When is Free not Free? When it is Verizon

Yes this is a "first world problem". I came across this "Free On-Demand Marathon" on Verizon FIOS. As I do not have a subscription to HBO I was eager to check out some of the movies. Remote on - navigated to the confusing UI, click on the clearly labelled "free" movie, then it ask me to subscribe...

Every reading the "fine print" on their webpage, I realized that all the good stuff is only available until Sept 22nd (yesterday). Could they at least update their webpage and their banner?

Are you Chinese?

It is always this crowded on weekends

It is always this crowded on weekends

Today after lunch at Luziazui (陆家嘴) financial district I helped a European tourist couple take a picture of them in front of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower (东方明珠). They then asked me how to get to the metro station, which is a common questions that I have answered many times even from Chinese tourists. After giving them a detail set of directions, one of them asked me: "Are you Chinese?" Instinctively I answered "Yes".

She commented "Your English is very good!" I smiled and wave goodbye to them, did my bit for Shanghai Tourist Relation today.

Agile in China, Stand Up Meetings

As the start of a serie of articles on Agile in China, this is a some what lighter first post.

I send this to my teams today:

Better Stand Up meeting for scrum

Last week I attended a very good seminar by an international Agile expert. He says it is very important to keep stand up meeting short. He said one good way to have shorter meeting is to stand on just one leg during the stand up meeting.

I know this is not easy but we should try. It will also give us stronger legs. Good for soccer (or dancing! )Let us try this in today's stand up meeting.

(Bad Chinese translation:)

上周,我参加了一个国际敏捷专家的研讨会。他说,保持站立会(standup meeting)议短这是非常重要的,一个好办法是用一条腿站立。 

我知道这并不容易,但我们应该尝试。它也会给我们更强的腿。适合足球 ! (或跳舞?) 请大家在今天的站立会试一试。



If you have read this far, I hope you are laughing rather then shaking your heads. Humor I believe is part of having an agile and growth mindset. My teams, unfortunately for me, was not tricked by this all.

Oatmeal: What I want from a restaurant Website

Oatmeal is great. If you have never saw his comics, you are missing out. Today's comic on "what I want from a restaurant" is another classic. All web designers should show this to their clients. It argues clearly for "functional website". Visually pretty website is nice, but do not trade it for function.

  • Answer the most important question: What information does your website visitors want?
  • Give them the information -- your website is not sticky if the visitor leaves immediately instead of trying to find the information buried somewhere
  • Do not get in their way -- putting text in images, no matter how pretty, prevent people to copy and paste the text.

Reserve the Oatmeal book

You can watchMatthew Inman talks about his comic in this Ignite presentation:

South End Boston Sports Club dumber than a dumbell

What happened at the South End BSC (Boston Sports Club) blew my mind. Let me tell you the story first, then give you my analysis. The Story

I teach private tai chi classes. One of my student is a member of this BSC. When the weather is not nice, we do our weekly class there. I belong to a different club already, so I do not have a great reason to join this one, as my student is either paying the guest fee, or we take advantage of sometimes a "free guest" day to do our class at the gym.

However I do live and work blocks away from this gym. So I decided to save my student some money, and also get a secondary gym that I can use, and join this club today.

After our class I sat down with the manager at the gym and about to sign up for a membership with an annual commitment worth $828 to them. Instead the manager very successfully annoyed my student/friend and me. I am not joining, and I think my friend, who has two memberships (husband and wife) at the gym is thinking about leaving.

Why? As my friend was listening to the membership cost, she realized that she has an older plan which is more expensive and has less feature. She of course ask the manager if she could switch to the new plan. The manager said "sure, but there is a $59 upgrade fee. "Surely you must be joking" we said, plus this member just gotten you a new member. The manager was less than helpful at the situation. She told my friend to take it or leave it.

That is not all. I knew there was a "one time joining fee" for the membership, of $58, which is pretty common for healthclub to get some additional revenues. I asked the manager if she would waive it. I would expect there is a 50/50 chance of her doing something, or offering something to "sweaten the deal". Instead she said "no" pretty straight out. When I explained that it is cheaper actually for us to pay the occassional guest fee so she is going to loose a membership sale because of this, she told me"well it is your choice".

So we both walked out. It is not the money that is the issue. It is the way the manager responded to both situation. Even if the manager was a little bit more apologetic about my friend's situation, or offer a token gestures to my new members, maybe a coupon for a class (which I probably will never use), I would have joined. Instead she gave us a pretty definite "I don't care" message.

For me, a healthclub a service oriented business. Sending a "we do not care" message is just plain dumb.