Posts tagged “signal”

Financial pings

I received the above notification today. A new client has put a penny in our bank account. We haven’t started the project (or even signed the contract) yet; this is clearly some validating that they have the correct bank details in their system.

I appreciate the gesture (better to work it out now then when they actually owe us something), but it’s such a weird artifact. There’s some interesting signal processing thing happening here; the message (“Hello Portigal bank account, are you receiving?”) isn’t meant to contain any actual content (“Here’s some money!”) but the system doesn’t allow any contact without content, so $0.01 is this meaningless amount that gets moved in order to prove out the connection.

I’ve authorized services like PayPal or Quickbooks to read and write my bank account; if I recall, they send a value below $1.00 and then ask you to verify the amount.

But this is just write access and we’re still doing ping/validations.

Will they deduct $0.01 from my first invoice? Will they try to get it back? Are penny errors so common now that there’s no concern about these piling up here and there?

Otherwise, I guess, woo-hoo! Free money!

Put the muffin down

Interesting ritual-gizmo from Fresh Choice (an all-you-can-eat chain). At a buffet, how do you stop the staff from clearing your plates when you stand up to get more (or visit the restroom), especially if you dine alone? Here’s their solution, a two-sided laminated muffin card that you keep next to your plate.

I believe these are available as you arrive (at Fresh Choice, upon arrival you go through a cash line to pay and get your plate) although I didn’t see them. I saw the muffin cards around the restaurant as I walked back and forth to get more food.

While it does seem like a workable solution, it seems like a half-measure, shifting the service responsibility onto the customer. At a “nice” restaurant, the staff are attentive, but here you are doing self-service what with retrieving your own food, so maybe they figure why not give the diner another task to manage.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Ont. parents suspect Wi-Fi making kids sick [] – ["Proving" something is causing health problems is tough; but our willingness to believe with full certainty is powerful. We see this perception as a barrier to adoption in many categories of products and services.] A group of central Ontario parents is demanding their children's schools turn off wireless internet before they head back to school next month, fearing the technology is making the kids sick. Some parents in the Barrie, Ont., area say their children are showing a host of symptoms, ranging from headaches to dizziness and nausea and even racing heart rates. They believe the Wi-Fi setup in their kids' elementary schools may be the problem. The symptoms, which also include memory loss, trouble concentrating, skin rashes, hyperactivity, night sweats and insomnia, have been reported in 14 Ontario schools in Barrie, Bradford, Collingwood, Orillia and Wasaga Beach since the board decided to go wireless, Palmer said. "These kids are getting sick at school but not at home," he said.
  • [from steve_portigal] Budgets Tight, School Supply Lists Go Beyond Glue Sticks [] – [A cultural reframe moment; retail is there] Schools across the country are beginning the new school year with shrinking budgets and outsize demands for basic supplies. On the list for pre-kindergartners at McClendon Elementary in Nevada, TX.: a package of cotton balls, two containers of facial tissue, rolls of paper towels, sheaves of manila and construction paper, and a package of paper sandwich bags.Retailers are rushing to cash in by expanding the back-to-school category like never before.Now some back-to-school aisles are almost becoming janitorial-supply destinations as multipacks of paper towels, cleaning spray and hand sanitizer are crammed alongside pens, notepads and backpacks. OfficeMax is featuring items like Clorox wipes in its school displays and is running two-for-one specials on cleaners like gum remover and disinfectant spray. Office Depot has added paper towels and hand sanitizer to its back-to-school aisles. Staples’ school fliers show reams of copy paper on sale.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • DEVO – Focus Group Testing the Future [YouTube] – Filled with brilliantly sarcastic soundbites, this is definitely pushing on post-modernism/post-irony. DEVO doing focus group testing (or so they say) on every aspect of their 2010 offering (brand, logotype, instrumentation, clothing). Interesting also to see how this appears in the press with varying amounts of the irony removed.
  • Theater Preshow Announcements Take Aim at Cellphones [] – In a production of “Our Town” the director, David Cromer, who played the Stage Manager, took a minimal approach because he wanted to stay true to Thornton Wilder’s desire to forgo conventional theatrics. “In that show we had this issue, which is that there was to be no theater technology. The whole act of my entrance was that you were supposed to think it was someone from the theater,” Mr. Cromer explained. “We didn’t want the Stage Manager to come out and say, ‘Please turn your cellphones off,’ because that would be rewriting Wilder.” Instead Mr. Cromer simply held up a cellphone upon entering at the beginning of each act and then turned it off and put it away, casually showing the audience what to do without talking about it. “The first time I was watching another actor take over in the show as the Stage Manager,” Mr. Cromer said, “he came out, held his cellphone in the air, and the woman next to me said, ‘Oh, someone lost their cellphone.’ ”


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