December 16, 2006

John Hancock can't divide

Evidently, they can't do basic arithmetic 56 out of 168 hours a week (i.e., 33% of the time). Whoever spent all this time fine-tuning the color palette of this web page clearly should have been doing something else.

This quote is a gem: "This flexible tool is designed to...". This tool which, er, does division of two floating point numbers?

Posted by bnc at 12:23 AM

December 03, 2006


No thanks to, I finally managed to find a Wii!!! What did it take to obtain one in Northern California two weeks after the launch?

Well, first, I began by slumming around random message boards to figure out which chains were actually going to be selling on Sunday. It happens I decided on Target since there's a store within reasonable driving distance of my place., incidentally, has been trickling Wiis out using some sort of randomized "Add to Shopping Cart" algorithm with legions of people dedicated to sitting in front of their computers refreshing over and over until the magic "Add to Shopping Cart" button appears. Extremely annoying, especially given that the window to buy is less than a few seconds and requires that you have 1-Click buying enabled to even have a shot at it.

Second, I tried specific stores to verify Wiis were actually in stock. Some chains (e.g., EB Games) were rumored to have stock on Friday, but those rumors turned out to be false. Target (and Circuit City) was one of the few chains that actually had received stock on Thursday. Here is a useful conversation template to have with a Target employee to verify that Wiis are in stock at a store of interest:

  • Target: Hello, this is Target Team Member X. How may I .. blah blah blah blah blah ?

  • You: Do you have any Wii consoles in stock?

  • Target: No. They're all sold out.

  • You: The Wii shipment you received on Y (e.g., Thursday in this case), when are those going to be made available?

  • Target: Err ... um ... Sunday. How did you know about the shipment?

  • You: Everybody knows.

I'm not sure how generalizable these observations are to Target in general, but here are some notes based on my interaction with Target El Cerrito:

  • If you ask when they are getting their next shipment of Wiis in, they will always claim they don't know, even if they already have received a shipment and it's sitting in the back of the store.

  • If you ask whether they will be using a ticket system to distribute Wiis when they open the doors (8am), they will all say there will be no ticket system. In Target El Cerrito's case, this was false. They handed out orange tickets (full sheets of paper, each numbered from 1 to 18) at around 7:45am.

  • If you ask how many Wiis they have in the back (this assumes you have already had them verify what you already know, namely that they have Wiis in stock), they will all claim they don't know. This may, in fact, be true (see next point). The security guard claimed only she and the manager knew how many were locked up in back. She also mentioned that they (El Cerrito Target) were supposed to receive 24, but instead only received 18.

  • It appears that Target employees don't get any special treatment and have to queue up like everyone else. Today, I observed a Target employee in uniform show up after the tickets had already been distributed and seemed disappointed she wasn't able to get one. Related, it was also amusing to see a number of parents show up at 8am expecting to buy that perfect Wii stocking stuffer for one of their kids. Clearly, these people do not comprehend the extent of Wii mania right now and the associated lack of supply. They seemed stunned that the entire shipment was sold out immediately when the store doors opened at 8am.

Third, I picked a specific Target store and showed up at around 6am. While I'm sure the two hour wait here was infinitely more tolerable compared to, say, Chicago, where apparently it was -3 F this morning, it nevertheless was definitely an arctic experience queueing up there until 8am! It was interesting to see the mix of people lined up too, a fairly even split between gamers and parents (presumably) wanting to buy Wiis for their kids, etc. for Christmas. Finally, one more note on Target El Cerrito: they only received consoles this time, no extra controllers, no new games, etc. They said they would be receiving more probably this week, but that's almost a useless statement without further details on specifics. As a data point, the cutoff time for 18 consoles at Target El Cerrito was around 6:25am. Everyone in line after the cutoff point (about 30+ other people) was out of luck and obviously not amused by the lack of transparency in the process (e.g., if they knew a priori that the store was going to have 18 units, they could have just left immediately and load balanced over to the Pinole store, which evidently had 30 units).

Posted by bnc at 05:17 PM