Iain Cameron's Diary
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2006-11-22 - 5:33 a.m.

I have just heard from the local development agency that the contract on my current essay is about to come through – just as well as it is mostly written now. One of the things I have a grump about in it is the misuse of the word ‘platform’. There are product platforms, everyone seems to want to talk about technology platforms, there are weapons platforms and my favourite is process platforms.

One of the influential platformists is a man called Cusumano who sees platform leadership as the secret of success of companies like Intel and Microsoft. As far as I can work out this means that they thought carefully about their strategy for interfaces. USB is apparently a classic interface success and to make it as dominant as it has become, Intel shared their ideas carefully with key partners. I suppose MIDI is another good example – an interface that enabled connectivity which was really useful and made it possible for users to do a great deal more than hitherto – across brands.

I mention this partly because a new element in my process platform turned up yesterday – Krystal. At the weekend I discovered the Behringer USB gtr on the net and I was intrigued and I have found a local shop which seems to do it. I noticed that the guitar comes with some software – in particular Krystal and as I tried to find out more about it I ended up downloading it. It’s a mutitrack wav machine – with some quite nice effects – I was particularly attracted by the compression which normally I do badly with. I was particularly impressed with the results of heavy compression on multitracked flutes.

One of its attractions in the ease with which wavs are loaded in and placed on the tracks. And so I loaded in a couple this morning and started to busk around.

I ended up with the Casio sound module which I really like at the moment being driven by the Yamaha wind controller with a voice-like patch on a line against the loop in Krystal – and recording the whole lot back into Wavelab on another machine. The resulting piece is quite bleak. As a process platform I think the weakness is in using a multichannel wav in realtime rather than exporting the set-up.

I still haven’t properly mastered the Yamaha wind controller – the main reason that I am using it is that the Casio one has an excessive tremolo, unasked for, when it links up to the sound module from it own stable. This is very un-Cusumano-like – an interface glitch within a single brand whereas the cross-brand connection behaves much better.

PW sent me an interview with Beano where he sumises that music is not the current thing but that possibly short films are – well I never. Talking of Beano I have ordered the Bluesbreakers.

In preparation for Valentia I have been putting together some stats on the productivity of different vehicle manufacturers – Bentley comes top at around £240K value added per employee per year and Rover achieved about one 10th of that . Porsche achieves about 60% and Nissan Sunderland which likes to think of itself as the most productive car plant in Europe is around £90K – but then its producing 10 times as many cars as Bentley in Crewe.

The more ambitious exercise looks at market capitalisation per car produced. Aston Martin comes top here at £100k and Porsche achieves about £70k . I have had a go at linking this figure to stockturns which is the readily accessible measure of leanness and the percentage of sales spent on investment and R&D. Interestingly Toyota is not as good as Porsche on all three metrics. I have this data for Suzuki, VW and Mitsubishi – and I am trying to get it for Honda.

The Valentia analysts have put the UK in the lowest of four boxes in ranking – I would like to show, politely, that there is more to it.

Tesla is so fashionable this week – not only Bowie – he keeps on being mentioned on the Radio 4 arts programme. As a hapless fashion victim I have banged on for pages about the platform linkages between the ebay/google/ paypal elite and Norfolk.

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