British And Irish Foods

I was delighted to discover, in a random Jewel Osco in the middle of nowhere in Illinois, a supermarket section entitled “British and Irish foods”. For a nation whose national dish is curry and whose culinary achievements are usually mocked, I was curious to see what on earth was in there.


Here are the results:

  • Tea
  • Digestives
  • Lucozade
  • Heinz beans
  • Sarson’s vinegar

I was also tickled to note the price of said beans.


Although the pound may be weak right now, I think I’ll wait until I’m back in Blighty before I indulge with beans on toast.

Student Politics at Northwestern

There’s no solution to politics, which is one reason I’m not into it. (Though I do like Rage Against The Machine.)

This stand, found a few weeks ago on the pavement outside the Kellogg building, caught my eye.



… yep, that poster on the side there says “I LOVE CAPITALISM”. (And yes, I’m aware of the irony of an MBA thinking this is notable.) It turned out to be a promo for a speaking event by someone called David Horowitz.


Sure, we do have student politics in the UK … it just looks different.

Restoring your Linux partition in rEFIt

If your lovely Linux icon has, for whatever reason, disappeared from rEFIt to be replaced by the generic icon (or just vanished completely), here’s how to fix it.

rEFIt, a wonderful boot manager for Mac, peers at all of your partitions when it boots, takes a guess at what OS is on there and shows and entry in the larger icon list at the top. To figure out that you have a Linux partition, it will look at the MBR of that partition and go from there.

If your icon has disappeared or been replaced with the generic one, this is where the problem is. So here’s how to fix it.

  • Boot into Linux using a Live CD like the Ubuntu Ibex install CD.
  • Open up a terminal.
  • “sudo grub”
  • Now, find your Linux partition with “find /vmlinuz”
  • It will return (hd0,2) or similar. Use this to install grub like this: “root(hd0,2)” and then “setup(hd0,2)” and finally “quit”.

Once you reboot, your rEFIt icon should be restored, and you should be able to boot back into Linux no problem.

Dual Booting Ubuntu 8.10 with Tiger on a Santa Rosa MacBook Pro

This weekend was taken up by one huge discovery: it is possible to use Gparted on Ubuntu Ibex to resize an HFS+ partition non-destructively. This one fact made it incredibly easy to dual boot my MacBook Pro with Linux. Here’s how:

  • Backup everything you might want to keep from your Mac just in case. Resizing partitions is always risky!
  • Install rEFIt on the Mac.
  • Make enough space on the Mac for your new partition.
  • Create an Ubuntu Ibex installer & live CD.(You can just download the .iso and burn it with Disk Utility.)
  • Boot into the live CD by holding down the “c” key when you reboot. Don’t install right now, but head into GParted.
  • Just resize the HFS+ partition that contains your Mac. Keep your fingers crossed that it works OK. (It did for me).
  • Run the Installer, and go to Manual mode when you get to the partitioner. From here you can do what you want – I created a 20gb partition for root and 4gb for swap partition.
  • Finish the installer and reboot. Here’s a fun bonus – rEFIt will automatically detect the new partition, and just create a spot in the boot menu for you.

And that’s it!

Segmentation Or Identity

When marketing a product, it’s generally a good idea to split up the market so you can understand more clearly who you’re targeting, and who you’re not.


The common way of doing this is by segmentation. For example, Ikea normally aims its products at people aged around 30 (among other things) – that’s a type of segmentation by age. Here are some ways you can segment*:

  • Geographic: Country, region of the country, urban / rural areas
  • Demographic: Age, sex, family size, income, occupation, education level, religion, race, nationality
  • Psychographic: Social class, lifestyle, personality type (e.g. introvert / extrovert)
  • Behavioural: Light / heavy product user, brand loyalty, usage type (e.g. in combination with another product)

Some of those types of segmentation are independent (e.g. age, gender, nationality) while some could be dependent on each other (geography with nationality, personality type with brand loyalty). So picking your segmentation combination is important. Even worse, there’s no obvious formula for doing a good one.


Another way of looking at things is to use an identity. It’s a very similar way of looking at things, but acknowledges that one person might belong to more than one segment. For example, a businesswoman might be all Armani at work, but a Miss Sixty consumer at the weekend. So, do they prefer sharp design or bohemian? The answer is both.

Why is this important? Well, if we can find a product that aims at multiple identities – for example, a car that appeals to the sporty AND the practical side, it’s more appealing.

Which one should I use?

The easy answer is that it depends on your product / service. But that’s a cop out.

My opinion – it depends on the size of your subset. Targeting a specific combination of identities is stronger, but it’s going to be a smaller target than just the segment. If your product is an expensive one (like a house or a car) then you don’t have to have a large market, and you can think about identities. If your product is mass market and / or cheap, think about segmentation, so you can get at a specific need.

It’s also worth considering if your product will be used in a specific environment (e.g. a suit) or a more than one environment (e.g. a car or a laptop). With the latter, thinking about identities that cover each of the environments becomes more useful.


*This is adapted from Doyle’s “Marketing Management and Strategy”, a dull but useful book.

Services Marketing – Starbucks Case Study

I’m doing a course this term called Services Marketing, which does exactly what it says on the tin. Our latest assignment – head into a Starbucks, and create trouble for them to see how they react. Then repeat with a Dunkin Donuts. Even though I don’t drink coffee, it seemed like too much fun to pass up.


I ordered a latte – standard size. Not many other people in the shop. The lady taking my order seemed very pleasant and tried to make a light joke. They didn’t take my name to yell out when it had become ready (thank goodness). I received the latte.

I then tried to return it and get a Mocha, offering no explanation why. The chap who had make my latte turned, initially confused, to the barista next to him. She nodded and said it was okay – after which he took the latte to one side and produced a mocha to my taste. The mocha is slightly more expensive than a latte.


Dunkin’ Donuts is a US based food chain. They were originally known for donuts (hence the name), but in recent time coffee has become a central offering – so much so that the logo has a coffee cup on rather than a donut:


Same trick – I ordered a latte, took a couple of sips and then tried to swop it. They asked why I wanted to swop it – I replied that I didn’t like it. They just swapped it.

What does that mean?

Both did well – but I got the strong sense at Starbucks that being nice was the party line, while at Dunkin’ I got lucky. I’m drawing that conclusion somewhat from the reputation and the ambiance of both stores – Starbucks is well known as the “3rd place” and has to be welcoming, while Dunkin looks like more of a transactional environment – you come in, pay your money, take your item and bugger off.

The General Opinion

The class generally found that Dunkin’ generally wasn’t as accommodating, and interestingly, that their experiences with Starbucks were inconsistent. We heard stories of two stores just down the road from each other (in New York) having completely different customer service standards.

The Problem With Starbucks

… is one of segmentation. Their target customer while they were in high growth was all about the third place, wasn’t used to premium coffee and just moved slower. Now that time has moved on, a new and significant younger segment who is used to premium coffee just wants to get in, get their coffee and get the hell out. So we can see a shift in what’s important in store:

  • Before: Barista knowledge of the coffee, a pleasant environment
  • Now: Speed

So we can make two deductions.

  • The people who are getting agitated waiting in line are disrupting the pleasant environment of the older segment
  • There isn’t much overlap between the desires of these two segments

So what’s the solution?

Here’s one solution, anyway

If you’ve been keeping an eye out, you may have noticed this – Starbucks Express. This is a store where you don’t even have to interact with anyone – you can just get your coffee and get out.

Will this start to turn off the older segment? Will they start heading to Peets instead? There are no answers yet – this is one case study we’re living in the middle of, so all we can do is wait and see.

Chicago Cab Patrons

Spotted in the back of a Chicago cab

Just in case you were considering beating in the taxi driver, this polite notice exists to dissuade you.

Please Sign Here

Snapped in Ikea

You may not be able to quite see it, but some poor person actually signed on top of the display on this PIN machine.

A reminder that even user interfaces we take for granted can be hard to use.

Dell’s University College Gaming League

Spotted around the Northwestern university campus

It seems that Dell has organised a computer gaming league for titles like COD4, WOW, Counterstrike and Forza, along with less traditional titles like Guitar Hero 3.

It makes sense from the larger perspective – it’s clear that hardware has become a commodity in the PC market, and margins are pretty thin *except* in the case of high powered PCs. One way for Dell to raise revenue is to raise demand for higher end gaming hardware, and this seems like a nice way to stimulate demand.

However – it’s not all roses, and creating college based online teams can have its drawbacks. With physical sports, bonding groups at the campus level works well – college “jocks” are a familiar sight on the American football field, and tailgating is a tradition. Could it be the same for online gaming?

  1. It’s not as easy to watch an online game
  2. It’s certainly not a traditional sport or pasttime
  3. Online gamers might feel ambivalent about the association with other college sports

The fact is that online gaming is starting to turn into a sport. It remains to be seen whether the models applied to physical support apply here too.

Comcast HSI troubleshooting

I recently solved a problem that’s been bugging with me on Comcast HSI (High Speed Internet), and just in case this helps anyone else, I wanted to document it.

In my case, I’d first plugged in the cable modem, then my Macbook, and gotten zero. The Mac had been issued a DHCP address that looked OK, but no internet access. It got as far as “looking up XXX”. This indicated that DHCP had told the computer where the DNS server was, but my laptop couldn’t actually talk to it.

I gave up after a while, and turned off the modem. I tried again the next day, and it worked.

Later, I wanted to get my Airport Express to work. But after plugging the Airport Express into the network, it couldn’t get a DHCP address.

After poking around online, I discovered that it was possible to log onto the web interface of my cable modem (a Thompson TCM 420). (You can do this by getting onto the same network, setting a static address of, and browsing to Strangely, it reported that only one network device was supported. So, I unplugged my Mac, just plugged in the Airport, and reset everything. Still no dice.

I gave up after a while. But this time, I had a suspicion. I turned off the modem for about 6 hours, then turned it back on with only the Airport Express plugged into the wired network. Bingo!


Here’s my stab at what’s happening. I believe that Comcast really is allowing only one DHCP address to be issued to devices on my network, and that it remembers the last device that was issued (like a DHCP reservation). If a new device appears on the network, it only allocates an address to the new device if the old device’s DHCP reservation has expired, which appears to happen after a few hours.

In the first case of the non-working DHCP address, that was bad luck. When the computer’s reservation expired and it was granted a new IP, the new one worked.

The Answer

… appears to be that if you’re messing around with your network, you need to turn off your modem for a fair period of time to allow old leases to expire and new devices to get new IPs.