Braun Triumph toothbrush coupon con in France

I bought a Braun electronic toothbrush several months ago and just decided to write about it because I now want to buy a shaver but because of what happened with the Braun toothbrush purchase I have decided that regardless of the reviews, the proof or any other type of argument that may indicate (which you’ll see is not the case) that I should get a Braun shaver I WILL NOT.

braun oral b triumph professional care 9900 coupon con

braun oral b triumph professional care 9900 coupon con

Why may you ask, be so stubborn. Well I purchased a Braun Triumph toothbrush from Cdiscount and was promised a partial refund by sending it back with a coupon and proof of purchase.
The morning I received the toothbrush by post I sent the coupon on with everything asked for:
– Code bar from the box
– Bill with date of purchase
– Coupon filled in with all the information.

Several weeks if not months later I get a letter from some company I have never heard of saying that because I took more than 5 days to send the coupon in after the purchase I was disqualified and would not get the money from Braun. Also to be noted there was no email to contact anybody, neither Braun where ever they are in France and just a snail mail address for this company that did a great job of looking through the elements I sent. They might have seen that I purchased it online, and that well, guess what, you can’t send via email so it takes time for me to get the box with the code bar needed to get the refund.
You should know BRAUN coupons are a con in France and they cheat you!

So I will not spend another cent on anything from Braun. I am not going to buy a Phillips Sonic toothbrush just to spite them since the Braun toothbrush works fine but obviously don’t buy one ;)

Philips Flexcare Toothbrush

Philips Flexcare Toothbrush

However as explained I am now looking for a shaver and well I started looking at the Philips shaver because unlike the Braun toothbrush I am unhappy with my Braun shaver. I have looked at the Philips site and reviews about the arctic shaver and I must say for a dude like myself it looks like a cool gadget and looks a lot sexier than the Braun shaver. The whole cleaning system on my Braun one is just not good. But obviously for the moment I can’t compare. but I soon will be able to because as you guessed from the beginning of my post there is no way in hell I’m buying another Braun product. And to make it funnier I couldn’t even link to the page about the equivalent Braun product because it is all in Flash and couldn’t get an image either although I could from the Philips site because they were clever enough to do it in HTML with Flash rather than a full Flash site!

Philips 1095 Arcitec Rotary Shaver

Philips 1095 Arcitec Rotary Shaver: now does that look sexy or what

And the time indicator had better be readable upside down like on the image or else I will not be happy :)

I was also impressed by the Philips site because you could check the manual out. I was wondering whether the shaver would charge in the cleaning system and was able to confirm by ready the first few pages of the manual. But also found out that what looks to be just a cool looking travel case actually charges the shaver at the same time. You can buy it on their site and register the product online which is pretty cool. I found that the video that runs through the functions etc was good, although I felt the voiceover in French was a bit annoying, but that could just be me…

Working too hard is not that efficient

Working too hard is not that efficient… in the long term

At a time where people are worried about losing their jobs and working all hours god sends to stand out from the pack in a positive manner it seems that they may not be providing their company with the best of themselves. Obviously if your company is short staffed and still has as much work they may not be so interested in the article over at FastCompany. But may be worth reading so at least you are aware ;)

Examples from Flickr and Facebook are provided to illustrate the misconception that getting people to work their socks off may not be providing you with the best results in the end!

Make sure you check out this great video from TED, Stefan Sagmeister is a world renowned designer who explains how every 7 years he takes a year off to pursue personal areas. He also indicates that structuring his time off was probably one of the most important parts in a successful sabbatical year. Furthermore this time often allows him to be a better designer and provide his clients with a better quality service once the sabbatical is over! Better still take the time to view the video see for yourself.

Living the blogging life; ups and downs

I just came across a post on Jeff Atwoods ‘Coding horror’ site (can’t even remember how I ended up there), and a post about blogging, more specifically the reactions you can get from irate people. I’m not sure his recommendation to ignore people is ‘the’ solution but it’s an interesting point of view and account of his own experience with flame wars and irate people with comments like “I stopped reading your blog years ago“! Interesting read, especially for people that blog themselves…
PS: Sorry I remembered he has a good review of the Dell XPS M1330 and I had recommended this laptop to a client, Anne-Sophie, webmaster of the Adecco France website and reminded me she was also happy with her red laptop!

Experience Architecture in website designing

The importance of experience architects in creating or updating a web site is often underestimated. There is a general tendency to fudge the initial user experience phase (sitemaps, personas with their specific user journeys and wireframes) or even skip it and jump straight to concept designs that are then fleshed out to ‘wow’ the client. The whole rationale that consists in understanding what functionalities and services are required on the site and structure them in a coherent manner, hopefully even test them before designing commences, is omitted. Defining the main functionalities of a site, then having an experience architect (who worked on that first phase) to sketch it out and analyse it should precede the functional specifications but most of all the design phase. Designers that have extensive web design knowledge as well as experience architecture knowledge are few and far between so you are unlikely to obtain the optimum result by starting with the design.

Card Sorting
The initial phases, when analysing the structure and organisation of an existing site in view of updating it ‘can’ benefit from card sorting. This consists of taking the different sections and seeing how users sort the different sections / areas into groups. It can help you understand how users would expect these different areas to be organised and therefore, where they would expect to find them. Different logical taxonomies may appear following the analysis as different user groups may sort cards in different ways. There are also 2 different types of card sorting, ‘open’ where no structure is predefined and ‘closed’ where participants are asked to place the cards in a pre-defined structure. Card sorting is not recommended to simply test a current site but should be considered as part of the process involved in defining the structure of a site that is being created or updated / redesigned. It can also help when adding or updating a new area to a site. As Nielsen explains more users are required in card sorting than in usability testing though. A fair amount of analysis is required to obtain useful findings.

Sitemap, user journeys, wireframes
By creating the recommended set of ‘sitemap / user journeys / wireframes’ you are capable of seeing black on white the optimum route a person will take. The organization and categorization of content blocks should be logical but can be modified to optimise the user journey outcome. A site should usually provide several optimised user journeys for the different types of target users / personas that have been identified.

Simplify the site and structure
Generation Y as opposed to generation X and the baby boomers are more net fluent and savvy online, capable of delving through content until they find the information they feel relevant and trustworthy. Their experience and knowledge provides near instantaneous gut feeling about a site. Uncluttered, simple pages with straightforward navigation principles just feel good. A pleasant experience on a web site that easily allows you to find what you are looking for is memorable simply because it is unfortunately a rare experience. This new generation and generations to come are a primary targets, neglecting them is not an option.

Simplify the design and content
Simple ways of communicating, avoiding the “noise” traditional designers want to apply in order to personalise or own their design can complicate things. Twitter, like SMS are two extremely simple ways of communicating, their restrictions simplify the communication.
Now is this to say that design is just powder in your eyes? Well, when applied by talented designers that know their target audience, how to play and innovate with the chosen medium and how to further optimise the previously crafted user journey, then obviously no.
A friend of mine works at the “Musée des Arts Décoratifs” in Paris, we discussed this concept when applied to modern decorative art. I was comparing the concept to artists capable of choosing specific material(s) and their ability to amplify the user experience and overall design through the selection of specific material(s). The technology but also the interfaces mechanisms of web sites are in this perspective key elements that a great designer will know and use to further his / her design.

Accessibility, standards, usability and web 2.0
Web applications are becoming more and more complex to the extent that they are starting to compete with desktop applications (ex. Google Maps and Mail, Flickr etc.). The interaction provided as well as both usability and accessibility when relying on standards are far better. Although the ‘web 2.0′ term is often used as a buzz word (see Zelman’s web 3.0 article) the term has undoubtedly helped spread the idea of more savvy websites, thought through and help improve user experience.

The first impressions of website designs

Designing sites is a great opportunity, especially when you are lucky enough to be surrounded by clever and experienced people. When you can combine extremely talented people at all the different levels you require to build a website the results can be amazing. Although traditional advertising agencies are starting to learn that they need to further integrate the technical implications of the production of a website into projects, user experience is just as important and often overlooked by so many agencies. Design is considered the Holy Grail but this can hide some ugly surprises when the user experience aspect of the website is overlooked. Experience architecture when used in a rigorous way can really help to understand what will help the end-users of a site will be looking for, how and where to include it in your website.

While reading an article on SearchEngineLand I was happy to see that the experience architecture aspect of a site build was nicely touched upon. First impressions count. It really does give you an extra insight into the way the site can be successful when you try to understand how people will react to a site, what they are looking for and how designing it differently can help you help them find what they are looking for quickly without compromising the design.
The gut feeling is an important factor with today’s fast moving generation Z, the same gut feeling can be tested with various personas you have identified as your key target population to make sure that you don’t alienate your other personas from previous generations.

Turning away from 9/11

There is an intriguing article over at revolving around a controversial photo by Thomas Hoepker. Do check out the article and the photo. The photo shows a group of young people on the Brooklyn waterfront in view of Manhattan on 9/11. I read the first paragraph and then scrolled down to the photo. I would be really interested to know how people read the article and whether your views changed on the photo after having read the article like mine did.

The last two paragraphs changed my mind, the writer’s insight on what happened that day for many people and a simple explanation for the photo becomes pretty logical and understandable. It is also an interesting parallel with what the author describes as the ability of people to move forward.

Captcha Brain Power

I just came across a very interesting Google Video from Google. Luis von Ahn, a Carnegie Mellon professor, discusses the Captcha concept used to stop automatic systems from filling in forms and how currently Spam companies are trying to get around it.
Captcha is used to describe a system that allows a computer to automatically generate random numbers and or letters and then obfuscate them in order to render reading them by a computer highly unlikely or impossible.

This was interesting for me since I had worked on a similar concept for stopping people from requesting lost passwords on Significant-Media.
The video below then goes on to explain how human computation i.e. people solving problems rather than computers can be useful. With the Captcha system for example, computers are not capable of providing correct answers.

Then the ESP Game is explained and the process for it is pretty amazing from a thought process point of view. Anyone who has to come up with new ideas in their company should find this part truly fascinating :

The part I found really impressive, in view of a successive set of procedures, was when von Ahn explains the different combinations of possible player modes, as well as anti-cheating mechanisms…

The guy seems like a great teacher as well, if the seminar is anything to go by !

Placed in context this image tagging system is what early users of flickr were used to when they add tags to their own photos and is now pretty common procedure. Flickr was bought by Yahoo and Google well may have found a novel way of catching up here, if you read between the lines…

Update : interesting article over at the concerning a way to ‘turn the tables’ on the phishing techniques using images from the banks

The UK Government’s Wiki melt-down

Yes pun intended, the minister from the UK government that decided to create an open environmental Wiki that ‘all’ could edit must have been reading all the web 2.0 hype about getting people involved without any authentication required. Well the result is pretty impressive in that the site was defaced and lead way to numerous jokes and sarcastic (and funny) remarks about the subject. Obviously it is highly unlikely that this was the expected outcome !


Web 2.0 Bubble and Star Bubble

So what do film stars and Web 2.0 have in common ? Read on to see why value is not always where you think it is !

While checking out CNN I came across an article called “Beware the return of the Web Bubble”, which turned out to be about media companies potentially spending too much money for online social networking businesses.
Linked to this article was another called “Star Power fades in Tinseltown”, the same journalist Paul R. La Monica discusses the failures of recent movies with big stars as opposed to the success of movies like ‘Superman returns‘ and ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. Even though I watched and enjoyed both these movies I truly can’t think of the names of the lead actors.
As the journalist explains, numerous stars, including Cruise and Gibson, are making the headlines for bad reasons, alienating “a large portion of moviegoers”. Indeed, why not go for great writers, special effects and search for new talent. Paying millions for a well known movie star is not proving to be so rewarding.

For the past few years, monstrous box office hits have often been based on comic books, novels and sequels. And most of them have not had featured well-known actors and actresses. The characters and stories have driven the film’s success.

What is the common factor ? ‘Star’ sites of the moment on the Web considered ‘Web 2.0′ and film stars are being paid far too much ! Buying into a company is completely different to paying a well known star to be in your movie, but maybe the glitter of the stars, just like the web 2.0 buzz, is distracting people from the real value.
As Jeffrey Zeldman explains in his “Web 3.0″ article, it does seem that the hype around web 2.0 is getting a bit much. ‘Copy cat’ projects with a simple Web 2.0 veneer are popping up like honey pots. As La Monica points out on CNN Money, this could create a vicious backlash, similar to the web 1.0 bubble burst !

Taking these two concepts further, the real issue is savvy business decisions, rather than a cyclic economic trend. When News Corp. bought MySpace they most probably made a great deal. The finance world later realised that News Corp. had swooped in at just the right time, which triggered this grand race to copy them.
The CNN article is more of a warning, just like Zeldman’s web 3.0 article; it shouldn’t be a race it should be business as usual. Rushing into negotiations and paying 20 times the real market value (if there is any value and it’s not just a pale copy) is what lead to the web 1.0 bubble. I recommend Zeldman’s article for a better understanding of the web 2.0 hype.

There is real value out there, regardless of all the hype about web 2.0. Just make sure that you’re buying into value and not hype.

Article Refs. :
Media companies shouldn’t overpay for their own MySpace (CNN Money)
Star Power fades in Tinseltown (CNN Money)
Web 3.0 (A List Apart)

Making Maths look Cool

The reason I changed from ‘not liking maths’ to appreciating how useful it can be, was due to a more appropriate teaching method.

What I should first confess is that I don’t like the way maths is taught in France. I spent most of my later schooling years in France. I left England when I was 12 and came to live in France where maths is considered ‘the’ criteria of intelligence.
Maths is not really taught to students in France it is used to filter people in to groups of intelligent and less intelligent people. It goes so far that very few engineers, Directors/CEOs and even politicians will go places unless they are good at maths. A job in France without the appropriate educational credentials means it is hard to get noticed. Creativity, on the other hand is considered the B-path or C-path as well as all ‘art’ type studies.

So should one be surprised that maths, set on a pedestal in France, is taught to kids in the most uncreative way imaginable.

Although I don’t have a direct comparison, I left France with a Baccalauréat and studied maths in the UK at University. Now, the way maths was taught in the UK, actually became interesting and suddenly made sense. Why ? Well because of the teaching methods and the real-life examples used.

In France for probabilities and statistics it was numbers and letters and say Tim and Sally were added by the pure creative maths teacher.
Is it a surprise that the real life examples used in the UK helped to see the utility of maths? I was told that Jo had a Garage and he had just purchased a structure next to the garage in order to create a parking lot. Jo had a choice of three different types of lights to use in the parking lot and they each had different probability of breaking after a certain amount of hours and each cost a different amount.
We were asked to calculate which lights would be the cheapest for Jo if he opened the parking a) from Monday to Friday 09h00 till 18h00 b) from Monday to Saturday 06h00 to 20h00 c) etc.

It wasn’t just about the fact that I was in a Business School or that I had recently helped a friend calculate import costs for his clothes shop. I was faced with a real life solution where maths illustrated how useful it was to obtaining the best solution, sorry probably the best solution. My other experience told me that in real life you also need to take into account various other aspects about the company providing the goods; through their track record, reputation etc.

I’m not really sure how maths is taught in other countries but when I was reading an article today about how the Nobel prize winning president of Caltech thanked the Numb3rs TV series actor ‘David Krumholtz’ for making “maths look cool”, it got me thinking about this. The character in Numb3rs played by David Krumholtz uses everyday examples that people can relate with to explain the concepts in maths. The explanation aims at including people, showing how the method works with real-life examples. Sounds familiar to me…

An education program has been started by CBS and Texas Instruments to provide teachers with educational exercises that precede each show. The concept seems pretty interesting and has spawned blogs like the blog from the Northeastern University Department of mathematics.

So will maths teachers (especially in France) take note of this series success ? Could they imagine teaching in a down to earth way that demonstrates the value of maths or will they continue to think that the mad scientist, detached from reality image is better ?