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  • Michael Krakovskiy 11:20 am on May 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cash, Coin, Coney Island, , , ILS, , , OCR, retail job   

    Cash register nunismatics 

    I spent two long summers working the seafood counter at Nathans at Coney Island. One of the few joys of a retail job like that is looking for foreign coins in the cash register at the end of the shift.

    I was freshly reminded of that this morning, noticing that some generous soul donated what looks like 5 shekels at the local Dunkin Donuts.

    A lame startup idea occured to me: building a coin counting machine that would OCR all the coins, sorting out any coins that have a nunismatic value higher than face value.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:00 am on February 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Coney Island, , , , , Waterfront hotel,   


    When I worked at TV Guide I had a co-worker who frequently used a phrase “couldn’t we just” (pronounced with a whiney way with a New Jersey accent) to drive web developers to the outer reaches of annoyance. The thing is, in software development there are very few things that are “just” and a lot of resons why we couldn’t.

    One of the main reasons is that people tend to abuse just about any feature that you is created for them. This goes doubly for nice features.

    Let’s say you have an understanding boss who lets you have some flexibility in your workday hours. You can safely bet that without frequent admonitions to come in at a reasonable hour your fellow cowokers (and probably yourself) will probe the limits of when to begin a workday to a ridiculous degree.

    When I worked at a clam counter at Nathan’s at Coney Island we used to have a set of one pint containers with horseradish and cocktail sause. My supervisor told me to keep them under the counter and only furnish when requested. After a number of annoyed customers asked me why “couldn’t I just” leave them on the counter, I complied. What could go wrong?

    A day later two homeless gentlemen had an argument over something and used the containers as projectile weapons against each other. My supervisor sent me out to clean the mess with a dose of “I told you so” (apparently this same exact fight happened in the past).

    The thing is, your fantasy is usually not enough to envision the ridiculousnes to which features can be abused. For instance, as a fisherman I’ve always had a fantasy of fishing out of a building’s window. When I was taking a cruise around Seattles’s waterfront with my wife, the boat’s guide pointed out the Waterfront hotel, and mentioned that in the past hotel’s management provided fishing rods and tackle in the rooms.

    The problem turned out to be not that the clients did not catch fish. The problem was that instead, they caught too many, and left their catch to rot in sinks, toilets and bathtubs. Tired of antisanitary fish carcasses they nixed this feature.

    When I came home, I looked up the hotel, and found the bit that the guide left out. This hotel was the place where the infamous Led Zeppelin “mud shark incident” took place. The link is certainly not PG 13, because rockstars, hotel rooms, fish caught out of the window, and groupies is a dangerous mix.

    Has a feature that you created ever been mudsharked?

  • Michael Krakovskiy 1:32 pm on July 8, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alfred Bester, Coney Island, , Idiots at dictionary dot com, Isle of Coney, , , Parachute Jump, Quantum teleportation   


    Jaunted to the mythical Isle of Coney with my wife last weekend. And when I say jaunted, I mean took the train, not teleported. Idiots at dictionary dot com say “origin unknown”. Unknown my ass. The term for teleportation (and by extension for quick trip) was invented by Alfred Bester in his sci-fi story “Tiger!Tiger!” and is one of the few words that kind of became a part of English language. Not in the “robot” sort of way, but still.

    Here’s my old workstation. And when I say workstation I do not mean computer.

    And here’s Coney Island’s famous non-functioning parachute training tower. For some pictures of the tower in use please go over here as I do not own any cool postcards of it.

    As a child I remember being scared of a tall towering structure on some beach in Odessa. I wish I could find a picture… It looked nothing like the parachute jump tower, but left me with the same haunting feeling.

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