Let your code do the (holiday) shopping
Software developer creates a program to randomly choose and buy stuff
Once upon a time, back in the day, in order to go Christmas or Hanukkah or birthday or anniversary or whatever shopping, you had to actually put on some clothes, leave the house and deal with other humans face-to-face. Then, catalog shopping came about and, eventually, the Internet and online shopping, and you could then buy stuff from the comfort of your home in your jammies without having to talk to, look it or interact with another person. And life was good.
Now, thanks to the work one of sharp software developer, you may soon be able to do your holiday shopping, not only in your underwear from your panic room, but without even having to be conscious. Darius Kazemi has created a program that will go shopping on Amazon, pick out items that fit within a budget and buy them, all without him having to click a mouse or even given it a thought. The catch, though, is that his program picks things to buy at random, so he doesn’t know what he getting until it shows up in his mailbox.
He calls the program he wrote the Amazon Random Shopper and writes that it was inspired by the excitement he'd get when an item he ordered online that was backordered finally arrived and he had forgotten it was even coming. What it basically does is, once a month, using a gift card with $50 loaded onto it, picks a random keyword, logs onto Amazon and searches for the lowest priced book, CD or DVD associated with the keyword and buys it, and repeats the process until the money is spent. A few days or later - voila! - a mystery package (or packages) arrives at Kazemi’s house.
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:
- 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...”
- 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.
- 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?