Thursday, September 20, 2007

And your spin... large, or extra-large?

Last week, I made a flight reservation on; I wanted to be on row 14, to be seated close to L, who already got her ticket. While choosing my seat, I am very pleased to discover that row 14, by virtue of being located between rows 12 and 25, has "Plenty of legroom".

How could I be so naive! For a minute, I thought that "plenty", as in "more than sufficiently, to a considerable degree" (Webster) meant that I would have more space that most passengers to stretch my legs. A quick look at the entire floor plan revealed that "Plenty of legroom" was instead to be opposed to "More legroom", or "Most legroom"; or, in other words, that "plenty of legroom" was the worst section of the airplane. Welcome to marketing, were the world exists in large or extra-large only!

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sorry, your bank has been sold

I thought I had a good idea of the type of problems people could have with their bank; based just on my personal experience, I can easily list a dozen likely issues. But in all honesty, I would never have guessed that for some, the main source of dissatisfaction is that their bank is being sold.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Things I might be interested in

In February 2006, a friend of mine moved from California to New York city. To make the transition easier, I gave him the Zagat New York City restaurant guide, which I purchased through Amazon. Since that day, "As someone who has purchased or rated books by Zagat Survey", I have been notified about every two months of new issues of Zagat guides, covering the most random places in the US. I have been suggested to purchase the Zagat 2007 Texas. I have been advised to look into the Zagat survey of America's top golf courses. And today I have been recommended to check the 2008 Zagat survey of Washington Dc/Baltimore Restaurants.
Granted, it's notoriously difficult for computer to make recommendations based on taste, but come on! This is just plain ridiculous. I haven't heard anything from Amazon on the latest issue of the San Francisco Zagat (to be fair, I may have forgotten), even though they have my address on file - so why would the computer decide that I may be interested in Baltimore, Texas and US golf courses, when none of my amazon purchases has anything to do with these?

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Monday, July 2, 2007

Internet Vacations

I have been busy in the past few days and haven't had much time to post. I'll catch up soon, but in the meanwhile, and without much of a connection (need some vacation, maybe?), here is a picture taken today in San Mateo:

Not too sure what these guys are doing, but it's reassuring to know there is someone to talk to, next time my internet vacation breaks down!


Sunday, June 3, 2007

Democracy "à la Française"

Paris is a city of many charms, and one of them is the quirkiness of its elevators. Most of the buildings in the city were built in a time when the only technology used to move up and down involved a flight of stairs; as a result, retrofitting building to add elevators sometimes requires creative solutions.
But this elevator is really the best I have seen, by far. It is the standard matchbox-sized issue, but what makes it truly unique is its operations. It serves a 6-stories building, and only tenants who live on the 5th and 6th floor are entitled to use it. There is a certain logic to it, until you learn that actually, as for most buildings in Paris, there is an extra 7th floor with what is known as "Chambres de bonnes". In the good old days, "Chambres de bonnes" were the quarters provided for domestic help employed by the wealthy tenants of the building; today, they are used as cheaper apartments, and often rented to students.
You would think that living on the 7th floor would entitle you to use the elevator? Wrong. That's a privilege only granted to tenants of the more expensive apartments. And to make sure nobody sneaks in for a free ride, using the elevator requires a key, provided only to the lucky few living on floor 5 and 6 - which apparently caused some rising criminal activity, with outrageous cases of disappearing keys... I think the obvious solution is for the building to hire a full-time guardian for the elevator; but then, should he live on the 7th floor? And, to the point, should he be given a key?

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