Saturday, February 26, 2011

Corning - looks through the glass

As with most of these 'what we will be able to do in the future' type video's, it concentrates on the hardware, and not really the potential new uses.

That's the great thing about invention.  We invent materials before we know what possible things we might eventually use them for.  Think accidental inventions like teflon.

I like the fact that the interaction is all the same - like a world monopoly owned by Apple. But I do want that phone which is just a piece of glass, with holders at each end. iphone 5 maybe?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why I joined the QANTAS club, and why it is now so crappy

I have been a member of the QANTAS club since the mid 90's. I used to love:
  • the quiet, 
  • the access to food and drink
  • the relative absence of screaming children
  • The ability to work while on a business trip, or the ability to relax if not
The scheme has been supremely successful for QANTAS. But it didn't take long for the clubs to get crowded, So they made them bigger.

Slowly but surely those 5pm party pies (and who doesn't like a party pie?) disappeared, and then the hot food vacated the building - except for soup (is soup even a food group?).

But still I would stump up for the membership, because it was better than sitting around with the other denizens of the airport.

After a 2 hour plus stint at the Club at Melbourne's domestic airport on a recent Sunday - I'm not so sure.

It's tatty, very noisy, crowded, with an unpleasant atmosphere. Not relaxing, and not conducive to work.

It doesn't just need a re-furb. I think the concept needs a re-think.

The more it looks like a cafeteria, the less likely it is to distinguish itself from other facilities at the airport.

And with these proposed 'improvements' should I stay a member?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Did Neil Perry really have anything to do with this:

Just what you need as an in-flight refreshment -something that looks like its from the black and gold supermarket range. 
This was my snack on a Sunday afternoon flight with Qantas from Melbourne to Sydney. 
Besides the packaging looking like generics from the supermarket, the 'Flats™' are somewhat disgustingly tasteless squares of what looks like predigested vegetable. And by 'pre-digested' I think you know what I mean. 
The website of Fine Fettle assures me that they are real vegetables 'dried' rather than fried. I think I would prefer the fried.
I wonder what Neil Perry really does for Qantas. It would appear that he is responsible for this snack if the notes to the 1st class menu are to be believed: 
"Qantas and Neil have collaborated to bring you restaurant style cuisine inflight. Every detail is influenced, from creating the menus to training chefs and cabin crew worldwide."
I'm afraid that this just sounds like puff when you get served something like 'Flats™' served in a plastic box, covered by plastic, packaged in a black and gold cardboard sleeve.
Next time if they offer you 'Flats™' - ask for the pretzels.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Why do ABC TV's motion graphics look like cheap flyers

Well the simple answer is because they lack any creativity.

The example above is their news bumper, but there is another one - I think for current affairs maybe (it's about as memorable as Tony Abbott's policy on climate change). All it contains is words animated, swinging like gates, on that rather sickly blueish sky sort of no horizon thing. And while we are talking about that blue. What kind of a blue is that? It's not the blue you see in Northern Australia, nor the blue you see in the desert. I don't think it s blue you see in the Tasmanian sky either.  To me its a kind of English drizzley sky blue.

This all seems to be part of the ABC's 'Think' campaign. Not a terrible concept, but the execution! Cheap like Christopher Pyne's laugh. How is it that the ABC constantly gets it station's motion graphics sooo wrong, and SBS get them sooo right.

ABC - Please explain?

For further information on the re-branding and a few vicious reactions see Campaign Brief

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hello machine, can I charm you into an upgrade?

Who stole the checkin counters?
I flew from Sydney to Adelaide last weekend.  Sydney Airport Qantas terminal is deserted! No staff, only uniformed security and columns with screens. From a design perspective I like the minimalist space - just a sea of marble tiles, with the occasional vertical sculpture sprouting a screen that you (apparently) tap to check in.

Next Generation
Fortunately, I didn't have to actually engage in the Qantas brave new world (called by Qantas - Next Generation Check-in).  I had checked in online, and given I only had carry-on, went straight to the Club lounge. At least there you can ask stupid questions, like 'Even though I have checked in online, do you need to give me a boarding pass?" (they don't).

If I am nice to you - will you be nice to me?
At the risk of sounding like a sentimental old grump - I am mourning the days when at check in, you could compliment the (usually female) staff member on her hair/jewellery/general demeanour and gormlessly ask "Is it a well booked flight?" and if they said yes, you could try, "Any possibility of an upgrade?"

Sounds stupid, but it sometimes worked, and even if it didn't always get us an upgrade, sometimes on a poorly booked flight, it would get me and my partner three seats for the two of us to share - any extra legroom in a storm.

Not to mention the discretion they had to ignore your blatant ignorance of the permitted luggage allowance.

My airfare used to pay someone else to do that
If I have actual check-in luggage, I will have to print off one of those sticky strips that you have to tear off and wrap round your luggage handles, and load it onto the conveyor belt. Didn't the cost of my ticket include that service by a Qantas staff member in the past? The alternative is to buy their 'Q Bag Tags' at some undisclosed cost - in the future.

So, another small part of the luxury that used to be travel again disappears, on what the industry still laughably calls a full-service airline.

For a full report on the experience of the Next Generation Check-in see Dan Hills Blog entry at City of Sound.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dear John

I opened the Sydney Morning Herald today to find that my bank, the National Australia Bank has sent the other major banks in Australia a 'Dear John' letter - the day after St Valentine's Day.

No branding
Somehow the advertising company has convinced NAB not to stamp their branding all over it.  The only identifier is the signature. It made me read right to the end.

About nothing really
Despite the ad really being all talk and not much substance, what a great creative, well executed. Congratulations to all who worked on it.  To see how really different it is, turn over a few more pages and you get this subtle ad from Westpac:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mobile phone plans - designed to confuse

If only Telstra, Optus and all the other telco's sold mobile phone plans that tried to 'usher in light' instead of just raising false 'high expectations' as does this pavilion in the Forbidden City in Beijing. 

When I use $18, why should I buy $600 worth?
I'm an average to low user of my smartphone, and I have just come off a two year contract for my first generation iPhone.  I'd love another - newer version, but can't really justify the $79 or $99 per month it would cost with my service provider (Oh what a misnomer that is!). $99 might buy me something like $600 worth of calls per month, but since my call charges are actually about $18 a month - what's all that left over capacity worth to me.  I'll tell you - about $80 a month, or $1,000 a year. So I said 'Put me on your minimum plan.' And then the fun started.

When good designers go bad

I love hotels.
To stay and sleep in, more than to drink or eat in. Best of all I like really well designed hotels. Sure I value really good service, but I especially like things that hotel designers think of that I wouldn't. Let me give you some examples.