Thursday, December 4, 2014

My Etsy Store is "On Vacation" Until After the New Year

Regretfully the popularity of my tutorials has caused me some problems with Etsy and Paypal.  I will definitely be back in early January, though sadly I may need a new venue other than Etsy.  I'm looking into a few store options and a site called Craftsy.  If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear your opinion on the best way to go.

If you are curious why, it was like this:

Etsy and Paypal needs my SSN for tax purposes.  That was all well and expected.  My tutorials were pretty popular this year, and I was getting very close to the 200 transaction threshold set be the IRS to file income (Though no where near the $20,000 income limit).  I go to the section on Etsy to give my information, but I had forgotten that we used my mom's name when we set up our accounts thinking she would use it to sell her dolls and other handmade items.  However, the bulk of the transactions were from my tutorials and items that I made. So I called them to have the account switched to me.  Etsy was able to make the info change fairly easily, but tell me that the ONLY way I can submit my SSN to them is via the internet for "security" purposes.  So, they're basically saying that they won't be held accountable if someone steals my identity.  Now, I think most of us have become keenly aware of how secure the internet is these days.  Yes, their website may use the latest encryption techniques, but that isn't the problem that concerns me.  If hackers can hit big name stores like Target with malware, what makes any of us think our own connections or computers are secure?  Am I paranoid?  Maybe I am, but I don't like the way Etsy has set up their "secure" submission process.  When I went to the online form to submit my info, the first thing I see is my full name, address and all other information displayed right there on the screen, in text form no less, on the same page as the submission input box for my SSN.  This isn't looking good.  Say a trojan has found it's way onto my computer allowing some software to record my keystrokes or possibly read/copy the page content I visit.  They've just given them everything they need to wreak havoc on my life.  This is SO unnecessary!  Etsy already has the last four digits of my SSN, which were required on setup.  Why do they need the whole number?  And, why must they display my name and info before I submit the number that is formatted so obviously as a SSN?  If they hadn't, I could possibly have gone to a public computer, logged in, and entered it without risk.

Paypal was a lot more with it.  They will let you give your SSN via the phone, which I find WAY more secure than the internet.  Even if the employee tried to use my info, the company has their info and records of who I talked to.  So, it's a lot less likely, and I have a much better chance of tracking the culprit down.  However, we had also made the mistake of using my mom's name on our Paypal acct.  Though all info, including last name were the same for us both.  And, it only came down to the first name.  They couldn't make the change without requiring all kinds of info be sent to verify the simple change.  On top of this, IRS had made it so no one could change anything until a SSN was given for the name on the acct.  However, the Paypal representatives had three options to resolve our problem.  First was to close the account and open a new one.  They assured me that they would not need to verify my bank acct again and that I could transfer my email, but I had to give my mom's SSN to close the first acct.  NO WAY!!  She was not going to do that!  The whole point of this was to get her off the account.  Second option was to abandon this acct and just open an new one using a different email and bank acct.  Umm...NO!  This is the primary email I use, and I don't need another bank account.  Besides, at some point we surely would like to close this Paypal acct if it's not being used!  And this seems a little too much like tax fraud to me.  The third option is my only hope.  They want to change the acct type to "business" and that would allow for the name change.  I'm very leery of this.  I need to research the repercussions of going through with this.  But, the manager assured me that I could switch it back to a personal acct at any time once the name was changed.  How silly is that?!  But, whatever works to get us back up and running safely.

So, that's that.  I never expected my tutorial to be so popular.  I feel so unprepared for all of this.  Please bare with me while I get this all sorted out.  In the meantime, I'm also continuing to work on new tutorials and many new projects.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Some Action Shots of Our DIY Yurt

This past weekend was the last of TRF for us.  Rather sad, but can't wait for next year.  So much fun!  As I promised, I took some action shots of the yurt with it's new table, stools and shelves.

Here is the current setup.  We store our food under the new table with a plastic trash bag over the crate.  The stack of crates on the far right was used as a small trash.  All utensils and other equipment fit nicely in the others.

The shelf hangs from the top of the yurt wall from two ropes.  And, each shelf has notches that rest on knots in the rope.  I will eventually replace this yellow rope with a better one.  I'd like to make another set for the other side of the door.

We set our propane stove on another crate stool or two.  When I was editing the photos I thought the pattern of light the sun made from the top crown opening was kinda neat.  You can also see the white and red dots that shine through the canvas.

Here is the yurt with the walls removed.  We've found that it's best to put the roof canvas on first and take it off last.  This way we get more light but can pack and unpack in the shade. (Many breaks were taken under the shade while working.)  :)  And, yes, everything fit nicely right inside the Jeep with us.

I'd really like to figure out a better bed setup.  I'm thinking I may use some shorter soda crates to elevate our bed off the ground, but also allow us to stack or rearrange it out of the way during the day.  During nice weather we've just been sleeping on the floor where we placed stacks of carpet padding under the carpet for cushion.  It's okay, but probably not good for rainy camping.

Well, that's it, I think.  I'll be posting Harry Potter stuff soon.  We've got an elaborate 2nd year party planned for later this month.  So much to do!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Yurt Improvements: Camp Table & Stools (plus some other stuff)

I've been busy, but found a little last minute time to make some more improvements to/for our yurt. I've posted about Yurtle a couple times.  This time I painted some stools and a small table.

As you may noticed in the pic above, we've been using milk crates in place of chairs for a while now.  We've pretty much given up on those folding aluminum camping chairs everyone has, because our crates don't walk away on their own or get easily broken.  Not to mention crates are dead useful for packing.  They may not be the most comfy things and a little blah to look at. But, with limited space in the Jeep anything that serves more than one purpose gets a better chance at coming with us.

We had some leftover scrap wood from some previous yurt improvements, so we decided to make our crates even more useful by making wood tops for them.  This way they can be used as a table and some stools without having to dump out the contents and turning them upside down to do so.  These stools are a lifesaver when I need to lace boots.  I can also use them as a night stand next to the bed.  They also keep things out of sight when we are walking about.  Plus, I've found that most 13 gallon trash bags will fit perfectly over the crates.  This is great for storing perishables and items we want to keep dry and bug free.  The stool lids are made with a lip that allows them to sit down in the crate to seal it nicely.

Eight crates pack down to a convenient cube or can be rearranged to fit where ever we can get them in.  It's usually always a game of Tetris to get everything to fit in the car.

We normally bring between 6-8 crates depending on how much equipment we need and how long the trip is for.  However, with nine crates we found we can arrange them into taller bar stools and table.  ;)

But, a six or four crate arrangement fits just right inside the yurt with a couple spare stools for guests.  Later I want to go back and paint some black on the stool tops  leaving the border and center flower designs red for more contrast.  But, ideally I want to make some removable cushion covers.  My sis gifted me some black pleather that will work perfectly.

I think the table top is a wee small.  (Would make a perfect Viking shield.)  I would like to make a slightly larger one later, but it works for now.  This table was actually a round piece cut from the center of our new yurt crown you can see below.  We made the table top design to match.

Not long ago after the storm last year at TRF, we redesigned our yurt crown to make it lighter and more secure.  Since we were redoing it anyway, we thought it could use a bit of dressing up.  The cut out design allows better ventilation and light.  A friend said the design resembles a dreamcatcher.  Since we sleep under it, that would be fitting.  :)  We may just be a bit paranoid after last year, but those cables were added to keep the roof members from pulling out in any strong gusts of wind ripping through the door opening.

 Here's a closer look at the crown.

Also made some red shelves that hang on the wall, but I haven't gotten a pic of yet.  I'll try to get some action shots at TRF in the next couple weekends.  Really looking forward to staying in it again!  Now to get some last minute costuming and packing done!