dear ebay, i might be lazy, but i ain’t stupid. how ebay’s less than transparent fee system is designed to hide the true cost of using their service

ebay. oh ebay. once one of the mightiest dotcoms of them all. now, just a stupid company trying to fleece the punters.

ebay shafted everyone back in January with their new fee structure 1,2,3. But that’s old news.

Like it or not, ebay are providing a service which you are under no obligation to use and they are free to charge what the hell they like, if you want to use it.

That said, here’s my beef.

Fees = L(x) + S(y) + P(y+z)

I recently sold an item on ebay for £35. Yippee.

However, here is the bill:

Listing fees        0.88
Selling fees        2.88
PayPal fees         1.58
                   --------
                    5.34
                   --------

£5.34 commission on a sale of £35, that’s pretty steep at around 15%. But, I don’t really have a problem with that per se.

The problem is really the way that is it done.

The total fee of £5.34 is charged quite sneakily:

  • firstly, it is split into three small fees, so psychologically it doesn’t seem that bad
    total fees = listing fees + selling fees + paypal fees* .        

    *ebay OWN paypal

     

  • The final fee is NEVER mentioned in any correspondence. After you have sold an item you get an email saying “You’ve sold your item on eBay”, but there is no mention of the fees that you now owe them
     
  • Even within the newly redesigned “my ebay” they are not AT ALL upfront about selling fees and how much you have paid to them. This information – should you decide you want to know what you have paid them – is hidden away deep inside your account details (“my account -> my fees -> view recent fees”).

Transparent? No. Do they really think that no one notices these things?

Just be up-front

In the “selling totals widget” of your “my ebay” page, clearly intended to show you how much money you have made, you see:

but really, this should include how much you are paying in fees, the “final selling value” figure itself is systematically inaccurate, with a error margin of upto around 25%. It is an inflated value, which makes you think that you are making more money that you are. (hmmm, i wonder if that’s important to ebay?)

Take a minute and compare that with what happens before you sell something on amazon:

practise what you preach

But the thing that really made me laugh was this.

Firstly ebay don’t (cannot?) charge you fees on postage and packaging, i.e., if you sell an item for £10 and charge £20 P&P they only charge you fees on the £10 selling fee. ebay don’t want to allow this because anyone with half a brain would charge 1p for the item and put the true price in P&P thus saving themselves paying ebay commission fees (and costing ebay most of their revenue).

So, ebay has a policy against charging excessive shipping fees. The thing that made me laugh was this section, encouraging titled “Why does eBay have this policy?” which is obviously a lie and is really about them protecting their revenue stream (which is ok, but why the lie?).

This policy reduces the potential for confusion among bidders about the full cost of an item. Listings that include excessive P&P fees lead to a poor buying experience and unlevel the playing field by putting sellers who charge reasonable P&P charges at a disadvantage. These listings undermine the trust and legitimacy of eBay’s marketplace.

oh really.

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Google Chrome 1 Mozilla Firefox 0

It’s live!

I’ve been playing around with Chrome for a short while now, but I know enough to say this:

It rocks.

I cannot vouch for stability as it has been literally minutes since I’ve downloaded it. But there are new and clever features (not gimmicks).

  • The Crash Control is already 100% smarter than the rather stupid “restore previous session” that you find in Firefox. (including a Task Manager for your browser. Is the browser an OS?)
  • Incognito mode looks smart (IE 8.0 also implements this).
  • A start page!
  • The other thing I really hate about Firefox / IE, the stupid “download manager”, well that’s gone.
  • The developer tools look decent.

I’m sure this is only the tip of the iceberg, but I’m really excited about this. Well done Google. I hope FF can weather the storm.

Don’t forget that apart from the technology factor, Google also help to fund Mozilla, this is no big secret, Time put it very nicely:

Google has long been a patron of its open-source browser, and pays a kind of “click back” to Mozilla for directing its 200 million users to Google search. In 2006, the last time Mozilla released its numbers on the subject, Google had paid the company $65 million.

So quite how that relationship stands now is anyone’s guess, but it cannot be good news for Mozilla Firefox.

Like I said earlier today, Firefox is gonna get a beating.

Firefox about to get a beating from Google

As if things weren’t bad enough for Firefox as it is, Google are about to release their own browser Google Chrome.  Of course, Mozilla are not worried, but let’s face it, this is not going to help Firefox at all.

Developers will happily jump to the Google browser, because that is were the main action is going to happen in the next few years. And with IE 8 promising and delivering new features, suddenly FireFox looks old and tired just like it’s granddaddy Netscape.

Microsoft / IE stand to lose nothing from this at all (in the short term), and if there are any casualties it will be FireFox and not IE (for an opposing view).

When I originally started this, I was bitching about Firefox, having said that I’ld be very sad to see it go, so let’s hope it can somehow, against all odds manage to stand up to both Microsoft and Google.

When I put it like that, I suddenly realise what I liked about FireFox in the first place.

Incidentally, Google Chrome is now live. You can download it too.

Is it a common-cold? No, it’s the flu? No, it’s bronchitis? No, it’s musculo-skeletal pain? No, it’s costochronditis? It’s pleurisy (and chronic rhinitis and post-nasal drip)

Recently, I have been through the wars. I’ve had around 30 days off sick since March , I cannot be certain how much time off I have had, and since my boss cannot be bothered to record it, neither can I.

The colds and the cough

It all started in March when I got struck down by a really nasty nasty cold / flu thing. I was off work for 11 days. I had the worse sore throat and cough ever. I literally could not sleep for about three nights because my throat hurt so bad. Fever, chills, you know the drill. I had it all. And the cough, I think this is where the cough started, it was a violent thing. At this time I wasn’t very concerned about it at all, although the noises I made when coughing were pretty scary.

I see my GP. She says, it’s a virus. Nothing she can do. Take paracetamol and codeine. It’s strongest thing you can get without a prescription. I double up with ibuprofen too. I feel ok.

Roll on a few weeks, and I’m about to go on holiday, and I get struck down by another humdinger of a cold. This one has me feeling really horrible; weak, tired, sleepy. Of course my favourite sore throat and cough are back with a vengeance. Having spent over £2K on some plane tickets, in the middle of my illness we (my wife K, and two baby boys, D & G) jump on a plane to the West Indies. Needless to say, the flight was hell.

When we finally land in the airport, we find that the wheels for our boys’ buggy are with our luggage, and the wheel-less buggy is handed to us as we disembark the plane. We now have to traverse endless corridors of airport carrying two children, three large pieces of hand-luggage and a buggy with no wheels. At one point I turn a corner, expecting to see the luggage carousel and airport corridor extends for another 100 meters. It is one of the most desolate moments in my life. The only thing that keeps me going is knowing that my mother is within spitting distance (she will move heaven and earth for me) and D, my 2 year old, is on my neck and he hasn’t had anything to eat for a long time. He is very tired. I am shattered in a way I have never felt before. My ears almost exploded on the plane (don’t fly with a cold). I can barely hear anything at all. I have been up amusing the boys for about 16 hours. I had 4 hours sleep last night, and probably the same the night before.

Bronchitis, elevated anxiety and coughing

The next day, my mother says I should see a doctor. For once I agree with her. He says I have bronchitis. He gives me a “broncho dilator” AeroFlux which starts me on a 24 hour panic attack and Avelox which is an antibiotic. The visit to the doctor and the prescription come up to a whacking £60 (£40 medicine, £20 for the doctor). After about a week I’m feeling human again. I still have a dry hacking cough.

But most of my other symptoms are gone now. I feel human. Towards the end of my holiday, for perhaps 2 days the cough is gone. Amen. We head back to London.

I get off the plane.

The cough starts again.

I get a sore throat.

I get another cold.

I go to my doctor. I complain about getting ill very often, sore throats, a cough etc. She says it must be a virus again. I complain that I have a chest infection. She gives me a prescription for Amoxicillin, I promise if I start feeling better I won’t take the antibiotics. She also suggests that I get a chest x-ray.

I procrastinate. I do not rush out to get a chest x-ray. I never take the Amoxicillin.

I almost get back to normal (with cough) for a week or so .

Chest pains, anxiety and confusion

It is a Saturday night. I’m watching TV, I notice a new pain in my chest. It hurts when I breathe. K says it’s wind. I’m not so sure. I struggle along, carrying on as normal. Next day, the pain is much worse. I try to continue as normal. The night comes. It’s pretty bad. It’s a sharp stabbing pain in my chest (thankfully on my right side, or I would be rushing to A&E) I cannot really specify better than a sharp stabbing pain. It really is that. A few years ago, someone I knew had a collapsed lung (pneumothorax) I look it up on the Internet.

Chest pain and tightness, shortness of breath and a dry cough are all experienced. The severity depends on how much air gets into the space. from the BBC

I am certain this is me, I have chest pain, I have a cough.

I call NHS Direct. They go through it with me. They say it sounds like “a pleuritic pain”. My GP has an out-of-hours service. They call me. They (over the phone) diagnose me with a generic musculoskeletal pain (ie a pulled muscle).

The chest contains many muscles, bones, tendons, and cartilage (the rubbery tissue that connects muscles and bones). Strains or sprains to any of these can cause chest pains. Chest pains associated with musculoskeletal injury are typically sharp and confined to a specific area of the chest. They may be brought on by movement of the chest and/or arms into certain positions, and often are relieved by changing position. These pains can be triggered by pushing on part of the chest and often become worse when taking a deep breath. These pains usually last only seconds, but can persist for days. from cardiologychannel

I’m happy this is a LOT better than a collapsed lung I think. A whole lifetime better than lung cancer.

I go to see the doctor the next day. She listens to my chest.

She says it is not a collapsed lung. I fall in love with her.

She orders me to get an X-ray. My chest hurts alot. “On a scale of 1 – 10” she asks, “how painful is it?”, I laugh and say “Maybe and 8 or a 9?” she says it’s a pulled muscle. I don’t argue.

It really fucking hurts (but only when I breathe, laugh, sneeze, cough and yawn). NHS Direct says “The main symptom of pleurisy is a short sharp pain in the chest area when taking a breath.” This is very accurate but the phrase “sharp pain” doesn’t really do it justice. I also felt that there was “discomfort or tenderness to touch”. These symptoms are also for typical for costochronditis (by this time I was starting to doubt the “pulled muscle / musculo-skeletal” diagnosis) and started thinking maybe this (costochronditis) was the problem.

Pain in the chest wall around the breastbone (or sternum) is the most characteristic feature of the condition known as costochondritis. Medically, the term chondritis refers to inflammation of any cartilage in the body. Costochondritis refers specifically to inflammation of the cartilage that joins the ribs to the breastbone (called costal cartilages). The chest pain of costochondritis sometimes is severe. all about costochronditis from emedicinehealth.com

Pleurisy is not (yet) in my sights even though NHS Direct had mentioned it, as far as I was concerned pleurisy was too serious to consider – due to my mother’s continous warnings to me as a young boy that I would get pleurisy by doing just about anything (standing in the rain, in front of thr fridge, ironing late at night etc etc) and me laughing at her for being such a doom-monger. I also felt this weird clicking that I could actually feel with my fingers. Later on I decided that this must have been the “friction rub” of pleurisy.

The normally smooth surfaces of the parietal and visceral pleurae become rough with inflammation. As these surfaces rub against one another, a rough scratching sound, or friction rub, may be heard with inspiration and expiration. This friction rub is a classic feature of pleurisy from AAJP

I sleep sitting up, this seems to help. I’m not taking drugs. I reason that I need to know if it gets any worse. I want to feel it. I get the chest x-ray.

The next week is really stressful. I’m awaiting the results of the chest x-ray. I have by this time looked on the wretched internet and determined that my symptoms match not only a collapsed lung, but also costochronditis and worse still lung cancer.

I am offered a new (and better) job.

My head is swimming. I cannot sleep. It hurts.

I decide for several reasons (including health concerns) not to take the job.

Normally I worry and I am quite anxious, this week I’ve entered a new level of anxiety. It doesn’t help my chest at all. No, not at all.

I go to work for a few days. The results of the x-ray are back. I call my GP, they have to call me back. Another doctor calls me back and says that my chest looks a bit hazy which usually indicates a chest infection. He recommends I take the Amoxicillin. I do.

The Amoxicillin course ends. The pain is not as bad, but still with me. It’s a pulled muscle I tell myself. These things take time. The anxiety gets the better of me. I call my GP. The annoying and rude receptionist asks “Is it an emergency?” thinking she can fob me off. I say, smugly, “I have a very bad pain in my chest.” She shuts up and says I can come in. HA!. Chest pains RULE!

I rule out costochronditis because my pain is on my side, and I believe that costochronditis pains are around the sternum (ie a bone which holds the ribs in the middle of the chest). I’m not sure what it is any more. I’m worried and paranoid and anxious, as usual.

I see another doctor in my GP surgery. I tell her my story. I explain that I’m really worried and anxious. I hurt, my chronic cough, my fears, my chest pain. She listens. She refers me to a REAL HOSPITAL. She gives me another antibiotic (Erythromycin). I want to marry her, I love her. This is much more than the infatuation I had with the last doctor.

It’s pleurisy! Hooray?!

I go to see a doctor in a cardiothoracic out patients clinic. He is a professor. Thank you god. I am saved. He says he doesn’t “buy” the pulled muscle theory. He says “you would know when you pulled your muscle”. He says I have pleurisy.

He says that between the Amoxicillin and the Erythromycin the infection is probably gone. He orders another chest x-ray and some blood tests. He pokes me and listens to my heart. He says he’s pretty sure I’m okay. He is a professor in a world leading university hospital. If he was a woman….

I tell him about a saying my mother has “after bronchitis is pneumonia, after pneumonia is pleurisy, after pleurisy is death”. He laughs and says, almost angrily, “Not around here it’s not”.

I return to the cardiothoracic out patients clinic the next week to get the results. They came back clean. I see the X-ray of my chest. I can recognise my skeleton. In a weird way it looks exactly like me. It looks clean and nice. Seems like the 10 years of smoking haven’t killed me yet. He says the only thing is “a very slightly raised white blood cell count”. This he said usually indicates an allergy.

He doesn’t seem at all concerned about the pleurisy (although this is all I care about) and proceeds to tell me all about coughs. I’m relieved I’m not dying and just answer the questions he asks me. My brain slightly frazzled by the relief.

The now chronic cough is still with me. He says nearly all the chronic coughs he sees are because one of three things 1) asthma 2) post-nasal drip or 3) acid reflux.

Days later I would kick myself for not asking “How long does it take to recover from pleurisy?”. It’s been 2 months for me, and I am really not 100%, I’ld say about 75% recovered. I’m seeing him again in 6 weeks time. Hopefully, I won’t need to ask him that question then.

Current status

2 months after initial pleurisy pains, 3 months after the bronchitis and 4 months after the cough started

I’m taking steroids (Nasonex, mometasone furoate monohydrate) up my nose (to help the Chronic Rhinitis and Post-Nasal Drip). It has been about 10 daysnowand I think the cough is improving (ie disappearing). The pleurisy is ongoing, but not the sharp, stabbing pains on breathing. It has been about 8 weeks since the initial onslaught. Now the pains aredulland aching and sometimes in my back, but sometimes I cannot feel them at all. I’ve decided to run a course of ibuprofen for a full week to see if it actually shifts it. I’m recording my lung peakflow witha peak flow meter(!) twice a day. Variations mean asthma. Low values mean asthma. I think I’m in the clear. It has been 10 days now, and I record always between 460 and 510 liters/minute.

>General advice

I’ve just made this up, so don’t take these as gospel eh.

  • Don’t always assume that your GP is correct, try and get a second opinion if you are not happy with your diagnosis. I think you should have some idea when you get a diagnosis if it fits with what you feel. Remember the GPs will not have all the information about your illness. You are the only person with all the info.
  • If you think it is serious, do press your GP to take it further, more often than not they will say it is a cold, it is down to *you* to stress that it is more than a cold.

>About chest pains

I’m not a medical professional, I’ve just read a lot about it on the internet, and this is strongly biased by my own experiences

  • Is it collapsed lung (pneumothorax)? This screener is very helpful. In my case, I had:
    • sharp chest pains on one side of my chest
    • and a dry hacking cough

    The following is a list of the signs and symptoms of collapsed lung:

    • Sharp pain in the chest
    • Sudden shortness of breath
    • Painful breathing
    • Tightness in the chest
    • Dry coughing
    • Cyanosis (blue skin)
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Distended neck veins (in Tension Pneumothorax)
    • Low blood pressure or shock (in Tension Pneumothorax)

    Presumably the pain from a collapsed lung and pleurisy are quite similiar. This is very easy to definitively rule out pneumothorax , and I think a GP can more or less confirm this by seeing you and listening to your chest. An x-ray will certainly confirm.

  • Is it costochondritis (Tietze’s syndrome)? The symptoms:
    • The predominant symptom is a sharp pain in the affected area, most commonly involving the second or third ribs, which are often very tender to touch. (Ribs are counted down from the top and the first rib lies under the collar bone.)
    • The pain is usually related to movement, coughing and sneezing and can occur in more than one place simultaneously.
    • Pain can also radiate into the arm and can be associated with a feeling of tightness in the chest. These are also the symptoms of a heart attack, so it is always necessary to take them seriously and make the diagnosis of costochondritis with care.

    Note this is not a respiratory illness and is not serious at all (I think :D). No one knows much about it. And although this sounds alot like pleurisy to read about the symptoms, I think the key (although I’ve not felt this myself) is that the pain is in the centre of your chest, and probably feels more like a heart attack (again, I’m making this up) than a pleuritic pain. You would most likely see your GP and he would (should) rigorously check you out to ensure it was not your heart. Cardiac related chest pains are taken very very seriously. Presumably you can have pleurisy pain anywhere around your lungs, so if you had it around your heart, that would be very scary indeed. In my case, the pain was on the right side, almost under my armpit, so quite far from my heart and sternum.

  • Is it pleurisy? First off *I think* you can get pleurisy for many many different reasons. Some of these are very scary. We are dealing here with the non-scary versions, basically spillover from respiratory tract infections.
    • pleurisy can be anywhere in your lungs (so for instance, if it is low down your chest and on your right side, it is almost definitely pleurisy)
    • the friction rub thing (see rub)
    • if you have a chest infection or cold and then you get these pains, it is probably pleurisy (and not costochondritis or collapsed lung or pulled muscle). I had an ongoing chest infection which at some point was confirmed by an x-ray. And rememer my super professor doctor said “You would know when you pulled a muscle.”
    • it is more common that you think

    The NHS list of symptoms seems to be the best (for my purpose of non-scary pleurisy diagnosis):

    The main symptom of pleurisy is a short sharp pain in the chest area when taking a breath. This often occurs at the end of a breath. Other symptoms could include:

    • chest pain when coughing,
    • fever,
    • rapid shallow breathing, and
    • discomfort when touching the affected area, even lightly.

    You may also have other symptoms because of the disease or condition that is causing your pleurisy. For example, if it’s a common cold that is causing your pleurisy other symptoms could include headaches, a sore throat and coughing. from NHS Direct

I think some key points that no one mentions (and I have inferred) are:

  • pleurisy can be anywhere in your lungs (so for instance, if it is low down your chest and on your right side, it is almost definitely pleurisy)
  • the friction rub thing (see rub)
  • if you have a chest infection or cold and then you get these pains, it is probably pleurisy (and not costochondritis or collapsed lung or pulled muscle). I had an ongoing chest infection which at some point was confirmed by an x-ray. And rememer my super professor doctor said “You would know when you pulled a muscle.”
  • it is more common that you think
ok that’s it, i’m exhausted from writing this. please comment and let me know about your experiences and inaccuracies.

how to delete delicious (del.icio.us) tags quickly.

Really impressed with the new del.icio.us makeover, the site is a real benchmark (for me) on how you can create a really slick website without any images. The new site is a real joy to behold. But what happened to the usability.

Deleting tags in delicious is almost as bad as getting pleurisy, and I can assure you my friends, having had first hand experience of both of these things. It is pretty bad.

Step 1: Picking the tag you want to delete – OMG

Oh My God (OMG) they used a drop down list, are they for real? I have over 300 tags (that’s why I’m trying to delete some!!). A drop down list which shows me around 12 tags at a time is NOT the answer here.

Finally I found the tag I want to remove. Excellent. My pulse quickens as I get ready to swing the axe on this useless and unwanted tag.

Click count

+1 expand dropdown list

+1 scroll list to find tag

+1 select tag to delete

+1 click delete button

At this point I’m thinking, okay the drop down list was annoying, but 4 clicks ain’t so bad. Once I click the delete button bye bye tag.

Step 2: Confirmation – WTF

What the fuck (WTF) is this? Are you kidding me, I have to confirm it? I just TOLD you I wanted to delete it. Jesus. Who do do I have to fuck around here to get a stinking measly tag deleted.

Now I’m thinking, “At last, hasta la vista unwanted tag” and feeling quite relieved to have removed that unwanted tag from my life.

Click count

+ 1 click yes button to confirm

Step 3: Success??????? – FFS

For fuck’s sake (FFS), are you kidding me? Is this for real? Am I fucking dreaming?

Click count

+1 to Delete another tag

Summary

Ok, here is what just happened. I asked delicious.com to delete a tag (using a clunky drop down list), delicious.com asked me to confirm that I wanted to delete the tag, now delicious.com is telling me that it did what I asked it to do.

Wouldn’t it be fun if everytime you moved your mouse it went like this:

“Do you really want to move your mouse cursor to location x,y?”

———–uhm yes, ok, sure

“Are you sure you want to move your mouse cursor to x,y?”

———–yeah, that’s what i said

“Your mouse cursor has just been moved to coordinates x,y?”

———–yeah, i thought that’s what would happen.

(clearly you would use your keyboard to answer these questions!)

That took 6 clicks.  I can think of many ways that this could be improved, and top Web 2.0 designers like the guys that developed the new delicious site could do a whole lot better. Now I’ve just wasted an hour of my life doing this. Grrrrr.

I’m not alone it would seem:

Could you make it easier to delete a tag?

Ability to quickly delete tags

Much ado about nothing. No, really.

Before I give myself and ulcer, I decided to stop getting hyper about (seemingly) unimportant things.

Problem: There is never anything good on TV.

Synopsis: That’s a fact, and that is probably the #1 reason why I don’t watch as much TV as I’ld like to. Given half a chance, I’ld happily watch Judge Judy and Jerry Springer for hours on end, though I’ld rather be watching Justice League cartoons, or Star Trek re-runs. Of course a lesser blogger would turn this idea into a 14,000 word essay on the demise of western civilisation. Or maybe global warming. But I got a better idea.

Solution: Don’t rely on TV.


Problem: You can become a project manager

Synopsis: this is an affront to intelligent people everywhere. i’m not saying that one doesn’t need to plan and prepare. i’m just saying that if you call it project management, then you are a loser. my boss recently employed someone because they “practise project management principles” and told me I could get some tips from him.

It took every ounce of my rather feeble will power not to go to my local hardware store, and return with a garden spade and smack every last ounce of life from her body.

I digress.

Solution: keep a garden spade in the office.

no one ever taught me how
to watch a television
like a baby i knew my candy
no one ever caught me
when i learned to ride a bicycle
and like the pavement embraced my skin
no one ever warned me
about that television
now i’m brain-dead at twenty seven
no one ever mended my
lumps and bruises
and now it’s hard to breathe
with a broken nose

wheat in no one ever told me

100,000 diggs (and counting): most diggs ever!

Due to the lack of things to do at work (and the demise of FaceBook) I’ve been wasting more time on sites like Digg and LifeHacker et al.

Typically, I see a fun story and click it, read it and move on. The problem is, there are not that many fun stories out there, most of the stuff that is posted is utterly boring and I simply cannot believe that they really are of genuine interest to anyone. These are the posts which typically get 2000+ diggs, and upwards of 200 comments. Go figure.

I want to write and tell the losers to stop commenting, to just stop writing mindless drivel, (stop posting it would be even better) but I’ld be cast as a troll. I just wonder who are these people that spend hours of their lives reading dumb posts, commenting on things which are utterly useless and pointless. It’s not even funny most of it. It’s just:

“Wow”

“Amazing”

“Linux rules”

“Windows sucks”

“Fuck you asshole”

Nazi

You get the drift.