Sunday, May 06, 2007


If you've used Amazon you'll know that they make recommendations based partly on items you've bought (suggesting similar books/dvds etc) and partly based on other things bought by other Amazon customers who have bought the same sort of things as you (if that makes sense, which I suspect it doesn't). I bought a Spike Milligan book recently (the last in his war years autobiography, it is a comedy as you might expect from Milligan) and the following is an email I subsequently received from Amazon:

Greetings from,

We've noticed that customers who have expressed interest in books by Spike Milligan have also ordered Health Monitoring of Structural Materials and Components: Methods with Applications by Douglas Adams. For this reason, you might like to know that this book is now available. You can order your copy for just £66.50 by following the link below.

Book Description
This book covers the health monitoring of structural materials and components, and is split into three main areas: 1) loads identification 2) in situ damage identification (diagnostics), and 3) reliability prediction (prognostics). This book appeals to newcomers to the subject and those with a greater understanding, and application of the technical skills involved, such as practitioners and researchers, who wish to have a reference text to address current and future changes in this emerging field. The introduction itself consists of a definition of terminology, a review of the current state of the art technology, and the approach to health monitoring of structural materials and components that is adopted. The second section comprises ...

I thought, it's by Douglas Adams and he wrote The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, so it must be a comedy and that's why it's been recommended. No, it's not. It's what it looks like from the title and description. It seems to be written by Douglas E Adams, who is not the same person as Douglas Adams.

It's obvious that Amazon's clever system of working out recommendations doesn't account for people being interested in more than one topic. Clearly there is a Spike Milligan fan who is also a structural engineer, but that doesn't mean that every Spike Milligan fan loves structural engineering. And I should say I'm not really a big fan of Milligan except for his war years books. In fact I probably like structural engineering more than I like Milligan's other books/poetry/TV etc.

On an unrelated topic, it's Sunday morning and I'm getting well used to not going to church, although funnily enough I'd rather not have had a ruptured Achilles Tendon. I've stopped missing church in fact. Not that I have ever missed morning services, they mean less than nothing to me, but I don't miss Evensong either.


  1. You mean you don't love "Structural Engineering" I am disappointed! Having said that "Civil Engineering" is much more fun.

  2. Just thought I should say "hi"...been reading for ages, you crack me up! Even have a link on my blog to yours so that you can crack them up also ;)

    Feels a little less 'stalkerish' if I announce!

  3. Thanks very much Colleen. Glad you enjoy the Blog.

    And I think this is the first time I've ever been stalked! :-)