At That Price, Must Be Good

A bit priceyI’ve bought many things from Amazon Warehouse Deals – their open-box, returned but still good, end-of-line products outlet –  but I’ve never seen a deal like this.  There’s much excitement over on Hot UK Deals, and there’s only two left.  Hurry, Christmas is only a few weeks away…


Business, Marketing, Music, Society

But It’s a Bargain

The volume rocker of the Amazon Kindle 2

The volume rocker of the Amazon Kindle 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve just noticed on that the top five kindle books at the moment are all priced between £0.20 and £0.99.  Is this a coincidence or is it the same reason I also bought the number one book (besides it being a QI book) – only 20p, I’m having that!

I’m sure they’re all good books but it also shows that almost giving content away can give a book, or music, momentum in the sales charts.  It’s only really been possible thanks to digital media’s lower distribution costs and the benefit is that once people have tried it they’ll tell others about it and maybe they’ll still buy it even if it’s at a higher price later.

The music industry needs to pay attention.  It isn’t devaluing, it’s marketing.

Science, Society

Unpredictability on Trial

L'Aquila, Abruzzo, Italy. A goverment's office...

L’Aquila, Abruzzo, Italy. A goverment’s office disrupted by the 2009 earthquake (’Aquila_earthquake ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week six scientists and an ex-official were convicted of manslaughter in Italy because, it was said, they had given misleading and falsely reassuring advice to government officials.  Following a tremor in the L’Aquila area in 2009 scientists told officials that a further quake was not impossible but not likely.  In this region people would usually stay outside following a smaller quake but taking the advice as meaning they were safe many went home and when a larger quake occurred many were tragically killed.

Scientists have been trying to find some pattern, some definite precursor effect that will indicate an imminent earthquake for decades but aside from the theory that earthquakes can process along fault lines as movement during one can move the geological stress further along the ability to say when one will occur still eludes them – therefore the best they can say is that one may occur.

The Fortean literature is full of stories of Earthlights – small balls of glowing plasma – floating over fault lines and animals leaving the immediate area in the hours before quakes but again these effects haven’t been documented or proven.

If the authorities had said “there is a possibility that this smaller quake could lead to a massively destructive one” and evacuated every time there was a quake in a seizmologically active area it would cause chaos and cost a fortune, and how long do you tell people to stay away?  A follow-up quake could happen the day everyone returns.

The L’Aquila verdict will have an effect on science, as many are already saying; the journal Nature called the verdict “perverse and the sentence ludicrous” and called for protests, and the head of Italy’s disaster body has resigned stating that the commission could not work under such pressure in the future.  It will make scientists more weary about telling anyone about their discoveries, or offering any advice at all just in case one time something goes wrong.

[BBC News Magazine, BBC News, BBC News]

Health, Psychology, Society

Being Yourself, Being Happier

Cherai Couple

Cherai Couple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These days we are bombarded with imagery and articles telling us we should look a certain way, wear certain things, use certain perfumes or aftershaves and act certain ways to find love.  Most of this only makes people feel inadequate and depressed because they can’t achieve these ideals.

As this article by Ken Page describes trying to be someone who you just aren’t is emotionally exhausting and will either attract the kind of partner who won’t really be right for you or will put everyone off altogether.  You also need to be patient and not obsessed with “not being single”.

The most important thing to do is to respect and encourage your authentic self to surface, some people won’t like you doing that but being true to yourself is more important than keeping everyone happy.  Once you accept your gifts and flaws then your let your authentic self out you will feel more relaxed with yourself, will feel happier and can then attract the right kind of partner, one will be in harmony with you.

[Psychology Today]


You, You Make Me Feel… Brassed Off

Eddie Bright Eyes

Eddie Bright Eyes (Photo credit: Picture Zealot)

To put it politely.

Today’s example of modern lack of consideration comes courtesy of someone in my apartment building who was playing one song (the Stylistics version of You Make Me Feel Brand New) for at least two and a half hours on repeat until 2.00 am this morning.  The acoustics of our building means that the sound resonates, you can’t really tell where it’s coming from, it’s just a ghostly background noise that gets steadily louder as your ears get used to the otherwise silent night, each high note flicking your almost slumbering brain back into consciousness.

I tried putting the mattress on the floor as it was a bit quieter down there, which was strange as the music was definitely from an apartment lower down than mine but not my friend’s immediately below.  In the end I lay on the sofa, then it started raining which drowned out the music and is a sound I can fall asleep to easily.  I had been considering knocking on the door of the suspected culprit but wasn’t sure of the response I’d get; would the music stop or get louder?  These days you can’t be sure.

In the end it stopped, shortly after.  Luckily I could have a lay-in this morning.

Architecture, Tech

Welcome Home

bath & candles

bath & candles (Photo credit: elprofeabra)

Imagine a home that senses how you’re feeling when you arrive home, if you’re apparently feeling worn out it automatically alters the lighting, sets the perfect temperature and runs you a bath. Or one that detects lots of people, music etc and knows it’s a party and turns the heating down a bit for everyone’s comfort.  This could be part of the future of architecture – buildings that can feel, that can sense their environment and their occupants and react accordingly and a building in Paris has been equipped with sensors and interactive elements that allow the building to learn about its visitors and react to them, even to the point of choosing who to allow into its very heart.

One day, with the advances in sensors which could be built into appliances and fittings could even detect health issues.  At the basic level your home or office could just put itself to sleep to save energy when you go out.  Just don’t forget to say goodbye and goodnight when you go on holiday.

Watch the BBC’s video report here


Too Posh to Pass Politely

English: I'm watching you Charming carved ston...

I’m not sure it’s a modern thing but it certainly seems more prevalent today – the lack of basic courtesy.  At work I encounter customers who never say “hello”, “please” or “thank you”, just walk in and start demanding what they want like I am some kind of automaton, and then today yet another ignorant person on the street.

I’ve been at work all day, on my feet, all day, dealt with problems and hassles, all day, yet when I’m walking home and I see this man in an expensive looking wool coat and post-ironic, hipster flat cap walking towards me pushing a pushchair I wait beside a sign blocking one half of the pavement to let him go past first and he walks past without so much as a “thanks”.

I don’t hold doors, let people go first or help people for the thanks but I don’t do it because it’s my job, its common courtesy and it doesn’t cost anything to acknowledge that.

I don’t like to think that society is becoming more selfish and impolite but I have noticed this happening more often, that more people have this sense of entitlement, that they expect others to do things for them, to move out of the way, to let their car out first, and as such feel no need to simply say thank you.

I still have customers who sincerely say thanks but it feels like their number is dwindling.

Business, Marketing, Tech

Who’s Watching?

"Pay attention to me!"

As well as my online home here at WordPress I also regularly add pithy, witty, insightful comments on Gizmodo UK.  Well, when I have time and can think of something witty and insightful before someone else beats me to it.  I remember well the day when I got the email that told me I’d earned enough love and respect of my fellow commenters to get a gold star and the awesome responsibility to reward others and uphold the standards of good commenting that comes with it.

The comments sections of many blogs like Giz UK have a warm community feel to them, many are more, ahem, hostile but generally people are open and honest with their opinions.  The thing is though that you never know who else is reading the comments.

Imagine you’re in the pub with your friends discussing last nights match/Eastenders/curry/pint/copy of GQ when a man in a suit with a clipboard sits next to you and starts making notes, then politely corrects you on a couple of issues he has with your opinions.

Well, this is what some companies are already doing – dedicated staff trawl the internet for any mention of their products in comments and articles, ready to possibly intervene if a discussion starts to become negative.

It’s all part of the market research of course but it can, sometimes, make you wonder who’s looking over your virtual shoulder.

[Gizmodo UK]