Goodbye, Amazon. I live in Illinois.

I just got an email from Amazon terminating my status as an Amazon affiliate.  I've never actually sold anything through this website, so it was an aspriational thing at best, but it's sad.

I clearly understand why their doing it, but I understand that the State of Illinois needs money and goods sold from Amazon compete directly with goods sold at local stores. Amazon sales both take business out of Illinois and deprive it of revenues.

Should there be a Federal sales or value added tax on Internet sales, where money gets passed along to the States?  What do you think?

Living in an Amazon World, Part I (last.fm)

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small_matrix_inWhat sort of world is it when you see only what you want to see and hear only what you want to hear?  I’m calling it the Amazon world. When you visit Amazon.com, it knows what you’ve bought in the past and, combining that with millions of similar data points, predicts what you might want to buy today.  If you give it access to Facebook, it can even correlate prefernces to your social network, because you’re more likely to buy what your friends buy. This can be sinister or it can be a boon.

My focus today is  one of the boons of social recommendation data mining, last.fm.  Last.fm, like Pandora, recommends music you might like. Unlike Pandora, last.fm knows what you’re really listening to through a process called scrobbling. Through a plugin for your media player, you send information about your music, as you listen to it, to last.fm.  They build a set of recommendations for you based on what people who listen to similar music listen to and expose it to you as an online “radio station”.

I’m stuck in San Francisco in the the 70’s. At worst, my musical prejudices will be confirmed and reinforced. At best, I might discover some new songs and artists that might broaden my tastes a bit.  At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.

Our heads (and servers) in the clouds

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The SternData web server is now operating in the cloud — Amazon's Elastic Cloud 2, to be exact.  From the time I logged into Amazon's AWS Management Console until I had this server up and running was about 1.5 hours, and most of that was used uploading data from the old server.  Best of all, this service is provided free, at least for the first year.

I selected the basic 32 bit Linux server (t1.micro) and installed MySQL locally.  The package includes use of Amazon's database cloud and investigating that is on the to-do list.  The dynamic IP address is managed by ddclient and dyndns.com.