eBay’s woes

I found this great article about eBay’s problems on the New York Times website (although it was unfortunately centered around the hypothesis that Amazon should buy eBay), along with this follow-up on Wired.

From the Wired article:

From where we’re sitting, it looks pretty chaotic. eBay’s CEO is out playing politics; one of the highest-ranking executives is publicly trashing the business; and customers are apparently planning a revolt. There are roughly 248 million registered users on eBay — and while not all of them are going to be happy, the company’s listings fell 3 percent during the first nine months of 2007, which indicates that a huge chunk of its customer base is taking its business elsewhere.

I personally have come to hate eBay. After:

  • 2 of my 3 attempts to sell an old laptop were foiled (the first time, a Nigerian scammer won my auction; the second time, a Nigerian scammer hacked into the winning bidder’s account and then won my auction)…
  • Spending 3 months trying to repeal the fees eBay charged me for these 3 listings…
  • And spending many hours trying to just look around their clunky, confusing website to find even slightly relevant information…

I have all but given up on using them. Too bad there are no really valid competitors to put real pressure on eBay.

Santa Bot

This from Marc Andreesen‘s blog:

“Microsoft recently brought into the world an online “Santa bot” —
an interactive chat program for kids. The idea was that you would add
“northpole@live.com” to your kid’s MSN Messenger and your kid could
talk to Santa Clause online. Sounds like fun.

Thanks to The Register, let’s roll the chat room transcript:

User says: Pizza
Santa says: Yum! What do you want for Christmas, User?
User says: Maybe you shouldn’t eat so much! You are quite large!
Santa says: My elves will get right on that. And what else are you wishing for this year, User?
User says: Maybe you shouldn’t eat it?
Santa says: See if you can get someone else to eat it!
User says: Eat it
Santa says: No thank you. I don’t eat things!
User says: Eat it
Santa says: See if you can get someone else to eat it!
User says: Eat it
Santa says: You want me to eat what?!? It’s fun to talk about oral sex, but I want to chat about something else…

I think I need to go take a shower.

Sadly, right after The Register broke the story, Microsoft killed Santa bot.”

CompUSA closing down

This one is close to my heart.

The consumer electronics chain CompUSA will be a thing of the past by next year, as the chain announced over the weekend that it will close its remaining 100 stores once the holiday season is over. According to Reuters, the restructuring firm Gordon Brothers Group will purchase the company’s stores and resell its remaining assets.

Expect some big holiday sales, for those of you who still live near a CompUSA.
More from the story:

With the closure, customers will likely be looking at some bargains at the holidays.

Founded in the mid-1980s, CompUSA has been controlled for most of its existence by the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. The company closed about half of its stores in March in a restructuring, and was reported last week to be considering selling some of its stores to rival Circuit City.

In high school, many years ago, I used to work at CompUSA. I stocked shelves for about two weeks, then sold computers for about 8 months (and only on the weekends during the school year). I made good money there as a high schooler, as they paid 1.5x minimum wage, plus gave incentives for selling service plans on computers. I probably netted $10-13/hour all in. Plus I won a Playstation 1. Not bad for a part time job where I got some great discounts.

Context-sensitive hyperlinks on anything

Reshma had open a NYTimes.com article about the Ironman Triathlon when I opened the laptop today. Accidentally, I double clicked on the word “surgeon” that appeared in the article. The site popped up a new window with the definition of the word that I had double clicked on! The new page had only the definition, but I see the possibility of including articles related to that keyword, or even cross-promotional opportunities.

Effectively, every word in the article is now a subtle link. Now THAT’s context-sensitive hyperlinking!

Welcome Back Futurama

One of my favorite shows on TV is Futurama. It’s a brilliant cartoon (a la Simpsons) set in the year 3000. I just learned that a new season of Futurama is being released direct to DVD. One of my favorite quotes related to what the show is like, from the co-creator and co-producer David X. Cohen:

On The Jetsons, there’s a machine that ties your tie for you,” Cohen says. “On Futurama, there’d be a machine that tied your tie, but it would malfunction and start strangling you.

According to the article, “the first DVD hits stores on November 27, and the features will then be divided into half-hour episodes when the entire run of the series begins airing on Comedy Central next year.” Good news everyone!