Have car, boys will footle around

8th December 2006 at 00:00
Around a year ago, a new budget supermarket opened in Carluke. Never one to be snobbish about brand names (see Kia car in driveway), I decided to give it a go.

In fact, the outfit's approach to branding became one of the highlights of my first visit. There were the chocolate biscuits - "Seal Bars". Similar in taste and size to Penguins, each bar's wrapper featured an eponymous seal, standing up so it looked as like a penguin as a seal could. What's that spread in the yellow container with blue writing? It's "Beautifully Buttery". I can't believe it's not Utterly Butterly.

The supermarket knows a thing or two about marketing. It is the one place in town where the unreconstructed males don't mind shopping. This is because of the offers of the week. We're generally assaulted on two fronts: tools and gadgets.

So far, I've bought the gel bike saddle, bike lock and bike sunglasses, the electric staple gun (amazingly not called something like "Deck and Blacker"), the HDMI-ready DVD player and the breathable jacket with detachable fleece lining.

Every week, like countless other gentlemen of the parish, I happily agree to do the food shopping. Necessities sourced, I reward myself with a perusal of the portable DAB radios, 2 gigabyte media players and personal video recorders.

Some of you know where this is going. Not only are many males reluctant shoppers, a fair number are reluctant learners. Again, technology can help, but beware its misuse. I recently left some boys to their own devices with some online physics materials. There was a neat simulation with a VW car and a set of traffic lights.

The users were supposed to calculate the deceleration the car would need if it was to stop at the lights. Every boy typed in a random deceleration. The car either stopped short of the lights or screeched past. Decelerations were subsequently decreased or increased, the iterative process repeated until the Beetle pulled up neatly at the line.

Good though the simulation was, the way it was being used was indistinguishable from footering around at the computer. Perhaps the Holy Grail of educational software is to put together a package where boys learn without realising.

If I ever manage to create such software myself, you'll know. It'll be on sale in discount supermarkets branded as "I Can't Believe It's Not Footering".

Gregor Steele also likes the budget CD compilations in mainstream supermarkets

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