It’s in font of you

Saint Homobonus
12 May 2014

Saint HomobonusThe patron saint of purchasers takes a look at the month’s more unlikely business tales.

It’s in font of you

It all started as a project at a Pittsburgh middle school. Pupil Suvir Mirchandani, on a mission to save his school money, analysed printer ink costs. He measured how much ink was used for each letter when using the fonts Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans, finding that thin Garamond was cheapest, and his school district could save $21,000 by using it for official documents. A Harvard student publication got him to apply his research to the federal government. Result? It could save $136 million per year. It’s applicable to home printers too – so turn to Garamond and save!

EE up, online tourists

From ‘poetic’ Dubliners to inserting the ‘r’ in West Country dialect, visitors to the UK have the chance to update their knowledge of regional accents from afar. A new video entitled ‘A tour of the British Isles in accents’ on YouTube uses audio from a BBC Radio 4 show. Dialect coach Andrew Jack explains how accents differ as the tour moves around the UK. After a start in London it moves west and then to Lancashire, with its ‘fluid’ accent. From ‘raising inflections’ in Northern Ireland to a ‘poetic quality’ in Dublin and ‘almost Scandinavian-sounding’ highlanders, it’s riveting. Best comment from viewers? Use the accents during weather reports.
The great outdoors

The Scouting Association has drawn up a plan to get up to 20,000 executives out of their offices and potholing, rock climbing or paragliding with youngsters. Part of an attempt to tackle the nation’s ‘epidemic’ of physical inactivity, the proposals were presented to the All-Party Commission on Physical Activity. It suggested that firms that encouraged staff to take part could receive incentives including preferential treatment when bidding for government contracts. Employees could receive bonus points and the youngsters would benefit from a surplus of driven adult volunteers.

Social media outed

Activist organisation Greenpeace turned its attention to the tech giants by flying a ‘thermal airship’ over Silicon Valley to highlight environmental issues. Gold stars went to Apple, Facebook and Google for agreeing to use “100 per cent renewable energy to power their data centers.” Not so Amazon and Twitter, which the activist group noted “host and rent data capacity in facilities where less than a quarter of the energy renewable”. In the ‘middle of the road’ category were eBay, Microsoft, IBM and Quinix.

Can’t see the wood...

Birmingham residents were baffled by a council’s decision to erect a new 20ft lamppost directly behind a conifer tree. While the council’s upgrade of the city’s 95,000 street lamps to energy-efficient LED models has been widely welcomed, residents in Boldmere have been floored by the positioning of the ‘tree lamp’– at a cost of about £2,000. A councillor said: “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw what the contractor had done. It must have taken a superhuman effort to get it so well hidden inside those trees.”

No laughing matter

Trade association Clowns International currently has only about a 100 members as fewer youngsters enter the profession. Some blame it on an increase in coulrophobia – a fear of clowns. Negative role models like Krusty from The Simpsons also apparently haven’t helped. A spokesman hoped clowning would make a comeback as kids who see them “are amazed”. Hopefully for all the right reasons?

That’s taken the shine off 

East Coast rail train drivers are demanding a change of shirt after their new striped purple shirts apparently reflected light onto their cab instruments, leaving them unable to see their speedometers at times. Aslef, the main drivers’ union said the cross-border train operator had to address the issue, which could last “from 30 seconds to 15 minutes or more”. Anti-glare film has been added to the gauges, but the union claimed this has failed to solve the problem. Union leaders have raised their concerns with UK government-run East Coast “at the highest level” and alerted the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). An East Coast spokesman said: “We are aware of the concerns and are working with drivers to resolve the issue.” He said no trains had been delayed or halted because of glare. This follows a row four years ago when East Coast’s predecessor National Express had to scrap new blouses after female staff claimed they were see-through.

Tweet of the month

Why does the government insist 
on making public sector 
procurement and frameworks 
so incredibly complicated? @SarahBoydH

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