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by Joe Leo, Columnist

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At about $554, and a minute left, I placed a bid of $600. "Sorry, you have been outbid by another member. Please enter $610.00 or more." I did. Tick tock, tick tock. I won for $620. It was $70 more than I was willing to bid (I paid $550 total for the previous one I bid on, which was, somewhat of a dud), but I figured, no harm done, right?

I e-mailed the guy and told him I won and arranged details for meeting in a safe place. He somehow mentioned to me that he had a MacBook in mahogany--yes, that's right, "mahogany"--so that intrigued me. I asked him if he'd be interested in being interviewed for a story here on PBCentral.com and you know what happened next?

The guy writes me back and says, "Joe... call me back at my cell. NOW. I'm a moderator over at PBCentral Classifieds."

I sat there and laughed for 15 minutes. I searched for the guy's name on Google, and sure enough? "Antonio Malcolm" shows up as linked to PBCentral. (You'll find his name on the "About Us" or "Contact Us" page--depending on which site you're on--under the contributor's section... right underneath my name and bio!).

What a trip, huh? Last Friday night (my personal "Black Friday") the day after I won the eBay auction, I went into San Francisco to meet my colleague, looked over the PowerBook, and accepted the deal. It was the most hilarious experience and weird/odd--in a good way--event that's ever transpired. I didn't know Antonio prior to bidding on his PowerBook and winning it.

I even started wondering if my eBay identity was somehow associated publicly with my name and maybe he did a Google search and found out about me. And then used the ploy of being "Antonio Malcolm" to gain my trust. But that would have been too easy.

So, three years later, for the price tag of that brand new aluminum PowerBook G4 15-inch (2004 model) at the Apple Store which was, for me as an educator, $1799 plus tax? For less than the full price, I now have two G4 PowerBooks. The 12-inch from CompUSA for $749.98, and this "new" 15-inch one (2005 model)--with backlit keyboard!!--for only $620.

Courtesy of PBCentral.com contributor, Antonio Malcolm! PBCentral Classifieds, to be exact.

"PowerBook G4 on eBay? $620. Two-way ticket for subway ride into the city? $6.10. Bidding on your colleague's Apple notebook and both of you not knowing that you work for the same website during the whole process? Priceless."

While the unit was used, as opposed to the one I got from CompUSA, it's nothing different from when I bought that Pismo PowerBook back in, whenever that was oh so long ago. And although old and outdated, it's still new to me because I never had it before.

Plus? It was a step up from the one I bid on the week before. Not dented, no dings, no pried open case, no hardware issues at all. Though, I just realized, the irony in this is that the one I received with an unadvertised second hardware issue was the exact same model I had purchased in 2004. (Antonio's was the 2005 revision).

And I saved a bunch of money on car insurance... wait, wrong commercial reference here.

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