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My non-existent Tumblr blog #3


“If I were to create a Tumblr blog…”, he says, refusing once again to enter the swirling vortex of multi-panel animated gifs, endless-scrolling memory hogs, and myspace-like design aesthetics, “I think I’d have to call it Baffled Cheesecake, in honor of a sexyfail expression that’s almost as common as Bored Porn Star, Angry Stripper, Constipated Chick, and Wannabe Realdoll.”

Two samples below, one nude.

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Fun with machine translation


Dear Google Translate, the adjective いけ好かない can be translated as disagreeable, disgusting, nasty, or creepy. I think you’ll find that there are very few contexts where it would be correct to translate it as “dicksplash”.

Google Translate Fail

Another reason to hate Paypal


I spent two hours trying to buy stuff from a site that uses Paypal’s shopping-cart system. Why? Because it kept resetting the cart. This seems to happen at random intervals, but is guaranteed to happen if you’re actually logged into your Paypal account and that session times out while you’re loading up the cart.

It was so bad that I ended up pre-staging the desired items in multiple tabs, so that I could rapidly add them all to the cart and hit the checkout button before the session expired. As it is, I ended up missing the click on one item, so the merchant will not be selling me that particular $250 product today.

Google+ hates you


Apparently Google’s web design team has been hijacked by rogue optometrists who are attempting to drive people into their offices by creating eyestrain.

Why else would they have decided that medium-gray text on a light-gray background is a good way to present all comments, especially the sort of long, detailed comment that contains information that's actually worth reading?

And of course they’re wasting acres of space on useless crap like chat, “trending” tags, “you may know” (but almost certainly don’t), and “you might like” (but definitely won’t) sections.

WhyCantIPayPal?


Two hours on the phone with Paypal, six password resets, three escalations, two different computers and four different browsers, and still they don’t have the slightest idea why I can’t log in to my account.

Ten days ago, I successfully paid for something through Paypal. Now, nothing that tier 1-3 support can come up will get me into my account.

…but they think that if they escalate even higher, they may have something for me in 24-48 hours.

[Update: Amusing; if I do a password-reset and try to give it the current password, it detects this and refuses to allow me to use it. But that same password didn’t work fifteen seconds earlier, so the problem can’t possibly be on my end, especially since I’m pasting it in each time rather than typing it from memory.]

[Update: it appears they don’t like my home IP address…]

Reasons I love Amazon, #317a


[Update: since I first posted this, some idiot Marketplace dealer’s auto-pricing system has jacked their (virtual) copy up to $999. Plus $3.99 shipping, to add insult to injury. Wonder how long it will take their sloppy code to notice that the used book they plan to buy from someone else and resell at 8x is now over-priced by 5x?]

I ordered a book of the sort that’s in print but out of stock everywhere, so that all the dealers list it at prices ranging from 1.5x to 15x. Amazon’s order confirmation (which, as always, reached my inbox before I could switch windows) said, “no idea when we can get a copy, but as soon as it shows up, we’ll get it out to you”.

That was Monday at noon. Yesterday at 5pm, they sent an update: “found one, expect it Tuesday”. Two minutes into today, another update: “okay, you’ll have it tomorrow”. With free shipping, of course.

(and they bought 8 copies, just in case anyone else wants to start studying Japanese swordsmanship)

Local book stores could give me this sort of service, but past experience suggests that very few will, and even fewer will do it consistently. Right now, I’d have to drive 90 miles to reach one that might, which stretches the definition of “local” a bit. Amazon isn’t driving the competition out of business with predatory pricing and sales-tax avoidance; they’re doing it by being a better book store. And a better furniture store, appliance store, hardware store, etc.

I love book stores, but after reinventing themselves as coffee shops with a small selection of books sandwiched in between the videos and the sandwiches, I really have no reason to go to one. The only ones left worth patronizing are the used book stores, which still have some actual variety on their shelves, to surprise and delight the customer. And a lot of them stay in business by listing all their stock on Amazon.

(and yes, after my first two nights in the dojo, all sorts of underused muscle groups are complaining)

Dear Amazon,


I just finished reading book 9 of the Destroyer series on my Kindle. From inside the book, I clicked to go to the Kindle Store, and my recommendations were:

  • Six Easy Pieces, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, Perfectly Reasonable Deviations, and Six Not-So-Easy Pieces, by Richard P. Feynman
  • Bad Astronomy, by Philip Plait
  • Genius, by James Gleick
  • The Faith Healers, by James Randi
  • The Varieties of Scientific Experience, Pale Blue Dot, and Billions & Billions, Carl Sagan
  • Japanese Hot Pots, by Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat
  • The Destroyer volumes 7, 6, 12, 3, 11, 17, 40, 31, 36, 37, 27, 44, 35, 34, 43, 30, 42, 26, 45, 39, 33, 20, 25, 49, 48, 46, 32, 38, 29, 47, 41, 28, 55, 50, 53, 52, 51, 57, 54, 56, and five more un-numbered books related to the same series by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir.

All praise for filling the list with things I’m actually interested in, but do you think maybe you overdid it a bit on the Destroyer novels, especially since the one I’m most likely to want right now isn’t on the list at all?

At a guess, the metadata simply isn’t up to the task of identifying series relationships, and I’m seeing the usual “you just bought a nice watch, so you must be interested in buying a dozen more nice watches” problem.

Also, while I’m pleased that I finally have my Kindle recommendations straightened out, I sigh in despair at the weeks of Android-app-recommendation cleanup I face after buying some apps for my Sony Tablet.

[Update: it seems book 10 is the only one in the first fifty or so that isn’t available for Kindle yet.]

California blinks, Amazon reinstates affiliates


I never actually made any money off of being an affiliate, but I know that a lot of people depended on it, and now that California has backed down on their tortured redefinition of “nexus” (pending federal clarification on how sales tax collection should work), they’re back in business.

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