Since Bridgeville, an abandoned town in Northern California, sold for $1.7 million on eBay last month, all kinds of unusual listings have popped up on the Web auction site. This month, the site ( has hit a crescendo of nuttiness.

One jokester who read about Bridgeville decided to sell his family. Los Angeles TV writer Steven Young described his perhaps-not-so-loved ones as an "attractive, loving, family of four" and started the bidding at $5 million; Young pledged a lifetime of companionship to the winner and even volunteered to adopt his patron's name. Joke or not, eBay bans the sale of humans or their body parts and swiftly yanked the item.

Also this month, a magazine autographed by Apple founder and chief executive Steve Jobs drew bids up to $2,274 but the seller, who would identify himself in an e-mail exchange only as a former Apple worker named Dave, said the high bid fell short of his reserve price. He said he hadn't decided whether he might offer it to the high bidder anyway. Autograph buffs scoffed that even George Washington's John Hancock typically sells for less than $1,000.

Another unusual -- and unsuccessful -- eBay auction this month was for an undeveloped Caribbean island. Thatch Clay, a 230-acre tract in the U.S. Virgin Islands, was offered in three parcels and drew $4.5 million worth of bids before the sale ended Thursday without reaching the seller's reserve price.

Maybe the bidding will be better on an opulent Ottawa riverfront home -- a 12,000-square-foot mansion built by would-be tech tycoon Mac Brown, asking price $2.1 million Canadian (about $1.37 million U.S.). Brown's tech firm went into receivership last year.

Not everyone is amused by the twists and turns of commerce on eBay. Paramus, N.J., police officer Steve Klink was furious when someone sold him a set of damaged speakers. He started a Web site ( with a forum on which victimized bidders gripe about eBay scams.

Apple Mutes Music-Sharing Software

Apple Computer quashed an MP3-sharing program called iCommune, which plugged into Apple's iTunes music application to allow file-swapping over a network. Programmer James Speth took the iCommune plug-in off his Web site Wednesday after a warning from Apple that his code violated Apple's license for using its software.

"For the time being, I'm making the download unavailable while I try to sort things out with Apple," Speth wrote on his site. "Sorry about this, folks. Any good lawyers in the house?"

Picture Diaries

Blogs -- link-laden Web journals with entries displayed in reverse chronological order -- are a Web cliche, and now they've been joined by "photoblogs." Professional photographers and amateurs are using pictorial diaries to record their lives and thoughts.

Photoblogs have their own directory,, and, now, their own awards. The 2003 Photoblog Awards contest was started by folks disappointed that the official "Bloggies" (noted here two weeks ago) didn't spotlight their chosen form of self-expression. Nominations are open until Jan. 26, and winners will be announced Feb. 16.

E-mail Leslie Walker at