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Monthly Archives: July 2004

Handsome lookin’ machines don’t have to move an inch to be handsome, or save your bacon in case of xenomorph bioweapon attack. Witness the Heidelberg V-30.

HLN2_heidl1
^ It’s a handsome lookin’ machine, alright.

I’ve long admired Heidelbergs, from the sheet-fed litho at Harris Printers that I swept around after school; to Rupert’s huge, building-filling behemoths in News International, my first employers after college*.

The V-30 looks as if it could single-handedly produce at least a spiral-arm or two of the Gutenberg galaxy:

“With a horizontal web lead, the V-30 prints at up to 35,000 impressions per hour in heatset mode and 45,000 impressions per hour in non-heatset mode. Solid steel frames extend to the floor for simplified installation, and solid cylinders have simple slot lockups for quick and easy plate changes. A vertical cylinder stack arrangement with a shallow blanket-to-plate cylinder angle stiffens unit dynamics, permitting higher quality printing at higher speeds. Blanket cylinder positioning also allows faster clean up, shortening the down time between jobs. “

That’s great, but what’s the use of a fecund and free press running at 35k iph when merciless swarms of acid-dribbling space cockroaches come a-calling?

The V-30 I believe, with it’s extended finishing options, could be a great place to lure killer aliens to their death within it’s whirling innards:

HLN2_schemas
^ Printing-press or battleground? You decide.

“JF-35 options:

  • Tall air former
  • Rotary blade quarter folder
  • Urethane nip rollers
  • Cross perforators
  • Web severer
  • Motorized former nose slitter module”

You’ll be able to keep one vigilant eye out for suspicious Giger-esque shapes in the shadows, as the controls of V-30 don’t make undue demands on your noodle:

“User-friendly V-30 controls deliver all the advanced features necessary to keep productivity high and makeready waste low. From the console, operators can monitor and adjust everything from ink, water, drive, and motorized registration systems to the tension control and folder settings.”

Just like there’s nothing quite like the feeling of having saved the Earth from a murderous alien brood, there’s nothing quite like witnessing a big web-offset press rolling. Your local newspaper might be gracious enough to allow you to witness the latter if you can prove it would prepare you for the former.

Ratings [1 -> 5]
Handsome factor: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Monster readiness: ♦ ♦
[marked down due to dangers of luring beasts into machine]
Cost: $$$$

Spec sheet is here [1121k PDF]

Another HLM next week!


* not sure Wapping ran/runs Heidelbergs, actually… anyone know?

is the title of a lovely observational essay by Momus, who’s in Japan, envying train drivers:

“This Tokyu Line employee seemed to have the very soul of a train driver. He had made train driving his religion. He made me feel admiration and jealousy. I wanted his commitment, his dignity. I wanted to wear white gloves and make delicate ceremonial gestures even while doing something completely pragmatic and down-to-earth. I wanted to cry out with ecstasy every time I crossed points. As this driver, I would never feel unimportant. I would feel, in fact, like a star. I would catch glimpses of fascination and envy from children and adults alike. I’d never be surprised to find myself being photographed or filmed. It would seem perfectly natural that video game arcades featured simulations of my job. My glamour would be apparent, though lightly-worn. I would hand over to the next driver with a low bow and a deep sense of satisfaction, not to have the job behind me, but to have the same glories ahead of me tomorrow, and forever. Whatever I was paid would be okay. My reward would be a deep sense of legitimacy. Superlegitimacy, a rich reward.”

He goes on makes a list of “a cluster of ‘irreducibly Japanese values’ which might be hiding in the micro-gestures of some ordinary social interaction”, which sound like beautiful culture ships:

  • Superlegitimacy

  • Mutual capitulation
  • Cute Formalism
  • Society as ‘The Voice of Heaven’
  • The veneration of smallness
  • The universality of fetish
  • Micro-metaphysics
    • the investment of small, practical actions with ‘undue’ gravitas and charisma


I’m really enjoying Momus’s writing in his LiveJournal, but I must confess I’ve never heard any of his music. I’d like to. Any ideas of where I should start?

Gadget blogs and things that post pictures of small shiny bits of tech seem to be all the rage, so in response, a new, regular feature for this site: every week I’ll post a handsome lookin’ machine or HLM for your delectation.

A HLM is not shiny, not small, but is most definitely handsome – and probably could be used effectively in the final battle scene of a giant monster movie.

First up, the JCB JS330XD crawler excavator

JS220_HLM
^ It’s a handsome lookin’ machine!

“The reinforced dipper and linkages, rugged undercarriage guarding, and a variety of buffers and protective covers ensure that the machines are fully equipped for a long-life on any demolition site. Such protection allows the operator to make the most of the immense destructive ability at his disposal.”

Sounds handy in a fight – but what if a giant mutagenic komodo dragon is dangling you in it’s jaws? JCB have you covered:

“The reinforced turret belly guard protects the vulnerable centre of the machine. Being flush fitted, it will stop the reinforced steel bars, common on demolition sites, from penetrating the machine belly.”

The pictures of the cabin on the website seem to depict an intuitive control scheme and a comfortable commanding operator position; meaning that in any construction site showdown, one could feasibly jump in there with no prior operating experience and make a good fist of defending civilization from mutant monster attack.

Also, there’s plenty of space in the cab for a Thermos, so no worries if you play the long game.

Ratings [1 -> 5]
Handsome factor: ♦ ♦ ♦
Monster readiness: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Cost: $$$

Spec sheet is here [340k PDF]

Another HLM next week!

Just sent this to the marketing director of the Odeon Cinema group, following up yesterday’s post on the matter, and trying to pursue the ‘the network is doing your innovation for you, for free, so why not use it’ approach:

Dear Mr Tevere,

I read with some disappointment your correspondence with Matthew Somerville, the web developer who had undertaken in his spare time to make a version of the Odeon website that was easier to use, less confusing and – most importantly – corresponded to best practices in terms of making information accessible to all, including those with disabilities.

While I understand your view that the information on your website has been used without permission, and that you have had feedback from customers feeling misled by Mr Somerville’s web service, I would urge you to re-examine your position.

Mr Somerville had effectively provided your company with a prototype for a much more successful, inclusive, and legally compliant* web service. The consultancy fees that you might expect to pay for such a thing would reach six figures. He had done this out of frustration with your existing web service, a frustration echoed by many other potential Odeon customers, and one which garnered a certain amount of negative publicity for your brand at the same time as Mr Somerville originally created his site.

At this time, I was interviewed for MacUser magazine and drew attention to the deficiencies in your web service and the solution offered by Mr Somerville as worst and best practices on the web in terms of e-commerce and design.

At that point in time, your company’s corporate communication around the issue could have been characterised as ‘cautious but enlightened'; this time you seem to be erring on the side of appeasing your corporate lawyers, to the detriment of your customers.

You are now at another point of opportunity: To harness the work that Mr Somerville has done and come to an amicable agreement with him around your respective intellectual property (your data and brand, and his excellent prototype); or, to take the cautious route of ‘business as usual’ and deal with the negative publicity that will bring.

If you choose the former, then the benefits I think will shortly become obvious to you, the rest of your company and your customers. Design for accessibility is just good business sense, as market leaders in e-commerce like Tesco Online** have found, and getting something for nothing is surely even better business sense.

Whether you call it ‘market’, ‘open-source’ or ‘networked innovation’, embracing new ideas from enthusiasts outside the threshold of one’s own company is seen as the way forward for product and service development by the Financial Times, The Economist and the Harvard Business Review, among others; and certainly finding a compromise in this spirit would maintain Odeon’s image in the business press as a pioneer in using new channels for marketing.

I look forward to hearing Odeon and Mr Somerville announce a win-win way forward, and reading the column inches of praise that decision will inevitably lead to.

Yours sincerely,

Matthew Jones

* “Web Accessibility and the DDA” : http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/jilt/01-2/sloan.html
** The Guardian, 10th July 2004: “Access points for shopping on the web : Tesco gets a four-star rating in the supermarket league”
‘It’s not just those with these special needs that are using the site, as the simple design is attracting a much wider audience, to the extent that online shoppers are spending £13m a year on it.’
http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardian_jobs_and_money/story/0,3605,1257758,00.html

cc’d to:

Jack Schofield, Guardian Online
Ian Betteridge, technology journalist and contributor to MacUser magazine
Bill Thompson, technology journalist and contributor to BBC World, OpenDemocracy.net

Also posted to my weblog, http://www.blackbeltjones.com where I also intend to publish any replies I receive.

Let’s see what happens.

macuserUnfortunately Matthew Somerville did get letters from the lawyers (and marketing director, but more of that in a moment), asking him to take down his accessible re-working of the Odeon cinema chain’s website.

Marketing people and lawyers can, it seems, too easily be in the thrall of “Brand” with a big “b” and mortified about what might happen to their business due to imagined assaults on that most tangible of assets; rather than what is happening in their interactions (or lack of it) with their customers.

A few years back, 4 guys wrote a book that called on business to get on board the Cluetrain, and realise that the web was returning markets to being conversations, and that the relationship between a brand, and it’s customers was going to become one of peers to each other. In parallel, the open source movement has gone from being something of an IT industry oddity to the subject of leaders in The Economist and The Harvard Business Review amongst others; about how open, networked innovation can benefit all sorts of industries.

But aside from it being leading-edge business thinking – isn’t it just good business sense, and downright grown-up to put aside the “not-invented-heres” and the legal doubletalk, and admit when someone has done you a whacking big favour? As Matthew Somerville has done for the Odeon Cinema group?

The guy who emailed Matthew to ask him to remove from the web the hard work he had put in to make their website accesible and easy to use, was Odeon Cinema’s marketing director, Luke Vetere. His email address is LVetere@odeonuk.com.

I’m going to email him and ask politely whether he couldn’t reach an agreement with Matthew where the expertise and work that Matthew did could benefit Odeon and their customers. Perhaps you could too, if you think Matthew was doing something right, because, hey – markets are conversations.


UPDATE: Phil Gyford is on this too, and it seems that the Odeon’s existing site just plain doesn’t appear in some browsers.

This weekend, we went camping at Porkkala. Porkkala is an small peninsula of land about 30km from Helsinki, which had a turbulent history in the 20th century.

From the wikipedia entry on Porkkala

“During the Cold War the Soviet Union secured the rights of lease to naval base at Porkkala, in accordance with the armistice agreement that ended the Continuation War, between Finland and the Soviets, in 1944. A large area centering around the peninsula, including land from the municipalities of Kirkkonummi, Siuntio and IngÃ¥ and almost the entire area of Degerby, was leased to the USSR.”

We didn’t venture as far as the naval base, but found a beautiful spot to camp right by the edge of the Baltic Sea.

The camping site was free, and well provisioned, with fireplaces, WCs and huts that doubled as barbeque cookout spots and woodchopping venues complete with complementary saws, axes and old copies of the Helsinki Sanomat for starting your fire with. We soon got a fire going, and a couple of Nakki (sausages) cooking to accompany some red wine.

A beautiful night, with almost no-one else around apart from the odd sailboat drifting into view, making it’s way around to the archipelago.

» More pictures here

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