Links of the day

Michelin star for cheap-eat canteen – Tim Ho Wan in Mong Kok, the most expensive dish is just 4GBP. I hope to visit here when I go out in January. Something to bear in mind next time a review comes up regarding Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley or Sketch.

Mark Payne (CIPayneWMPolice) on Twitter – interesting the way West Midland Police is using Twitter as a kind of customer service and informational channel.

Visa Electron to be phased out – good commentary on how Ryanair used Visa Electron card eligibility to stick to the letter of the ASA regulations regarding pricing in advertisements. I haven’t flown with them in a long time because you don’t know what the actual cost is.

Google Translate bookmarklet – a Google hack that isn’t well-known but absolutely invaluable for me in the past on international projects.

Fashion Vault – Hot designer sales exclusively for eBay members – eBay goes toe-to-toe with the sample and private sale luxury brand | fashion crowd. So far has included Hugo Boss

Koalas and Uzis: Managing Get Busy Committee at FISTFULAYEN – a howto for modern musicians

AR to Realize World of Science Fiction — Nikkei Electronics Asia — November 2009 – good overview of augmented reality

Most Searchers Use Three or More Keywords – The Steve Rubel Lifestream – As Steve Rubel points out this is likely being driven keyword suggestions, a feature that’s now the default for virtually every search engine and every browser. When I started on search it was just one-word, it shows a deceptively smart way that search engines have managed to move towards understanding their audience’s intent.

VOA Rating Manual Volume 5 – alongside the Digital Economy Bill, one of the reasons why Digital Britain is heading to the digital developing world rather than a bright new future

Cisco Internet Routing in Space (IRIS) – Industry Solutions – Cisco Systems – despite Cisco’s best efforts at destroying the coolness of this product with an embarassing video voiceover which would have made the Home Shopping Network proud coupled with a generic soft rock soundtrack, this is exceptionally cool as it means the start of ubiquitous broadband.

Summit Notebook » Blog Archive » What will the media company of the 21st Century look like? | Blogs | – Reuters goes crystal ball gazing with the rest of the industry

Chinese government to set-up VCs with private investors – interesting move to spur innovation.

California dreaming on such a winter’s day…

California dreaming on such a winter’s day, originally uploaded by renaissancechambara.

Just thought I would post this picture as it encapsulated the weather today in London.


Chris over at Splendid flagged up a new MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) from O2: GiffGaff. It is a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) network that provides SIM cards only. It uses customers as prosumers in terms of marketing, product development and customer service.  I don’t know whether it will be successful, but I think that its interesting idea because it deals with a number of issues facing telecoms companies:

  • Customer services experiences with outsourced call-centres based in India have produced a certain amount of customer satisfaction
  • Mobile phone companies in many respects have lost market power as they have become pawns in a struggle for consumers to get the latest or greatest handsets. They are not alone, not even handset manufacturers have real power: consumers have the whiphand, if they realised it a lot of the telecoms business would be in trouble
  • GiffGaff in many ways is an admission of defeat as the mobile phone company just becomes a bit-pipe
  • GiffGaff in some ways is a testamony to fellow O2-based MVNO Tesco Mobile as GiffGaff is aimed at value-driven consumers that are a couple of generations younger than those targeted by Tesco. I also think Tesco’s adoption of the iPhone is no accident either

Montblanc pens – black precious resin: an authenticity FAIL

I had a short haul flight and went over the duty free catalogue on Swiss Airlines. This section on Montblanc pens stuck out at me because of its wording. Each pen was described as being made of ‘black precious resin’. Click on the image if you want to see a larger version.

Precious Resin Montblanc spiel

So what does black precious resin actually mean? One would presume some form of black shiny plastic, which doesn’t seem quite so precious. Now the use of plastic isn’t a bad thing in pen manufacture. For instance fellow German writing instrument manufacturers Pelikan and Kaweco both make writing instruments out of plastic, but they also don’t charge over 300 pounds for a ballpoint pen.

What the explanation misses is the real elements at the heart of Montblanc’s authenticity:

  • History: Montblanc is actually over a century old as a firm
  • Country brand: It’s pens are still made in Germany, so it can take advantage of the German country brand: precision manufacturing excellence and craftsmanship
  • Craftsmanship: making a pen write smoothly is an art, too much ink and you will get splodges. A badly designed nib or ballpoint mechanism will scratch the paper, deliver the ink unevenly and even stain the writer
  • Design: One of the reasons why Montblanc managed to upset A.T. Cross in the market for luxury pens because their pen design feels much better in the hand because of its fuller barrel size

But none of these factors are reflected in the description of the Montblanc pens featured in the duty-free catalogue, instead we get smoke-and-mirrors which engenders distrust and makes for an authenticity FAIL.

I like: eBay’s Black Friday heat map

eBay has developed a special siteas part of its efforts to gain more of the retail spend. I particularly liked their Black Friday heat map that shows how transactions took place over the day in the continental states of the US.

Black Friday

Its a really nice example of a well designed infographic. Go and get the full experience over the at the eBay holiday site.