Talk about irrational exuberance. This time, however, everyone knew in advance the market would overheat. We're talking, of course, about...

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Talk about irrational exuberance. This time, however, everyone knew in advance the market would overheat.

We’re talking, of course, about the flurry of Microsoft Xbox 360 consoles being sold last week by speculators on eBay and craigslist.

Standouts included the Seattle guy who posted a picture Tuesday of his 360 (offered at $2,000) alongside his sleeping bag and a half-eaten box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, as evidence that he spent the night waiting for his purchase. We also liked the guy who wanted $1,000 for a plastic console faceplate that Bill Gates signed for him at the Bellevue Best Buy.

Demand for the console was obviously real. But you had to be skeptical about the scripted “midnight madness” events, especially when the first guy in line at ground zero in Bellevue was a Microsoft employee.

Then there was the gun-wielding guy in Virginia who robbed an Electronics Boutique of two consoles just before they went on sale. Police nabbed him shortly afterward, according to GameSpot. Watch for those consoles to be auctioned off as collectibles for the true first-person-shooter fan.

The frenzied bidding makes you wonder if Microsoft should spin off the Xbox division as a separate company. To one-up Google, Microsoft could skip the Dutch auction and offer shares through a midnight-madness promotion.

Just in time for the 11 p.m. news, Gates could present the first share to an eager investor waiting at the Charles Schwab office in Seattle.

Call and click

The number of camera phones shipped is expected to reach 847 million units in 2008, up from 370 million this year.

Source: InfoTrends/CAP Ventures

Fund managers would bundle up in cashmere overcoats and camp outside brokerage offices for a chance to buy the shares.


There’s some kind of irony here. The same week that Microsoft’s new Xbox went on sale, enabling trigger-happy gamers to frag their friends in high-definition video, Diskeeper Corp. celebrated its 10th year of defragmenting Windows.

Microsoft has bundled the Burbank, Calif.-company’s disk-maintenance software with Windows since it was added to NT. The company now claims a 95 percent market share on corporate PCs.

Fragging is fun, but you can’t beat the price and Zenlike experience of an afternoon spent defragging your Windows machine.


A California telecom company is offering a Ho-Ho-Ho-Over-Internet-Protocol service this holiday season to raise money for children’s hospitals.

Packet8 is providing services at seven hospitals (not the one in Seattle, though) so patients can videoconference with Santa Claus, who is holding court from a decorated workshop at the company’s headquarters. The best part is that the company is in Santa Clara. Ba-dum-dum.


That was fast. A month after Microsoft agreed to help Nigeria crack down on the country’s notorious online scammers, a court threw the book at two men who pulled off the biggest scam in Nigerian history.

It was the first major conviction by a Nigerian financial-crimes commission established in 2003.

The scammers had promised Brazilian bankers a commission for funding a nonexistent contract to build an airport in Nigeria, Reuters reported last week.

They ended up swindling the bank out of $242 million, leading to its collapse.

Emmanuel Nwude was sentenced to 25 years in prison and Nzeribe Okoli to 12 years. They also have to forfeit assets worth at least $121.5 million to victims of the scam. A third participant, Amaka Anajemba, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years and agreed to return $48.5 million to Banco Noroeste.

The story didn’t say what happened to the remaining $72 million.

Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff. We can be reached at 206-464-2265 or