Thursday, November 23, 2006

Buy It Like You Stole It - Charging A Penny Off A Pound

Some things in life you hate because you don't understand their existence but are forced to live with their presence. Retailers charging £9.99 opposed to £10 is one of those things to many people.
I've just found Tim Harford's section on the Financial Times website and discovered a half sensible answer. It is based on the premise that this type of pricing isn't there to trick the customer into thinking that the product is really any cheaper than a tenner but to force a fuller transaction to prevent staff theft.

How many times have you asked to change a note at a cashier for smaller change and been told you have to wait until they make a sale first so that they can open the till? To open the till a sale has to be made and to make sure the tender goes in the till and not in the wallet the transaction is wrangled by pricing that forces the employee to open up and give change.

This is fine for defining where the tradition comes from: the pre barcode era. But now where everything is scanned I think this custom is out of date.

We'll eliminate the penny coin yet.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Never Trust...

Never trust the skinny chef.
Never trust the overweight gym instructor.
Never trust the indebted economist... ah, bollocks

In February I begin to study economics with the OU (doing the less interesting maths stuff now) so I'm going to have to be out of debt by then else I'm not going to be able to trust myself. Even though it will be forking out for the course that keeps me in debt until then.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Surprising Mood Shifts & How To Create Two Monday's in a Week

Gah. I've just discovered how to manufacture a second Monday in a single week. Just making a note of this for the next time I decide to have a 3 day midweek break. It was the most god awful day at work. Friday disguised cunningly as 2nd Monday, only worse because it is like the evil worker pixies have been in on the weekend filling up the inboxes for the second one.

That and there was a special piece of information that has been really riling me up all day which I thought was going to plague me the whole weekend in pent-up frustration.

Alas, such a simple thing to turn it around. Young Cas over at Bright Meadow having a quite wonderful turn in self confidence before heading off for the evening.
Bang. All that infuriation gone, just like that.

Strangely it makes me feel somewhat better about sacrificing a night out with fellow Badgers to old Salisbury in order to hit the books. Anyhow, feelings are weird. So enough of that and time to hit some cold hard logical maths...

Lack of Prison Room -- A Cunning Plan?

Could it possibly be that our prison blocks are full to the hilt with little replenishment lined up just in case this 'pounds for peerages' thing ends up going badly?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Listen to the Dead Man

I hate it when this happens. It happened with Peter Drucker around this time last year too. I discover who they are and subsequently how brilliant they are because they have died.

This year that person is Milton Friedman.

Seriously, watch this YouTube video when he was interviewed on America's Drug Forum and tell me he doesn't convince you he is right. Genius.

It's about half hour long so you might want to stick it on whilst you're doing the housework, trimming the verge or bathing in the tub.

Technorati Tags = Milton Friedman Economist Drug Legalisation

Make Your Mark With a Tenner

Enterprise in schools is possibly one of the most under taught subjects going.

This idea present by the Prince's Trust is one of the best I've heard in a long time.
Give it a look and if you're a parent based in the UK I implore you to have your child's school participate.

Turning Into a Right Sentimental Git

I'm not one for birthday celebrations and so when I turned 24 six weeks or so ago I didn't think a great deal of it. Recently it has been hitting me: Mid-twenties now, no escaping it.

Point is, when I'm not meeting all the goals I set for myself a right sappy film like Pursuit of Happyness might just help out.

Still. The new style Bond movie in which I'm sure Daniel Craig will play a blinder is going to be my more immediate cinematic fix.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Putting Staff on the Clock

Jack Vinson has been trying to explain "what good looks like". His first example was of a CEO who stood by the front door bang on starting time so that (s)he could smile, heartily greet the latecomers and give them a slip reading: "Thank you for coming to work today. I was here at 8:30 am to welcome you. Would I have the pleasure of greeting you tomorrow morning at the same time? Signed, CEO" *

How would this play on white collar work? I think it would be an interesting test of quality on the part of the CEO and the "participants" in this little exercise.

Why the CEO, what's the impact? Well, the thought pattern goes that if you score a black mark with this person then that's career suicide. More immediately you think of the safety of your current position. Not worth the risk so you show up on time.

All makes sense so far. So who are we trying to catch? Your disengaged 9-5ers who basically take the piss.
Who are you likely to catch? All kinds:
your piss-takers (PTs)
your legitimate late attendees (doctors, dentists, exceptional traffic, one-off unreliable child care, etc...)
your hard working joe's that finish on time that'll happily do the extra 5 minutes at the end or take it out of their lunch break
your sloggers who were in the office until 7pm the night before finishing off a vital piece of work but still wanted the semblance of a regular evening to themselves and rather than sacrifice sleep they get a full cycle's kip, rush to get ready but still sadly end up 10 minutes late in the morning.

As the CEO are you going to treat all of these people the same? Maintain a warm smile, say good morning and hand over the slip. Lets say you do. What is the outcome going to be?

You'll probably shake up the PTs. They know they're likely on thin ice with their line manager and so won't continue risking it with the big cheese liable to catch them too. Good.
Legitimate late attendees. They may bin the slip as soon as read comfortable in the knowledge that it was an understandable one-off. They would be explaining the situation to their line manager anyway.
The hard working joes are likely to take offence thinking "it's not as if I don't do the time anyway. Sheesh, what an ass."
The sloggers, these will be agitated the most. If the note, smile and a good morning is all that is communicated then this experiment will be a huge negative on them. They are likely to be left thinking "I give this company two hours of my time last night to meet this important deadline and I get this grief over 10 minutes the following day. You won't catch me doing that again then."

Executing this experiment verbatim looks like a huge risk to me. However, it does provide a rare opportunity for some brief one on one time between a CEO and an engaged employee who might ordinarily only lay eyes on each other once a year in a presentation whilst the CEO spouts out the year's results. Such a meeting could be valuable to both parties.
All that is needed is for CEO to be able to distinguish between the latecomer types. Perhaps integrating Christina Pikas' suggestion and having the CEO lurk about the night before will help and as well as a quick review with the managers on site determining as to who are the people (s)he is trying to sort out.

* Original post by Joyce Wycoff - This was applied to a blue collar environment where things work a little differently. They get overtime and productivity, measured in widgets per hour, tends to be rather fixed. When I was doing such work in my teens clocking-in solved this problem. You're not in on time; you don't get paid.

Technorati Tags = Jack Vinson Clocking-in Joyce Wycoff Christina Pikas Staff Timing What Good Looks Like

Queen Speech Notes

  1. The Economy - battling inflation
  2. Home Security - Terrorism (who'd have thought that would get second billing)
  3. Victims to be moved to the heart of the Criminal Justice System
  4. Continued peddling of ID cards
  5. Reform of Criminal Justice System - aid probation and increased police powers
  6. Increase powers of Immigration officials
  7. Crime without a jury in serious fraud cases
  8. Climate change bill - focus on environment and long term energy supply
  9. Welfare system reform - Child support/pensions/free off peak bus travel for elderly and disabled
  10. Education - Further Education reform (Peter Hain said something about free tuition for 19 - 25 year olds shortly after the speech. Worth keeping an eye on)
  11. Healthcare - Specifically mental disorders and human embryology
  12. Road transport and planning reforms (tax based opposed to provision based according to subsequent reports)
  13. Regulation of Estate Agents
  14. Support institutions of democracy
  15. House of Lords reform
  16. Local Government reforms
  17. Provision of independent government statistics
  18. Assist devolved states - Wales/Scotland/restoration of Northern Ireland
  19. Peace in the Middle East - Israel/Palestine and Iraq (in that order)
  20. Prevent spread of WMDs
  21. Relationships with European Union/N.A.T.O
  22. Relationships with World Trade Organisation/U.N
  23. Continued work supporting Africa - Resolution to issues in Darfur
  24. Strengthen the partnership between EU and the US

No longer education, education, education then...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Opening up the UK Budget

I hear that a similar thing has been set up in the States so whilst the UK Conservative party can't take any credit for originality at least they can propose a good idea when they come across one.

George Osborne, Shadow Chancellor, is to propose that the British treasury open up its books for all taxpayers to see the public purchases/transactions over £25,000 which do not break the Data Protection Act nor pose a risk to national security.

Taxpayers have every right to see where their money is going. But one has to wonder how much the provision of this data will cost...

YouTube - How to Get Yourself Sacked, Fast!

The Darwin Awards were created with good reason: some people are just idiots. The world would be a duller place without them.

A greater evil is knowing there's a video out there somewhere with 3 Tesco employees from a Leeds store doing enough to earn themselves their marching orders but not being to find it. The original has been removed which seems a bit pointless as I think the horse already bolted on this one.

Hello Insomnia, We Missed You

It's the first day of my three day midweek break. Nothing like announcing that to have everyone who has to go to work on a Tuesday call you a bastard in the friendliest possible way.

So we reach 01:52am and I'm content that I'm so awake I may as well get the coffee out and hit the blog.

I'm really liking Firefox 2.0. The restore session function has been a godsend the past week as my PC reaches that age where it wants to crash more and more frequently. Similar to what I was saying the other day about load times, surely a PC that crashes less is better. But yet again, my 2006 PC crashes a hell of a lot more than the one I used in '98.

Strangely the new Firefox spell checker doesn't recognise blog, Firefox and (first time checking) podcast as legitimate words. O.E.D word of the year that last one, was it not?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Rated Teachers

The information everywhere internet brings about some concerning websites every so often. Rate My Teachers has hit some negative publicity on BBC News.

I found the site to be an insightful look into what the new kids are thinking of my old teachers. Sadly only a handful still work there. Miss Harrison was my tutor and English teacher for my last two years. She did a great job whilst I was there and am glad she is getting favourable reviews.

Mr Holden Storey is an absolute legendary teacher. I had no doubt that I would find him and that the current pupils would find him to be just as brilliant.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My Grandad Beats Me To YouTube

Oh dear God, how many unintended hits are going to come on the back of the first four words from this title.

Anywho... my grandad and his talented buckos the Vintage Echoes are now present on YouTube. He's the guy centre-right on lead guitar.

The only way to catch up would be to have my old band reform however Amber Signal was never a great name and the lads aren't too keen on Ddot and his Deep Sea Disco Balls.

An Old Chant

Arsenal play some fantastic football. Most weeks I think they are the best team to watch in the country, perhaps Europe.

Shame that I can't say the same today. They still play great football but a chant I haven't heard in a long while comes back to me: Same old Arsenal always cheating!

Last time I checked, deliberate handball was a sending off offence and two men between attacker and goal meant the attacker was onside.

Yes, that's right, I can do bitter.

Disclaimer: Liverpool did play shit and deserved to lose but that's not the point.

Load Times

Impatience can be fatal. Crossing a road in a rush, raising a fire without due caution, blasting off into space with dodgy untested technology are quick for instances.

Patience is indeed one of the harder virtues to instil in a man. Sometimes I'm really good and sometimes I am quite atrocious. Watch me working on a slow network for hilarious, yet disturbing fits of insanity.

I believe I have too high an expectation of technology on occasion. Load times are my favourite yardstick. Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror voices my concerns like he extracted the words out of my mind.

Why a PC I was using in '98 boots up faster than the PC I am using now (built last year) bamboozles me no end. A better PC is one that works faster, surely?

Humans Are Nutters - Death Road

Humans are fascinating and barmy creatures. I've never quite understood why the alleged most intelligent animal on the planet would choose to live in such inhospitable places.

La Paz may be a nice spot on Earth. But if the road out of town is a badly constructed three metre wide track, uphill, barrierless death trap you just shouldn't live there in you intend to leave by a flightless motor vehicle.

Look How Pretty Andover Can Be

Every week this year on the route home from work I have gone past this big ass sign with a URL on it and thought "I'll look that up when I get home." Not expecting anything magnificent, mind.

Well today I finally had a goose and it is just the ordinary industrial estate revamp advert. However, they did try to make Andover look nice on the photos, God bless them.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Aligning Duckies

A little presumption is a dangerous thing.

3 duckies (2 of them out of my control, hence the presumption) to line up for what I really want.
1 ducky (completely in my control) for what I sort of want.

Never work with children. Check
Never work with animals. Doh!

Damn duckies.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Reality TV Moves on to Virtual Reality TV

It's almost too painful to acknowledge. No, not the man-flu that is brutalising this peculiar particular Flying Aqua Badger.

Swiped from the feed of C.C. Chapman comes news that profitable television company Endemol is launching a series (for lack of an apt description) of Big Brother in Second Life.

The business model behind this (other than getting a cheap grip in the new media market) escapes me but I guess it had to be done. Hell, if the crap reality TV shows wanted to move on over and take up a remote home in SL leaving an open slot for some decent programming on the box, I'll be happy with that.

Amusing Typos

The sadist in me loves a well placed typo.

A job advert that asks for tight documentation skills and attention to detail is just too prime a target.

So, do you think the company looking for this Change Control Analyst is after someone with a "Through approach to task" or a thorough approach to task?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Gah! Blenders

The problem with manifestation by intention is that sometimes you don't realise what you are intending.

I'm not fruit's biggest fan. Apples, bananas, pineapples and strawberries I can dig in their regular form but everything else needs a run through the blender. Consequently, with this country's 5 a day agenda I think that my blender is one of the best gifts I've had to date.

And taking that mindset with me yesterday I had conversations (that I didn't start) about blenders. When I get home, switch on the PC, first in my feeder reader C.C Chapman points to Will it Blend. Seth Godin then points to the same spot and now this morning Ze Frank talks blenders on The Show.

Not surprising, just a little scary how the mind shapes the world around.

How is This Not Leading to Boom & Bust

Two stories that cement my concerns about the economy in the UK are running side by side on BBC News at the moment which is wonderfully convenient.

Story 1: Housing prices may or may not sink but as it stands they are going up at 8% a year.

Story 2: Tax Free savings through ISAs are here to stay but they are sticking at £7000 a year.

So the amount of tax-free saving I'm allowed to do is capped at the same level for the past 7 years but house prices are running away without limit and at a higher annual rate. End result is that this potential first time buyer is never going to get a safe foot on the ladder.

I really need to get off my arse and study economics. I just have the feeling that even then this scenario still won't make sense.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Very Wrong but Somehow Brilliant

Kid steals a bus and charges fare.

Hat tip: Ramit Sethi

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Especially for my co-workers

My colleagues appear to think I'm making this phrase up. I use it often and don't always mean a romantic relationship but with any person you have regular dealings with in the workplace.

Urban Dictionary defines: Don't shit where you eat.