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    Re: Can someone idintify this? (Zerbee). Was what they're searching for...
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2008 Dec 12, 18:54 -0800

    George, you wrote:
    "He was unaware of Navlist (or our discussions about Zerbee) until I brought
    it to his attention and suggested he might join. He has since told me that
    he has met problems when attempting to do so, so perhaps I told him wrong. I
    don't know if his attempts have been successful since. If so, and if he is
    reading this, it might be useful if he said "hello".
    If he doesn't, then I'll pass his email address off-list to Frank, and
    perhaps Frank will take it from there."
    
    Yes, I signed someone up manually last week (Sc...) who said that you had 
    pointed him to NavList and that he had not figured out how to join, so that's 
    probably the same person. 
    
    And you wrote:
    "Frank's suggestion can't be responsible, then, for our failure to buy,
    though our discussions, if the runner-up happened to be aware of them (which
    we can't know), might conceivably have affected the ultimate price that was
    paid by the buyer. However, the successful bidder, unaware, was nevertheless
    determined enough to pay far more than was in our kitty, so those
    discussions can not have influenced that aspect of the result."
    
    No, it certainly didn't influence the final outcome --I agree. But it's in the 
    nature of auctions that people feel better about increasing their bids when 
    they hear that other people are ready to bid significant sums. BUT, before I 
    am misunderstood, I am not saying that we shouldn't talk about ebay items. We 
    do it all the time, in fact, and it's always interesting. Rather, it might 
    just be a good idea not to mention prices or value except off-list or in a 
    temporary private list (Scott's suggestion about using an ad hoc mailing 
    group would work, of course, too, and I only suggest setting up an actual 
    "list" because it's almost ridiculously easy to do so through googlegroups). 
    Bill Morris made that same suggestion about not discussing price when he 
    started organizing for a "group bid" but by then it was probably already too 
    late since monetary amounts had already been mentioned.
    
    Ok. That's enough about the potential downside of discussing an auction item. 
    Now consider the remarkable positive benefits of our discussions. The week 
    before that item was on ebay, there was little available on the Internet 
    discussing the "Zerbee fix finder" except for that interesting article from 
    Time magazine and the patent that you and Dave both found. But google it now. 
    Among the top hits are discussions from NavList including this interesting 
    gem: 
    "His instrument was called the Zerbee Celestial Fix Finder. Like the Hiltner 
    device, that of Zerbee makes no provision for nonsimultaneous observations 
    (unless one of them is corrected to the value it would have if observed 
    simultaneously with the other) or for a check by observation of additional 
    bodies. Observations of bodies near the meridian or taken from high latitudes 
    cannot be accommodated."
    I think that's interesting, both because it's a succinct description of the 
    device's limitations, and also because of the amazingly capable search 
    engines doing their thing. Google has this description in "plain text" in 
    their search results right now (I didn't type that text in --I copied and 
    pasted and edited a few typos). But that description was never in plain text 
    on NavList. Instead that text is taken from some rough scanned pages (out of 
    Bowditch) which were contained within a pdf file that Gary attached to a 
    NavList message. The Google bots found that pdf on NavList, got the scanned 
    page images out of it, and then OCR'd them into plain text. And now the 
    entire world has the benefit of Gary's scans in a text searchable form. 
    That's amazing.
    
    Regarding making it easier to sign up for NavList, I've been thinking about 
    something like that for a few weeks as part of other enhancements: enter an 
    email address, click a button, and you're done... wouldn't that be nice? 
    
    -FER
    
    
    
    
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