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Fast Amazon: Amazon searching made simple Pick of the Week
Faster Amazon widget icon The macosxhints Rating:
9 of 10
[Score: 9 out of 10]
OK, so I took the easy way out this week -- I let Steve Jobs make the Pick of the Week :). When I saw him demo the Fast Amazon widget during the keynote yesterday, I knew it was going to become a favorite of mine. I look a lot of stuff up at Amazon. I buy a fair amount of stuff from them, too. However, I also use amazon.com as a good reference for questions like "what was that book called by XYZ?" But I don't really enjoy my time on the Amazon site -- there's just so much information presented, I get "circuit overload" in about five minutes of browsing.

Enter the Fast Amazon widget. Now I can run searches in a nice-looking, small floating window, and (most imporantly) view the results directly within the widget. I only visit the site now when I find a product that I'd like more detail on, or that I'm ready to purchase. You can specify which type of product to search for, and the widget remembers your recent searches. When you see something you like, a simple click takes you to that product page on the Amazon site.

I wish there were a way to control the number of results per page, but that's probably an Amazon restriction, not a widget issue. My only other complaint is that I'd like to be able to resize the widget vertically; I have enough screen space to show more of the results without scrolling, but the widget is of a fixed size. Finally, note that while this widget is free, Hans has encoded his Amazon affiliate ID in the link -- which I think is a perfectly acceptable thing to do in exchange for providing the widget for free.

I have Dashboard's dev mode enabled, and Fast Amazon is one of a very few widgets that have secured a spot on my desktop...
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Fast Amazon: Amazon searching made simple | 14 comments | Create New Account
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Fast Amazon: Amazon searching made simple
Authored by: hansef on Jun 07, '05 01:40:49PM

Thank you for the kind words. I've been working on adding an "All Products" search and international support for the last couple of days, so version 1.0 should be out soon. Like you said, the number of returned items is an Amazon Web Services thing. In version 2.0, probably out in early July, I will be supporting widget resizing and an additional option to view an item detail page instead of going directly to Safari on clicking a title.

I couldn't make it to WWDC this year, but my dad was there in the audience and he pretty much bursted when he saw that Jobs had used my widget as an example. I tried to make something that was genuinely useful and tastefully designed, not just the usual Amazon referralware that's floating around out there. Hopefully this will have a longer shelf life. Any additional suggestions for improvement anyone has are COMPLETELY welcome. If this type of widget really isn't your thing, period, I understand - but if there's something I can do to make it more useful let me know.

- Hans
Very proud Fast Amazon developer



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Fast Amazon: Amazon searching made simple
Authored by: Trunkmonkey on Jun 07, '05 07:46:14PM
If you haven't already, you might think about hooking up with the Amazon.com Associates Program to make some revenue off the search feature. ;)

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Fast Amazon: Amazon searching made simple
Authored by: rhowell on Jun 07, '05 01:47:49PM

I love the Fast Amazon widget!

OK, this is horribly off-topic, but I just downloaded the Fast Amazon widget (my first 3rd party widget) to check it out. Here's what I've found:

If Safari is set to open "safe" files automatically, it'll download the widget, decompress it, warn the user, and then move the widget to the user's local Library/Widgets folder (the folder is created if needed, the case for a newly installed user). Upon activating Dashboard, the widget is available in Dashboard's bar at the bottom. So far so good.

If Safari does NOT open "safe" files, or I imagine if the user is using another browser, a ZIP file is downloaded. The user double-clicks the ZIP file to decompress it, revealing the widget. The user then double-clicks the widget and Dashboard comes into focus, warns the user, and the widget is displayed in the work area, but it is not available in Dashboard's bar. The widget is not moved to the user's Library/Widgets folder, nor is the folder created if needed. The user then deletes the widget from his Desktop, but the widget is still available in Dashboard's work area. The user closes the widget (clicking X), and its gone forever. Clearly the widget wasn't installed properly, and this is either the user's fault, Finder's fault, or Dashboard's fault.

To summarize, no installation instructions are provided with most widgets. Worse, Safari handles these "safe" files completely differently than the Finder, the only time I've ever seen this (well, other than PDFs).

Am I missing something?



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Fast Amazon: Amazon searching made simple
Authored by: Shawn Parr on Jun 07, '05 08:02:59PM
Am I missing something?
Perhaps the 10.4.1 update?

Since that update Safari warns you that you are downloading an application. If you say to download it puts it in your default download location instead of ~/Library/Widgets

It would be nice if when selected in the Finder a widget gave you the option to install it instead of just run it.

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Fast Amazon: Amazon searching made simple
Authored by: Shawn Parr on Jun 07, '05 09:55:47PM

Er, apparently I spoke too soon. One widget I downloaded earlier did not install itself.

One I just downloaded did.

Weird, the previous one was an update so maybe it didn't move into ~/Library/Widgets as another with the same name was already there?



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Fast Amazon: Amazon searching made simple
Authored by: mark hunte on Jun 07, '05 01:48:47PM

I just did the

defaults write com.apple.dashboard devmode YES

And the went to the widget prefpane. made a change , change it back closed the pane.
Then did the secured a spot thing and it worked, NO logging out, restarting or killing the dock

---
mh



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Fast Amazon: Amazon searching made simple
Authored by: Auricchio on Jun 07, '05 04:11:00PM

If it's a widget, shouldn't it say "10.4" on the hint headline?

---
EMOJO: mojo no longer workin'



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Fast Amazon: Amazon searching made simple
Authored by: wrycooter on Jun 09, '05 12:04:25PM

Regarding this being labeled a 10. 4 hint--- Someone has hacked a way of using widgets with Panther-- so you do not have to be using Tiger to use Dashboard widgets (although I only use them in Tiger, which is only on my Powerbook at the moment, this desktop is using Panther)



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Fast Amazon: Amazon searching made simple
Authored by: mark hunte on Jun 07, '05 05:13:12PM

Further to my post above, on a hunch I reset the com.apple.dashboard devmode
to NO,

Checked the plist to make sure in the plist editor, and loged out and back in.
re checked the plist was on NO.

And then tried the detached widget, without setting the plist to YES.

And it worked, so does this work for any one else.. ??

---
mh



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Fast Amazon: Amazon searching made simple
Authored by: rhowell on Jun 07, '05 11:08:04PM

I don't know. I looked further into Apple's Dashboard help, and they do provide a link explaining how to remove a widget. I suppose anyone can figure out the reverse, installing a widget, from the instructions.

But for newbies, how are they going to find out they need to:

1) download the widget

2) decompress it

3) browse to their local Library folder and create a new folder titled "Widgets"

4) move the downloaded widget to this new folder

5) invoke Dashboard

This should be automated.



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Fast Amazon: Amazon searching made simple
Authored by: rhowell on Jun 07, '05 11:09:43PM

Sorry, replied to the wrong post.



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Fast Amazon: Amazon searching made simple
Authored by: dewitt on Jun 08, '05 04:21:47PM

Very cool application -- nicely done.

I recently built a different type of Amazon search that also integrates well with Safari. It combines Amazon's Web Services API with A9's OpenSearch technology to allow any search on Amazon to be saved as an RSS feed. They are perfect for adding product searches to your list of feeds in Safari -- you can see immediately when a new product matches your search, when the prices change, or whatever you are interested in.

Point Safari over to:

http://www.unto.net/aws/

and try a search. Safari should automatically pick up the RSS feed for the results.



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AmazonPedia Widget
Authored by: farranco on Jun 22, '05 04:55:51AM
I like AmazonPedia better. The listing is easy to see in a small window and it allows a full details page before going to Amazon. It lacks all the other catagories such a toys and clothing, but I mostly only buy books, and video games. Also I now use their apps to keep track of my media collection so that makes the widget even better; I add things I like to my wishlist in the pedia apps directly from AmazonPedia and don't have to remember it.

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Fast Amazon: Amazon searching made simple
Authored by: chris.wiggins on Jun 22, '05 06:06:49AM

hmm. this is pretty easy to do via google, which in turn is
doable from the command line.

e.g., make an alias like:

alias amazon "google site:amazon.com \!*"


and then make a command google like
[code]
export str=`echo $* | sed -e 's/+/%22/g' | sed -e 's/ /+/g' `
echo $str
open 'http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&c2coff=1&q='$str'&btnG=Search'
[/code]



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