Brenden Schaaf / November 17, 2009

Amazon vs. UPS — I end up being the loser…

I ordered this cable:

so my wife can hook up her ipod in her van and play it through the stereo.  I have free shipping through Amazon Prime so for 99 cents it shows up at my door two days later.  Excellent deal in my opinion.

For some reason (probably because they are losing their ass on this deal) Amazon sends it as requiring an IN PERSON SIGNATURE!!  So UPS won’t leave the damn thing at my house and I’ll never be home when they deliver to sign for it.  For a 99 cent item!!  The stupid thing is that I also ordered a GPS and they left that box on my porch on the same day they did their 1st attempt.

I emailed Amazon to bitch and they came back to me with an asinine response about “sorry it was lost in transit” and “it is up to UPS to decide to require a signature or not”  — neither of which is true because I called UPS and they said Amazon is the ones requiring a signature.  Of course that makes sense since the tracking information says that too:

So I called UPS when I got home from tonight and they said they won’t attempt to deliver it any more and I have to drive to Maple Grove to pick up my 99 cent wire.   I called Amazon and the guy I talked to called UPS and he came back on the line and said that “UPS is already sending it back to us so there isn’t anything we can do” which contradicts what UPS just told me 10 minutes before.  They said they would hold it until next Tuesday at the Maple Grove office.

So now the Amazon guy said he would call them again and he is going to call me back in a half hour to let me know what the word is.   They still offered to overnight a new one but of course that will probably require a signature too.  Uggggghhh…

[UPDATE 11/17/2009 9:33PM]

The guy at Amazon phone back and said that UPS will not attempt to redeliver even though Amazon has requested that they do.  He did admit that it was an error in the Amazon system that resulted in this situation and he apologized profusely.  He also is going to refund my 99 cents (whoopee!) and they are sending a replacement via overnight service as soon as they get more in stock.  No promises, though, that the new shipment wouldn’t require a signature…stay tuned.

Brenden Schaaf / June 2, 2009

Firefox Feature: Search Engine Box

Search box screenshot from my laptop showing all of the sites I can search quickly from within the Firefox toolbar
Search box screenshot from my laptop showing all of the sites I can search quickly from within the Firefox toolbar

One of the most useful features of Firefox that first drew me to using that as my browser of choice was the customizable search box built into the toolbar at the top right of the screen.  Prior to my discovery of Firefox, I was an Internet Explorer user but I had to have Google Toolbar installed to have search available at my fingertips.  Later releases of Internet Explorer, by the way, have added a search box similar to the one found in Firefox.

While the Google Toolbar worked great if Google was what I wanted to use (as it was, and is, 80% of the time), what if I wanted to search another site?  Firefox solved this problem by not only including several other default search engines in its search box, but by also making it possible for nearly anyone to develop add-ons to the search box for websites of any sort.

Many of the more popular sites can be added to your search box by selecting “Manage Search Engines” from the bottom of the list of sites you already have installed (see bottom item in the image at right) and finding the desired search engine at the Firefox Add-ons site, but that list is limited.

Enter the Mycroft Project site.  This site’s sole reason for existence is to provide a repository of search engine plug-ins that can be easily installed in Firefox (and other browsers including Internet Explorer in some cases).  In fact, the Mycroft Project site itself can be added to your search box so whenever you have a site that you find you search frequently you can type the name of that site into the search box and see if anyone else has created a search plug-in for that site.

Say, for example, that you frequently enter tracking numbers at the FedEx website and you want to search Mycroft for a FedEx plug-in.  Simply choose Mycroft Project as your default search provider, type in “FedEx” and hit enter.  You will be taken to a results page that shows that there are three available plug-ins for FedEx — choose any or all of these and they are quickly added to your list of search engines and now you can do your searching in one step.

Incidentally, things like FedEx and UPS tracking numbers can be typed directly into Google as well and link to the real-time tracing will be presented within the Google results, but that is not the case for most sites you may use frequently (although Google often seems to know what I’m thinking before I do it seems).

Now if only the folks over at Xmarks could sync up my search engine plug-in list between all the different computers I used.  I’m sure given time it will happen, but for now my only frustration is not remembering to add a given search plug-in to each different Firefox installation.  Complaining about that, though, is kind of like complaining that microwave popcorn is taking too long to cook.