Oh, dear ghod, no

Just got an invite in the email:

What's Pulse?
It's the first networking tool to span professional and personal life.

Blech. No thank you.

Free Kanji fonts!

Safari 3.1 has added CSS downloadable font support, so I went looking for some decent fonts with less ambiguous availability than the often-linked hgrskp.ttf. To my surprise and delight, I found that Epson hosts a free download of a nice collection of fonts, including a Kaisho, a Kyoukasho, a Gyosho, a Mincho, and a Maru.

The only thing wrong with them is that the embedded font names are not encoded in Unicode (probably Shift-JIS), so the names show up as garbage in font menus. Easy fix with a font editor.

[Note: kanji fonts are in the neighborhood of 50 times larger than a standard font, and you really, really don’t want to embed them into a web page except as a test. There’s a reason Adobe PDF uses font subsetting, and I suspect people will insist on similar tools for web fonts, even the standard ones. Also, Safari 3.1 doesn’t cache downloaded fonts at all…]

Amazon S3 results

11 weeks ago, I started hosting my pictures on Amazon S3. All of the vacation stuff, and everything I’ve posted since then, adds up to a grand total of $0.40 in bandwidth fees. And the pages load a lot faster than if they were competing for my carefully-throttled bandwidth.

The Munitions archives would still be potentially very expensive to host there, but for normal stuff, this is a big win.

Amazon recommends

I’ve temporarily managed to increase the sanity of my Amazon recommendations. Unfortunately, they’re still useless.

Page 1: 8 Destroyer novels, 4 Girls Bravo manga, 3 Grenadier manga.

Page 2: 2 Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi DVDs, 1 Ai Yori Aoshi manga, 2 Destroyer novels, 2 Kaleido Star New Wings DVDs, 2 UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie DVDs, 2 Nadia DVDs, Castle in the Sky DVD (which I hadn’t marked owned yet), a Hyper Police manga, and disc 1 of Magikano.

Page 3 has another half-dozen Destroyer novels, some more anime DVDs, and some more manga. Ditto page 4. And most of page 5. The first non-anime, non-manga, non-Destroyer item is a Lacie external hard drive at #72. The second is a Logitech universal remote at #79. The list ends at #85, with only three more non-anime, non-manga, non-Destroyer items. Those final three items are the ones I’d be most likely to actually buy, because I’ve already got enough anime, manga, and Destroyer novels to last me for quite a while.

Amazon Japan, on the other hand, has a completely separate database, and I’ve been careful not to over-train it. Its knowledge of my interests and possessions is much narrower, and as a result it offers me hundreds of things that I might want to buy at some point. The first few pages are heavily oriented toward Hello!Project merchandise, but that’s the bulk of what I’ve actually bought from them in the past. The big difference is that there are things I actually want on both page 1 and page 31.

The last few items on page 43 are pretty weak, but page 42 had five DVDs of pretty girls in bikinis, one of which I found rather appealing. Advantage: Amazon Japan.

The net result is that the site I’ve bought more from and rated a wider variety of items on offers me a much narrower selection of items to purchase in the future, and mixes them up poorly, so that most of its recommendations are for the items it has the most of, which are the items I’m least likely to buy that many more of. There are over 120 Destroyer novels, and the only way to keep them from dominating my list is to claim I’m not interested in any of them. Which isn’t true, in the long run, and negatively impacts future recommendations if I do it.

And, sadly, I can’t clean up my “not interested” list, because Amazon’s tools weren’t written to handle 6,000-item lists. Their official recommendation is to create a new account, which just isn’t worth it.

Epic Fail

Amazon’s recommendation system just blew a gasket. Here’s proof:


Form hell

I didn’t know that the USPS had established a list of 208 standard street name extensions. Until today, I wouldn’t have imagined that anyone would consider importing that list into an HTML form as a pulldown menu.

The worst part is, there’s actually a reason for it…

Powered by Amazon S3

I’ve been thinking of redoing my domains to cut down on hosting costs and bandwidth, and my back-of-the-envelope calculations for Amazon’s S3 storage service look pretty good. So, I’ve just moved my Japan vacation pictures and thumbnails over, and I’ll see what sort of bill it produces this month.

This has the side-effect of making my currently-photo-heavy site load a lot faster for everyone.

Life among the Internets

I’m pleased that I’m not the only one whose response to Gizmodo’s latest round of “wacky, mysterious Japan” articles was “could you at least tell us the name of the store?”. At least with this one, one of the pictures had a URL in it, but it’s a chain with a number of locations, not all of which have a robot department.

I’ve been tracking down cool stores for the last few days, and it’s just peculiar to see people who are online and plugged in failing to do simple things like, oh, link to their web site, or for the advanced student, find them on Google Earth. The directions to the various Hello!Project stores read like treasure maps: “after you pass through the arch, take fifty paces east, enter the alley, follow it to the end, then back up ten paces and turn left. Arrr. Me hearties.”

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”