The life of me

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Posted on: May 28, 2013

Originally posted on Dog In Boots:

21st May – Finished the BSc in Animal Behaviour & Welfare at Merrist Wood College, courtesy of Kingston University.

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Posted on: April 5, 2013

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Posted on: January 22, 2013

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A personal review…

 

January

I was part of the way through the second year of uni, just finishing work experience for the course. Not much happened in this month that I can remember…

Using my facebook as a guide, I can see I was thinking about doing a different course in September. I went to Ewell Park and hand-fed squirrels, pigeons, ducks, swans and geese. I also updated my facebook almost everyday :s that’s a lot (to me). I also had 4 guinea pigs at that time and got a character on Skyrim to have Blacksmithing level 100 after having the game for around a month.

 

February

14th Feb- I completed Fallout New Vegas- the main storyline. It took me a while to get around to it because when completed, you can’t carry on the story afterwards, unlike Fallout 3. On 17th February I had my favourite guinea pig put to sleep :( she had cancer. She was 7 years old. It was a very sad time for all of us. This is what I remember the most about February. Also, it had 29 days. On 27th February I beat Matt for the first time ever at Company of Heroes.

Macci

 

March

In March was 3 birthdays in my family. For Matt’s birthday we went to visit his grandparents in Somerset. It’s a lovely, quiet place there. We hope to move to that area next year because it is near his grandparents and a third of the price of living here. I also saw Jupiter and Venus without using a telescope. That was really great, but sadly could not take any pictures of it.

I was told in March that I would struggle and be sad if I continued to do the course at uni in September…

 

April

April was uneventful I think, so let’s see what facebook says I did… I bought and built a Tervigon, got the new set of paints from Games Workshop, and some other models… Well that month wasn’t very eventful. April contains the anniversary of when I got engaged, not that it gets celebrated.

 

May

Another guinea pig lost in May :( Sudden death at 3 years 9 months old.

I went to a fancy dress party dressed as Abby fom NCIS. I baked some cakes, and some bread. Went to the British Wildlife Centre. In May is the anniversary of Matt asking me out.

Alis

 

June

In June, I had finished attending the uni course and was looking for full-time work, because I had no clue at all what would be happening in September. Would I be allowed back on the final top-up year of the course, or would they have turned me down?

I went to my first midnight release ever, the midnight release of the Warhammer 40k 6th edition core rulebook. It was fun. We also switched from BT to Virgin, seeing our available speeds increase from 1gb to 30gb! Actual download speed on BT was about 200kb/s, if lucky. Now on Virgin it ranges from 4gb upwards!

 

July

In July I baked some bread and some cakes. It was warm in July, and my two guinea pigs got hot and sleepy. I went to Brighton with Matt and beat the original Super Mario game on the original Gameboy. I also started to assist with Matt’s local scout group. I got the results of my course grade, a Pass, which according to certain teachers meant I would not be on the course at all in September. So I started trying to move and and get a full-time job, with not much luck. Having been in full-time education for many years, I have little experience or relevant qualifications. I would have liked to be self-employed, but I needed the security of  a proper, reliable job for mortgage applications.

 

August

August was plain. One of my guinea pigs turned 4, such a squishy cutie was she. I discovered even low, entry-level jobs want at least 2 years experience. Uni changed my UCAS status to CLEARING, meaning if I wanted to apply to any unis I had to pay £11 per uni, and could only apply to one at a time, and I wuoldn’t know if anywhere even had a place until September. So I gave up with that idea entirely. I also discovered that some not nice people had been downloading my facebook profile picture and uploading it to sites such as 9gag, LADbible, and other websites that did not attribute it to me at all. Thanks facebook, for allowing ANY picture to be downloaded by anyone who can see it…

 

September

Another of my guinea pigs passed away, this one was 7. Broke my heart to find her dead, she was lovely. I was down to just one guinea pig now. On a different note, in mid-September I received an email from uni, apparently they had increased the number of spaces on the course and I had one, which they decided in JULY, but didn’t actually bother to tell me until 2 weeks before the course started. Not fun. I spent about a week actually trying to track down people at uni to confirm that it wasn’t a mistake and I was actually on the course. I did complain a lot, rather vocally, about them not letting me know, and not giving me much time to sort out finance for the course. Quite a stressful month. My only piggie was now getting lonely, but having lots of cuddles! I also went to Games Day again this year, I love it, but because we went up there on a coach, it meant that we had to stick by their times, getting up at 5am, and waiting for the coach to take us back home. If we ever go again, I am very tempted to drive myself, although the petrol and parking is expensive.

Suzie

 

October

I got a letter from the government, only granting me partial money for my disability, and nothing for the course fees until I could prove that I had a previous qualification… Oddly the disability money is only granted when there is proof of that, I don’t know, the government is confusing. On 13th October I got 2 young female guinea pigs for a breeding project for uni. They were originally kept at my granddads, but my parents allowed them home after Rios got depressed when she didn’t see them for 2 days, how sweet of her. She loved their company so much, they all moved in together. So small and scared, they are so different now.

 

November

Wow, November seems so far away, and at the same time it feels like it is still November. I borrowed a male guinea pig from uni to hopefully knock up my females. It saves having to buy a male and extra living quarters for him. I finally got my graduation certificate through, the proof that I needed of my previous qualification.

 

December

I aged up in December, and my 4 year old piggy got sick. She got worse and had to be put to sleep. A mixture of illnesses :( A very sad year. I didn’t buy anyone any xmas presents, and made Matt a cuddly toy bolter.

 Rios

Conclusion:

2012 has been a good and a bad year, some good things have happened. I hope 2013 is much better. And I hope my guinea pigs are pregnant. I am getting married next year, hopefully moving out before that, and hopefully finishing the uni course with a pass (a 3rd or higher).

Stay tuned…

I have a stalker. Well actually two. Two American women who are old enough to know better. But they are vindictive and have all day to waste because they are jobless. But they forget I can see who is viewing my blog and where from…
Mad Skillz

Tophatter is one of the latest online “trends”. Another “live auction” website, where you can sell anything! Sounds too good to be true? Well it is. Where should I start with all the problems?

1) Viewing the site. You must be a member to view ANYTHING on Tophatter. If you share your internet with anyone you will need facebook to sign up. I am hearing reports that some people are being forced to connect with facebook anyway just to use the website. Let’s say you see an advert for Tophatter somewhere on the internet, for a pair of Tiffany earrings you have always wanted. So you click the link, only to be faced with “Sign up to join Tophatter. Sign Up Using Facebook.” This is the main way to become a member, with your facebook. If someone hasn’t created a Tophatter account with the same IP address as yourself, you may be allowed to sign up with your email, but it’s not common. There isn’t even a way to contact them, to see that information you need to be signed in. If you do have facebook, and click it to sign in, Tophatter will link your accounts, and post everything you look at on Tophatter onto your facebook wall, where everyone on your friends list can see it. You need to manually disconnect them. Also the website is not mobile-friendly.

2) Verifying your account. To be able to sell anything on Tophatter, you have to give them your Credit Card details, or verify yourself with PayPal, giving Tophatter your full name (as it appears on PayPal), and your address. What do you need to be a buyer? Nothing, not even a PayPal account. Many people are being taken for a ride by Non-Paying Bidders, but that is a whole issue to come later. Tophatter also want you to link to Twitter, Pinterest, your website, Etsy shop and anything else online!

3) The fees. If your item sell you have to pay Tophatter “a percent commission fee (based on the winning bid amount), with a minimum fee of $1” (taken from Tophatter.com FAQ). BUT also, some auctions are different: “Some auctions have flat fees implemented which means there is no percent commission, but the flat fee is owed if the item is auctioned off, regardless of whether it sells.” Taken from the same FAQ. If selling in a Community Auction (one that is set up by a user, not a TH-run auction) there are even more different fees. 5% of the final item price, with no minimum fee. So it seems like a Community Auction (commonly called CA) is the way to go? Well not really, the auction doesn’t get featured on the main page unless the host (in this case, a host is the creator of the community auction) pays Tophatter $50 in advance. Only 100 items can be “sold” in these auctions. Not everything sells though, usually quite a bit doesn’t sell, or fetch much money. You have to pay your fees before they reach $50, otherwise you can’t list anything.

4) Bullying. Now you wouldn’t expect bullying on a selling place would you? Well Tophatter have it. It ranges from stalking, abuse of the mute button, harassment via email and telephone to buying items to spite a seller and leaving negative feedback just to ruin someone’s statistics and earnings. There have been many reports and well-known incidents of personal attacks, threats, and even threats on someone’s life. Witch-hunts for people on facebook who some sellers believe to be staff in disguise. This is orchestrated by people in their little cliques, ganging up on sellers who aren’t in their little circle. In a second they can have a large group of them report you in chat, landing you with a mute, either 24hours long or permanent. Attacked, stalked and victimised, many people have left Tophatter to sell elsewhere, some try to fight it, writing to as many people as possible at Tophatter, asking for an explanation as to how they received 60 reports in one night. Someone once got muted when they said “hi” because there were people in the auction room out to get them. Poor people.

5) Poor staff attitudes, wow this is a biggie. Both the paid staff and the volunteer “hosts” have a bad case of biggus headdus. Say one thing wrong and they bite your head off, usually with a mute. What if one of them says something wrong that is against the rules? Nothing, they laugh it off. The same as if they sell something incorrectly, no big deal when it is staff, or Tophatter’s favourite little angels who can do no wrong, but if it is anyone else? BAM! Muted. Or permanently suspended in a few people’s cases. One seller followed the rules that Tophatter set her, how to title her “adult-themed” item, but people weren’t having it and she got banned. Then one of Tophatter’s crew listed a very similar item with a very similar name, they were not forced to adhere to the restrictions, Tophatter staff even promoted it, something else that is against the rules. There used to be a few hosts, they were lovely people, but they were treated badly by staff, and almost all of those hosts have stopped hosting, who knows if they still visit Tophatter. Everyone is expected to help Tophatter staff to do their jobs, reporting items that are in the wrong category, reporting users that are breaking the rules, but there it gets out of hand.

6) Item authenticity. There are lots of fake items on Tophatter, such as fake Tiffany earrings for $5, fake Coach bags for $20, items being listed as .925 solid sterling silver when they are plated and worth less than $1 per necklace. Add to that you have people with fake profiles, generating fake bids for their own items so that they get more money. And staff sell, under a different profile, which is not allowed, but still it happens. There is a chat box on Tophatter, where people come to chat, gossip, talk up items or talk down items. This is where the mutes occur, where people spill their fake sob stories, like their grandmother died recently (3rd time this season she’s done that, how inconsiderate of my gramgram to die 3 times). They have cancer so can’t ship anything this week, but will still list items for sale. Or they suddenly have no money, so they can’t afford to buy anything else, except that item that they really need. And yet they can advance lots of items. But not the ordinary seller, oh no. Sometimes you can’t advance people’s items if you’ve already advanced X amount of times. But it seems those “pets” get to do it. Tophatter says if you want to buy more from that person go to their store. Well, what if Tophatter is the only place they sell? If it isn’t why are Tophatter so willing to lose sales? I’m sure the sellers would rather you bought from their shops, saving them money in fees, allowing them to earn more money.

7) Speaking of no money, there are lots of non-Paying Bidders around, and bad sellers who pretend to ship and never do. So what buyer protection does Tophatter have? “If a buyer doesn’t pay you, please report them with negative feedback. Buyers with negative feedback for non-payment risk being banned from future auctions. *DO NOT* ship a buyer their items until you receive payment; this includes waiting for an eCheck to clear.” That’s it. If anything goes wrong, take it up with PayPal, as long as you are within the 45day limit of the paid item. If someone hasn’t paid, there is nothing you can do about it. Oh and if the item is custom or perishable, don’t bother filing a claim or dispute with PayPal, as a buyer, you aren’t covered. However if it doesn’t arrive you may be covered, but check PayPal’s policy.

8) Feedback. You can only read a sample of positive feedback (a maximum of 3), that the seller chooses to display. Only the seller can see his or her own negative or neutral feedback, which every other buying site does. In fact, every other site will show you ALL feedback. To top it off, some buyers and sellers will use the feedback to blame, bully and extort things from the other person. They won’t contact to resolve any issues, they will just leave negative feedback and complain until the cows come home!
This is becoming quite a big list! Not much left, I promise!

9) “Priority” sellers. Tophatter say they use an algorithm to determine who can list however many items. This can change, even if nothing has happened, one day you may have priority status, but fail to sell enough items at a high enough price and you will be bumped back down to standard. How do they work this out? Well they say: “Factors that have a positive impact on a seller’s statistics include:
1. A high percentage of successful sales per items listed
2. A high number of average bids and average bidders per lot auctioned
3. High final sale prices (both in real $ value and in final % of retail price)
4. Positive feedback from buyers
Factors that may have a negative impact on a seller’s statistics include:
1. A low percentage of successful sales per items listed
2. A low number of average bids and average bidders per lot auctioned
3. Posting misleading items, including items with inflated retail prices, misleading images, or incorrect descriptions
4. Negative feedback from buyers.

And now Tophatter have even more privileges for their special sellers, they can have up to 50 items that are marked as not shipped before they face any consequences. For the standard Joe Public it is between 1 and 5. To become this privileged, you have to be a “trusted” seller, just sell lots of items for well over your low starting price and over the fake retail price. Have your friends or alternate personalities sing your praises wherever possible.

On top of all this, you have the normal problems associated with buying online: missing packages, bad seller attitudes, feedback extortion. My advice? Stick to Outbid, Etsy, Folksy, Ebay, Storenvy etc, they are much better. Still want to use Tophatter? Do so at your own risk. Only buy genuine handmade from there, anything else, check online. If it looks too good to be true (like a $4000 ring for $20) then it definitely is. All the decent, reputable sellers have other shops where they sell, go look for them.

Posted on: October 17, 2012

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