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Monday, October 24, 2011

Have you ever wondered about the difference between caffe latte and cappuccino? Many don't know the difference, including the people who serve them.

Let's start with cappuccino. Cappuccino comes from the Capuchin friars - some say it refers to the colour of their robes, others say it refers to the friars' distinctive hairdo - bald in the middle and hair ringed around the head like a headband. Whatever the reason, we have the wonderful caffeinated beverage, coffee, steamed milk, and a large head of foam topped with a ring or a pattern of cinnamon, cocoa or chocolate sprinkles.

Latte, or caffe latte means "coffee and milk". So, unsurprisingly, the drink consists of coffee and a boatload of milk. This is often served in a glass with a napkin wrap to stop you burning your fingers. It is more similar to a flat white than a cappuccino, only the caffe latte contains more milk. According to Wikipedia, the drink was popularised in Seattle in the 1980s and is still hugely popular today.

Which brings me to my daily battle with take away coffees. I love to drink a take away cappuccino, lift off the lid and lick off the foam and chocolate from the inside. Perhaps not the daintiest look, but that's how I do it.  Only a cappuccino can provide this experience, so I order a cappuccino every time I get a coffee.

For some reason, my saying "Cappuccino" sounds distinctly like "Caffe Latte" to the person behind the counter.  I walk out only to find that I have a milky coffee and no foam, no sprinkles, no fun.   Apparently the rise of caffe latte in Seattle was so powerful, that nobody believes you anymore when you ask for a cappuccino.  They think "poor thing, she's obviously not keeping up with the times.  I'll do her a favour and make her a latte so she won't be excruciatingly embarrassed."

I would like to release an open letter to my particular local cafe, however this can apply to cafes around the world:

Dear "Barista",
You are actually Italian, so you should know better than to confuse a cappuccino with a caffe latte.  I know it's hard for you and that I am the only person since 1989 to ask for a cappuccino since everyone is sooo hip to the latte thing, but I-don't-care.  I want my daggy outmoded cappuccino, I want it brimming with foam and chocolate sprinkles.  Kindly make mine frothy, I don't want a hot milk with a dash of coffee in it, I don't care if Kate Moss is doing it.

Proud (if not fashionably challenged) cappuccino drinker

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The sign is often the first thing people see when they come to your place of business. The important question to ask is what does your sign say about you? I have seen signs that appear to be thrown together with sticky lettering and cheap wood. This is the kind of impression you do not want to make with your customers. As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression.

On the other hand, if you walk into an office, store or other business and see a brushed metal, machine cut logo with spiffy lettering, you will think to yourself "these guys mean business".   If you really want to get it done right, Impact Signs are professional corporate signage specialists a with professional installation and service and no-nonsense quote process. If you are after bronze / metal lettering or custom designs, the turnaround is fast, so you can get back to the business of running your business.

If you want a professionally made sign, Impact Signs is a member of the the American Marketing Association and provide creative, professional solutions to your signage needs.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

As you shop, browse and scour the web, have you ever wondered who is profiling your browsing habits?

Once, when searching for a yoga mat and book on Amazon, I became alarmed when I started to see ads appearing on blogs featuring "yoga mats" and "yoga books".  Tick one for Amazon, they profile your shopping habits and then try to tailor suggestions based on your previous choices.  Some of us find this useful but others will be thinking "what else are they finding out about me?"

Most of us know that Facebook profiles its users.  Recently, it has come to light that Facebook is profiling you even when you are logged out of the Facebook homepage.  It seems people need to start enabling "Private Browsing" in Firefox, deleting cookies and blocking certain third party applications in Twitter, Facebook and every other social network or shopping site.

But there may actually be a rather ingenious way to ferret these profilers out.

You could try browsing for things you would never normally search for.

As an experiment, this morning I visited the KKK website, looked up Hitler and S.S. Halloween costumes, checked out white power memorabilia and Nazi uniform collectibles.

Why, you may ask? Have I gone all white supremacist / racist / nuts?

No, I was just researching an article for "Inappropriate and Bad Halloween Costumes" for one of my other blogs, "Halloween Holidays".

However, now that I have surfed for these outrageous topics, it will be glaringly obvious if someone has used this information to "profile" my browsing habits.

If I start seeing ads for "Grand Dragon Costumes" or "SS Uniforms" it will be clear that this information has been recorded and used for advertising purposes.

The emergence of Google's new +1 network has raised some important questions relating to privacy.  If you have a profile in a social network (Google +1), and then use a search engine (Google) to browse, it is possible that this information will be used in some way to market to you in the future.  Worse still, your profile can be linked to certain interests, which may make some a little nervous for those who have done research on offensive and inappropriate topics.