posts tagged with the keyword ‘amazon’


Xmas means many things, and one of the things it means is that we watch It’s a Wonderful Life, and for years it meant we put in the old VHS tape that the wife has and let it roll. Last year I ended up getting a VCR out of the closet on Christmas Day and connecting it to the old HDTV and watching it in all its glory.

This year I got as far as getting out the VCR, and before finding all the right cables, I figure I’d check if there was another option.


The first thing I did was turn on the Wii and checked Netflix. It’s a Wonderful Life is not available for streaming, so that was a dead end.

I should also note that as much as I’m a technology nerd, I’m not a digital video consumption nerd. In the last few months I’ve watched about 200 episodes of Star Trek on my MacBook (usually while working in the office) but we don’t have a Blu-ray player or an Apple TV, and I’m the furthest thing from a home theater snob. I’d rather buy a DVD I can rip than rent videos online with limited usage and silly restrictions. I’m not a pirate, but I like to choose how I can use the media I buy. (All the music I ever bought from the iTunes store had the DRM stripped from it before I added it to my library.)


Netflix would have been the easy option, since I’ve already got a streaming account, but since it wasn’t available, I moved on to iTunes. It’s a Wonderful Life is available on iTunes, but the last time I checked on iTunes video rental, there were all sorts of crazy restrictions I didn’t want to deal with, so I never seriously looked at it.

I probably would have paid $2.99 to rent it so we could watch it immediately, but the options seemed to be $17.99 to buy the “HD” version, or $9.99 to buy the “non-HD” version. (It wasn’t filmed in HD, so HD, bah, whatever.) I thought about the lock-in to the Apple/iTunes ecosystem and figured it might be worth checking if Amazon had a better option…


Well, I don’t know if the Amazon option was better, but the film was available for $9.99, the same price as the “non-HD” version on iTunes. At this point I didn’t feel like doing a comparative analysis of the various online video rental systems and just went with Amazon, assuming it would be more open than Apple. There was a link or two about downloading, so I figured that was a good thing, and with one click, I bought it.

I ended up streaming it so we could just watch is ASAP, and we did, and the quality was good (well, better than an old VHS tape anyway!) and it all just worked.

After the movie I wanted to check on the downloadability, and discovered that Amazon has a player that is only available on Windows. Bloody Hell, what is this, 1999?

They also have a list of 350+ Amazon Instant Video Compatible Devices… none of which I own. The Roku player is on the list, and I considered getting one a few years ago, but after Netflix became available for the Wii, I forgot about it. I tend to use the Wii or my MacBook for most of the video streaming we do, so I never thought I needed a dedicated device.

So now I’ve got a video I own through Amazon, that I can’t download, but can stream. I’ve probably been an Amazon customer for 15 years, so I guess I should trust them, but It’s a Wonderful Life is over 60 years old. Will I be able to watch it 30 years from now? Should I even worry about such things? While buying music online went from a DRM mess to a more open world, I don’t know that video will go the same way… And yes, there is the pirating option, but personally I’m not a fan of that approach. Blame it on my desire to see things move towards openness.


Over at Z2 Marketing + Design we’ve implemented Amazon S3 as an off-site backup solution. As a design studio, there are a lot of large files, between photo and video shoots, print projects, and a zillion other things that require creating files, we’ve got our own storage issues to deal with. Will the building burn down? Dunno, it might, but if it does, it will be nice to know our data is safe over at Amazon.

Since I’m still moving a lot of older data there, the uploading is constant. I’d estimate I’m moving about a GB of data per day right now. In fact, let’s look at the numbers…

Amazon says we’ve transferred 16.035 GB this month, and we’re storing about that much as well. But wait, what is the cost of this? Well, as of right now, it looks like Amazon will be billing us just about $5 or so. (Probably a bit more, as I have another 11 days to keep moving data there.) So for the cost of a good burrito, we’ve transferred and stored over 15 GB of data. Freakin’ awesome!

I’m still not 100% happy with the tools, and how I’m doing the transfers (much of it is manual right now) but better tools will come along, and with a new server in-house, we’ll look at automating all the backups, so it “just works” and if something doesn’t work, it’ll let us know. Thanks Amazon!



Let’s mix it up a little… Perl, Python, HTML-TemplateAtom, RSS… Words, Photos, Links, and Objects of Desire…

Say what?

Say Planet Planet!

Or say Planet RasterWeb!

There are billions and billions of planets out there, well, ok dozens maybe. (Heck, there’s even a WordPress Planet.) the one that was the tipping point for me was Planet Burningbird, which is explained in It’s the Oddest Thing.

After seeing Planet Burningbird, I said “Heck, let’s do it!”

The Planet website has no real documentation and very little explaining things. (True geek software, eh?) I downloaded whatever version I could from whatever link I found, and took a look. Python. I mean, I completely gave up on Python earlier this year, but, well, OK. We’ll give it a try…

Now, on Mac OS X I did have a hiccup or two. Searching…. Ok, this post about Mac OS X fixed things. After that it was on to templating. Ah! HTML-Template, but done in Python. (Gosh, where have we heard about HTML-Template before?)

So templating was fairly simple, since I knew the tags. What’s next? Feeds! Yes, we need some feeds… I grabbed my own feed from this site, as well as my feeds from and Flickr and… Is that it? Hmmm, I need more feeds. Luckily I had been experimenting with a Perl module named WWW::Amazon::Wishlist to create an RSS feed of my Amazon Wish List. Of course some of the stuff on my wish list was from the year 2000, so I had to update it. (Honestly I don’t expect anyone to ever actually buy me a gift, but you know, if you want to, the option is there… hint, hint. Aw, who am I kidding? I can barely get feedback on the stuff I do here…)

So where was I?

Ah yes, Feed the Planet, yes… Oh, PubSub! I got two feeds there! One for sites that link to RasterWeb! and one for sites that “mention” RasterWeb!. You’d think if they mention it, they’d link to it, but they seem to have different results. So in theory now, if you link to this site, you should show up on the planet. (This might go sour in the future, we’ll see…)

Is there more? Sure! Though Planet doesn’t seem to handle enclosures in any way, we also have RasterWeb! Audio, which is one of those “podcasting” things we started back in August before podcasting even had a name…

Ok, so that’s the lowdown on the planet. It’s seems to have been released under the same license as Python, and a quick check with the Open-Source Initiative’s Licenses says it’s open-source. (I think.)

Any problems? Well, it doesn’t quite validate. I mean, all the feeds I have control over seem to validate fine, but the Planet page itself doesn’t, partly due to the foreign content from the PubSub feed, and maybe because of Planet doing something silly as well.

So that’s my combination of Perl, Python, HTML-Template, Atom, RSS,, Flickr, PubSub, and other things I won’t mention again. Enjoy!


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