Archive for March, 2015



The Ice Dam Cometh

Posted on: March 11th, 2015 by doyle

From the desk of Jo-Ann Ryan, weary New Englander …

This winter has produced record amounts of snow, frequent storms and frigid temperatures that even we hardy New Englanders are finding unbearable. It has also created a phenomenon of which I was blissfully unaware… ice dams!

All About Ice DamsIce dam cometh

Snow accumulates on your roof over time and partially melts when temperatures warm up and/or the sun is shining, or because all or part of your attic is warm due to inadequate roof insulation and ventilation, and heat leaks. The melted snow flows down the roof under the insulating layer of snow until it reaches below freezing temperature, typically at your home’s eaves and gutters. When the melted snow reaches the freezing air, ice forms, creating a dam. At night, the snow tends to refreeze trapping some water beneath the snow and forcing it back up under roof shingles. Beware: Icicles are the first sign of ice dams!

Under Pressure

 So what’s a snow-weary homeowner to do? It’s the topic of countless conversations among neighbors and Facebook friends. And that’s how I learned of roof rakes! Now, this tool, which was previously unknown to me, is really a preventive measure for ice dams but also can be tremendously useful for removing snow that accumulates on your roof. Too much heavy wet snow can cause roof collapses. The average weight of one square foot of compacted snow is 30 pounds. New roofs can support in excess of 40 pounds per square foot. Older homes vary.  So not surprisingly, roof rakes are in high demand in my Massachusetts community and currently cannot be found in any of our local hardware stores or Lowe’s and Home Depot.

Roof Rakes

What is a roof rake? It’s not a rake in the traditional sense – it has no teeth. Instead, it has a blade made of aluminum or plastic (often 24” wide and 7” tall) and a telescoping handle or one that has multi-sections that can be snapped together (16 – 22 feet in length). This tool allows you to remove snow from your roof while standing safely on the ground and not damaging your roof. The goal is to roof rake about six feet clear from the edge of your roof allowing snow melt to evaporate.

The Next New Thing

As a researcher, I can’t help but think of an opportunity here. This would be a perfect time for roof rake manufacturers to explore the path to purchase decision and usability issues through ethnographic research. May I be a respondent?

The Quirks Event: Recapped

Posted on: March 4th, 2015 by doyle

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 10.44.07 AMFrom the desk of Kathy Doyle

Quirk’s had a great idea – offer a low cost alternative to the super pricey conferences packing our calendars –and so many people agreed with them that the event was sold out and the venue was packed.   Here is my review of the inaugural Quirks Event, after a week’s incubation (or procrastination!).

The emphasis was clearly on the exhibitors.   It was one of the larger exhibit halls I’ve been in, and chock full of mobile solutions, panel providers, online platform providers, and software providers for all things data management.   To me, most notable was the fact that more and more exhibits are tech focused; less and less are focused on facilities and other “human” services firms.   It is clear that tech-driven market research is here to stay.   For me, it was a great opportunity to evaluate resources that our team can vet and test to help us execute our custom qualitative study designs.   Exhibitors, how was it for you?

Though I don’t believe the presentations were intended to be the primary focus of the conference, most rooms were packed, which tells me that attendees still do view presentations as a main draw of the conferences they attend.   A couple of my key take-aways were that:

  • new technology is driving the conversations in MR
  • the lines between quant and qual are blurring, with both industries leveraging methods and tools from each other to craft dynamic research designs
  • there is an increasing emphasis on understanding the consumer’s journey, using mobile and wearables, to come as close as possible to actually “walking in their shoes”.

With all of the upsides of technology, it does have its downsides. The conference’s Presdo Match app was controversial.   Word on the street is that clients hated it.   They felt pestered by potential research partners trying to set up meetings.   I liked it (of course, I’m a research partner).   I was able to see who among my clients was attending, and it gave me the chance to seek them out for a face-to-face conversation.   This dichotomy is not unique to The Quirk’s Event.   More and more, clients are keeping a low profile; not registering on conference apps, not wearing their name tags, not attending networking events.   Their goal in attending conferences is to learn, while suppliers have begun to view conferences as significant marketing opportunities.   Somehow a balance has to be achieved, so everyone’s needs are met.

All in all, I think Quirks did a great job of executing their vision for the first ever Quirks Event.   And I have no doubt that any problems experienced (did I mention the scavenger hunt to find food?!) were duly noted and will be addressed.