Thursday, 24 November 2011

Gas and tea tariffs

Simple lessons for the energy industry and us researchers - simply put, if customers don't get it, you've got a problem; and you'll be eating humble pie.

At a time when we looking ahead to the smart meters and smart grids, time of day metering and demand side management, perhaps British Gas' acknowledgement (see BBC article) that they "had not made it easy for customers" in their pricing is a salutory lesson - we had better put the people at the centre of the problem and work back to the engineering.

What we need is more pricing plan information presented like this gem from

Cup of tea infographic

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Why Johnny Can’t Opt Out...

Why Johnny Can’t Opt Out: A Usability Evaluation of  Tools to Limit Online Behavioral Advertising.

A great tech report from CMU CyLabs on issues in self-regulation and opt-out mechanisms in online advertising. Conclusion - "fundamentally flawed".

No browser should be without it!
Yup - even as a technologist with Ghostery, AdBlocker Plus, rather obsessive browser settings and as of a few minutes ago having opted out of the 52 companies that target ads at Chrome according the Digital Advertising Alliance (curiously hard to find online!) - I still find it all disconcerting.

I have for years been registered with the Telephone and Mail Preference Services in the UK - this is not self regulation, this is legislation, and it works pretty well and cuts out most of the junk - the remaining junk in the McAuley household is blow-ins through magazine subscriptions - New Scientist can I sign out of this please? However,  I still get telephone direct marketing from folks outside the UK; interestingly when I ask which UK company they are working on behalf of, the phone goes dead. Unfortunately I can't report them because the caller-id is always blocked, but companies (and you know who you are) are clearly trying to bypass the legislation. So would you now trust them to self-regulate online?

Thanks to Gilad for pointing me at the original article.

P.S. At 14:38 today, just as I finalised this, I had an international telesales call in broken english asking for Mr Needham or Mrs Needham (previous residents at this address from 14 years ago!). Good friends, long may they be remembered, the operator received some ripe anglo-saxon they may have difficulty translating.