Algorithm gone wild, or…?

Amazon’s “Gold Box Deals” offer up a bunch of specially priced items to everyone; if you scroll down the page, they often have additional deals that are supposedly tailored to you. Today I was greeted with the following:

Trapped Like Mice... Rats!

My first reaction was to laugh and say, “Amazon’s selection software is misfiring a bit today.”

My second reaction was to think of those reports of parents receiving coupons for those newly pregnant and getting livid, only to discover later that in fact their daughter really is pregnant.

…I hope this is just an algorithm gone wild. *gulp*

Welcome Back, Locus

It is not a secret that I am a huge science-fiction/fantasy geek, or that I love books. So for those who are into that particular niche as well, they might not be surprised to know that I also used to read and love the magazine Locus.

If you’ve never heard of Locus, it’s probably because you are not a science-fiction or fantasy geek. It’s a publication that mixed a lot of book reviews with interviews, event coverage, and a quarterly listing of upcoming books. I used to be enraptured by that last feature; back before Amazon and such, it was the best way to find out what books by your favorite author were scheduled. I liked the other parts of Locus, too; I learned about a lot of new books and authors through Locus, and after years of reading about events and seeing the photos, it was a minor “whoa!” moment to have my own picture appear in a gallery from the 1999 Nebula Awards.

I’d started reading Locus in the early ’90s, but after about a decade I let my subscription lapse. It was an expensive subscription for me at the time, I had a lot less free time, and I’d set aside “for the time being” writing fiction. (Something which has slowly started to inch forward again, but that’s a story for another day, since there’s not much to show for it right now.) And I will freely admit that as someone who as A Lot Of Stuff, I’ve been a big fan of having less clutter come in if it’s something that I’m not going to read promptly.

Imagine my pleasant surprise today to discover that Weightless Books is now offering electronic editions of Locus now, along with subscriptions. I just went and bought the first issue, and had it instantly sent to the Kindle app on my iPad. And so far? It feels like finding an old friend and discovering that aside from some slightly grayer (or perhaps less) hair, they’re exactly the same. We’ll see once I’ve read some more of the issue if the rest of it still holds up, but for now, I’m delighted. (Although I fear that this is just going to get me to buy more books that I will not get around to reading. At least now they just take up disk space instead of bookshelves.)

Technology, sometimes, is pretty darn fantastic. Welcome back, Locus.

Eat, Learn, Move

Every now and then, videos on the internet go viral and suddenly everyone’s posting them. I usually try not to do so, not because I don’t like the video or because I think I’m too cool, but usually because I’m too late on the bandwagon and because it’s a matter of simply liking rather than loving.

Well, I don’t like these three (one minute) videos, I love them. Maybe it’s because I like to read travel books and guides, to see different parts of the world I might never see, to get to explore different locations. Even if, so often, it’s just through the eyes of someone else.

Now, to be fair, the ideas behind these three videos are ones that we’ve seen before. But there’s a combination of the joy and the technical excellence on display here that makes these stand out. (Especially “MOVE,” my favorite of the three.) Definitely check these out; Rick Mereki did a great job with them.

EAT from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

LEARN from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

Crisp Web Design

At my job I see a lot of web design—both our own and others. And maybe it’s just me, but more and more as of late I’ve been seeing what I’m starting to think of as “cramped” web pages. You know, where you shove everything and the kitchen sink onto a page.

So with that in mind, kudos to Modern Tonic for having a really nice, simple, and open web page. They send out a free email each weekday featuring entertainment reviews, with the archives available on their website. And honestly? I just signed up for their email based entirely on their design asthetic.

(I’m sure this is connected in some part to the dichotomy I’ve learned to recognize in myself as of late; I read descriptions of tiny homes in Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood and wish for that life to be my own, but struggle to get rid of my gazillions of possessions. Is it the attraction of what I’m not?)