Current Events

Movies to your Tivo via Amazon Unbox

I decided to give Amazon’s new Unbox service a whirl over the weekend (they are offering $15 in credit if you register your Tivo broadband service with Amazon by April 30th) and was very pleased with the experience.

It took only a few minutes to link up my Tivo account and after that, any movie listed on the Amazon Unbox catalog was ready for one-click purchase and download.

I chose two movies (Devil Wears Prada and Little Miss Sunshine which run $3.99 each) and they began to download within minutes and were available for viewing later that evening.

You have 24 hours to view the movie from when you begin viewing and have full Tivo control over stopping, starting, rewinding and fast-forwarding through the movie. Notice the new “red flag” icon which alerts you that the movie will be deleted. Also notice the “save to VCR” option is avaialble although I didn’t try it yet.

It’s early days yet and Netflix has also mentioned that they’re in the download on demand business as well (the Netflix CEO has been quoted as saying that they’re not called “mailflix” for a reason) and from what I see here, it looks like this could be quite a compelling reason to move off of expensive cable plans for HBO and other premium channels if you’re able to get what you want via an on demand service. Add an archive of standard television series and specials and you’ve got a nice alternative to the Apple iTunes/Apple TV product.

Additional bonus is that purchases made here feed into my Amazon recommendation profile (most likely my Tivo profile as well). This will be a space to watch.

Amazon want to Pump You Up

Fully 70 percent of the effort required to do business online involves doing the heavy lifting that supports Web-scale applications, he said. After a decade of training, Amazon got really good at pumping iron, and now you can hire its muscle to do some heavy lifting for you.

Jon Udell on Amazon’s new web services.

Current Events

Statistically Improbable Phrases

Via Paul Bausch is news of a feature in that runs analysis on books scanned into Amazon’s Search Inside index. From Amazon’s site:’s Statistically Improbable Phrases, or “SIPs”, show you the interesting, distinctive, or unlikely phrases that occur in the text of books in Search Inside the Book. Our computers scan the text of all books in the Search Inside program. If they find a phrase that occurs a large number of times in a particular book relative to how many times it occurs across all Search Inside books, that phrase is a SIP in that book.

Yet another tool to hook you back to the Amazon mothership. Here’s a list of books that list the improbable phrase, thumb tribes.

A9 Yellow Pages, teaching an old dog new tricks

I would be remiss if I didn’t pile on to the hubub about Amazon’s new Yellow Pages search over on the A9 site. John Battelle’s got the scoop on how it was put together.

In short, Manber and co. (urged on by Jeff Bezos, who Manber says was "very involved") strapped GPS-enabled digital video camera-cum-terabyte server rigs to the top of a bunch of SUVs, then drove them around the commercial areas of major US metropolitan areas, recording what then became composite still pictures of entire cities, one address at a time. A9 took more than 20 million images of 14 million+ businesses across ten cities (more are coming soon), then created a local search application they call Block View.

Of course I see other benefits as well for my friends and family overseas. Wondering what Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley looks like these days? Take a stroll starting at Amoeba Records and click on the image to scroll either up towards the University or down towards Ashby. Notice Amazon still need to get photos of the other side of the street so you can’t see Moe’s yet but the listing tells you it’s still there.

Then there the new game in finding unsuspecting people caught in internet eternity in front of questionable enterprises. How would you like to be known as the guy on the cellphone in front of Peepworld?

New TypePad Widget

Today we launched a new sidebar widget which pulls in your Amazon wishlist and displays thumbnail images from the items into a graphic which you can put into your sidebar.

Current Events

The end of media as we know it

The creepy tone of the background music sets the stage for this look back at the demise of traditional media as we know it from the perspective of 2014. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Friendster and the trend towards personalized and automated filters to help manage information flow pull down the Fourth Estate.

The New York Times becomes a print-only newsletter for the elderly and elite.”

The ending leaves me cold. Watch the developments over at Pegasus News as they build an alternative to this algorithmic nightmare.


More ways to get there. A9 from Amazon

Amazon’s A9 came out of beta with much fanfare and continues to get rave reviews because of a new feature which keeps track of your search history. This can be quite useful for those that are trying to retrace their steps to get at a vital piece of information. Bookmarks are single points of reference like an address. But the human brain doesn’t always work this way – sometimes it’s easier to remember how you got somewhere. A9’s Search History takes this geographical metaphor to the virtual world of clickstreams.

I notice that Ask Jeeves has a similar feature on it’s My Jeeves which is currently in Beta.

The other feature that I enjoy using is the image search which throws up images related to your search query right alongside and in context with the web hits. This is especially useful when doing searches on individuals. For those of you into vanity searches, it’s always a kick to scroll through all the people out there that share your name.