Tuesday, 5 June 2012

What's In A Name?

Jeff Bezos, the man behind the largest online retail colossus on the planet urges companies to remember one vital business tip: always "obsess over customers". Our friendly, American, barista formerly known as Starbucks and now only illustrated by the iconic logo strongly subscribes to the same ideology. Consequently, my morning coffee and afternoon 'Frapp' routine has changed. I am now more than a scribble on a plastic cup. My existence has broadened from an earlier MCCF* or a GBA** to my true name. Well sort of.

I cheerily made my way into the welcoming world of the twin-tailed Siren (Mermaid in common parlance) and sure enough, swiftly at the heels of my order, I was asked for my name. Now, Anupriya is a rare mouthful even for an Indian name so I decisively settled on Anu also taking the time to smile and spell it out. I was delirious with relief that it would take a retail outlet quite a bit of effort to fudge that one up. I was wrong.

As the incriminating (though admittedly delicious!) pictures above demonstrate, my three letter abbreviated moniker was altered to ENO or perhaps, if we are more forgiving, ENU. I love my provider of coffee. I really do. However I struggle to reconcile myself with my new name that GSK uses to peddle "fast acting effervescent antacids" internationally.

Strike 1 dearly loved provider of all things caffeine.


In all seriousness though, I get why Starbucks has a sudden interest in customer names. The marketing strategy of increasing customer engagement, one first-name at a time makes sense. One of the easiest rapport building strategies employed by retailers, using a customer's name undoubtedly personalises the transaction and the overall customer experience. I wonder how accurate is the quantification of the adverse coverage of misspelled names, annoyance of extra time spent at the tills, and curiously (thankfully rarely!) the outrage from some very guarded customers who, all said and done, just don't want to give away their identities.

*   Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino
**  Grande Black Americano

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Remember, Remember...

Here are a few pictures from a major London (Southwark Park) Fireworks display. Results are from nothing more than my surgeon-steady hands and a trusty Nikon D40 with a Nikkor SWM 55-200mm lens (though ideally, I would've liked a tripod and a remote shutter release setup).
Yes, mainstream media continues to nudge me to temper my delight with a morbid awareness of the state of the Economy, potential Eurozone melt-down, the inconvenience experienced by the pets...
Is it acceptable to just savour the noise, smoke, colours and community and perhaps justify the event as being slightly deferred, significantly upscaled Diwali celebration?

Old School Are Fireworks Greener on the other side?
SupernovaFibre Optic Explosions

Friday, 15 July 2011

An Im-perfect Circle?

Maybe not. A Googler and I once discussed the reasons and incentives for anyone wanting to explore the proposed social aspects (in making at the time) of big G's service in the face of the Book of Faces. My views were as grim on the idea then as they are now - not that I don't wish rainbow laced, sunny glow around any and all of Google endevours. I do. The company deserves it. It's the best at what they do. Unfortunately Social Networking isn't one of them.

Consider my investment in Facebook. I've been a member since when it first launched in the UK, in 2005 (only for Oxford and Cambridge before growing to about 30 Universities in that year). So I've been on it for more than 6 years now. I have more than 5,000 photos, a number of meticulously engineered 'limited views' friends lists with varying levels of permissions complexity. If I were to draw a Venn diagram of these lists and map common permissions, restrictions etc, I'd probably be drawing for a rather long time. Speaking of Venn diagrams, is that where you got your idea for Circles, Mr. Google?

Returning to the point I was making - why would I want to move the assets that I've accumulated for the best part of the decade, re-engineer all my 'Circles', and click twice when I spot something on the WWW (one for an FB 'Like' and another for a G+)?

Personally, I feel Google needs to invest in what it does best - Search. The Bings of the world have failed to even compare so why risk a narrower gap by getting distracted by a non-core area?

Sunday, 20 February 2011


Recent personal failure # 1: Being environment friendly and ordering a small tube of hand cream online to save me a trip to the high street.

Recent personal failure # 2: Again, attempting to do my bit for the planet and switching to a 'green' tariff. (The heap alongside was just the introductory documentation).

Recent Species failure: Attempting to book a German hotel for an upcoming getaway and discovering my species is a disqualifier.

Friday, 6 August 2010

I did it! All 722 feet of it.

Some things are best not explicated in words. The highest free fall in the world at the mercy of an elastic band, in a foreign country may perhaps fall in that category. I'll therefore trust the video and some pictures of the jump to illustrate the sheer terror factor of this undertaking.

But first and foremost, I'd like to thank my supporters who were so generous with their donations that it helped me not only reach but beat the fund raising target for my chosen charity - Mind! Yes, the target was self-set really, but I'm sure, Mind, the people who are supported by their work and I are most thankful for whatever we've raised.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. I must warn you though that the video is not for the faint-hearted. A friend of mine famously claimed he was unable to keep his breakfast down after watching me jump. You've been warned.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

1 G short of happiness

This delightful sketch from a comic on theoatmeal.com sums up my situation right now. I have been trying my best to somehow resist my urge to upgrade to the iPhone 4. But thoughts of important, adult stuff like saving for a house, food and clothes penetrated through the haze of my cultish/slavish fascination for all things Apple.

Still thinking, could food really be that important?

Image source: http://theoatmeal.com/comics

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Just Jump Already!

Remember GoldenEye? Remember the terrifying opening sequence where Mr. Bond jumps off a ridiculously high dam in the Swiss countryside? (Please find video attached to refresh your memory).

For my birthday this year (last week of July), I have decided to bungee jump off the Verzasca Dam near Locarno, Switzerland which is the highest pure free fall bungee jump in the world at a giddying height of 220m (722ft). There are no guide ropes to limit the numbing swing after the jump. Just so you know, I am extremely scared of heights and participation in adrenalinefuelled adventures has so far been 'interesting', so there's always a possibility of me coming back with a gripping story or two in return for your generosity! (My last attempt at a sky dive ended in a plane half buried in the ground and shrieks of "Run! Run! Run for your life!" I wish I was joking...

Please try and donate as much or as little as you wish.

Every pound you donate will go straight to Mind, my chosen charity. I have paid for everything associated with the Bungee jump myself.

Why Mind?
Consider this:
  • According to the last Adult Psychiatric Morbidity survey approximately one in four persons (23.0 per cent) in England had at least one psychiatric disorder and 7.2 per cent had two or more disorders.
  • 1.0 per cent of the adult population had Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The prevalence rate among children is also approximately 1.0 per cent.
  • 5.6 per cent of people aged 16 and over reported having attempted suicide.
Having worked with patients with a spectrum of mental health problems - affective disorders, learning disabilities, I know and appreciate the value of work being done by charities like Mind. They not only provide an invaluable source of information for people suffering from psychiatric disorders but also work very closely with communities and local networks to provide specialist training, promote an accepting attitude of mental distress in employers and campaign for the rights of those affected by mental health issues. Mind is independent and envisions "a society that promotes and protects good mental health for all, and that treats people with experience of mental distress fairly, positively, and with respect."

Convinced? Here's what to do...
Please go to my Just Giving Page and hit the neat 'Donate Now' Button and you will be presented with a range of secure payment options.

Mind and I say Thank You!
Please allow me to thank you for taking the time to read this far. I very much hope you will consider donating to Mind.
Hopefully I'll manage to pull this stunt off with no ocular or spinal damage and post photographic proof of the Mind Jump upon my return - watch this space!