Thursday, July 27, 2006

RSS, a gas leak, and the woes of Tesco self check out

A stream of consciousness and three stories in one.

(Story one …) An RSS news reader runs in the background on my PC in work. FeedReader 2.90. I’m not impressed and would love your recommendations of free PC-based RSS readers. I like the three-pane format, but it hogs processing power and makes the fan on my laptop run five minutes out of every ten.

(Story two …) One story of interest to East Belfast readers that caught my eye off the BBC NI news feed was the evacuation of the PSNI’s Garnerville training facility just before noon due to a suspected gas leak. It explains the wailing of sirens as cars and tenders zoomed up the road outside my window about that time.

I’ve borrowed BBC NI’s standard picture that accompanies any breaking story involving the fire brigade. After a few hours it is usually replaced with a more specific image from the scene. But it seems appropriate in this case since it looks very like the Upper Newtownards Road fire station that would have provided the fire appliances to deal with the suspected gas leak.

Now, it's a pity that the Tesco Knocknagoney café is out of action at the moment as they would surely have done great business.

(Story three …) While I’m on the subject of Tesco. Self check out. I noticed similar self check out machines at Marks and Spencer at Sprucefield on Saturday. Then last night while shopping at the local temple of Tesco I noticed some empty check out lanes and thought I’d give it a go. Some handy hints.

  • After you scan the barcode, bang the product down on the conveyor belt. The computer is waiting for you to set the stuff down, and if you set them down gently, it sometimes misses it.
  • Set bottles down on their side. Unlike the smooth belts operated by check out staff, this one jerks the products along, making anything slim and tall fall over.
  • Don’t take wine through the self service check out. There is a tiny sign hanging from the ceiling warning you not to check out alcohol, but if you’re not seven foot tall you’ll miss it. The check out machine liked one bottle, but sent for a supervisor when the second went through. But no explicit "you can’t buy that in this lane" message on the little screen.

Like all new technology - and applications of old technology - self check out isn't yet fully intuitive and requires the customer to be over-aware of the system and process.

Rant over.

1 comment:

Jefferson Davis said...

Re RSS News Reader: Do you use firefox? If you do, then there is a great extension, called Sage. It is very easy to use, and it's not a CPU hog.

I use Sage to read news and blogs. It may not be what you are looking for, but it is work a look. :-)