Frisk #159

HNY, it’s Frisk #159! The number 159 is equal to the sum of the squares of the digits of its own square in base 15, although that’s basically just numerical gibberish. It’s also the number of counties in the state of Georgia, which is rather easier to get your head around. (Among them are Bacon, Butts, Crisp, Dodge, Glascock, Twiggs, and numerous others that sound like they came from the Beano.)


Anyone who’s ever ordered something from Amazon which has then arrived in an absurdly oversized box will immediately appreciate the need for a smarter packaging strategy. I once bought a USB stick and it arrived in a shoebox. Mental.
Having previously worked in a fulfilment warehouse, however, I can see the reason behind it. Your remit is not to package everything appropriately, but simply to get it out the door as quickly as possible – grab the nearest box, tape it up, move on to the next one. There’s no time to think, just act.
Slimbox, then, is a thing that makes packaging more efficient. Users measure the dimensions of the item, enter them into the app, and the Slimbox machine then cuts a sheet of cardboard to size into a foldable net, turning offcuts into protective padding. Very clever, and great for small businesses and eBay powersellers – but it makes that whole Amazon/warehouse reference entirely pointless, sorry about that.

‘Fake News’ is a fresh buzzword for something that’s always existed – people talking crap on the internet. The difference here is that it’s presenting itself with a veneer of legitimacy which cynically piggybacks people’s eagerness to share stuff on social media without checking its sources (or, often, without actually even reading beyond the headline). In brighter times the rule used to be ‘if it seems far-fetched, it’s probably not true’, but in the Trump era… well, our comms legal advisers urge us to stay apolitical, but you can fill in the rest of that sentence for yourself.
So, developers in Berlin have a potential solution, in the form of Videopath. This is a way for online video makers to bolster credibility by embedding clickable sources and links to social feeds, to help viewers trust the provenance of the data. If credible sources are more obviously present, hopefully people will start to trust the news again.
This, however, doesn’t fully address the simple fact that if a fake news site or The Daily You-Know-Who publish an article entitled ‘Bowie is still alive and advising Theresa May on Brexit’, people will share it regardless. Because that’s what people do. Perhaps the only real solution is a widespread program of shaking people by the shoulders and saying ‘Oh, come on now’.

Smartphone toilet paper
‘Smartphone toilet paper’ sounds like the sort of off-the-cuff concept that a cornered Alan Partridge would come up with, but it’s actually quite sensible. Your phone is one of the most germ-infested things you own, thanks to you indiscriminately jabbing at the screen regardless of where your dirty thumb’s been. So at Narita International Airport in Japan, if you find yourself making use of the conveniences, you’ll spot a smaller roll of bogleaves next to the regular-sized one, specifically for wiping down your phone screen.
Naturally it’s an advertising-led innovation – mobile provider NTT Docomo is behind the idea, with each sheet of paper providing info about their wifi services. It’s quite a bold move on their part, knowing where said paper may actually end up in a loo roll emergency, but it’s useful and informative instead of just throwing a logo up somewhere, so they’re probably on to a winner.

Daniel Bevis, Senior Knowledge Editor

4th January 2017