Tag Archive: Amazon


You know I am an Amazon fan boy, right? You should, I wrote a million posts on it and you have to agree, I do have reason to be an Amazon fanboy. Amazon is made of win and so is the Kindle.

But now, now they have taken my ‘fanboy’ affection to a whole new level, a semi religious experience even. They are releasing a software development kit for the Kindle and are planning to roll out an ‘App’ store by the end of the year. It’s almost like an omniscient deity was listening to my wishes… almost.

Just the other day, whilst waiting and reading my Kindle (that I love and adore like a child) I thought, damn, it would be really cool if I could download some apps for it. Just a nice little note application. Or, and here is the thing, if I could get to my GMail from my Kindle, my life would, pretty much, be complete.

Sadly, I live in a country where the telecoms industry is run by a capitalist Gestapo that firmly believe in raping their subscribers in every possible way for every cent they have. So in this particular hell hole, Kindle does not have open internet access, making the GMail thing somewhat complicated.

Anyway, the reason I had my semi religious experience and am now giggling like a school girl is because I will be getting apps for my Kindle this year, and, even better, I will be able to write my own applications. I cannot, fucking, wait. So I’ve submitted my email address to the limited beta about a million times and if anybody from Amazon happen to read this, I may actually be willing to give you money to be part of said beta for the KDK.

Quick Kindle specs: 532Mhz CPU, 2Gb storage (mine anyway), 600 x 800 6″ grey scale screen (16 shades of grey), USB port, 3G/EDGE/GPRS connectivity, runs Linux-2.6.10.

The Kindle screen refresh rate doesn’t lend it’s self very well to action games or video so I expect the applications will probably be text oriented and the games will probably be puzzle type games. This is all good in my boo… Kindle.

If you want more, check out these links:

http://bit.ly/5f5zNU and http://bit.ly/7EXOF0 and http://bit.ly/8iZvHI

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What is a good idea really worth?

Working as a software developer for just over a decade I have seen my fair share of ideas and execution, dismal failures and (insert interesting adjective) successes.

The basis of this post comes from a post by Derek Sivers (and the comments to that post), the dude who made CDBaby.com ,where he wrote some interesting things about the value of ideas versus the value of the execution of those ideas. Read the entry here.

Which ideas are we talking about here, you are no doubt thinking to yourself. I am distinguishing ‘ideas’ into two broad categories, commercial/business and intellectual. By commercial/business I mean ideas like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Kreepy Krauly; ideas that people came up with that made them money or that were made into a successful businesses. I am not talking about intellectual ideas like those had by Plato, Nietzsche, Galileo or Da Vinci which changed the world (and no doubt could have and did make them some money) but are not currently raking in the cash. Obviously I am also biased towards software/web type ideas, since that is where I have virtually all my experience.

In Derek’s post, he basically states that the ‘idea’ is purely a multiplier to the value that is the ‘execution’. It works like this:

Ideas:

  • Awful idea: -1
  • Weak idea: 1
  • Average idea: 5
  • Good idea: 10
  • Great idea: 15
  • Brilliant idea: 20

Execution:

  • No execution: $1
  • Weak execution: $1000
  • Average execution: $10,000
  • Good execution: $100,000
  • Great execution: $1,000,000
  • Brilliant execution: $10,000,000

To make a business, you multiply the two:

  • A brilliant idea with no execution: $20
  • A brilliant idea takes brilliant execution to make it worth $200,000,000

Fundamentally, I agree with him. A great idea with no execution is basically worthless but there are some other factors to think about around this concept.

When you consider an entire project/product, how much of the totality of the project is the idea and how much is the execution. From a pure time and effort point of view, the idea may very well end up being a very small fraction (say 0.1%) of the project effort while the execution is the other 99.9%. Sure, some people may put a lot of effort into developing an idea, but I have never seen a project where the idea part of the project was more than the ‘very small fraction’ of the whole project. If you think about it, the idea of Facebook was relatively straightforward and pretty simple and when you compare the initial idea (regardless of the hours spent on developing it at the outset) to just the millions of development hours that have gone into creating the system it is today,  it is pretty easy to see that the idea vs. execution effort is hugely skewed towards execution. It works the same for all the big ones like Google and Amazon and most (if not all) of the smaller ones.

Other things that affect that simple ‘idea multiplied by execution’ equation is timing and market saturation. A brilliant idea, brilliantly executed may still end up being worthless if it’s done at the wrong time. You may argue though, that timing is part of the execution. I agree. A lot of the dotcom bubble companies had very good ideas  which were executed brilliantly but were premature, the market just wasn’t ready for doing business on the internet to the extent which the start-ups needed. Amazon was nearly one of these casualties but managed to hold on long enough for the timing problem to be worked out. That, in my opinion, is part of the brilliant execution.

As far as market saturation goes, I think Apple in the smart phone market is a prime example of how a brilliant idea, brilliantly executed can succeed even if there are very many players already operating in the same space. Again, I think overcoming market saturation is a function of execution and not a completely separate factor entirely.

In my career as a software developer I have seen some good ideas executed terribly and fail and I have seen some reasonably terrible ideas executed exceedingly well and win, big time. In every single case I can think of, executing the idea was wildly more difficult than developing the idea in the first place and I think that this is where the ‘ideas’ people can learn a lot. Coming up with a reasonably good idea is not that difficult. Many people have good ideas. In fact, I have several. Executing those ideas, however, is a completely different ball game and is what makes the difference and the insanely big bucks in the end.

Having said that, I do believe in protecting ideas. While in the bigger scheme of things, developing the idea may only make up a fraction of a project, that may still and does usually add up to a huge amount of effort and let’s face it, nothing is worse than working your ass off on something just to have it taken away and not get anything for it. There will always be somebody better able to execute an idea than you are (unless you are Google possibly) and so you need some protection against this happening. No protection is complete though and big names like Microsoft have made a business out of crushing ‘the little guy’ reasonably often.

All things considered, I would rather have an average idea executed brilliantly than a brilliant idea executed averagely.

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Interesting, no?

I am an Amazon fanboy

I think this is the final instalment in my story “The Amazon Saga”. Ok, perhaps 10 paragraphs don’t a saga make and I guess the story line, in the end, isn’t all that interesting, since it’s basically all good. What makes the story though, in my humble (but learned!) opinion, is how ridiculously good Amazon is.

To recap: My Kindle kicked the metaphorical bucket on the 25th. I phone Amazon on the 28th to tell them. They shipped a replacement on the, wait for it, 28th.

I received the replacement today, the 31st. Not only did Amazon not give me any shit when I told them my Kindle was busted, they shipped me a brand new one, to the other side of the planet (literally) in less than three days, in between christmas and new years, for free and are paying for me to send back the old one. I, shit, you, not.

To say that the Kindle is a great product is an understatement. To say that the whole Kindle eBook distribution system is great is an understatement and to say that Amazon customer service is excellent, is an understatement.

I would challenge anybody to show me service like that anywhere else, but especially in this country and especially this time of year.

In the emails from Amazon, their tagline is: “We’re Building Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company”. They are not, in fact, kidding.

As I said before, buy lots of Amazon stuff, I do. I am officially an Amazon fanboy.

W0rd up?

Check it out, a post for the sake of posting (I hear the gasps, the exclamations of “No!”).

Amazon, as it turns out, have possibly the best customer service I have ever experienced. I phoned them up, told them that my Kindle had died. The “customer service associate”, while not the friendliest lady I’ve ever spoken with, was very professional. Long story short, Amazon are sending me a new Kindle, it has already shipped. I shit you not.

The whole story took about 10 minutes, I got the confirmation emails within the next five minutes and not a day later I got the shipping email. They also sent me detailed instructions on how to send back the dead kindle. And they will pay for it. I shit, you, not.

At the risk of celebrating too early and praising Amazon for something they haven’t completed yet, I award them a Purple Llama. It’s like a Michelin Star only for General Awesomeness. Completely biased and very lax inspection standards. I also award RedBull a couple of Purple Llama’s.

Buy stuff from Amazon and also drink RedBull.

Oh, the humanity!

I have, sadly, been forced to read an actual book. I know, I know, I can hear you thinking: “Sweet merciful crap, how could things have gone so very wrong”.

Well, it’s true.

My beautiful, much loved Kindle, has sadly passed on. I wish I could say more about the place that Kindle has gone but I can’t. It is dead and no amount of resetting, charging and wailing has revived it. And the place it has gone cannot possibly be better than under my nose where it used to live.

Ok, fair enough, I have not actually, physically spoken to Amazon about the sad sad situation but I seriously doubt there is anything even their best tech support people can do.

The poor bastard Kindle 2 didn’t even make it into it’s third month. It had a lovely leather cover, it was treated like the beautiful holy object that it was. Never ’twas it dropped, bumped, scratched or a dirty finger place upon it. And now it is dead. I should be furious. I am crushed. In mourning even.

No, I have no idea why. The wireless hadn’t connected in almost two weeks. It didn’t bug me much, I had plenty to read. Then, not a day after Isaac Newton’s 366th birthday, I try to switch it on and holy haleakala (HT Phil Plait – My second favourite guy I’ve never met, spoken with or communicated with at all(TM)), the screen is all messed up. Lines and shit all over and a bit of the screen saver picture stuck in the corner. Many, many hard resets later, you can see a vague flickering on the screen when turning it on but that’s it.

I have read 50 blogs and tried, basically, every single thing with no effect.

A long, descriptive email to Amazon support got me an email back saying that they were sorry that my Kindle died prematurely but that I should phone them so they could talk me through some more things to try. I will phone but I am, frankly, a little skeptical if they will replace it when that procedure turns out to be for naught. Perhaps Amazon surprise me and restore my faith in humanity. Ok, possibly Amazon will surprise me.

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