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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
|Posted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:23 pm Post subject: Using TurboLister and Auctiva for eBay and image hosting
| I've been listing items for sale periodically on eBay.
Using a dial-up line makes things slow sometimes, but I notice
that the bandwidth is only one factor that slows down the process.
The host computer may have significant delays, being under
a heavy load sometimes, and my computer may be contributing
delays on its end. There is a fair amount of latency, or delay
in completing various steps. Furthermore, eBay doesn't let
me "save" listings, only "list" (or post) them, and pay for the
privilege. After a couple of months, I can't even access them
to lookup some detail or re-list them.
They recommend various "listing" tools. One, "TurboLister"
was especially appealing because it was free and it was "client-based".
That is, it was resident on my computer, and did not require internet
access in order to build up listings. I don't want to get into
this story right now, but just mention that when they issued
an upgrade to "TurboLister2", they stopped accepting input from
TurboLister. Meanwhile, TurboLister2 at first wouldn't install,
and when it finally did, it crashed.
I went to Auctiva, another listing tool, this one online. I can't
imagine what my non-techno-savvy friends would think when
confronted with this interface. I've become so good at working
around these terrible interfaces, that sometimes I hardly even
stop to notice just how bad they really are. And I don't think
I'm alone in this, or even bragging, really.
Just one example this time: selecting pictures to put in my eBay
listings. Okay. Auctiva hosts my images. Great. I can upload
a bunch of them at a time. Very good. I can upload them
all at once, maybe, while I'm off doing something else like
feeding the cat or putting more wood on the fire. I've learned
that I probably shouldn't upload them while I'm doing other web
work, because any other web access will be quite slow, and
my pages may even time out. Okay. Adaptable, right?
Well, I can upload 10 at a time. Not so good. I often have
40 or 50 to do, and altogether I've got 250 (2 pictures each
for 125 listings). Okay. So I start entering the pictures to
upload. There are some problems there, but they are more
about Windows XP than the web app, so I'll save them for another
time. I realize that I've got more than 10 to upload, and the
screen gives me a button to click to be able to upload 20
at a time, and another button to allow me to upload up to
30 at a time. I click the "30". The screen goes blank, and is
reloaded with more slots (30 of them), but the information I
already entered is gone. Must be re-entered. The next time
I go to upload pictures its default is still 10 pictures to upload.
Someone at Auctiva wanted to be nice to folks, so it lets
you keep your images in different "folders" online. Of course,
Auctiva's idea of a folder is different from Windows'. Folders
can't contain other folders in Auctiva, and so on. So, someone
realized that when uploading, I'd want to choose which folder
I wanted to upload my images to. Only, I have to make the
choice for every image. Not only do I have to go through a
cumbersome process to select the images to upload (thanks,
Microsoft), but I have to select the destination folder for
each one. But wait! It has a default destination folder.
That might be helpful, except that the default is always the
same, its always wrong, and there is no apparent way to change
Finally, you enter the filename of the picture and select the
destination folder for each image and click "upload" and it begins
keeping a kind of running commentary on the status
of each file. Not bad. Next to each one, in turn, it shows the status,
"uploading" in yellow, then "done" in green. The problem is when
it fails. It shows "failed" in red, but no explanation is given.
And it keeps on going. In my case, it failed halfway through the
list because they shut down their system Thursdays at 10:30pm.
For 4 hours. Every week. Of course, you dare not stop it from
your browser (there's no way of knowing what state that might
leave you in), and it offers no button to cancel uploading
gracefully, so you let it continue for 10 minutes going through
the motions of uploading, failing each time,
So, let's recap. I can't upload all my images at once, meaning
I've got to keep track of which pictures have been loaded and
which remain to be loaded. I start entering some filenames,
or "browse" them (with some MS difficulties), select the
proper destination folder. For each. Then remember that
the default screen only lets me upload 10 at a time, select
uploading 30 (still not as many as I need), lose the work I've
already done, and begin again. If it fails it doesn't tell me why,
or otherwise give any indication as to what the problem was
(I assumed I'd finally run out of disk space on their server
and they wanted me to become a "platinum member" or
some such thing and start paying.)
I wonder if you're noticing a pattern here. It's not so much that
there is a particular problem with the interfaces I'm talking about,
as it is that the problems interact with each other, making
the tool difficult to learn, and forcing the adaptable person to
internalize work-around on top of work-around. Of course,
this is the best-case scenario. The non-adaptable person
gives up, or has their buddy do it for them.
I think of when I would do roughly similar tasks before GUIs
were around. Usually I would start from a textual list of things, and
add some commands and commas, and end up with a script
upload picture1, folder7, newname1
upload picture2, folder7, newname2
I'd try it out with one of them and see how it worked. Then
I'd run the whole list after I was satisfied I had the right details.
With text, the next time I was ready to upload, I could use the
techniques I used this time, and pretty much automate the process.
With the GUI, I'm stuck clicking through 40+ screens, directing
my mouse and clicking some 170+ times. And there is no
provision for automating this.
Alright then, enough with the uploading. What's a few clicks between
friends, right? Fair enough. The real problem comes when trying
to use these images in constructing an eBay listing. There are
3 places an image can appear in an Auctiva / Ebay listing: in the
upper left hand corner, at the bottom (in a section devoted to
pictures), and inside the body of your descriptive text. The
process for selecting a picture in each of these locations is
completely different, and each one has limitations that the others
do not share. You can bet that someone was proud of each one,
but each of them are extremely bad at what they do, something
so simple that it is baffling how it could be that they could be
designed so poorly. For once, I'll spare some of the details
and just give the gist of the problems. Aside from the inherent
problem of having 3 different, incompatible ways to do basically
the same thing, they suffer from bad defaults, problems with the
order which the items are displayed, no way to see more than
a thumbnail of the image to be selected, and controls that behave
in an unexpected fashion. Nobody would ever
want to upload more than 30 pictures, right? And if they did,
they could just add them in multiples of 30, right?
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