Let your code do the (holiday) shopping

Software developer creates a program to randomly choose and buy stuff


Under the hood he makes this happen with Wordnik API (to choose a random keyword) and PhantomJS, a headless WebKit with a JavaScript API.

He recently received his first deliveries: a Noam Chomsky book, Cartesian Linguistics, and a CD of music by Ákos Rózmann, a Hungarian avant-garde electro-acoustic composer. You can see what other treasures his program buys for him in future months by following along on his Random Shopper Tumblr. Rest assured I’ll be following.

I’m fascinated by this whole project. I love that people have the time, money and drive to do stuff like this, and that they share it with the world. More importantly, I think Kazemi has the seed of a commercial product here. I know I would consider buying a tool that would shop for me, without requiring me to actually figure out what to get my loved ones (or put on pants). However, I would suggest a few feature enhancements, such as:

  1. Allow me to specify for whom I'm buying gifts; if it’s something for my wife, by default, add a gift card that begins with “I’m sorry, honey...”
  2. If the program buys something breakable (e.g., wine glasses, fine china, etc.), have it reorder the item in six months, after I’ve inevitably broken the original one.
  3. When buying a gift for either of my daughters, automatically rule out and CD’s associated with the words “Justin Bieber” or “One Direction.” This is a must-have feature.


This, of course, is just a starter list. Would you be interested in an auto-shopping product? What features would you request?

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