New mission in lifeThu, 29th Mar '12, 2:50 pm::
I have a new mission in life - spread the word about KType to the whole world. One would think that being technical, I would use some sort of affiliate-marketing search-engine funnel-optimizing analytics-dashboard to let everyone know how useful and accessible KType is but after much consideration, I have taken the old over-exuberant-salesman route - I'm making phone calls! Instead of getting better search-engine placements to directly attract end-users, I want doctors, speech-therapists, and non-profit organizations to recommend KType to users who might benefit from it.
One of the best ways for me to do that is to contact the Assistive Technology Device Loan Programs for all the US States and offer them fully-functional copies of KType at no cost. Users with speech/motor disabilities can borrow iPads preloaded with KType from their state organizations and try the app out for up to 30 days. I'm also offering to train (over the phone at present) any potential users and their caretakers at no charge. Since most organizations already have funds preallocated for iPads, there is no additional cost to them to offer KType.
It is a very time-consuming process but I think it will ensure long-term growth of KType. While I would like to take out magazine ads and rent trade-show booths someday, for now I just want to find potential users and work with them to improve the app. I know it worked for my cousin Keval (the K in KType) but I don't certifiably know if it works for individuals with stroke, cerebral palsy, or ALS.
If you would like to help, suggest Assistive Technology organizations, speech-therapists, and medical caregivers that I can directly contact. Or better yet, ask them to check out the KType Demo.
Amazon.com - A Programmer's RantFri, 16th Mar '12, 4:07 pm::
Amazon.com, we need to talk. I love your service. I happily pay $79/year for Amazon Prime to get free shipping and on-demand video rentals. I buy something from you every week and spend thousands each year on Prime Eligible products. I even used your EC2 AWS service when I had to crunch through a lot of data during my research for KType. So it hurts me to tell you that you have the worst product sort and filter interface that I have ever used. Not because you do not have enough features or the interface is confusing or bland, but because you do it wrong. Here's what's wrong with a typical search on Amazon.com:
1) Incorrect sort order: I searched for 'cat food', filtered for only Prime-Eligible items, and sorted it by Price: High to Low as you can see in the first screenshot. I don't think $34.89 > $38.99 > $39.74. I understand that behind-the-scene, you are trying to calculate the lowest price offered either by you or a 3rd-party vendor and applying lots of complex calculations based on item characteristics, bulk quantity, and other parameters to make sure each item price is calculated correctly but that is not what I asked for. I said Prime-Eligible for a reason - I want to buy directly from you and I don't want to pay for shipping. Most of your 3rd-party vendors charge slightly lower than you but charge a lot for shipping. You need to ignore their prices when I choose "filter for prime-eligible, sort by price"
2) Broken filters: Why is the second item in the first screenshot even shown? At first glance, it doesn't have a price, it is not prime eligible, and it doesn't even seem to be sold directly by you. When I dug in, I found out that Amazon.com does sell this item directly, with free shipping for $42.84. If that is the case, then it should have said Prime-Eligible and shown up higher up in the sort order. Look at the second screenshot. I searched for new, Prime-Eligible 'tv remote' under $25. Why is the first item you show me priced at $69.95? What about the second and third item that are missing prices?
3) Unavailable sort: Why do I have to "Choose a Department to enable sorting"? Why do I have to decide if "disposable nitrile gloves" are categorized under "Health & Personal Care", "Home & Kitchen", "Automotive", "Industrial & Scientific", or "Patio, Lawn & Garden" by you or other 3rd-party vendors before I can sort by price or customer review? Especially since the same products show up in most of the departments. If external sites can do this using your API, why can't you?
It's 2012. Sorting and filtering at the most basic database operations. You created A9.com - a product search engine. You enable programmers around the world to use your servers at low-prices so they can build complex websites backed by your RDS and SimpleDB database services. You have some of the smartest developers around the world working for you. And yet I get frustrated every time I try to find something on your site. I can't be the only person who has a problem with the aforementioned issues. Can you please fix them so my cats don't go hungry? Think of the kittens!
Today was our first real "normal" day at the new house where Juliet and I didn't unpack any boxes or run any house-related errands. After over four months of incessant negotiations with sellers, lenders, contractors, and vendors, I can finally get back to my regular routine. I had put many projects on hold since October and I'm really looking forward to start working on them again. Here's hoping for a productive summer!