The Weekly Round-Up: Supermarket sat-navs and the CIO hot topic

Android app navigates Tesco and CIOs reveal their one common concern...

Android app navigates Tesco and CIOs reveal their one common concern...

That anguished, guttural howl you may have heard emanate from aisle 12 of your local supermarket this week was none other than the Round-Up, having discovered for the umpteenth time this year that the store's shelf stackers had moved the tahini to a new and entirely mysterious location.

Sometimes it resides in the gourmet food section, sometimes in the section for foods for allergy sufferers, now and again it's been spotted nestling with the pulses and on one occasion it was lounging cheekily with the spreads. The things a technology columnist will endure for home-made hummus.

Just the sort of issue you'd find listed under #middleclassproblems on Twitter, indeed.

And it's not just tahini - please rest assured there is a technology angle in here somewhere - sometimes stores move stuff around so when you go three-quarters of the way down aisle four expecting to find tomato soup you find tinned aduki beans instead.

The intention is not to confound the shopper. No, the intention is to force the shopper to think: "Ooh, aduki beans. They're nice. They aren't on my list but Sally made that lovely salad with those last summer. I'll buy a tin, take it home, put it in the cupboard, leave it for four years then throw it away. Now, where's the tomato soup?"

However, there is a way to rescue the shopper from the vagaries of food classification and sinister marketing guile, and wouldn't you know it, it's all down to technology - hurrah!

Tesco is starting a trial to help shoppers find all their food needs with the minimum of fuss and guttural howls.

The supermarket behemoth has released an Android smartphone app to guide shoppers in its Tesco Extra store in Romford.

To use the app, shoppers build a shopping list and the app shows them the shortest route through the store to pick up their items. The app tracks the shoppers' location in the store, to an accuracy of three metres, and plots their route on a map of its interior.

If you are an Android-owning Tesco shopper in the Romford area you can find out how to get involved in the scheme by clicking the link above.

Then next time you go to the Romford Tesco Extra you'll know, much to the Round-Up's chagrin, that the path to tahini involves taking a first left at the deli, straight on past the tinned vegetables and right at the freezer section. Or something like that.

For the record, the Round-Up would never have looked there, just waved the white flag and bought the pre-made hummus...

By the way, if you are a fan of mobile apps, give silicon.com's iPhone app a whirl. We think it's rather tremendous.


One issue to unite them all

There is one thing that perplexes all CIOs and it's not the location of tahini in the local supermarket.

Since the turn of the year, silicon.com has interviewed around 20 leading CIOs. They've all been lovely.

We talked about the big projects, discussed the huge technology decisions and then gasped at the challenges they face - so gargantuan they're actually having an effect on the tides.

There are common threads.

There is the small matter of cloud computing. Of course. Then there's tablet computing - the fireball consumer technology that's starting to burn the fringes of enterprise technology. Everyone has one. Now they want another one, only paid for and maintained by the IT department.

However, one issue is consistent on the radar of these CIOs. So simple, yet so complicated at the same time. Wondering what it is? Read the story above to find out.


Finally this week: last week

Last Friday, the silicon.com editorial team took part in its now traditional Work From Home Day thanks to the arrival of Work Wise Week.

Now in its sixth year, the event aims to bringing flexible working practices to the 22 million people in the UK who still have no option but to drag themselves to the office each day.

So last Friday, the reporters and editors of Silicon Towers gave up their commute, early morning and office-based chaos for a home-based day of productivity. In return, they lost out on a bit of team camaraderie and a vast amount of biscuits pinched by the other marauding editorial teams based in the building.

As anyone who's tried it will tell you, working at home is a mixed bag. Yes, you can lie in, amble to your 'desk' and not bother making yourself look respectable - ok, so some journalists do this every day. You don't have to sneakily steal someone else's milk for your tea and you can listen to whatever deeply embarrassing prog-rock concept album you damn well please while you work.

However, you are your own IT department, you curse the lack of software and hardware, miscommunicate to your heart's content across a broad range of exciting IP-based communications channels and get terrorised by your cat.

You can read about the trials and tribulations of the editorial team here. Among the highlights are the ability to plough through a report with proper focus, tranquility, a very cute terrier and lunch at the local cafe. Nice.

Among the challenges were fun but confusing meetings conducted over instant messenger, a quartet of noisy builders and a leaking boiler. And that cat.

It seems the real difficulty is operating as a team with a common goal without proper face time. We are social creatures and we thrive on talk and laughter.

At the end of the day, we're all rather fond of the people we work with and enjoy each other's company, even though the editor doesn't buy half as many cakes has he should.

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