From our hands to your eyes
We like to think we don’t have the personality of the mythological Greek King Sisyphus, but getting cards into the website sure can feel like what he spent all his time doing. This is a labour-intensive process, usually going something like this:
* Source cards we want to enter (much more on this later).
* Scan the cards. We have a workhorse of an HP scanning unit, with all the right settings, but the preliminary scan never covers the exact dimensions of the card itself. And we need to pay attention to the space each scan takes. The website doesn’t have unlimited capacity, so if we think a card is less exciting or less important, we adjust the resolution down. Sometimes edges are important, often not. Customers can ask for a new scan in high-resolution, no problem. Then each card gets an index number and the image rests in two places: the main computer, and a back-up disk. We learned that lesson a long time ago.
* Indexing is simple enough, depending on geographical or topical area, and the last number we used. Once a card is gone, that’s it and the number is retired.
* Now the fun starts. We need to decide what to say about the card, and that includes grading, description, and pricing. Grading standards are fixed and transparent on a dedicated page in the website. We’re conservative. More on this later, too. Descriptions really depend if anything seems worth saying: have we seen this place ourselves? Is something strange? Would it be worth writing something new about a familiar sight? What’s the back-story? Was the message particularly poignant, or funny? How’s the postmark? (By the way, what’s with the new USA postmark system??) Pricing? That’s the topic of another entry.
* Entering the cards. When the piles in front of us are tall enough, we put them into numerical order, and log into the admin section of the website. Under our original structure we had an absolutely impossible task that was something like what you might have experienced yourselves when you try to buy something online, you put in all the credit card information, you click “Submit,” and it comes back “WE’RE SORRY! Your information is invalid.” Huh? There was no choice but to rebuild the site with a new, simpler structure, and with Triyanto’s help, that’s what we did. Now, all of what we need to enter is on one form on one page–in it goes.
* Double-checking. Imagine how easy it is to make mistakes–the wrong card image with the wrong description, putting a card into the wrong category, having the same index number on two cards, what happened to cards whose numbers don’t appear, and so on. Ugh! So, from time to time, we need to do a zero-base review of everything you might also see, to fix those mistakes. That takes a lot of time, and coffee.
* Integrating and storing the cards. With so many, we can’t just dump them unsorted into plastic bins. They need to be filed more or less in order with others from the same area or category. If we are forced into the choice of moving to a larger flat, or halting the sourcing of more cards, guess what we will do?
So that’s the process. Later on, we’ll share some of the secrets of pricing, sourcing, what we want, what we don’t want, and all the things you ever wanted to know about postcards and deltiology (yes, there is such a word) but were afraid to ask.