Amazon Tomfoolery

tom·fool·er·y/ˌtämˈfo͞ol(ə)rē/
Noun: Foolish or silly behavior

Example: Getting caught offering different prices to new customers vs repeat customers in the past in a “test”

They seem to be doing something like it again today:

In the screenshot the left window is logged in to my account, the right is a private browser (no naughty cookies for Amazon to use to identify me), copy/pasted the URL to both sides to ensure that I’m looking at identical items on both sides.

Note the Kindle price varies from $7.99 to $6.39.

UPDATE: Amazon never did respond. Shame.

netflix.ca – A giant “don’t bother”

Over the Thanksmericangiving weekend Microsoft was running a “Free XBox 360 Gold” promotion, and along with that, NetFlix was offering 30 days of free streaming service. I figured why not try it out, maybe we’d find some interesting movies or TV series that we’d enjoy?

Signing up was reasonably easy, although I would suggest creating your account on your computer first rather than trying to type out a decent password on an XBox 360. Twice.

The first thing that jumped out at me was the selection. More specifically, the lack of selection. It took me a good 15 minutes of flipping through TV shows and movies to find something I would watch to test out the streaming video quality and functionality. No, not a show to actually sit down and watch, just something to try out to gauge the video quality.

I ended up watching about 5-10 minutes of Mythbusters episodes. You won’t have to worry about spoilers of new TV shows if you’re a bit behind on your PVR watching since the available TV episodes were years old.

Recalling how much money and resources Netflix puts into algorithmically determining user preferences I thought I’d give it a chance, so that evening I spent about 45 minutes on Netflix’s website telling Netflix all about my movie preferences, genres I enjoy (and not), rating movies it offered to help Netflix learn about me. I also installed the iPhone and iPad clients, thinking I might go watch a movie on the iPad. Unfortunately I still couldn’t find anything that interested me. The suggestions weren’t bad, but I’d seen the movies I wanted to see and literally couldn’t find anything that I hadn’t already seen that interested me.

I picked one and sat through about 15 minutes on the iPad. Video and audio quality was good, but the movie didn’t grab me enough to care so I went to bed.

I got Lori set up with Netflix on her iPhone too to check out the selection, she watched a few more shows than I did, but the month trial isn’t even over and neither of us can find anything to watch.

The video quality was good, the interface isn’t horrible, selection of clients was nice. Heck, it even streamed video over 3G, something Apple can’t manage on the iPhone 4 (although other video-calling capable phones have been doing it for years), but what’s the point when there isn’t anything you want to watch?

More annoyingly though, when canceling service Netflix.ca is careful to spell out that they terminate your service immediately and you forfeit the remainder of the time you prepaid. Let me type that one again more slowly: Customer pays for service. Customer decides to not renew at the end of the agreed upon prepaid term. Netflix says “great, but don’t tell us until the last possible minute or we won’t bother to give you the service for which you paid.”

Sorry guys, but that’s a dickhead move and it pretty much guarantees I won’t bother trying Netflix again even if they ever get a decent selection of movies / TV shows.

(And yes, I’m aware that it was a trial and I’m not actually out any money. I plan on keeping it that way)

iTunes sucks

I had a free coupon for some music on iTunes that I was interested in, and having spent more time then I’m comfortable with trying to get iTunes to take less memory then an entire installation of of Vista, I’m reminded of one of my favourite XKCD comics:

I’d still like to know what iTunes is doing with over 640MB of memory, 20% of a quad core 2.4GHz CPU (yes, that’s almost 2GHz devoted entirely to iTunes) since it’s too busy to redraw the screen properly.