The city that never sleeps but does stop working early

When I step out onto Manhattan’s streets, I am taller. Can’t explain that, can’t justify it and I’ve long given up trying to understand it myself. But it is true. I love New York. But apparently it’s not as energetic there as I thought:

People in the Big Apple are pretty productive in their mornings but social media distractions solidly take hold by lunchtime – and the rest of the day is really a wash after that.

That, at least, is one observation from a new Twitter heat-map that aims to take the pulse of the bustling metropolis by analyzing New Yorkers’ Twitter activity over a 5-month timeframe. Researchers behind the map say it demonstrates that Twitter could be a valuable resource to understand human behavior in urban environments.

The Exact Moment When New York Office Workers Start Slacking Off – Carl Engelking, Discover (4 November 2014)

Frightening, much? Read the full piece.

Apple’s other product: the presentation itself

Apple does this stuff well. I’ve stolen from their playbook: I make the simplest, shortest, briefest slides I can.

Others have gone a lot further. Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi’s CEO dresses like Steve Jobs, presents products that look remarkably like Apple’s, and recently did Jobs’s famous “One more thing” in a presentation.

I would hope he got laughed at. I would hope that I get away with my short slides. But we both have reason to steal from Apple: they do this stuff so well.

Quartz ( looked at the last many years of Apple event presentations and analysed them rather a lot. So much so that it’s a bit of a shame they didn’t wait until after yesterday’s which would’ve seriously affected the findings.


One of Apple’s most successful products—which rarely gets recognized as such—is made not of aluminum and glass, but of words and pictures. The Apple keynote is the tool the company uses a few times a year to unveil its other products to millions of people. To understand their hidden structure, Quartz reviewed more than a dozen Apple keynotes, logging and analyzing key elements. Here’s what we found.

The Apple Keynotes podcast on the iTunes Store lists 27 events since Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone on Jan. 9, 2007. (A few are missing.)
They are an average 88 minutes long, with a similar look and feel—a minimalist slide presentation with live demos from Apple executives and industry leaders, punctuated by videos explaining Apple’s design and manufacturing processes. These videos—a genre in themselves—have been frequently parodied.

The Hidden Structure of the Apple Keynote – Dan Frommer, Quartz (8 September 2014)

Read the full piece for more minute by minute details, including who is the funniest Apple presenter ever. It isn’t Steve Jobs.

The statistics behind BOGOF

I’ve noticed that whoever walks in to a supermarket at the same time as me is who will walk out at the same time too. We are driven around stores like machines, guided to what we want and where they want us to buy it, then kicked out as quickly and profitably as possible. I’m fascinated by how these stores work and so this article held me up this morning.

Once Dangler has set up his basic pricing rules, he’s ready to start testing out potential discounts and special offers to try and improve sales. He goes for an aggressive price cut on the own-brand natural yogurt, cutting the profit margin to a few pennies, and the volume of predicted sales balloons as a result. It turns out that people are really price-sensitive when buying cold desserts. Alas, a large proportion of the gains is offset by a drop in branded sales, meaning the idea would probably result in worsening relationships with suppliers in exchange for a modest increase in profits. We keep searching for the optimal solution, with every small change having an immediate trickle-down effect on related products. It’s like a chaos theory testing suite, with each price being a flap of a butterfly’s wings. The only thing missing is a button to make the system automatically optimize everything, you still need humans to input scenarios.

Along the way, I discover phenomena like asymmetric cross-price elasticity — an eight-pack’s price affects sales of four-packs more strongly than vice versa — and the fact that a “buy one, get one free” offer is more cost efficient than a straight 50 percent price cut (that’s because some people will still take just one).

You Priced This Milkshake – The Verge

Read the whole piece to find out who this Dangler is and how while this is an article about American supermarkets, it is featuring software owned by Tesco here in the UK.