A Chocolate too Far

As you may have gathered from yesterday’s blog entry, I like chocolate. However, I think that it is possible that not everything is improved by making it taste of chocolate. Crest have just announced Chocolate flavoured toothpaste. Were it not for the recent news about beer flavoured sweets, I would have said that this toothpaste innovation was the worst culinary innovation of January.

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Published in: on 31 January, 2014 at 7:00  Leave a Comment  

Dark as Night

One of my colleagues brings gourmet chocolate to the office; which complements the hand-grown freshly roasted coffee that we enjoy at 11:30. The last batch were just dark chocolate, no nuts, fruit, or salt. The three bars were of differing cocoa content; 82%, 85%, and 90%. Proving that it is possible to have to much of a good thing – the 90% lacked the subtly of flavour that the other two exhibited. I preferred the 82%, but further tastings might cause me to change my mind, as the 85% was damned fine and the two were distinct in their taste.

Published in: on 30 January, 2014 at 7:00  Leave a Comment  

Following Me

Back in late 2011 my then boss suggested I look at FourSquare, an application that let’s you record your current location. For over two years, I have used it to record visits to stores, restaurants, and other locations. I always use the app on my phone. Yesterday, prompted by an article on e-commerce, I made a rare visit to their website. Whilst there I generated a report on my activities, which resulted in the following info-graphic.

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Published in: on 28 January, 2014 at 7:14  Leave a Comment  

Beer Flavour?

Jelly Belly, who make Jelly bean sweets in assorted flavours, have recently announced an addition to their array of tastes. They will be selling beer flavoured beans. This may seem reminiscent of those cigarette shaped sweets that were available when I was a child; a worrying gateway snack to the real thing. Based on the location of the Jelly Belly facility, their idea of a beer flavour might not be that great.

The screenshot from Google Maps, shows that their facility (red pin) is just of Watney Way – not a name one associates with great tasting beer. The route on the map and the other pin shows the Budweiser brewery (green pin) under two miles away, another indication that all things point to the beer taste not being interesting enough to encourage consumption.

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My dedication to the blog and you dear reader means that I shall have, of course, to try these beans and report back.

Published in: on 27 January, 2014 at 7:00  Leave a Comment  

Delivery

We ordered a new TV for the spare bedroom last Sunday, in response to a special offer in my inbox. On Thursday we received an email saying that the order had been dispatched; which we knew since the package had arrived the day before.

On Friday, I ordered a universal remote control for the TV and associated devices, with delivery for Tuesday. The device arrived Saturday.

Amazon seems to be failing to meet its delivery promises – but in a good way.

Published in: on 26 January, 2014 at 7:00  Leave a Comment  

Fezzes are Cool

The 11th Doctor, by which I mean the Matt Smith one, for numbering has become more complex since “Day of the Doctor”, used to deflect criticism of his clothing choices with the line “Bow ties are cool”. There are at least a couple of variations that he used: “Stetsons are cool” and “Fezzes are cool”.

I have doubts about donning any of this apparel, but the I do find myself agreeing with the last version. On Sunday night, playing “Words with Friends” (A Scrabble rip off for playing online) I was, with the aid of a blank play Fezzes across a triple word score and the “Z” on a triple letter; the “S” sat at the bottom of a previous word – a very satisfying score of 120. After several successive defeats at the game, this gave me hope.

In a very specific set of circumstances it is indeed true that “Fezzes are cool”

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Published in: on 25 January, 2014 at 7:00  Leave a Comment  

Missed Target

It has not been a good few weeks for Target, a chain of US stores that sell everything from groceries to electronics, after they revealed that credit and debit card details of million of customers had been gathered by hackers. The details of the hack that have emerged so far, suggest that their network security left a lot to be desired.

After my encounter with Target on Tuesday, it seems that the same lack of attention was paid by the designer of their phone system.

I wanted to call their pharmacy to ask a question about a prescription. I found their number from their website without problem. I rang the number and was offered thee options:
1. Order a refill
2. For doctors needing to contact the pharmacy
3. Speak with the pharmacist

I pressed option 3.

The phone system now told me the opening hours and location of the store and then offered me more options
1. Connect to Pharmacy
2. Connect to Electronics Department
(And more options for other departments)
How thoughtful that Target realize that having selected an option to speak with the pharmacy, I might actually want to talk with them about a TV set or one of their other services.
I selected option 1, because I still wanted to speak with the department whose number I had dialed at the start.

I now heard the store address and opening hours of the store again; just in case that as in Doctor Who or Lost, the building had instantly moved to a new location. After this information, I was given two options
1. Leave a Message
2. End Call

Notice there is no option to speak to a Pharmacist, the choice I had taken at the start of this adventure. I also wonder why the option to end the call exists; after all pushing the “End call” button works perfectly well.

I thought I might have misheard my choices and wandered down to this dead-end in error, so I rang back and ended up once more with no option of speaking to a human. I waited, in case making no selection would be treated as indicating that my original choice was what I still wanted. I was just given the previous two options.

In a rare show of rebellion I decided to not following the rules, I pressed ‘0’, even though that was not a choice offered by Target. Lo and Behold I was connected to a real person, who picked up immediately. I imagine they do not get those many calls with their phone system not giving an option to ring that phone.

Published in: on 24 January, 2014 at 7:00  Leave a Comment  

Dangerous Behaviour

I am doing something right now that would have got me into trouble just a few months ago. I am writing this post on an airplane on an iPad before we reach cruising altitude. This is the first time I have flown on a plane with the prohibition lifted, so naturally I am doing something that a few months ago was so dangerous it would result in the plane crashing on take-off.

There is wifi onboard, so I could post this whilst inflight, but since that would cost a small fortune, this will probably get posted when I am home.

Being able to use electronics also enables me to take pictures. Below is my first inflight picture, also the first time I have used by iPad camera.

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The flight is from Oakland to Los Angeles; I am visiting our Santa Monica office to meet a new team member. I fly back tonight, so it will be a long day. I left the house at 5am and shall not get back until after 10pm.

The airline, Southwest, does not assign seat numbers. They assign boarding order, which means that the first people on the plane sit in window and aisle seats at the front. As later passengers board, the people in aisle seats have to get up, slowing the boarding process. Since this happens at the front of the plane first, the process is further delayed. It runs counter to common sense, but Southwest manages to be profitable and have good customer satisfaction, so I suppose there are good reasons; since I have no wifi, I cannot Google the rationale.

Published in: on 23 January, 2014 at 7:05  Leave a Comment  

Away from the Slopes

One of the joys of Tahoe is the beautiful scenery. Here a couple of pictures taken on my phone from our recent visit. One taken on a beach along the 89 highway and the other at Emerald Bay, further along that highway.

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Published in: on 22 January, 2014 at 7:00  Leave a Comment  

Fries, Vodka, and the Salesman

At one of the lifts in Heavenly this last weekend there was a guy offering garlic fries; presumably to drum up business at the nearby lodge. I declined. He then upped the offer to a free vodka at 2pm. I declined as I needed all my wits about me skiing after several years away from the slope. He played his final gambit: “Would it mak a difference if the vodka was served by a pretty girl”

Some people are natural sales people, but given my desire to avoid vodka inspired wipe outs, I  replied in the negative. 

Published in: on 21 January, 2014 at 7:00  Leave a Comment