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Wi-Fi and Finders

John P. Reid | October 13th, 2013


One of several flea market finding apps available for Android and Apple iOS smartphones.

Computer Column #299

John P. Reid, jreid@dca.net

Cell phone Wi-Fi at antiques shows, auction finders, and finders for flea markets and yard sales are this month’s topics.

Wider Wi-Fi

In the April issue we reported on the increasing use among antiques show dealers of credit card readers on smartphones or tablets. Square  Register (www.squareup.com) was the favorite service. Smartphones can use a cell phone data connection such as 3G or 4G LTE to transmit credit card charges. Few tablets or laptops can use this method, but either device can use a Wi-Fi connection, and Wi-Fi can be cheaper for phones, too. However, if it exists at all, the usual fire hall or church Wi-Fi seldom reaches 100 feet from the office where the Internet router is installed.

Some router manufacturers offer amplifiers or special antennas to increase the range. If the router and Internet connection were installed by an information technology firm, it should be consulted first. However, a small organization running a few antiques shows a year may balk at the price.

There is an inexpensive new solution. D-Link (www.dlink.com) offers Wireless Range Extender DAP-1320. It is compatible with virtually all wireless devices and routers but requires no physical connection to the router or using devices. It does need an ordinary wall outlet for power. The extender is placed just inside the farthest range of the existing router. It connects wirelessly to the existing Wi-Fi just like a computer or cell phone. Its second antenna radiates a new Wi-Fi signal. A mobile device can use whichever signal is stronger.

Setting up is said to be as easy as pushing a button, but someone with a little network savvy probably should do it. One review suggests setting up the range extender near the router at first. Once it is operating correctly, start moving it farther away. Multiple extenders can be used for large areas. The D-Link Web site above has valuable hints and information.

Checking local office supply superstores and big box stores, DAP-1320 prices were found ranging from $49.99 to $57. In most cases the item had to be ordered for in-store pickup a few days later.

Show promoters with some control over their venue might want to ask dealers if this would be useful. Large antiques malls might benefit, too. In general, when you make free Wi-Fi available to all comers, including customers, you build goodwill.

Auction Finders

It is possible to find both live and on-line auctions with Internet tools. Many auction listings are available, but AuctionZip (www.auctionzip.com) is unusually comprehensive. There are categories for real estate, automobiles, and new merchandise, but the “antiques-household-collectibles” category will interest antiquers. Results of searches by geographic area are shown in a series of monthly calendars containing links to both live and on-line sales. Many sale listings have links to catalogs, picture galleries, and the auctioneer’s Web site.

AuctionZip is accessible by desktop or laptop computer, tablet, or smartphone. No app is required for a mobile device, only an Internet browser. And the site works equally well on each device. It recognizes the type of calling device and automatically switches to a suitable format.

A few of the biggest auctions with worldwide reputations do not participate, but almost all others do. My geographic area of interest is northern Delaware including nearby Eastern Shore Maryland, southeast Pennsylvania, and southern New Jersey. A 50-mile radius from home was selected. Month-by-month listings were found for every established auction in the area, including many worthwhile ones. A few are important enough to have sales reported regularly in the Maine Antique Digest. At the other extreme, there was one auction where I bought good merchandise for years, but, most memorably, on hot summer nights the cesspool overflowed in the parking lot. (The auction has since moved.)

Flea Market Finders

It would seem that weekly commercially managed flea markets should be well publicized on the Web. That is not always the case. We found a number of flea market listing sites, but each had a few omissions or out-of-date listings. Flea Market Finder (http://fleamarketfinder.org), American Flea Market Listings (http://americanfleas.com), and the Flea Market Directory on Collectors.org (www.collectors.org/fm) each cover the entire United States. The National Flea Market Association (www.fleamarkets.org) lists member markets under the “About US” tab. These sites do not cater to mobile devices. Using them on a tablet is satisfactory, but they are clumsy on a smartphone.

The Flea Markets app is available for $0.99 for Android and Apple iOS smartphones. The free iOS Flea Market Finder is also available. It appears to be unrelated to the Web site of the same name in the previous paragraph. The listings in these apps are no better than those in the browser-based apps in the previous paragraph, and the mapping features are not always useful. But they are available when traveling without a computer.

Yard Sale Finders

From the newest collectibles enthusiast to a lifelong collector of fine American decorative art, few can resist a good yard or garage sale. Mostly, we look for things for around the house, but who knows when a great antique might be discovered? My daughter-in-law has an infallible eye for neat stuff. A Down East Maine resident, she spends the work week collecting yard sale leads. Every Saturday morning she drives furiously a planned route from sale to sale.

Now there are apps for that. Both Garage Sale Rover and Yard Sale Treasure Map present a current map of garage, yard, tag, and estate sales in your immediate vicinity. Driving instructions are offered. Many sales have a link with listings and one or more pictures. Both are available free for Android smartphones and iPhones. Yard Sale Treasure Map offers to arrange selected sales in the shortest driving loop. This feature is a $3.99 extra for Garage Sale Rover.

There are many other apps that locate sales in one specific area. Often they are a service of a local newspaper. But the two apps described above work in almost any area. In truth, they get their sale listings from Craigslist (www.craigslist.org/about/sites); however, neither is affiliated with Craigslist, Inc. Listings from Canada, Mexico, and overseas are available. Craigslist could be searched directly, but these apps do a valuable job of sorting and organizing the results and providing driving instructions.

These apps work best on a smartphone. They require a GPS (global positioning system) signal. Only more expensive tablets are equipped for GPS. A cell phone data account or Wi-Fi connection is required for links to sale details.


Originally published in the November 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest

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