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With tweeting popcorn cart, even snacking is innovative at PayPal

PayPal developer Jean-Charles Sisk attached a sensor to the popcorn cart at the company’s Boston office and uses the technology to alert co-workers via Twitter when a batch is ready to eat.
PayPal developer Jean-Charles Sisk attached a sensor to the popcorn cart at the company’s Boston office and uses the technology to alert co-workers via Twitter when a batch is ready to eat.Credit: Callum Borchers

PayPal Media Network COO David Chang was wrapping up a tour of the company’s Boston office on Wednesday (he’d been discussing IdeaPaint with the Hive) when he made a passing reference to an old-school popcorn cart that employees keep beside a Coke machine.

“Here’s innovation for you,” Chang said, having an epiphany. “One of the guys hooked up a sensor to it. What it does is it tweets out ‘popcorn is ready’ when it’s done.”

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The “guy” responsible for the sensor is developer Jean-Charles Sisk, who has built a queue of tweets that are deployed automatically, one by one, to the 40 followers of @ThePopcornPals whenever a fresh batch is done. Sisk gets in character as the popcorn cart, delivering puns (What’s a self-aware popcorn machine’s favorite music? Why, hip POP of course) and snark (Someone is nicer than you. Popcorn’s ready).

According to the popcorn maker’s Twitter page, it has popped 118 batches since joining the social network in January, though that tally does not include buttery, salty snacks made in the last week.

“Yes, unfortunately we had our first ever failure last week but, on the bright side, everything was recoverable and the root cause was due to some bad hardware, which is the easiest thing to fix,” Sisk said Thursday. “I’ve spent a few nights adding a couple much-needed features and, incidentally, I’m hooking everything back up this evening.”

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