Web Recommendations Systems

So, I blogged previously about how I love Netflix's recommendations system, and it's a lot like Amazon's as well.

I wonder why these sites (along with others that do recommendations) only mark things as recommended — why don't they tell me if I probably won't like something I'm looking at?

I understand it in the case of Amazon — it's in their interest to sell me everything. On the other hand, it's in Netflix's interest to have me not check out a movie.

Power Outage Notifications

So, tonight at home, we had a multi-hour power outage. [side note: it really is boring without electricity]

I called our electric company (Puget Sound Energy [S&P400: PSD]) to report the outage, just in case no one else had. I started off with a phone tree, that usually drive me nuts; PSE surprised me with a really slick automated system.

I hit 1 for power outages or gas leaks; 2 for power outages; and finally 1 because I didn't know where the outage was from. It read me back the first 4 digits of my address to confirm (by matching the number I called from with my account), and I hit 1 to confirm. It read back that my outage report had been received, and that 25 other people in my area had called, and that an estimated 695 homes were without power. This was approximately 5 minutes after the power failed.

All this, automated. Wow.

I called back a couple more times, and it knew that I had already registered the outage (“You have already reported an outage, please hold for more information.”) and gave me updated statistics: 30 minutes later, 52 people had called it in, and an hour later, 75 people called it in. Quite an impressive system, overall.

Lost Season Premiere

Ok, so this week, Lost kicked up it's new season. Good show, as I expected – definitely some twists I didn't expect.

BUT GOOD GRACIOUS HOW CAN ABC FIT MORE COMMERCIALS IN THERE? Seriously, ABC… We all understand you've got a great show. Probably the most-watched show in it's timeslot. I didn't time it, but it seems to me that there had to be at least 25 minutes of commercials in there. One set of commercials was 4 minutes long! The first half of the show had a long commercial break EVERY 6 MINUTES.

Come on, we've waited how many weeks for Lost to start up again, and now we're missing out on it already because the commercials are getting in the way?

Sigh.

HGTTG and Current Politics

Watching TV this week, you can't escape the fallout from Rep. Foley's little escapades with e-mails and instant messaging with Pages on the Hill. Of course, the House Majority Leader is parading about on the news trying to minimize the fallout to the Republican Party.

One thing that we've noticed is that Dennis Hastert has an uncanny resemblance to the Vogons from the movie Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.