There's an article in the Observer today about insomnia and how it's more widespread now (here). I really liked the point made by Eluned Summers-Bremner, an English professor and author of a book about insomnia. Excerpt from the article:
Summers-Bremner believes that we worry about sleep partly because we have false expectations of it. The ancients, she explains, did not suffer from anxiety about insomnia because they never took sleep for granted in the first place. We, on the other hand, tend to see sleep as our due. We see it as 'the necessary evil required for a productive and happy life'. Mistakenly, we imagine the night to be a dimensionless, featureless stretch. She coins a wonderful phrase to describe what we are missing: 'nocturnal literacy'. By this she means 'all things dark and unconscious that we have largely lost the ability to talk and think about with agility in everyday ways (especially in the more consumerist parts of the world)'.
She believes we have lost the ancient world's respect for the night. And she has a bracing line, too, on the 18th-century attitude to sleep. Far from fretting about sleeplessness, 18th-century metropolitans were nervous about indolence - ashamed if they slept too long. (Queen Anne Wing chairs, apparently, acquired their wings to hide sleepers from view.)
If we didn't have a 9-5 society would we have less disorders like insomnia? People would sleep when they wanted and more importantly, when they we tired. I also like the idea of having respect for the night - actually, I miss it.
After playing with my new phone I thought how nice it would be if, when you turned on a gadget for the first time there is the option to personalise it straight away. A bit like Apple computers. With a phone it would ask you to set the time and date, key tones, etc. You could obviously skip this if you wanted to, but I think it would be a nice touch.
Yesterday the lovely Amanda and I went down to the bloggers preview of the LG Secret to be wined and canaped. Err, and get a sneak preview of the phone. It was actually quite interesting to go.
As a brand you have to be pretty confident in your product to turn it over to bloggers and some really good questions were asked of LG. Ewan from SMS Text News asked why LG didn't open up their platform to mobile developers, which was met with a bit of discomfort, but apparently it is on the cards.
So, the phone itself. Things I like about the Secret so far:
It's a very good looking phone and it doesn't feel cheap - no coated plastics here.
It's pretty hardwearing (carbon fibre, tempered glass). Jeremy Newing from LG kept smacking it with his keys which was a little unnerving but proved the point.
It's got a motion sensor inside so you play games by shaking and tilting the handset.
Things I don't like:
That it doesn't work with Macs. I have serious issues with phones that aren't Mac-friendly (Samsung I'm looking at you too).
We also got to see the advert, which got me thinking about how mobile handset ads have traditionally looked like corporate marketing slides, while the standard of network ads has been pretty high. Obviously this is changing (Nokia and Sony Ericsson leading the charge) but the global nature of the product means that it is easier to make the powerpoint advert.
You can find out more about the phone here or have a look at their blog.
Today's hate figure is going to be eBay. I'm quite glad about this, because despite eBay's brilliant ability to help me find well, almost anything and also to find buyers for my (worn!) trainers and other bits of junk, I have always been a bit frustrated at how little protection you get as a buyer or seller. I remember I bought a mixer once for £70 - the guy took ages to send it, it arrived damaged, but I wasn't covered because I hadn't claimed in the allocated time (I hadn't received the package!). I lost that £70. I've also had many rogue buyers who haven't paid or lied about not receiving items (that's why I send everything recorded suckers!).
The point is that eBay has decided that it wants to be more like a shopping centre, and is therefore making the whole site more buyer friendly, which is great except for the fact that it is at the expense of sellers. Sellers will no longer be able to post feedback. The whole point of eBay is that it is a community-driven marketplace. The community tells you whether any eBayer is a good egg or not.
The spokeslady from eBay had this to say: 'We are a marketplace founded on trust. While that is a very powerful proposition, it does mean that if people have a bad experience on our site, caused by a poor seller, then they will no longer use the site.' Erm, eBay if you alienate your sellers, then there won't be anything interesting to buy, just memory sticks from Hong Kong.
Why don't they have a proper eBay mediation centre to settle disputes with a human element instead of sending out stock replies all day. All buyers now have to offer Paypal which means verified address. You know who your sellers are eBay, you can protect your buyers in other ways. Anyway, 1st May is Boycott eBay day. I don't care if you've wanted those Huarache Plus for ages - I say strike.
All it takes is the personal touch. After my rant this morning, Sylvia - South Bank Centre membership manager - left a comment apologising and offering to help me book my Meltdown tickets. As it stands, I had sufficiently calmed down by about 11 o'clock to try again and get the tickets I wanted. But it is nice that Sylvia took the time out a) to search for upset bloggers and b) to apologise personally and offer to rectify the situation with the minimum of fuss on my part - customer services people take note. Even if you do make mistakes your customers will remember you positively if you make up for it.
PS. The last point I made in my rant still stands - for any company/brand/service that operates a call centre.
I have just given up on trying to book tickets for the Meltdown festival at South Bank. Tickets went on sale at 9am this morning. At 8.50 I was logged into the South Bank Centre website, ready to go. At 8:59:59 by the atomic clock I put a call into the ticketline and was immediately put on hold (seeing as Massive Attack are curating this years Meltdown, couldn't they have used them for hold music instead of the irritating orchestral loop?). This is an 0871 number, so not cheap to call. I waited on hold for an hour - an hour! - until I was told that they were no longer taking calls and was cut off. How out of order is that? I would rather hold for 90 minutes than be cut off - that is an hour I cannot get back, that I've paid for (in call charges) and received no satisfaction for (no tickets). Okay, so I had the phone on speaker, was losing at Scrabulous and finishing my feature, but that is not the point.
Cutting someone off after holding is one of the most heinous things you can do in the world of telephone customer services. Why don't you do the honourable thing and offer ringback instead of making us wait? In fact, I would pay £3 to be called back when my turn in the queue comes round.
Ooh that cheeky Grumblemouse - he has Muxtape memed me (here). In the end I guess it's quite a good thing because I've been meaning to make one for ages... So HERE it is, a random collection of my most recently listened to: the only thing that is missing is Alex F's Beverly Hills Cop theme (the pinnacle of all music) or anything from Sub-pop.
One part truth, two parts mixer is a digital notebook for Priyanka/@pristyles. Yes, you've reached another planner's blog - but it's mainly full of random thoughts and pretty pictures.
If you're reading, hello - it's nice to meet you.