Microposting(s) for November 29th from 17:25 to 22:14

These my micropostings and bookmarks – November 29th from 17:25 to 22:14:

  • Present&Correct – Color Planner – Another stationery fetish "find" – this time thanks to @offmessage.

    Quirky stationery and 'making' things – with an olde-worlde and European flavour.

  • The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard – Thought-provoking short video about sustainability: challenging externalised costs and 'designed for the dump'.

    Charming and engaging production. Lots to consider, especially when considered against questions of 'craft' and things that last as a result of value, good design and – importantly – ongoing in-life maintenance.

    Chilling to consider the questions of designed obsolescence, and discussions over building in breakage quickly enough to get more sales, but long enough not to destroy the consumer's faith in the brand.

    Buy good shoes. Have them resoled. Style over fashion.

    Annie touches upon my pet hate: why throw away a £3k digital SLR just because the sensor's out of date: why can't I upgrade the sensor and the circuit boards? Sigh.
    Now, where's my iPod?

  • The Atoma Product Range – Sigh – another type of notebook to add to my stationery fetish mullings… Not quite the leather-bound Smythson featherweight paper, but more flexible and, ahem, affordable.

Microposting(s) for November 24th through November 25th

These my micropostings and bookmarks – November 24th through November 25th:

  • ecommr: a collection of e-commerce interface and design elements – "ecommr is a website showcasing the best (and sometimes worst) in e-commerce design, with a clear focus on the individual elements that make up online stores. We break down retailers and focus on individual user interface elements in order to provide a gallery of inspiration for designers, developers, information architects, and anyone working with online retail. "

    Found via @offmessage's bookmarks.

  • Westfield London passes 2 million visitors – 2 million visitors at Westfield.
  • All The Rage – A delightful, quirky and interesting accidental discovery here: "All the Rage" is a "free, funny PDF magazine for unusual people". I think they could also have said "by" unusual people.

    They further say "All The Rage is an entertaining, poorly-designed, non-trendy response to lifestyle magazines. For the mag, as for its readers, content has had to come before style. Print it out and leave it somewhere when you've finished."

    This is certainly something to have alongside one's copy of Monocle (!) and SlightlyFoxed.

    A lucky find, courtesy of the editor being on the friend list of a new contact on upcoming. Social media? Nah – 'serendipitous media'!

Microposting(s) for November 18th through November 22nd

These my micropostings and bookmarks – November 18th through November 22nd:

  • EtherPad: Realtime Collaborative Text Editing – Neat. Basic, but neat. I love SubEthaEdit (from Coding Monkeys) for its stripped-down text interface (like TextMate with colour) and co-editing, but find the sharing limited (eg bonjour, owner has to initiate the share).

    GDocs in the main collaboration tool nowadays, but the gWord app is far clunkiers that the gExcel version (where you can see all cursors and editing in apparent real time).

    This promised network + syntax highlighting + real-time-co-editing + neutral server and versioning.

  • Christmas starts early as M&S and Debenhams launch sales | Business | guardian.co.uk – A fair article that notes the extent and depth of discounting on the high street. Clearly, it's sensible to clear stock before Christmas at 20% off rather than having a stock mountain in January that you need to discount by 50% or more.

    However, this activity has two downsides:
    1) customers now see 20% off as a starting point for discounts and 10% not worth raising an eyebrow for; and
    2) customer realise just how much crap there is in shops – undifferentiated tat clogging shelves and also their houses!

    The challenge for retailers is not to out-macho the competition (the "beggar thy neighbour" approach) nor to try and bring cash forward, but to re-connect with customers on two bases:
    1) good, useful, desirable, quality goods, well priced, and
    2) the sheer joy of shopping – 'retail theatre' or entertainment if you will.

    Undifferntiated, mediocre rubbish is ever and always the same – irrespective of apparent discount.

  • RC TRITEC Ltd. : Super-LumiNova® – In case, like me, you were interested in more detail on Super Luminova 'luminous' markings on watches… ta-daaa.

    A gentleman should always be familiar with the different colours, namely:

    C1 Colour "C1" for white
    C3 Colour "C3" for yellow
    C5 Colour "C5" for greenish-yellow
    C7 Colour "C9" for blue-green
    One night, in the dark, I'll ponder why the C7 is called "C9".

Tour of Westfield London and thoughts on retail/etail.

Westfield London is one of my new clients and so it was a pleasure to get to visit and a guided wander with Sarah Lukins.

The first impression – other than the sheer scale of the place as I approached – was of friendly, helpful staff. The car park attendants were lovely – and it’s really pleasing to see a free motorbike parking policy in place. Very civilised.

The car park tickets are also fun, with rub-off panels so you can remember where you left your car! This is useful since there’s a vast amount of parking (as well as signposting to which park for which shops).

westfield-parking-ticket

westfield-parking-ticket

The fit-out of the centre’s of a high quality – reminded me of the luxury malls in Hong Kong. Good flooring, variations in textures and colours of materials, as well as a good variety of shop frontages and eye-lines. The quantity of shopping is numbing – there’s so much that people will develop their own favourite ‘areas’ – much like people will shop certain streets in London. That gives you an idea of the size of the endeavour as well as a subtle success in creating zones of homogeneity and focus.

There were a number of new (to me, anyway) brands, as well as retailers clearly taking steps to broaden their reach. I was gutted that the MOST exciting new store – Beard Papa’s – was not yet open. Totally distraught, but I’ve made a mental note to go back as soon as it’s open. You can see the range of shops on the directory.

I was there from 2pm on a Friday and the place was packed. Circulation seemed good though with only Nando’s having a sizeable queue. Santa’s posh grotto had a busy gathering but seemed to be moving quickly. I couldn’t tell whether people were shopping actively (lots of bags) or just shuffling – no one’s offered to give me any facts I can publish 😉

Visiting the House of Fraser store was wonderful and uplifting with a good dose of ‘retail theatre’. HOF is approach Selfridges-like level of display in some sections – Menswear, Women’s Accessories and bags in particular. Made me sad that Selfridges had not gone for an anchor store there.

I thought of this on Saturday as I shuffled through John Lewis (my mission: tights for the girls and a new steam iron). The crowds were shuffling and suffocating, the christmas decorations an annoying taunt that the crowds would only get worse and the queues at the checkouts (with the world’s nicest and most patient staff, it must be said) were mission-defeating.

In the space of two days I had reason to ponder both why I love ecommerce (no queues, ease, information, access) and why I love some shops (retail ‘theatre’, presentation, stimulus, service, knowledgeable advice). Westfield’s combination of good shops (not just rent-a-mall clones), personal and helpful service, retail theatre and a pretty painless parking/access experience bodes well. The aim must be to blend the best of retail and etail – with the additional benefits of a ‘programmable’ set of spaces (from cinema through to public event zones). In difficult trading times the hope for continued retail success has got to be a characterful blend of the best of all worlds.

I’m now officially allowed a week off from shopping to concentrate on selling!

Google Mobile App – clever convergence of data, directory categorisation, location and interface

As the regular reader will know I’m a big  believer that the convergence of location-based information, structured data, inferred/contextual relationships and a slick relevant interface will change our world and start delivering the sort of “future” interactions that we had in the 1960s’ SciFi.

Google’s Mobile App is a step closer.

I won’t rehash the explanatory video – it’s, er, self-explanatory – but the really interesting part for me isn’t the voice recognition but rather the emerging “common sense” in the google results. Note that there’s now an interpretive layer that’s interception calculations, directory-type enquiries (eg film listings, nearby restaurants) and informational or evaluative requests.

This is a major step forward for something that we tend to think of as a text-indexing service.

I’m a great fan of knowledge systems like TrueKnowledge (that has an inference engine built upon structured facts, questions and relationships – wonderful) – but it seems that Google’s slowly but surely adding equivalent capabilities by stealth and in parts.

Let’s start counting the days until this is seen as “just normal”…

UPDATE: been playing this morning at a client’s (different voices, male/female, Northern, Welsh, Australian) and we’re getting a one in five success rate. Still, that it even works 20% of the time is amazing and I’m sure it’ll train me to get clearer 😉

Walpole Awards

The hall at the Banqueting House

The hall at the Banqueting House

So, then, to the sumptuous surroundings of the Banqueting House in Whitehall for the Walpole‘s Awards for  Luxury.

It was a well-attended and extremely well-orchestrated event and the awards (of which there were seven, plus a special award for Dame Vivien Westwood whose, er, distinctive speech I really hope to be able to track down on YouTube and treasure forever!).

I was really pleased to see Bremont Watches get an award  (I’m a fan of their ALTI-Z, cream face) and Net A Porter picked up a deserved award for best online luxury site.

In all, a fun evening and good to catch up with so many people.

Microposting(s) for November 17th from 14:30 to 23:15

These my micropostings and bookmarks – November 17th from 14:30 to 23:15:

  • Versions – Mac Subversion Client (SVN) – Is this not a) one of the most be-au-tiful logos for ages, and b) one of the nicest interfaces to subversion on the planet? Wish I'd had this last year when trying to use SVN on a vodafone 3G modem from France… Now, I find myself looking for an excuse to log onto a repository!
  • LOG – architecture magazine – Looks interesting – typographically attractive, sparse and confident architecture magazine. US-based.
  • Innovation Awards 2008 Shortlist | Events | E-consultancy.com – e-Consultancy announces the shortlists for their Innovation Awards. I'll be working with the other judges to whittle these down to winners and I'm very much looking forward to that.

Microposting(s) for November 13th through November 17th

These my micropostings and bookmarks – November 13th through November 17th:

  • FT.com / UK – Letter from Iceland – What a wonderful article from Robert Jackson, an FT journalist living in Icelands since 2003. Clear, moving and thought-provoking.

    I have cycled and walked in Iceland and dream weekly of those experiences. This article brings home the issues the Icelandic people are facing in a very human fashion.

    "I urge you all to guard that which is most important in the life of every one of us, to protect those values which will survive the storm now beginning. I urge families to talk together and not to allow anxiety to get the upper hand, even though the outlook is grim for many. We need to explain to our children that the world is not on the edge of a precipice, and we all need to find an inner courage to look to the future… Thus with Icelandic optimism, fortitude and solidarity as weapons, we will ride out the storm.

    God bless Iceland."

  • Asos: net gain – Telegraph – Nice article by Charlie Porter at the Torygraph on ASOS' business approach, history and USP. Good, pacey read.
  • Doom-mongering: A 2009 Internet Media Plan – "Down is the new up", "survival of the quickest" and a 'cut now not later' mantra… Nick Denton does a reprise of the Things I Wish I'd Known in 2001 – but with nice charts.

    Interesting, if not wholly disinterested post from Nick. It's always good to be the first, most Grizzly of bears when independent. There's no doubt though that in the last decade Nick has seen/set the gamut of digital publishing's highs and lows.

    Good to see his blog reawaken, too.

Quilter Street Squirrels

It’s not often that I’m riled to the extent of wishing violent and evil harm upon the Lord’s creatures (well, Mice and Moths notwithstanding – both of which infest our house) but I find myself fantasising about the pain and destruction I could visit upon the Quilter Street Squirrel.

NOT – I hasten to point out – the lovely Red Squirrel (currently being decimated by Squirrel Pox in Formby – click image for full story), but the evil, despicable, rat-with-busy-tail grey squirrel.

A pox-free Formby Red Squirrel

A pox-free Formby Red Squirrel

When I’m able I work at home, gazing out over the Quilter Street Olive Tree and the less-than-amazing QS Fig Tree (neither overly figgy nor treelike). The tree had done really well this year – the ‘neglect’ theory from Greg proving particularly effective. I had been chatting to Manon about a harvest of, oh, over 60 olives. This compares well with last year’s crop of olives. Unfortunately, as I looked out of the window at the lovely squirrel (ahhh) sitting on the fence (ahhhh) I see it climb on to the olive tree (curious) and then grab an olive!

Cheeky thing. Too slow I’m in the garden and chasing it. And again later. A couple of times in a day. Then, one long weekend away with Granny Scotland and – darn – the tree is bare.

So – no olives this year but I’m going to try again next year. Any suggestions on squirrel control gratefully received. Note that air guns, poison and slings are all impossible for both practical and moral reasons. Well, practical mainly. So far though my only thought is non-stop High School Musical III – there must be a less cruel way.

Microposting(s) for November 12th through November 13th

These my micropostings and bookmarks – November 12th through November 13th: