Posts tagged “cheese”

ChittahChattah Quickies

Butlers in high demand, ready for any household job [SF Chronicle] – Are we in a service economy or is this just an upper-crust exception?

The path to becoming a truly top-notch butler is certainly not for the faint of heart – or ego. Hours can be long, and physical labor, depending on the number of staff members, can be exhausting. What is critical is utter dedication to the skill of superior – and tactful – service. An extraordinary butler can look forward to a long career with the same family and a base salary as high as $100,000 or more. The more talented and cosmopolitan, the more desirable. “Most people are surprised to learn that butlers don’t wear tails very often,” Grise says. “I’ve known them to sport khaki shorts and white crew shirts, especially when traveling in settings where they need to blend in discreetly and not draw attention away from their principals.”

Brits Find Writing a Cheddar Anthem That Isn’t Cheesy Isn’t Easy [WSJ] – Perhaps if they settled for jingle or doggerel rather than going for the anthemic, it might be more easily accomplished.

Despite the global spread of Cheddar, Britain has done little to promote the cheese as a cultural icon. There are no well-known poems to Cheddar and, until now, no songs. In the Somerset village of Cheddar, where the cheese was invented 900 years ago, all but one Cheddar-maker has melted away. Other countries treat their curds with more reverence. A French village has erected a statue of Marie Harel, the supposed inventor of Camembert. Last year, a Dutch astronaut persuaded the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to send up more than 20 pounds of Amsterdam cheese as he circled the planet in the international space station. The Cheddar song competition hopes to tap into a year of nationalistic pride, as Britain hosts the Olympics and celebrates the Queen’s jubilee. More than 100 entries poured in, from career musicians, church choirs, kids, grannies and a team of crooning puppets.

Don’t Indulge. Be Happy [NYT] – This sort of research continually reveals surprising and counter-intuitive aspects of what influences and is influenced by our emotions.

Imagine walking down the street to work and being approached by our student Lara Aknin, who hands you an envelope. You open the envelope and find $20 and a slip of paper, which tells you to spend the cash on something for yourself by the end of the day. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal. Now imagine instead that the slip of paper told you to spend the cash on someone else. Being generous is nice, sure, but would using the money to benefit someone else actually make you happier than buying yourself the belt, DVD or apps you’ve been dying to get? Yes, and it’s not even close. When we follow up with people who receive cash from us, those whom we told to spend on others report greater happiness than those told to spend on themselves. And in countries from Canada to India to South Africa, we find that people are happier when they spend money on others rather than on themselves. But what about individuals who are notorious for their struggles with sharing? Surely the emotional benefits of giving couldn’t possibly apply to very young children, who cling to their possessions as though their lives depended on it. To find out, we teamed up with the developmental psychologist Kiley Hamlin and gave toddlers the baby-equivalent of gold: goldfish crackers. Judging from their beaming faces, they were pretty happy about this windfall. But something made them even happier. They were happiest of all when giving some of their treats away to their new friend, a puppet named Monkey.

PLAY video memo pad – I saw this in a store in Barcelona and experienced a small science-fiction moment, when technology becomes cheap and disposable enough that it can be used in ad-hoc ways. It reminds me of when calculators shifted from being a $200 purchase to a freebie embedded on a keychain, etc.

If you only tend to bump into family or flatmates when you’re both queuing for the bathroom, it’s not easy remembering to pass on important information. After a while communications can break down, messages can be misplaced, misunderstandings can occur; and before you know it, you’re having fisticuffs on the landing over something as mundane as replacing the tin foil. Well not any more. Because the Play Video Memo Pad lets you record video messages up to three minutes long for your flatmates (or even your future self) to play back later. A magnetic plate on the back makes it ideal for sticking to the fridge or any metal surface, so it’s always to hand when you need it.

Fonts in Use – Once again, the power of the Internet to crowdsource significant databases of elements of the real world, tagged and categorized.

Fonts In Use is a public archive of typographic design indexed by typeface, format, and industry. We document and examine real-world typography with the goal of improving typographic literacy and appreciation. The new version, launched in July 2012, introduces the Collection, a much larger database open to contributions from visitors. Any kind of image is welcome in the Collection, as long as type is clearly visible.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Subway To Start Tessellating Cheese July 1? [The Consumerist] – Three years after the protests began, it seems Subway has finally listened to its customers and will start tessellating cheese on its sandwiches, according to what appears to be an internal weekly newsletter. As anyone who has gotten a Subway sandwich knows, most Subways layer their isosceles-cut cheese in an overlapping fashion. This means one side of the sandwich gets more cheese than the other and leaves pockets of zero cheese, resulting in a uneven flavor and texture distribution. As the newsletter says, "This will improve the cheese coverage on the sandwiches."
  • Reading Lolita On Paper [] – Throughout the final terrifying third act of the book, Nabokov knew that the reader would be constantly, sometimes consciously, sometimes not, seeking (or deliberately avoiding seeking) a single word, a word whose distinctive typographical form would light up like a flare in the reader’s peripheral vision, paragraphs in advance, impossible to miss. Every time you turn a page, even if you avoid it, your eyes will, in an instant, claw through the one-thousand characters in every new two-page spread to find it, the word, the single characteristic letter. He plays with this visual expectation so thoroughly — torments the reader, in fact — that it’s inconceivable that he wasn’t always thinking about printed words, words on pages being turned in a reader’s hands. Oh, how glad am I that I was unable to find Lolita in any sort of eBook format.
  • Kno is a digital textbook that is about to change the way knowledge is transmitted and the way students learn – First we did our homework about the way students do their homework. We studied the way they study. We probed them about the best way to re-imagine the analog studying and reading experience in the digital world. The Kno’s two generous panels open like written material has opened for hundreds of years. The experience is reassuringly book-like. Indeed, because we respect and honor the textbook, content of 99 percent of all textbooks – including the charts and graphs – fit flawlessly. No material spills beyond the screen, so there’s no awkward scrolling or manipulation required. If Kno only transferred existing textbooks into a digital form, we might as well sleep in and skip class. Kno pushes further than that. Our mission is to create a new kind of immersive, fluid, fully-engaging learning experience – made possible because the power of the physical is combined, for the first time, with the potential of the digital. It’s a whole new form factor that feels natural because it is natural.
  • Christina York’s sketched notes from UPA2010 – [Her summary of my presentation begins on slide 5] This was the perfect complement to Rachel Hinman’s opening keynote. Steve enthusiastically dives deeper into cultural clues, cues and gaps that impact our work and our own experiences in this world. In this session I sat at the front, which I usually don’t do (I like to observe the entire room). However, I am a fan of Steve’s and was like a groupie in the front row. How embarrassing. But Carol sat next to me, and I felt better about myself. Steve delivered an impassioned talk and engaged an audience that richly represented the cultures present at this conference. The group discussion was as rich as the presentation and I really appreciated that Steve’s focus was to give us something to think about and not try to ground everything in application.
  • Complete Beginner’s Guide to Design Research [UX Booth] – Valiant attempt to take a complex volume of expertise and boil it down to some essentials. Not sure what it means to be a "luminary" in this field but certainly the company we're listed with is pretty awesome. Curious to hear what others have to say about this piece.

Localized Wayfinding

Airport Wayfinding, Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, May 2009

The first time I ever encountered localized parking designation was my childhood visit to Disney World; the tram drivers reminded us we were parked in Goofy 7 or Mickey 7 or something. Of course, I still enjoy taking note of it (see a recent post here). The highly-localized version above was entertaining and both confusing and educational (the herring icon makes no sense until one discovers that the Dutch really love their herring). Now, this confusion is inevitable when traveling and (as I’ve written about before) can be a great opportunity for learning. And practically, most people that park at the airport are locals, not incoming tourists, so there is little impact on the experience from not understanding the reference. Indeed, since nothing about the icon is meant to convey its function, serving only to label a particular region, visitors can still make use of the bird-on-a-post (?) icon perfectly well, without any understanding of its meaning.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Mark Menjivar's You Are What You Eat – Set of naturalistic images of inside of refrigerators, with brief profile of the owner. Beautifully done.
  • Rollasole – after-dancing semisposable shoe vending – Fact 1: The best nightclubs are notoriously located at either the top or the bottom of a massive flight of stairs.
    Fact 2: The best nightclub shoes are painful, precarious and perilously pointy.
    But fear not, for we at Rollasole have appeared like Prince Charmings (sic) to gently escort you down the stairs, across the kerb and into the back of your carriage – all without falling on your face.
    When you're all danced out, just slip one of our vending machines a fiver and it'll sort you out with a pair of roly poly pumps and a shiny new bag to shove your slingbacks in.

    (via Springwise)

  • Legendary McDonald's failure in the UK – McPloughman – Although vegetarian burgers have failed in the U.S. McDonald's, one of McDonald's most spectacular production failures happened in Britain. This failure can be seen not only as a failure to understand the desires of its primary market, largely for burgers and fries, but also as a lack of understanding of a food product that is tied to British identity. In 1994 McDonald's test marketed the "McPloughman" in Britain. A "ploughman's lunch" is a very traditional British lunch that consists of bread, cheese (British, of course, usually cheddar) and a pickle (also cured in the British style). An attempt to tie the America-based company to such a traditional British product was a "McFlop." The company admitted that the British counter crew were embarrassed both by the concept and by the name itself.

    [Thanks to Stokes Jones for the tip to this one]

Supermarket tales

I’ve been doing fieldwork for the past couple of weeks, which often means stopping in at a variety of grocery stores for quick bites to eat or bathroom breaks.

In making the rounds, I saw a couple of things I thought were worth sharing.

Andronico’s, Berkeley

I thought this was an interesting way to extend the function of the mirror, and a good reminder of how much more you gain from feedback when it’s deployed at just the right time and place in a process.

Whole Foods, San Francisco

This was without question the most fragrant cheese counter I’ve ever encountered. I was standing with my back to it, looking at the fruit, and I kept thinking something was wrong somewhere. I finally turned around and understood what I’d been smelling.

Who’s thinking about the customer experience here? What would some alternatives be? Put it near the fish? Or how about near the flowers! A giant plastic dome over the whole thing? Perhaps an information station explaining why cheese can sometimes be stinky…

Don’t smell like “any other guy”

Already tired of the Play-Doh parfum? Get yourself some Eau de Stilton.

Nigel White, from the Stilton Cheese Makers Association, said: “The perfume has a very earthy, musky, herby type of background which is very different to the very sweet perfumes you smell wafting down the street as someone walks past you.”

Mr White added that the smell was not to everyone’s taste and that there had been a mixed reaction to the perfume.

Uh, right. Just because you can extend a brand, doesn’t mean you should!

Thanks, Dem!

Rise Lord Vader?

Rise Lord Vader has become a catchphrase for the last Star Wars film, appearing in ads, and reportedly even in the trailer. But the scene where he is commanded to RISE doesn’t use that line. Kind of a drag, since the PR machine has got us waiting for it.

Vague spoiler in terse review. It was alternately cool and cheesy. When Anakin becomes Darth Vader, with the black helmet sliding into place, and you hear the mechanized breathing, it was pretty spine-touching cool. But moments later the actor in the suit stands up (and yes, he’s just had surgery etc. so will be wobbly but still) and moves in no way that resembles the Vader we know. It just looked…wrong. Moments later he is told something that causes him to scream “Nooooooooooooooooooooo!!!” (and I’d swear the camera pulled far back and up at that time) – something that the Simpsons have rendered into an absolutely ludicrous cliche and only a moron would try to get away with that in a movie we’re supposed to take seriously.


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