Posted on August 26, 2010 by ed
Swapping selection for value turns out not to be much of a tradeoff. Customers may think they want variety, but in reality too many options can lead to shopping paralysis. “People are worried theyll regret the choice they made,” says Barry Schwartz, a Swarthmore professor and author of The Paradox of Choice. “People dont want to feel they made a mistake.” Studies have found that buyers enjoy purchases more if they know the pool of options isnt quite so large. Trader Joes organic creamy unsalted peanut butter will be more satisfying if there are only nine other peanut butters a shopper might have purchased instead of 39. Having a wide selection may help get customers in the store, but it wont increase the chances theyll buy.
via Inside the secret world of Trader Joes – Aug. 23, 2010.
I really like Trader Joes, always amazed how cheap it is and they usually have something I wasn’t expecting, but gotta admit I knew very little about them. Well guess what, seems like nobody knows much about them, but Fortune Magazine tried to dig up a scoop and didn’t get much, but still found it real interesting. Did you know it was owned by some Germans? (the Aldi Nord owners if your curious)
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Posted on August 23, 2009 by ed
Heard about this recently on an episode of This American Life talking about the Fine Print in life. One of the stories was about the story behind Van Halen’s contract rider specifying there should be M&Ms backstage, but the brown M&Ms needed to be removed, and failure to do so resulted in full payment of the contract and no need to perform. Over the years I had heard about this and indeed thought it was an example of the crazy excess of rock musicians living in their own world. On the show they had They Might Be Giants explain the real reason behind the crazy restriction on brown M&Ms and it turns out to be sensible and actually pretty smart.
The reality was that Van Halen was bringing into their shows 2 or 3 times the amount of equipment and trucks that a venue was used to, meaning that their floor might not support the weight, the lights, the electricity etc. There was real danger if the venue didn’t read the contract rider specifying all the minute details of how much weight everything must support and how much power was needed. How did you know if the venue was paying attention to the fine print and not be putting the band and crew in danger? Easy check the bowl of M&Ms, which if they could get that right meant they found that strange request buried in the contract and probably followed up on the rest as well.
Snopes the debunking website also has a good explanation of this and has some quotes from David Lee Roth’s biography that explained this as well, including a story of trashing the dressing room when he found the brown ones.
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Posted on February 12, 2009 by ed
““I think a lot of it goes back to the irony of the Amish and an electric fireplace,” he said. “How can that be? It’s like skintight baggy pants.”
Amish Space Heater: Is That an Oxymoron? is an interesting article in the NY Times details the strange product that is apparently right here from Ohio that has been appearing in infomercials and print ads touting the miracle heater. Although the product has gotten a bunch of criticism for false advertising and for having the strange impression that Amish designed the product, but supposedly they do make here in Ohio (the casing that is, the heater as you guessed is made in China). But with a state crumbling, why not bank on the reputation of the Amish and scam a few folks…
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Posted on January 18, 2009 by ed
“A year ago, when I heard that some audiophiles were using Sony’s original PlayStation 1 as a CD player—my friend Michael Lavorgna, who writes for 6moons.com, was the first to cross my attention—I was more than a little confused. Sure, I’d heard of the Sony PlayStation, just as I’ve heard of the Game Boy and Nintendo (and Starbucks, and American Idol, and Anderson Cooper). But which is which? What do they look like? How do they work? I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know” via Stereophile
Came across this fairly recent review of the Playstation one, the now dated video game machine. What made the review interesting is that they don’t plug the playstation into their TV, instead the audiophile in question is hooking up the PS1 as a CD player to high grade audio equipment and using his audiophile grade ears to examine the results. Why would anyone want to use what is now obtainable for $15 on ebay as audiophile grade equipment? Well according to the results: “ the PS1′s midrange was remarkably clean, present, and tactile. On Tony Williamson’s “Boatman,” from Still Light of the Evening (CD, Mapleshade 08952), the guitar fills and G-runs were notably more audible, more nuanced, and more impactful through the PS1 than through Sony’s own SCD-777ES SACD/CD player. Amazing.”
So the moral of the story? Well among other things its is certain audiophiles are strange creatures and that while for half of us, knowing that something is labeled newer, better, etc we assume it is, who knows maybe LPs do sound better…
Filed under: Diversion, Misc, Tech | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 15, 2009 by ed
Apparently vision experts in England have concluded that the gains in resolution via Blu-Ray aren’t worth it for many folks, as they can’t see the difference. Why is that? They don’t have good enough vision.
“But many consumers are wasting hundreds of pounds on high-definition equipment because their eyes are not sharp enough to pick up the superior resolution and colour, experts say.”
via Hi-Def TV a waste of money for many, they’re too short-sighted to tell the difference | Mail Online.
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Posted on January 10, 2009 by ed
“Fast-food chain Burger King has created “Whopper Sacrifice,” a Facebook app that will give you a coupon for a free hamburger if you delete 10 people from your friends list.”
via Delete 10 Facebook friends, get a free Whopper | The Social – CNET News.
Gotta give them some points for creativity, Burger King ads will be showing up on Facebook news feeds that read “Tom sacrificed John for a free Whopper.”
Update: Apparently Facebook decided sacrificing friends wasn’t good and pulled the plug on the campaign.
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Posted on January 2, 2009 by ed
“”It won’t come as a surprise that they love nature documentaries, but they also like soaps like Coronation Street and Emmerdale.”
via the Telegraph (UK) one of those heartwarming stories that everyone seems to love and half the time I hate, but occasionally even I can get into (come on this is pretty cute – right?) Anyway see the story of how an rescued owl & dog became TV watching buddies here: Bassett Hound and owl strike up unusual friendship
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Posted on December 30, 2008 by ed
“Tea is said to have fueled the Industrial Revolution; caffeine has been credited with modern physics and chemistry. “A mathematician,” the prolific, nonsleeping Paul Erdos liked to say, “is a machine for turning coffee into theorems.” – One Latte, Hold the Milk (NYT)
On the subject of Espresso there is not consensus: “We could sit for days and argue things like, what’s the perfect size for a single shot? How much crema is important? What is the ideal brewing time and temperature? To tamp or not to tamp? Is espresso only an “espresso” when it is under a certain volume of liquid per grams of coffee used? Should you use robusta? Should you sweeten it? Why stop at 9 atmospheres? Can a super auto produce authentic espresso? And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. ” – Espresso Nirvana
That said Espresso today is generally agreed to be coffee that is brewed under pressure (9 bars…) but unlike the days it was first created steam pressure is a no no as the temperature of boiling water is too high to create the ideal espresso (200 F is generally viewed as ideal). So for this reason the ‘stove top espresso’ maker, sometimes called a Moka Pot, often known by the original brand Bialetti, is not an espresso maker – but instead a hybrid drink between drip, percolator and espresso (to that end neither are the cheapy steam pressure espresso models that retail for under $100 generally). Despite being shunned by the espresso connoisseurs the Bialetti Moka Pot if found in 9 out of 10 Italian households (the country where espresso originated) have a Bialetti that allows an approximation on the stove top.
I found it interesting having recently received the classic Moka Pot for Christmas from a friend to learn about the history of the device, its rise in the Italian household can be tied to the push for aluminum and fascism in Italy. An interesting story and it is interesting as well to see how many people are die hard Moka Pot users (aside from all those Italians). So far I am just starting to learn how to use it and what it can produce. For more on the story of the humble Bialetti see here
[Side note: While typing this up Alton Brown's Good Eats episode on espresso came on, people have various opinions of this episode (i.e. hard core espresso folks do) it is a good intro if you are a newbie - for hard core criticism and discussion of the episode see some coffee geek discussions]
Filed under: Drink, Misc | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 26, 2008 by ed
I might not have mentioned the Wire on here in a long time, probably haven’t thought about it as often as I used to. So it came as a bit of a surprise a week or two ago I got a late night phone call from a friend of mine, who after having just a few drinks, decided to call me up and confess that I was right about The Wire being a great TV show (after getting a lot of crap from them about it). Now to this friends credit he came around and additionally I’ll admit that I did deserve some of the crap for having began a few too many sentenances over the years with ‘so this one time on the Wire’ but anyway at least now they know I wasn’t incrediblely crazy at my excitement over the show. So my advice to all those who haven’t drank the Kool-Aid and gotten into the Wire, stop wasting time and crack it open… you won’t regret it.
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Posted on December 19, 2008 by ed
This past week on This American Life (one of my favorite things of the week is listening to this) had a unique show: 20 Acts in 60 Minutes
Instead of the regular “each week we choose a theme, and bring you three or four stories on that theme” business, this week we throw all that away and bring you twenty stories—yes, twenty—in sixty minutes. Inspiration for this week’s show came from the Neo-Futurists, whose long-running Chicago show Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind promises 30 Plays in 60 Minutes every single weekend.
One of the very short pieces this week was about the Vienna Sausage factory in Chicago that moved from its old cobbled together factory in the 1970s to the northside of Chicago. The original factory in the South was put together over 70 years buying up more of a block and wasn’t the model of efficient design. After the move the hot dogs weren’t as good, despite the most state of the art equipment, using the same ingredients, etc. Everything had been accounted for yet for a year and a half they couldn’t figure out why they didn’t taste right and didn’t have the right color.
The reason, which they only figured out while chatting about the old days, was Irving who didn’t make the move to the new plant, but who had wheeled the hot dogs from the manufacutring room to the smoke house. The thing was that this took a while and served as a cooling period because it took 30 minutes to do the walk through the twisting factory. There was no Irving at the new plant – there was no need – and it was Irving’s trip was the secret ingredient. So they built a new room to leave them in and cool and that new addition was to recreate teh effect of Irvings walk.
The point of the story? well obviously one could take several things from it, but the point TAL makes is that even when they thought they were doing everything right while building the new factory, sometimes we don’t know why we are successful in the first place.
via This American Life .
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