Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Followup 2: Shopping Helper

There's now an on-line video demonstration/tutorial for the Shopping Helper Firefox add-on:

Watch on YouTube

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Followup: Shopping Helper

The Firefox Add-on to help you shop on-line that I mentioned in a previous blog entry has now started to go through the process of being hosted on Mozilla's addons site:

Shopping Helper Page on Mozilla's Add-ons Site

It is still in their sandbox as an experimental add-on at the time of this writing, but if you don't want to have to log in to download it, you can still get it here:

Shopping Helper Page on Labs Site

Friday, May 30, 2008

Shopping Helper Firefox Add-on

If you shop a lot on-line, there's a neat Firefox add-on that is coming out that offers a lot of useful features. It's Pronto's Shopping Helper, which allows you to create shopping lists, get price alerts, and view current prices. It has a ton of other minor features, but is overall a useful tool for organizing and tracking products you hope or plan to buy some day. You can see the preview here, which will also eventually point you to an actual download (should be within the next few weeks).

Pronto's Shopping Helper Firefox Add-on

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Absurb Baseball Ticket Prices

I guess it has been a long time since I've paid attention, but a recent exploration into buying a couple tickets to an LA Dodgers home game was quite the experience.

Too Many Choices and Stupid Names

Back "in the day", you had your box seats, your mezzanine, your upper deck and your outfield bleachers: 4 choices with meaningful names. At Dodger stadium there are 22 different names for areas of the ballpark, none of which really tell you anything about where they are located. Where would you expect "Infield Reserve" to be? Well it is the upper deck area, though it is closer to the infield that the other upper deck areas. "Lower Reserve"? It's actually upper deck, but not as upper deck as some other seats.

Even when they have a meaningful part in their name, they add these cutesy variants that again give you no idea what the difference is. There's "Premium", "VIP" and "MVP", all of which tell you nothing about where they might be located relative to one another.

The Color Eye Chart Test

More brilliant graphic design here in the seating chart. Those 22 sections each have a unique color that you have to match up against the key that labels the sections. Each primary color has 4 to 5 different shades, some of them impossible to distinguish when trying to cross-reference with the diagram. Edward Tufte would be proud.

Hunting around to write this blog entry, I did find a better location to view they seating chart. Seems I got to a Ticketmaster site when going from their schedule to buy tickets. Guess I should have known that was not the right way to do things. However, this better chart page suffers form the typical MLB pages that seem to assume you have 1 Gigbit bandwith to their servers.

The Punch Line

I was debating whether to get the cheapest seats, just to get into the park, or maybe splurge $30 a piece to get an upgrade. With the price ranges at Dodger stadium, $30 does not get you much, and in fact, I think they get you worse seats than the bleachers.

In their ticket buying options (again, this is really a Ticketmaster site), they have a 'find best available' choice. So I am curious as to what might be the best available so I could make a decision on whether they were worth it or not. What they suggest to me, are the "Dugout Club" seats at $500 a piece....$500 a've got to be kidding me.

They are not even the best seats for watching the game, though I suspect anyone who thinks a $1,000 for two baseball tickets probably is not really caring about getting the best "baseball watching" seats. They just want to be exclusive, and have 40,000 other people around them to observe their exclusiveness.

Professional baseball is doing everything they can to drive away baseball fans. The prices, the catering to non-baseball fans, the greed, everything but the game is the focus. MLB is an evil organization and it is painful to watch what they have done to a great sport.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Semantic Web

What is the "Semantic Web"? It's nothing.

No one knows how to define it other than just listing about every current web-related technology being developed. It's at best a catch-all for the current technology, and at worst a meaningless term that a bunch of charlatans use to convince someone to give them money, or to convince others they are "technically hip".

Some day in the future, something being developed today will be useful, then someone with great hind-sight will say "Yes, that is what I meant by the Semantic Web!"

Keep in mind, you cannot encode semantics in any computer representation. Anyone whose says you can is kidding you and/or themselves. It's all just syntax, since semantics are something no one really understands other than some concept people seem to agree on.

If I say "car", you know what I mean and I know what I mean. Since we likely agree, or can find no evidence that we are not referring to the same concept, the three characters can be said to have semantic meaning, but they do not really. It is you and I that give those characters semantics, not the computer. Most work on semantics and ontologies just create more elaborate syntax, which generally just obfuscates things so people think its semantics, and even probably convince themselves it is.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Superbowl Upset?

The Giants and Patriots played each other 5 weeks before they met in the superbowl. The game was very competitive, with the Pats winning by just 3 points. Given these facts, can someone explain to me:
  1. why the entire sports journalism world is calling this an upset; and even more ridiculously
  2. why there is even debate on where this sits as one of the greatest upsets of all time?
I guess the answer is that logic, and prior football knowledge is secondary to outcomes that simply disagree with the media-induced frenzy that is the superbowl hype-machine.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Shameless Journalism

This morning's top "news" story on CNN:

Chevrolet Malibu wins Car of the Year

General Motors' Chevrolet Malibu mid-size sedan, radically redesigned for the 2008 model year, won the North American Car of the Year Award today at the first media preview day for the Detroit Auto Show.

This is not news, but free advertising for General Motors. Just more signs that corporations, one way or another, are deeply connected to the media and are being used to manipulated the public. And if you think that being the "car of the year" is generally interesting news to people, I might agree if this was really the story. But if you look carefully, it is qualified as the "North American Car of the Year", which implies it really is not the car of the year since they've excluded all the imports that typically win the real car of the year awards. Maybe CNN is just trying to show their patriotic side?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Goose Gossage and Hall of Fame

From this evening:
"It's insane it took nine years on the ballot for Goose Gossage to get elected to Cooperstown, but thankfully voters come to their senses."
Kind of funny to see a sportswriter say that what sportswriters do is "insane" (it is sportswriters that determine who gets in the hall of fame after all). Anyone paying attention knowns that (almost all) sportswriters are definitely not journalists, and are more typically not any smarter or thoughtful than a random person off the street. So when a sports media outlet publishes a headline that effectively admits that sportswriters, as a group, are behaving with no rhyme or reason (or possibly with deliberate capriciousness), that's something I find refreshing.