The mystery of Qwert Shmarble--solved! If you've ever wondered how stunningly useful items like Qwert Shmarble end up on Amazon, here's the inside story, from the former Amazon temp who wrote the user manual to the NM-156 Reciprocating Emu Press.
From 1964 to 1992, Texaco (.mov, 20.6MB) drilled for oil in the northern region of the Ecuadorian Amazon, known as the "Oriente". The company left 627 open toxic waste pits and other facilities which continue to leak highly toxic waste, affecting more than 30,000 local people. A higher incidence of birth defects, cancer, miscarriages, skin diseases, and death continues to plague people whose only source of water is a contaminated river. ChevronTexaco refuses to remediate the damage, claiming that they already "cleaned up" their share of the contract, by shoveling 3 feet of dirt over some of the open oil pits.
Complete simple tasks that people do better than computers. And, get paid for it. In 1769, Hungarian nobleman Wolfgang von Kempelen astonished Europe by building a mechanical chess-playing automaton that defeated nearly every opponent it faced. A life-sized wooden mannequin, adorned with a fur-trimmed robe and a turban, Kempelen’s "Turk" was seated behind a cabinet and toured Europe confounding such brilliant challengers as Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon Bonaparte. Excuse me? Ah, yes. The Mechanical Turk, by Amazon.
"This book isn't as good as Harry Potter in MY opinion, and no one can refute me. Tastes are relative!" A review of Orwell's 1984 on Amazon, from a list compiled by Matthew Baldwin at The Morning News with a selection of the funniest one-star reviews of books from Time's list of the 100 best novels.
The Next Generation Rabbit Pearl Wireless Vibrator is just one of a range of products in Amazon's sex shop.
The Penguin Classics Library Complete Collection. "From Edwin A. Abbott to Emile Zola, the 1,082 titles in the Penguin Classics Complete Library total nearly half a million pages." The weight of the books is approximately 700 pounds. Amazon is offering free shipping! I wonder how big the box would be waiting at my door. (via)
"When they emerged after 50 yards, the landscape no longer looked anything like the southern edge of the Amazon forest. It looked like Iowa." In Mato Grosso, Brazil the rainforest is vanishing. And all because of soybeans and beef. "If we were an aggressive tribe, we would have killed the land owners already," said Tupxi, one of the canoeists, who estimated his age at 77. " good Washpost story...
Newt Gingrich's Amazon book reviews. "Speaker Gingrich is an avid reader. He does not review all of the books he reads. You will not find any bad reviews here, just the books he thinks you might enjoy."
Abusing Amazon images. And you thought URL manipulation was a lost art.
Metafilter has discussed the tsunami this year, and the dreadful aftermath, especially on childrenbefore, and we have discussed the various forms relief efforts can take. Old Skool web journaler turned author (book 1)(book 2) (book 3) organizes book drives every year for libraries. This year, she is organizing donors to supply basic school supplies for children in areas hit hard by the tsunami. The Kancheepuram District she is targeting for help has a large child labour problem, so giving these children what they need for an education is more than just books and pencils - it is a way to help them avoid the fate of so many of their peers, and to transition from 'child labourer' to 'child'. Pam is partnering with Asha for education. Her readers donated enough to hit the first two goals (approx $7000.00 so far), and the goal now is to supply every child in the region - $11,428 in total.
It costs $4.61 USD to supply one child with an educational kit.
It costs $4.61 USD to supply one child with an educational kit.
MusicalGenius: What does a comedic genius stuck in lonely ol' Minneapolis do for fun? He becomes an ice cream eating, elephant fanatic who opens a Mashed Potato bar, of course. (Amazon.com)
amaztype A typographic Amazon search engine, created by Keita Kitamura and Yugo Nakamura.
How to Sell Your Book, CD, or DVD on Amazon [From Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools: he has a knack for asking the best questions]
43 Amazon Things? Merlin Mann posted a link to a Salon article (registration required, watch an ad) that indicated that 43things is funded by Amazon. What does it mean? What would they do with people's 43 things?
Internal Amazon.com Conference - Liveblogged Interesting approach to sharing the wealth - Amazon.com has rounded up an interesting roster of tech speakers for a private conference - and decided to allow an internal blogging team to liveblog the speeches. Links to their talks (from yesterday and today) are here. (Speakers include Rick Dalzell, Joel Spolsky, George Dyson, James Gosling, Eric Neustadter, Rael Dornfest, Gregor Kiczales, Craig McClanahan, Brian Aker, Gavin King, Bela Ban, Michael Tiemann, Margo Seltzer and Arlene Capismalis, Chris Hofmann, Bjorn Freeman-Benson and Guido van Rossum)
Considering buying a tank from Amazon? Meet the JL421 Badonkadonk, a "a completely unique, extremely rare land vehicle and battle tank" from NAO Design that sells for $20,000. Yes, its real (and comes with a free T-shirt). Of course, its not on sale, unlike the mysterious $23,000 Gulbransen Bottle Organ - now 21% off!
Sony explains the PlayStationPortable's launch delay. The bestselling PDF, now available on Amazon for $750.
Frustrated by web sites that don't offer a customer service number? Slate magazine discovers Amazon.com's. (Of course, they'll probably change it after it gets around...)
241 titles on 282 disks, just $4,995 (after discount). It's the Criterion Collection Holiday 2004 Gift Set, exclusive from Amazon, all of the series' published DVD's through October*. One wonders who has the money for such a thing. (Not many -- current sales rank 26,154). Heck, for that kind of dough you can get one of these contraptions. Or, alternatively, you could feed 72 third world children for a year. Now, Criterion does great work, but as the comments point out, this supposedly complete collection does not include its out of print titles like John Woo's "The Killer" (current eBay bid: $148) and, sadly, the beloved This is Spinal Tap (High bid: $61). (At least it's a good investment). So, subtract the ones I already own and love, like The Third Man and some that are simply awful you could probably save scads with some selective shopping. Sure, it would be satisfying to own so much great film, but I find more and more I have no use for re-watching movies, unless I am joined in my satellite of love by some good companions. Anyway, happy consumer month!
More on arithmetic in the Amazon The 10/15 issue of Science has the official publication of Peter Gordon's work on numerical cognition among the Pirahã, and a companion article by Pierre Pica et al. on similar research among another Amazonian tribe, the Mundurukú. What with the U.S. election and the discovery of H. Floresiensis, this is not getting nearly as a much play as the pre-publication back in August of Peter Gordon's work. Brian Butterworth has an piece in the Guardian about both articles, and I've put some links, quotes and diagrams here. Compared to the reports on the Pirahã, the Mundurukú people, language, and experiments are all somewhat different, although the conclusions are broadly similar.
"I was stunned by its lyrical beauty and easy cadence. The tempo, the choice of words, and the layout on each page captured my imagination so much that it took me about seven minutes to recover my bearings." Amazon users review My Pet Goat. (via Sadly, No!)
"First, look up the most popular and critically-acclaimed books, movies, and music on Amazon. Click on 'Customer Reviews,' and sort them by 'Lowest Rating First'..." The Amazon.com Knee-Jerk Contrarian Game.
Amazon's trying out "blogging" in the form of "plogs" or
purchase personalized logs. It appears to be the same content as your old amazon recommendations, but served up in a blog post-style format, signed by the so very intimate sounding Amazon NewReleaseBot. I can't wait until a giant like Coca Cola starts "blogs" (beverage logs) and announces new flavors complete with permalinks and weekly archives right on every can.
How To Catch An Alligator is Ken Perlin's essay on his trip to the Amazon. The rest of his site is pretty amazing too. I suppose I'll have to put going to Brazil on my list of things that he's done that I envy him for.
Amazon's A9 Launches - Amazon.com's Entry into the Search Engine World launches today (in Beta). [via BoingBoing]
Would you call Googlebombing on Amazon Amazabombing? Ask Bill Frist, since whatever you call it, it just happened to him.
Pricenoia compares prices at every Amazon store available, adding shipping costs to your country.. It's not just the usefulness of the tool (specially for those that live somewhere different than the US and are used to check every price at least at a couple of Amazon stores), but what it means for the global commerce and how the net helps to raise worldwide prices.. Do you buy at your local amazon? Or do you check prices everywhere? Amazon offers confidence to its users, once you buy there you don't try any other online bookseller, anywhere.. Is it going to be the bigger global bookstore, online or offline? Sure.. It's the beginning of the dot.com takeover!!!
A concerned reader in St. Louis just might be Dave Eggers. A weekend glitch on Amazon Canada allowed people to see the true secret identities behind reviews on the site. [NYT Link]
Why yes, I would like to rip my Lancaster County Prison CD. Viking Components invents a whole new form of spam, courtesy of Amazon's Guides feature. [more]
Amazon accepts political contributions? Amazon.com takes the friction out of grass-roots contributions to presidential candidates. 1-Click® payments are the easiest way to make small contributions--from $5 to $200.
Big Books Not exactly made for curling up in bed, big books are an interesting twist in publishing. From Bhutan to Antartica and Sumo to Boxing, these are more likely to be the size of your coffee table than to be on it. They probably cost rather more, too.
GOAT. Well, that's my Christmas list sorted.
Like Michael Jackson? Amazon customers recommend...
Want to create a Christmas list that's not limited to items available at Amazon? There are several universal wishlist websites at your disposal.
Authors and journalists take note. Junglescan is a way to track the Amazon sales ranking of a book or product over time. One can follow the ranking of a novel, or CD, or you can collectively track the rise and fall of an idea, or group of items. Not everything is tracked only what it's asked to but for a free service that Amazon should/could provide it works well. See also Amazon Hacks (via Kevin Kelly Cool Tools).
The Amazing Baconizer: Take two books, CDs or films and find out how they're connected via Amazon's "people who bought this also bought..." database. (Wiki, including a short FAQ, here.)
[via kegz on eggz]
[via kegz on eggz]
Amazon as search engine. Is it just me, or does every search on Amazon.com result in 90% results for discontinued items or stuff they don't bother to sell? I'm not very confident.
If you liked Mein Kampf, you may also like the Bee Gees. Data-mining fun with Amazon's "Other People Who Purchased x Also Purchased y" feature. (Also a Gruniad article on the phenomenon.) (via Anil's daily links.)
The New Yorker's James Surowiecki writes about patent creep. With eBay losing one court case and being threatened by another, Spike Lee trying to stop his first name being used, Amazon owning the concept of threaded discussions, the never-ending Un*x wars, and bands trying to protect certain chord progressions (OK that one's a hoax), is this a worrying pattern that needs to be reversed, and is it just the beginning of an anti-competitive trend that will see our own genes being patented?
The "Goodie Box" at Amazon is $9.99. It has a $10.00 rebate. No word on what's in it or when to expect it. Order it find out I guess, then send in your rebate and get your money back. Any guesses? A Mystery box for $4 shipping cost is intriguing enough for me to try it. I have mine on order, anyone else?
Amazon UK was taken down for over an hour today after a rush of orders caused by apparently mis-pricing Compaq HP iPAQ H5450 Pocket PCs and HP iPAQ H1910 Pocket PCs at £23 GBP and £7 GBP respectively (normally priced at over £200 GBP each)!! I know a few people who have ordered one or two ;) - Amazon is back up and running now but we're all a bit in the dark as to whether we'll get our cut-price goods or not. Logic and fair-play (and the Trades Description Act) dicatates that we should get our goods - but I wonder.... (see also here at The Register)
Visual Relationships at Amazon.com - Here's an interesting visual implementation of the Amazon API. It's almost like flipping through books on the shelf. What's next? A 3D bookstore rendered on the Quake engine?
Looking for a nursery theme? Try the John Lennon Collection & John Lennon Musical Parade. These products are based on his drawings of stylized animals. Imagine what Yoko Ono and the Lennon Estate come up with next.
I Wish, You Wish Nifty site that scours wishlists (Amazon and others) of bloggers and puts them all in one convenient place, sorted by either birthday or alphabetically.
Henry Raddick's Amazon Reviews are among the most insidiously hilarious works I've seen in some time. From his review of "McDonald Happy Meal Toys From The Nineties: With Price Guide": "An essential guide for the fast food promotional toy collector, this fine book lists each and every one of the toys given away with Happy meals in the 90s. If you choked on it, it's in here. It even had listings and recent auction prices for some of that weird "McCrying Game" merchandising. A must. " Indeed.
CDNow cedes operations to Amazon.com. While looking up some 'non-traditional' Christmas music, I noticed this site's layout looked oddly familiar. Is there reason for concern about the fact that Amazon is taking over shop for it's rival or is this an example of using what's the 'best' in a competitive market?
"Customers who bought this product from Amazon also bought fake recommendations? Yes, Amazon just admitted algorithms don't work alone in the recommendations and shopping histories department. What happened is that, besides betraying those of us who thought recommendations were made by objective software, strange things started to happen at the store. Like the one Joshua Allen wrote about on his blog (Better Living Through Software): while trying to buy the book Essential.NET, he received the following hint: "people who shopped for this product also wear clean underwear". It's not an algorithm, it's a super-algorithm with x-ray vision.
Pre-order your Ginger today! Amazon scores exclusive selling rights, apparently.