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Last-minute shopping?

Hot on the Web

This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on December 6, 2002
(Issue 2049, It's a Small World After All)

It's already December, and you haven't finished your Christmas shopping yet? (And forget Hanukkah, which came early this year.)

Not to worry — shopping online remains your fallback position, one that is easier than ever and surely beats dealing with the traffic at the malls.

Yet another way to shop

While the Internet has already created numerous new ways for human beings to trade goods and services (eBay,,, our ingenuity in commerce shows no signs of slowing down.

Café Press is a blending of the and approaches with a bit of marketing savvy tossed in. What Café Press does is provides the opportunity for individuals and small businesses to sell promotional items with their logo or images on them, with the smooth shopping experience of

From t-shirts to coffee mugs, Christmas ornaments to posters, Café Press features products bearing the likenesses of country star Leeann Rimes to former pop star David Cassidy, comic strip character Luann to the Linux penguin.

There aren't all that many entries in each category yet, but given that Café Press handles all the order fulfillment for you and then cuts you a check at the end of the month, it's hard to see how this thing won't grow.

Old School goes hi tech

Not to do another "Back in the day when" story that makes the young'uns roll their eyes, but there is something to be said for an old-fashioned game of foosball, table hockey or even skittles. Real games, made out of wood and metal in addition to the plastic.

Of course, they don't still make games like that anymore ... right?

They do, and they even sell them at

Those old enough to remember pulling and twisting handles to control their hockey players in a game of table hockey (called stick hockey) here will be in hog heaven at this site. Foosball enthusiasts, too.

The stuff ain't cheap here, but on the lower end of the budget they have solid wood chess and checker sets, dominoes, cribbage boards and poker chips.

eBay changes

While a nasty copyright/patent lawsuit continues to dog eBay, on other fronts the groundbreaking online auction house continues to move forward.

eBay has completed its takeover and integration with — the virtual garage sale. If you've not been there, is like eBay without the bidding — folks still list their items for sale, purchasers and sellers still rank each other, but there are no auctions, just straight sales. Think of it as the of the used merchandise world. (Unlike with, where you can also sell used books, CDs and software, the registration and payment options with are a lot less complicated.)

Your eBay and user names are now interchangeable — one user name, two sites.

PayPal has also been bought by eBay. eBay had its own in-house electronic payment program, But Billpoint never caught on the way PayPal did — even though Billpoint was advertised throughout eBay and PayPal wasn't. PayPal was/is the superior service and business model: it is easier to use, and the charges were less onerous.

According to the Billpoint Web site, the service will be phased out in 2003 as PayPal is fully integrated into the eBay system as the preferred payment plan.

So if you're still looking for that odd gift for Aunt Ethel, finding it and paying for it on eBay or will be easier than ever.