restaurants posts

ChittahChattah Quickies January 28th, 2013

Restaurants Turn Camera Shy [NYT] – While on one level this is a story about shifting norms, where an emerging behavior is deemed rude and disruptive. Where it is or not is another question, not really explored here. But there is at least one example of finding alternative ways to address the need rather than just banning what is considered wrong.

But rather than tell people they can’t shoot their food – the food they are so proud to eat that they need to share it immediately with everyone they know – he simply takes them back into his kitchen to shoot as the plates come out. “We’ll say, ‘That shot will look so much better on the marble table in our kitchen,’ ” Mr. Bouley said. “It’s like, here’s the sauce, here’s the plate. Snap it. We make it like an adventure for them instead of telling them no.” Mr. Bouley is setting up a computer system so that diners can get digital images of what they’ve eaten before they even get the check.

‘Friends’ Will Be There For You At Beijing’s Central Perk [NPR] – While in the west the show might be a somewhat-beloved artifact of a decade past, in another part of the world, the possibility for a different meaning is ripe. Perhaps, as the article suggests, this somehow embodies freedom that young Chinese are yearning for?

Tucked away on the sixth floor of a Beijing apartment block is a mini replica of the cafe, orange couch and all, whose owner Du Xin introduces himself by saying, “Everyone calls me ‘Gunther’ here.” Indeed, he is a Chinese version of cafe owner Gunther from the show, down to his giddy passion for Rachel (the character played by Jennifer Aniston). “I’m crazy about Friends,” Du says. “For me, it’s like a religion. It’s my life.” The extent of Du’s Friends obsession is clear on entry to Beijing’s Central Perk. The level of detail is scary: same window, same doorway. People sitting on the orange sofa are watching TV – reruns of Friends, naturally. The cafe only serves snacks mentioned in Friends, and the menus are even annotated.

The Role of Anecdotes in Science-Based Medicine – An imperfect but perhaps illustrative analogy to user research, about the relationship between stories and what some may call “proof.”

Here are two limiting factors in how anecdotes should be incorporated into medical evidence: The first is that anecdotes should be documented as carefully as possible. This is a common practice in scientific medicine, where anecdotes are called case reports (when reported individually) or a case series (when a few related anecdotes are reported). Case reports are anecdotal because they are retrospective and not controlled. But it can be helpful to relay a case where all the relevant information is carefully documented – the timeline of events, all treatments that were given, test results, exam findings, etc. This at least locks this information into place and prevents further distortion by memory. It also attempts to document as many confounding variables as possible. The second criterion for the proper use of anecdotes in scientific medicine is that they should be thought of as preliminary only – as a means of pointing the way to future research. They should never be considered as definitive or compelling by themselves. Any findings or conclusions suggested by anecdotal case reports need to be later verified by controlled prospective clinical studies.

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ChittahChattah Quickies April 13th, 2012

Robots Ate My Job [Marketplace] – “Robot” is a bit of a red herring…the series is really an investigation of automation, when we interact with other devices instead of a human. Not sure there are too many surprises here but it’s still great to have this topic receive some focused attention.

Special Correspondent David Brancaccio takes us on a week-long series on air, online and on social media, called “Robos Ate My Job” to explore how technology is impacting the future of jobs in America. Find out who’s winning and who’s losing at the hands of the robots.

The Strange Art of Picking a TV Title [The Hollywood Reporter] – I’d be interested in knowing if the TV people design for nicknaming. Battlestar Galactica comes BSG among the cognoscenti. Does that little hook let people take ownership as the narrative pulls them in? Around my house we call “The Simpsons” by its shorter form “Simpsons.”

Would Friends have been the same hit had NBC executives approved its original title, Six of One? Would Lost have lasted six seasons with its earlier name, Nowhere? And would Grey’s Anatomy be able to charm nearly 12 million weekly viewers had it remained Surgeons? These are the questions now haunting studio and network executives as they look to attach the perfect title — catchy, but not cheesy; clever, but not confusing; inclusive, but not vague; provocative, but not inappropriate — to their crop of pilots in contention for the fall schedule. Producers and executives agree that getting a title right is more important than ever given the increasingly crowded and fragmented television landscape, where standing out is as important as telegraphing what a show is about. And while a great title can’t carry a poor show, it can get an audience to show up, which is why networks and studios have been known to rely heavily on focus groups and the occasional consulting firm.

Alphabet Soup [More Intelligent Life] – More on the ‘how does stuff get named?’ theme. Ever dine at QV? Me neither.

Some names come out of the blue. While seeking inspiration for his new London venture in 1926, an Italian restaurateur called Pepino Leoni saw a poster for the 1925 film “Quo Vadis”. The restaurant that bears its name can still be found in Soho. In 2002, about to open a place specialising in French food, the British chef Henry Harris was forced into creative thinking by his signmaker. “He said if we didn’t come up with a name right then, we wouldn’t have a sign in time. So I put together a long list of French words, including a few writers as fillers: Beaumarchais, Moli?┬«re, Racine-Going through them, we went, ‘Crap, crap, crap’ until we reached Racine and someone said, ‘Racine, of course, French for root. Absolutely brilliant.’ So there it is. Both interpretations are true.” The restaurateur Will Smith explains the origin of Arbutus, in central London, thus: “We discovered there used to be an arbutus, or strawberry tree, around the corner in Soho Square. The name felt good and sounded great. It was a bit like naming a child. At first, people went, ‘Eh?’ but soon said ‘That’s interesting’ and accepted it. Also, arbutus fruit have a culinary application in Portugal, where it is made into a spirit.” So does Arbutus sell arbutus spirit? “No.”

The Personal Analytics of My Life [Stephen Wolfram Blog] – I was pretty surprised to see this was just about his email. Email is one lens into someone’s life, but it doesn’t provide much detail into what you are doing when you aren’t using email. I was hoping for something along the lines of the good ol’ Americans Use of Time Project that took a broader look. The title is definitely an overreach.

What is the future for personal analytics? There is so much that can be done. Some of it will focus on large-scale trends, some of it on identifying specific events or anomalies, and some of it on extracting “stories” from personal data.
And in time I’m looking forward to being able to ask Wolfram|Alpha all sorts of things about my life and times-and have it immediately generate reports about them. Not only being able to act as an adjunct to my personal memory, but also to be able to do automatic computational history-explaining how and why things happened-and then making projections and predictions. As personal analytics develops, it’s going to give us a whole new dimension to experiencing our lives. At first it all may seem quite nerdy (and certainly as I glance back at this blog post there’s a risk of that). But it won’t be long before it’s clear how incredibly useful it all is-and everyone will be doing it, and wondering how they could have ever gotten by before. And wishing they had started sooner, and hadn’t “lost” their earlier years.

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ChittahChattah Quickies August 9th, 2011

Overdone: Why are restaurant websites so horrifically bad? [Slate.com] – It’s true! Restaurant websites are terrible! Farhad Manjoo gives us a fun and interesting analysis of what has led to us having to endure music and pdfs and pointless flash dohickeys and long page-load times to get to things like the food and prices and what the restaurant looks like.

Over the last few weeks I’ve spent countless hours, now lost forever, plumbing the depths of restaurant Web hell. I also spoke to several industry experts about the reasons behind all these maliciously poorly designed pages. I heard several theories for why restaurant sites are so bad-that they can’t afford to pay for good designers, that they don’t understand what people want from a site, and that they don’t really care what’s on their site. But the best answer I found was this: Restaurant sites are the product of restaurant culture. These nightmarish websites were spawned by restaurateurs who mistakenly believe they can control the online world the same way they lord over a restaurant.

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ChittahChattah Quickies July 12th, 2011
  • [from julienorvaisas] Eating alone: There’s nothing quite like sharing a meal with someone you love – yourself [The Denver Post] – [Fascinating how this person celebrates going against one strong cultural norm - she will happily eat alone at a restaurant in public - then turns right around and limits that new-found freedom by restraining her behavior in that context with a bunch more. Going against the grain is a tenuous act.] The meal itself is company enough for Vicky Uhland. "It's my reward at the end of the day," she says. "I like to have good service, have a nice drink. The atmosphere matters, too. It doesn't necessarily have to be quiet. But it has to be comfortable." Uhland sits at a table, not at the bar. "That's where I draw the line, the bar. A good girl alone at the bar? For some reason it's kind of sleazy." More red flags for Uhland: "I would never do Valentine's Day or any time I would look like a giant loser," she says. "If it was a really trendy restaurant I probably wouldn't go there on a Saturday."
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