Wednesday, March 25, 2009 Web Site is Lousy (To Be Polite)

My wife was surprised this week when I told her has been charging her $14.95 every month for almost a year. She checked into it and realized she had signed up for a monthly subscription without even know it. That's a problem right there. Before closing the account, she wanted to redeem six book credits her account had accumulated. We decided to divide them evenly.

When it was my turn to select books, I was expecting an experience similar to First of all, the web site is very slow. Not snappy like, or any other website I use by choice for that matter. Seconds lagged each time I clicked a link.

Secondly, the category navigation is not very intuitive.

Thirdly, it looks like the site is quite different depending on if you are signed in or not. The site is more appealing when they are trying to lure you into registration, and frankly it's faster too. Tolerably fast. offers fewer categories, perhaps to remove clutter and reduce load times.

Once you log in, its the slow site. Clicking on "Science Fiction & Fantasy" now and you can feel the delay before the page loads. You get to a page that displays, among other sub-categories for fantasy etc:

# Sci-Fi: Classic (217)
# Sci-Fi: Contemporary (555)

That is not a great number of titles. It gets more frustrating after clicking around twenty pages or so, the amount it took me to figure out "Contemporary" means anything since 1980. There is no way to browse with multiple filters, for example all "contemporary" sci-fi that was also on the New York Times best sellers list. The closest thing offers is all 555 titles, sorted by how often they are sold on

I clicked on that link, got frustrated at how long the page was taking to load and was able to type "I'm composing this" before the page loaded.

Suffice it to say, now that has entered the audio book market place, you web site needs a huge overhaul to be competitive:

1) Speed. The competition is a click away.
2) Breadth of content: I understand sci-fi may be your weak area, but if you don't have what I want for all my audio book needs, I'll go elsewhere.
3) Navigation. Browsing a book store is easy and pleasurable. You're website needs to be even easier. Let me go to sci-fi, and then narrow down to New York Times best sellers. Then let me sort by newest first. By letting me narrow in, and showing me what path I am on, you would let me feel like I am getting closer to the perfect purchase. Otherwise I'm lost in the woods, and leave.

Friday, March 20, 2009

No ESAPI in Python yet?

I'm considering Python for my next big project. I've been doing ColdFusion for the last 10 years but am liking the karma from open source. So I've been digging into the Python documentation, finished reviewing the Python Standard Library and the Django tutorials.

Next, I wanted to look at some reference implementations in Python as a way of further familiarizing myself with coding best practices. I had stumbled across an implementation of OAuth in Python last week but wasn't ready yet. Specifically, I wanted to look an a reference implementation of ESAPI, the Enterprise Security API from the brilliant folks at OWASP.

Surprisingly, all OWASP offered was the referece implementation in Java, plus some "under construction" pages for .Net and ColdFusion. Elsewhere on the web I found an implementation in pHp, but nothing in Python.

So I know the whole idea of open source depends on the community effort, but I'm not thinking ESAPI can be my first Python app. I'll work on gaining l33t Python skills, but in the mean time it'd be great to see ESAPI in Python. Django community, I nominate you guys!