Epic Amazon Fail

22 Mar, 2017

Frankly this is bizarre, but if you're looking for Python for Kids, I suggest you don't buy on Amazon for the moment:

Expensive!! (small image)

Much as I'd like to be getting a cut of that price, I somehow doubt I'm getting anything -- and you're possibly getting a poor quality knock off, going by this:

https://twitter.com/billpollock/status/844030960333152256

(Some more discussion on Hacker News here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13924546)

Barnes and Noble looks to be a safer option - and you can still buy directly from No Starch Press of course.

Further update: Inc.com "Amazon's Tepid Response to Counterfeiters Frustrates Sellers"


Not the normal knock-off

02 Aug, 2019

Usually on Amazon, we see Python for Kids knock-offs which are an exact copy of the book, with cruddy printing and/or binding. No Starch have a clever binding which allows books to open flat, without falling apart after reading a couple of chapters (clever enough that a few people thought it was actually a failure in the glue) - so these were pretty obviously cheap copies, even without the often misprinted and missing pages.

However, an eagle-eyed reader recently notified No Starch of a new type of knock-off -- where they have slightly rewritten the text (I assume just enough to fool a copyright-checking algorithm), and included content from (I think) other sources, to make it even less likely that any automation would flag the book.

For example, here's an excerpt from Python for Kids...

pfk excerpt 1

And here's the dodgy knock off...

knockoff excerpt 1

Erm... what the heck is a "Trump String"?

Here's another one from PfK:

pfk excerpt 2

And here's the knock off again...

knockoff excerpt 2

Yeah... way to rewrite it to be more boooooooring, Book Pirates!

The code examples are pretty much exactly the same in the knock-off (at least the examples I checked) - if badly formatted (including misprinted wingdings characters and other artifacts).

So, the first part of the book is basically a slightly (and extremely poorly) rewritten knock-off of mine. The second part of the book has things like bubble sort, insertion sort and...

knockoff pagerank

...because every self-respecting kid needs to how to write a sorting algorithm (by just looking at the code) and how to use numpy and pandas for page-rank???

And from there, on to games like Hangman, but written with Python2 and incorrectly formatted as well...

knockoff hangman

A garbage knock-off, and 29 five-star reviews in a couple of weeks, no less (I assume paid for). Interestingly, I clicked through a few of the other reviews by those same reviewers and found more poorly written texts. It's an Amazonian (sic) nest of crappy Python books!

Tick tick tick. I wonder how long it'll take Amazon to catch on...


Well done Amazon - truly awful UX

23 Oct, 2014

How to ensure that your customers never, ever... ever want to sign up for Prime... ever:

Step 1.
Prompt user to sign up for Amazon Prime while processing their order.

Step 2.
Customer clicks "No Thanks" (because customer was previously signed up for Prime and decided they didn't want to pay for it - so of course you should ask again and again... and again)

Step 3.
Display final checkout page to customer and automatically select the paid shipping option (okay fine, that's fairly normal)

Step 4.
Display popup window to customer asking them to sign up for Amazon Prime again (did I mention again?), only this time position the Sign up link in the exact same position that that the radio button for "Free Super Saver Delivery" is displayed (because you know that's the button they're probably going to select). Better yet, you should time the display of this popup so that by the time they've moved the mouse cursor into place, customer is clicking on said radio button at the very moment the popup appears.

Step 5.
By no means should you ask for confirmation before signing the customer up, when they do mistakenly click.

Frankly, don't know whether it was just exceptionally poor, or whether it was nefarious UX design to get people on Prime, but it's a really, really good way to annoy your customers. Or at least this customer.