Saturday, February 27, 2010

This blog is about to die, at least for now

Blogger has decided to discontinue supporting FTP blogs hosted on custom domains and Haloscan is closing down their commenting service. So the technology that enables me to post to this blog is dying. Given how infrequently I post, I'm going to let it die a quiet death for now. You can still find me online on Flickr, Facebook, and own my own sites (not that I post new content to those much). If I ever get a wild hair to migrate my blog to WordPress I'll post about it here (and likely continue to use the same URL). Thanks to those who read. Sorry I turned into a Facebooker. It's really the devil and we will all look back at it and laugh soon.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Take it

Wow, my blog has sure gotten...empty.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bye bye monthly TV bill?

We've been using Hulu and Amazon Video On Demand on our Mac Mini hooked up to the plasma TV so much that we haven't turned on the TiVo more than once or twice in the last couple of months. I think it's time to turn off the satellite dish. If only worked worth a damn...

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Sunday, January 11, 2009


My blog is languishing while my Facebook page flourishes (that may be a generous description). I think it's a combination of convenience (the iPhone app), low barrier to entry (one line status updates), newness (to me), and the likelihood of getting feedback/interactions with others. Darn that silly Facebook!

Posted by ShoZu


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Death by social networking

After avoiding it for years, I finally joined Facebook this weekend.
The horror. It's all Natalie's fault. ;-)


Sunday, December 21, 2008

iPhone camera photos--A Tip

You would think I would have figured this out before now, but I didn't. Apparently when I email photos from my iPhone--which is how I upload them to Flickr most of the time--the photos are downsized to 800x600. The original size of the photos is 1600x1200. This shouldn't be a huge problem, but it was compounded by several factors.
  1. I took a photo with my iPhone that I'd now like to print bigger than 4x6".
  2. The camera roll on my iPhone had gotten so full that I started deleting photos off the iPhone.
  3. Though I'd been downloading photos to my PC using Adobe Lightroom on a semi-regular basis, something went horribly wrong and they're nowhere to be found on my PC. I've now successfully downloaded all of the photos still on my iPhone at their full resolution to my computer, but the one I really want is gone.

I haven't yet figured out a) how to force the iPhone to email photos at full resolution (or an iPhone app that does this) or b) why Lightroom failed to save the photos it'd been telling me were successfully imported all this time. Also, it turns out that you can theoretically delete multiple/all photos from the iPhone through Windows (something you can't do directly on the iPhone) but conveniently a bug was introduced in the latest (2.2) firmware update that caused the iPhone to crash in a big way (several minutes to reboot) when you attempt this now. Awesome.

So just be aware of this problem


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mossberg on My Work

Last week I mentioned that we launched Amazon Video On Demand (a project I've been working on). Today Walt Mossberg reviewed Amazon Video On Demand in The Wall Street Journal's Personal Technology section. His review was largely favorable, and the things he didn't like weren't under my control. He had a few complimentary things to say about my UI. :)

"The user interface is clean and smart, the quality is good if you have a fast Internet connection, and there are some clever features....

Amazon's user interface for the new service is very nice. All of your purchased videos are available in a library stored on the company's servers, so you can easily watch them again and again if they are purchased, or resume a partly watched rental. And the service remembers where you stopped watching a video and resumes it at that point, even if you started it on, say, a Dell, and resumed it on a Mac."

Read the full article (or watch the video): New Amazon Service Streams TV Shows And Films to PCs.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

A big project launches

Amazon Video On Demand - Watch Now - Commercial-free - Mac or PC

A project I've been working on for some time now launched this week. It's the re-branding and change of direction of Amazon Unbox, now called Amazon Video On Demand. Rather than just offering digital video downloads to Windows PCs and TiVo DVRs, we now also offer instant streaming in the web browser on PC and Mac (or really any device with the latest and greatest version of Adobe Flash).

It's a pretty exciting change in direction and I'm really glad to have this initial version launched (especially before I go on maternity leave). You can check it out yourself or read about it in the press. The first 2 minutes of most videos are free, but there are also some free TV shows right now you can check out for a more extended freeview--they're featured on the home page linked above. :)

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Giving (Technology) Birth

'Watch now - BETA' with image of laptop playing movie 'Semi-Pro' A project I've been working on for a number of months is going to public beta as we speak and The New York Times wrote an article about it: Amazon Plans Online Store for Films and TV Shows.

"In a significant step toward vanquishing the local video store and keeping couch potatoes planted firmly in front of their televisions and computers, will roll out a new online store of TV shows and movies on Thursday, called Amazon Video on Demand.

Customers of Amazon’s new store will be able to start watching any of 40,000 movies and television programs immediately after ordering them because they stream, just like programs like a cable video-on-demand service. That is different from most Internet video stores, like Apple’s iTunes and the original incarnation of Amazon’s video store, which require users to endure lengthy waits as video files are downloaded to their hard drives."

You can join the beta if you're interested in trying it out, though sign ups are limited so do it now if you want to try it out. If it's full, try back later.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Amazon Accelerates Its Move to Digital

For those who're interested, this is a pretty good summary from this weekend's New York Times on Amazon's digital media enterprises. They don't know our future secrets, but it's a good state of the union article. :)

Read the article: Amazon Accelerates Its Move to Digital


Thursday, March 27, 2008

A friend represents women in technology

My friend Connie Missimer was featured on Microsoft's women's history month page last week and I didn't blog it in time. However, you can still get to the page about her: Connie Missimer, User Experience Researcher. It's a nice profile.

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Flash Is Coming to the iPhone After All... (Maybe)

For those who care about iPhone, you may be interested to know that Steve Jobs' ploy seems to be working. Adobe Flash Is Coming to the iPhone After All... Maybe


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Flash Not Good Enough for Steve Jobs

Picture of iPhone with Flash icon crossed out Apparently Steve Jobs thinks that torturing iPhone users is a good way to apply pressure to Adobe to make them create a faster, full-featured version of Flash for the iPhone. And so we wait. And wait. Read the TechCrunch article


Friday, February 01, 2008

Microsoft Offers $44.6B for Yahoo

Apparently Microsoft is aggressively trying to buy Yahoo! while the latter's finances are slumping. I can't help but wonder what that would mean forpoor Flickr... Microsoft Offers $44.6B for Yahoo


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Best Customer Service E-mail

I read this blog post, which culminates in the "Best Customer Service Email" that the writer says he's ever received, and I have to agree with the author. The story is funny and the response from Amazon Executive Customer Service is witty and fantastic. I checked with the customer service rep involved to confirm the story is true. Enjoy. The Consumerist: Amazon Sends "Best Customer Service E-mail I've Ever Received"

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Amazon Kindle

Cover of Newsweek featuring Jeff Bezos with an Amazon KindleThe Digital Media group at Amazon, of which I am part, just launched a cool new product today. It's called Amazon Kindle and it's an e-Book reader with wireless (cell tower) connectivity to download books. It uses "electronic ink" to redraw the page each time you "turn the page" and it has no back light, so it's more like reading on paper than a normal screen is and it uses very little battery power. For more info, check out the details about Kindle on the Amazon Kindle product detail page--particularly entertaining are the drop test videos about 80% of the way down the page. I have a Kindle I get to play around with at home. Yippee for being in the right place at the right time. :) Oh, and the digital media team is hiring if you're interested in working on Kindle 2.0, the Amazon MP3 Music, Amazon Unbox, Search Inside the Book, Amazon Mobile, or other cool "digital technology" efforts at Amazon. If you know me well enough to know my email address, then ping me about the openings. ;-)

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

So sad

Photo titled dear universe, make vista work for my mommy and stop f'ing around.  xoxo, gemma dear universe, make vista work for my mommy and stop f'ing around. xoxo, gemma by sesame ellis

This photo's title, and the following comment accompanying it, make me sad for the part I played in Vista.

"Yes, I am a photographer still using a PC *shut up* and I have a new speedy laptop with Vista OS. I have a little suggestion for the folks over at Microsoft...Maybe you could make and release stuff that just, I don't know, works?"
On the up side, I know deep down that what I contributed was actually great, no matter the overall product outcome. Not that Vista is truly bad, it's just got some serious issues.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

New navigation just released a new --and in my opinion dramatically improved--global navigation system. It's actually been up for a while, but was only shown to a percentage of customers. Today it's the official navigation shown to all site visitors. It's not perfect, but I'm a fan. Here's a quick tour of the new nav.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Windows DRM video patch

If you're using Amazon Unbox or any other application that uses Windows DRM for video (including Windows Media Player), then you may want this patch. The key symptom: your application crashes when you try to play a DRM-protected video. Note that it doesn't necessarily happen when you play any video; it could be only specific videos. For me, it was only episodes from Season 11 of South Park (available uncensored on Unbox) that triggered the bug for me. Odd, but this patch fixed it completely. Microsoft Support: When you use an application to play DRM-protected video content in Windows XP, the application may fail


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Harsh, amusing iPhone review

This is an interesting, funny review of the iPhone. It’s long, but the “summary” is a good read. Also note that it hasn’t been updated since July and some of his gripes have been addressed or improved upon in the 1.1.1 update that came out last week (other gripes have actually been worsened—mostly the lack of 3rd party app support).

Gizmodo: No BS iPhone Review


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hack the iPhone?

There's a great video in the New York Times technology section on how to hack the iPhone, or more specifically how to install 3rd party apps on your iPhone. Check it out. Be sure to note the warning at the end (in text) before actually trying it out.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

DRM-free music from Amazon

Today, Amazon's MP3 store has officially launched (though it's considered a beta still). It's all public and working, so give it a go. The catalog isn't comprehensive since not all music studios are on board with DRM-free, but it's a great deal when the music you want is available this way. And the Washington Post thinks it's a better offer than iTunes Plus, the Apple DRM-free store. :-) Washington Post article: Amazon's MP3 Store - Faster Forward


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Working hard

Subscribe to season with 1-Click(r) button In addition to all the swimming, I've been working hard at my new job. Since we launched the Unbox video player 2.0 in July, we've added the ability to pre-order videos and subscribe to TV seasons in progress. Unbox was also big in the news recently because NBC announced it will no longer sell its shows on iTunes, but will sell them through Amazon Unbox. To prove it, they're offering free premieres of 4 new shows (including Bionic Woman) two weeks prior to when their air on TV for the first time. We're all pretty jazzed about it. Now I'm at work on another project to make Amazon Unbox better and it launches in October. It's great to be delivering features to customers on such a regular basis. :-)

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Brave new world

I just bought something online from my iPhone for the first time. I
did it mostly in the car while waiting for the Montlake bridge to go
down. ;-)

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Unbox video player 2.0 launched

I failed to blog about this sooner--the final 2.0 version of the Amazon Unbox video player has released and is available online. You can download the software free anytime, but you should probably buy or rent a video from the Unbox store first so you have something to watch. You can also watch Unbox videos on your TiVo if it's a Series 2 or 3 Tivo (not a DirecTV Tivo like mine). As an extra enticement to try it out, selected video rentals are on sale for 99 cents on the weekend (Friday-Sunday). The rental period is 30 days from purchase. Once you start watching the video, you have 24 hours to complete it. And sorry Richard--Unbox is currently only available in the US due to licensing restrictions. If you're curious what I've watched via Unbox so far, check out my items tagged Unbox on All Consuming. :)

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Unbox Beta Test Program

Amazon Unbox logo If you're interested, you can now join in the public beta for the 2.0 version of the Amazon Unbox video player for Windows. Since I only started at Amazon a month ago, I didn't contribute much to this release, but my team would still welcome your feedback on the beta. Unbox Video: Unbox Beta Test Program

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Redlines to the rescue

Screenshots of MySpaceTV and YouTube with red lines outlining similarities This strikes me as a great example of the power of visuals to get a point across in milliseconds. Article: MySpaceTV vs YouTube: 12 Things MySpace Copied

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Be a good little guinea pig

Photo titled Guinea Pig Guinea Pig by Futuregirl

Here's another place to sign up to participate in usability Usability Sign-Up. This is in addition to the ones I've blogged before, such as Adobe, Microsoft, and Fieldworks (market research).

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Great presentations

There is a World's Best Presentation Contest on a beta site called I particularly like this presentation called Shift Happens. I think the facts are presentated in a really startling and compelling way. I think the first 25 slides about education and globalization are the most effective and maintain the most cohesive theme. After that it shifts gears to a broader Internet and information growth theme, some of which is interesting, but it feels a bit more like hype. Thumbnail of ShiftHappens presentation I was dubious of the facts and wished for sources, which I later found. If you're interested in the history and future of this presentation and thoughts from the author of the original presentation, check out the post Two Million Served on The Fisch Bowl. It was originally an internal presentation given to the staff at Arapahoe High School in Colorado.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Updated RSS URL

RSS icon Not that RSS readers will see this, but I've updated my RSS feed URL due to some problems with the Feed Burner feed not showing up in IE 7 and not being updated with my most recent posts. The new URL is and it should appear correctly in IE 7 and in the blog feed link in the right sidebar of this site.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Dad-in-law's birthday

Photo titled Zane with Daddy Zane with Daddy by Corinne S.

Today was my father-in-law's birthday and we celebrated by having brunch at my sister-in-law's house. I took a lot of photos today since the kids and I were having fun with it.

I've been playing around with the beta of Photoshop CS3 and Bridge CS3 with the Camera Raw beta. Overall, it's an improved experience and I'm really enjoying it. I have a few nitpicks, but nothing major. I guess the biggest thing is that they still don't have any presets for multi-mon. I'll have more photos from today later, but you can more photos from today on Flickr.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Night night iPod?

iPod animation that reads 'Please wait. Battery Very Low.' Last night at bedtime I ran my iPod battery out. Not too unusual. Today when I connected it to my PC, I saw this animation, and later the Apple logo. That was it. An hour later, still none of the normal UI. I tried resetting, same. I tried another USB port. Same. I tried another PC. Same. Reset. Reset. Same. Follow online support instructions. Same. I went by the Apple Genius Bar in University Village after work. The Genius got my iPod to work by plugging it into the wall (that's an extra $30 accessory to you), resetting it, and waiting a good while. He asked if I knew that there are more than 17,000 tracks on my iPod. My response: "But it's not full yet, right?" The outcome: Watch and wait, or consider restoring (read: reformatting) your iPod. The good news: I thought ahead and bought the extended warranty on this specific purchase because I knew this would happen someday.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Is anyone out there?

A funny bit of info appeared in the New York Times' political blog.
Mr. Schmidt [chief executive officer of Google] said that by by Google's calculation, a new blog is being created every second of every day. He said that Google now estimates that the average blog is read by one person. One person. Hello? Is anyone out there? Mom?


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A collective sigh is heard from designers around the world

There is a lot of Apple envy today among user interface designers, and others, around the world. Steve Jobs announced the release of Apple's new iPhone in his keynote this morning at Macworld San Francisco 2007. I'm not rushing out to buy one, but the demo videos on Apple's website are pretty stunning.

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