SYMSsational Bargain Clothing Shopping Experience

When was the last time you felt warm and fuzzy while bargain hunting?

SYMS at 42 Trinity Place in New York densely packs in a huge selection mens, womens, and children’s clothing in well organized racks at fantastic prices. On some items they have those timed mark downs you just don’t see often, that I first experienced at Filene’s many years ago.

Why the Warm Fuzzies?

  • 100% of the staff was friendly. Perhaps this is because they’re called “in-store educators.”
  • Every so often on the P.A. system, the owners make a warm announcement such as:  “The best customer is an educated customer!”  It made me feel good to be there. This slogan appears on the bags as well.

    After learning they have stores in several states, I’m almost embarrassed that I’d asked an “educator” if  the owners were making those announcements live, as if it were a mom and pop store. Oops. But good for them.

  • They also provide tips as you shop such as: “Did you know the price tags are color coded by size?” That idea right there is great. If others stores do this, I’m not aware of it.

On their website you can fill out a survey about your in-store experience and they encourage you to give additional feedback. Of course the bottomline is they paid off: I found great things at excellent prices.

In comparison, we found our old haunt, Century 21, a crazy crowded madhouse with mostly ephemeral  fashions.

Both stores – as with most retailers – have a long way to go in dressing room lighting. But for now I’ll call that the saving grace for limiting my purchases.


Tellme Instead of POPCORN

“At the tone the time will be…”

Only today did I learn that POP-CORN had been discontinued. OK maybe I don’t use it that often anymore.

I’m happy to see in Wikipedia that it’s still possible to find out the time by telephone: “The time as provided by TellMe voice portal is available by dialing toll-free 1-800-555-TELL (1-800-555-8355, say time when prompted).”

Still I’d love to find a recording of the old operator voice for posterity, if you know of one!

Cool Feeling: Rolling Dice on a Mobile Phone

Tonight I experienced “haptics” on a cell phone, thanks to Immersion’s VibeTonz technology which draws on the sense of touch. Immersion has been known for its haptics in PC and video console gaming applications and peripherals.

Imagine holding a cell phone with 2 3-D dice shown on the screen. You shake the phone and not only do you hear the dice knocking together, you feel them knocking around. That’s haptics. It was amazing.

The phones need to be VibeTonz-capable. I’m not sure how available they are in the US but if you’re a serious early adopter, consider moving to Korea or various other countries to enjoy this technology. Their visual toolkit to create the tactile and sound effects looked amazingly easy to use.

“For a summary of independent research describing many of the advantages that tactile feedback offers the mobile user experience, see Immersion’s whitepaper, Haptics: Improving the Mobile User Experience through Touch (pdf).”

My mind is already reeling with possibilities…your phone feels like a car crash if you’re text messaging while your GPS location is detected to change at >25 mph.

I’m a little “unclear on the concept” of this ad but…

Monumental News for Californians With Pre-existing Health Conditions

In the middle of an LA Times article: New oversight, stiffer penalties approved for snooping into patient records — about data breaches of celebrity health records — there sat a small paragraph delivering monumental and thrilling healthcare news to Californians:

“The Senate approved a bill (AB 2) that would require health plans to offer coverage to people considered medically uninsurable because of pre-existing medical conditions or contribute to a state account that subsidizes insurance for them.”

THIS IS HUGE. Did I say THIS IS HUGE? Thank you lawmakers.

Oddly enough, aside from the bill itself, all links point back to this LA Times article. I’m sure millions eagerly await news of what this means in practice.


VETOED BY Schwarzenegger:

LAST HIST. ACT. DATE:  09/30/2008
LAST HIST. ACTION   :  Vetoed by Governor.

TellMe for Blackberry vs Google Mobile Experiment

My first “real world” tests of TellMe for Blackberry were to find contact information for:
1) a specific Thai restaurant in Los Angeles
2) the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market

This test would pit TellMe against doing a Google search on my Curve.

TellMe Pros:

  • It’s handy that you can use your voice to do searches in TellMe simply by holding down a button, without making a phone call.
  • The user interface is also very fun and intuitive. The Curve often relies on the “Blackberry” button to the left of the ball for menus. Once you know that, it’s a snap to do things such as access recent results.
  • TellMe has the killer feature I was hoping for: the ability to find a contact in your address book and text message the business location information to them.

Limitations I ran into were simply that the information database isn’t broad enough.

I thought the Thai place was in West Hollywood. TellMe doesn’t seem to search in fuzzy areas around the specific city you’ve entered. It didn’t find the place (or maybe didn’t understand what I said). I searched Google under the restaurant name, West Hollywood, CA. Even though the restaurant is in “Los Angeles” the result came up immediately.

With the farmer’s market, since TellMe searches for businesses, interestingly it found the old classic “farmer’s market” on Fairfax and Third – which isn’t in Santa Monica – but didn’t find the open air market in the city of Santa Monica. Perhaps it isn’t listed as a business.

In the end it took too long to change my city, find the restaurant result, to then text it. So I copied and pasted from Google into a text message.

Still if you’re not searching in a lot of different cities, TellMe could definitely come in handy.

More Exciting News for Mice

In the early days of this blog, I reported the unexpected benefits mice can enjoy while drinking red wine on first class flights.

Now scientists reveal great effects of a new drug on mouse nest-potatoes:

“Sedentary mice that took the drug for four weeks burned more calories and had less fat than untreated mice. And when tested on a treadmill, they could run about 44 percent farther and 23 percent longer than untreated mice.”

Unfortunately the drug does not build up muscle, so corpulent mice would be advised to carry large chunks of cheese for strength training.

(Don’t blame me if these blog posts are non-nonsensical. I’m just interpreting the news.)

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How Technology is Making Folklore Obsolete

As a lifelong fan of folklore, having studied under the legendary Alan Dundes, I’m always interested in seeing changes over time and especially traditions becoming obsolete.

There are many definitions of folklore but I like this one by Jan Brunvand:

“Folklore is the traditional, unofficial, non-institutional part of culture. It encompasses all knowledge, understandings, values, attitudes, assumptions, feelings, and beliefs transmitted in traditional forms by word of mouth or by customary examples.”

I’m going to update this blog post with a running list as I hear them:

1) The Family Whistle

Last week I asked a friend if she has a family whistle, after she couldn’t find her son in a large store.

“Ya, it’s called a cell phone.” she replied.

The family whistle is an aspect of folklore that is oddly under discussed on the Internet. It definitely falls under the definition of folklore, having variations among different people, places and time. If you think I’m whistling Dixie, we also discussed it in Dr. Dundes’ class and in fact I had the honor of him dissing our whistle for being so basic. But hey, in folklore and finding your parents in a big store as a kid, whatever works.

2) Bad Photos

Yesterday I heard there are cameras with “Smile Capture and Blink Detection,” such as this Pentax. So long “Say cheese!” Not to mention re-taking photos, a somewhat time honored pain.

I’m sure there are tons more examples but these spoke to me in particular. Do any stick out in your mind?