a seller. You are a typical american guy. Surely you vote for Bush. I've noticed it from your brain... You will remember about me, sure. what a bull shit...

I don't know which sickens me more: That he tried to snatch someone else's game away in the first place, or that he doesn't see anything wrong with it and genuinely can't comprehend why I left him a negative.

10/17/2005Listing the 5th batch now.
God, I can't believe the depths of deceit some people will sink to! I got the following e-mail shortly after my latest round of Moby auctions closed last night:

Hi friend, I've won this auction but I've lost another one, Code Name ICEMAN. Could I offer to you about $30 for that game? So you could ship the two games together! Answer me asap!
tnx

(I did respond ASAP. To see my response, please refer to his feedback.)

10/10/2005Fourth batch of auctions is going up.
10/03/2005I'm putting the third batch of Moby auctions up now.
09/30/2005Say hello to "Beandip", the new YOIS Official Mascot. (My previous kitty died back in May.) I adopted her this week. She's very sweet and loves to sniff around my piles of vintage games and hardware, but is also trained to scratch the crap out of anyone who attempts to open original shrinkwrap. B-)



09/29/2005Well, I finally did it. I finally got so sick of gas prices that I've started walking or riding a bicycle. What this means for Shoppe customers is that I might be a few days slower mailing packages out. I don't really have an easy way to carry them on the bike so I can only mail out one or two small ones at a time, whatever I can fit in my backpack. The larger lots will have to wait until I have enough packages to justify a drive, or until the weekend when I have time to walk there.

Sorry for any inconvenience but I am thoroughly sick of getting raped at the pump every time the big oil companies get their collective panties in a bunch. I've even given up driving around looking for games, that should tell you how strongly I feel about this: I hate gas prices more than I love game-hunting. (Don't look so surprised, this is the same crazy nut who posted fake auctions to weed out cheaters awhile back. B-)

09/26/2005Second batch of Moby auctions is up.

Oh yeah, in case you didn't notice I have a digital camera now, which means I can easily get pics of a game box from multiple angles and do full spreads of the contents. Anybody who wants pics, just ask.

09/19/2005Jim (Leonard) has recently had to trim down his game collection, and I offerred to take care of selling it for him. There's a variety of stuff, both collectible and otherwise. I'm doing this in lots of 10 - 15 items per week and spreading out the rarer stuff so everyone can afford to bid. The first batch is up now. Nothing really rare yet, just a few things to whet your appetite. Show your support for MobyGames and the founder of SWCollect by bidding and giving these items a good home.

Also I have to say I'm surprised at how quickly I was able to list stuff on eBay. They've turned themselves around quite a bit since the last time I sold. While there are still 5 screens to go through before the auction posts, it's fast (though that could be the DSL) and I was able to navigate them all swiftly and without having to make the same changes every time (for postage preferences, etc), since eBay saves all that and it actually works. I think the only things I had to change were the category, title and description, and the item's weight for postage.

08/30/2005Well, it turns out the "Masterpieces Plus" seller is blacklist material after all. One of his would-be bidders e-mailed me back and said he tried to sell to them privately. That's a C.E. no-no on two counts, selling a known fake (which he knows it is cuz Ken and I both told him) and working a private deal after ending the auction early.

His eBay ID is "wamboyil", and his e-mail address is wamboyil@sbcglobal.net. I recommend you avoid buying from him, even if he sells items that appear to be legit.

08/28/2005Okay, here's (I think) the end of the "Masterpieces Plus" story. The seller never wrote back a second time, but he did end the auction early after cancelling all bids. I wrote to the bidders and told them it was a copy just in case any private offers showed up. One thing that did concern me was this auction the seller won awhile back. My graphic designer friend found it and told me this type of book is used for matching colors between a computer screen and paper. It's not proof by any means, but it does show that the guy has the information needed to print a good fake if he wanted to.

I'm watchin'.

08/26/2005Heads up, gang. We may have another faker on our hands.

If you noticed this auction you might have been wondering if it's a legitimate release. (Thanks to Sven for pointing me to it.) I ran it by Ken Love, my Infocom contact at Activision, and here's his response:

Hey Chris.

Good to hear from you.

Legal has been notified.

That is absolutely, positively a BOOTLEG product.

I myself have sent an email to the seller telling him so and thave recommended that he / she stop the auction.

I guess time will tell.

I'll t ell you this though, look;s like they did a nice pirate job on the cover.

Notice that the Acti logo is the wrong color though. "There's ya' a hint."

Stay Cool and In Touch!

- Ken

I'm holding off on blacklisting the seller until he answers my e-mail about where he got this from (or chooses not to answer, which would tell me all I need to know). Also notice his location, Joliet. If he is the one who made this, it means I've finally found a counterfeiter whose ass is close enough for me to kick.

UPDATE: Got a response from the seller:

Yes, I did purchase this a few months ago from someone on eBay, and since I have finally finished all the games, I decided to resell it. It does appear that this was a copy of the original disc, with the extra games added on.

I explained to him about collectors, and how they wouldn't be pleased to discover they were bidding on a copy, maybe he should mention that and give them a chance to back out. Also asked for the ID of the guy he got it from, we'll see.

07/24/2005A new column has just been posted, and it's a doozy! Read about what I learned when I went undercover to root out backdoor auction bidders.
07/11/2005Getting really psyched for the Video Game Summit this Saturday. If you're in the Chicagoland area, please think about attending. It looks to be a lot bigger this year, they have a local EB Games on board as a sponsor. TomMage, MobyGames' Jim Leonard and I will all have booths there. Hope to see some of you!
06/30/2005Forgot to post this yesterday, but the T-shirt seller has added text to his auction to clarify that his shirt is not a 1980s original. (See how easy I am to get along with when people just do that? B-)
06/28/2005Hooboy. Look what we've got here. I'm already on it. It's definitely not a 1980s original, I can tell from the colors. I've contacted the seller, explained Infocom collectors a bit, and asked him to post more info about where it came from, so we'll see. Just wanted to warn everybody.

The other two game-specific ones, listed by "senorjakehughes", are authentic.

06/11/2005I'm listing new Shoppe items today! Scroll down past the news updates to find them.

Update: Okay, that's everything. Go nuts!

06/09/2005Those of you with waiting list entries will be getting an automated message from the Shoppe today. This is part of an annual cleanup script that lets me know if anybody's e-mail address is no longer valid, so I can take those entries down. There is no need to reply to it. Any questions, please let me know.
06/05/2005I returned from visiting friend and fellow collector Pix_Z in L.A. last night, absolutely laden with new Shoppe items. Most of it I couldn't fit on the plane and had to mail back to myself, about 4 boxes full! Keep watching this page and my BidVille listings, as I'll be listing everything in the coming weeks. I spent way more than I planned on this trip and need to make some of it back. Lots of big-box SSI games and a number of rarities.

Went to Hollywood, Sea World, Tijuana, and an area Renaissance Faire. Did some classic gaming at Dave and Buster's, and played Laser Tag at UltraZone in San Diego. Met Hugh Falk in person, saw his extensive collection, and had dinner with John Romero. (Was gonna pop by Eyal Katz's multiple addresses by surprise but didn't get around to it.) Wish I had the time to write a column about it all.

While you're waiting for me to list everything, check out Pix_Z's newly launched site, QuestChest.com. She's been accumulating boxes of stuff for awhile, and is just now getting around to listing it. Which means: Lots of good complete games to snatch up before anyone else discovers them! Negotiable prices, much like the Shoppe.

05/19/2005Just a heads-up, I will be leaving on vacation next week. Any orders that aren't completed by Friday night will have to wait until I get back.
05/11/2005Personal message to Arlie (westjrarl): I can't contact you through e-mail, my replies to you keep bouncing. I still have the game if you want it, but please create a free Yahoo or Hotmail account and write me from there. Thanks.
04/29/2005A number of Shoppers have wanted to bid on my BidVille auctions, but couldn't because their accounts have zero feedback. I require a minimum score of 1 to block the Nigerian scammers from doing a TakeIt and wasting my time, but have come up with a workaround. Just go to this auction and enter a winning bid of one cent. I'll leave you a positive feedback and then you can bid on my real auctions.
04/17/2005*Sigh*... Well, that makes two. I've just had another very prominent collector admit to me that he made a behind-our-backs deal on eBay. He's on the list now, and though he tells me he's getting ready to sell his collection and leave the hobby (entirely unrelated to this incident), I have to stand by my little principles and not bid on anything, even his really rare stuff.

I want to assure everyone that I am NOT enjoying this in any way. I wonder if I'm going to run out of potential trading partners. Let's not do this anymore, okay?

03/28/2005Well, I finally had to do it. I finally had to blacklist a collector I knew for pulling the old underhanded auction trick. The seller in this listing wrote me back identifying him by name. Kills me to do this, but I've said before that I would. (I know Eyal's involved too, but the seller hasn't named him yet.) The game hasn't been sold, as the owner is still trying to figure out what to do. I sent him my suggestion: Relist and keep it up, no matter how many backdoor offers you get.

So. The seller was "bombarded" by private offers, and he freaked. Everybody who wrote him now has to wait on pins and needles for the outcome. There's bound to be some mistrust and upset feelings among collectors over this, and I'm anticipating hate-mail from the guy I just blacklisted. Everything is proceeding exactly as I wrote in that column almost 10 months ago. Hate to say I told you so, but...

Actually I love being able to say I told you so. In fact, I think I'll say it again.

I told you so.

03/24/2005I just noticed this on eBay. See? I TOLD you my shrinked copy was not the only one in existence. You can stop bugging me to open it now. Go bug Stuart instead. B-)
03/23/2005Just finished my two-day overhaul of the Shoppe's inventory list. Everything you see should be described accurately now.
03/21/2005Wow, almost a month since I've posted anything here. But at least I've been putting the time to good use. I've manually gone through the Shoppe and corrected the missing items that seem to have plagued a couple of users in particular. In the process I found about 50 games that weren't listed in the database! It's like finding buried treasure on my own game shelves! Take a look below, I'll be adding them throughout the day.

I still intend to do another column... someday.

02/23/2005International Shoppers: The problem with postage calculations should now be fixed. I've completely overhauled the countries table and patched the site to interact better with the USPS's. Please let me know if you continue to get the "unable to acquire postage data" error.

Update: Okay, now domestic should be corrected too. When I fixed one problem I introduced another. (Heh, just call me eBay.)

Everyone: Be listing a few new items shortly.

02/08/2005Seems our buddy "Jeff Cowe" (Eyal Katz) has gotten smarter following the auction interference column. His latest strategy when he finds a rare item is to mail the seller and ask them to add a BuyItNow to the listing, hoping the seller will bargain-price it and he can snag it before anyone else spots the BiN!

Take a look at this auction. Scroll down to the questions from other buyers. But before you get mad at the seller, do a search and you'll see that he didn't actually sell to him off eBay. I asked what happened, and it turns out "Jeff" got all pissed at having his (fake) name publicly posted along with the question he asked! So the seller ended the original and relisted it.

What's interesting to me is the seller's response to the question. Very non-sequitur. It reads as if Eyal also asked him if he had any other Sierra games, but for whatever reason the seller left that question out but included his response to it.

Oh, and Eyal? I know "Eyal" isn't your real name either. Ho yeah. Little piss-monkey. B-)

02/03/2005Take a look at this. A boxed Mount Drash in a VIC-20 lot for $100 BIN! Talk about the seller not having a clue about his item. Even more amazing is the close time, a mere 17 minutes after listing! The winner, "oxbowsnake", must have search bots running that text-message him or something on a match.

This is Boxed Drash #5 by my count.

01/29/2005Oh MAN! I just found this diamond in my e-mail today and couldn't resist sharing it with everybody. This is in response to the column I wrote about auction interference. Sort of. It starts out that way but kind of goes off on several tangents further in. Of all the hate messages I've ever gotten, it's one of my absolute favorites.

From: "phil chappel" (happyboyphil@yahoo.com)

(My comments in parenthesized italics.)

Dan-

(Yeah, he thinks I'm Dan, probably because the column includes comments from another collector who offerred insight, albeit in a far less venomous tone.)

I was searching for a fish finder and ran across your site. I have been an e-bay member for several years and have over 2000 transactions. I have also been the finance manager at an automobile dealership for eleven years, so I am well aware of how frustrating it is dealing with the general public. After reading through all of your descriptions, disclaimers, and deadbeat articles, I have come to the conclusion that you are the biggest dipshit I have yet to encounter, in my fifty plus years.

(I've known for years that I'm the biggest dipshit of them all. It's really gratifying to finally get recognition from others. Do I get an engraved trophy that says so? When can I expect it in the mail?)

I have dealt with some real morons on e-bay, but you take the grand prize. You are obviously a troubled and angry individual. I cannot concieve of someone expending so much energy on such a ridiculous thing as you are.

(Personally I find it ironic that you're expending so much energy chastising me for my column. Am I really worth all the effort you put into typing this hate message?)

Do you think you are the Supreme Being who will sit in judgement of us all? I believe too many video games have left your brain like so many eggs-fried. Your feedback suggests to me that you are not only irresponsible! and ignorant, but extremely vindictive. You have an excuse for everything and everyone.

('Cept you, Phil. There's just no excuse for you. :)

You leave negative feedback for people who have done nothing to warrant it and refuse to leave feedback for people who have paid you, in good faith, but have left you neutral because of your incompetence.

(What? Okay, now you've totally lost me. I thought you said you found my page while seeking a fish finder. Is this really in response to some past transaction with me?)

Your feedback record says it all. You are rude, impatient, and the worst kind of liar.

(Can you give me an example of the best kind of liar?)

I am a father of five, work fifty hours a week at my job, and sell over 400 items a year on e-bay. I still manage to ship my items the same week, and I also do it all by myself, so that claim of yours is pure bullshit.

(Whoa, topic shift! I think you gave me whiplash there, Phil.)

I don't even really know why i am writing this, I don't usually waste my time with this kind of thing. I guess it is because you are such a whining little brat. It is people like you who ruin the entire e-bay experience for us all, NOT the auction snipers or sellers who sell early. Personally, I have never sold early, but I see nothing wrong with it. If people are doing it and los! ing money, as you claim, then THEY are the losers, are they not? Two things I AM sure of, though. One, you have no reason to sit in judgement of all other e-bayers, except for your paranoia that somehow you are getting ripped off. Second, if I ever do decide to end an item early, and you get involved, I will do everything within the law to see it will be the last time.

(Loud 'n' clear, Phil. Say, what's your eBay ID?)

My advice to you is to get some professional help from some other psycho-babble idiot, because I truly believe you need it.

(Yeah, you're probably right. I can find a way better psycho-babble idiot than you. :)

Good luck and best regards.

Phil
ps. Perhaps if you spent more time expediting your shipping and less time with this you would avoid all this frustration.

(Thanks for brightening my day, Phil. So did you ever locate your fish finder? If not, maybe you should get a fish finder finder!)

(Buh-bye now. ^v^)

Gosh, has it really been over six months since my last column? I need to see what I can do about that.

01/26/2005YOIS will once again be present at this year's Video Game Summit in Lombard, Illinois. TomMage, Jim Leonard and I had a blast last year. If you're in the area, hope to see you there.
01/10/2005This is kind of funny...

I've been getting a ton of Nigerian scammers contacting me through BidVille lately. One even tried to send me a (very bad and obvious) fake Western Union payment notice. So I've started having some fun with them in my own special way. Which is easy because none of them can spell or utilize grammar.

The latest guy's e-mail asks me for a postage quote using "UPS expresso". I write back saying that I could not do UPS expresso and suggesting UPS cappucino instead. So, heehee, the moron writes back and asks me how much that costs!! What a doof! (I told him it would depend on whether it was purchased through Starbucks or a non-chain.)

01/07/2005I've just added about 80 new items, most of them from a huge Commodore score on eBay. A number of clue books, plus lots of loose disks for $1 or $2 (the disks, not the cluebooks), great if you have otherwise complete packages. The non-collectible remainder of the lot will also be going up for auction tomorrow at BidVille.
01/02/2005Okay, I think things are back to normal. IF-Legends' provider turned on the flag I needed, and the cookie issue seems to have fixed itself.
01/01/2005Well, DAMN.

Yet another issue has arisen with IF-Legends, this time with the cookies used to manage logins. Let me know if you're having problems logging into the site, or if it's just me. I'm seriously looking at moving YOIS to another server if our provider doesn't fix this very very soon.

What a way to start the new year.

12/30/2004Wow, I just looked at this page and realized it's been a month since I wrote anything!

I'm still here, and still collecting, though I've gotten pretty heavily into console gaming lately. I've bought up a few computer-related items, but I haven't seen too much lately (in my price range) that I'm really after. I've gotten several requests for a new Shoppe column, and would love to do one, but I'm still about half burned-out on writing from earlier this year. We'll see, though.

Right now the main news is there's a problem with the PHP configuration on IF-Legends, and it's blocking YOIS from opening any remote URL's. I first noticed it when my automated eBay searches stopped working, then tonight I realized it's affecting the shipping cost pulls from the USPS as well. Have e-mailed the admins, hopefully will get it fixed soon. In the meantime you can e-mail me for a postage quote. Please include your shipping address, as well as the web address(es) of the item(s) you are interested in.

Oh, and the Shoppe isn't really closed, but the notification has a link to this page, so I figured that way more people would check it out and see what's going on.

11/29/2004'Nother Mt Drash up for auction. (Should I just stop posting these notices? It's become almost commonplace.)
11/26/2004In case anyone is planning to order Shoppe items as gifts this year, the latest Priority shipping date for Christmas deliveries is the 21st. They didn't give media or global air, but I would figure allow at least 10 days, so the 15th. Keep in mind those are the shipping dates, and it may take me a day or two to get your e-mail and get packages together, so please plan accordingly.
11/19/2004A few new items added.
11/16/2004Well, it looks as if "thecaptains" isn't going to tell me who successfully tempted him on the Drash auction, so he's earned a place of honor at the top of my blacklist. Don't deal with this jerk, he can't be trusted to follow through on his promises.

So... *ahem*... Gosh, I sure would like to have a boxed Mt Drash. I feel so inadequate because I don't have one. If anybody out there recently acquired a boxed Mt Drash, say, on eBay, and wanted to feel really superior to me, the best thing to do would be to e-mail me and brag about it. I should also mention that I would pay $12,000 for one. Yeah.

11/13/2004Haven't yet received a response from the seller as to why the latest Mt Drash auction was ended early... though of course I have my suspicions.
11/10/2004I'm behind this week, so everybody else has probably already seen the latest Mt Drash on eBay. Unfortunately, he's got it listed at a starting price that doesn't encourage bidders. Unfortunately II, he put up lots of detailed pictures and didn't watermark them. So remember these scans, guys. If there's ever a Drash fraudster, he'll be using them.

Keeping score, this is the fourth boxed Mt Drash that I've personally confirmed.

10/30/2004There were a few more issues with not being able to add records to some of the DB tables yesterday, but I think I got them all corrected. Please let me know if you run into any.
10/29/2004Yesterday YOIS was inaccessible for most of the day due to a hardware failure on the server, which forced IF-Legends' hosting provider to move us onto a new one. Somehow the database password didn't get set correctly following that move, so every page that accesses the YOIS database (which is pretty much all of them) came back with errors.

It's back to working now, and there shouldn't have been any data loss since access to the site was interrupted. Stefan tells me that their last successful backup was at 6:00 CET (Germany time) on the 28th, or 23:00 PM CST on the 27th. The last YOIS database backup also ran on the 27th. I didn't notice anything missing from the Shoppe transactions, but if you entered a trade request late on the 27th or early on the 28th, it may have been lost before I ever got to it. Check your user history page and let me know if anything is missing. Apologies for any inconvenience there.

Please let me know if you run into any further issues with the site.

10/23/2004Just listed a few new items.
10/22/2004We're going live with a new system at work this weekend, so I'm putting in a lot of overtime hours. If I'm slow to respond to e-mails, that's why.
10/20/2004I've divided my deadbeat list into eBay and BidVille sections, since an ID on one auction site may be a different person on the other. (And since I don't sell on eBay anymore.)
10/13/2004Just a warning, for those of you using one of those spam-blocker services where people sending you messages have to click a link and fill out a form to get "approved". I HATE these damn things! They always seem to fail on me even if I jump through the hoops correctly. So I'm not wasting any more of my life screwing with them. Please add me (yois@if-legends.org, ceforman@sbcglobal.net) to your list in advance, or you won't get a reply.
10/12/2004Well. I've officially hit burnout on my other writing project, at least for the time being. So I'm taking a hiatus from my hiatus, which I guess means I'm ready to start on another Shoppe column.

Somewhere in L.A., Eyal Katz is wetting himself. B-)

10/02/2004Ugh. Been sick as hell the past week, just getting over it now. I'll be adding some new Shoppe items shortly.

You know what they say about laughter and medicine, so in case anybody else is feeling under the weather I thought I'd share this doozy of an e-mail I got the other day. Read through this abomination word by word and just TRY not cracking up. The caps and "alternative" punctuation style are all his. (Hers? Its??)


Hello seller,
i will like to purchase this items,,,,,#: 9787402 ,,,,, from you bcos i need it to supply my client that they in need of the particular items and i will like you to mail me the tOtal cost of the items and i will do the payment via cashier check bcos you can cash the fund at the same day you got the the check and i will like you to mail me if you can get the total quality of the items bcos i will like you to supply me 5pieces of the items , you can mail me your full infomation with the total cost if you are ready to sell the product to me so that i can supply it to my client you can even call me on my mobil phone+2348029401605
thanks.

Heehee, I just got an idea. Next person who bugs me with "Did you get my mail?" I'm going to give this guy your address and say you have a hundred of the item he's looking for. God have mercy on you. B-)

09/24/2004Several things:

Bad news first. It looks as if the Vintage Computer Gaming Conference (VCGC) is officially defunct. We printed up some way-awesome invitations that looked like 5.25" floppies and were even sealed with a silver write-protect tab. These were sent out to several big-name classic game authors, but we didn't get a single reply before the deadline. I have mixed feelings. On one hand I'm a bit relieved, as the cost of putting on the show, in both money and time, was looking a bit steep. On the other, I'm quite disappointed that so many old-time authors would be so indifferent to a show looking to honor their contributions to gaming history that they wouldn't even reply, even just to say, "Sorry but I can't make it." Eh well. Maybe we'll try again in a few years, see if the climate has changed.

Lee Seitz writes (on SWCollect): "Boy, those Infocom games certainly are flexible. How many different ways are there of playing them now? Well, add one more to the list. To celebrate the new radio series, BBC Radio 4 has done a Macromedia Flash version of Hitchhiker's Guide. If you live in the U.K., you can even contribute graphics to it as part of a contest."

Finally, IF-Legends is moving to a new server soon, possibly next weekend. It's the Shoppe that's been holding up the works, being the largest site here, so I'm doing my best to make things easy on the admins. Watch this page, as YOIS will likely be down for a few hours until the DNS servers switch over to the new domain location. I'll post the exact date and time once I have it myself.

09/20/2004TomMage came down for the weekend (finally got to see the house) and we spent the better part of two days hitting thrifts, the live auction downtown, and the annual ham radio and electronics expo. Had a blast, thanks Tom!

Don't miss the shrinked Suspended mask at eBay, by one of the SWCollect members.

09/17/2004Okay, it's been an extremely busy week and the "why haven't you answered" e-mails are starting to appear, so let's do a quick review session. If you've been with the Shoppe a long time, you know how much this irritates me; please don't do it. If you're new, I refer you to the appropriate FAQ. Your patience is appreciated.
09/12/2004Finally got around to listing a bunch of stuff on BidVille (uid="morrodox"). Lots of old hardware, game systems, etc. Help me get my storage room cleared out a bit.

And I forgot to mention it at the end of August, probably because of the tepid response, but the YOIS story contenst mentioned in the last column is off. I got a grand total of three entries, whoopee. I'll see if I can find something nice for those who did participate.

08/31/2004Decided I'd better take a minute to explain what I've been up to lately, as a couple of people have remarked on how quiet I've been. (Guess my big mouth is easily missed when it's not spouting off.) What's happened is, I've started writing again, and it's gotten pretty serious to the point of taking up a lot of my time. It's not Shoppe columns, in fact it's not gaming-related at all. It's just something I've felt very strongly compelled to do, and I just have to see if I can. Hope that makes some sense. I'm not ready to say exactly what it is yet, but if it ends up going anywhere I'll definitely announce it here.

One thing I did do was reopen the Shoppe, now that all the backlogged transactions have been caught up. I tried to refresh the lingering transactions from people I know are serious about eventually following through, but if you get a sudden non-payment message, it's probably overdue since I had them set on non-expiry.

08/21/2004Just a warning, Eyal Katz's "jeffcowe" user ID is back to active status on eBay. Good time to update your block list from my deadbeat page.
08/14/2004Adding some more items, from the large Apple II lot I won on eBay. There were even a couple of Zork Users Group items for Deadline that the seller didn't mention! I've already got 'em, so offerring them to another lucky (and well-paying) Shopper.
08/10/2004Just added some new trade items (scroll down).
08/09/2004It's okay to ignore the "closed" warning on the main page. I'm still here, I've just got a backlog of pending transactions, so I put up the closed sign so the Shoppe doesn't automatically expire them.

Sorry if it seems I've been neglecting the site lately. I do have a bunch of new pieces I'd like to write vault pages for. Been busy working on the deck while the weather's good, plus I've started writing again. (Should really channel some of that creativity into a column or two.)

08/05/2004I've been getting quite a few mails lately asking how much some item costs. If you're new, please read the FAQ page to learn how YOIS works. Prices are flexible and you can make an initial offer or have the system quote you one. You do need to be registered to request a price. (This prevents other dealers from using the site as a glorified price guide.)

BidVille update: They were good on their promise to give me several days to revise my auctions. I cut out the links to my main and deadbeat pages, that should satisfy them. Despite this slightly oppressive turn, they're still infinitely less fascist than eBay.

Yes Eyal, I'm still watching your hoodlum ass. And yes, a Google on "jeffcowe" does indeed lead to my page. Can't find the column you're stumbling for? Did you try the site map page? Of course you did, I saw it! Maybe you should ask PacBell for help. (And that's all the news coverage I'm giving you until the next column is ready. A few other Shoppers sure enjoyed these posts though. Buh-bye. ^v^)

08/03/2004Hi, Eyal! You find what you're looking for on this page yet? ^v^ (P.S. Nice DSL.)
07/30/2004Heads up if you use BidVille. I got this from them today:

"Hyperlinks to personal websites and other auction sites must be placed in your About Me section of Bidville. It is a T.O.S violation to have a link on your auction listings and all listings with these links may be subject to removal by our fraud division. Our apologies for the confusion and we thank you for your understanding in this matter."

What IS it with these auction places and their phobia of hyperlinks? I mean come ON, the main reason I moved to BidVille is to escape big-bully eBay, now BV is slowly turning into its punk-ass little brother. I guess I should be grateful they wrote and warned me. I asked them to give me a bit to get to changing the listings, as I have a lot of them and not a lot of time, so we'll see what happens. You'll hear about it here, I promise.

BidVille, if you happen onto this, remember Yahoo Auctions? They pissed away their chances of competing with eBay when they started acting like it, charging listing fees. Don't make the same bonehead mistake.

07/27/2004Two eBay items of note: First, Jim Leonard of MobyGames is moving a bunch of his collectible software on eBay, 10 items per week, working up to the valuable stuff. (Told you I'd plug your auctions, Jim.) And second, "Jeff Cowe" has made his latest eBay ID's feedback private. (Got somethin' to hide, do we, Eyal?)
07/26/2004I went to my first-ever auction this weekend, an actual live auction. A co-worker told me about a place downtown that has one every weekend, for all sorts of junk, and I found some game system stuff there. Got outbid on two lots but won a stack of old Atari manuals. If you've never done a live auction before, you've got to try it, it gets pretty intense. Entirely different strategy. You've got to examine the stuff closely and decide what you're going to bid in advance, then try not to get caught up in the competition. Bidding usually starts a bit high but they drop the price fast if there are no bids, and keep throwing stuff into the lot until someone bids. I had a blast, plan to make it a regular Sunday thing.
07/22/2004I'm back, and things are slowly settling down. VGS was great! I stayed over with TomMage Friday night, driving three hours with a couple thousand dollars' worth of vintage games in my trunk. Then Saturday we got up early and drove in to the show, where we had to drag everything through the lobby and down an elevator, so I got my upper-body workout. There were about 10 tables, and TomMage, Jim Leonard of MobyGames, and I all had ours together. Probably 50 - 60 people came through and looked at our stuff, so it was definitely a small show, but I moved some items and made some contacts. One guy and his son flew down from New York for the son's birthday, and he said it was the coolest one he'd ever had!

Shoppe's reopened, though I've still got a lot to catch up on. Nobody reserved anything that sold at the show. VCGC organizers, I promise I'll get to your mail backlog over the weekend.

07/16/2004Just a quick note and a heads-up before I head up to Lombard for VGS: I'm taking several boxes of Shoppe items with me to sell/trade, but I'm probably not going to have net access to update the stock while I'm there. So if you buy from the Shoppe this weekend, please be aware that there's a chance I won't have a particular item anymore once I get back. You may want to hold off paying for items until I get the list updated and officially take down the "closed" notice. (Feel free to go ahead and reserve 'em, though, just in case I still do.)

Thanks, hope to see you at VGS!

07/15/2004Okay, I simply have to share this one with everybody!

The other day a guy bid on a bunch of old PC software I had up on BidVille. Not collectible games or anything, just junk, stuff that didn't even meet the Shoppe's modest standards. He sends me this big long wordy e-mail ALL IN CAPS. Not once, not twice, but three times a scammer. And not because my reply wasn't fast enough, they were all within 10 minutes of each other. He says he has businesses in five different countries, the U.K. and four in Africa, and asks for shipping quotes to each one. I oblige.

Here's where it gets good. This morning he tells me he's prepared a cashier's check for $4000, he's going to send it to me. I'm supposed to cash it and send the money and stuff to his Nigeria address, less the $300 he's letting me keep for this absolute POS software he's buying.

Um, I'll take "Internet Scams" for $200, Alex.

Watch for updates if this happens to get even funnier.

07/13/2004I'm back... But still getting caught up, and also preparing for the VGS this coming weekend. I had about 110 e-mails waiting, so don't be surprised if it takes me awhile to get to yours. I'm leaving the Shoppe closed until next week.

Fun development on "jeffcowe": He is now NARU on eBay. I'm not sure if it was me and the other collectors reporting his off-eBay finagling, or maybe he dumped the ID himself after I blacklisted him, or he may have gotten caught bidding on several auctions using multiple identities.

Check it, two other recently created, recently terminated, high-rolling accounts have also been NARU'd: "*ryujin*" and "froddo711". Not 100% sure these are him, but if they are, a couple of them have bid high ammounts on the same auctions. Could be bid shielding, and maybe eBay caught on. (BTW, it's spelled "Frodo", you doof.) At any rate, he's back as "beamishwilly".

Oh, and bombshell time: This guy is also Eyal Katz. Yeah, THAT Eyal Katz. Several of us have known for awhile, and have been keeping track of which rare items he's won in case he attempts to start up "production" again. So far he's confined himself to bidding so I haven't had to rush out a column. Full story, including how we found out it was him, coming soon. In the meantime, it goes without saying, but... Don't buy, sell, or trade with him.

07/06/2004The Shoppe is temporarily closed. I'm away on vacation, but will fill any waiting orders when I get back. (If I'm not responding to your e-mail, this'd be the reason.)

If you're in the Midwest, don't forget about the Video Game Summit in Lombard, IL, on the 17th. TomMage and I will both be there, as will Jim Leonard of MobyGames. Stop by and talk with us, and maybe go out for dinner afterward. I'm hauling up several boxes of my best trade items for people to look through, plus some console and non-collectible stuff I don't list here.

07/04/2004Congratulations to 'jeffcowe' for being the first buyer to make the YOIS blacklist for auction interference on listed eBay items.

Told ya I'd do this! You all thought I was kidding, yeah?

07/02/2004Just remembered the 5th is a postal holiday since the 4th is on Sunday. But if I get your payments by Monday night I'll get your packages ready and mail 'em while on vacation. Anything after will be sent after I get back.
06/30/2004Heehee, I had so much fun today! I got another one of those "from eBay" scam mails, so on my lunch break I went out to their site and just started filling in fields, except instead of actual information I typed in really horrible rap lyrics. I was just making up nonsense as I went, and entering it! I did it about 50 times! Too bad I didn't save any of it, or I'd post 'em here for all of you to laugh at. But I did give the scammers a real secondary e-mail address and ask for copies, so maybe they'll write me back.

Serious, now. I'll be leaving on vacation beginning the 6th. I plan to make one last shipment of packages on the 5th, probably in the afternoon, then I'll close the Shoppe. Any payments you send after that will have to wait until I return in a week and a half. I'll post the usual notify message on the main pages about the Shoppe being closed.

06/22/2004Happy 25th Infocom Anniversary! On this day in 1979, four months after the final touches were made to the original mainframe Zork, the company was founded by a subset of the Dynamic Modelling team at MIT, among them Marc Blank, David Lebling, and Stu Galley.
06/19/2004<crass-commercialization>
If you're not registered with BidVille, I highly recommend it. It's still early, but they're looking to become the eBay alternative that Yahoo! Auctions was before they pissed it all away. I have quite a few auctions running there continuously, as do a few other collectors. (Plus if you mention "morrodox" as your referral, I get free special-feature points).
</crass-commercialization>
06/18/2004I posted this on SWCollect but thought I'd ask here too. We've about got a budget down for the software collectors' expo (originally "SCExpo", now "VCGC" for Vintage Computer Gaming Conference), and it's going to cost us several thousand dollars up front to put together. If anyone is interested in donating some venture capital, you're invited to share in the profits (if any) from the show.

Also the response to my collecting story contest has been less than overwhelming. In fact I've only been whelmed twice so far. This isn't eBay, so you don't need to snipe with your entry. I won't be posting any of them until the deadline is over. But if I don't have enough entries to make it interesting come August I may have to scrap the contest.

06/16/2004New trade items listed below. I've also got an extra "Human Never Stands So Tall" Infocom poster on the way, courtesy of eBay. I was surprised when my bid actually won; I figured it'd go a lot higher. Anyway, I'm entertaining early trade offers on that too.
06/11/2004Got another interesting question on the auction interference column:

For your column on ebay: What if a member persuades a seller to change his auction to a BUY IT NOW option (placing other member's bargain offer as price)? you may want to add this...as being "cheating", too ;-)

Ooh, now that's a possibility I hadn't considered! I'd rank that as more fair than an off-eBay sale, because at least other bidders would get a chance to grab it... It's not guaranteed that the seller would be right there to get the buyer's message, and vice-versa once the price got changed. Still a form of auction interference though.

06/08/2004Happy YOIS Anniversary! Two years ago the current site went live. The only reason I remembered is I got an automated e-mail from the Shoppe reminding me to do cleanup on the waiting list entries. So. If you're on the list but have an outdated e-mail address, please get it updated soon or your entries will get wiped.
06/06/2004Just posted an addendum to the column's auction interference article, adding some very intelligent points a reader made, and my responses (you tell me if those are intelligent as well).
06/05/2004New Shoppe column is up, just in time for the weekend. This time I've got the first-ever YOIS contest, recommended summer reading and vintage-game book list, my personal thoughts on game storage, and a company profile for Avalon Hill. I also drop a nice bombshell at the end, about people who e-mail eBay sellers and work private offers behind the scenes and what I intend to do about them, so you may want to at least read that if you're one of those people. (I assure you, I mean every word of it.)
05/31/2004I'd just like to say a brief thanks on this Memorial Day to the armed services people who gave their lives so that weirdos like us can spend ours hoarding all this great vintage crap. For the record, the going rates are now $809 for a shrinked Starcross saucer, and $380 for a shrinked Suspended mask.

I added a bit of info to the Cornerstone Database Database, now that I have my very own shrinked package as of this week. Also I've got the latest (minor) revision of the MobyScale up.

And if you haven't seen this EGM article on today's kids and classic gaming, do take a gander. It's an absolute scream. B-)

05/28/2004I got an e-mail today from someone suggesting I do one of my expos?s on Centsible Software, complaining of reshrinked games being sold as new, poor or rude customer service, etc. I checked out a couple of Amiga boards and it does not seem to be an isolated incident. Personally I've never had a problem with Centsible. From my experience they sell a lot of loose materials, unboxed, but I've never gotten poor service or an obvious reshrink from them. So, I'd very much like to hear any Centsible stories the rest of my readership might have. Got a new column coming up, and if I get enough material I'll do an article on them.
05/26/2004Hmm, I think Drash's reputation is starting to precede itself. $606.65 was the final price on the latest auction, but with reserve not met. Obviously the seller expected a lot more since the listing expresses excitement over $700 - $800 for a loose cassette, and his had instructions. I wonder how many people held back because they were afraid of what the reserve might be? However, it seems the seller contacted the high bidder and agreed to sell, relisting with a BuyItNow so he'd have eBay's protection (such as it is) on the transaction. For the record, the winner was "king_dragon", and I believe I know who this is, though I'll wait for him to confirm before I go posting it here.

On a semi-related note, does anybody else think eBay's new "My eBay" page has the butt-fugliest layout you've ever seen?

05/18/2004I've added a number of new trade items, see below. If you're wondering about all the "torn-off box covers", well, it's a new one for me too. I bought a large lot of Amiga games and that's how the guy kept them, in plastic sleeves with all the materials but just the front part of the box which he cut or tore off. Brutal, just brutal. I can't imagine it saving much shelf space either.

I also have the latest MobyScale changes up, following an intense discussion on SWCollect last week.

And in case anybody was wondering what happened to the first Mt Drash auction (loose cassette), the seller informed me that he pulled it when he saw the second go up rather than compete with it and probably lose money. Not sure if he'll be relisting it or just keeping it for himself and watching the value appreciate (or depreciate, whatever the case may be).

05/16/2004Okay, here's another first in the world of Drash: We now have two concurrent auctions! Personally if I were the second seller I would've waited. This is definitely going to impact price, though the second one does have instructions.

So the total count is up to... what, eight now? Nine if you count another user on SWCollect who implied he has it too.

05/15/2004This is actually starting to get a bit mundane, but... We have another Drash up for auction, a loose cassette this time. That makes what, five in the last eight months, after an eight-year dry spell? Amazing. And all it took was someone to list that first copy back in September. Hmm, wonder if I should put my shrinked PC Cyborg up to see if any more come out? Naaah...

Be interesting to see how the loose cassette price has been affected since the appearance of two boxed copies.

05/09/2004 This past week I got back a number of vault items I had the original authors sign for me. (Yeah, I've recovered from the Kitchen incident and am back to doing that again.) I've found this is a great means of tiding myself over until something I need appears on eBay, or until prices on rares come down a bit... Have you seen some of the going rates lately? *Whoo!*

In other news I've got another column in progress, two actually, one dealing with the return of an old "friend". Part 2 of the Secret Column should be ready in another month or so as well. Haven't read the Secret Column yet? You're missing a good'un!

And it's settled, TomMage and I are both definitely going to be at VGS in Lombard on 7/17. If you're within driving distance and planning to attend, we'd love to meet you. Here are maps if anyone needs them.

05/05/2004For any collectors within driving distance of the Chicago suburbs, I'm going to have a table at the Video Game Summit in Lombard, IL on July 17th. TomMage has expressed an interest in being there too. We'd love to meet other collectors, have dinner after the show, etc. (Will remind everyone once the date approaches.)
05/04/2004Just in case any of you were thinking of bidding on this one, be aware that it's not an original advertisement flyer, but a page cut out of a magazine and framed by the seller (which I suspected after seeing this one... Note how the other side of the page shows through). The seller has confirmed this to me, but hasn't mentioned it in his auctions so I wanted to pass along the word.
05/02/2004$2650 is the final price on the latest Mt Drash. A difference of $955 from the last one, though it could be attributed to anything from the increasing number of copies to the poor condition of the box to the missing registration card. Winner was "mayhem_uk", the runner-up in Fortran's auction.

BTW, anybody know what happened to that Magnetic Scrolls Myth that was scheduled to end today? It was right here last time I checked. Normally I'd suspect someone made the seller a private offer, but when that happens the item's page is still up with a lame excuse for why the auction was ended early. This one's just gone. Only explanation I can think of is that the seller got NARU'd.

04/24/2004The initial draft of the online CURIOUS guide is now up at GOTCHA. Currently it supports sorting and searching, and is printable if anyone is so inclined.

Heard from another person who has the "no-stone" variant of the Wishbringer grey, and have revised my theory about it in light of this new evidence.

Is it just my imagination or has there been an awful lot of rare stuff going up on eBay lately? Normally it's not uncommon for me to go a month without seeing a single item on my want-list, and lately there have been four or five in one week. Spring cleaning, I guess.

04/22/2004News flash! Another Ultima: Escape from Mt Drash hit eBay about this time last night. Seems the recent auctions are starting to bring them out of the closets and attics. Taking bets on what this one will go for. I'm gonna say... $2800.
04/21/2004It's new item time! Scroll below to see what's just arrived. A few rare pieces this time. Serious offers only on those, please... I've had an unusually high number of cheapskates lately. (To those people: I'm not an idiot, okay? Well, maybe I am, but I'm still an idiot who knows Roberta Williams Anthology is worth more than $30. B-)
04/06/2004Okay, here's a bit more info on Bidiots: Basic listing is free. There's a 2% final value charge if the item sells, so it's not completely free like BidVille, but still cheaper than eBay. Their category placement is a bit of a pain, spanning multiple screens, one for the main category and one for each subset. There is no number shortcut for entering a category. Listing spans four forms plus a preview screen, compared with BidVille's one, and whatever eBay's is up to now. However they do offer up to 15-day auctions, with 10 automatic relists. I'm not sure if there's a fast relist after that or if you have to go through the form gauntlet again.

Given that they cater to vintage technology, I'm going to try listing a few items there this weekend. Will report back on my success, compared to BidVille.

04/01/2004Oh. My. GOD. SHRINKED MOUNT DRASH on eBay!!
03/31/2004Anybody tried this auction site yet? Bidiots.com? Looks to be exclusively for computers and games, still relatively low-traffic but growing. If anybody's listed there, I'm interested to hear how it compares to BidVille. (Already know it's gotta be simpler than eBay!)
03/28/2004My co-buyer on the Infocom films and slides has changed his mind, so if anybody else wants any of the duplicates they're up for grabs. It's all post-Infocom material from Activision. I have pieces from Return to Zork, Grand Inquisitor, LGoP2, both LTOIs, and a couple of the Activision Collections. These are original photos and screenshots taken by the developers when creating the packaging and ads, and some behind-the-scenes set pictures. I have a full list available, just e-mail me if you'd like to see it.

I've also added Vintage Computer Auction to my links page. This is a relatively new online auction site that's geared exclusively toward old technology. That and the fact that listing is free make it another great alternative to eBay.

03/22/2004After years of speculation, we finally have an auction value for a boxed Ultima: Escape from Mt Drash: $3605! Peter Olafson took it with a double-snipe in the final 20 seconds. This blows away the previous record of $2000 for the first shrinked Starcross saucer ever sold. Absolutely unreal. Congratulations to both the buyer and seller.
03/21/2004Check out the Computer Gaming World Museum: Stephane Racle has cover and content scans for the first 100 issues of CGW online, with more to come.
03/20/2004Lots of things happening in the past week:
  • Howard Feldman and I had our first online chat to so some preliminary planning for a Software Collectors Expo. If you're interested in helping with this, please join or Yahoo! discussion group. Anybody willing to invest some cash toward putting on the event can get a share in the profits (if any).
  • The CURIOUS scale is coming along nicely. We have people working on rarity scores for Adventure International, Avalon Hill, Electronic Arts, Epyx, Infocom, LucasArts, Origin, and SSI. If you have expertise with a particular company's games, please consider joining the CURIOUS Committee to help out.
  • I recently bought up a large pile of photographs, slides and film negatives used in the creation of Infocom's early 1990s game packaging, and saved from oblivion by Ken Love at Activision. Going to take some time to catalogue everything, but there should be some duplicate pieces for trades (though I'm splitting the haul with Marco Thorek of Infocom-IF first). More news about Activision's forthcoming Infocom project once Ken tells me it's okay to blab.
  • Fortran's Mt Drash is at $900 and holding, at least until snipe time.

03/15/2004Just in case you hadn't caught it yet... FortranDragon is auctioning his (boxed) Ultima: Escape from Mt Drash. It's already over $500.
03/08/2004I just discovered that YOIS got a mention and a link in a GameSpy article on finding older games. Nifty!
03/07/2004I added a bunch of new trade items earlier today, including the duplicate Questbusters issues I now have after a nice score on eBay. Plus a few more at BidVille.

Also, thanks to a Shoppe visitor's trade, I was finally able to replace the Hayden Crystal Caverns that got mangled by Dan Kitchen's negligence. (Guess who's not signing this one?)

03/06/2004Received word that Silas Warner, best known for the original Castle Wolfenstein (and Beyond) passed away earlier this week. He was a phenomenal talent, and he will be missed.
03/02/2004Thought I had him: A couple of weeks ago I won an auction for a large number of Questbusters newsletters, which came the other day. As I was going through them I found some writing on the back of one issue, a phone number with "Talk to -> Shey" underneath. It just might be an old phone number for Shay Addams! (Column readers may recall my Vegas quest for him.) Of course I called immediately, only to reach the cell phone of some woman who'd had the number for over a year and had never heard of Shay. Next step, write to the address on the back of the QB issue, and see if they're still in touch with him. Keep ya posted. (For cover scans of nearly all QB issues visit Howard Feldman's Computer Game Museum -- note the new URL.)

Collectors are also encouraged to check out the CURIOUS scale, employing the latest wickedly cool acronym from GOTCHA. This is a work in progress for cataloguing the relative availability or rarity of games ("C" = Common, "U" = Uncommon, "R" = Rare, etc.), in a central data mining repository. Contributions are welcome if you have expertise with a particular company's games. Eventually I will be including CURIOUS scarcity ratings on Shoppe items' pages.

Plans are slowly getting underway for the first-ever Software Collectors Expo, in the same vein as Classic Gaming Expo and PhillyClassic, but geared more toward computer gamers. Right now we're looking at the possibility of joining forces with the Vintage Computer Festival. Watch this page for updates and announcements. If you're interested in helping with organizing the show, please join the discussion group.

Oh, and I picked up an Apple IIGS on my latest game-hunting expedition with TomMage, so I can now verify IIGS disks if anyone needs it done. Got my 486 PC back up too, thanks to several members of SWCollect, so I can once again check and copy 5.25" disks.

02/03/2004I'm still a bit behind with open trades and transactions... When I wrap up a column everything else tends to get put on hold, but I promise I'll get to it in the next couple of days. LMK if you get an expiry message and I'll keep your trade open.
02/02/2004From Jim Leonard, regarding the SWCollect mailing list:

"Just a quick note that the swcollect@oldskool.org list is having an issue because of the recent mydoom email virus. Currently, the list works, but no member add/remove requests can be processed. So if you recommend someone to the list and they can't join, that's why. I hope to have the problem corrected after February 12th when the virus self-destructs."

02/01/2004A new Shoppe column has been posted, just in time for Groundhog Day! This time around we look at the new Shoppe (the house I bought last year), protecting your collection investment, Ultima: Escape from Mt Drash, why "Games Aren't Readable"... and a little something about T-shirts. B-)
01/30/2004I know I haven't posted much lately. Had a few really busy weeks at work, and there's a system go-live this weekend. I've got a new column almost done, and I'll post it once all that settles down. This one is worth the wait, especially for long-time followers of the Shoppe.
01/27/2004Added a few more items, see below.
01/24/2004Just heard the news: Last week Legend Entertainment, the last great commercial I-F company, has officially been shut down. Bummer. Thanks to Marco for passing on the news. I wish Bob Bates the best of luck in his future endeavors.
01/18/2004Still recovering from an extremely busy work week, so I'm just now getting the latest batch of packages together. If e-mail response seemed slow lately, that's why.

Be sure to check out the first issue of Armchair Arcade, a new webzine about classic gaming. Bill Loguidice's article on game packaging includes a shot of my Starcross saucer.

01/07/2004I've heard from a couple of people who have gotten an error message when trying to sign up for the YOIS mailing list. Checking the list, I see a number of recent subscribers with "unconfirmed" status. If you're having trouble getting signed up, please let me know.
01/05/2004The latest Ultima: Escape from Mt. Drash auction (the second in eBay history) closed at $765 last night, down exactly $100 from the first one. Once again this was a loose cassette, no box or instructions. They're slowly starting to come out of the woodwork, it would seem.

The seller held a private auction, but if the winning bidder would like to come forward on the swcollect list, we'd love to hear from you. (We just like to keep track of who has the valid copies of Drash to guard against fraudulent claims; we promise not to bug you about selling, copying, etc.)

12/30/2003Hey gang, sorry I haven't done much with the site lately. My New Year's Resolution is to catch up on my lists and on testing a bunch of backlogged changes to the site, mostly behind-the-scenes stuff no one else will notice. I'm also aiming for mid-January for the next column. This time around I'm writing two at once, for... well, you'll see.
12/23/2003Heehee, that TomMage... Check these out!
12/22/2003Adding a few more items, below.
12/19/2003Went to check some 5-1/4" disks today and discovered my 486 PC isn't working. If you need any disks verified, it'll probably be after the holidays before I'll be able to do it. Go ahead and reserve the item(s) now, though, and I'll keep the transaction open until I get this resolved.
12/07/2003I can't believe a classic game author could be so careless and disrespectful.

I just got my Hayden games back from Dan Kitchen, whom I sent them to so he could transfer the disk contents to image files. I also asked him to autograph them for me while he was at it.

So, instead of putting them back in the nice sturdy box I sent them in, what does he do? He sticks them in a flimsy padded envelope. As a result, my once-mint Crystal Caverns now has a huge dent in it. Thanks a lot, Dan. I would have thought someone so interested in having a working copy of his game would have shown a little more care toward the original packaging, not to mention respect for another person's property. Last time I try to do an original author a favor.

So. Anybody got an [F/NM] Crystal Caverns? I'm offering primo trades.

Christ Almighty.

12/06/2003TomMage pointed this out to me. Seems Detroit, YOIS's favorite urban piss-hole, hasn't changed a bit since I went there almost 3 years ago. (I'm still going back someday. LMK if you want to tag along and help me document the squalor and lack of civilization. B-)
12/04/2003Malinche Entertainment's Greystone is now available.
11/23/2003Sorry for the lack of updates. My broken toe is healed and I've been making up for lost jogging time. I'm listing more items, scroll down to see just the new stuff. Quite a few Sierra Quest collections. I'll probably finish the I-F stuff tonight and get to the rest tomorrow.
11/10/2003Finally got the rest of my shelves up today! It'll be great to finally have the sale items unboxed and off the floor. Next step, get TomMage down here with his digital camera to take some pics for the column.

Added Vintage Computer Marketplace to the links page.

Did everyone else notice this auction? 128 games, closing about $15 apiece, though I'm sure the Wing Commander special editions skew the average significantly. Lots of good stuff, though, one of the highest collectible-to-crap ratios I've ever seen in a large lot (most of which close at far below the individual item values).

11/09/2003HE DID IT!!! At 9:02 my time tonight, he FINALLY found the news page! I think we're all more than a little proud of our Timmon right about now. (Okay, who helped him? B-)
11/05/2003Hi, Timmon!

Yep, someone must have told the little fella about my column update because he paid another visit to the Shoppe at about 10:50 my time last night. It's not on the for-sale page, ya twit!

Heehee, this is fun! Like watching a monkey try to drive a car.

11/01/2003A demo of Greystone, the second I-F title from Malinche Entertainment, is now available for download. The full game is due out on November 28th. It's set in a real mental hospital in New Jersey, and the author got an exclusive look inside while doing research for the game. Haven't had a chance to try it yet myself, but from reading the designer's journal on Malinche's site, it sounds awesome.

Speaking of Malinche, I've finally gotten around to posting the concluding chapter to the Timmon counterfeiter column. (Hi, Timmon!) Read some actual e-mail that Pentari: First Light author Howard Sherman got from this loser (yes, apparently he CAN talk)!

Speaking of counterfeiters, I assume many of you have already noticed this putz hawking his self-burned Infocom CDs on eBay. A couple of people pointed him out to me, but I see these all the time -- people selling crappy CD-Rs full of out-of-print games for a mint price, and other people actually paying for them. The only difference is in this case they're all Infocom games. Here's the link if we want to mass-report him to eBay. It's tempting, but it doesn't really hurt collectors as there's no threat of anyone mistaking it for a real compilation, so jokers like this guy are just not worth my time to do a full-fledged column.

Speaking of columns, I'm holding off on the next one until ShopKo gets the remainder of my sale-item shelves in, so I can include good pictures of the new Shoppe. Depending how long that takes I may finish a different one in between. I've now got the overwhelming bulk of vault games bagged and shelved, and will be working to get my BidVille auctions updated with some reduced bids and a few new listings, over the next couple of days. Expect a batch of new Shoppe items to go up early next week.

And oh yeah, a guy from PC Gamer U.K. is doing an article on Infocom collecting and has sent me some questions. Will let you know when the publication date approaches.

Geesh, rains it freakin' pours. Think that's everything.

10/24/2003Shoppe is reopened. Had a great visit with fellow collector Pix_Z and game-hunting in Chicago with TomMage. Got some really nice digital pictures of my Infocom posters, expect some new vault pages soon.
10/16/2003Got another collector coming to visit for a few days, plus my e-mail client's acting all screwy, so I'm closing the Shoppe until things settle down.
10/13/2003Son of a bitch. Son of a goddamn, motherfucking bitch.

I am SO FUCKING PISSED at eBay right now. Their POS server went down last night and my snipe (and probably a few other people's) didn't go through. Of course eBay didn't extend it, those fucking incompetents. This is why I don't sell there anymore.

Sorry for the language, but Jesus Christ.

10/05/2003Thanks to the collector who pointed out today's User Friendly webcomic. This is actually pretty close to what it was like when I moved (well, the game boxes part was). They also have an Infocom-related t-shirt (don't worry, it's not a fake job B-).
10/04/2003The Drash auction closed at a mind-blowing $865! That's for just a loose cassette, remember! I'll have an article on Drash in the next column. If the winner would like to contact me and share his/her perspective I'd welcome it. (I promise to protect your secret identity if that's what you want.) Meantime, let's be careful out there, people: There are bound to be scammers out to make a quick buck after seeing this. I know people who own originals, who have said they'd be glad to act as appraisers if needed.
I've updated the YOIS privacy policy to reflect my stance toward counterfeiters, and to make it available to registered users, since it was previously only visible from the registration page.

I'm back to walking a little again, thanks to a bracing shoe. Plan to get more of the vault games shelved this weekend. Wanna see an X-ray of the broken toe? I looked it up in the radiology database at work. The physician's report calls it a "mildly comminuted transverse fracture of the second distal phalanx." ("Captain, our inverse particle warp field can't hold against the gravimetric fluctuations in the space-time continuum!") I thought about uploading a picture of the actual toe, but it's still pretty bruised and purple, and you're already traumatized from my cat story.

09/28/2003On a more positive note, the Ultima: Escape from Mount Drash auction is back up. I've already started the bidding.
UPDATE: Easy come, easy go. I was outbid in the Drash auction. Eh well.
09/27/2003SHIT. I somehow managed to slam a door on my foot last night and am now on crutches with a busted phalanx on one toe. The good news for Shoppers is, I won't be jogging for awhile, so I should have extra time to take care of stuff around here. The bad news is, I won't be lugging any large boxes to the post office anytime soon. If it can't fit in my backpack, it's just going to have to wait, at least until I can get a friend or co-worker to act as pack mule. This is also going to hold up getting the vault shelved (and I was up to "Z" under Infocom). Like I said: SHIT.
09/26/2003Wow, what a week for Ultima collectors! First one lucky guy scores a complete Escape from Mount Drash, then this goes up on eBay. Unfortunately it looks like a few too many would-be bidders wised the seller up on the game's rarity, as he first added some information lifted from Underworld Dragon's pages, then ended the listing early when someone made him an offer he couldn't refuse (error in the bid amount, pshyeah RIGHT!) If the buyer reads this, I'd love to hear how much you paid him off. B-)

So, that's a total of four confirmed copies in existence... and I know of one other collector who's been negotiating with a guy claiming to have two! People falsely claiming to own Mt Drash are more common than the game itself, though, so we'll see.

UPDATE: Okay, here's the story with the eBay Mt Drash:

The guy hasn't sold it yet. He pulled the auction when he realized the ultra-rare status of the game. That happened when he received only one bid, but a TON of e-mails from people asking him to close the auction and sell it privately. (I suspect everyone else was waiting to snipe so as not to draw attention to it.)

He tells me he's going to relist it separately with an "appropriate" starting bid and reserve price. I've already cautioned him about providing any large, detailed scans of the tape, and about watermarking any he does post, as Mt Drash is an obvious counterfeiting target.

Speaking of which, remember our friend timmon? Well Pentari author Howard Sherman has successfully gotten eBay to end his latest auction for a bogus copy of that game. Heheheheheheheh. >B-}
09/25/2003Here's a gross but true story that happened a few days ago:

I came downstairs one morning to get another boxload of vault games to bag. One thing I had done due to lack of shelf space was to take some of the box lids off (they're those big rectangular office paper kind) and set some of the games I'd get to later on top of the lids. Because I'm shelving my collection in alphabetical order, see.

So anyway, I came downstairs and discovered that my cat had apparently been nosing around the disorganized vault area, and she had hwarfed on one of my Infocom folios! Either she got a sudden upset stomach and had to let it hurk up where she was, or she has something against Stu Galley's The Witness. Fortunately, (1) she just got the corner of it, the rest dribbled onto the storage box, and (2) I had the shrinkwrapped one on top of the opened one, so I was simply able to wipe the gastric ejection off with a damp cloth, and you can't even tell it happened. So everything's fine, and puddy-puke is now banned from the vault area when I'm not around.

THAT, fellow collectors, is why you should always leave your games in the shrinkwrap!

That's all. Go eat dinner now. B-)

09/23/2003Updated the Cornerstone Database Database, which has actually been on its own page for awhile, though I may not have mentioned it before. I've added details about the elusive slipcover and shipping carton, plus a couple of new items obtained by the winner of that shrinked one on eBay. There is also information about Micro/Answer package, and a correction about one of the flyers, which I found packaged with an issue of The Status Line when I was picking up for the move. (All this reorganizing has turned up a ton of stuff I'd forgotten I even had! Look for a massive new trade pile once I get it all sorted out.)
09/20/2003Just got back from a local ham radio and computer swap meet, where I scored a few Shoppe items -- LTOI2, Willy Beamish -- plus my own boxed copy of The Neverhood for $2.50 (!)

Tons of stuff to do with the Shoppe, I hope to finally get to some of it this weekend. For starters, the mailing address on the order form page is finally updated. Speaking of which, my Earthlink account is now defunct. Check the e-mail link at the bottom of the page if you need to update your address book.

09/11/2003I'm going to be unavailable for the next several days, so I've marked the Shoppe as closed.
09/10/2003Okay, new one for international buyers: Some countries -- so far Finland is the only one I know for sure -- now require a phone number on the customs forms for Parcel Post packages (over 4 pounds). They won't ship without it, I've tried. Eventually I'll be updating the Shoppe registration page to reflect this new requirement, but that's a when-I-have-time, which isn't now. In the meantime please include a phone number when you're placing Parcel Post orders. If you forget, don't worry, I'll remind.
Just a reminder, my BidVille auctions are closing this week. Grab some stuff at a lower price (or make me a counter-offer on any of my stuff, you can do that, this isn't greedy-ass eBay). If you miss a close, don't worry, the unsold stuff will automatically be relisted.

I'm about a quarter of the way through unpacking and bagging the Infocom vault stuff.

09/06/2003Been working to unpack and re-bag the vault all week. Right now I'm up to the letter "I", and a rather prominent company there. B-) I believe I've hit on (for now) the safest and most practical solution for keeping dust and wear off my games. The short version: Comic book bags. The long version: Coming in the next column.
Oh, and check this out. I've found a kindred spirit. B-)
09/03/2003A few brief items of interest from over the long weekend:

I finally unpacked the vault! Well, some of it anyway. About six boxes. Watch for a column tour of the new Shoppe, once I get everything up.

The waiting list has been cleared up; there were 5 users with invalid e-mails. I plan on doing this about once per year to keep the list clean. If you need to update your info, you can do it at your profile page, or, for slower results, send me an e-mail.

I've also had a couple of instances where PayPal didn't notify me when a Shoppe payment came through. Of course, they blame everyone but themselves... I notice this trend started right about when the eBay blob absorbed them. But anyway. After you click through their payment pages, you'll be given a choice of two buttons. Clicking the "return" one will take you back to a Shoppe page that will send me another notice, to ensure your payment isn't overlooked.

Oh, and Pentari author Howard Sherman is on the trail of Timmon. (Hi, Timmon!) I'll add an update to the column to let everyone know what happens. Timmon's also been selling Megatraveller cluebooks, but everyone already knows they're his cheapo reprints, right?

08/27/2003New column is up, on the latest peddler of fake collectible crap. I know I'm behind on filling Shoppe orders, and promise to get to them in the next couple of days. Thanks for everyone's patience.
08/25/2003If you have entries on the YOIS mailing list, you will be receiving a message from the Shoppekeeper this week, just to confirm that your e-mail address is still valid (as it's been over a year since I last checked). There is no need to respond; all I will be doing is making sure your mail doesn't get bounced back undeliverable. E-mails that do get returned after several attempts will be cleared from the waiting list, to keep things tidy. If you need to update your e-mail address, you can do so at your user profile page.
08/24/2003Finally, a major update! I'll be adding new Shoppe items throughout the day, starting with the Infocoms. Also got a few new vault pages added, scroll down to see the list. And I've just done a major update to the deadbeat page (apologies to those of you who sent me your lists and had to wait so long to see them go up). The latest column should be ready later today or early next week.

Don't forget to check my BidVille auctions!

08/19/2003All right. Finally getting caught up a bit around here. I've just added about 30 more BidVille auctions, and I hope to get the new Shoppe items up this weekend, along with the latest counterfeiting column. (Speaking of which, he hasn't tried to list any more, probably scared since I... well, you'll hear about it in the column. B-)
08/14/2003Okay, I'm back. Had some nice finds while on vacation. I'll try to get to the waiting Shoppe transactions this weekend.
08/04/2003I'm going to be occupied with other things for the next few days. Have marked the Shoppe closed so any open trades don't expire. I will get to them when time allows.
08/03/2003SCAMMER UPDATE!

Well, I never got any replies to my e-mails about the DVD/CD-R games, though the seller did respond to a question about shipping from a different eBay ID, so he has been checking his mail. Which means he's choosing to ignore me. I gave this guy his fair chance to share his side of the story, but he has apparently decided not to, so now I can only share mine.

His eBay ID is timmon, and you can get his name, e-mail, and physical address from his web page through some of his completed auctions. "Timmon" uses private feedback to hide any complaints against him, and private auctions to prevent anyone (like me) from contacting and warning his buyers. Hoping some of them will see this, and realize before they pay that they've been ripped off.

That is, if in fact they were unaware that they didn't bid on an original package to begin with. (Not sure why anyone who knew they were fakes would bid, as the game code is widely circulated as abandonware.) Compare his Usurper auction with the real thing. I'm interested to know what the mysterious "Orb of Qyntarr" is, guessing a cheap marble he found and stuck in the case, but I don't want to give him $17 to find out.

Turns out printing and selling his own versions of commercial games is only part of this joker's racket. Two of the games he listed, Ghost Train and House of the Midnight Sun are not "classic" 1980s text adventures at all, they are recent Z-code games available as freeware downloads. The author himself has told me that he did not give "timmon" permission to package and distribute them for profit, and in fact had never even heard of the seller. I'm still researching the Traveller RPG supplements on his website, but there's a chance he may not have the rights to print and sell those, either. Plus I'll soon have one of the actual game packages in custody for a full analysis in a future Shoppe column. Check back in a couple of weeks.

07/30/2003Heads up, fellow collectors! Looks like we've got another live one... I'm currently watching a guy who's auctioning what look like classic text adventures in DVD cases with a self-printed cover.

Still gathering information, not ready to publicly expose this guy just yet -- I've learned my lesson from the last counterfeiter... the column on whom IS coming someday, I swear! -- but keep your eyes open, and if you see anything that looks fishy LMK and I'll nod or shake my head, as appropriate. (Just remember, a seller who keeps both his feedback AND his bidders' identities private is a seller who's hiding something.)

Watch this space.

07/27/2003Just got my DSL connection working (finally!), and it R3WLZ! I'll be dropping the dialup soon, so my Earthlink address will no longer be valid. E-mail my YOIS account (which will not change) if you'd like the new one.
07/21/2003Just wanted to give everyone a heads-up, any package mailing from me is probably going to be delayed a few days. Yesterday some crazy lady ran a red and nailed me making a left turn, now I am sans car while it's in the repair shop. (Nobody hurt, and no collectible games damaged. B-)
07/18/2003

Wow, looking at the news page, it's been awhile since my last post.

I've just listed over 100 items, both Shoppe and non-Shoppe, on BidVille. I think this is going to be my new site for auctions, as I've just about had it with eBay and their idiotic fascist rules, and the constant outages, and their cheapskate half-price listing days. What the hell happened to the free ones, is that a bad word now? Anyone else who feels the same way, you're invited to join me, maybe we can start a small vintage software community on BidVille. Seller registration only costs $5.00 for six months, there are NO listing fees and NO final value fees, you get almost twice as long a title for your auction, and you can have auctions up for 30 days with automatic relists. (Oh, you'll still see me bidding on eBay because of the vast selection, but I refuse to pay for their seller "services" anymore until they get their act together.)

Working on reshelving and updating the Shoppe items. Expect an updated list the weekend after this one. Major update coming to the deadbeat list, too.

New Shoppe column in the works, no ETA yet. ("Research" on the T-shirt one is still ongoing. B-)

06/15/2003Just a quick note to all Shoppe visitors with open trades/transactions:

I've finally more or less caught up on the offers, and have refreshed the transactions to today's date so they won't expire. This enables me to finally take the "closed" message down (as I'm sure everyone is sick of looking at it). That also means your trades will expire if you leave them untouched, though. LMK if you get the automatic warning from the Shoppe and I'll refresh them again if desired.

Thanks for everyone's patience with this while I dealt with other things in my life.

06/10/2003Hey gang! I have a source for a mask and saucer, if anyone needs either or both. The owner tells me: "The saucer has four small cracks in the edge that don't penetrate beyond the bevel. The mask has no cracks at all. The spot in the saucer where the staple went has some yellowing. Otherwise, both are still white... The pullhole in the cardboard where you open up the saucer [is] creased but not ripped."
UPDATE: Heard from one user who keeps getting blocked when trying to send e-mail to this guy. Is anyone else having the same problem?
06/08/2003Today is the first anniversary of the PHP/MySQL Shoppe! I was hoping to do something special to mark the date, but just haven't had time... Maybe next year.
06/03/2003Back from a desperately needed break. Things are about caught up. Those of you who haven't heard from me on trade offers, you should soon.

Also a heads-up... When I went into my post office to mail some games today, I was told that the USPS is instituting a new policy where they may ask you to open up packages being sent by Media Mail, to verify that the items inside do indeed qualify as such. Apparently a lot of people have been fibbing about the contents to get the discounted media rate. As I understand it, books, music, movies and software can all be sent media rate. Hardware and magazines cannot. If you regularly ship Media Rate, be prepared for the possibility of having your packages inspected. If you regularly ship non-media items by Media Rate, this may be a good time to break the habit.

05/24/2003 Okay. I've already received a number of "why haven't you responded" type messages and just wanted to make sure everyone understands.

If you check the Shoppe pages, you'll see a message that it's currently closed. This is because right now is a seriously overwhelming time for my Real Life. I've just moved and am still settling in, the Shoppe is in total disarray making it difficult to find anything, work is extremely busy and stressful, and I need to go away for a few days next week. In short, right now I simply don't have the time to put together packages or even answer e-mails personally, so I've stopped all Shoppe business until I do.

Don't worry, I've set it so your transactions will not expire, so you won't lose your items to anyone else. But that means even if you pay me, your items will not be shipped for another week or two (most likely two), until I get back and re-oriented. If this is not acceptable to you, or if you obtain the games you want from other sources, feel free to go ahead and cancel your transactions; I won't be offended. And I hope you will not take offense at not receiving a personal reply. It's not me ignoring you. It's me literally not having any time. Once that changes, you will start seeing responses from your Shoppekeeper again.

Thanks for listening. Your patience and understanding are appreciated.

05/21/2003Okay gang, things are REALLY overwhelming right now with work and getting things settled, so I'm closing the Shoppe to prevent anyone's transactions from being expired due to my inability to reply. I will get caught up when time permits, no idea when that might be, probably not for another week or so. Apologies for the inconvenience. (Please don't send why-haven't-you-responded messages, as we all know by now that it never does any good. B-)
05/18/2003The move went almost perfectly (my console-gaming desk has one new dent in it), and I'm wired again. Still working on transporting the vault... I made it very clear to the family members who assisted with the furniture that no one handles my collection but me. B-) Will try to catch up on Shoppe business in the next few days.
05/15/2003New Shoppe column, featuring PhillyClassic coverage (finally!) and an amusing look at hunting in thrift stores.

Things are going to be pretty disorganized for a couple of weeks, as I'm moving the big furniture this weekend and then have to set up Shoppe again in the new place. Might take me a few days to fill orders or answer questions, but trust me, I'm not ignoring you.

05/04/2003I finally had a chance to sort through my old computer magazines today, when I carried them over to the new place, and I took the opportunity to better organize them. It was a blast. However I did find out I'm missing some issues. If anyone has spares I'll trade you games or duplicate mags to get them. Here's what I still need:
  • Analog Computing: #1-10, 14-17, 53, 54, 56+.
  • Antic: Pre-1984 (any issues), 1984 (Jan/May/July), 1985 (Jan/Feb/April/June-Oct), 1986+ (any issues).
  • Computer Gaming World: Vol 1 (any issues), Vol 2 (#1, #2), Vol 3 (#2, #5, #6), Vol 4 (#5), #40, 51, 62, 72, 75, 76, 78, 79, 86-88, 92+ (certain issues).
  • Computist: #67.
  • Core: Vol 1 #4, any issues after.
  • Questbusters: Vol I-VI (most issues), Vol VII (#1-8), #119+.
  • Softalk: 1981 (any issues), 1982 (Jan-July), 1983 (Sept-Nov), 1984 (Sept-Dec), 1985+ (can't remember how long Softalk lasted).


04/28/2003Closed on the new place today! Now I just have to haul the entire collection over there.

Once I get settled in I'll be looking for a complete, working Apple IIgs system with a color monitor. Preferably something within driving distance so I can pick it up myself.

Oh yeah, I was surprised this PC Myth on eBay didn't go higher.

04/16/2003Finally got my personal collection packed up for the move. It fills 33 boxes (12" x 17" x 9").
04/11/2003A landmark event: Today YOIS had its first user booted off the waiting list for repeatedly failing to respond to notifications. (It does happen, people!)
Added a new Infocom site to the links page.
04/08/2003I've just been informed by the folks at atariarchives.org that the complete text of the book Creating Adventure Games for Your Computer by Tim Hartnell is now available for online reading. The BASIC programs, compatible with most computers from 1983, are also available for download.
04/01/2003PhillyClassic was great! Thanks again to Joe, Paula, and Jeff of The Origin Museum for their hospitality and for making the whole thing happen. And thanks to Dan Chisarick, Stuart Feldhamer, and Howard Sherman for making an appearance. It was great to meet you all. Coverage of the show in a new Shoppe column, hopefully coming soon.

Shoppe responses may be a bit slow over the next few weeks, and scans may have to wait. I'm slowly getting things boxed up for the move (new home, and closer to a new workplace, more on that in a future column as well), and there's a lot of it!

03/28/2003The Shoppe is temporarily closed while I'm at PhillyClassic.
03/22/2003New Shoppe column! Articles include an interview with Eli Tomlinson, a professional printer's analysis of the Eyal Katz Sierra fakes, and the "Cornerstone Database Database".
03/20/2003Got my copy of Pentari the other day, and it's really neat. It's a thin folder with a couple of really nice props: A letter from your character's commanding officer, and a real antique-style metal key. Author Howard Sherman informs me that my CD is the very one pictured on Malinche's website.
03/16/2003WOW... All I can say is... WOW. What a day it was:

A few letdowns: I genuinely expected that shrinked Quarterstaff to go higher, and the Suspended too. But my guess is a former Infocom employee slash eBay seller is very happy right about now.

I'm still on a high from the snipe adrenaline. B-)

03/14/2003Fixed an issue with the mailing list. If you couldn't sign up before, you should be able to now.
03/13/2003Just released: Pentari: First Light, a new commercial text adventure game, the first with actual packaging since 1998's Once and Future. Pentari is available in two versions: A software-only downloadable ZIP, and a folder with a couple of neat props. (Bet you can't guess which one I ordered!)

Read the JustAdventure+ press release for more details. I'll post info on the packaging here, once mine arrives. Could be a good future collectible to hold onto, considering how scarce Once and Future is today. (How many of you are still kicking yourselves for not picking up that one when you had the chance?)

If you're coming to PhillyClassic at the end of the month, the author will be selling them there, so you can pick up your copy in person and save on shipping.

03/11/2003Fixed an issue with the detail page for trade/sale items, where it would throw an error if you weren't logged in. Shouldn't see this happening anymore.
03/08/2003I've overhauled the search code this week. It now handles searches on multiple words (both "AND" and "OR" type queries), and also matches platform name in the description (useful for finding games with multiple formats in the same package).
02/23/2003I just added two boxes full of accumulated trade items. Lots of Sierra Quest games, some AD&D gold/silver boxes, and some early Apple II titles.
02/18/2003Finally getting things caught up around here. If I haven't closed your trade yet, I will get to it this week. Two whole boxes of new trade items to put up, hopefully in the next couple of days. It's good to be back working on the Shoppe again.

I've also had an opportunity to examine a couple of the Eyal Katz Sierra fakes in person, thanks to Vintage Sierra. My observations, and those of a professional graphic designer, coming in a future column. (And I'll get the other column posted, with a full explanation for the tardiness, as soon as I can... though it'll be awhile.)

02/09/2003Well, for the moment the planned Shoppe column is going to be put on hold, as I need to wait for some... stuff. (Asking my readers to trust me on this one.) In the meantime, if you have any questions about 80s game T-shirts, please don't hesitate to ask.
02/02/2003It looks like I'm definitely going to make Philly Classic. A number of software collectors are planning a gathering at this year's show, including the founders of the Origin Museum. It's the last weekend in March. Hope to see some of you there!
01/18/2003Just heard about TradeGamesNow from another collector. This is a fairly new site that allows people to swap their used games, a possible alternative now that GameTZ is going paysite.
01/11/2003I finally made it. As of today, I'm in the Thousand Club on eBay. I wonder if they still give out pins for that. If I get one, I'll definitely auction it. B-)
01/10/2003Had an amazing phone chat with Joe Garrity of the Origin Museum last night. Among the many topics was the possibility of getting a group of software collectors together at this year's Philly Classic weekend. I figured we'd hang out, swap collector stories, bring some of our rare items to pass around, etc. Please e-mail us if you'd be interested in something like this.
01/03/2003eBay has been experiencing intermittent outages (lasting about an hour or so, but not long enough to extend impacted auctions) for the last couple of days. If you are planning to snipe, you may want to reconsider placing a maximum proxy bid an hour or so in advance.

eBay's continued dedication to incompetence is inspiring. Hopefully this is the year the entire site will crash and burn.
01/01/2003Happy New Year, everyone.

My resolutions for 2003:

  1. To update the site more frequently with Shoppe columns and informational vault pages.
  2. To let fewer incorrectly listed items get on the Shoppe pages this year.
  3. To acquire at least three games on my Top 10 Wanted list.
  4. To finally get those damn scans of sale/trade items made.
  5. To make my next deadbeat bidder on eBay feel my unrestrained, focused wrath. (Whoever you are, consider yourself warned.)

12/29/2002New trade/sale items and some new vault pages today. Scroll down to find both.
12/27/2002Slight change to the waiting list. Thanks to a certain smartass (now banned from using it), new entries will not show up until I pre-approve them.
12/19/2002Breakthrough on the Eyal Katz fraud situation: One of the original collectors who contacted me has identified a company named Hed-Azri as the sole Sierra distributor in Israel. They've already forwarded his complaint to their solicitor, though I'm not sure they've yet confirmed that Eyal works there. If you were ripped off and haven't been contacted through GameTZ, you should report it as soon as possible, as Hed-Azri will probably want testimony from people he's scammed.

I have a feeling Eyal is going to start feeling some pressure very soon. (Yesss, precious, we squeezes it... Nassty thieving Katzes, gollum, gollum! B-)

12/18/2002I will be unavailable to answer Shoppe inquiries until 12/21.
12/09/2002Update on the Eyal Katz fraud:

One of the collectors he scammed got a reply from the Israeli Police, which basically said because this is international fraud, they can't open an investigation based on e-mail complaints. You will need to report it to your local authorities and any national fraud agencies, who will then report it to Interpol if they decide an investigation is warranted. Interpol would act as the go-between for law enforcement in the two countries.

Remember, power in numbers. The more complaints they get, the more likely they'll follow up.

12/08/2002This week I cleaned up the mess in the corner and was surprised to discover a number of duplicate Infocoms in it! They're listed below, along with some open but undeveloped InvisiClues and maps.

Just a reminder, if the waiting list flags you for an item, you need to click the link in the e-mail and respond, even if it's not what you want. I mention this because a lot of the InvisiClues generated matches, and I don't yet have the code in place for it to differentiate games from hint books. Take you five seconds, and it'll ensure your entries stay on the waiting list for when the right item does match.

12/05/2002If you were among those defrauded in a deal with Eyal Katz, here's a site (in English) for the Israeli Police. Click on "General Information", then "Have you seen or heard anything?" for a little background on how they will use anything you submit. There's an e-mail link at the top of the page (click "Contact Us"). Be sure to request any appropriate paperwork. Remember, power in numbers. More complaints increases the chance they'll look into it.

Happy Hannukah, Eyal. B-)

12/04/2002If you've had problems today with the www.yois.biz domain, it's because Go Daddy, the provider I use for redirection, has had their servers down for an upgrade of some sort. I have no idea how long the downtime will last. You can always get in through http://www.if-legends.org/~yois.
11/30/2002My top 10 wanted games are back on the want-list page. I just had a rotten snipe week on eBay (0 for 3) with the top games, so now's a chance to get a really good trade.
11/29/2002For anyone who needs Shoppe items to arrive by Christmas, here are the U.S. Post Office's guaranteed delivery dates:
  • Priority Mail (Domestic): December 19th.
  • Express Mail (Domestic): December 21st.
  • International Air Mail: December 16th.

International surface mail normally takes 4 - 6 weeks, so I can't guarantee packages sent this way will arrive in time.

BTW, the above dates are the ship dates, once the USPS actually has the package. Keep in mind it normally takes at least a day or two, depending on how busy I am, to put everything together and actually drop it off.

11/25/2002If you use eSnipe to place last-second eBay bids, BE CAREFUL! eBay has been experiencing page-view problems on some servers for the last couple of days, and I noticed it myself while my auctions were closing. The other day I heard from one collector whose bid cancellation wasn't processed by eSnipe, and just tonight I missed a great item when my snipe didn't go through.
11/24/2002If you haven't tried Citibank's c2it yet, I recommend it as a free alternative to PayPal. Within the U.S., there are no fees for the buyer or the seller. I am considering this service as a PayPal replacement when eBay raises PayPal fees (and they will). The disadvantage is international transactions with c2it are expensive, a $10 flat fee. So I'll probably keep PayPal support around for non-American collectors unless another option presents itself.

More fun with the eBay/PayPal merger in the next Shoppe column!
I finally had time to add a bunch of new items I've been accumulating over the last few weeks, about 50 of them. Lots of unboxed Apple IIgs bargains, quite a few Adventure International styrofoam folders, and lots of miscellaneous. Scroll down to find the full list of new stock.
11/21/2002Today marks the six-year anniversary of YOIS on the web! Thanks to Jay Goemmer of Downbelow Station (who originally helped the Shoppe get off the ground by giving it a single page of its own) for reminding me, and congratulations on his daughter's sixth birthday tomorrow.
11/19/2002The Eyal Katz column is now back up, and I suppose I owe everyone an explanation for why it was down this past week:

One of his buyers was negotiating a refund, but Eyal, apparently thinking this person actually co-wrote the column with me in addition to providing information on the Sierra fakes, refused to budge while the page about him was still up. In an effort to help this guy get his rather sizable chunk of cash back, I took it down. At which point Eyal's responses abruptly ceased.

In other words, the little rat lied again. So the page is now back up, and Eyal Katz gets yet another black mark on his (already badly stained) reputation. As he has shown no interest whatsoever in redeeming himself, I cannot envision any circumstances in which I would take it down again. Read it, pass it on to your friends, and by all means e-mail Eyal and let him know what you think of his behavior.

And in case you still have any doubts regarding this puke's integrity, check out his GameTZ page, where the bad trade reports continue to pile up like unsold copies of Big Game Hunter.
11/15/2002I've successfully ported the YOIS mailing list over to the Shoppe from its old provider. Newcomers, please let me know if you encounter any difficulties trying to sign up. (If you were already on the list before, you don't need to re-subscribe.)
11/12/2002This week I'll be phasing out YourMailingListProvider.com as the central site for the YOIS mailing list, simply because it's easier for me to manage it myself. This move should be completely transparent to subscribers, and adding / removing your address will work the same way as before.

Remember, you don't have to be registered with YOIS to join the mailing list and receive notices of new columns and other happenings.
11/09/2002After almost a solid week of investigation, e-mails, and lies, the story of a rip-off artist printing fake Sierra folder packages is now available in a special Shoppe column. This one's important! Everyone interested in protecting the integrity of this hobby needs to read it.

I've got a ton of Apple IIGS games and Adventure International styro packs on the way, but I've been working on the counterfeiting story all week and haven't had time to go through the packages yet. Hopefully this weekend.
11/06/2002Important! Do NOT buy any Sierra items from an "avi", "David Wolf" or "Eyal Katz" in Israel (bezeqint.net e-mail address). They are fakes! Full story coming soon!
11/03/2002If you're tired of looking at a long list of past purchases on your history page, you'll be pleased to know I've revised the page to display only open transactions. You can still bring up an entire account history by clicking the link at the top.
11/01/2002Just fixed an issue with the international shipping calculations: The shipping page pulls data from the U.S. Postal Service page, but the USPS changed their text so it reads "Airmail Letter Post" instead of "Airmail Letter-Post", so my script wasn't finding the right amount. If you weren't getting a regular (uninsured) airmail option before, you should be now.
10/30/2002Okay, for those of you who missed my cheese Danish auction, I've preserved it here, along with another funny listing I did back in March.
10/27/2002I think I've made eBay's "watch" list. They just e-mailed me saying how one of my completed auctions violated their listing policies... even though the broken rule involved doubly linking to PayPal (now an eBay company) and the auction didn't generate any bids. I'm sure glad they took the time to hunt down that serious crime instead of engaging in time-wasting garbage like stabilizing their site.
10/26/2002I've fixed the "name" error with the registration page. If you've had problems getting registered, you should be able to now. (Rotten work week, or I'd've gotten to it sooner.)
10/23/2002At LAST, some new vault pages! Scroll down to find a list of the latest ones, and check 'em out. More to follow.

I've also built a site map for the Shoppe, a good page to bookmark for the fastest possible navigation. It's accessible from both the FAQ and main index pages.
10/17/2002Aww, damn. Just got a message that eBay cancelled the cream cheese Danish auction. I did save the text, and I'll repost it here shortly for those of you who missed it. Anyone who still wants it, please e-mail me, we'll negotiate privately. I don't need eBay to sell a six-year-old stale pastry, I can do it myself! B-)
10/12/2002Heehee, check this out. I absolutely kill me. B-)
10/11/2002More eBay/PayPal fun: eBay now assures me that only transactions related to eBay auctions are currently of interest to them on PayPal. Non-auction payments, and payments related to other auction sites are not. (Note she said "currently". Right now the two sites are not prepared to share information, as the merger has just gone through.)

So. For the time being I will keep PayPal support around, until the two sites become fully integrated, which eBay customer service informs me will occur before the end of 2002. At that point I may or may not cease accepting PayPal, depending on the response I get from the two parties after it's happened.

For those interested, here are the phone numbers I've been using (obtained from The Auction Guild's website):

  • eBay (7:30 A.M. - 5:30 P.M., Pacific Standard Time): 1-800-322-9266
  • PayPal (no time restrictions that I've found): 1-888-221-1161, or 1-877-6PAYPAL

I encourage everyone to call (don't e-mail, no humans ever read them) and voice your concerns. If you don't have any, you should.

10/10/2002Is anybody having problems with the vault pics not showing up? I've heard from one person who can't seem to get them to appear, and am wondering if anyone else can duplicate this (since I can't).
10/09/2002You're gonna love this. So I called eBay last night (longer wait, but slightly better hold music than PayPal), pretending to be a PayPal user who has never used eBay before, and asked the same question. THEY claim eBay will NOT be able to access non-eBay transactions on PayPal. eBay informed me that the two are still entirely separate companies, even though eBay now owns PayPal. On a hunch, I called PayPal back this morning, and (wait for it!) they now tell me the same thing!

Okay, but, so wait, it gets better. I call PayPal back a little later, get a different customer service rep. HE tells me that, now that the two companies are working together, they will share some information, but that eBay will only have access to "what they need". Of course I pressed for details, such as for what sort of "reasons" eBay might decide they "need" such information, but neither of us was equipped with the legal BS knowledge necessary to decipher the privacy policy. According to this guy, eBay is still considered a third party by PayPal, and although the two parties share a "distant relationship", each maintains its own data, customer service center, etc.

He did specifically state that nothing would be shared if a person has a PayPal account but no eBay account. But I'm still not sure how this applies to non-eBay transactions for someone who has accounts with both eBay and PayPal. And of course all of this could change in an instant should either company alter their privacy policy (and eBay is notorious for making revisions and not bothering to inform its users). So my anxieties were not reconciled. I did get him to promise to pass my concerns on to PayPal's legal department, gave him both my home and work phone numbers, and encouraged someone to call me back.

To be continued...
10/08/2002My conversation with PayPal wasn't at all promising. After the nice support rep consulted the FAQ and tried to spew back the same answer I got through e-mail (stimulus, response), I managed to convince her to run my question by a supervisor. In a nutshell: Since eBay now owns PayPal, eBay can indeed access a user's entire transaction history if they want to, including bank account numbers and non-eBay transactions. This is very unsettling to me, and the very reason I avoided signing up with eBay's Billpoint.

So. I am closing my account and will no longer be accepting payments through PayPal. You're going to see some changes to the Shoppe in the next few days. I know it'll slow down turnaround, but this whole eBay/PayPal merger just gives me a very bad gut feeling. Special apologies go out to my international buyers, whom this will inconvenience the most. I will search high and low for another option.
10/06/2002Well, my initial inquiries to eBay and PayPal weren't at all promising. Both spewed out the exact same vague answer given in their FAQs. Copy, paste. Stimulus, response. Buncha freakin' amoebas working customer support. I've also posted to the appropriate eBay forum, and I plan to call both companies on Monday to see if the quality of their phone support exceeds e-mail. (Wouldn't take much.)
10/05/2002Well, the eBay/PayPal merger has gone through, and I personally could not be more concerned about it. I for one do not want eBay to be able to look through my entire PayPal history and see how much money I make from all of my (non-eBay related) transactions. Based on eBay's incompetence with problem resolution and past failure to listen to its users, would you trust them with your bank account number? I've heard too many Billpoint horror stories to have any sort of confidence.

In addition, this merger virtually guarantees eBay's continued monopolistic stranglehold on the online auction industry. With eBay and PayPal joining forces, who can possibly hope to compete? eBay's new inside access to the inner workings of PayPal gives them a distinct advantage over every other auction site.

I have written to both sides voicing my concern and asking them to specifically state how much PayPal account information eBay will be able to access. Depending on their answer, you may see significant changes to the Shoppe in the coming days. If I'm not satisfied with the response I get, I may stop accepting PayPal payments, both through eBay and the Shoppe.

Watch this page; I'll keep everyone posted.
09/29/2002I've just added ComputerGameCollector.com to the links page. This is a new and very ambitious site working to bring software collectors together. Post your own collection online and view other other people's lists. There are forums for discussion, and premiere features (being offerred for free indefinitely) include eBay auction and search tools. It's not quite off the ground yet (could really use bulk-upload features for large collections), but definitely worth watching.
09/23/2002In case you missed it, the Eli Tomlinson auction drew over 18,000 spectators, but not a single bid. I'm not surprised: Most serious collectors can't afford it, and there aren't many dealers with the resources to move that many pieces. Eh well, hopefully he'll have the online store up within a year or two.
Sorry for the delay, everyone... Couple of busy weeks followed by a busy crappy week. At any rate, the rest of the new Shoppe stock is up now. Don't miss the Cornerstone books (I finally got a plastic case of my own, thanks Tom!) and the Personal Software Zork manual. Quite a few waiting list matches, don't forget to respond to those. You can do so from transaction history if you've lost the original e-mail.

My CGE pictures didn't turn out like I'd hoped. There was plenty of light in the ballroom and I used the flash for good measure, but most of 'em came out really dark. I'll try to get around to posting the halfway decent ones this week though. I know, I really should buy a digital camera but I've been burned twice and just can't make myself hock up the cash again.

Next step, some new vault pages. It's been over a year now.
09/10/2002The Eli Tomlinson quarter-million games auction is up. Come join the spectators (or bidders if you're rich enough). The auction text has a link to a brief PC World article about software collecting.
09/06/2002I won't be around this weekend to answer Shoppe requests. TomMage and I are going game-hunting in Chicago on Saturday and hitting Six Flags on Sunday. Should be a blast! Everyone with paid outstanding orders will have their stuff shipped tomorrow morning.
Starting tomorrow, this guy will be auctioning probably the largest single collection of software in the world on eBay. (Thanks to Dirk Backenkoehler for passing the site along.) About 250,000 pieces (!!!), half of it pre-1990, 60% mint shrinked. Everything from Amiga to VIC-20, plus an enormous detailed database of everything.

He's informed me the bidding will start at $250,000 for the entire lot, so if there are any rich collectors out there willing to make a sizeable investment (and rent a small fleet of trucks), here's a chance to live off selling games for the rest of your life! (I can't possibly afford that, or I'd consider it myself.)

09/04/2002The latest Shoppe column is now up, featuring my personal take on the 2002 Classic Gaming Expo and a heartwarming tale of revenge against a spammer. Photos from the CGE will be posted as soon as I get my film developed, hopefully next week.
08/28/2002Got about three-quarters of the new items listed now, including a Sci-Fi Classics triple pack! Just a reminder to waiting-list users, I've seen the Shoppe flag a number of matches as I was entering items. Don't forget to respond to the e-mails sent out to you.
08/27/2002Got some more items added today, that's about half of them. Still have the bulk of the Infocoms to go, but there's some good stuff. (Check the Cranston Manor!) More tomorrow, and later this week.
08/21/2002Okay, I've begun going through my backlog of new items. Check the list below for the newest additions to YOIS stock. Just a few for now, I'm testing some code enhancements on the admin side. I have two whole boxes of Infocoms to add, so if you're on the waiting list, watch your e-mail so you don't miss first grab. Getting these and the new column finished are my top priority this week.
08/17/2002More deadbeats (thanks, Harry!), and I added commas to the list so it's easier for everyone to copy and paste them into your blocked bidder list on eBay.
I've also added a check in the transaction history page, designed to prevent abuses of the Shoppe's automated offer system at the hands of a few people (who apparently thought I wouldn't notice >B-). The Shoppe now makes you wait a full day before permitting you to cancel trades or transactions. This should discourage sneaky buyers from repeatedly making and cancelling offers in order to sniff out the lowest accepted price.

(No names mentioned, and no hard feelings... Actually I'm grateful you found this... Just be aware you won't be able to do it anymore.)

To anyone who ever needs to do a legitimate cancel, don't worry. If you intend to cancel a trade the next day but forget to do so, the Shoppe will eventually send you a reminder, and in time will even clear it out for you automatically.

08/14/2002The Shoppe is back open. CGE2K2 was great, lots of stories to tell. I'll try to get the new column typed up for this weekend, plus a few Shoppe mods I came up with during the trip.
Also updated the eBay deadbeats page with a couple of collections that other people were kind enough to send me. Remember, if we work together we can keep these losers away from our auctions, so please share your list if you have one.
08/08/2002I'm leaving tomorrow for Las Vegas and the 2002 Classic Gaming Expo. Expect a new column chronicling my take on the event shortly after I return. The Shoppe will be temporarily "closed" during this time. You'll still be able to browse and reserve games, but no trades will be negotiated and no orders shipped (and no outdated transactions will expire) while I'm away.
08/06/2002Finally got around to updating some vault pages today, correcting misinformation and adding some new trivia I've uncovered. I'm about halfway done with the backed-up changes. No new pages yet but I hope to add some in the coming weeks, after I get my new scanner hooked up.
07/27/2002I've modified the Shoppe's cleanup script to send out notices warning people with reserved items a week before they expire. This should help eliminate the frustration of having to re-reserve a forgotten item.
07/12/2002Updated the column back issues page with some old Usenet messages I dug up, including the post that first announced the web-based Shoppe back in 1996. (Still looking for any columns prior to 10/4/1997, if anyone happened to save them.)
06/30/2002New domestic postal rates are in effect starting today. I've just updated the Shoppe's shipping code to pull rates from the revised USPS page. Please LMK if you encounter any problems with it. Priority Mail is now entirely zipcode-based, and insurance is an additional 20 cents. International shipping is not changing at this time.
Tidied up the master items list a bit, and the main vault page quite a bit more (corrected some entries, fixed some typos, added some new stuff I've acquired). Added the missing I, Damiano scan for the Bantam package. Also added Vintage Sierra to the links page.

The new Shoppe has now been live three weeks, so I've also started the daily cleanup process. If you have unclaimed waiting list items, unpaid buys, or open trades, resolve them quick or risk the items being unreserved!

06/22/2002Added a bunch of new sites to the links page: American Games Shop, C64 Game Guide Shop, Dr. Feelgood's, RetroDirect, RetroGamer, Sauron's Corner, SinTech, the Tolkien Computer Games Pages, and TradeInPost. Check 'em out.
06/08/2002The PHP/MySQL edition of Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe launches!


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