Archive for the ‘Websites’ Category

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Amazon pricing sucks

July 9, 2021

After the issues with an Amazon gift card earlier this week, I thought I’d try to buy a book for one of my nephews. The link from the author’s page went to Amazon’s US site, where the price of the book was about US$14. According to xe.com, at today’s exchange rate, that’s AU$18.85. Amazon.com's price for Whole Whale hardbaok book is US$13.59

But I couldn’t buy it! Instead of a ‘buy now’ button, there was a message to buy it from the Australian site:

Message reads: Shipping to Australia? Get FREE delivery on eligible international orders with AU Prime (Membership fee applied) and pay in AUD, with a button to buy it on Amazon's Australian site So I clicked on that button and found the same book available on Amazon .com.au at a price that was nearly DOUBLE the price on the US site—AU$31.98:

Amazon.com.au's webpage for Whole Whale, shwoing a price of $31.98 for the hardcover book And free shipping? Nope. You only get free shipping if you spend more than AU$49 in your order.

Message: Free delivery by [date] on Prie International orders over $49.00

Bottom line: I can’t buy this book from the US site even when logged into it using my Amazon .com credentials—they force me to the Australian site, where the price is nearly double (AU$32 compared to AU$18.85 on the US site, converted from USD). And then I can’t get free shipping unless I buy something else that takes my order over AU$49.

When I added it to my cart on the Australian site, the shipping was surprisingly low for an Amazon book at just AU$5, but that now takes the total price to AU$37, TWICE the price that US customers pay.

So, even with credentials to Amazon’s US site, I can’t buy something from there—instead, they force me to the Australian site where they then try to charge me double the US price!

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Just for giggles, I looked at some Australian booksellers’ websites, where I found the same book for $27.99 (no idea of postage as they wanted all my details before they’ll tell me this); $33.75 (+$7.95 postage); and $36.17 (free shipping; they state the Australian RRP is $46.18). I also found it on a UK bookseller’s site for AU$41.98 (+free shipping).

 

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Amazon gift cards are account- and/or country-specific

July 7, 2021

I had an interesting situation today that I wasn’t aware of and no doubt many others aren’t either. So here’s some info for future reference in case you ever give an Amazon gift card to someone in another country that also has a local Amazon site, though I’m not sure it would’ve helped me as I have the same credentials for both the Australian and US sites. NOTE: The terms listed in the gift card email clearly state that “Your gift card balance can’t be transferred to other accounts”, so that isn’t a way to get around this situation either.

Here’s what I wrote on Facebook, and a couple of the comments I got from those who’ve been in a similar situation:

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The things you learn the hard way. I recently helped someone in another country and they sent me an Amazon gift card as thanks. Nice! I applied it to my account (I only have ONE account with ONE set of login credentials, an account I set up in the mid-90s and that I rarely use). Today, I had a couple of things to order from the US via Amazon, and thought I’d apply the gift card to the order, but its details were nowhere to be found under my account info. I still had the original email for the gift card so tried to reapply the gift card but it said it had already been redeemed. What?

I emailed Amazon to see what was going on, and they said the gift card didn’t apply to amazon .com.au orders, only to amazon .com. NOTHING in the info email that came with the gift card told me this, and when I applied it to my account I used the only login details I have for Amazon and wasn’t given the option to apply it to .com or com.au purchases. I assumed Amazon is Amazon, but apparently not! Had I known this earlier, I’d have ordered those items from the .com site, not the .com.au site.

Who knows when I’ll get to use that gift card — as I said I rarely order from Amazon, and even more rarely from the US site. And in the process of doing all this, I discovered that my Prime membership only applies to orders from the .com.au site. So if I order something from the US site that I can’t get from the Australian site (the Australian site has a limited range), I can’t get free shipping via Prime. <grrr>

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Some of the comments:

Another Australian: Yup, it sucks, I’ve ended up with .com and .com.au accounts.

Me: Well, it seems I have two accounts too, but the same credentials!

Aussie: I think I have the same login but different passwords. So confusing!

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American: I think when I was gifting Amazon cards for India, I did so on the Amazon.com.in site. For about a year after, I’d occasionally default not that site. I think the same thing happened in 2019 when I gifted someone who worked for me in the UK. I went to the UK site. But I did it because I knew about the different sites.

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Another American: I give folks on my team Amazon cards and have to go through .ca and .uk

Me: Never thought about it from the donee’s end! That sucks too — do you have to have separate accounts/logins for each country? or can you specify that at the time you give the card?

Response: Same credentials, I just have to go through the different interfaces. The authentication is the same, the billing is different, though, so I have to manage credit card data for each interface.

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Seems a ‘global’ company like Amazon isn’t really global at all!

Update: I thought I’d be able to use the gift card on the US site to buy ebooks, but nope! They’ve blocked that avenue off as well—I get this message if I click on a Kindle edition: ‘Kindle titles are available for AU customers on Amazon .com.au.’ If I click on a printed edition, I get a price plus the exorbitant shipping charge, which is often more than the book!! I’ll look into seeing if I can re-gift the card to a US friend, but I don’t think that will be an option. If I can’t do that, then Amazon has the money paid to it, I can’t buy anything with it, and they rake in yet more $$$$s!!!! It’s possible the donor could request a refund, but I won’t go down that path yet.

Also, on the US site, they have this at the bottom of the page on gift cards: “Amazon .com Gift Cards can only be used to purchase eligible goods and services on Amazon .com and certain related sites as provided in the Amazon .com Gift Card Terms and Conditions. To purchase a gift card for Amazon’s website in another country, please visit: Amazon .ca, Amazon .cn, Amazon .fr, Amazon .de, Amazon .in, Amazon .it, Amazon .jp, Amazon. uk, or Amazon .es.” [I’ve added spaces in the URLs so they don’t become clickable links]

But the gift card page for the Australian site doesn’t have ANY of this info at all. Note: The Australian site is NOT listed above.

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How to get the parts of a YouTube video using JDownloader

March 12, 2021

I was testing out JDownloader2 (an open source download manager) the other day for a completely different purpose when I discovered that it can split a YouTube video into its component parts, which you can then download individually or as a group.

Depending on what was uploaded to YouTube, the component parts may include the audio only (M4A format), the video (MP4; includes audio), the title image (JPG), the description (TXT), and/or the subtitles (SRT file).

It’s certainly an easier way to do it than to use a conversion program—just open JDownloader, copy the YouTube URL to the clipboard, and it will automatically get added to JDownloader, ready for you to expand the entry and then download one or more, or all, parts.

 

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Finding high resolution artwork from Apple TV, iTunes etc.

February 24, 2021

My husband collects information about music, musicians, and songwriters, and one of the things he uses to find and confirm metadata is album covers. However, the default size of artwork on iTunes is quite small and low resolution. He has all sorts of workarounds he uses (e.g. view the page source, search the HTML code for JPGs, change the pixel size in the URL, etc.). It’s cumbersome at best and adds a lot of overhead in hours to his research.

Until now.

Someone on one of his forums alerted him to a very cool website from a UK developer, Ben Dodson, that extracts just the album art from iTunes (and artwork for Apple TV shows and Apple movies) and allows it be be viewed at various resolutions. It isn’t an app and only works in a browser, as far as I can tell.

For artwork from all sorts of Apple media, including iTunes, for a particular title, go to: https://bendodson.com/projects/itunes-artwork-finder/  Once there, select the type of media (1), enter the title you’re searching for (2), select the media’s country of origin (2), then click Get the artwork (4). Wait a few seconds and the artwork matching your search criteria will display. You have the options of Standard or High Resolution (it will take a few extra seconds to display the artwork at high resolution). If the album, for example, has various covers or the title has been used by various artists, then scroll down to see each.

If you want to search by the iTunes web address instead, go to: https://bendodson.com/projects/apple-music-artwork-finder/

If you want to search for artwork related to Apple TV shows or Apple movies, go to: https://bendodson.com/projects/apple-tv-movies-artwork-finder/ Once you’ve found what you want, click the resolution and artwork you want to see from the list on the right.

NOTE: Ben Dodson has made this website free but there are some caveats, so read those on each of the web pages above. The main one is that this ONLY works with media products available from Apple, and not any other source.

 

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Facebook and FB Purity

October 29, 2020

Facebook (FB) and FB Purity (FBP) are having a bit of a war at the moment. Since FB introduced the ‘new look’, which most people seem to hate, FBP has been trying to revert to the classic look via one of their options. It initially had some some success, and then not, and then again, and then not, as FB closed loopholes in its code.

One of the things I noticed when viewing FB via Chrome on a desktop was that if I had classic look turned on in FBP and even if it wasn’t displaying the classic look because of this skirmish, the screen would refresh and jump OFTEN, and I’d get duplicate posts from some people.

Then this morning when I deliberately refreshed FB in Chrome, FB redirected me to the mobile site (GRRR!) and told me I was using an unsupported browser!!

I figured all these issues might relate to the FBP skirmish, so I turned off the classic look option under the FBP toolbar icon in Chrome (it wasn’t working anyway), and all of a sudden I could get the usual FB desktop site, the auto refresh thing disappeared, and I don’t see duplicate posts.

I’ve still got that horrible new look—I can live with that for now, and hope that FBP can figure out how to get the classic look back.

Meantime, I hope this post helps someone else who has had the same issues.

(As an aside, you don’t want to ask me how much I HATE the new block editing stuff in WordPress.com—I just want to write a blog post, perhaps add a screenshot or two, not sell hipster dude coffee!)

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Word: Add a web link to a document — quickly

February 26, 2020

In the category of “I didn’t know I could do this (or if I did, I’ve forgotten!)” comes this tip that I spotted in a forum post (https://superuser.com/questions/1024583/copy-link-location-keyboard-shortcut-in-windows-10).

Did you know that you can drag a link displayed in a browser into your Word document? Or into other text editing software? (my quick tests indicate that it DOESN’T work with Notepad)

There are several ways:

  • Click and drag the linked text into an open document. If the link is abbreviated or hidden by explanatory text (e.g. a link for ‘how to xxxx’), it will resolve to the full URL.
  • Select the URL in the browser’s address bar then drag it into the open document.
  • Select anything in a text field of a form on a web page, then drag it into the open document.

[Link last checked February 2020]

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Monitoring bushfires

January 29, 2019

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Update February 2021: As a result of the devastating fires in eastern Australia in the summer of 2019-2020, some people got together to create an all-in-one real-time map and app: https://www.bushfire.io/. This map include things such as emergency warning areas, firefighting aircraft, wind speed and direction, and other useful information in a bushfire. I highly recommend it.

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Nowhere in Australia is immune from bushfires, but some places are deemed safer than others. The block of land I live in south-western Western Australia is relatively safe (no trees near the house, lots of hardstand surrounding the house, etc.), but nearby (within one kilometre) are high-risk areas of bushland and homes on hilly land that is just covered in trees, grasses, and native plants. I have a fear of bushfires, so over summer I listen for aircraft activity beyond what’s normal (‘normal’ is maybe a couple of light aircraft a day) and check various websites etc. to assess the danger. The risk on some days is worse than on others—particularly those days with strong easterly winds and high temperatures, and if there’s been no rain for weeks. Once the wind swings around and comes from the west, I start to breathe easier as the danger to my property from that direction is much less.

Here are some of the local and national sites I use to check various conditions and situations, in case it helps others who live in Western Australia:

  • a weather site (wind speed and direction, temps)
  • the Emergency WA website (https://www.emergency.wa.gov.au/) for all sort of emergency reports in the state (the zoom-in feature is great)
  • the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (dfes_wa) Twitter feed for updates and links to emergency situations (https://twitter.com/dfes_wa)
  • occasionally the MyFireWatch website (http://myfirewatch.landgate.wa.gov.au/) and the Sentinel website (https://sentinel.ga.gov.au/)
  • FlightRadar24 (https://flightradar24.com; there’s an app too), which is a plane spotter’s goldmine, but which I use to identify planes and choppers going overhead (most are just standard light aircraft, the RFDS planes, and the rescue chopper), but occasionally they are firefighting aircraft.

This sort of monitoring was not possible just 20 years ago. Google Maps and the ability for services to overlay other satellite data and create instant warnings has changed the game. Technology working for good!

The image below is a screenshot I took from FlightRadar of two firefighting aircraft battling a bushfire near Collie on 20 January 2019. By clicking on the aircraft icons on the map, I get the information on the left about the aircraft and the flight paths for the past hour or so.

Flight paths of two firefighting aircraft helping put out a fire near Collie, Western Australia

Update 5 February 2019: We had a bushfire close to our place (within 5 km — too close for comfort!) and I found that the FlightRadar24 website gave me accurate, real-time information on what the firefighting aircraft (including the massive air crane, ‘Georgia Peach’ [N154AC]) were doing. The Emergency WA website was only being updated every few hours, but with FlightRadar24 I could see what sorts of resources were being deployed to control this fire. And from the flight tracking I got some questions answered, like whether ‘Georgia Peach’ could refill from the ocean (she could)—she actually refilled her 7500-gallon tank at least 10 times (it takes her about 45 seconds to do this, which is pretty amazing). In the first screenshot below, you can see ‘Georgia Peach’ heading down from Perth and taking on her first load of sea water just off Myalup. In the later screenshot, you can see that she’s made the first of many sorties to refill off Binningup. The two Dunn Aviation aircraft (yellow water bombers) can’t take on sea water, so had to return to Bunbury Airport each time to refill with their fire suppressant, adding precious time to their ability to be effective. The Rotowest chopper circled the whole time—I suspect it was the spotter aircraft guiding the others where to best deploy their loads.

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Dropbox login not working

January 18, 2019

I’m not sure why, but my Dropbox.com login wasn’t working on a particular computer. I tried several browsers, cleared the cache etc. but it just didn’t want to work. It was fine on another computer. Off to Google…

The solution was simple enough—once you know how! After you type your username and password, do NOT press Enter or click Sign In. Instead, hold down the Alt key then click the Sign In button.

For some reason that worked and I was able to log in to Dropbox on that computer.

Hope this helps someone else!

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Find the date a web page was last updated

May 3, 2018

Here’s a neat trick for finding the date the content on a web page was last updated if it’s not clear from the page itself:

  1. Open the web page in a browser window.
  2. In the address box, type Javascript:alert(document.lastModified) then press Enter.
  3. The date and time the page was last updated is displayed in a pop-up window (NOTE: The date is mm/dd/yyyy format).

NOTE: This trick DOES NOT work with content that’s generated dynamically — for that content, you’ll always get the current date and time displayed. But for a static website, you’ll get the actual date and time the content was last updated.

(This trick is courtesy of Gerri Berendzen’s presentation — ‘Is this resource reliable?’ — at the ACES conference in 2018. Thanks Gerri! And thanks also to Dave Gash who added the ‘alert’ bit to create a pop-up window and not overwrite the web page.)

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New look website

March 17, 2018

I bit the bullet and revamped my website to be fully responsive, and to cut out some of the old stuff that’s no longer relevant. A few people tested it on various devices, browsers, and operating systems, with no issues (thank you!).

I must say I held my breath as I uploaded it and then deleted all the old files (yes, I have a backup!!!). But it ‘just worked’ right from the get-go, with no delay in what got displayed in the various browsers on my PC. Phew!

Same URL, new look: http://www.cybertext.com.au