Archive for July, 2011

While walking through an otherwise drab hallway that connects two buildings, I noticed that the building managers had done something interesting: they put up large-format photos and converted the hallway into an art gallery. A sign nearby explained that the photos featured local scenes. While that statement was accurate, the images looked like the type […]

In what is presumably an effort to reduce the number of patients who make an appointment and then forget to show up, many doctors are using automated reminder systems. Typically, this takes the form of a phone call a few days before the appointment, in which a recorded voice asks you to confirm the date […]

A few days ago, my icemaker stopped working. I looked in the user manual and online for troubleshooting tips, but none of them brought it back to life. Thinking that replacement was the most likely remedy, I wanted to find out what a new unit would cost, aside from labor. But this proved to be […]

If you’ve spent any time reading the customer reviews on a typical website, then you’ve probably noticed that many of the reviews are a grammatical and stylistic mess. And it’s not just a matter of word count: even the shortest reviews tend to be full of errors. Taken together, the poor quality of the average […]

Let’s say you’re creating an account with an online retailer. As part of the sign-up process, they give you the option to receive periodic emails with special offers and the like. If you opt-in to these messages, how many emails would you expect to get each week? Absent any other data points, I would guess […]

Over the weekend, I watched a few episodes of a fairly new TV show called “The Middle”. It’s a sitcom that follows the life of a middle class family, and bears a striking resemblance to “Malcolm in the Middle”, which aired in the 1990s. As we sped through a few episodes that had accumulated on […]

I’m a huge fan of a particular type of tortilla chip. It’s an organic blue chip, with just the right amount of sea salt sprinkled throughout the bag. For many months, I was able to buy the product consistently from the same retailer. But lately, something wonky has happened with the pricing. In a matter […]

When you buy a jacket, sweater, or pair of pants, it’s customary to find a little packet attached with replacement buttons and thread. I imagine that clothing manufacturers do this because they know it’s really hard for customers to locate these supplies later. Plus, the practice probably costs them next to nothing. But why is […]