Has the world changed or has Google changed the world?!

Those funny guys at Google  have opened up an early version (circa 2001) of their index to celebrate their 10th birthday.

Imagine a world where ipod is best known for being the “Image Proof of Deposit Document Processing System”.

In this alternate universe “Barrack Obama” yielded 671 hits compared to about 65,000,000 today!

Lots of fun to be had that’s for sure.

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.

Hypochondria is your enemy

I’m well into my 4th month of my fun with pleurisy. I’ve had several chest x-rays now (all clear) and done skin prick tests, lung function tests and been seen three times by cardiothoracic specialists. The experts think I’m okay. I’m on some drugs (the first proper treatment) sodium diclofenac – an anti-inflammatory drug. The professor says that will fix me, and if it doesn’t he’ll run a CT scan. He’s pretty sure I’m okay. I’m back to see him in 8 weeks. 

Great.  So maybe I’m okay now. It still hurts, but very very very slowly it improves. Very gradually, almost immeasurably, but (I think) there is improvement.

But I’ll tell you what. After six months of feeling crap and being ill and being in pain, I’ve turned into a nervous wreck. Every sensation in my body is now analysed and re-analysed. A sore throat, a funny pain, a twinge, everything is treated with the utmost suspicion and fear. I’ve felt lumps in my throat. I’ve had headaches, and chest pains on the left (my pleurisy is on the right), I think just about anything it is a symptom of some new saga. 

The smallest sensation brings my mind racing and running through ridiculous and far-fetched scenarios. It’s got so bad that I’ve had to ban myself from looking at House. I’ve even suspected lupus.  

I wonder, once the pain is gone, (perhaps now, I can see the end of that tunnel) how long will it take for me to return to my “normal” anxiety levels.

The whole problem with anxiety is that is forms a vicious cycle of making you feel physically rubbish and that feeling makes you feel more anxious. It’s a bloody annoying thing. It’s well documented and I’m well aware of the process, but is that enough to stop it? 

My boys provide welcome relief.  “Daddy, I happy” D tells me every couple hours or so. He doesn’t know, may never know, what good medicine his words are.  The boys are both asleep now. I think I’ll go in and touch their little hands. It stills my heart like CBT never could.

Firefox 3 sucks

It seems to be another crap browser from Mozilla, anything after 1.4 seems to have sucked to me. To add a little perspective, it is not the most crap thing ever, not in the same league with Window ME for instance, however, it does have issues which make suckage.

Why does it suck:

  1. It crashes alot
  2. It seems to have real trouble loading flash content (some sites work, some don’t).  You cannot break Flash and expect someone to use your browser.
  3. It’s a memory guzzling pig

I really don’t get what it brings to the party that IE7 doesn’t already (now) have.

I’m not looking to start a flame war, but I don’t care about Linux and Unix users, they are stuck with Firefox and it is half decent; and when compared to the other browsers non-windoze users have on offer, it must look pretty sweet. But seriously, for Windoze users, compared to IE7 it offers no advantages whatsoever.

It’s a shame because a long time ago it was pretty sweet, and was without a doubt, a better browser than IE5.x and IE6. But since IE7, I really don’t think they can make that claim anymore.

The Web Developer toolbar is the #1 reason I still have it installed on my machine.

I’m not alone, I found another blog who reports about the suckage, he has spent more time on this and has articulated it much better than I could. This one too. Oh have them all.

z0mg!! The Oxford English Dictionary to allow leet?

The establishment is so out of the loop I spend more time looking up words at urban dictionary than I do using traditional sites like the OED or Dictionary.com.

I accept that urbandictionary.com does include some silly stuff (eg flintstoning and dumbass) but there are terms like RTFM and hardcode which do appear in support forums et al. and are terms that you could quite easily come across, yet they do not appear in “the dictionary”.

I’m not 100% sure about what to include and what not to, because Usenet terms  and l33t et al are tied up in computing, coding, gaming and other internet activities, it is difficult to know what is jargon or colloquialism or meme or which are “words that should be in the dictionary”. But hell, if you look up something like leet, you get something along the lines of:

1. a special annual or semiannual court in which the lords of certain manors had jurisdiction over local disputes.
2. the area over which this jurisdiction extended, including the manor itself and, sometimes, nearby counties or shires. 

In all seriousness, these terms went out of use probably 300 years ago, whereas leet is a real “language” used today, but no mention of hacking, elite or suxx0rs.

I’m not saying the dictionary needs to include a whole bunch of “leet words”, I’m saying words like “leet” and “omg” are “words that should be in the dictionary”.

Admittedly it may be necessary to bowlderize some terms.

This is not me in my normal facetious mode, I’m being deadly serious. I accept that they haven’t yet included “z0mg” (ie oh my god < omg < OMG << z0mg), but really even really popular things like “lol”, “rolf” and “lmao” aren’t in there. The thing is these words aren’t even complex ideas, they are really just acronyms that have entered the language. And they HAVE entered the language (albeit only written :o), just not made it into “the dictionary”.

The OED has a rather inclusive policy:

“ It embraces not only the standard language of literature and conversation, whether current at the moment, or obsolete, or archaic, but also the main technical vocabulary, and a large measure of dialectal usage and slang (Supplement to the OED, 1933).[37] ”

So I’m not too sure what they are wating on.

Somethings to consider which I cannot be bothered to write about

urbandictionary.com has over 3,233,674 definitions. Time Magazine called it in their top 50 sites of 2008

Are emoticons words?

When I was a boy, to prove some point you would  “look it in the dictionary / encyclopedia” but I guess that just isn’t true anymore, now you would just “check the internet” or “google it”.

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

Cannot login to last.fm

Am I the only person in the world that cannot login to last.fm?

I know my username and password are okay, because under some circumstances I authenticate ok. Their forums don’t mention it.  So is it just me? If you have the same problem, please let me know.

(When I enter my login name and password and hit “come on in”, I get dumped to https://www.last.fm/login)

Phah maybe it will be okay tomorrow. I’m using Firefox 3.0.1. They upgraded the site recently, but I can’t believe they broke the login??