Wedge: the loyalty card

It seems my idea for a generic, small-retailer loyalty card has been launched, in the form of Wedge.  In a sentence, it’s a loyalty card for smaller-scale retailers in London.

Its take-up by retailers will be dependent on take-up by consumers, which in turn will be dependent on take-up by retailers.  It’s a hard one to crack.  But it’s already advertising stores using the card in 134 categories, and a random click on Babies yielded 16 participating retailers.  And a further seven companies categorised under Bicycles.  Not bad.

Tweetabus

I’ve wondered about hashtags in Twitter for a while now.  I’ve not subscribed to them, but maybe I’ll start.  Not in Twitter itself, because I don’t think it’s suited to dealing with them in a user-friendly way; but in Google Reader, where you can add a hashtag’s search URL as a feed.

Thinking about useful such feeds, it would be nice if people adopted hashtags to report issues with London buses (#tfl26 is my proposed hashtag for the 26 bus).  I would certainly subscribe to the hashtags of bus routes that affect me, checking in whenever I’m ready to embark upon a journey.

Thoughts?

Sweet tea bags

I came up with another idea that could make my millions this morning: tea-and-sugar bags. As well as encasing a generous portion of tea leaves within the square, round or pyramidal bag, PG Tips, Tetley or one of their tea-making brethren would include a single spoonful of sugar.

The target market for the product would be labourers and office workers, essentially those without the luxury of a lovely ornamental sugar jar next to their kettle.

In homage to the branding of delayed-TV stations, the respective tea brands would simply add +1 to their names to signify boxes containing the sweetening spoonful. +2 could be considered as an additional, sweeter product, but I’d stay stop there, for the sake of the nation’s teeth and an overburdened dental profession. And to prevent a third of supermarket shelf space being dedicated to tea.

Anyone for a cup of Tetley+1?

Starbucks’ margins: an update

If you’re strapped for cash, grab yourself a Short cup, wait for someone in line to order your drink of choice in anything but Venti (Tall, let’s say), offer them £1 to upgrade to a Venti, and get them to fill your eight ounce cup. They get their Tall for £1.55 instead of £2.05 and you get your short Short for £1 instead of £1.80.

A portable, digital map

If you’re on holiday in a tourist place without a decent map, take a digital picture of one of the display maps you find around the city, the ones with the "You are here" arrow.

In a single picture, my Ixus 75 seven megapixel camera had the entire thing captured in ridiculous detail, and I had a point of reference for the rest of the day.

(Note: ignore the "You are here" arrow after the picture has been taken.)

DayClock

Steve recently vented about the idiocy of the DayClock. I have to disagree.

First a description: it’s a clock divided into seven 51.4° segments, Sunday appearing in the middle at the top, with the other six days following in a clockwise direction. Its solitary hand moves 14 times slower than the hour hand on a regular clock, completing a full revolution every week.

Admittedly, it’s of limited practical value: on the few occasions that you don’t know which day of the week it is, it’s unlikely that you’ll be in the room graced with the DayClock (unless you buy them en masse, of course), and by the time you’ve wandered into the appropriate room, you’re likely to have remembered that it’s Thursday because you were watching That Mitchell and Webb Look before being interrupted by that nagging uncertainty as to the day of the week.

And admittedly, their logo is heinously shit to the point that anyone who had any inkling of buying one (me included) would be immediately put off from adding one to their shopping cart.

But aside from the shitty logo, I’d like one.

On the subject of clocks, I had a strange idea recently. Three digital clocks, each a silver die-like cube that you put on a shelf next to one another. The first displays the hour, the second the minute and the third the second. (I know, that sentence was a bit confusing owing to the meeting of our ordinal number system with our unit of time measurement. I wonder how that happened, btw.) The three clocks are kept in sync. with one another wirelessly, the hour cube passing a message to the minute cube every time it increments, telling it to reset, and likewise the
minute cube to the second cube. Maybe each has an full concept of the time, and the correct time can be established by taking a regular average from the three.

The importance of the three clocks being in sync. is increased significantly by their design, because if the minute clock is a bit slow and the HH:MM units read 15:59, then it will flip to 16:59 for a few moments before flicking to 16:00.

Like the DayClock, its design serves no real purpose. But its logo would rock.

Venn diagram menus

Wouldn’t it be nice if menus were put together in the form of Venn diagrams?

In a Thai restaurant, there would be a few sets of circles, one for each of the main ingredients. The chicken circle would be surrounded by circles for noodles, rice, soup etc. Inside the intersection of circles would be written entries for each of the meals therein, Chilli Chicken Ramen appearing in the chicken/soup intersect, for example.

There would be a similar Venn diagram for vegetables a little further down, with the colour-coordinated noodles, rice and soup circles hovering around it. And so on.

I could then easily choose what I was after (chicken noodles, for example) and find the relevant dishes all nestled within the appropriate intersection.

What a lovely idea.

Movie websites

Movie websites annoy the shit out of me. Not the sites themselves, but their URLs. I rarely (never) visit them, preferring to get any such data from IMDB.

A Google search for "themovie" brings back pages from the following sites as the top five results:

The list goes on, no doubt through Google’s 493,000 (approximate) results. Basically, when a movie creates an associated movie, they generally strap "themovie" on to the end of the movie’s name, possibly with a preceding hyphen, then add whichever domain extension that’s still available.

Would it not be better for one of the big movie companies (or even an independent body) to consolidate all of its campaign sites (for that’s essentially what they are) under a single URL (themovie.com, for example), each movie taking its own sub-domain? 300.themovie.com, simpsons.themovie.com etc.?

As well as centralising control for the seemingly endless proliferation, it would allow a more logical experience for the end user.

Ambiguous headlines: a new category?

The BBC has some strict editorial guidelines dictating the length of its article titles and surfaced news headlines. All too often, they results in ambiguity in the headlines’ meanings.

Today’s article about whether the Chancellor should extend Northern Rock’s £24bn credit line (Darling pressured over Rock’s fate) prompted thoughts (in my head at least) of Chris Rock’s lover being questioned over his recent disappearance.

I’ve wondered for a little while whether I should introduce a new category to my tangential ramblings (ambiguous headlines, for want of a better title) in which I write the article that I’d imagined reading before reading the BBC’s version of events, under the identical title.

Would that appeal? Would it generate mirth? Would it be libellous?

Half-length spaghetti

I quite like spaghetti. There are certainly better pasta types out there (rigatoni, farfalle, tagliatelle to name but a few); but spaghetti has its place in the pasta family. (As an aside, feel free to check out my US pasta-buying habits.)

My main annoyance with spaghetti, however, is its length. Both when cooking it and eating it. The diameter of the pan of choice is always less than the length of the spaghetti, so it’s always a faff trying to get it all submerged. And while eating, I’m one of those uncouth types who likes a knife for my spaghetti, such is the danger of eating it in its natural, full-length form.

My solution: half-length spaghetti. Easier to cook, easier to eat and safer for your whites. It will be called spaghettini.

Thoughts?

Afterthought: shit. Just found out that the word spaghettini is already taken. It means thin spaghetti which cooks quicker. Need a new brand name.

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