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Who? What? Why? Where? When? and How?

Are the days of email numbered?

Steve Rogerson’s round-up of last month’s news and events, including some that may have slipped under the radar


any years ago, in the early 1980s, I wrote an article that appeared in The Guardian about how the next big thing in communications would be email. I like mentioning that as it is one of the few major predictions I ever got right. But it could be that email’s days are now numbered with the growth of social networking. This was brought home to me at a recent Artemis summit in France in which Thierry Breton, chairman of Atos, said his firm had a target to become a zero-email company by the end of 2013. This was backed up by Emile Aarts, professor of computing science at the Eindhoven University of Technology, who predicted that within five years children would be calling their parents old fashioned for still using email. This rang real bells for me as I recalled only a few months ago the teenage son of a friend of mine bragging on Facebook about how many unopened emails he had in his inbox. I, however, also have friends who wouldn’t touch Facebook with a bargepole, so maybe the battle will last a little longer. It was interesting though to look round some of the Artemis projects on show and my eye was drawn to the free M&M sweets on the Mediate stand. Mediate is a medical project and they were jokingly pretending that the little M on the sweets really stood for Mediate. When I queried whether they were a good image for healthcare I was impressed with how prepared project leader Herman Stegehuis from Philips was for the question as he reeled off a list of medical benefits from chocolate.

A chance to prove my driving skills came my way during a visit to Birmingham’s NEC at the Eurobus show – that’s bus as in big thing with passengers rather than a computer bus. One stand had a miniature race track set up with remote-controlled trucks. I decided to have

42 December 2012/January 2013

a go. The organiser looked along the row of eight would-be racers and announced that the person at position three (that was me) looked the most frightened and thus put my truck in pole position. He needn’t have bothered as everybody had passed me within two bends; I just couldn’t get the hang of it. I did not, however, finish last, but that was only because one of the other trucks broke down. Next up was Munich and Electronica (which, by the way, should have a capital E at the front as it is a proper noun). There I talked with Ben Green about Harwin’s just introduced Gecko range of connectors. “Why are they called Gecko?” I asked him. He said because the lizards were small and highly evolved and you didn’t know one was in your hotel room until you saw it on the ceiling and you don’t know good connectors are there as they do not fail.

I gave him my unconvinced look. He shrugged, and said: “It also lets us have a lot of fun with the marketing. And it’s green.” That’s more like it.

On my last night in Munich, I found myself at a Microchip sponsored dinner where all the company people had to give thirty-second speeches. Most managed to keep to the time limit, but one of the early speakers had me cringing in my seat as he hit one of my favourite gripes – the industry’s obsession with misusing the word “solution”. I think he was trying to set a new world record for misusing it the most times in a half a minute talk that included the abomination “solutions- based solutions”. Aargh! Finally, thank you to Elias Stipidis from

Vetronics, who managed to liven up the boring but necessary safety announcements at the start of the recent Advanced Automotive Electronics conference in Daventry. He said: “There are no planned fire alarms, so if you hear one, just run for it basically.”

Components in Electronics

Ismosys celebrates 18 years in the electronics market


ecember 1st 2012 marked the 18th anniversary of Spectrum Electronics, the electronics sales & marketing operation that spawned Ismosys (International Sales, Marketing and Operations (I.S.M.O) system) back in April 2009.

Thanking customers, lines, distributors and design partners for their support over the last eighteen years Nigel Watts, Ismosys managing director reiterated his belief that the ability of any company to evolve within an industry is critical to its future success: “The electronics market in Europe has undergone fundamental changes over the years and with Ismosys Spectrum has evolved to meet the challenge”, Watts said. “Our industry is traditionally slow in adopting new ideas and strategies but I’m delighted to say that our European forecast for the coming year reflects the market’s acceptance that Ismosys is providing all the attributes necessary for successful and profitable penetration of today’s design driven market”. To mark its 18th anniversary, Ismosys is planning a series of events throughout 2013. In the shorter term it’s leveraging its

profiles on all the major social networking sites to share it history, successes and the people behind Ismosys with customers, manufacturers and design partners. “We have witnessed and been a part of huge changes within and outside of the electronics industry over the last eighteen years”, Watts continued. “No one can predict what’s going to happen in the future but there is one thing I can be certain of: Ismosys and its people throughout Europe will strive to adapt and evolve in order to add value and remain relevant in an ever increasingly complex supply chain.

This robot turned out to be a bit of a let-down at the Artemis summit in Paris. Called R3 Cop, it is meant to be a prototype of a domestic robot. Watch, I was told by demonstrator Mladen Berekovic, as it takes a piece of paper from your hand and then gives it back to you. I had to thrust the piece of paper into its hand before it reluctantly took it, and then it proceeded to give it to someone else. It also failed in the simple task of picking up a can of Coke. “Last week it could pick up a can of Coke,” moaned Berekovic. “But it doesn’t always work, especially when there are a lot of people watching.” The three-year project is due to end in May 2013. Methinks they may need more time.

A big lesson in how not to do a press office was given at the recent Advanced Engineering show at Birmingham’s NEC. Rather than a dedicated press office, they devoted one of the stands to use by press with racks for people to display their press releases. This picture was taken early afternoon on the first day of the two-day event, and as you can see the said racks are still covered by plastic sheeting. By then, though, most journalists would probably have left and some, like me, wandered over to the Eurobus show in a different hall, where they had a nice press balcony serving snacks and coffee, with a place to hang your coat, tables to work at and all the press releases nicely displayed. And it provided a lovely view of the exhibition floor.

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