Tag Archives: Ecommerce

Thousands of Secret Santa Ideas for under £5


It’s been a funny old week yet again. The things I have learned about databases this week you won’t find in books. I have learned some voodoo that is so powerful that it makes me seriously wonder if databases are a good idea at all… Having optimized tables and adding column indexes and explaining sql till the cows come home, I managed to improve the speed of certain queries by a gazillion percent (and that’s an official benchmark) by acting on a hunch of a suspicion of a fantasy of a this’ll-never-work idea. You simply wouldn’t believe.

Still lots to do still… but in the meantime…

Go find a Secret Santa idea at Burning a Hole.

Launched… (kinda)

After a few bumps and scrapes to get there… Burningahole.co.uk launched but it did seem a bit slow… I still have a heap of db optimization to do but it was really slow…

Setting up Lighttpd wasn’t a breeze though I got it working, this page helped, but I wouldn’t be so bold as to call it “painless”… Anyway, for some reason I thought I’d check the HTTP headers (“curl -I the_url_you_want_to_check”) in the Terminal and found that I was running in development mode… oh how we laughed… It’s a bit like getting a new engine for your car and then dumping it in the boot…

So today I managed to get BurningaHole using the RIGHT engine and it’s a lot, lot quicker…

Look at what happened in the £50 section (above)… almost like the parlour game… consequences… made me laugh…

Burning a Hole: The Search Engine For People Who Don’t Know What They Want


A while ago I decided to have a look at both Amazon and Google and see what was wrong with them and came to the conclusion that they are great when you know what you want, but not so good when you are looking for inspiration.

I also thought that people quite often have no idea what they do want but know what they don’t want and will only know what they want when they see it. It’s why department stores are so good, you get to dismiss hundreds of items very quickly.

There are thousands of dummy front-end shops out there, I wanted to do something that added value to shopping, that was genuinely useful, my own Purple Cow if you like.

So I created a web crawler to search hundreds and hundreds of sites (including Amazon, Woolies, John Lewis, I Want One Of Those etc) so that I could list products not by category (although you can do that) but by price. Often I needed to buy a present for someone and I had a price range in mind but absolutely no idea what to get them (I am rubbish at present-buying).

If you are like me, then Burning a Hole is for you. Go get your Christmas shopping done now… or at least find a really funny Secret Santa present this year!


Sam points to Cybergrot, which has to be based on Reggie Perrins original idea. Mad then… mad now… strangely compelling though.

Mummifed Mouse!
Dead Mouse. Q. Is this the only dead mouse for sale on the internet? A. Certainly not €“ we are selling two! This one is recently deceased,…

Product Tagging Tool – Hawkee.com

This is an interesting idea. The idea is that when shopping for products online, you tag the items you are interested in buying, the site then can show you (and everybody else) all the items that match a tag (such as “camera” or “nokia”)…

I can’t imagine anyone except the shop-keepers actually doing this, but I imagine if there’s a body of products and yours isn’t listed that it may be easy to tag yours up and have it thrown into the “tag soup”, so to speak, and so expand the product listings organically.

Product Tagging Tool – Hawkee.com