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Strong cables, language problems and that dreaded day

6th May 2016
Joe Bush

Steve Rogerson looks at some of the recent news that may have missed the front page. British start-up Echo has designed a cable for an iPhone that is stronger than the one Apple provides. In fact, so strong is it that it can tow a car, and they sent a video to prove it. My question is why anybody would want a mobile phone cable that strong. Then again, I suppose it might come in handy if you break down somewhere remote. The company is running a crowd funding campaign - I won’t be donating...

Those who know me will also know that one of my pet hates is the industry’s over use and misuse of the word ‘solution’, where just about any product is described as a solution in some way or another. Anyway, last month at the Autotronics show in Taipei, I went into a Texas Instruments press conference only to be disappointed that it was given purely in Chinese. However, as I was seated near the front, it was hard for me to walk out and I tried to follow what was going through the slides. There was one bit in English though. Part way through a Chinese presentation the speaker said the English words “total solutions”. I nearly groaned out loud...

I also attended a Renesas press conference at the event, and this was in English. During the company background bit, Senior Vice President Manabu Kawashima showed a slide that still had the company as the number one semiconductor supplier to the automotive industry - it was an old slide. I couldn’t resist pointing out that with NXP’s takeover of Freescale, Renesas was now number two. He took my point well, but didn’t volunteer that Renesas had actually dropped to third with Infineon’s takeover of International Rectifier elevating it to second place.

Since my last column, we have had that day that journalists dread - 1st April. With technology moving so fast, it is often hard to distinguish what is really a breakthrough or just somebody’s idea of a joke. The car companies are the best, and I got a handful of releases such as Skoda’s smart doggy umbrella, Continental’s drifting technology that lets you drive as in the movies, Vauxhall’s zero-running-cost car, Honda emoji licence plates and Citroen’s retractable sunroof on the Emirates stadium. All of these were written fairly straight, so maybe some people were fooled. However, nobody will have been taken in by a release from Firebrand Training that opened up with the words, ‘Attached is an April Fool’s Day release from Firebrand.’ Sorry guys, you haven’t quite got the hang of this. Meanwhile, I have still yet to decide whether the release I received from Power Solve on the dreaded day about a water-proof magic lamp for charging USB devices is real or not. Especially as it didn’t say how strong the cable was.

Pictured: There was a lot of argy-bargy at the opening ceremony of the Autotronics trade show in Taiwan. The dignitaries had been given the front two rows, the international press the third and fourth rows and the Taiwanese press and TV were at the back. This meant a lot of annoyance from the locals when the overseas press stood to take photographs. This came to a head at the climax of the event when everyone wanted the shot of the confetti raining down on the main speakers.

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