3 F**ks Up

Troubled mobile phone company 3UK balls’d up my phone connection. July 4th – US independence day and the day when I give notice to 3 to terminate my contract.

– Unfortunately I can only give my notice Monday – Friday as the department that deals with number portability is away

– July 5, after waiting half an hour I manage to get through to someone at 3 around 9:35am. They will arrange for a PAC number to be sent out and instead cut off my number. I work in PR so this is a major SNAFU

– I am now relying on the Royal Mail to get a SIM card to me that will work by July 7!

Rad Gear For Coming Down

Ok, its the Sunday morning (late) after the Saturday night, your feet are aching, your clothes stink of cigarettes and your ear drums have been desensitised by 5 kW of music power. Oh yeah and your best mate is working his way through the contents of your fridge.

Some jazzy gear to ease those frayed edges of reality that stray into your world:

Oakley MP3 glasses: Ok so you will look a bit of a spaz, but they will protect your eyes from harsh daylight and have enough space for Adventures beyond the Underworld by The Orb, Meddle and Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. Unfortunately Lance Armstrong is riding in the Tour de France with YOUR pair!

Mickey Mouse ceiling projector: Ideal for when you are about to go to sleep but still feeling a bit cosmic. Only available from Toys R Us in Japan

Relax and terrible Tuesdays will be not quite so bad even if your pension fund is taking a punishment with the Ambient Devices Orb.

China Leads The Way

America historically has led the Internet, by setting many of the technology standards and being home to many of the main companies whose technology underpins and makes use of the Internet.

A small geeky announcement on ChinaTechNews.com indicates that the balance is shifting. The announcement is significant; think of it this way, how many extra phone lines could you have if you added an extra digit to the area code of a phone number? Well imagine that jump but much, much bigger to understand the leap forward that the Chinese are making with the Internet by adopting IPv9.

This also marks a profound future social, economic and information shift to the East; especially when considering how the most brutal and naked form of capitalism since the Robber Barons of the 19th century America is reshaping the country. The futures red, the future’s China; get ready for video on demand Shaw Brothers Classics.

Barcode turns 30

The Boston Globe online has a mildly interesting article about the UPC (universal product code) or bar code that graces all our groceries. They give a potted history of the code and mention the various urban myths that rose around it including:

– it represented the Anti-Christ

– it was a corporate plot against consumers (though the lack of technology before the bar code had not stopped collusion).

The article goes on about the inventory savings items, but neglects to mention other add-ons that came out of it including:

– Near-real time sales data, which could be datamined for purchase paterns, this allowed Walmart to famously increase beer sales by putting a six pack and nappies (US Eng: diapers) together for stressed fathers

– Increasing the power of retailers who can provide research companies and suppliers with data on product sales faster, fattening the coffers of AC Neilsen

– Dramatically altered store design by being able to trial changes in layout or promotion and see the results through the tills, this was as dramatic as the spreadsheet allowing senior business folk to run what if scenarios

– Loyalty cards, when you can analyse purchase patterns and inventories, match them both together to decide how to influence consumer behavioiur

– It revolutionised kick-backs for music shop workers. When I DJ’ed far more (and had more time), I used to hang with a number of record shop assistants who worked in ‘chart shops’. By being signed up to promo agencies for white labels, the specialist shops for my imports and underground vinyl and the small chart shops I got the freshest music cuts. The smaller independent chart shops got a lot of support from the major labels:

– Cheaper records to sell on to the public

– Items often arrived in their stores first

– Exclusive access to limited edition remixes

– Instore band signings (often at the expense of big chains like HMV)

– Promotional record label items: jackets, bags, gig tickets

– One high selling record for free with every two hype items they put through the scanner (note that I did not say sell)

I remember Jez and Tony of Penny Lane Birkenhead well. Tony had been with the firm for time and was a seasoned ligger, Jez was a quiter dreadlocked skater kid who used to work in a secondhand dance vinyl shop in the Palace – a trendy shopping complex on Wood Street L1.

This barcode revolution did not happen overnight, I still remember being in primary school in Liverpool and seeing sticky price tags and the guns being used in the local Tesco and Asda supermarkets. Bargain bucket department story chain TJ Hughes, only implemented a stock management system utilising bar codes less than five years ago after new owners discovered stock in their warehouses that may have been over ten years old. The local supermarket to my Uncle living in rural Western Ireland still uses sticky price labels with no barcode scanner in sight, a nod to our modern times came when the labels changed colour from white to fluorescent yellow.

Jargon Watch: counter-googling

Interesting article on Trendwatching.com about businesses using Google to research customers and better tailor their offering to their needs – Google as a kind of ad-hoc CRM solution. Trendwatching label this counter-googling.

An interesting example they cite is “The Bel Air Hotel in LA already Googles first-time guests upon arrival, based on their reservation details (name and address), leading to personalized services like assigning guests a room with morning sun if Googling shows the guest enjoys jogging early in the day (source: http://blog.outer-court.com).”

Sell your Siebel Systems shares NOW! :-)