Archive for July, 2008

I’m no expert on the TV business. But when I see a series getting cancelled after the first season, I would guess it’s because the show didn’t generate adequate ratings or ad sales. With this in mind, it’s surprising that the DVD sets for these orphaned series often sell for premium prices. For instance, HBO’s […]

Many computers and electronic devices have a cooling fan. Most of these fans can run at different speeds, depending on the ambient temperature and how hard the innards of the device are working at any given time. But these same devices are really bad at warning you when they run into trouble, e.g. the room […]

I’m really fond of my Cuisinart coffeemaker. It’s a sort-of-retro 12 cup model with dials and switches, and a stainless steel finish. For a drip coffeemaker, it makes superb coffee. I first became acquainted with this model in 2002, when we bought one for the office — it’s still going strong, in fact. I got […]

I’ve been using Amazon’s Subscribe-and-Save program for several months, and it’s pretty neat. Basically, you tell them how often you want to receive a certain product, e.g. snack crackers, and they ship them automatically based on that interval. You also get a discount on each order, typically around 15%. And so you don’t feel locked […]

A lot of customer loyalty is squandered because people simply don’t remember which product they bought before. This is especially true with everyday consumables like paper towels, which lack any visual cues to help people recognize them in the store. Sure, the brand names might be easy to recognize, but how do you identify which […]

In big cities, you often see advertising on the sides of buildings. This typically takes the form of static billboards, although giant LED displays and projected images are making inroads too. But what about buildings that are under construction? Aside from a few signs promoting the financing company, even the high profile buildings here in […]

Reality check


A few days ago, one of my coworkers called tech support for help with a BlackBerry problem. You know what they told him? Just upgrade your firmware to the latest version and that should fix it. There’s one small problem here: I’ve done firmware upgrades before, and they’re not pretty. It takes hours to run […]

While watching TV last night, I saw ads for a bunch of shows that are returning in the fall. At the end of each ad, they provided the date of the season premier. But instead of writing it normally, like “September 9, 2008” or just “September 9”, they decided to get clever. So, the screen […]

I’ve read several insightful articles about the problems that arise when the buyer of a product and the user of that product aren’t the same person. In these cases, the buyer often takes the form of a committee that looks for a big feature list and low price, while paying little attention to ease-of-use. As […]

In plain sight


Would it be good for consumers if certain types of businesses were required to display a record of recent complaints against them or their overall customer satisfaction rating? I’m thinking about industries that typically have low satisfaction scores, like used car sales. While the idea sounds good on paper, my own experience suggests otherwise. In […]