Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Software

Amazon Hacks For Fun and Money 249

Posted by simoniker
from the sadly-no-hacking-of-prices dept.
An anonymous reader writes "There's a new BusinessWeek article looking at some of the cool hacks coming out of Amazon's open API and XML feed policy. Some nifty stuff - 27,000 developers have apparently signed up to build hacks on Amazon data. It seems '..most are only part-timers and hobbyists, but a growing number are serious programmers who seek to make a living selling products based on the data Amazon is offering on a silver platter.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Amazon Hacks For Fun and Money

Comments Filter:
  • by dafoomie (521507) <`dafoomie' `at' `hotmail.com'> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:37PM (#6299979) Homepage
    How long until Amazon patents "software to provide price comparison on cell phones and other portable devices". Surprised they haven't put out a patent already.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      They have already applied for the patent, but it won't be granted until 2012! Mike
    • Re:How long until... (Score:5, Informative)

      by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:48PM (#6300040)

      I suspect it's already been done. A quick USPTO search on "software and price and comparison and internet" yields over 1000 results.

      Side note: How can a patent with over 20 references be considered new and innovative? Seriously, that's not genius or inspiration, it's adding 1+1. Looking through the software patents, it's a joke that most of them got granted - the Cheif Patent Officer must be Obvious Guy.

      • by saden1 (581102) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:31AM (#6300215)
        What is really even more sad is how incompetent the people at the USPTO are. There lot of competent software engineers out of work out there who should be hired by the buffoons that run the place. Maybe then will shit like one-click get rejected at the first glance.
        • Re:How long until... (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Togra (147102)
          The USPTO must get a huge number of patent applications, both in software and all other fields. You can't really expect them to hire experts to analyse every request for "obviousness", search for prior art, and basically judge each application.

          Even if they were to do that, do you think corporations would just go "oh, okay, you think it's not innovative, fair enough". They'd sue, claiming the analyst was biased, incompetent, or just plain wrong. I'm sure Amazon could easily find a few "experts" to claim one
          • If I am not mistaken even O'Riely<sp> said that the more he looked into it the more he felt it was innovative.

            But also the more he felt that allowing a patent on software was a bad idea.

            I read it on slashdot (an interview maybe) so it must be true.
          • by Captain Large Face (559804) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @05:48AM (#6300993) Homepage

            What is wrong with investigating a patent fully? If it isn't the job of the patent office, then under whose jurisdiction does it fall?

            You note that a patent can be challenged in court, and the fact that this process exists is a good thing, however, you also point out that this would "be very hard for small fish to do against [...] big powerhouse corporations", which flies against the spirit of fairness! Since the legal process is so obviously flawed in civil cases of this nature, the responsibility must pass to the institution that grants these patents in the first place, i.e. the USPTO. You correctly point out that it is not the fault of the patenting process, but that of the legal system. Should one just accept that though? Should the patent system be modified to address this shortcoming?

            Naturally, it would be unfair for the US tax-payer to front the charges for the profits of private enterprise, so what should be done? Forcing a charge on a per-patent basis would only harm the spirit of invention for individuals, which would be an awful tragedy.

            I get frustrated when witnessing large businesses patent "obvious" and otherwise-harmful ideas whilst those inventors with true commercial and innovative spirit are exploited for the simple reason that they lack the power to defend themselves.

            Time to dismount for the high-horse, me thinks. Sorry.. :)

          • You can't really expect them to hire experts to analyse every request for "obviousness", search for prior art, and basically judge each application.

            Why not? That's their feckin' job! Otherwise, they are just a bunch of rubber-stamping monkeys.

            Even if they were to do that, do you think corporations would just go "oh, okay, you think it's not innovative, fair enough". They'd sue, claiming the analyst was biased, incompetent, or just plain wrong. I'm sure Amazon could easily find a few "experts" to claim
            • Re:How long until... (Score:3, Informative)

              by Togra (147102)
              They get over 300,000 patent applications a year, so it'd require a hell of a lot of experts to properly analyse each one. The USPTO site claims they have 6000 employees, half of which are examiners.

              Can you, in lets say a day, read and understand any given patent (in your field of expertise) and all of its references, search for prior art (which you can prove was created before the application date and is significantly in common with the patent idea to classify as prior art), and prove to a quality accepta
        • There must be at least 1 out of work /. reader who can fill this position in Arlington, VA.

          http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ahrpa/ohr/jo bs /jobs.htm

          USPTO Job #: 03-050
          Closing Date: 12/31/03
          Description: Patent Examiner (Computer Engrg, Elec Engrg, Computer Science)
          Salary: $32,819 - $70,959

          Hoping to tip the scales in our favor.

      • by mcmonkey (96054) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @01:56AM (#6300451) Homepage
        Because one has nothing to with the other. The number of references or the existence of prior art does not speak to the degree innovation or novelty. Any article in any modern scientific journal can easily have 20 or more references. Heck, a letter to the editor might have a dozen.

        Itâ(TM)s called acknowledging your sources. Letâ(TM)s say I come up with some new, innovative way to clone mammals that is 100% successful. Letâ(TM)s say I want to patent my new, innovative process. Letâ(TM)s say the first step of my process involves cleaning and sterilizing the apparatus is a way that has been documented previously. Rather than 1) restating a procedure that has already been documented, and 2) taking credit for someone elseâ(TM)s work, I would reference the original publication of the sterilization procedure. In the jargon of patents, that is prior art. And it in no way affects the patent-worthiness of my innovation.

        If someone devised a method of delivering food over the internet with TCP/IP, I bet that would be a good candidate for a patent. There doesnâ(TM)t seem to be any obvious way to transport physical food by TCP/IP. But part of the patent application would have to reference the prior existence of TCP/IP. Itâ(TM)s called prior art. Its existence does not automatically invalidate the patent.

        Seriously dude, everything you read on /. about patents and intellectual property is wrong. Including this post.
        • heh food over tcp.. hey scotty webfax me a boloney sandwich:)
        • In any event, a lot of patents *do* reference other patents.

          What most people (read "dogmatic patent bashers") don't realise is that many companies regularly trade patent licenses. They often develop patents so as to trade with each other. This can lead to some ugly scenarios, such as building a barrier whereby Company A requires 10 innovations, but Company B has control of one of them.

          So it can be still be ugly, but can also encourage an idea market. The moral is don't fall for the misconception that pate
      • Side note: How can a patent with over 20 references be considered new and innovative? Seriously, that's not genius or inspiration, it's adding 1+1. Looking through the software patents, it's a joke that most of them got granted - the Cheif Patent Officer must be Obvious Guy.

        Sorry, but your post is in clear violation of my adding two numbers together patent.
    • Why doesn't some OSS body patent Two-Click purchaces? Really, no one wants a One-Click process. They want "Buy, Confirm" process.
  • by jefflinwood (20955) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:37PM (#6299982) Homepage
    O'Reilly is publishing a book on these Amazon Hacks in August, to go with Mac OS X Hacks, Linux Server Hacks, Google Hacks, and Tivo Hacks (upcoming).
    It's mentioned in the article, but this is slashdot....

    Amazon Hacks [oreilly.com]

  • I wonder (Score:5, Funny)

    by chunkwhite86 (593696) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:43PM (#6300003)
    I wonder if they include their highly advanced "one-click" technology in with this? It would truly be a gift to experience a technical achievement of this magnitude.

    I mean, who would have thunk it? "one-click"! This certainly is the pinnacle of innovation and ingenuity. Sure is a good thing they patented this... otherwise who knows what might happen if such power was available to mere mortals? Inconcievable!

    • Re:I wonder (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:47PM (#6300028)
      Sure is a good thing they patented this... otherwise who knows what might happen if such power was available to mere mortals? Inconcievable!


      I do not think this word means what you think it means.

    • Hmm hasn't anyone patented a zero-click buying technology yet? It should be pretty simple using JavaScript's onmouseover event, and if you're afraid someone might accidentally trigger it because their cursor accidentally flew over the hotspot, JS also has a timer/wait event.

      Imagine that, no clicking required. "Move your cursor over this surface to purchase this item". Someone patent this before Jeff Bezos does.
  • Imagine mcdonald wanting to be a better franchise and hired annoying teenagers to cause problems in and outside the restaurant to see how they can improve.

    Give amazon some credit, cause few businesses nowadays besides financial institutions would go the distance to improve themselves.

    Now... if they can get rid of that Jeff Be...
    • by alptraum (239135) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:02AM (#6300102)
      Give amazon some credit, cause few businesses nowadays besides financial institutions would go the distance to improve themselves.


      Utter BS. More so than ever companies are realizing that continuous improvement is neccesary to remain competitive. Do a google on "six sigma", an process improvement methodology which started out at Motorola after a Arizona State Univ. PhD came up with the program and has balooned in the number of companies that use the six sigma methodology. For many Deming, Juran and Taguchi, the classic gurus of quality, are praised as gods. Or check out www.asq.org (American Socity of Quality) Engineers are just starting to realize the power of Experimental Design (DoE) and statistics, which current computer technology now allows even those with just basic statistical backgrounds to perform advanced statistical tests and interpret the results easily. The list goes on. Improvement is the norm, not the exception in countries such as Japan, which were in a full on quality revolution in the 60's-70's with the help of Deming, leaving America aghast and having American companies beg for his help after turning him away in the 50's and 60's. Only fairly recently has America started to catch on to quality.
      • Soooo....

        All of that crap? maybe you said? Might be true.

        I'm just going to go over here, for a while, and stand next to these tires and explosiives.

        What, you like puppies now?
    • Note to parent and all those that modded this up:

      RTFA!

      The analogy makes no sense at all. In fact I'm at a loss as to how any analogy involving Macca's and annoying teenagers would work in this situation.
    • The post makes no sense, the poster obviously didn't even read the article. Whoever modded it up didn't read the article either.

      ~Berj
    • We were going in the right direction .... down to 4 .... then some tool brought it back up to 5. And all this time superpulpsicle still thinks he's insightful.

      Where is -5 Didn't RTFM when you need it!
    • Imagine mcdonald wanting to be a better franchise and hired annoying teenagers to cause problems in and outside the restaurant to see how they can improve.
      cut the improvement part and you'll see:
      it already happens!

      can't remember when the last time was, a mcdonalds employee got my order right the first time...
  • amazon's strategy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tancred (3904) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:45PM (#6300011)
    They've known for the last couple years at least (at least since that's how long I've known insiders) that selling their own merchandise would be a small part of their long term strategy. It did get them the infrastructure, though. After that came the hosting of other large e-commerce sites. Now they're recruiting an army of channel sales / resellers. Very smart people over there. Wish they'd stop patenting business processes though.
  • Is it genius? (Score:2, Interesting)

    ...or were they just too stupid to do this earlier?

    Basically they are letting independent developers come up with new ways to sell their stuff, without Amazon having to pay those developers.

    Why weren't they doing this already?
    • Re:Is it genius? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The Only Druid (587299) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:52PM (#6300050)
      Part, I think, of the reason they weren't doing this before is the question of "name recognition" and their desire to build a brand.

      By first establishing themselves as a complete "product", i.e. "Amazon", people will now recognize these portal'd Amazon links as something new but still part of the Amazon-whole.

      If they had simply introduced this ability from the beginning, they risked other companies somehow taking advantage of it to make it appear as if the "store" was the secondary-site, as opposed to Amazon itself.
    • by yintercept (517362) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:37AM (#6300232) Homepage Journal
      They've been doing this from the start with an open associate program. People have been able to link to Amazon.com books and get a commission since the 90s.

      The idea of product datafeeds isn't really that new either. You will find the hotel industry allowing datafeeds and other low level integration.

      Amazon is giving better quality lower level access to data than many others. But are not as many leagues ahead as the Business Week article seems to indicate.

      I guess I should mention the annoying thing. The people playing this amazon datafeed game are creating millions upon millions of web pages with different terms optimized for the search engines. The general result is a marked increase in the number of webpages to index, and a decrease in the quality of search engine results.
  • Uses... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by idontneedanickname (570477) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:45PM (#6300018)
    I can think many useful things can come out of this. For exaple, a product which let you access/search the vast amounts of information they have on each of their products could be quite useful. (Although this could be constructed as a simple (well, sort of) script that retrieves certain parts of the pages Amazon has on each product.) Now, let's hope no disputes arise between Amazon and the people who want to use their information. This could range anywhere from people not giving credit to Amazon for the information, or claiming as their own, to disputes about money that's made selling products to access this information in the certain way. This could be viewed by some as selling the information. (Don't you think Amazon will want in on large amounts of money that's made from their own data?)
    • Don't you think Amazon will want in on large amounts of money that's made from their own data?

      They would be seriously bucking the trend if they didn't. I don't know people can bet their finances on "terms and conditions which may change without notice". What's to stop Amazon from taking someone's idea and implementing it themselves? After they do, why would someone want to use the "other" site when they can stay within the Amazon.com domain?
    • Of course, by supporting the WebServices interface to access the parts of the data you really care about (search, reviews, descriptions), you get that data easier, and Amazon doesn't have to serve up all the other shit on the page as well. And your session doesn't get tagged as a robot and sent off to the humor-the-script-kiddy boxes.

      Amazon looks good for providing this, but it gets rid of the legitimate-use scripted site access killing any trend analysis they do, and reduces the load for parts of the page
    • For exaple, a product which let you access/search the vast amounts of information they have on each of their products could be quite useful.

      Tomorrow's Slashdot headline:
      Amazon Dot Com Patents Google.

      -
  • by Cirrius (304487) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:46PM (#6300023)
    Since it's all being created from/based on their data?

    Ahh the sound of a thousand rushing patents...
  • I think I can do something with this.
    I suppose I'll have to look into this.
    I was not aware of this at all before.
    Thanks folks!
  • RIAA Radar (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Stormie (708) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:48PM (#6300039) Homepage

    RIAA Radar [magnetbox.com] is a site which may be of interest to Slashdotters, which I presume is done using this Amazon API.. check if a CD was release by an RIAA member label before you buy it!


    • I hate the RIAA Radar...it just told me that Wierd Al is on Volcano records...and that's an RIAA label...[sniff]

      Oh well, off to KazaaLite to get the album then.

      If the RIAA wants my money at this point, they'll have to sue me for it.
    • Incidentally, I was surprised to read the fine print the other day, and notice that Enhanced CD [musicfan.com] is an RIAA trademark. So even when I was buying from what I thought was a smaller label or an indie band, the ECD logo on it definitely meant that money went to the RIAA for some certification process. Not that I will stop buying all such CDs, it's just good to be aware of it.

      So as to not go completely offtopic, the Web Services idea is pretty great. I use .NET, and I don't anyone has yet linked to O'Reilly a
  • by jimmyCarter (56088) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:50PM (#6300044) Journal
    I love how the industry first hypes and then later wonders where the surge in web services is.

    They still don't get it. You can't force an industry. It's usually the guys on the ground level making cool things with the technology that drive it's success.

    Becaus of this, the Amazon [amazon.com] and Google [google.com] services are going to be huge in driving the web services industry.
  • I think it is nice that they are trying to improve themselves but I think that they would have profitted more by doing this earlier.
  • by wherley (42799) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:55PM (#6300064)
    Gold-Stores [gold-stores.net] seems to use the XML interface to allow the user to shop seamlessly at Amazon yet use payment mechanisms, such as Moneybookers, e-gold, E-bullion, Pecunix, and EvoCash, that Amazon does not directly accept.

    Neat!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Amazon hacks YOU!
  • Cool hacks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrWa (144753) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @11:56PM (#6300067) Homepage
    Regardless of what you think about Amazon opening up its API and inventory data, this [ipilot.net] is a nifty product. Scan something anywhere and get the Amazon data on it. Now I comparision shop Amazon with BestBuy, Circuit City, or B&N while I am at the store. Wait?! Is this illegal under the DMCA?

    This would be great if they guy hooked it up to Froogle and made it work on a PDA - you could buy anything you saw, anywhere, for the cheapest price you could find on the web, while you were in a real store!

    (runs off to fill out a patent form...)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:20AM (#6300175)
      Regardless of what you think about Amazon opening up its API and inventory data, this is a nifty product. Scan something anywhere and get the Amazon data on it. Now I comparision shop Amazon with BestBuy, Circuit City, or B&N while I am at the store. Wait?! Is this illegal under the DMCA?

      This would be great if they guy hooked it up to Froogle and made it work on a PDA - you could buy anything you saw, anywhere, for the cheapest price you could find on the web, while you were in a real store!

      (runs off to fill out a patent form...)


      * Moderating...

      Let's see:

      - Bashed DMCA... Check (pointlessly, but all the better)

      - Bashed Patents... Check

      - Bashed SCO... FAIL

      - Bashed Microsoft... FAIL

      - Bashed **AA... FAIL

      - Referenced "Good Technology (tm)", eg. Linux/Google/GNU/GPL... Check

      - Referenced Geek Toy... FAIL (Close, but "PDA" is not "Zaurus")

      You had a good post, but it could have looked like this:

      --------------------

      Regardless of what you think about Amzaon opening up it's API and inventory data, this [ipilot.net] is a nifty product. Scan something anywhere and get the Amazon data on it. Now I comparision shop Amazon with BestBuy, Circuit City, or B&N while I am at the store. (Ha! I bet the bigwigs at M$ would LOVE if I comparison shopped Linux vs. XPee, let's not even MENTION SCO!)

      This would be great if they guy hooked it up to Froogle and made it work on a Zaurus - you could buy anything you saw, anywhere, for the cheapest price you could find on the web, while you were in a real store! (I bet the RIAA would object, though, what with their PRICE FIXING WAYS. Bastards.)

      (runs off to fill out a patent form... before Amazon does!)

      Oh, also, I HATE THE DMCA!!!! VIVA LA REVOLUTION!!

      --------------------

      Learn from the master.
    • you could buy anything you saw, anywhere, for the cheapest price you could find on the web, while you were in a real store!

      No, bad. If everybody did this, the real stores would go away. It's self-defeating. You owe the real store something for allowing you to fondle the item you've found in a lighted air-conditioned space. I'm not saying you owe the real store a whole-number multiplier, but you can't expect the service and not expect to pay for it.
  • by mikeophile (647318) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:05AM (#6300111)
    We may modify any of the terms and conditions contained in this Agreement, at any time and in our sole discretion, by posting a change notice or a new agreement on our site. If an modification is unacceptable to you, your only recourse is to terminate this agreement. Your continued use of amazon.com web services or the amazon.com properties following our posting of a change notice or new agreement on our site will constitute binding acceptance of the change.

    Given Amazon's track record I suggest you developers check the license daily. [amazon.com]

  • Compare it to Ebay (Score:4, Informative)

    by dmoynihan (468668) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:10AM (#6300135) Homepage
    Whose API charges beacoup fees [ebay.com], and makes it pretty much impossible to, say, write an open source shopping cart [oscommerce.com] that'll sync with Ebay auctions (for the 10-50,000 people that sell on ebay and our own sites and might want to keep track of stock).

    They (meaning idiot analysts for the most part) always say the real battle is between Ebay and Amazon for the future of online commerce. Amazon's got the right idea here, at least when it comes to getting their brand out free. Too bad it costs so much to list...

    • by Yawning (684697)

      It doesn't really cost anything to list on Amazon. When you start out as a seller you only pay Amazon a comission if you sell something. You can list as many items as you want for free.

      If you sell in volume then you pay 40$ a month to list and have access to inventory tools etc... If you would list on Ebay you would pay much more than 40$ a month in listing fee for the same volume of listings.

    • by istartedi (132515) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:49AM (#6300275) Journal

      eBay Strikes Me As Very Vulnerable... to a distributed auction service run through Kazaa or something. Probably the only thing that stops someone from totally killing eBay with distributed auctions is a silly patent; but even silly patents will run out within most of our lifetimes.

      Of course, verifying who is who on a p2p network is a challenge, but picture this: The RIAA et. al. may force p2p networks to provide user identification.

      Don't see that as a crisis--see it as an opportunity. An opportunity to kill PayPal.

      Of course eBay has tremendous brand recognition, but what happens if somebody starts streaming price comparisons (from Amazon?) through a p2p? Commision-free auctions are just one click from there, if you'll pardon my pun. Then, the patent issue devolves into what it really is, which is just a brawl between corporate legal budgets. Amazon/p2p/hackers vs. eBay/Paypal sounds like a great main event after all the warmup fights we've seen.

      Of course eBay has brand recognition. So did Studebaker and DuMont.

      I'd better hurry up and patent my business method of taking online wagers based on the size of corporate legal's payroll. Oh... wait... a bunch of online brokers have prior art.

  • Are they still... (Score:5, Informative)

    by dafoomie (521507) <`dafoomie' `at' `hotmail.com'> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:13AM (#6300144) Homepage
    Are they still doing different prices for different regions? If so, can you check out the prices for each of the different regions with this?
  • If you are interested in storing Amazon.com Properties for longer than 24 hours, you may only do so with the written consent of Amazon.com. If you fail to obtain written consent, Amazon.com reserves the right to take legal action.

    Sorry, I'd rather scrape the data. Then I can keep it for longer than 24 hours.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:18AM (#6300166)
    In other news, a league of hackers who took up Amazon.com's challenge to "hack" its web services have announced a new technology called "zero-click."

    Said m0rp3us, leader of the group "3y3 0f th3 d0g," "zero-click" will order various items automatically using already stored in a user's billing info.

    "All they have to do is sign-in once and they're done. The stuff basically orders itself after that," he said, " and delivered to your home. It's like Christmas every day!"

    When asked if he will patent the new technology, Jeff Bezos declined comment, but did mention that the technology was responsible for three new automobiles and a new town that he was going to play with later.

    Amazon.com's shares were up with the news.
    • Said m0rp3us, leader of the group "3y3 0f th3 d0g," "zero-click" will order various items automatically using already stored in a user's billing info.


      I wish Amazon would let me correlate delivery addresses with birthdays with cash limits with wish lists, and submit orders automatically whenever everything aligned, so I could completely automate gift-remembering.
      • I wish Amazon would let me correlate delivery addresses with birthdays with cash limits with wish lists, and submit orders automatically whenever everything aligned, so I could completely automate gift-remembering.

        Send me your login info, and a list, and I'll send them an Amazon gift certificate at the appropriate time. I'll also do it for a reasonable fee - and make sure it gets paid every month.

  • Query? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MadBiologist (657155) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:20AM (#6300174)
    I've got a ton of books, CD's and assorted merch (VHS tapes, Games, DVD's) that I'd like to catalog. These items all have barcodes, and theoretically Amazon sells a good chunck of them. Is there an app that would sync to Amazon and gather all the pesky details for these items from a simple barcode swipe? I know the there exist such a product as DVD Profiler for my DVD's... but I'd like to stop duplicate purchases if possible. If there isn't, how hard is it to program with Amazon's API? Many Thanks!
  • Perl (Score:5, Informative)

    by pirodude (54707) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:23AM (#6300188) Homepage
    Any perl programmers looking to play around with this should checkout the Net::Amazon module.
  • by Peter Cooper (660482) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:24AM (#6300191) Homepage Journal
    While Amazon allows (mostly) free and open access to its API and data, Google, on the other hand, limits everyone to 1000 queries a day.

    This means that coders who have tools that are based on Google results (say, some sort of link popularity checking tool) then have to either grab Google the regular way and try their darn best to pretend they're a regular visitor.. or get multiple API keys, which is against the T&Cs.

    Of course, I can see why Google is doing this, simply because there's no benefit for them if people just leech their results, but....
  • useful and fun stuff (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slothdog (3329) <slothdog.gmail@com> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:24AM (#6300195) Homepage
    There's a lot of cool things you can do with their API. I wrote a script to look up CD cover art [grunews.com], then ran it against my webradio station's playlist, and came up with a nifty "now playing" box. Check it out.... [slothradio.com]
  • if you are up on your amazon history, it's greatest business move was hooking up with all of the mom and pops out there in the mid-90s, and having them link back to the mothership that was the amazon bookseller

    this is that, all over again

    • Wow...I'd almost forgotten about that - the old Amazon Used Book service. It helped me track down a few things. Made it a lot easier than having to pop around to tons of used book stores, some which were a pain to deal with for various reasons (annoying owners, no ac, etc...)
  • by multiplexo (27356) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @12:42AM (#6300250) Journal
    Clutter [sprote.com] from Sprote Research. It does live cover lookups of CD's playing in iTunes from Amazon's music site. Very cool and an easy way to find the cover art for CDs to put into your MP3 tag info.
  • by Tide (8490) <chad@chadMONETsdomain.com minus painter> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @01:04AM (#6300310) Homepage
    Quite frankly, they rock. Almost anything they sell is available and the team is flexible on what all you can do with it. Many of the developers offer their code as examples, and they have examples themselves in the 'kit' of just about any platform you want out there, from ASP to PHP, via SOAP or XLST. Here's my spin on it:

    DVD Jones [dvdjones.com]
    It's a DVD cataloging (and sharing) site that offers recommendations from Amazon filtering out what you already own.
  • This strikes me as interesting. In some ways, what Amazon is doing here is basically an Open Data initiative. I am trying to draw an analogy between this kind of thing and the Open Source Software movement.

    It is useful to consider the long-term implications of this.

    Let's say that lots of people, sites, companies, etc, start using this lovely, free Amazon data. Then Amazon turns around and tells the world in 3 years that people have to start paying for the data. Kind of a suck-you-in-seeming-"open"-but-not-really kind of trick.

    Makes me think that if Debian was to make a judgement on this, the Debian Free Data Guidelines would declare this as NON-FREE (tm) as Amazon can at any point "change the license".

    Now, who knows if Amazon will ever do this. And no, I don't really read all these bad things into it. I think it is cool for them to make the data (and all) avaiable.

    It just makes me think.

    Maybe we need a GNU General Public License to cover "Open Data". Hmmnn...
    • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw&yahoo,com> on Thursday June 26, 2003 @02:43AM (#6300571) Journal
      Excellent points. It's worth remembering the CDDB debacle in light of this.

      For those just awakening from a coma, CDDB started by encouraging people to voluntarily build up their database of music CD fingerprints. Then, when they had enough, they started charging people (developers, mainly) to access the data other people had collected for them. There's nothing keeping Amazon from letting people develop cool hacks over the next few years, then either turning off the service or modifying the terms to such an extent that noone uses it anymore, but using those hacks (developed by others) themselves.
      • But in this case Amazon is not using us to collect data (here I treat user comments as a separate issue as they are not put in through the external web service I believe)... they are just offering us a window into a datastore they require to run their business.

        I liken it to putting in the biggest window possible in your storefront so people can see what you have to offer and be drawn to you for sales. They are extending that concept in N dimensions to provide a fractal multi-dimensional storefront window,
    • Except that Amazon will make sales on a high amount of people using the data, and raise brand awareness on a number of sites. People might end up clicking back to the Amazon site, or prefer shopping on another site which may become more and more of a "skin" on top of the Amazon e-commerce engine anyway.

      I cannot find a better online shopping experience than Amazon, although the version localised to where I currently live (France) hasn't got anything like the range of the UK site which I used to use, and I

  • by oaf357 (661305) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @01:49AM (#6300434) Homepage Journal
    The one problem I've seen with Amazon's affiliate program is that while it covers customization and can display ads based on keywords, those ads aren't very attractive. The best way to target your customers (I've seen) is through very subtle, individual item links. It's not too hard to manage but it's another thing on the list of stuff to check every week (out of stock, discontinued, etc.).

    This could easily solve that. Someone should be able to write a script that can display X number of items fitting these keywords and that listing can be totally customized and worked into your existing web pages quite well resulting in more sales for Amazon and a bigger referral check every quarter.

    I praise Amazon for doing this.

    • The one problem I've seen with Amazon's affiliate program is that while it covers customization and can display ads based on keywords, those ads aren't very attractive. The best way to target your customers (I've seen) is through very subtle, individual item links. It's not too hard to manage but it's another thing on the list of stuff to check every week (out of stock, discontinued, etc.).

      Ehm, but that's exactly the point! That's why the Amazon Web Services (which is what we are discussing here) i

      • I don't think you understand what I meant and yes I did read the article.

        I was referring to the Amazon Associates Program's ugliness. Not the beauty of Amazon Web Services.

        Comprehension is key.

  • by djupedal (584558) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @02:46AM (#6300582)
    Amazon announced today, two years after they first opened their data for harvesting and scrutiny by 3rd parties, that they have been purposely salting that data for the last 18 months, for the purpose of skewing any results gleened by said 3rd partiers.

    Amazon will be selling their own un-skewing software, for anyone that wishes to know the truth behind what they thought they knew the truth behind before.

    This process of releasing skewed data has been patented, and is known as 'Salty Skew 42-Click'.

    hut!...hut!...hut!
  • Is anyone else having this problem? The Business Week page is consistently fatal to Mozilla on both my Red Hat desktop and Debian laptop. It gets about a third of the way through the page load and then
    *poof* no more Mozilla - instant vanishing act.

    Normally I'd just chalk this up to isolated Mozilla suckage, but it happens on both my boxes, every single time I try to load that page. Anyone else encountering this?
  • patent posts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Cowdog (154277) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @05:03AM (#6300887) Journal
    Most of the posts about Amazon's one-click patent should be moderated off-topic. Maybe this one too, but I'll risk that to make a point in favor of Amazon. It's really too bad Amazon got painted as bad guys for the one-click patent, even if that was a trivial and laughable patent.

    I advocate buying from Amazon to reward their giving so many features to end users. We take Amazon for granted now, but we should be thankful for their accomplishments. Amazon is chock full of cool features that might have existed in labs or in peoples imaginations, but weren't available for real users until Amazon put them out there: purchase circles, user reviews, multiple competing industry reviews, page previews, author interviews, people-who-bought-this-also-bought info, real-time best seller lists, real-time popularity indicators, wish lists, user-created theme lists, recommendation agents, used book stores/zshops, great searching and great sorting of results... all on the same site, in one place, easily navigable -- fantastic. Really, it's one thing to have an idea and hack it up for a few geek friends to use, it's another thing to put such a powerful toolset as Amazon is in the hands of millions of ordinary users. Not only does Amazon lead the industry, it really created online book selling the way it is today. If it were not for Amazon, the Barnes & Noble online site would probably look a lot like bookstore.com [bookstore.com], or worse maybe even B Dalton's web site. [bdalton.com]

    Amazon rocks, and the APIs are just one more example of that.

    • If it were not for Amazon, the Barnes & Noble online site would probably look a lot like bookstore.com, or worse maybe even B Dalton's web site.

      Uhhhh, B Dalton's is owned my Barnes & Noble. Here's the press release [barnesandnobleinc.com]. Also, just because someone did a good job, doesn't mean they deserve a monopoly on that. If Amazon could patent all that stuff you mentioned, then Barnes & Noble would not have those features unless they licensed them. For very innovative things I think people deserve patents, but
  • by spakka (606417) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @06:00AM (#6301016)
    I'd like a button on the Mozilla toolbar to initiate a p2p search and download of an album while I'm browsing its page on amazon.
  • by DrXym (126579) on Thursday June 26, 2003 @06:18AM (#6301061)
    Ever wanted to know the potential of XUL in Mozilla? Try here for the Mozilla Amazon Browser [cfmentor.com].


    Mozilla also has support for various web services, SOAP, XML-RPC and more making it ideal to capitalize on burgeoning amount of raw data in XML sites such as Amazon are offering these days.

  • I've been using their web services for a while now for BooksUnderReview.com [booksunderreview.com] to grab review info and while the interface and XML over http are great, Amazon's web services servers have a tendancy to become overloaded 20-30% of the time. I finally had to write into my scripts to do extensive error checking to make sure we really did get a completely valid response before processing any of the info.

    There are entire websites based around the premise of using dynamic AWS (Amazon Web Services links), but with th

You will lose an important disk file.

Working...