Friday, March 30, 2012

Hampshire in the Spring



Looks nice. But it's already too dry...


Monday, March 26, 2012

Exclusive: the Today programme breakfast trolley

No danger that guests on the Radio Four's Today programme are being treated too lavishly if the  breakfast trolley (seen when I was doing an interview in the show's Green Room) is anything to go by. Licence payers can relax...



Thursday, March 8, 2012

What are the chances of this? My lucky find.


I always think it's lucky when you find a coin in the street, and am superstitious enough to think it's unlucky if you don't pick it up.

So when I saw this coin in Hammersmith Grove, Shepherds Bush, as I was cycling to work, I had to screech to a halt, go back, take the picture and put it in my pocket. 

And yes it was what I thought: a two pence piece standing on its side, with no visible means of support (no chewing gum involved.) In all my years of street coin collecting, I have never seen this - and in the middle of a busy road too. 

(PS: Good to see Google Adwords finding an ad saying 'Learn to Trade Currencies' to sit alongside this.)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pinterest users love violet: but what does that say about them?

Pinterest users are good on visuals so I used the site to offer them a personality test based on colour. The Lüscher Colour Test was developed by a Swiss professor of psychology, to analyse personality after asking people to rank eight colours in order of preference.

I offered each colour as a separate Pinterest picture and asked other users to 'like' or 'repin' their favourite as a sign of their choice. Here's what the top of my board looked like:


A few days later, after 36 people had taken part, one result was clear: what Lüscher called violet (far right, above) was by far the most popular colour, with red second, and all the rest trailing far behind. 

The Lüscher test is based on analysing pairs of choices - the first two preferences, the second two etc. So in this case, Dr Lüscher's comments on the meaning of violet followed by red in the top two positions were the most reliable based on my numbers. 

Here's what he has to say about that pairing: 

Takes easily and quickly to anything which provides stimulation. Preoccupied with things of an intensely exciting nature. Wants to be regarded as an exciting and interesting personality with an altogether charming and impressive influence on others. Uses tactics cleverly to avoid endangering the chances of success or undermining other's confidence.

Sounds OK. And the public nature of Pinterest's boards matches well with the bit about "wants to be regarded as an exciting and interesting personality". 

But Lüscher's detailed comments on violet may not be so welcome to Pinterest users. Violet has a "somewhat unreal and wish fulfillment quality" which can lead to "irresolute wavering" or "irresponsibility". 

And here's where violet fans may start to feel a little resentful of the good doctor's analysis (the book is from the 1970s, so please excuse the "he"s):

The mentally mature will normally prefer one of the basic colours rather than violet; the mentally and emotionally immature on the other hand, may prefer violet. In the case of 1,600 pre-adolescent schoolchildren, 75% of them preferred violet ...[which] highlights the fact that, to them, the world is still a magical place in which they have only to rub Aladdin's lamp for its slave to bring them what they want - an attitude which certainly has its points, but which it is probably inadvisable to carry over into adult life.

Hmm ...well perhaps it's really not so bad to think "the world is still a magical place"? 

Looking at my results as a whole, here was the order of preference (black and grey came in equal seventh place):



Violet    Red   Blue   Green   Yellow   Black/Grey  Brown
21        8        3        2          1          0                  -1*

* Brown got a negative vote, which I also allowed

As to whether all this amounts to anything, I'd just say that on the most superficial level, it's almost comic that Pinterest's female-skewed audience (87% according to this rather nice infographic) should so definitely pick the colour closest to pink. 

And that I've got a feeling there are probably all sorts of interesting things that Pinterest would be good for besides just showing pictures ...if you could just think of them. 

Footnote on sample size: although the sample was small, in the real Lüscher test for a single person, the user is only asked to rank the colours twice - effectively making 2 x 8 = 16 choices. With my 36 people's choices - although they only made one each - I still have twice as many data points as Dr Lüscher thought necessary to produce a result. And within that, I'm concentrating on the most definite finding, the 21 preferences for violet.