December 22nd, 2013

So I want to move some tunes to the iPad so I can have a play with Tracktor, which I’ve just bought. But I’m out of space and I need to delete a couple of gigs worth of Star Wars comics. You can’t do this from the iPad so I have to turn on my PC. Whilst I’m waiting for that to boot I consider the thought that any OS that doesn’t expose you to the file system is basically a toy.

Windows eventually opens and I scrabble round the back for the iPad connector. There are two: a large one, upon which I have written “CHARGE”, and a small one which says “CONNECT”, which I plug in. I briefly consider what sociopathy was behind Apple changing the wiring of the connector but not the shape, so connectors weren’t compatible from one generation to the next.

Next I open iTunes. This I use as infrequently as possible and consequently almost always have to update it when I connect. I updated the iPad to iOS 7 post the last synch so there’s no way on the planet I’m going to get away without an update. Sure enough I need iTunes 11.1 or something like that: it won’t play at all with the iPad until. For some reason the d/l won’t launch from Chrome so I open FF and it starts to work. This is definitely going to take a while and I think about tweeting the pain.  I realise it’s bigger than a tweet, much bigger. Maybe I should blog it? It’s been a while.

I hunt for a few mins for my Worpress password before logging in. Then I see that WP is out of date: I’m careful about this after being hacked a couple of years ago so I run the updater, pausing only to hunt for my FTP password. This takes a few mins, then I update all the plugins and themes that were out of date. New WP looks nice.

Meanwhile iTunes is still installing. At least 15mins by now. I get distracted wrapping a few presents and then realise that the girls have woken up next door and are chatting. I pop in for a hug and take the iPad as a distraction, explaining that I’m wrapping and that they shouldn’t come in. They’re doing fashion stickers anyway, but I leave it with them.

iTunes finally installs.  No I don’t want it to scan for media, I just want to delete a few …oh. The girls have the iPad.

This is the kind of viscosity that fills my life every day. I’ve disappeared down a rabbit hole of things I didn’t know I needed to do, and have failed to do the thing I set out to do.

I turn around and look at all the presents I have to wrap, then decide to write this instead.

Expert reviews

October 11th, 2012

Whenever I commit to an expert review of a site I feel a low-level anxiety about whether I can add value: whether I’ll find anything pertinent to say about it. Whether I will justify my fee.

I needn’t worry. All websites are bad when you take a deep enough look at them. All of them.

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Persuasion psychology at GBK

January 24th, 2012

GBK waiting staff have a problem. Not an attitude problem, far from it, no, a problem altogether closer to their hearts. A money problem…

The restaurant is genius. They’ve packaged-up a fast-food burger joint in organic, interior-designed ribbons and created a Macdonalds that it’s okay to eat at if you’re middle class. It would be interesting to compare the calorie count or the fat content of a Big Mac to that of the bacon cheeseburger I ate this afternoon. This thought occurs to me as I dislocate my jaw like a python in an effort to take my first bite, and a stream of meat juice and hot fat trickles over my fingers and onto my plate. There can be no healthy high ground to claim here.

Like McD’s you pay at the counter, up-front before your meal. This is brilliant business: fewer staff and no tables needlessly filled whilst occupants wait for their bill. This also means, crucially, that you can leave without interacting with anyone. As soon as you’re done, you’re gone. There’s no chance for the waiters to remind you that they exist, and therefore you feel little obligation to tip. And because of the set-up you don’t have to look too far for justification. After all, you ordered at the counter, right? And you helped yourself to water, so what did they actually do?

It’s clear that someone responsible regards this as a problem. Perhaps the churn rate was too high, or maybe the quality of applicants fell once word got out. Either way, clear measures are now in place to leverage one of the fundamental human traits and fix the problem. Reciprocity.

As I pay, the casier hands me two glasses: “Help yourself to monkey nuts by the door”. Hmmm. Monkey nuts. That’s strange, they don’t have anything to do with burgers. Later, the chips arrive and the waitor asks me if I’d like mayo (yes please), and he returns with a pot so delicious it makes me question the identity of the low fat gloop in my own fridge. Twice I’m asked if I want something for free, and twice I am explicitly given something. I’m sensitive to these kinds of tactics after reading in Yes! about the tricks waiters use to increase tips. And these small incidents are both clearly attempts to leverage my innate sense of reciprocity and obligate me to tip.

Reciprocity is a deeply ingrained human trait. Return the favour. One good turn. Do unto others. So deeply ingrained that most of the time we’re not really aware of it when it motivates our behaviour. Psychologists know this and canny restauranteurs know this too. But I suspect that when we know it’s happening; when we sense a deliberate attempt to manipulate, we’ll be even less likely to tip. I wonder what effect these efforts have had.

I walk out, smugly drafting this post and jangling the pound coins still in my pocket, too clever to be caught out by these manifestly obvious tactics. But then, with a start, I realise I’ve been had after all. The reason we chose GBK was the two burgers for £10 in Jan offer. Two for £10 in Jan. Jan.

The offer was running out. Scarcity.

According to the science of persuasion scarcity, along with reciprocity, is one of the six cardinal motivators. Zing! I got got! So it’s hats off to GBK after all, as if a delicious burger wasn’t enough to make  me warm inside.

And if you’re interested in the other four motivators, comment on this post within the next three days and I’ll give you them all for free!

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WordPress upgraded

December 13th, 2011

This is a bit of a ‘hello world’ from WordPress 3.3. Having iterated my way through half a dozen versions to get the site from 1.5 to here, I’m pretty happy that most of my styling is intact. I’m going to have to get my hands dirty with a bit of css, and the site is looking pretty dated now, but the admin interface is slick enough to give me some enthusiasm to get on with it.

Welcome back :-)

Malware be gone

December 9th, 2011

It was some sort of scripted invisible iFrame. God knows what it was trying to do but I’ve got rid of it now. I definitely need to update my ancient WordPress install to shore up the security. Who knows, perhaps that will be the catalyst to start writing again.


December 7th, 2011

Okay, I know I’ve neglected the site for a while but that’s no reason for some foo to hack my wordpress and drop some malware. I’m trying to chase this down, but for the moment you can assume that just by visiting this page something has tried to infect you. Sorry. Scumbags.

Children as random statement generators

March 17th, 2010

Daddy: “You are Piper Pearson!”
Piper: “I am Piper Pearson. I am Piper ceiling. I am pirate Piper window!”

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Lunch links

November 19th, 2009

  • Muvi Micro DV clip-on camcorder. 2GB micro-sd card = 2 hours of VGA. So a 16GB card can record pretty much your every waking moment. Hmmm, lifecording anyone? Oh, battery life is 2-3hrs. Maybe not just yet then.
  • Robert X Cringely’s latest column has some interesting thoughts on the shift to mobile computing, and the interface changes that this will bring (“They’ll shine a laser into your eye today, painting a fabulous scene on the back of your eyeball”). Kurzweil, a minor deity in the Robotperson pantheon, pops-up, and RXC ends with a pretty explosive prediction that I’m a bit too mind-boggled to decide if I agree or disagree with:

    And the way we’ll shortly communicate with our devices, I predict, will be through our thoughts. By 2029 (and probably a lot sooner) we’ll think our input and see pictures in our heads.

  • Who on earth designs the Space Shuttle mission badges? Napoleon Dynamite? They deserve to have their eyes poked out with a fork.
  • That links nicely to the new Jared Hess movie, Gentlemen Broncos (trailer below), which looks like a winner.
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November 11th, 2009

…No one’s been like Gaston
A king pin like Gaston
No one’s got a swell cleft in his chin like Gaston…

Brainworm alert: Gaston’s song from Beauty and the Beast:

Oliver Sachs discusses the concept:


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Lunch links

July 19th, 2009

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