eBay requires only a web browser, an email account, and a sense of adventure. But to use the hacks in this book, you'll want to make sure you have all of the following:
Recent web browser. Your web browser is your portal to the entire eBay universe, so make sure you're not using a browser released before the fall of the Berlin wall. The hacks in this book were designed for and tested on Netscape 7.0 or later, Mozilla 1.4 or later, and Internet Explorer 6.0 or later. These are all free downloads from their respective makers (www.netscape.com, www.mozilla.org, and www.microsoft.com), so no excuses! Earlier web browsers will cause all sorts of problems, such as pages not displaying correctly and forms not working properly. And newer browsers can also prefill forms and remember passwords, which can be very handy on eBay.
Email account. A reliable email account ? and an email address that is not likely to change in the short term ? are vital requirements for using eBay.
Email application. Email is how buyers and sellers communicate with one another, but many eBay members underestimate the need for a reliable program to read and send email. A good email program will do the following:
Store all sent and received messages indefinitely.
Allow you to search and sort stored messages.
Include the original message when you send a reply.
Automatically separate eBay-related email from all other correspondence using filters.
Web-based services such as Hotmail or Yahoo! are not suitable, because they don't store email permanently, and they don't give you sufficient control over spam filters and other features. Instead, try Eudora (www.eudora.com) or Outlook (www.microsoft.com).
Control over your spam filter. If your ISP filters out your spam, it may be deleting email messages intended for you, such as questions from customers and payment instructions from sellers. See [Hack #8] for solutions, including an example of a suitable spam filter.
The ability to tilt your head to the left. If you are able to correctly interpret smileys ;) and other "emoticons," you can properly discern when someone is kidding. This can mean the difference between being happy with a transaction and filing a dispute with eBay's fraud department.
A digital camera. If you're going to sell on eBay, you'll need a digital camera, a film camera, a scanner, or some other means of taking photos, as discussed in Chapter 5.
A credit card. Credit cards are the best means of protection when buying on eBay; see [Hack #29] for details. But even if you don't use it to pay for purchases, a credit card will help you get past some barriers, allowing you sell (see Chapter 4) and have your identity verified (see [Hack #7]).
Fun. You must have fun on eBay. Otherwise, what's the point?