Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

Apple and simplicity

BBC Radio 4 seem to be having a field day with Apple at the moment. Last week Jonathan Ives, Apple’s chief designer was interviewed, this week it is Ken Segall on simplicity. Segall was the man behind the ‘i’ in all Apple products. There are some interesting thoughts on the nature of perfection. But at the heart is the thought that a product portfolio is best kept short and the virtues of keeping the business running like a small business. Listen here.

Jonathan Ives of Apple is talked at by James Naughtie

Knighted on 23 May, Jonathan Ives talked to James Naughtie of the Today programme on BBC radio 4. Notwithstanding the annoyance of James Naughtie with some of his fascile questions, there are some insights from the man about motivations for ‘making the very best products that we can’. He talks about the beauty in thing functioning intuitively as well as form and colour. He is delighted for others to be using Apple products. The designer’s job is becoming more complex and the consequences of getting it wrong have also escalated. Listen here

Moto service areas

Motorway service areas are lifesavers. Long journeys need to be broken and the opportunity to use the facilities taken advantage of. Once done, a cup of coffee, or later at night, a cup of hot chocolate, wouldn’t go amiss. Beware Moto service areas, though. Last night we arrived at Toddington Services (M1 south) at 2250 looking for a hot chocolate. They were changing shift and there was nothing to be had for 10 minutes.

We decided to leave. And then realised Toddington is one of those service areas with a connecting bridge. So we decided to go to the northbound service area where, not surprisingly, it was also shift change. Never mind, at least on the northbound service area, WHSmith is still open and it has a Costa machine that dispenses hot chocolate. Dispense the drink and go to the cash desk to pay. “Could you wait ten minutes as we are cashing up?” said one of the young men at the checkout. I have in my hands two reasonably hot takeaway hot chocolate drinks that I have to wait ten minutes to pay for!

I don’t think so.


In order to get the requisite dose of Vitamin D, this summer’s holiday is an extended tandem ride along the Rhine to Munich. Plans are well afoot. Yesterday we went to try a tandem at JD Tandems up in Gargrave in North Yorkshire. It is a long way to go to test drive a machine, but such is the specialised nature of tandem building, it is necessary, and as it turns out, worth it.

JD Tandems, in the first instance, discuss the specification and tandeming before pointing customers in the direction of nearby (7 miles) Malham up the Aire Valley. It is a long time since I have been in that area, but the contemplative visit to the nearby Barn House Cafe reminded me just how delightful the cycling experience is, even if the weather is cool.

The tandem is now ordered and will be ready to pick up in a few weeks’ time. The expurgated specification is as follows:

18/14” Orbit Routier Sport in black; GP5 grips & bar ends on the front; 170 cranks front & rear 28/38/48; 1.75” Marathon tyres; 40 hole wheels front & rear

Why politics matters

Golden Dawn logo

It has been quite a couple of weeks. Francois Hollande is elected President of France on a less Austerity ticket. The Greeks don’t elect anyone to run the country but open the door to some of Europe’s most agressive fascists. And the fickle English electorate finally shows that it realises that the Conservatives rule in their own interests. It may be too late on that one, however, if healh service ‘reforms’ and educational ‘reforms’ go unchecked.

This all challenges the ‘fix’ agreed by the previous generation of European leaders regarding the Euro and sovereign debt. Yesterday morning we learned that Spanish government bailed out the country’s fouth largest bank, Bankia. Today they are shoring up the rest of the banking sector against the backdrop of no growth, high unemployment and investor withdrawal of funds.

It is clear, however, that electors are unlikely to be swayed by policies that continue to support those who have brought on the misery by their own greed, self-belief and inability to manage their own financial instrument creations. (This morning we find JP Morgen Chase have reported an embarrassing $2bn loss generated by a trader in derivatives that were designed to hedge against risks elsewhere in the bank.)

I’m hopeful about the French. The Greeks, however, have resorted to a fascist response. I suspect a contagion is not likely across Europe, the Greeks will need to manage them robustly. They are not democrats.

Flag courtesy of Stlemur

Where are we going?

Whilst on the subject of Easyjet, a couple of weeks ago I got on the plane to the usual cabin announcement. Except this time it was a shade uncertain. “Welcome aboard this easyJet flight shortly departing for….Germany.”

Can you be more specfic?

Their convenience?

Look, I am a big big user of Easyjet services. It is a complex business, running an airline. I know. I fly most weeks out of London Gatwick on a Friday evening and return late on a Sunday evening. The return journey is always an issue. I now park my repaired Vivaro at the airport at great expense because Sunday rail services are unreliable and inadequate.

Easyjet have taken to dropping me off at the wrong terminal. The flight is scheduled to arrive at South Terminal (where the van or trains are), but the pilot parks up at North Terminal. That despite the fact that I have received an email from Easyjet telling me that I will be arriving at South Terminal and if I have any friends or family intending to meet me, that I should tell them that I will be arriving at South Terminal. Fortunately, I have no friends or family to meet me. Had I, I am sure they would think the plane was lost.

I actually spoke to the pilot on Sunday (6 May). He told me that it was not Easyjet’s fault, rather that of Gatwick Airport who allocate the gates.