Archive for August, 2011

Water flow: I need to know

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

So last time there was a major water crisis in the Cambridge area in which we had reduced pressure due to a water main leak, I noticed something cool: it seems that toilets (at least in this State, if not the entire US) – and presumably other non-essential water devices – have a special inlet valve that operates only when water pressure is above a certain level. The net effect (quite ingeniously) appears to be that, when the water pressure is reduced, the toilet won’t fill. Thus, the lesser available resource is better utilized helping people drink rather than flush toilets.

Anyway. My question is, who designed this? And how prolific is the adoption of this standard? And (presumably) did Cambridge intentionally reduce the water pressure today due to the hurricane in order to avoid sewers from overflowing as people used water in non-essential ways? Inquiring minds want to know.


Open Letter to Southern Vectis

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

ATTN: Alex Carter
Chief Executive
Southern Vectis

Dear Mr. Carter,

I have recently had the opportunity to use your bus services on the Isle of Wight. I must say, I have been very underwhelmed and disappointed in the service. Not only is it expensive (which can be forgiven for the size of the market served), but it is inefficient and it is very clear (to me)
that little or no attempt at co-ordination is being made between Southern
Vectis and ferry service operators on the Island (who deliver your captive audience and therefore are of some utility to your company). This point was driven home as we arrived in East Cowes exactly as the (hourly) ferry departed from the terminal, needlessly wasting an hour of our time.

Mr Carter, you need to reach out to Red Funnel and have a dialogue. Pick up the phone, call them, and steer the conversation toward how you can collectively work together to offer your respective customers the kind of great experience they should be demanding from you. Perhaps you can find whole new ways to expand your service (and financial return) through shared initiatives – beginning with co-ordinated services. Such an initiative would also necessitate that subsequent changes to your respective timetables are handled appropriately – don’t blame oneanother, embrace the business opportunity to succeed by reacting appropriately – by reaching out and having a renewed dialogue around how you can best resolve such issues.

Furthermore, you need to reconsider the impression upon your paying, law abiding customers of your overly aggressive use of video cameras and surveillance on board your buses. I realize a pandemic disease exists within the UK that causes people to embrace and believe such utterly intrusive use of cameras is reasonable, but ask yourself whether you actually need to have *four* individual cameras on just one level of your buses – complete with a TV screen passively aggressively reminding customers to conform to societal norms by displaying scrolling footage. Would even one camera not surfice? Ask yourself where it ends – a camera watching every seat individually?

Next time I visit the island, I hope to discover a Brave New World in
which you have spoken with Red Funnel, and in which I receive great
customer service in return for the fare level charged.


Jon Masters