ebay bidding systems broken for people in Portsmouth

I have bee a regular user of ebay for 13 years now, and use it to mainly obtain all those hard to find spare parts for computers I fix.

After getting back to UK 4 days ago, I tried to buy a nonworking laptop for a nice winter indoors project, and give to a friend who needs a cheap laptop, in this case the seller doesn’t ship to the Isle of Wight, which I don’t. I live in Portsmouth.

For non British people (actually I think post codes in Canada work similar to UK possibly…) Post codes are one or two letters for the city and then some numbers for the localised area of the city then a gap and more random letters and numbers, like this:-



This above wikipedia article tells you how the localised codes work for the Portsmouth, Chichester and Isle of Wight areas.

If you live in the Isle of Wight, their post is handled by Portsmouth’s sorting office.

Basically it boils down to the fact, Isle of Wight is used by PO30 – PO40 post codes. If you have a post code of PO3 6__ like me, ebay’s infrastructure refuses you to buy this item as that the seller won’t ship to the Isle of Wight, which the parcel couriers naturally charge a bit more.

There is a space between the two halves of the post code which is entered correctly on my ebay account details, but it interprets me as being in PO36 area it seems.

So ebay, in return for reporting an infrastructure issue, and being a loyal customer since 1999 and 2000+ feedback, any chances of a nice pressie for Christmas?

Build your own external USB hard disk

I got this parcel in the post today 🙂  Actually I got three as I ordered some new cables for our projector at work as well.

This item I got off ebay, its a USB external hard disk enclosure, what this means is its an external hard disk without the real hard disk inside.

I upgraded a friend’s laptop from 80gb to 250Gb recently (bought the new drive in the UK and took on the plane with me)  and now the old 80 Gigabyte unit is surplus and I was wondering what to do with it, although its a bit small its still useful for plenty of things.

Hard disks come in about 4 varieties, 3.5 inch (for desktop PCs) and 2.5 inch (for laptops) and also IDE (has two long rows of pins) and SATA (two small slightly different shaped block connectors)  This one is a 2.5″ SATA, this is good as its small and does not need its own power supply.

The USB enclosure I got is like this one.   As it came from Hong Kong directly from the factory, these things are stupidly cheap, 99p plus 1.50 postage.  There are quite a few sellers on ebay that sell small gadgety things (where postage for size of the item is practical) directly from China or Hong Kong, some of them are obviously junk and some are good.  Some are just the OEM (original equipment manufacturer, factory who make stuff on behalf of bigger companies – I have ordered a genuine power supply for an Acer laptop this week)  who can sell stuff for fraction of what you would get from a western retailer.   I would definitely avoid USB memory sticks as there is a ton of fake ones with brand name of good companies like Sandisk or Kingston and these ones I have seen are unreliable.   I decided to take a chance on this, I guess its like an online version of Poundland, except stuff takes about 2 weeks to get here (UK or Israel) from Asia.

Don’t forget if you are an ebay user from the UK (or shop in 100 odd other retailers) make sure you buy via TopCashback which I blogged on before as you can get a little bit of money back later on for free with no commitment.

Once opening it up, it even comes with a cable and little drawstring bag – and, fans of flat pack furniture will note a tiny screw driver, and some very tiny spectacle sized philips screws.

So I assembled the Toshiba 80gb drive in the little box, and just needed to snap the slim circuit board on which does the job of converting the signal into regular USB connection.

Once assembled, I plugged it in and tried it out, all working fine, just as good as a ready made unit.

This is quite an easy and fun way of reusing a spare hard disk and easy to do with no real technical knowledge, other than needing to make sure the case is the right size and interface your drive has.