Archive for July 2007

MapBlogging comes to town

I’ve always been curious about what life is like as a taxi driver. Living in the city, I’m usually only in a cab for a few minutes at a time, so I’ve always been left wondering what an entire shift is like.

I’ve been reading a couple of taxi-blogs for a while. One of them happens to be a local driver… and he’s started using MyMaps to enhance his blogging.

First time I’ve seen this kind of thing done. Having the map certainly adds a whole new (no pun intended) dimension to his story.

Updated 28/07/07: It’s been pointed out to me that I was lax and forgot to include the URLs of the blog AND of his map.

The blog is Man of Lettuce, the post was CabMap, and it links to the MyMap

Donnie darko comes to sydney

Donnie darko comes to sydney

Originally uploaded by zhasper

Donnie darko comes to sydney

Harry Potter: done.

So, I’m finished.

I want to talk about the ending, about how annoyed I am that it was Kirk who showed up instead of Picard, how annoyed I was when it turned out that McGonagall was Voldemort in disguse, and how annoyed I am that Rowley let Ron and Hermione shag in what was meant to be a children’s book…

But I can’t, because none of you lot are finished yet. Hurry up, goddamit! I call an end to protection from spoilers as of Tuesday.

Harry Potter: Mystery Solved

I’ve only just got the book, barely read any, but I already know the ending – the cover gives it away.

Look here, on the back cover, just starting to appear over hogwarts:

That’s right, it’s the NCC-1701.. D? I think it’s the D, but it could be an earlier model. You probably know it better as the Enterprise, from Star Trek

That’s right: The Enterprise is going to arrive at hogwarts, reveal that Voldemort and the Dementors are aliens, use some variation on the Corbomite maneouver to trick them out of hiding, then chase them back home (and generally save the day).

J K Rowling, you’re a genius.

The image of the NCC-1701 A comes from Randy Asplund’s site, which you should visit to see more of his work.

Irony of the day

(stolen whole from Andrew Bartlett – he says it better than I can. I usually only quote snippets, but this time the whole thing is so small I really can’t.)

On the day the federal government overturned some of our most fundamental democratic freedoms such as (a) people being innocent until proven guilty and (b) ensuring courts determine who is imprisoned rather than governments, a Senate Committee hearing was being held in Canberra into legislation to implement the government’s new citizenship test.

That’s the test where migrants have to show they understand basic Australian values such as democracy, the rule of law and a fair go before they are allowed to become a citizen.

(I won’t be voting for Andrew – I’m not enrolled in Queensland. I would if I was though).

I can’t express how angry I am.

The retail experience, done well

Seth Godin says:

This is dumb, and the web makes it obvious why it’s dumb. It’s dumb because it makes it easier for the clerk, not for the customer. And dumb because it plays to the label’s ego, not to ours.

Does anyone say, “okay, even though my son wears size large boxers, these striped ones are really nice, I’ll buy the small instead.” Of course not.

So why not put all the large boxers right next to each other, regardless of designer and style?

When you go to Home Depot to get what you need to build something out of wood, why don’t you find the glue and the wood saws and the screwdrivers and the screws all together in a section called, “working with wood”?

Just by chance, I was at a retailer which has already taken Seth’s advice on the weekend. They have departments based on function: you can get most items from different departments, but anything you need for a particular function will be grouped together. All your bedroom needs are in one location – and most of those are also available in the storage department, or the household organisation department, or the bathroom department, or…

They work on “add-on” selling too: the bookshelf I was interested in is demonstrated in store in a wide variety of settings: in some places it has plastic boxes on the shelves, in other places wicker baskets, in other cases sets of drawers or a door. In some places it holds books, in some places it holds knick-knacks (all available for sale at Ikea of course). It’s in lounge rooms in some places, bedrooms in other places.

The shop is, of course, Ikea.

They have plenty of other remarkable features too: a restaurant with cheap, but quality, food – including bottles of baby food, and signs encouraging breast feeding. There are trolleys with child seats; baby-change tables in both mens and womens toilets, and even baby seats on the back of cubicle doors (yes, even in the mens!) so that you don’t have to leave your baby for an instant. What other store do you know of that goes to such lengths to make the shopping experience for a young family so easy?

Even Ikea’s marketing messages are spot-on. They have posters explaining why their goods are flat-packed. There’s no handwaving, or vague statements about things being “better for you and us” this way. Instead, there’s a direct statement to the effect that “It lowers the cost you have to pay”. It’s direct, it’s blunt – and it unequivocally lays out the benefit to the consumer in terms that Ikea’s target market care about.

Every time I go to Ikea, I see yet another sign that they understand their target market, and that they’re relentless about making sure that their target market has the best possible experience while in the Ikea store. It’s getting disturbing: I almost want to give them money I don’t have just because I see them doing such a good job at trying to take my money off me.