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Amazon Customer Votes Promotion

November 24, 2006 at 11:11 AM | categories: Portland | View Comments

Found a reference to Amazon selling 1000 Xbox 360s for $100.  Which is what one would be worth to me.  So I showed up and tried it, figuring that I wasn’t going to get one of these: However, I was interested in how the process worked and also wanted one of the alternate items.   I was logged in to my Amazon account on both Internet Explorer 7 and FireFox 2.  Things worked fairly normally until about 10:59, when the system became totally non-responsive for about 10 minutes and not very responsive (meaning I got 1 session to work but none of the others) for 15.

I was disappointed that Amazon didn’t have something showing on the screen.  On the one hand, that might add to the problem of not being able to respond.  But on the other, it seems like they could have sent a large image to folks saying that they hadn’t won.  Why large?  To stop people from being able to hit refresh quickly.  

Guess I don’t as much about the intricacies of TCP/IP as I think I should.  I’m not sure what’s possible - limiting sessions to one per IP # to stop people from opening multiple tabs, etc.  Maybe Amazon was doing that.  But having the browser time out without any feedback over and over was frustrating.  The first two times it was OK - “yeah, there must be a lot of people doing this” - but then it was “Wow, they need to plan better”.

Relevance to local businesses?  Well, there is some, actually.   If I were running an antique store, there would be various ways of using my display case.  I could put items on the floor and post ads as I did so.  Certainly that would seem to be the efficient thing to do.  But in terms of promotion, you could get a two-fer:

  • Put items out on the floor during the week or over the weekend
  • Add items to your display case only one day a week

What do you get out of this?  Well, the people who are going to stop by without knowing what you have are going to stop by.  No disadvantage to them.  And the people who only come when you have something interesting to them will check your stock once a week.  Now if you don’t have anything that they like, they’re not coming in.  But wouldn’t you rather have them checking on you?  Making it a part of their routine?

The alternate item on Amazon?  No, it’s not for me.  It’s probably for my “plain 4″ daughter, though it might end up going to the one who’s “2 and 3/4″. 

Why I hate Qwest - “Promise of Value” is just a promise

November 23, 2006 at 11:11 AM | categories: Telco, General | View Comments

I’ve dealt with my local phone company for many years.   From the roll-up of Pacific Northwest Bell into US West and then the merger with Qwest, prices have gotten higher and higher and the reliability has gotten a little worse.   At some point my wife or I will decide that we don’t really need the land line and it will go away. 

The thing that’s most annoying about them is the amount of advertising they’re doing.  They’re constantly on the radio, TV, billboards, in the newpaper, ads on the internet and direct mail pieces.  It seems obvious that they’re not getting a lot of takers.  Why not?  Well, they could start with the big disclaimer on every ad.  Anything that they’re promising on the front, they’re taking away on the back.

For example, here’s Qwest telling me that I’m paying $18.45/month.   I wish.  Our last bill was $31.38.  That includes $2.20 for Extended Area Calling, $4.26 in taxes, 911 and universal service fees.  But what really gets me is the $6.50 “Federal Access Charge”: This charge, allowed by the FCC, covers part of the cost for providing access to and maintenance of the local network.

So what’s Qwest going to charge? We don’t know. We know it’s going to be higher than they’re telling us. We just won’t know how much until we hit the checkout button … and maybe not then.

I’m paying $31.35/month to Qwest and $57 to Comcast for cable modem and basic cable.   Plus using a long distance provider at $.03/minute for the little long distance calling we do.  I wouldn’t mind having one bill that I could understand so we could get ESPN and Nickelodeon even if it we had to mount a dish and get slower internet speed and pay another $20/month.

But what’s the price?  The real price?  Qwest won’t tell you.  And that’s why I hate them and most other people do, too.

Snippy - neat tool for saving parts of images

November 22, 2006 at 11:11 AM | categories: Home Computers | View Comments

Snippy is a neat tool for capturing parts of images.  From the description:

“How often have you carefully selected some text from a Web page and copied it to an email message? Snippy makes this a snap! Simply click on the little Snippy icon in the taskbar notification area, and mark out the region of the screen that you want to copy — that’s it, you’re done! The cut-out image will now be in your clipboard, and you can paste it in another application.”

It’s very small - fast to download and not much memory use. 

It does have a way of doing rectangular selections - hold down the shift key - although I think that should be the default and freehand cropping the exception.  I’m willing to believe that a lot of other people have better mouse control than I do but that still makes for lumpy images:

The one thing that Snippy doesn’t have is an easy way to save the image to a file.  I open MS Paint and paste it there if I want to have a file.  There are lots of situations where you can upload a file but can’t cut-and-paste.  Like uploading to MyAd

But, all in all, this is a useful little tool and I’m adding it to my startup folder.

Good summary of FaceBook

November 22, 2006 at 11:11 AM | categories: Marketing, Startups | View Comments

There’s an excellent summary of how FaceBook came to be and what its possible valuation might be at: » Facebook Case Study: Offline behavior drives online usage - Startup Review Blog

Excellent case study and analysis of HotOrNot

November 22, 2006 at 11:11 AM | categories: Marketing, Startups, Web | View Comments

Nisan Gabbay has an excellent analysis of the site at Case Study: Mixing free and premium services

My wife and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary a few months
ago.  I’m happily married, so I haven’t visited HotOrNot in years.   I was fascinated by the description of the dating service, which I don’t think they offered when a friend first told me about the site. 

“Thus HOTorNOT was able to fill some pretty basic human needs in a way
that no other online service had before. This would later translate
into financial success once HOTorNOT offered its premium dating service
because their cost of customer acquisition was so low - zero. The
largest cost associated with operating a traditional online dating site
is the cost of customer acquisition, which even for successful sites
can be 50% (or more) of revenue. Because HOTorNOT attracted users with
its free rating service, it could offer its dating service for the low
price point of $6 per month. This is a price that traditional dating
sites can’t compete with because it generally takes $15-$30 to acquire
a subscriber for a traditional dating service.”

I wouldn’t think that advertising would be very appealing on the site except to a few advertisers like Budweiser.  So the idea of adding dating as a way to make money seems terrific.   As the article says:

“Pay $30 a month to troll through profiles? Hell no! Pay $6 to contact a
hot girl who already said she thinks I’m hot too? Probably.”

Neat to see somebody come up with a way to compete not only with the usual paid dating sites (Match, eHarmony, Yahoo) but also with Craigs List and PlentyOfFish.

Can’t recommend this article - if you’re into web startups - highly enough.