Sunday, April 30, 2006

eBay Buyers: Tips for Secure Buying from eBay PowerSellers

When we first started selling on eBay, an aquaintance who looked at our MittART Mart shop remarked:

"It's a wonder people are buying from you. You aren't a PowerSeller yet. I only buy from PowerSellers, that way I know I can trust them."

Fortunately our worries that people would not buy from us because we weren't PowerSellers at the time were relieved when we saw our sales shoot up around Christmas time, and within a short time, we were granted the coveted eBay PowerSeller status.

In order for an eBay seller to qualify for entry into the elite PowerSeller programme, and display a PowerSeller icon, the seller has to have a proven track record. As eBay puts it:

"They are exemplary members who are held to the highest standards of professionalism, having achieved and maintained a 98% positive feedback rating and an excellent sales performance record."

Which is why we received the shock of our life when we were almost scammed by a PowerSeller from whom we made a purchase many months ago.

We had won a wholesale lot of scissors from a particular seller and paid immediately, as we ALWAYS do.

The scissors did not arrive after a couple of weeks. We sent messages to the seller who did not reply. When we finally read the seller's feedback, we found that others had had the same experience as us. We wrote again to the seller, warning that we would cancel our order if we did not receive the scissors within a week, and pointed out the negative feedback he had received from others.

The seller finally replied that the item had been dispatched by DSL and was on its way. We waited another week but nothing arrived, so we gave him negative feedback and applied to paypal for a refund.

He never replied to the paypal dispute we opened, but the day before the deadline when we should have received the the refund the goods miraculously arrived, so we withdrew the paypal complaint.

Upon opening the package, we found that the handles of the scissors were damaged, the packaging was all stained, and the blades had rust marks, but since the price was good, and they were usable, and we figured we could sell some at car boot sales in the summer, so we did not complain or ask for a refund – also because we didn’t want to waste any more time dealing with bureaucracy and having to pay postage costs for a refund.

A week later the seller contacted us through the eBay messaging system, saying now that we had received our goods, would we please retract the negative feedback we had left for him.

We felt that the best course would be to ignore the request. A few days later, we received another request to retract the negative feedback, threatening that if we did not withdraw it, he would give us negative feedback! We replied that we had no intention of doing so, citing all the above reasons, and saying that other ebayers need to be warned about him. We told him to stop bullying and harassing us.

Within minutes we found that he had given us negative feedback as a buyer!

A) We don’t deserve negative feedback. We see ourselves as a model eBayers, both as a seller and a buyer. We always pay immediately for anything we purchase, and we always dispatch our products immediately in good condition and well wrapped – you can read feedback that has been left for us.

B) Although the seller had gained PowerSeller status, he was a bully. His feedback showed that others had given him negative feedback, and then retracted it after he requested them to do so.

This seller was a power seller – supposedly someone who can be trusted, but neither his goods nor his behaviour towards other eBayers was trustworthy. We know people are often afraid to give negative feedback for the exact reason that they will unjustly be treated to retaliatory behaviour, which is what has happened to us, but something had to be done about this seller.

Although we contacted eBay to request that the unfair and retaliatory negative feedback be removed from our profile, eBay informed us in an email that the negative feedback we received is "Part of the battle scars honest ebayers get along the way!"

Here is the text of the letter we received from eBay:

In fairness, eBay cannot prevent a user from leaving a retaliatory negative comment, whether or not it was deserved. Please remember that most users will look at a bidder's or seller's complete history when deciding if they want to conduct business with him or her. A user who is conscientious, helpful and honest will always have many more positive comments that will overshadow a few obvious retaliation feedback comments. Unfortunately, if good honest users do not leave negative feedback when warranted, out of fear of receiving a negative comment in return, they are essentially letting the bad guys win. Most eBay users understand that honest users will acquire a few "battle scars" in the fight to expose the less then honest users of the community.

We contacted eBay again, explaining that the seller needed to be stopped: Why should people who buy from us see there is a negative feedback? Some people don't bother scrolling through the pages to see why. It just turns them off immediately. And we wanted to know why this seller could continue being a power seller (supposedly trustworthy) while we had to suffer retaliatory negative feedback from a bully?

If ebay doesn't back up honest ebayers then the honest ones will continue being afraid to give honest negative feedback, and that is not how the system should work.

We never did get closure on the matter. Just a lot of "unfortunately's" from every eBay customer service represenative we complained to. So we finally gave up, and therefore, if you are planning on buying one of our recliners, and see 1 negative feedback in our profile, it is from a bully from whom we bought honestly, not something that we sold.

The point is:
  1. Even if you see a an eBay PowerSeller icon next to a seller's ID, check the seller's feedback before you buy!
  2. Read a seller's feedback BEFORE you bid or buy!
  3. Never let a seller bully you into retracting negative feedback when it is deserved!

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

PayPal Account Suspended Tips

Don’t ever panic if you receive an email from warning you that your has been , that your needs to be , or that your account has to be !
It’s probably a , from someone posing as PayPal, out on a
phishing expedition for your password! (The link for phishing takes you to the entry in the )

Don't be fooled by !
Rather than , follow these 5 rules to phoil the :

  1. NEVER EVER click on a LINK within an email from PayPal. Links within emails can lead to a website that looks exactly like the PayPal website.
    As soon as you login after following a link, the logs your password, and can now access your real account.
    If you want to check your account status, ONLY log in the usual way: by manually typing the full URL into the address bar. If there is really a problem with your account, a notice will appear right after you login.
  2. Look carefully at the GREETING: PayPal will NEVER greet you with "Dear PayPal User" or "Dear PayPal Member." Real PayPal emails will address you by your first and last name or the business name associated with your PayPal account.
  3. NEVER EVER ATTACHMENTS from a PayPal email. The Real PayPal will never send attachments or in an email.
  4. NEVER REPLY to a PayPal email, and certainly never send any login details by email. The only place to enter your personal information is once you have manually logged into your account!
  5. Report fake or spoof emails to

Everyday, our , The MittART Mart receives 2-3 emails from phishers warning us that our PayPal account has gone into arrears for one reason or other. Typical email subjects are:

  • Please Return Your Account To Regular Standing
  • Unauthorized access to your PayPal account
  • PayPal account suspicious activity
  • Update your information
  • Account compromised: billing information moved or changed

Follow the same tips to keep your account safe from too!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Leather Electric Riser Recliner Auction on eBay

The MittART Mart is auctioning a high quality leather electric riser recliner on eBay.

Bidding starts at: £165

Auction ends: 22-Apr-06 21:30:00 BST

Delivery to: England, Wales and Parts of Scotland: £75.
We can deliver to other UK locations for an additional charge.
Ring 0207 0960826 for details.

The MittART Mart is an eBay powerseller with 99.7% positive feedback!

We also carry an additional choice of electric recliners at buy-it-now prices in the furniture department of our eBay shop, where you can also see a video of one of our recliners in action.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Electric Recliner Clearance at The MittART Mart on eBay

At The MittART Mart on eBay, where we try to sell surplus stock and similar things, you will note a small video of Tamara.

This in no way suggests she is on offer, just the
she is sitting on.

The pyjamas were bought in Old Navy, in Manhattan, a couple of years ago, as a valentine present. She has not taken them off since.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

The Late, Lamented Ticker

What’s a Ticker?

A ticker is not a teacher who marks school papers, nor a noisy clock, and not even a heart. It’s a clever device that runs across your browser or web page, keeping you up to date on current affairs, news, sports, or stuff like stocks and shares.

At least that’s what its supposed to be. Tamara organised a really nice one from the BBC - free, obtainable, as these things need to be, and usable on a commercial site, which ours is.

The trouble is that after it ticked away for a few days, it abruptly died. So now we are newsless! The door has been slammed shut on our little Ticker, and the daily if not hourly interest it added to our shop. Our customers are bereft of the motion and interest it was creating.

Tamara is usually absolutely magic with these things, but this time, though she sat at her laptop trying to restore it - nuttin from nuttin - dead in the water! No hope of resurrection, even as Easter approaches.

So what happened? A good question, and not without the inkling of an answer, from Tamara, who must have searched a dozen news groups, two million websites, and forty two good friends in the IT business. She even asked Marcus, who was asleep at the time. His response was actually not printable in the classy paragraphs of this erstwhile Blog.

(For More of Marcus’s reactions to Tamara’s late night ideas and symposiums see A Motion At Dawn, an earlier post in this blog)

Back to the bust Ticker - for that is what it remains - a lonely icon of failed IT on the front page of our main website. Certainly not our fault, but who to blame?

Tamara judiciously placed the blame on the fact that Ticker My Feed, the service which provided the php code for our ticker, had crashed. It suddenly flopped into oblivion over the weekend, leaving all who access it with the renowned error message: HTTP 404 - File not found. It may be in the process of being re-instated, or it might not. We have no contact information, no phone, no email… Well, their site is down so what can one expect.

Come on Ticker My Feed, bang some heads and get your nice little site up and running again. If not, we shall bury you in the sad mysterious sands of the desert of failed websites with the following epitaph:

Here lies Ticker My Feed,
Born of hope and desire.
Their little tickers fed our site,
with a brightly burning fire.

Rise again, Oh lonely site,

Unfairly represented,
Better to be slightly late,
Than totally lamented.

Marcus and Tamara

Monday, March 13, 2006

‘The Divination of Marcus’ or: It's not just Saints and Dysons that Hover.

We travelled abroad last Thursday, to Israel.Tamara comes from there, and every so often she needs a dose of sunshine and warmth. She had not left our house in England more or less since the beginning of the winter, well certainly from the moment the temperature had dropped below 10 centigrade. It seemed therefore, a good idea to expose her to the sun and family who still live in various parts of Israel.

She packed most of the office, files, laptops, hundreds of cables, virtual phone system, wireless modem, etc etc. Then we came to her clothes, and the gifts. These were all packed flat in an immaculate fashion and three hours later, the suitcases closed, only to be re-opened as Tamara remembered we had a posh function to attend and “she had nothing to wear”.

Of course Marcus’s clothes were packed as well - into a small corner of one of the suitcases.

We arrived and for the first few days it was bleak, cloudy, windy and cold.

‘Its colder here than bloody England, why did you drag me halfway round the world to sit indoors miserable as sin’ Marcus was complaining, which was probably more due to the fact Israeli television was not showing the Arsenal - Real Madrid game, than anything else.

He was a right moan, dolefully hanging around the flat, cursing under his breath.

‘If you do not stop, I shall have you thrown off the top of this balcony,’ Tamara was losing patience.

Marcus leaned over the balcony, it was 7 floors above the ground, and not something he wished to encourage.

‘I’m not sure that’s healthy,’ he said, ‘but I could float around for a while.’

Which he did; causing considerable consternation, and much anguish to his beloved wife, and most of the neighbours, although he did say at the time,
‘this could be a great advert’

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Table Seeks Dining Room

Have you recently broken up with, or dumped your long-term dining table? Perhaps you have never hooked up with a dining table before? Our matchmaker community has a database of single dining tables looking for partners.

At other online furniture stores you search between the lines of bland descriptions, seeking the hidden hints that will connect you to your perfect match. If you have you been searching for that perfect dining table without success, then Against The Grain can help you.

Showcase of Featured Members Profiles

  • Dead butlers seek new position in household.
  • Doctor of anatomy offers spare parts, for unsupported tables.
  • Experienced table seeks knives and forks for late night laying.
  • Hand carved legs make outstanding table.
  • New table, offers self delivery.
  • Old men looking for exciting position under table.
  • Retired footballers want to support current position at top of table.
  • Table legs take shape.
  • Table runs away from broken home.
  • Table seeks dining room, prepared to travel.
  • Table seeks happy home, needs walking twice a day.
  • Table seeks interesting position in open minded household.
  • Table seeks interesting position, can be flexible.
  • Table seeks tablecloth for intimate moments, check before replying.
  • Two gentlemen willing to make sizable contribution to keep table up.
  • Unemployed table with itchy legs seeks chairs to help scratch a living.
  • Unshaved table looking for similar, to share room and board.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Spiritual Glitches

Saturday night. The dark and very cold streets of Cambridge. A slight flurry of snow, lit by the slim silver torch in the elderly lady’s trembling hand. We shivered. Above us was the unlikely statue of a small dog. The lady’s torch moved upward to highlight the silent stone creature on the roof of a building.

‘The master of this college, and his dog, were found dead in 1632. The master had hung himself, a sad disappointed man, but no-one knew why or how the dog had died. Perhaps a broken heart, we will never know.’

The elderly woman spoke quietly. She was a guide, and we were in the middle of a walking tour around the haunted old lanes and byways of Cambridge, seeking ghosts - or at least wanting to hear the tales that others had spun, illustrating their fears and experiences of the dark underworld.

‘Only last week, three Chinese students had refused to return to their room at the top of this very building, blaming the visions and intense coldness of the room. Scared by the fears inherent in such a building, or maybe the reality of sharing accommodation with unsettled spirits from the dark past.’

We looked up, and felt a coldness born of the night, and although we were well wrapped, it was a coldness that exceeded the previous experiences of the tour.

The group continued until presently, we arrived at a small shop. There were several dusty old books in the window. A spider’s web, untouched, stretched across one corner, and a sign hung over the shop painted red on white: ‘The Haunted Bookshop’.

The group of nervous people stopped, as the lady raised her hand, bringing one finger across her lips to ensure we listened carefully to her explanation.

‘This shop,’ she began, ‘benefits from a friendly ghost - a young woman, who appears on those stairs to the rear of the store.’ She shined her torch towards the back, and lit up a staircase that rose into the old building. The torch created shadows, and the banisters seemed to move as the beam crept upwards along the far wall.

‘I suppose they are lucky,’ she continued. ‘There are many malevolent spirits loose around this town.’

There was a loud cry! Then the sound of glass breaking! Most of the group jumped, and sure enough in the doorway of the pub opposite, some malevolent spirit had dropped his beer glass in a howl of disappointment, his mates just laughed.

Disturbed we moved on, arriving at another shop just a few hundred metres away.

‘Look, look in the window, just in the corner,’ the guide pointed with her torch again. There was a stone talisman, its hands encircle its screaming mouth. ‘This shop suffers with an unwelcome ghost, and only since the owners were advised to put the talisman in the window, has it ceased to appear.’

We all gathered around to peer at the left corner of the shop window, looking fearfully at the talisman, grateful for its power.

Tamara looked at Marcus, ‘I’m glad our shop is on the Internet. There are no ghosts in our online store.’

Marcus looked up at her, his face shrouded in shadows, his body silhouetted by the distant street light.

‘How do you know that?’ he asked through a grim smile. ‘How do you know the Internet itself is not some diabolical creation of the spirit world?’ He turned and walked away from her. Tamara ran after him, unwilling to be left on her own, outside the haunted shop.

‘You are talking bollocks, you are trying to scare me, stop it!’ Tamara was unusually forthright. She had only learnt that word a few short weeks ago.

‘Next time you blame our software company for the gremlins in the system, just stop and wonder who put them there? The unfortold glitches… the fantastic way things vanish over night… the work you know you saved and has disappeared… Think for one second longer - is it the software, or a spirit that pervades our system, wreaking havoc whenever possible?’

‘Shut up Marcus,’ she stared at his face. ‘You are talking absolute rubbish.’

‘Really my dear, is that so….’

He drew his scarf tighter, and pulled his long winter coat close, as he walked down the road away from her, and disappeared into the pub.

Marcus and Tamara

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A Motion at Dawn

At five o’clock this morning there was a sudden commotion in our bed.

‘Oy veh,’ Tamara sighed quite noisily. If that was not sufficient to wake Marcus up, the punch on the shoulder certainly was.

Instantly with the reflexes of a trained commando, and the speed of a jungle cat, Marcus was awake, sitting up and ready for anything.

‘What… What… What the hell is the matter?’ was his perplexed reaction.

‘I’ve got a great idea! I’ve been awake for two hours thinking,’ Tamara’s overly loud voice was aimed directly at Marcus’s ear - not entirely uncharacteristic of her early morning symposiums.

‘Leave me alone, write it down and we’ll have a meeting about it later.’ He rolled over and tried to pretend it this wasn’t happening, instantly beginning to snore to keep Tamara away.

Fairly useless defence. Tamara cannot be stopped in full flow. She jumped on top of him, ‘Marcus you have to hear this!’

‘No, I don’t!’ he complained. ‘There’s nothing in our marital contract that says I have to listen to you at… what’s the time?’

‘Fivish’ Tamara whispered in a subdued and semi-apologetic manner.

‘Goodnight! Go back to your side, and just leave me alone!’ Marcus hated being woken in the middle of the night and had no sympathy or desire to show empathy - just a need to get back to his dreams. Tamara pressed closer and stroked him on the back of his neck.

‘That won’t work either, you won’t get around me that way.’

This wasn’t true. She always got round him that way.

‘Marcus, just listen for two minutes!’

‘No go away!’ Marcus asserted. Tamara could never explain anything in just two minutes. She had a head crammed with lengthy and complex accounts for everything. You should hear her discussing the relative merits of home-made chicken soup versus the shop stuff. She knows the precise attributes of all commercially-made chicken soup within a 50 mile radius of our house.

The truth was that Marcus knew from the moment she woke him up that there was no going back to sleep. Too many years together, too many sleepless nights filled with Tamara’s ‘good ideas’. He pushed her off, sat up submissively, and said - ‘Go on, get it over with.’

Exactly two hours later, after what might be called a right ‘bull and cow’, during which Tamara even turned her back on him at least twice, Marcus condescendingly conceded that it was possibly the best idea she had ever had.

One of the problems of working with one’s spouse is that one of the two of you ends up sleeping with the boss. The question is: who is sleeping with whom?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Good bye Giovanni

(chapter 2 in an Italian series)

Yesterday, we wrote about Giovanni, the Italian stallion, and how he was blazingly insulted by his client Tamara. She had so belittled him, that he no longer knew who or what he was. A hairdressing client had actually criticised his skills! It was too much! His career was ruined! He had tried his hardest and failed!

Life in the salons was over. How could he face the world? What would he talk about with his friends in Soho at night?

He sat down on the bedroom floor, his head cupped in his rubber gloved hands. He had failed to remove them when he left Tamara in the bathroom.

‘Thata bitch! I never never go near her again! I never wanna know or see disa woman!’

Tamara came out of the bathroom, her hair a radiant blend of ginger and golden-blonde.

‘Why are you sitting here?’ she looked down at him.

He was sobbing, pulling the hairs from his head. ‘Why you so insult me, what I ever do to you, you destroying my life, I never go backa to the salon again!’ he was really upset, or at least appeared so.

Tamara looked at him, ‘I only said: stick to building websites, how was that insulting?

She knew Marcus would extract the maximum from this theatrical performance as Giovanni, the Italian hairdresser, if she played along for a while, gave him room to express himself. She was sure it would end soon. She looked carefully at him.

‘Giovanni, can I say something, something important?’

‘No leave me alona, I must face my life alona. Go away, go away!’ he sobbed again, running his hands through his tangled hair.

Tamara, turned to go into the study. She left him half sobbing, half giggling, on the bedroom floor. She sat down at her computer and called out to him:


‘Who is this Marcus, I am Giovanni the great hairdresser, leava me alona.’

‘Okay’ she said, ‘I just wanted to tell you are still wearing the rubber gloves with the highlighting cream all over them’

‘Shit!’ Marcus was back.

Tamara was relieved. She went back to the bedroom. He was staring into the mirror.

‘Look at my hair!’ he screamed, ‘I’m half blonde!’

Tamara just laughed………..
Marcus and Tamara

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Marcus Goes Against The Grain

There are drawbacks working from home with one’s spouse. Like this morning, when it was decided that Marcus should cease his activities on the website, and play the role of hairdresser.
Tamara wanted to change the colour of her long tresses, and Marcus was chosen as the unlikely assistant to apply the second step of the procedure – the highlights.

Although this was an experience which Marcus had never had in the past, (nor one that he would ever care to repeat), he took to the role like a natural. Donning professional-grade rubber gloves and a protective apron, he evolved into Giovanni, and introduced himself to his client.

Giovanni had no interest in women. He lived his life in a dreamlike state, mostly thinking of the friends with whom he spent all of his time in Soho.

Foppishly he slunk around the bathroom attending to Tamara’s needs, ‘I go tonight to meeta my friends’ he tried to make conversation with his client. ‘We drink lotsa of beer in Admiral Duncan pub, you know thisa place?’ He looked quizzically at Tamara.
‘You have friends lika mine, you know friends you lika so much, you go home with them?’

Tamara, was completely non-plussed, she had experience of Marcus’s talents!
She continued to instruct him how and where to apply the cream on the separate strands of her hair. He had a small brush, rather like a pipe cleaner. The cream stank of ammonia and Giovanni was clearly getting high on it, or at least he thought he was.

Meanwhile, he was applying the white goo far too thickly. The pipe cleaner got caught in Tamara’s long tresses, and Giovanni succeeded in removing quite a number of them, accompanied by Tamara’s whimpers of discomfort.

Having totally written off the brush, it was decided that Giovanni should use his fingers to apply the stuff. He liked this. It reminded him of times past, spent on the terraces of his parents’ home in Tuscany, playing with the soft clay his mother used to create her amateurish pots and things.

He turned to Tamara, ‘Darling, I am kinda lika enjoy doing this to you. We musta do it again some time.’

She looked at him, ‘Thank you Giovanni, now I must let you finish, how much do I owe you?’

‘Its free for you. I donna want your money, it is makes me happy justa to know you are happy!’

She looked at him. ‘Then let me give you a tip, Giovanni,’ she paused, he blushed, looked down, ‘Giovanni, I think you should stick to websites.'
Marcus and Tamara

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Tamara Causes the UK Water Shortage

Well today’s article is a little late. We’ve been in labour since early this morning, suffering serious delivery pains whilst dealing with a particularly complex area of the our web site.

Now would be a very good time to administer an epidural direct into the brain, or perhaps an injection of Novocaine in the posterior.

There must be several thousand pieces of information that must be carefully collated, analysed, and fed slowly into the system, so that each snippet arrives at the correct place and appears on the site when and where it is supposed to.

Tamara has a Midas touch for detail. The only way to describes Marcus’s talent in this area is: ABSENT!

After several years of punishing effort, he has learned to check things over more than once, and still manage to screw things up.

It's not deliberate. Some people CAN, and some people WANT TO very much, but still CAN’T.

It would be interesting to hear other people’s thoughts on this area. The practicality of building web sites with complex data bases, with endless options for the same item, must cause plenty of sleepless nights. One tiny, incy weenie, little bit of information in the wrong place, and when Mrs Jones of Birmingham orders a brown leather chair with legs in oak to match her oak table, and that option does not exist, boy does the shit hit the fan.

Funnily enough, actually committing these thoughts to the computer is relieving some of the anxiety. It’s like talking to a psychiatrist, and off-loading the pent up aggravations of the day.

Tamara retires to a very hot bath and puts on a mud-mask every time the stress builds up beyond a certain point. It is possible, no probable, that she on her own has created the current dreadful drought in the UK, and most likely the energy crisis facing the world.

Well tomorrow’s another day, and has some potential to be better than today. Tamara’s best friend’s daughter from Canada is due to stay with us for the weekend. We will be busy entertaining, instead of working.

That should relieve the water shortage temporarily.

Marcus and Tamara

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Hard 2 Beat

Breakfast was ready when I arrived back from my morning run. 'Eggs my dear?' Tamara called out. As you see them is how I found them!

Out of the frying pan and onto the table. Next to the table was a tripod, and Tamara busy with the digital camera.

Another good idea, or a failure to understand that I like my eggs sunny side down.

'What the shit is going on?' I asked. 'Last week I got ice cream and cheese cake laced with rasberry sauce, plateless. This morning it's eggs a'la mode.' She was so obsessed with the bloody eggs, she refused to let me eat them until some expression of literary genius had escaped my haggled brain.

'Do me a favour, I'm shit wet from sweat and rain, its freezing outside, my lips are blue, my cheeks don't exist and you want me to christen your latest campaign with words of wisdom???'

I left the kitchen, and the temptation of the fried eggs, and went to the shower.

Hot water was my only relief from the chill that pervaded my entire body. Okay, so you try to guess what happened next. Some people get their best ideas whilst standing naked in a stream of hot water (that's why Einstein lived next door to a public urinal).

It came to me 30 seconds after I stepped in. Wives are such annoying creatures. There was no towel near the shower. I ran downstairs, dripping.

'No towels!' I shouted.

She looked at me in amazement: 'The blinds are open - the neighbours can see everything!' Thats the first thing she said.

'Got it!' I shouted.

'What!' she asked, as she drew down the blinds.

'The answer - the copy for your egg ad.'

That's how it happened, but she liked it and laughed, although being Canadian, she didn't really understand the pun, so maybe she was laughing at my wet dripping body, or maybe the fact the cleaner had just emerged from the laundry room next to the kitchen.

Marcus (unsupervised by Tamara)

Telly Support Campaign

Inspirational moments are few and far between. Today, whilst creating a description for a TV/Entertainment Unit, we realised that most Tellies have very poor support. Frequently, it's just a cheap plastic or aluminium set of legs, mostly painted to match the ghastly colors most Tellies are today - sort of luminous grey, or black. If you have lovely wooden furniture, it never matches.

We believe that Tellies deserve better! We believe that if Tellies keep us happy, why then, can we not think of them as well?

So we are pleased to announce a new Against The Grain Campaign, born of necessity, and hope! Born out of the misery of ghastly grey TV legs! Born to put Tellies on their rightful platform! To make them stand out in a world of mediocrity! To fulfill their place in our world!

May this rightful search for justice for our Tellies be truly blessed. May they be granted their proper place in our homes and our lives.

To support our campaign, buy a Telly support from us, and we promise that all the proceeds will go to support us.

Marcus and Tamara

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Cloned Hypertext Retailers

The technology of the Internet, while in constant flux, paradoxically causes confusion while it facilitates social shifts in social, temporal and spatial boundaries as it integrates online and offline culture. One of these shifts is the ability to buy and sell without boundaries.

So along with hundreds of other UK furniture businesses, we decided to open an Internet shop. And here we are, paradoxically pointing out the difficulties of online shopping. Marcus thinks we shouldn’t post it at all – we are supposed to be giving potential shoppers incentives to buy furniture from us, not bombard them with negative verbal diarrhea about it.

We’ve cloned a shop like every other online shop, which is a clone of a bricks and mortar shop. It has a homepage – the shop entrance – a menu which neatly divides our products into categories or departments, a customer service section, a little bit about us and the obligatory terms and conditions. Once the shopper gets to the products, they find them all laid out in alphabetical order, in rows and columns of boxes, and the additional details are long paragraphs of text. We had to accept the limitations of the software – the same software used by countless other online shops. The software which imitates other e-commerce software. Paraphrasing Jean Baudrillard: in our postmodern Disneyfied culture, which is much concerned with cloning, what is real is becoming blurred. In fact, representations of reality are copying reality, and even taking over reality – becoming hyperreality.

The prefix hyper can be applied to varied linguistic combinations. So what’s the connection between hyperreality and hyperlinking? Hyperlinks have the ability to link information without necessary order or hierarchy. We are going to use the term hyperlink as a generic term to refer to any kind of connected information with which a user can interact by clicking on it. Hyperlinking facilitates multiple realities, since links can be revisited from different points each time. Although hypertext allows users to control the web-based environment they visit, hyperlinks may be an obstruction. The potential for non-linear navigation causes disorientation, which means most users who happen to click on a link to our hyperreal, multi-reality shop, will leave without even making an effort to look around, thus missing all the good stuff hiding behind the hyperlinks.

Two of the most used media for hyperlinking on shop webpages are text and graphics. Throughout history, graphic representations have been more popular than text because they are more concrete. But if we just put up images of our products, without explaining them, that wouldn’t give enough information, so we’re in the process or writing reams of textual descriptions. Hopefully our shoppers will not be doomed to a dull, tedious, textual web-based shopping experience – well at least not since Marcus’s humour started kicking in. But they might leave due to technostress - frustrated and frozen by their inability to decide where to start: How to make choices about what to click on.

In order to benefit from an online shopping experience, a user needs to be able to interpret visual clues, be willing to explore, and make choices. Even if Information Architecture is used to support shoppers in navigating the seemingly chaos of hyperlinks, it cannot be counted on. What makes sense to the shop developer may not make sense to shoppers, because it is based on someone else’s reality.

These first few days of initial blogging have put us into an alternative mindset. We are going to avoid being cloned hypertext retailers, but are still fuzzy about how to accomplish it.

Tamara and Marcus


Monday morning work, work, work, again. Nothing designed more perfectly to push us back under the covers.

Well we decided this Monday would be different, so we actually invited a third party into our bed. Now that seemed a good idea, and since we had both agreed to do it, it was okay for both of us.

A decision shared is a situation shared, and the consequences would also be both our responsibilities. So this early morning agreement, and the delicious thought of what was to come, rapidly condemed the Monday morning feelings to the bin.

Tamara got out of bed, left the room, and came back with the perfect partner. She asked Marcus if he would turn on the visitor.

We usually find it easier if one of us does the turning on, it kind of allows the other to prepare the bed. (Obviously we have done this type of thing before.)

Actually this morning, we both leaned over and propped up the pillows for each other. It's much nicer, and actually easier if we can rest our backs against a soft and comfortable backrest. Position is absolutely critical - well otherwise we would strain our necks, and that is definitely a turn off - remember we are not as young as we were once.

In the end we actually argued who would do the turning on, so before a row started Marcus gave in and said that if it was easier, Tamara could do it. She leaned over towards him, and as always knew exactly which buttons to press.

There was a whir, a soft rustling, and a burst of sudden music, which we both heard, and then it was party time. We were both smiling and clearly it was going to be fun.

'Where do you want to go first?' we both asked at the same thing at the same time. 'Let's blog,' Marcus suggested. 'Yes, that's one of my favourites,' Tamara replied, as she moved her finger over the mouse pad, and gently clicked.

Marcus and Tamara

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Why C-lick?

So you want to lick the table clean? WHY?
And when you think about it, where does one start licking a table?

We are lying in bed Sunday morning trying to figure out why so many Bloggers are c-licking on our ad: Maybe we just forgot the 'c' ?

As one gets older thinking replaces other things on Sunday morning.