29 April 2008

Disposable or Rechargeable? That is the Question

"The product/concept can be anything from cars, drinks, electrical goods or even men's underwear! ...He had researched them to the 'nth degree and chose to give us all an Open University lecture on the polarity, make up, voltage and density of the rechargables"

Recently I participated in a market research session in Sydney. For the uninitiated, market research is where a group of consumers (that fit a certain criteria) talk about a product or a concept. The product/concept can be anything from cars, drinks, electrical goods or even men's underwear! (and that one was an interesting session, indeed!). The best thing of all is that you get paid cold hard cash as well as enjoying some food and drink!

The subject matter that we had to talk about related to batteries and the session lasted two hours. Immediately you are probably now thinking 'how can you talk about batteries for that long?'. Well, the truth is we did! (though even I am amazed at how we truly managed this).

For this session there were 4 of us strapping and good looking men. Two others didn't turn up presumably because it was a cold wet night, and they wanted to stay home and watch 'Desperate Housewives' on television while flossing their teeth. Of the four that braved the elements, the ages of our 'gang' ranged from 24 to about 50 years of age.

It really helps when you have a great mediator controlling these sessions. The mediators are independent and encourage open comments about the product. Fortunately for us we had a great one. The sessions always start with a brief introduction from the participants. The usual details are spewed forth - name, family details, pets and hobbies. I decided to mention my blog, which raised a few eyebrows. My view was that there was no harm in shameless promotion!

The session got under way and we had to list the three most important things to us on a daily basis. Invariably all three were non battery related. We then moved onto what we use batteries for. The most common gadget was the remote control. Seriously, where would we be without it? I can still remember the bad old days (only just) where you would have to get out of your armchair to change the television channel. Nowadays, you just stay embedded in your armchair while occasionally raising your left or right arm to change channels. In the other hand is normally a drink or a food item.

After listing all of the devices that we use batteries for, we had to produce one of our favourite battery controlled items. I bought in a small Sony radio that I carry with me on most days. It's a great little device for listening to a radio station or hearing how the cricket or footy is going, or to hear the latest Celine Dion song (only joking!). Fortunately, there were no battery operated devices brought in that you would typically find in an adult shop. I am sure the mediator was relieved about that too!

The topic got onto rechargeable batteries. This is when the session really took off. One of the guys present was an expert on them! He had researched them to the 'nth degree and chose to give us all an Open University lecture on the polarity, make up, voltage and density of the rechargables. Up to this point he had been very quiet.

For the record, he doesn't have a girlfriend. For some reason they seem to leave him on a regular basis. I am quite sure that discussing batteries is not the best bedroom topic in the first instance!

For the next 10 minutes we were truly entertained by his knowledge and passion. We all learnt lots of facts that I am sure could be a great ice breaker at the next nerds convention. As for myself, I do not have a ticket to that event.

Finally, the session came to an end and we were all thanked and paid for our time.

At the end of the night I walked away with increased battery knowledge, whilst braving the wind and rain. I was still stunned to realise that there are people in this world that have a true penchant for all things battery related! Thankfully, I am not one of them.

18 April 2008

Stalking by Bluetooth

"It even comes with it's own sock! (presumably so it can sleep comfortably at night)...that was an easy one to work out. Even Einstein wouldn't have had any problems with that"

Recently I wrote a blog about a new mobile phone of mine that seemed possessed http://dw-perspectives.blogspot.com/2008/03/i-think-my-phone-is-possessed.html. Naturally, I changed this one for a phone that didn't require an exorcism every few hours. Also, the cost of getting an exorcism expert in frequently was costing way too much money! Anyway, last week I decided to replace the non-possessed phone for a more hi-tech, wham bam, thank you mam! type of phone. I chose the superbly styled Nokia E65.

Now for those of you who do not know much about the Nokia E65, let me tell you it's one helluva sexy phone! It oozes class and style - like a convertible car. It even comes with it's own sock! (presumably so it can sleep comfortably at night) Functionally speaking, it's a slide up phone that has all the normal features as well as bluetooth, infra red, web browsing, IM chat, Real Player, File Manager etc etc. In short, it is akin to a mini computer.

Anyway, enough drooling over the phone! The other day I was trying to email Jo (a.k.a. the face of Qantas!) a picture that I had taken with, yes you guessed it, my new Nokia. I couldn't work out how to do it until another work colleague, the multilingual Jia, said "why don't you bluetooth it?" Initially, I thought that Jia wanted me to do something with my teeth. Then I realised she meant my 'classy' new phone.

With Jia's help I was able to 'transmit' the pic to Jo's phone. What I realised was that with my new Nokia I could scan for other people who had bluetooth activated on their phones. With the Bluetooth functionality you can create any id or name. I used my initials (boring I know but I could think of anything else!) for my purposes.

So for the next few days I had the 'sexy' Nokia E65 roaming the Sydney CBD to see who else has bluetooth access. I have to admit that the phone detected some interesting bluetooth identities!

While I was walking up to Elizabeth Street my phone picked up an id called "Sexy Lexy"* I looked around but couldn't see anyone who looked 'Sexy' let alone 'Lexy' Maybe she had driven past me in a car. Then I walked past a tall Sikh guy and my Nokia picked up "Sikhs Rule!"* Well that was an easy one to work out. Even Einstein wouldn't have had any problems with that. Later on, I came across another id that said "I Love Bhutan"* I swiftly glanced all around me but couldn't see anyone looking even slightly Bhutanese.

The results were interesting on the train ride home too. I came across a "Bruce"*, "Thommo"*, "Maggie"* and "Dakoolguy"* It was fun trying to match the faces of the passengers to their Bluetooth id. Then I had an idea. Maybe I have stumbled across a new way for people to meet new friends. What if someone sent a message or a picture to another Bluetooth user saying things like "hello" or "how are you today?" or even an image of a Smiley face. If the other person accepts your message then it could be the start of a great new friendship.

So I challenge you, dear reader, to get your mobile phone out and set your bluetooth service to roam and see what names come up. If you find one you like send them a message. Put a smile on their dial! After all, in this day and age no one has any time for the pleasantries of yesteryear. I'd be interested in any results, so please let me know what happens.

* I was advised by my legal counsel (the multilingual and Rammstein loving Jia) to change the real names that appeared as id's. This is to protect me from the copious bouts of laughter that I get every time I recall the real id's!

Wow, I've amazed myself that somehow I got Rammstein into one of my blogs - who'd have guessed that!

13 April 2008

Do you know who you really are?

"All of a sudden a light bulb appeared above my head - I had an idea!.... I am also a trucker! (images of Greasy Joe roadhouses, blue singlet and beer gut come to mind"

I was feeling quite bored the other night and thought that I would surf the Internet as a way of doing something. It was either that or watching yet another reality show on television.

Once I had logged on I had no idea what to do, or what to search for - via the always dependable Mr Google. All of a sudden a light bulb appeared above my head - I had an idea! Well, a literal light bulb appeared, not a real one!

Some of my friends would definitely say "unbelievable - he's had an idea! that's a rare occurrence!" but it was true I did have one. I thought it would be great to search on my name to see what was recorded on the Internet. Having a common surname and a not-so-common first name I was intrigued to see what results I would get. For the record, I am not in the slightest bit narcissistic (I removed all the 10 mirrors in my bedroom ages ago - honest!!). I am, in fact, a typical guy who likes playing air guitar when no one is watching, and writing blogs (badly at times).

So I typed in my name and looked at the local search results. The results were quite amazing.

Apparently, In Brisbane I have my own window cleaning business. Now the thought of cleaning windows for mums and dads, as well as for corporate clients does nothing to thrill me. I can only assume that my namesake enjoys the outdoors as well as the stifling heat and humidity of Brissie in summer. Alas, I don't.

The next result said that I was a breeder of dogs. Well, this is a step up in my opinion. Yes, I do like dogs but would not have a clue about how to breed them. I have trouble looking after goldfish, so I know I wouldn't be best equipped to be a dog breeder! So I moved onto the next result.

This one said that I was an author (note to any book houses out there - yes I DO want to write a book very soon - please contact me!). This one was about the Second World War. Certainly not my fave subject, but the profession certainly agrees with me! Things were looking up by now. I couldn't wait to find out what else I had been up to.

Well for the rest of the Australian search results apparently I am a collector of military antiques. Naturally, this namesake must wear horn rimmed glasses and wear an anorak as this is something I certainly would not be interested in. Also, it appears that I have been trying to sell a 'Winnebago Mercedes Benz sprinter' - lucky me!

At this stage I thought I would do an international search on my name. Surely that would produce some juicy professions for me!

Well apparently not. I am an expert on ADHD and have written papers on psychotherapy (whatever that is). The next result was a good one. I am a QC and am 'a property litigator whose name "wields authority" among the judiciary.' Sounds powerful, but also a tad scary. Like something from a John Grisham novel. Mind you, this namesake of mine had been awarded a CBE - so that is a step in the right direction.

The next three search results showed me to be a soldier (eek!), a telecommunications expert and a teacher. Three very diverse occupations indeed. I think I liked the teacher one the best. I am not sure I want to be involved in the military nowadays. As for telecommunications - it's not really my cup of chai latte!

The next results were quite mixed as well. I am apparently a South African architect (not bad!), an Internet marketing guru (imagine slick backed hair, Ferrari, chunky gold rings etc), and I am also a trucker! (images of Greasy Joe roadhouses, blue singlet and beer gut come to mind, as do sausages and eggs!).

I then searched more extensively and found out that I was Lord Mayor of one of England's rural cities. Wow, now that's a job I could handle! Opening fetes, working with the local council and authorities and getting the best seats in the house for shows, etc. Yes this namesake gets my thumbs up!

Before I knew it my boredom had passed and I realised that I had spent nearly an hour searching on my name and had hardly skimmed the surface of results. I decided to call it a night having found a profession that truly matches my name!

So if you are looking to idle away some time then I challenge you to search for your own name on the Internet to see what comes up. Go on, I dare you!

08 April 2008

All change, Please!

Since launching my blog just over 8 months ago I have steadfastly remained with the same template as supplied by the good folks at Blogger. A template is the colour scheme and backdrop onto which my epic stories of milk triangles, possessed phones, sleep pods etc are etched.

Well, seeing as Autumn now has its hold on Australia I thought it was time for a change. A change is as good as a rest, or so they say! So I started delving into the list of templates available to me for use for my blogs. Having viewed the vast majority of them I settled on the new one that you are reading this from.

I hope you like the new colour scheme and welcome any feedback that you may have. As for blog postings I will try and stick to a minimum of one a week. Already my mind is in overdrive working on the next one.

So stay tuned, who knows - I might even write a serious blog one day!!!