Category: Fun Stuff

Kiwis build angry customer services robot

t2fA New Zealand company called Touchpoint Group is building a robot which it says will get really angry.

The big idea is that companies really have not got a clue how to deal with angry customers and even actors have a job being accurately angry all day for training purposes.

Touchpoint is investing $500,000 to develop, is being built with input from one of Australia’s big four banks, which is supplying reams of real-life customer interactions that have been collated over the past two years. Telecommunications companies and insurance firms are also contributing data.

The project carries the name Radiant which in the novels of Isaac Asimov predicted how humans might behave in the future.

Once complete, the project will simulate hundreds of millions of angry customer interactions that will help companies better understand the behaviours and processes that trigger customer outbursts. Such as not mentioning the war when talking to Japanese or German customers, or referring to the French as cheese eating surrender monkeys/

Touchpoint CEO Frank van der Velden said that companies don’t have the numbers of staff to go through this manually. A bank receive data every day. But it gets to a point where that dataset grows so large that it becomes meaningless unless you can interpret it. That’s where Radiant will fit in.
“We’re not in the business of managing complaints; we are in the business of managing issues that might turn into complaints. We’re at the top of the cliff, not at the bottom. This will allow companies to better predict and identify those issues,” he told the Australian Business Review.


Apple staff are inexperienced

iconStaff at the fruity Apple Cargo cult are starting to show their inexperience at flogging wearable fashion items like the iWatch.

A viral YouTube video shows an Apple genius demonstrating how to use the iWatch to buy stuff from Amazon. But he rapidly discovers that the watch is too small an interface to carry out a complex transaction.

He had done all the right things. He had set up the Amazon’s app with the ‘one-click ordering’ to make it look like the purchase only took a couple of presses of the watch face.

The only problem is that it’s a little too easy to ‘click’ when it’s on an inch-wide screen which you’re operating with your thumb.

The demonstrator says, ”Let’s take a look at Amazon ‘It uses dictation. ‘Xbox One’. So, there we go. Xbox One – I could buy it now with one click.’

‘I am just going to add it to my wishlist. OH NO! Wait, wait, how I cancel?”

Still the scale of the potential disaster is not that apparent yet because Apple refused to supply most of its shops with the iWatch.

Angela Ahrendts has told Apple Store staff that the Apple Watch is unlikely to be available for in-store purchases before June – but they should expect the usual ‘blockbuster launches’ in retail stores for future products.

In a memo to retail store staff, Apple’s retail head thanked staff for making the try-ons “unforgettable,” told them customer feedback had been “overwhelmingly positive” and that the online-only ordering period was likely to continue throughout May.

So at least some of them have more time to practice.




India invented the airplane 7,000 years ago

India_flagThe Indian Science conference has hit the interwebs for the number of bizarre presentations being made.

If you believe the government-backed presentations, the world’s first plane was invented by the Hindu sage Maharishi Bharadwaj. Indian mathematicians also discovered the Pythagorean Theorem but the Greeks got the credit and elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha got his head because of the superiority of ancient Indian plastic surgeons.

All this is part of a cunning plan by the more nationalist Indian government to push its country’s achievements the only problem is that they appear to have lost their marbles.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the conference on Saturday and urged the nation’s scientists to “explore the mysteries of science.” Modi was the one that said the elephant-trunked, pot-bellied Hindu god Ganesha got his head because of the presence of plastic surgeons in ancient India.

Anand Bodas, the retired principal of a pilot training facility claimed that the Indians invented the airplane because the ancient Vedas say so.

“The ancient planes had 40 small engines.” Also, he said, a flexible exhaust system that modern aviation can’t even approach – probably because they have to obey things like the laws of physics.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, who was present at the session, said ancient Indian science was based on “experience and logic” and “that wisdom must be recognised”.

India’s science and technology minister, Harsh Vardhan, made another startling claim at the conference, saying that ancient Indian mathematicians also discovered the Pythagorean Theorem but that the Greeks got the credit.

Needless to say, Indian boffins are jolly cross about their conference being hi-jacked by pseudo-science nationalists. More than 200 scientists signed an online petition opposing Sunday’s scheduled lecture, called “’Ancient Indian Aviation Technology,” saying it amounted to “giving a scientific platform for a pseudo-science talk”.

“If we scientists remain passive, we are betraying not only the science, but also our children,” the petition said.

There’s fowl play in the gaming industry

rooster-71685_640There’s surprise news in the gaming industry after Digital Extremes, the outfit which made Warframe, has been taken over by a Chinese chicken company.

Sumpo Food Holdings, a Chinese agricultural company that describes itself as “one of the well-known chicken meat products suppliers in Fujian” has taken an eggceptional steak in Digital Extremes [ surely eggstremes. Ed].

Sumpo scratched out 58 per cent of the company shares leaving a poultry 3 per cent to Perfect World.

It cost Sumpo the breast part of $73.2m to buy the outfit which is a sign that the games industry has legs and is not clucked as many had suspected.

Analysts have henpecked the company saying that Sumpo is a chick when it comes to the gaming industry. But the company thinks the extra cash will help it rule the roost.

Digital Extremes CEO James Schmalz  said that this partnership will further empower to continue making Warframe bigger and better with full control over its destiny.

Others think that he is just playing chicken with the rest of the industry and could end up stuffed.



All’s not fair in love and war

romanceThe maker of a dating app is being sued by a former marketing executing in another case where technology companies are being hauled over the coals over their treatment of female employees, writes Nick Farrell.

Former Tinder marketing Vice President Whitney Wolfe is suing the popular dating-app company for sexual harassment and discrimination.

Her lawsuit lists a series of alleged incidents of harassment over roughly 18 months starting in late 2012 and targets Chief Executive Officer Sean Rad and the company’s chief marketing officer, Justin Mateen.

Wolfe said that the pair removed her title as co-founder because she was a woman, and that Mateen insulted her, including calling her a whore at a company party. Rad ignored her complaints.
The company has suspended Mateen pending an ongoing internal investigation, however it does appear that he sent Wolfe “inappropriate” messages.

The company condemns these messages, but believes that Wolfe’s allegations with respect to Tinder and its management are unfounded.”

Wolfe claims it was her who came up with the name “Tinder” for the service in mid-2012, shortly after its creation, because there were worries that its original name, Matchbox, was too similar to

Wolfe became romantically involved with Mateen, her boss, who joined the company in late 2012.
In November 2012 she was designated a co-founder but Mateen told her that having a “girl founder” devalued the company, according to the lawsuit and in November 2013, Mateen and Rad removed her co-founder title.

Needless to say the romance broke down and Mateen called her “a desperate loser” in a marketing meeting and told Rad and others she was an alcoholic. He also sent her a series of harassing texts, it states. Wolfe complained to Rad, who would ignore her “or call her a dramatic or emotional girl,” the suit says, adding that in one meeting, Rad told her it was her job to “keep Justin calm.”
The last straw was when Mateen called her a whore at a company party in April and she quit.

Bitcoin comes in handy at London massage parlour

massageA high-class massage parlour in London is now accepting Bitcoins as payment for services rendered.

Ellie Young, marketing manager at Sensuous London, said she can see enormous potential for the use of crypto-currencies in their sector, although admitted there hadn’t been a huge demand for it as yet.

“As far as I can tell we are the first to make this available and we see a great deal of potential in the technology. We hope to create the demand and lead the way,” she said.

The ‘highly trained, professional masseuses’ of Sensuous London, provide what has been described to us as “a unique, five star luxury service, for the tourist, business and London communities”, and clients wishing to pay discreetly for the “high-end, sensual, tantric massage experience” on offer can now do so with Bitcoitus thanks to Payment Service Provider, BitPay.

In the adult services industry, taking payment via credit card is rare. Chiefly because of the risk to the service provider of the customer subsequently claiming the transaction was nothing to do with them, but was fraudulent. Crypto-currencies also mean there are no potentially embarrassing payments appearing on anyone’s bank statement.

“I’ve worked on dating websites in the past,” Ellie Young explained. “There are a lot of problems with credit card thieves testing stolen credit card numbers on dating sites. This results in a large number of charge-backs and refunds. This can lead to fines by the credit card companies and eventually to (the business) being blacklisted altogether.

“Bitcoin has the advantage that all payments are final and far more secure, so this couldn’t happen. There’s no credit card companies involved to refuse an account, blacklist us or refuse to work with an adult company in the first place. No merchant bank account is required.  Transaction fees are much, much lower and there’s no currency conversion fees – handy when many clients are tourists or businessmen.”

Young went on to say that while it will be difficult to predict the demand for Bitcoin payments, although with growing public awareness, and acceptance, of alternative currencies, it looks like to grow.

Which sounds like a happy ending for everyone.

Midland boys win Grand Prix prize

grand_prixDaisy Distribution has named the two winners of a spiff it was offering on Blackberry products.

Dave Webster and Stuart Mico, who together own Midland Communications, will fly out to the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix, and win five star accommodation for four nights, three day hospitality race access as well as Golden Circle entry to the post race concert.  They also get premium passes to the theme parks on Yas Island.

Daisy partners also had to complete the Blackberry 10 e-learning modules.

Julien Parven, MD at Daisy said: “The promotion proved to be a huge success, being open to our existing partners, those acquired through the recent MoCo Communications acquisition and other independent channel partners.”

Gales of hot air shut down south east

weatherThe Met Office has a supercomputer and for five days now the boffins have been predicting a hurricane would envelop much of Britain.

That led train companies and airports to shut down stuff just in case the Met Office was right this time round.  It follows a SNAFU in 1987 when Michael Fish played down tales of a disastrous gale just hours ahead of a disastrous gale knocking down trees and shutting down vast tracts of England.

The cost to the British economy of the Cassandra like warnings of gloom and doom have yet to be measured. But commuters trying to get to work this morning in the south east are hanging around waiting for the weather to abate, although vast tracts of the south east haven’t experienced very much more than leaves on the line. The death toll from “Hurricane St Jude” hasn’t yet been totted up.

The BBC was on high alert and it is true that wind speeds reached 99MPH close to the Isle of Wight.

The Met Office will spend most of today trying to downplay the weather map it issued showing the whole of southern England was under threat.

No qualms for small biz toilet talk

portalooSmall biz owners are increasingly taking important work related calls while sitting on the bog, a company has claimed.

Seven out of 10 micro business owners have taken a business call in the toilet, call answering service Penelope found in a survey.

The main reason for taking the calls is for fear of missing out on new business.

Others said they had taken a call at a funeral and slightly less took a work call at a wedding, CRN reports.

Penelope co-founder Ed Reeves said that responsiveness is critical for small businesses.

“A consumer is unlikely to chase a business to buy something from them, it is far more likely that they will simply call someone else,” Reeves said.

Domino’s wants to drone you a pizza

dominos-minuteman-siloDrones don’t exactly have a good reputation nowadays, as most people associate them with flying killer robots raining death from above on militants and anyone who happens to get in the way. However, they can be fun, they can be used to save lives or in this case alleviate hunger.

Domino’s Pizza is testing a pizza delivery drone, but we’re not sold on the concept, which basically looks like an elaborate PR stunt. The DomiCopter is a project cooked up by T+Biscuits and designed by UK based drone specialist AeroSight. Although it doesn’t pack Hellfire missiles, it can deliver a pizza to anywhere in a four mile radius in under 10 minutes, faster than a bloke on a scooter.

Of course, this is just a stunt and we won’t see a fleet of drones carrying around pizzas, curries and kebabs anytime soon. It probably costs a pretty penny, the range is limited and we’re not sure about efficiency, either. It also needs a human operator and trained drone operators tend to get paid a bit more than delivery boys.

A couple of decades ago Domino’s used to guarantee pizza delivery in 30 minutes or less. Eventually it dropped the promise for whatever reason, but not before it was borrowed by  Minuteman missile crews who came up with an iconic and rather morbid Cold War joke.

Although we are suckers for PR stunts, we believe Domino’s would be better off investing the time and effort into making better tasting pizzas.

Audi beats BMW on adultery front

beemerBMW owners may have to up their driving game, with research showing they’ve been overtaken as the “most adulterous drivers”.

According to a report by married dating site, Audi drivers have crashed into top spot of those most likely to commit adultery.

The site speculated this could either mean BMW owners have switched to a new car manufacturer or have bucked up their ideas and been more faithful in the past 12 months.

BMW remains as the worlds largest maker of luxury vehicles despite Audi receiving $25 billion worth of investment since 2002 and doubling the number of model lines it makes since 2003 from six to 12. However, it seems Audi has plans to take the lead from BMW by 2020 and in one thing it seems it’s succeeding.

Apparently those who drive Beemers, and now Audis, are “typically successful, motivated, high-achievers who are less likely to settle for something they find unsatisfying, be it a car or a relationship.”

And car manufacturers are well aware of the sex status some of their vehicles carry. Mercedes, which came third in the survey, even famously used infidelity to advertise their cars with the banned ‘Not In This Weather’ advert.

But while German car brands are most notorious for adultery statuses it seems the French are more likely to keep it in their pants with the survey finding that drivers of Peugeots or Renaults were less likely to stray.

Skoda and Hyundai drivers were also less likely to commit an illicit act.

Robot created to pour drinks

ROBOT FRIDGEA robot which can pour its master another drink  has been created by scientists.

Researchers at Cornell’s Personal Robotics Lab have taught their creation to forsee human action with the task of refilling a person’s cup when it was nearly empty, without having to be asked – great for the silent and legless types at parties.

However, there are pitfuls. To be able to carry out the task the robot has to plan its movements in advance and then follow the plan. But if a human sitting at the table happens to raise the cup and drink from it,  the robot might pour a drink into a cup that isn’t there.

Nevertheless there’s also benefits. In another test, the robot observed a human carrying an object toward a refrigerator and helpfully opened the refrigerator door.

From a database of 120 3-D videos of people performing common household activities, the robot has been trained to identify human activities by tracking the movements of the body – reduced to a symbolic skeleton for easy calculation – breaking them down into sub-activities like reaching, carrying, pouring or drinking, and to associate the activities with objects. Since each person performs tasks a little differently, the robot can build a model that is general enough to match new events.

Observing a new scene with its Microsoft Kinnect 3-D camera, the robot identifies the activities it sees, considers what uses are possible with the objects in the scene and how those uses fit with the activities.

It then generates a set of possible continuations into the future – such as eating, drinking, cleaning, putting away – and finally chooses the most probable. As the action continues, it constantly updates and refines its predictions.

The research was supported by the U.S. Army Research Office, the Alfred E. Sloan Foundation and Microsoft.

Hema S. Koppula, Cornell graduate student in computer science, and Ashutosh Saxena, assistant professor of computer science, will describe their work at International Conference of Machine Learning, June 18-21 in Atlanta, and the Robotics: Science and Systems conference June 24-28 in Berlin, Germany.

Man squanders million quid with a little help from Nigeria

triggerThe brother of a Lotto winner has managed to squander a million pounds in just five months, thanks to some rather unwise investments and a little help from Nigerian scammers. Denis Ryan, a 51-year-old road sweeper was given £1,000,000 by his brother Dave Dawes, who won a £101 million jackpot in 2011.

Bloke comes up with pear brandy ice cream

wine-cellar-slavoniaA small Croatian sweet shop located in the picturesque town of Beli Manastir has come up with a rather innovative take on ice cream. Shop owner Ismet Alija has stirred up something special – what appears to be the world’s first pear brandy ice cream.

The ice cream is based on the same pear variety used to produce brandy throughout the region. However, to spice it up a notch, Alija adds about 16 ounces of brandy per four litres of ice cream, which sounds like a lot. As a result he can’t sell the ice cream to minors, but he is attracting a new crowd, eager to try out an age old local specialty in a new, hipper guise.

“Nobody can get drunk from a single serving, not even two,” he told Glas Slavonije. “We don’t serve it to minors, but older folks are thrilled.”

Most customers seem to be opting for a serving of vanilla ice cream on the side, which serves as a mixer.

Emboldened by his success, Alija says he won’t stop at a single variety of boozed up ice cream. He is currently working on an ice cream based on Grasevina, a famous white wine produced in Croatia’s Baranja and Slavonia regions. He hopes to roll it out in time for the local Wine Days Festival later this year and steal the show.