Just in time?

01 Apr, 2018

Perhaps just in time for Google shutting down its goo.gl url shortener, here's a potential alternative: nimwhistle, an algorithmic URL shortener loosely based on the ideas in Whistle, but with a few minor modifications (URL patterns in the form of dir/YYYY/mm/dd/filename; 'favourite', fixed or non-standard URLs stored in a fixed-line-length file), and a CGI-based redirection service. 462KB compiled, Apache2 licensed. Not guaranteed for any purpose, because it was a hack-job/experiment, put together in a few hours.

Update: somewhat stupidly, forgot to mention, nimwhistle is already in use here (for example, https://jasonrbriggs.com/u/f1 redirects to Python for Kids)

Good luck

25 Apr, 2013

To the (I assume) wannabe-hackers who, according to my web server logs, are trying to access various combinations of wp-admin, wp-login and other types of login page... good luck with that! ツ


06 Mar, 2013

While listening to Solace, I can't help be struck by the thought that it would sound brilliant performed by a full symphony orchestra (probably with electric guitar accompaniment). Something I'd pay to listen to...

(via BoingBoing)

O'Reilly Media Discounts

05 Jun, 2013

Apparently Python for Kids is featured in O'Reilly Media's "Learn to Program ebooks" promotion (save 50% on introductory programming ebooks). More details can be found here.

Online supermarket delivery in the UK needs to evolve

03 May, 2020

We managed to get a Tesco's delivery last week, which was a challenge - the best we've been do so far is about one delivery every two weeks or so (from different supermarkets). But that basically means sitting online for hours hitting the refresh button to see if a slot becomes available.

Hunter-gathering in the twenty-first century...

A couple of hours after our delivery had arrived, I happened to look out the window and see another Tescos delivery being dropped off about two doors down. So not only dumb UX, but from a logistics perspective, poor design as well.

What would make far more sense to me, particularly in this time of lockdown (probably after as well), is you load up your basket with your shopping, then specify half day slots when you'll be at home. i.e. "here's the 30 things I want, and I can be home for delivery any time Monday to Sunday for the next two weeks". or "I can be home for delivery on Friday morning, Saturday morning, and all day Sunday". Periodically the supermarket runs an algorithm to find the optimal delivery for each order (and obviously you don't get charged if you don't get a delivery) -- perhaps with some prioritisation for those who've been waiting longer for their delivery slot.

There's nothing massively complicated about this as an algorithm - group addresses in the same street which have an intersecting time period. Then group addresses with close proximity (maybe half a mile or so). Then look for addresses slightly farther apart, but still close enough that delivery can be optimised (half a mile up to a couple of miles) - perhaps some of those can be grouped with one of the first two groups as well. Give each of these delivery groups a certain amount of points. You then rank the deliveries by their points, and by the age of the oldest order in the group -- ungrouped orders would just be ranked by their age -- and send out notifications to the confirmed orders. Discount delivery charges for grouped orders, and if there are any remaining slots available, open them up to adhoc deliveries with a slightly higher charge.

There's more complexity to take into account, of course - the number of delivery vans versus the number of deliveries per van, distance to the supermarket/depo, etc. But still, the result is likely an improved user experience for everyone, better for the environment and probably more cost effective for the supermarkets.

ICANN corruption

18 Jan, 2020

Belatedly... this article about ICANN & dot-com price increases (which does look rather like ICANN corruption, in my opinion), annoyed me more than I can properly express, despite the fact that initially (first few years) the 7% increase will still be less than I'm paying for dot-nz domain names. This is pretty obvious profiteering by Verisign, and I worry that this will trickle out from the US to domain names for other countries, inevitably turning the ownership of a domain name from something that's a petty cash expense into a real, and significant, cost. It's particularly concerning if you take into consideration similar news in the dot-org space.

It irritated enough that I started looking at alternatives. However, none of the blockchain domain name options look like a particular economic, straightforward, sure-fire win (paticularly not for a non-technical audience) - even OpenNIC, which is the closest tech to the incumbent, would require jumping through additional hoops because I don't believe my current hosting provider supports DNS alternatives - on their forums, I can't find any mention of OpenNIC apart from a note on a "Rejected Feature Proposals" forum, back in 2007, about it being a stale project.

Maybe the global Internet community will eventually route its way around the "damage" by selecting a generally acceptable alternative. Or a privacy-focused browser maker like Mozilla will come up with (and promote) a viable domain name system that the other browser makers will have to implement or be left behind.

In the meantime, perhaps I'll look at redirecting my primary domain elsewhere and route around the problem myself, before the name comes up for renewal in a few years time...

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.

"But it doesn't mean anything"

08 Feb, 2014

Jeremy Paxman talking with a conservative activist on the "Year of Code" (at about 9 minutes in) announces: "But it doesn't mean anything".

By the same token you could quite comfortably argue that Hanzi, or Kanji, (or Arabic, Thai, Hindi or any of the other non-Latin derived scripts) don't mean anything. But a good percentage of the world's population seem to get by quite well using them...

(Oh yeah... and the artistic looking garbage on your big screen really doesn't mean anything ツ)