Yes, you’re quite right – it has been too long since I swapped words for pictures and saved myself a thousand of the former. So Copycam it is. Realising that I was heading straight for the scrap-heap of mobile telephony, I traded in my Nokia N73 for a shiny new all-singing, all-dancing HTC Desire. It boasts a Snapdragon 1GHz processor, a 3.7″ AMOLED screen and Android 2.2. And all topped off with a don’t-mess-with-me 16GB Micro SD memory card. Because you can never be too rich, too thin, or have too much memory. And maybe, just maybe, I was the teensiest bit influenced by HTC’s cutesy line: You don’t need to get a phone. You need a phone that gets you. It got me. I got it. With all that free memory, I’ve been happily snapping left, right and centre with the Desire’s nifty 5MP camera. So what’s been on the other side of the lens?

Smile and the world smiles with you

Buying things is scary. There’s too much choice, you have to talk to new people, and you have to part with your hard-earned cash. So you’re already out of your comfort zone. We all feel like that when we’re the buyer, so why is it we so rarely remember it when we’re the seller? One of the best ways of making people feel comfortable in a buying situation is humour. It breaks the ice and makes people smile. It gives them a reason to use you and not somebody else. And that’s all they need. In a busy street in Cambridge with more cafes than you could shake a wooden spoon at, I was stopped in my tracks by this sign: Builder’s breakfast. Everything you need to clog your arteries – including the gloriously-horrible-but-actually-quite-scrumptious black pudding. And all for a lip-smacking £7.60. Not only that. It also has a perfectly placed apostrophe, at no extra charge. I stopped, I smiled, I snapped. Now I’m more a light veggie than a brickie brekkie, but even I was tempted.  It was 3pm, so I wasn’t that tempted, but the sign had the desired effect. I’d struggle to name the other eateries in that street. But Orange Tree, with its decidedly playful approach, has stuck in my mind. Next time I need an organic latte and a dolphin-friendly muffin, I know where to go. Lesson 1: you’re never too big, important or professional to deploy a helping of humour (and the bigger you are, the more effective it is).

The cat sat on the… rug

I may have left my N73 behind, but that doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned the brand. Like somebody who wonders what an old flame is up to, I sometimes stare into the middle distance and remember the happy times. And in the middle distance just down the road from the Copy Unlimited nerve centre, I spotted this: No, I didn’t think it worked either. And I don’t mean the dodgy focus (a curved picture plane is my defence, though my newbie status may have something to do with it). Snaps. Apps. You know what should come next, don’t you? And it’s certainly not chats. It either rhymes or it doesn’t. It either works or it doesn’t. And this doesn’t do either. Lesson 2: if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Think of something else (before they do). 

Final countdown

As the recession bites, companies are downsizing, rationalising and consolidating. And that means closing and merging branches. Much as Currys did recently in Cambridge.  Its city-centre store was on the hitlist, as it consolidated its operations at a PC World/Currys megastore in a nearby retail park. (You did know they were owned by the same people, didn’t you? Choice is often the illusion of choice.) So, the city-centre store. They needed to shift their stock, so they created a sense of scarcity (see my last post) and looming deadlines. But in their rush, they forgot where apostrophes go. They obviously don’t eat at the Orange Tree Café. Perhaps they were led astray by their own apostrophe-less name. That’s part of a wider trend when it comes to business names in the UK. Just look at Barclays, Selfridges and Debenhams. In the US, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s still stick doggedly to the apostrophe, defending good old-fashioned values. It should, of course, have been 5 days’ time. In fact, strictly speaking, it should have been five days’ time, as the convention in English is to write in full the numbers one to nine, and use figures for 10 and above. That said, in a countdown, figures work best. But the apostrophe still hurt. Two days later, I walked past the store, in the vain hope that some literate customer had pointed out the error. Not a bit of it. They were too busy pushing past grannies and young children to bag a deal at 20% off. 3 day’s time, it said. I thought it would be too sad (and OCD-ish) to make a date in my diary for two days later, to see the magical 1 day’s time. But I was tempted. Lesson 3: if in doubt, don’t leave it out. Just look it up. Find out more:
  • Snap dragon. Great photos – and it makes calls too. The HTC Desire gets you. Get it (or at least its successor, the Desire S).