Make it easier for me, Amazon!

Went to buy something at Amazon tonight, and decided they really need to let us add a nickname or notes to our payment methods. I’d like to call my payment methods “Golf card” and “Regular card” and “White card,” but instead all I get to distinguish my credit cards are the last four numbers, which mean virtually nothing to me, but it mean a whole lot to my banks, and to my likelihood of having enough funds to buy what I wanted to buy tonight. Instead, I have to laboriously haul out the wallet. Make it easier for me, Amazon!

Found a list of my favorite books

So, when I restarted this blog, a while back, I posted an entry about who I was, and for that entry I came up with a list of my favorite books. Only two of them made it into the entry, and I just came across the full list while cleaning off my desk. So here, for the edification of the Internets, is a list of my favorite books.

  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Still a delightful book, still puts me in stitches, still compels me to read it out loud to anyone who doesn’t get away fast enough.
  • Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. Bittersweet, but compellingly lovely. It’s like the best you could hope for out of a real life laced with tragedy and beauty.
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams. Very human rabbits struggling with life and death decisions. It is one of very few books I re-read every so often.
  • Juno & Juliet by Julian Gough. I fell in love with these girls, I think.
  • The Double Helix by James Watson. Sure, Watson is an ass, and Rosalind got screwed, it’s true, but this account of science being done fascinated me when I was a teenager, and started me down the wrong road to a life in science (a mistake that was corrected by my advisor in college).
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I reviewed this book for my high school AP English class (the year’s theme was “Hell”) and loved it. I understand it might be his most accessible work, but there’s no shame in that, right? Don’t forget the Cliffs Notes.
  • A Zoo in My Luggage by Gerald Durrell. This book, and several of the other books Durrell wrote about his life as a naturalist, were pivotal in my interest in animals. You note my comment about a career in science above, well these books are what made me focus on animal behavior as that scientific pursuit. Alas. But still delightful books.
  • City of Baraboo by Barry Longyear. Ostensibly a sci-fi book about a circus in space, this is a delightful, well-researched book about how a circus operates, full of nostalgia and wonder. The format is a little weird, kind of like a bunch of short stories, and I gather there are two more books in the “series,” but this is the only one I have read.
  • Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory. This is the source materiel for all the stories you know better, like T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, and Mary Stewart’s books. It can be a bit plodding, but the stories are all there, including my favorite, the story of Arthur’s death and the return of Excalibur to the lake. You’ll want Volume 2, as well.
  • Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. You’ll have heard of the Disney movie, The Black Cauldron, but these books are so much more. Based in Welsh mythology (hence the similarities to Tolkien), these are pre-teen, or teen fantasy novels about a boy’s rise on the strength of prophecy to save the world. These were the first (and still only) books that could reliably make me cry. Five books, all well worth it.

24 hours is not enough to watch a digital movie rental

Okay, I touched on this in my Macworld coverage, but it deserves its own post.

We have a TiVo Series 3 that connects to the Internet. I can see us owning an Apple TV at some point in the future. We are members of Netflix. All three of these allow for some form of digital movie rentals. The TiVo uses Amazon’s Unbox service. Apple TV uses iTunes. And Netflix uses… well, you can only watch their movies on a PC, so screw ’em.

The other two have a pretty consistent policy. Order a rental and you have thirty days to start watching it before it is erased. Once you start to watch it, you have 24 hours to finish it, watch it again, etc., before it is erased. And therein lies the problem.

My wife and I love the idea of digital rentals. No movie store, little delay, prices are okay (if a little expensive). But we can only watch movies at night, after the boys are in bed. That means we start about 8:30 pm or so. And we have small boys. Small boys who wear us out. It is not impossible that we might be too tired to finish watching our movie. If we fail to finish our movie, we must finish it before 8:30 the next night, or we are out of luck. Our 24 hour window will be closed.

That doesn’t work for us. I’m surprised that it would work for anyone with a regular job, kids, or a life. Which doesn’t say much about the executives at TiVo or Apple (you hearin’ me, Steve?). 24 hours does not work. It is a number made up in a boardroom.

The solution is simple. Make the watching window 36 hours. No big deal. I’d even accept 30 hours. Hell, I would gratefully take 26 hours. But please make it more then 24. Thank you.