Cautionary Tale

I just wanted to re-post something that Shaun Slatter just put on Facebook

I have been using the service for some time. Finally today after much anticipation, I finally got the bobcat. He was much larger, and angrier than expected. This was likely due to this 300lb machine of deaths .5 sq ft package, with insufficient styrofoam packing peanuts. Upon receiving the package, I used my trusty pocketknife to break the seal. This action caused me to knick the bobcat’s ear, which sent it into a rabid frenzy. It terrorized my family for over 7 hours and ate my children’s pets. Animal control has left with the bobcat, my wife has left with the children, and I Am currently undergoing reconstructive surgery to repair the lacerations from this animal gnawing on my face, like fido did with his rawhide before he became this beasts snack. You’ll be hearing from my attorneys.

While I have yet to hear from Shaun’s attorneys, his post has spurred me into getting some liability insurance for the bot as you never know what mood bobcats will arrive in. USPS isn’t as gentle as they used to be. Shaun later posted an update…

Wife has left me for bobcat. I’ve come to terms, I just want them to be happy. Next month’s box better have a gift certificate for therapy.

Item Of The Day: 11 in 1 Multi Pocket Tool

One of the bot’s most popular items, only availabe for those with keywords tool or survival selected, is this wallet-sized multi-use tool. It is can be your…
-Can opener
-Knife edge
-Cap opener
-4 position wrench
-Butterfly wrench
-Saw blade
-Direction ancillary indication
-2 position wrench
-Lanyard hole (key ring hole)

Great for camping, hiking, backpacking, hunting, trail riding, measuring very small distances or bottle opening. The seller advertises a 12 month warranty, so if you break yours let me know!


Bot Now Buying From Etsy

The bot has started to buy items from across a number of keywords, from cloth swatches to guitar picks to vintage buttons to wooden dice. These are all at the lowest price range Etsy offers, usually around $5 including shipping.

You are always in control of the keywords, how many packages the bot buys, and the total amount the bot spends every month. With those parameters set, the bot tries to find the best package mix possible. Sites like Etsy help the bot find items for new keywords like manatee. It has been pretty much impossible to find manatee items for $1 or less with free shipping. They are endangered after all. But add a couple dollars to the budget and there are manatees for sale everywhere.

How can I get the bot to buy me somewhat fancier packages from Etsy?
Simply login to your account and make sure that your budget is at least $4 per package. (Note: If you have your account set at $1 per package, that is great too! The bot is still buying tons of dollar packages)

How does the bot ever have the funds to buy these expensive products?

Subscribers can login and change the target number of packages that the bot orders per month. Some folks have the bot set at 2-4 packages per month and so the bot has a bit more walking around money to spend on each package. The bot also rolls over funds that are not spent from one order to another. For example, one order might have a budget of $3 but the bot might buy something that costs just $1.25 from a Chinese wholesaler like Aliexpress. The bot will now have a budget of $4.25 for the next order and might be able to afford something from Etsy.

How are you actually buying the packages?
First the bot matches each order with a corresponding product in the database. Then the orders are processed either automatically or in batches by hand. The Etsy check out process is a bit different for different sellers, so I haven’t fully automated the buying on Etsy. It should go without saying that this is not any kind of official partnership with Etsy and I doubt Etsy is aware that the bot is buying through their site. Hopefully some day we can get the bot plugged in directly to their system!

Item Of The Day: Cute Korean Pens

Want colorful pens with animals and random words on them? Well quite a few of you want this sort of Kawaii stationery because it has some of the top feedback in the bot’s database. These Korean pens go out from keywords Kawaii, pen, stationery, cute or Korean.

Mayhem Caused By The Keyword ‘Mystery’

A subscriber to the bot wrote in today…

I have changed a keyword from being positive to negative yet am still getting packages with that keyword. When I set [my account] up originally I selected mystery as one of the key words, then since a lot of the packages had this keyword I removed it. I was still getting packages with the mystery keyword so I then added it as a negative keyword. How quickly do keyword changes take effect? As there have been new packages with the mystery keyword since I made that change.

The keyword ‘mystery’ and ‘random’ are unique. These words essentially refer to anything that you haven’t specifically asked for, which includes everything bought by the bot. So these keywords will match every product the bot has.

New orders that are “pending” where the bot hasn’t yet confirmed the order are also marked as ‘mystery’. So everyone will always see a few ‘mystery’ packages at the top of their account. Eventually those ‘mystery’ packages reveal the keywords they are tagged with and get a better estimated arrival date. Over time the packages become less mysterious.

It is impossible for the bot to buy packages not tagged as ‘random’ or ‘mystery’ so adding them as negative keywords won’t change anything. The ‘mystery’ packages that you see on your account are placeholders and once confirmed will change their keywords. If you really don’t want any mystery, you could have only one, clearly defined, positive keywords on your account. Then you will be guaranteed no mystery. But that is kind of besides the point here. We want some mystery and surprise.

Keyword changes take effect once a week with a few exceptions where they get updated more quickly. The bot runs a program to determine which products match which users’ keywords. These are the stats from that program last week…

Products matching keywords: average is 4,346 products per address
Required positive keywords: average is 26 keywords per address

Item Of The Day: Colorful Mice

These squeaky toy mice are a favorite of those who have ‘cat toy’ or ‘cats’ as keywords. The seller writes…

Can make clear sound, draw your cat’s attention easily and arouse its curiosity. Make your pet feel more interesting, energetic, nimbler.

Whose cat doesn’t want to feel more interesting? They show mice in every color, from pink to green to orange, but the bot doesn’t get any choice in what color mouse it buys. It must be decided at the whim of someone on the fulfillment center, which seems appropriate.

The manufacturer also sent the bot this map showing their worldwide shipping times and supply chain. I know quite a few subscribers have questions about shipping for the first month when items are in transit. This breaks down their process a bit. I think customs is the biggest chunk of the delivery time. Packing the little mice on a plane and getting them to the cats that need to feel more interesting can’t take long.

First Bought
Dec 15, 2015

cat toy

Item Of The Day: Armored Batman Lego

An angry Batman armored minifigure from TT toys has a cape, grimace and glazed over eyes, presumably because of all the injustice in Gotham. This is one of the most popular items bought by the bot. What I didn’t quite understand, was why Batman has a gun. After some digging, I have figured it out. TT Toys is a Milan based manufacturer that specializes in replica pedal and electric cars. Not bat specialists*. I have no idea how they got from tiny cars to superheroes but perhaps they should stick to making Lamborghinis you can pedal around the block. Batman doesn’t use guns. Wikipedia confirms: “An exception to the range of Batman’s equipment are guns, which he refuses to use on principle, since a gun was used in his parents’ murder.” On the other hand, perhaps TT toys are on to something. As you can see from the below feedback chart a whooping 86% of subscribers who get this little guy give the package a thumbs up. Not bad at all.

* A bat specialist is called a chiropterologist. The more you know.

First Bought
Jan 20, 2016


Item Of The Day: Resurrection Plant

A subscriber wrote in with a picture of this very unusual and interesting resurrection plant.  She writes “The plant is awesome. It is basically dead and can survive like that for years apparently. Then when you add water it comes back to life. This is what it looks like after a couple of hours in water [see below picture]. You should get the bot to buy this for others.”

The top picture is how the plant shows up, the bottom picture the subscriber sent in after it had been in water for a few hours.

First Bought
Feb 4, 2016