I just wanted to share the above picture that a subscriber in New Jersey sent of his first package from Bobcat In A Box.
The seller included a hand-drawn note along with a Chinese coin as a gift on top of the bracelet ordered!
When you sign up for the bot you can enter keywords to limit the items that the bot buys for you. For example, ‘Anime’ and ‘Beads’ are popular keywords. Without any keyword, the bot just buys random items for you.
Before selecting keywords it is worth taking a look on eBay to see what turns up. Sometimes the results are surprising. For example, the keyword ‘Awesome’ frequently returns old stamps used by the Nazis. If there are some items you would like to avoid, just include negative keywords when you sign up. Put a minus sign in front of any negative keywords (i.e. -nazis). Or you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will update your profile.
Check out LJ’s latest unboxing video…
Check out this great unboxing video that LJ put together…
For more unboxings, check out our video section.
I just noticed this neat fossil that the bot is currently winning. Bidding is just at 16 cents, although there are 16 hours left in the auction. Check it out.
I have added the option to subscribe to the bot with PayPal, something that many people have requested. Simply scroll to the bottom of any page on this site… enter any keywords you like, and subscribe for $1/day.
As an aside, it is surprisingly difficult to integrate PayPal with WordPress. I was forced to put it in a footer instead of a page or sidebar. After spending some time on the WordPress forums, it looks like this is a common issue. I am sure there is a better solution, but for now the paypal signup will stay in the footer.
I finally set up a stats page, which I have been meaning to do for a while. It shows the distribution of the cost of items bought by the bot and a word cloud of the item descriptions.
I know the images are a bit small, I am going to try and upload bigger versions and put together some more data on the types of items that the bot is buying.
From the cost graph you can see that a good 80% of the items bought are under $1 but that at the far end prices go up considerably. A few of these were caused by a mistake I made, quickly fixed, that allowed some items to slip by with nonzero shipping costs. But most were bought after a few days of not buying anything… the bot had enough of a budget to buy something nice!
The word cloud gives you an idea of what the bot is buying. Some words are not surprising, as every item has free shipping “free” and “shipping” come up quite a bit. Postcards and beads are also common as they are low cost and sold in volume on eBay. “mm” is also used in many craft items and jewelry that the bot buys quite a bit of.
Let me know what you would like to see on the stats page and I will try to pull it together. Email email@example.com
I was testing the bot earlier today and noticed that it found this jem on ebay.
“Its just a piece of paper but it kinda reminds me of potato. Kind of.”
Currently the bot is winning the auction at 6 cents. I don’t quite see how this would remind you of a potato, more of a lopsided bird if you look sideways.
The Bobcat In A Box bot has been going for a few months now, and I have been quite surprised at how many people want to receive random packages from the internet!
The bot has bought over 2,000 packages so far, the vast majority falling into the $.50-$1.50 range with free shipping. Many are craft items, small pieces of jewelry, stickers and phone accessories (such as little plugs to prevent dust from getting into your earphone jack… god forbid). A large number are also stamps, postcards and old coins. The bot has sent many old francs and pesos, along with postcards that are decades old (no doubt someone clearing out their attic on eBay). There have been a couple cracked or bricked cell phones that I am sure now make excellent paperweights.
Although I don’t get to spend as much time on Bobcat In A Box as I would like, I am working on new features… such as being able to limit packages to specific keyword(s) and/or category(ies) and being able to see when packages are on their way. These will hopefully be rolled out soon. Let me know what you think!
Our xkcd bot has been live for over a week now, buying random packages from Amazon and eBay. Including….
Goldilocks and the Three Bears – Amazon
Bamboo Style Sling Shot Toys – eBay
Bubble Wrap 10m x 50cm – Amazon
Blue Led 5MM Light – eBay
Dramatic 80’s Fishnet Gloves, Black – Amazon
It is given a budget of $1/day, but as it does not buy an item or win a bid every day the average item is $2-3. As it has been 9 years since the original xkcd comic, a dollar does not buy what it used to!
Most of the items on eBay are from China and so take 3 weeks to arrive. This is not necessarily a problem as, if the bot runs continuously, you still get a steady stream of packages. There is just a bit of a delay in the first ones arriving. The next iteration of the bot will allow for sorting by country of origin, so we can have a mix of packages.