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.