2017-04-15

Specialty Coffee Service Architecture

"This coffee is two months old."
"I'd drink it. I'm shameless."
"I can't serve it."
"I would, as long as I didn't qualify it as anything it's not."
"..."
"Clear the stock. And always be honest."

The reasoning behind this is pretty straightforward. Specialty coffee is served carte blanche. Usually, you don't charge extra when it comes out especially good, and you don't charge less when it comes out especially bad. (I would like to - we don't have a crew that can handle that yet - price-value optimisation isn't quite on the tip of their tongues at the moment.) The age of a coffee isn't the variable that determines what value you should place on in-cup quality. If you buy an expensive coffee, brew it fresh, and it sucks, you shouldn't serve it - the age is irrelevant to what you choose to serve.

I actually don't think some of our coffees are very good. But that's exactly why I keep ordering them. They're boring, and when they swing left and right, it's pretty meh anyway, no matter what we do to it.

Then again, meh is like my dominant emotion. So it's not a good idea to take my word for what's interesting and what's not, in this world. Haha.

You may question if this is a good attitude to be taking towards specialty coffee. My approach to the industry is to hypothesise that:

(i) No matter how special your coffee, most consumers won't "get it" and pay a premium for it at the brewing level; I agree with a client of mine whose point of view was that you have to become a coffee farmer or sourcer before you start to control real value in quality of coffee - he wants to go there, I don't - therefore my main business, as a coffee retailer, is hospitality, not coffee quality. Real, hard, quality, is completely out of reach/scope.

(ii) What is called specialty at the brewing level now, may be cool, but it's not actually hard, and will eventually become so commonplace that no one is going to notice that it was ever very special. In fact, this will happen faster than it will take to churn up margins in this space. So why waste time building temporary and false value? Our real business is to become good at delivering a complete experience, not to split hairs on brewing parameters. Brewing parameters of the highest quality have to be treated as trivial, and should be considered a demonstration of a staff's completion of basic training... it is not hard to brew good coffee. It is hard to find coffee that is worth brewing. It is better to make a big deal of the complete customer experience, wherein a well calibrated cup of coffee is as trivial as a clean toilet. It can be brewed automatically, it can be brewed by hand; as long as it's good, the cup doesn't care.

Reflections on Bezos' Note on Customer Centricity

I was thinking about this (profitability) concern, in relation to another (the talent management) concern.

For starters here the notion of customer centricity may be too narrowly interpreted to mean actively pursued customer service. That is the bias of rhetoricians, the charismatic people, or those who like to be liked, showing itself.

Whereas it remains possible for customer centricity to exclude many interactions between staff and customers - particularly if one's product is a space in which customers intend to be self-absorbed, and undistracted by other creatures. Perhaps customer centricity of this sort is more of an architectural endeavour, than one of common parlance. It is also spurious to separate between customer centricity, product centricity, etc. as one can easily reformulate the definition of "product," to refer to the overall customer experience facilitated by the firm. Perhaps this approach is the bias of artisans, the asocial people, or those who regard others with a general sense of irrelevance.

You may draw a dichotomy of introversion and extroversion here if it strikes you as colloquial.

Back to the occurrence of a similar pattern in talent management. Here you will find that rhetoricians employ an additive strategy for improving talent. They may seek to inspire staff with beliefs, and to build new skillsets in others, actively. Whereas the asocial may employ a reductive strategy for improving talent. They may seek to point out a point of view, highlighting nascent qualities of observable things, and then waiting to see how staff react: do staff recognise these, or other points of view? Will staff then find themselves internally motivated to act upon those nascent qualities of the world?

This is an abstract thought, and rougher than it ought to be at the time of publication.

Performance Notes

I'm rather predictable:

- Pre-game: get numb, but not fatigued. Basically, come every 36 hours or so, to stay primed.
- Stay well fed over the previous 12 hours (constant protein and allium).
- General cognitive quality is as important as food - so sleep, R&R, matter.
- On points of V0_2 max, strength, and flexibility, there's no substitute for plain old physical conditioning.

If all are are on point, that's as good as it gets. #gg

All points not on these days.

All points rarely ever on.

2017-04-13

Law in Malaysia

Someone suggested that "there are no straight lines in law," to which I thought:

"There are no straight lines in law only because it is not in the interest of criminals to have straight lines. And we, as a nation, as long as I have been born... not so old, only 34... have been run by criminals. So I really don't see much use in pretending that we live in a lawful society. I prefer for laws to be enforced, but empirical evidence suggests that reality is otherwise. ;) Almost always, around here."

In reflection: I have been thinking of late, about how the fundamentals of our nation rest on graft. Our heroes and success stories are often built upon it. Our political landscape is built upon it. Our businessess assume it exists inherent to the environment. It is not, after a few decades of consideration, something that I find myself unusually happy or sad about. But it is regretful that the nation did turn out this way. Unlike those who commit themselves to a different future, a nation built instead on the rule of law, I venture no such hope. Only a faint sense of curiosity. It is not a game to be played by the poor. And it has never been my longing to be materially wealthy. Strange, this life, and the lands it finds itself in. So very curious.

Yawn 24

April 13 start

Our IG creative is approved for that job because she's pretty good norm core stuff. I'm not sure if she should feel offended, but neat, pretty, emo stuff is norm core in this industry...

/

On modelling cash flow:
I'm supposed to be sleeping, but since we have good data now, might as well make good use of it. (We're perpetually behind on accounts.) We're currently implementing model A, where we drop from 100% to 75% availability. The next model, B, sends us to 50% availability, then C-E cut gradually down to 25%. It looks like none of this helps - but two buffers are factored in:
.
1) the net sales figures here are historical; as we restrict supply of hours, we expect the price/hour of the space to go up
.
2) as we reduce operating hours, but flatline labour costs in certain departments, we expect the quality of product to increase in those departments
.
... 3) as we shrink the size of the organisation, the burden on corporate services shrinks linearly, but the freed-up resources from corporate services may have exponential benefits given (2)... but that's all hypothetical...
...
.
So yeah, heads up, y'all.

A common train of thought:

X: Whats your goal revenue per seat per hour?

me: I know why it should matter to me. And I know why I choose to deprioritise that metric. But why does it matter to you?

X: Utilisation matters to me as an influence on profit with a business where overheads are high. I would like to know: What's our upper limit of revenue per day/per hour (obviously variance based on time of day) that we could achieve?, What would need to ...See More

me: Well I know how the numbers work. Unit economics are pretty straightforward in this very transparent and simple industry. I don't however believe that focusing on unit economics is what I prioritise. The main focus of my time is in increasing the quali...See More

X: That makes sense, always more complex than looking naively at the problem.

X: That being said, I think the identify of the team probably has something to do with the identity of the regular customers of the cafe.

me: I like my staff impersonal. I think getting too involved with customers removes the focus on products. However, give a LOT of leeway for staff to do as they please in this area.

X: What about some sort of membership for heavy duty customers which entitles them to some perks including small discounts/status? 3-6-12 month increments. Essentially helping you offset Rent/TNB, and increase revenue.

me: Will get to it at some point, perhaps.

me: Definitely have more space to rent AFTER I kill cafe hours to 25% hahaha

X: E.g. It's ok to sit for hours here and order just one coffee if you pay just 50RM per month (600 per year, 150 per quarter). Or sub-let.

X: Startups could be based there for maybe 75% of hotdesk rent, plus % off coffee.

X: Maybe under Option B, "members can come 8am - 4pm", then open to general public at 4pm. Minimal food, just drinks. Could also do just take away coffee in that time if there was demand.

X: You just need 9 people paying 500 per month, or 14 paying 300 to completely cover your rent, maybe they can buy coffees for half price in that time.

me: Avoiding charging for space until we shut down the cafe model ;)

me: Hotdesks are shit. I would not pay for one, and so I would not sell one. Haha. RM300/month should get you a nicer seat in a proper working environment that is far nicer than [us]. Also, WeWork is coming to SEA soon. Hurrah!

me: Also something Apple said about six inch phones ;)

X: Haha, my concept of Malaysian economics needs work :p

me: See if you're charging for space, you want comfortable space. We charge for F&B, so the space is intentionally uncomfortable. :P Wobbly tables and stools are very hipster coffeeshop, but I'd charge RM300/month for 4am-4pm access to hot desk in the cafe, no F&B. Example of what could happen later. right now I charge RM60/DAY to get 4am-10am access with unlimited coffee.

X: Hipster = cool. People seek out cool spaces. WIth scarcity, only a limited # of people/startups can have access there.

X: And I'd argue you can charge for image/association if you brand it right.

me: No shortage of better funded spaces in this town ;)

me: "Hang out with Jerng for RM60/day." What kind of lansi business model is this!? All these cool people can go fuck themselves...



/

Toe cap derbies of an industrial quality are nearly impossible to find in KL...

/

What the - Google Hangouts call is online while the app disappears from the system tray. Isn't that a security vulnerability?

/

Monthly reporting call. Shift coverage for short-staffing. TIghtened the furniture. Hmm. Breakfast.

/

April 13 end

April 15 start

Tired. And reviewing performance.

/

I found a way to destablise the campers. Loud music works on some of them.

/

"Did you see that Ryan Reynolds movie - my ovaries are exploding."
"You have ovaries?"
"Of course not - what I meant is, something just as important... my BUDGET is exploding. How did you manage to clock in 36 hours over two calendar days?!"

/

Whoops. Pissed off city council again. Seems that a blackboard is fine for 15 months, but a blackboard with paper on it is not good within four hours. Not on duty. Non-critical matter. Will find out later if they let it go, or if we have another fine. I guess I shall pay this one personally. Hahaha.

/

Bored, and tired, but not yet dead. So on we go, ho, hum. It has been a noisy, but moderately productive, and somewhat colourful, week. Hopefully, by next week things will be simpler. But that is not to be expected. Time for some food, and sleep, before office hours begin at 4am.

/

I have been thinking of late, about how the fundamentals of our nation rest on graft. Our heroes and success stories are often built upon it. Our political landscape is built upon it. Our businesses assume it exists inherent to the environment. It is not, after a few decades of consideration, something that I find myself unusually happy or sad about. But it is regretful that the nation did turn out this way. Unlike those who commit themselves to a different future, a nation built instead on the rule of law, I venture no such hope. Only a faint sense of curiosity. It is not a game to be played by the poor. And it has never been my longing to be materially wealthy. Strange, this life, and the lands it finds itself in. So very curious.

/

On the violence that underpins capitalism: The pure and simple truth. Suck it up. :) Deny nothing. If you have to be an asshole, admit it.

/

Enforced waking, enforced sleep, enforced feeding, enforced work... doopdeedoo

/

Act 1:
"No advertisement may be issued without approval."
"Does it mean we can submit advertisements for approval to you?"
"Only if the (federal) Institute of Language and Literature has first provided a stamp of approval for your advertisement. It must have a majority of its text in the national language."
"That is a pity. Many of our customers prefer English."
#sofarsogood #malaysiaasusual

Act 2:
"Does that include writings on blackboards?"
"That is up to the enforcement officers."

Act 3:
"This is a bylaw of the city council."
"Can I have a copy of the bylaws?"
"The bylaws are confidential."
"Here is a hard copy of the bylaws."
"Let me take a photo."
"You may not photograph our copy of the law."

Act 4:
"The laws are not issued by us, so you cannot receive them from us. We only enforce the law."
"Can I get a copy on the Internet?"
"You may call the designated private company which sells printed copies of the law."
"I see they also provide subscriptions to online digital access to the law."

/

Weekends, hopefully catching up on work.

April 15 end

April 21 start

This country bores me. This body bores me. This set of physics bores me. This geopolitical order bores me. There is one salvation: stay busy enough not to notice the boredom. Do more math. Make more coffee. Et cetera.

/

Our pet theory has been falsified.

/

Rather busy this month, and still wondering if I'll want to lop off another six hours from our daily operating schedule. Decreased exhalation pace and increased manual pace must be coordinated carefully. Ho hum.

/

Dangerously busy.

/

Not this hour. Do no analysis. Go back to work.

/

Millennial philosophers be like:
1. Process information
2. Fuck bitches
3. Blog 50,000 ways to live, and six more to die
4. With EDM

/

If you think about meritocracy, it is evident that a true meritocracy would homogenise the environmental conditions for all its citizens. Unequal advantages would be leveled out by state-normalised education, childhood development, and access to capital. Rights of inheritance, and the ability to will one's property rights to anyone but the state, would be revoked. No more edges of tomorrow (or edges from yesterday, for that matter) - each individual would be reboot from scratch - and notice then, how this runs contrary to the institution of family. From the Rothschilds to the Torretos, kin-selection would be outlawed. What effect would that have on the common notion of love? If you believe in conservative values, you become logically opposed to the notion of individual-oriented societies. If you believe in meritocracy for individuals, you become logically opposed to the sentiments of kinship, of friends and family. Helluv' an unusually large, grotesque thought to stomach, isn't it? Hehe.

/

Much horseshit in the morning. Training is slow and steady. I hope.

/

"So are you getting more rest now?"
"What are you talking about?"
"You reduced operating hours - to get more rest and have a life, right?"
"We fired over a third of our people-hours in order to cut costs. I now have more work to do. I get up at four and run office hours till we open at ten - for security - also, it's the best time to get work done, sometimes."
"Why don't you just shut it down and move to another business?"
"I have 19 investors and negative cash - we're not going anywhere fast!"
"You should run a tech or financial hub."
"Are you hiring?!"
"I'm serious. You should do something based on logic. You belong there. Restaurants and F&B take some <3" "Technical fields are full of people too. ;)" "Do something you're really good at." "But you're missing the point. The strategy here is to rewire the standard model. It's easy to give dumb people what they want." I'm not sure how many people realise that as much as I like math, my natural skillsets are much more skewed towards social engineering than numerical intuition. (My interest in math is at the junior level of delineating other people's mathematical intuitions, since I'm not versed enough to have any original ones, or so it seems.) The reason they may think so is that due to my limited interest in being likeable, I actually go out of my way to make people uncomfortable very often when it is in my interest to do so - a great number of times however, it is interpreted as an accidental obtrusion. Well yes, and no. Hahaha. I think, the human being, as an information system, really is the the most interesting medium to work in. It is a pity that I do not have exactly the same view about groups of human beings.

"Why don't you just go into politics?"

"I always said I would. But in Malaysia, I would rather go to bloody war, literally, than wade into this mock-democracy without backing of at least a few tens of millions of Ringgit."

"If this were true, then either you won't need the millions or you will get the millions. Why not?"

"What's in it for me? ;) To clarify, I don't want that money per se, I think it is a NECESSARY quantity of extra judicial resourcing that is needed to go to war with a reasonable chance of winning in the current system. I don't actually believe that voting and civil protest will work in this environment - or rather, that's been my "official position" for a few years now. The reason is simple: your opponent regulates the rules of the mock-democracy, is un-concerned with maintaining a level playing field, and is backed by hard/soft funding in the billions. Why even bother touching the game without a significant war chest? I mean, it's cute and all to have democratic ideals... I'm just disagreeing with the people who believe that achieving a proper democracy is possible via democratic means, when the existing system of governance is systematically operated in a fashion that undermines democratic processes. :P"

/

We are called to different tasks while conscious, and that is the definition of work. Some must love, some must defend their kin without love, some must slay their kin in other interests, some must demonstrate that these concepts are illusory, some must demonstrate that the former fragment is silly talk, some must do nothing but watch others go by. Some must be ignorant, some must be knowingly undecided. Whatever your data-structure, get on with it...

/

Things I have recently found may need explaining because people don't get it when you just say it. (That isn't to say I bother with the explanations.):

1. The notion that certain democratic freedoms are illusory, and that the greatest lie your devils ever told you was, that your efforts to acquire power by democratic means would have anything more than intrinsic value. To be clear, some engage in democratic activities because they believe that these activities are inherently valuable - this is probably correct; it is those who believe that their protests are an efficient means to achieving systematic changes, who may be subject to intentional delusion. They've been diverted.

2. You don't have to be popular in order to succeed in commerce, even with consumers. You do have to be better at something, and that may have nothing to do with being cooler or more famous. As soon as you start measuring dicks on popularity and fame, you've lost the script, and have ceased to focus on the generation of value via the brokerage of resources. Unless of course, you're tracking your funnel and have direct conversion metrics on the funnels of your competitors... then you can measure all the dick you want, because there's a dataset to tie it to customer satisfaction.

/

Current estimate to reach positive cash position... 1-August. Whee.

/

You know what makes you an easy target: outrage. You know this from the school yard, from the Internet, and war.

/

"I've overheard a lot of complaints about the metal bars on the tables. What's that about?"
"Reducing sprawl. The next logical step in the same direction raises the dividers higher making completely solo-ed spaces (probably not going there, but possible). I'm on schedule to apply an acrylic coat over the steel, tonight. I've been wondering if we'll get shut down over that. This is a central banking mechanism in F&B. Make the furniture less comfy to reduce loittering. Make it more comfy to increase it. Taking away chairs. Aha. Wait. Maybe that will happen too. Not sure. Pretty much blow by blow. I have problems with staff being unaggressive in fitting customers to one butt one seat. So we will just have to architecture the place to work without police. "

"What are the long term goals for this space?"
"The long term goals matter not without short term stability. So, in essence, it is a week to week concern."

"You should try XYZ activity."
"I will leave the events to the community (you) for now. My work is on the infrastructure. I have my hands way full on keeping the existing space open. My efforts won't be diverted to any specific subset of the clientele. Basically I am the central bank. I just move large abstract levers. For now. As I am way too short-handed to do more than that. My work is on figuring out which abstractions will become profitable. Anything that is too subculture oriented promises a failure of the level of abstraction that I require of the market. It's not the kind of strategy I'd align myself with, under the circumstances to-date. (It may work to keep the business going, but it won't work to keep me interested in the business, because it wouldn't be scalable. I'm lazy.)"

/

"People are not robots."
"I completely agree. They are quite inferior, on average, and the future belongs to those who aspire to be more than random impulse generators."
"You can't make them reasonable."
"If I believed that, I would not be dealing with them on a daily basis."
"Who wants you to interfere with their way of life?"
"No one of course. It is my prerogative. I simply believe that I am making them better (or more beautiful) by standards set by myself, with little regard for their perceptions of self."
"So it is rape?"
"I suppose it feels like that sometimes. Maybe it is murder. It most certainly is violence."
"Live by the sword, and die by it?"
"Yes, I do wonder how it will all end."
"This business?"
"No, life, in general. The business is a medium in the present. It does not last forever in any event - at least, I expect no such thing."

/

On this:

This is very important. I make a point to inform subordinates that they need to be comfortable with making mistakes, having wrong intuitions, processing information about how other parties view their work (ESPECIALLY when the view is hateful), and overall seeking out all the aforementioned experiences. The ones with small egos crumble really quickly. That is how we will find out who is made of what. And while I would welcome all kinds of stuff in any organisation, I simply can't build foundations on weak stuff. It doesn't work - the material science is wrong. For now.

/

Just gave staff permission to put up a big sign that says "if you're looking for a difference between your flat white and your hot low foam standard milk size latte, you're in the wrong cafe". And when senior staff can't get this right after 1.5 years, I am reminded that I would really enjoy just not having any staff at this point. The ROI on talent management has already killed us. I will grind every ounce of romance out of this operation if I have to do it myself...

/

Hm. I've been up for 16 hours, and the next day starts in four hours. But I'm a bit too hungry to fall asleep. I have furniture arrangement, sanding, and painting, and air conditioner compressor cleaning all likely before 10am. Game plan: stay in bed, get up around 3am, buy a fuckton of food, and launch into office. Probability of success: 50%

/


April 21 end


2017-04-09

On that Apple pro Mac Interview

link

1. What was obvious from the beginning.
2. What they should have done.
3. Their marketing approach.

1. The 2013 form factor is toast. IMHO it ought to be the basis for the next Mac Mini, because it's optimised for cuteness over throughout. Just make it smaller. This was kinda obvious from the moment they stuck THREE chips on ONE heatsink without liquid cooling.

They explain that they anticipated a broad adoption of use-cases where a dual-GPU would be handy, but scaling-out GPU workloads hasn't become popular (whoops) and scaling-up the workloads on single GPUs remains the norm. If you know how the memory hierarchy is managed in parallelised iterative computing applications (e.g. rendering pipelines, neural nets) it's kinda clear what they're saying.

2. They really could invert the triangle in the next iteration. Heatsinks need to bloom out from one side of a chip, but you can get away with a flat surface on the other. Now if you have multiple chip-sink blooms, back-to-back in a circle with the heatsinks all facing away from the centre, and then you can still preserve the cooling tower aesthetic, albeit with a much larger surface area for air to move over sinks.

I still wonder why they don't incorporate more basic jet/rocket engine design elements... compress the air in a chamber (#1) before it goes near chips, give #1 its own heatsinks, release air to the chip-sinks in chamber (#2) via a nozzle that forces rapid expansion and cooling of air. Basically, I'm wondering about the feasibility of stacking #1,#2 as a cooling tower over a cooling tower, if you will. Lol. Gotta read up more.

3.. "I think, as you talk about the pro user, the fact that our user base is split over notebooks, all-in-one desktops and modular desktops is important. We aren’t making one machine for pros. We’re making three different designs for pros."
Earlier in the article it is explained that the pro segment is defined by software application usage. Mac Pro just happens to be the compute-optimised solution for that segment.

I agree with this approach: customer segmentation is best approached as a multi-dimensional model. Product lines may then be articulated as points along a line in a specific dimension of segmentation. Like the vertical and horizontal matrices describing actors and roles in organisations, a business needs to have a product segmentation matrix which systematically addresses end user behaviours in multi-dimensional spaces.

4. Amid Trumpageddon, their speech patterns really do sound like Trump himself...