Criteria for buying a Coffee

I experienced some (momentary) guilt the other day as someone at a coffee shop near work (offering concessions to staff) caught me with another shop’s coffee!!  Aargh, gasp.  I was with a group so managed to convince them I was ‘along for the ride’ with them.  Ridiculous stuff, but it made me think – what makes us go to different coffee shops? 

Well, I’m in the ‘coffee capital of Australia’, so people take it a little seriously here (I’m easier to please), and don’t take kindly to the ‘big boys’ from the US.  Here’s my list of criteria.  A ‘yes’ answer gains a point, and a ‘no’ answer deducts a point:  Some questions overlap, but sometimes you just have to peel the onion 🙂

  • Company is owned and run by someone in the shop
  • Company is owned and run locally (city or country) 
  • Coffee is sourced from ethical suppliers
  • The staff ‘care’, and smile
  • There’s a shared tips jar
  • Location is convenient (this is thrown in because all other points may be good, but you’re not going to walk forever just to get a coffee!)
  • You can be ‘in and out’ in less than 4 minutes (on average) – i.e. queues
  • The price is reasonable (based on the scores for the above – a bit subjective)

You might even apply your own weighting for each point – i.e. ethical supply may be something you’re not prepared to compromise on, so give that 5 points (you get the idea).

Let’s just say apart from the coffee tasting like water, It’ll be a long time before I go to Starbucks!

RTFM – or Not! Electrical Items are now like software without manuals

I recently (November) bought a cheapy digital camera for my 5 yr old’s birthday.  Yes – I know, a 5 year old with a digital camera – where will it stop.  Anyway…

The model was a Samsung S630 (cost $97 AUS), and you’d be forgiven for thinking it had a reasonable manual given it’s a budget camera.  A quick look and you realise that there’s about 4 pages X lots of languages.

I’d bought a Canon Ixus 2 a few years ago and apart from it having a few plastic bits that proved to be a bit fragile it’s served me very well with its rechargeable battery.  We quickly found that the Samsung had ‘awful’ battery life, and found that this was the general experience of most people with ‘cheaper’ digital cameras that take AA batteries.  I bought a few Ni-MH batteries and a charger and thought, well if I’m going to get through so many batteries (as my child had the camera permanently strapped to her wrist) they’re going to be rechargeable!

No beef with the rechargeables, and we quickly got to the point where we couldn’t put ‘any’ battery in without it immediately showing ‘Low Battery’ and shutting the camera down.  One obviously smells a rat at this point.  I was all ready to take the thing back to the shop then (after realising I’d misplaced the receipt 🙂 ) decided to have a quick look for info on this model and its spectacularly poor battery life.

A quick google found reviews on Amazon – so I started to read.  My heart sank as I read review after review quoting the same issues I’d found – but also the lack of support they then had from the supplier leaving them pretty much in the cold – grreeat I thought to myself.  I was still interested however, because there were quite a number of positive reviews also.  Now knowing software like I do I thought what are the odds of a systematic problem as severe as not being able to turn the thing on! being present in about 2 thirds of cameras (about the ratio of bad to good reviews).  I read a couple of ‘responses’ to the bad reviews and one in particular that had some very simple but vital information that was missing from the manual.  

I charged up my batteries as much as I could then (after the camera actually switched on – but showing ‘red’ battery life) I found the menu item to switch to Ni-MH batteries, and hey presto I’d suddenly got 3 ‘bars’ wahey!

So the moral of the story is that Google is now ‘also’ your friend for household appliances with increasingly shoddy manuals.  You may also of course be like me and have Techno-Joy (from the wise words of Eddie Izzard), and have just disregarded the manual anyway!

Grammar refresher – Using punctuation properly

I’ve found that I often use colons in technical documentation and emails, yet I’ve probably never ‘really’ understood quite how they or semicolons should be used.  I think my school days were after the golden age of English Grammar education (or maybe I just didn’t pay attention).

After reading this, I’m now clear on the picture.  I could rephrase that as follows (just to force a semicolon in):

I read this article; I’m now clear on the picture, and shall use semicolons to appear clever.

Ant Problems (Nothing to do with builds)

I’ve got ant problems – lots of ’em – coming from every orifice (in my house).  Googling for some ‘intelligence’ on how the little blighters’ minds work so I might better exterminate them I stopped for a moment when I read this heartening tale about the guts and determination of the average ant…

I then promptly moved on and started looking for more and ingenious ways to get rid of them for good so I wouldn’t have to continually feel (slight) guilt whenever I squash one.