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MyThings stuff-log-site - but will even anal-retentives bother?

by Bob Crabtree on 15 December 2006, 12:34

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You've got good insurance for your valuables but do you have a good enough record of what they are to fully claim your dues if your home gets burgled or burnt down? That, in essence, is the idea behind MyThings, a free-to-use web site that lets you keep a detailed online record of all your good stuff - whether it's consumer electronics kit, PCs and peripherals, household appliances, cars, collectibles, art work or anything else.

Currently, the site is free of adverts, so you might wonder how it intends to make any money. The answer seems to be by doing deals with online retailers - Tesco Direct, Casio, Jessops and Halfords are said to be already on board.

According to MyThings, 

For retailers and manufacturers, MyThings allows their customers to automatically enter purchases into a MyThings portfolio. In turn, retailers and manufacturers can communicate with MyThings members in the portfolio environment, tailored to the specific interests and preferences of the portfolio owner.

For example, MyThings’ partners can anticipate a customer’s readiness to buy, upgrade, or replace a product, and then provide useful product information to inform purchase decisions, online registration at the point of sale, and promotions for new product versions and accessories.

The company further says that MyThings is,

An online community of like-minded owners of valuable things—ranging from consumer electronics to collectibles, cars, and appliances, MyThings provides members with information about accessories, downloads, and buying guides, as well as special offers. MyThings members may exchange product information with other members, plus refer them to useful content sources. MyThings serves as an infomediary, a trusted third-party between consumers, manufacturers, retailers, and service provides, allowing members to keep private portfolios for their own records, or post items to the public on the website.

So, it's actually a way for resellers to get to flog you more stuff and also of letting people talk among themselves and, knowing the way of things, increase the likelihood of buying.

We've got no particular issue with any of this but where we struggle is in the doing.

MyThings - choosing a product category
First, choose your product category (click for larger image)

Anal-retentives may already have good, if not totally secure, computerised records at home of all that they own but MyThings doesn't initially look to allow them to upload this information easily - each record has to be laboriously created by hand while online.

However, there is an option when creating an entry, to upload files that, in theory, relate to that one item. But, this can be used to upload, say, an Excel spreadsheet or a database file, so with that single upload anyone can put up all of their info on MyThings in a single shot, if the file is no bigger than 5024KByte (4.9MByte).

Well, that's the theory but, intriguingly, in the instance shown below, we actually uploaded two files - a tiny 55KByte spreadsheet, plus a NEF raw-image file (masquerading as a receipt) that, at 5.16MByte alone, busted the files size limit for the item. Go figure.

MyThings - checking a record
Checking a record. Note that we have exceeded the
upload quota (5024KByte) but also that the file was
successfully uploaded and also downloadable, too
(click for larger image)

So, anals might fret about this anomaly and reason that - rather than take a chance or have to re-key the info - it's better for them, instead, to save that information to a CD and pass it on to a trusted relative or friend. Or, perhaps, if they want immediate online access around the clock, just email the file to themselves at Google.mail, where, irrespective of size, it will be available for download as and when needed.

As for non-anals - whom, we think, make up the bulk of the populace - it strikes us as highly unlikely they'd go to all the bother of documenting everything they own, whether doing it online or offline. At least, not without guns held to their heads or unless they'd recently been burgled or lost their homes to fire and were starting afresh  - and with the knowledge that good records might let them get more from their insurers the next time round.

But what do you think? Check out MyThings' press release on page two, take a look at the site, then share your thoughts with us in this thread in the forum.

HEXUS.links :: discussion thread about this article


MyThings - home page