What I’m thinking about today:

1. The tile
2. Are retailers spying on you?
3. Customer service didn’t get better…tracking it did
4. Monsters U v. Despicable Me 2

1. Have you heard of tile? I thought this was very interesting – a start-up being advertised online (I saw it on Mashable). So I went to their site to learn more and saw they are 5,873% backed – so this product must be pretty interesting, no? I watched their video to find out for myself and I have to say, it’s a cool idea.

Tile is an on-the-go lost and found device. You attach it to, well, anything and you can then use your phone to track it. No more lost keys. Lost wallet. Purse. I was watching this thinking ‘hey, a pretty novel idea – but will people pay $20 for something like this?’ Then I saw a big pay-off. If something you have tiled goes missing or is stolen, you can record it as such and it will register on other tile users phones if it gets close, helping you locate your stolen item quicker.

Wow. A lot to react to there. In a way, this technology, not the device itself, is one that people have been talking about for some time with RFID chips. Tagging pets. Kids. And then using technology to locate them. This seems to be a larger, more elementary form of this approach but for me, it’s not hard to draw the comparison. I wonder where this is going to take us a society. We’re already able to track our phones and other electronic devices (Find my phone app) – the tile applies this approach to any device.

It does beg the question, if tracking and finding things is something you can do for under $20, will the technology and mentality become so refined in the next five years or so that the idea of ‘chipping’ will become commercialized? What do you think? And will you buy a tile?

2. Speaking of tracking…ReadWriteWeb posted a link to this New York Times article about retailers using your cell phone to track your behavior/actions in their store. The retailer they profiled is one that actually admitted to doing it – Nordstrom.

I give them a lot of credit for talking about this and actually sharing the process and ‘why’ they did it, even posting signs informing consumers they were being monitored. And for some reason, while an online cookie (not to mention what we divulge on social media) says waaaay more about us than our actual movement, this didn’t sit well with consumers. The idea that they were being tracked, watched made them uncomfortable.

Hmmm. I guess if we can’t ‘see it’, it doesn’t bother us as much? People who have a problem with this should seriously reconsider their online activity. My thought on this is…what took so long? I’ve been talking about how our behaviors are being monitored to provide us with a better ‘shopping experience’ than ever before and that we were getting really close to Minority Report territory .

What is the difference between this and Amazon’s little ‘welcome back Ben’ or facebook advertising? I can provide you with a lot more examples than this that are far more ‘invasive’ but that we consider a great shopping experience. Interesting how the lines between reality and online aren’t as blurred when it comes to perceived privacy.

3. Customer service isn’t dead. In fact, it might be better than ever. I was reading this cool bit from David Griner about how Spotify thanked a loyal listener (check it out, very cool). At the end, Griner mentions how customer service is receiving some big wins from small gestures, such as fixing broken cheeseburgers for kids*.

Ok, with two kids under seven, I was hooked. I had to see what this was about. So I clicked through and saw this great story about a server at Chili’s ‘fixed’ a broken cheeseburger for a 7-year-old autistic girl. Turns out the kitchen cut her burger in half and the girl, being autistic, needed to have certain things in a particular order.

When the waitress found out she went out of her way to say how sorry she was the kitchen broke her cheeseburger and she would fix it right away. So she brought out a fresh one. The manager then proceeded to come out and apologize to the girl as well.

The girl’s older sister posted it in on Facebook along with a picture of her kissing the repaired cheeseburger. It went viral immediately with 750,000 likes and 40,000 comments. All for the cost of a cheeseburger…and some common sense. And really, at the end of the day, that’s what good service is all about. Having the sense to do the right thing.

*This story was from March. How in the heck did I miss it? I apologize for the old news but it was too good not to share.

4. ‘Despicable Me 2’ v. ‘Monsters U’. Back in the days of my teenage years, my friends and I never missed a movie, not to mention summer blockbusters.  Now things look a little different. I still never miss a summer blockbuster…that’s animated. And if you’re like I was, you may be trying to decide between ‘Despicable Me 2’ and ‘Monsters U’. Here’s my take on both:

‘Monsters U’
Even if you didn’t like the first Monsters (how could you not?) you will still want to see this. While the main characters remain – Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan – the backdrop (college) and backstory are the real stars of the movie. And for an animated, G-rated movie, the story is actually pretty good. It has some depth to it without being too complicated. Nor did they risk oversimplifying it for the kids’ sakes. I laughed out loud more than once, thanks large in part to a great supporting cast, both in character and voiceover actors (Charlie Day, Aubrey Plaza, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley – and more – really steal the show).

This isn’t on the level of a Toy Story but it was well done, enjoyable and above all, easy to sit through. I give it an A.

‘Despicable Me 2’
One word: minions. Hope you like the minions because you’re going to get healthy dose of them. And thank God we do because beyond them the movie doesn’t offer much in terms of story. Despicable Me 2 is shorter than Monsters U but felt a little longer due large in part to the fact that they were stretching a 60 minute story by a good 30 minutes. At times it felt like the writers forgot the plot. But once they remembered it, the pay-off was pretty good, even if it was a little basic. Fortunately for us we have the minions to keep us entertained in the meantime. And those guys pretty much make the movie. They’re a larger part of the story (heck, they are the story at times); and while they teeter on the line of overexposure, they never do cross the line.

My biggest complaint with Despicable Me 2 is they kind of forgot about Despicable Me – i.e, Gru. He’s more of a facilitator than a character in this one and I felt that was a little bit of a disservice to the work Steve Carrell had done in the first movie. I hope they give him a meatier part in the next one. I give it a B.