Thursday, December 07, 2006

Faith restored....

After the post about Howies the other day I have been doing some thinking about the big business ethic and how it might change the idealism that gives Howies its charm. I was a little worried about them...but after reading the piece below on their blog my faith has been restored. David definitely has his head screwed on...

for the last 5 years at least, i have had this idea and as yet have not made it happen.

and ideas only work if you make them happen. (and even then, some don't work)

the idea is that everyone at howies has ideas. and the guy packing our parcels downstairs might have an idea for a product that will become the product that will come to define us and what we do.

so as a company, we need to allow those ideas to come to the surface.

we have to make more mistakes. we have to understand failure is going to happen.

we can learn from failure. but 'not doing' will teach us nothing and give us nothing in return.

in the spring, we will turn a room that currently stores boxes and our junk into a creative room.

and then 1 day a month each person will have an ideas day. that person will team up with someone else from the company and think. drink tea. stare out of the window (if we had one) and doodle. go to shops, go to museums, read books, see films. and apply some of what they learn to what we do here at howies. We want to change things. And it is crazy, mad, dumb, odd, wonky thinking that will give us Ideas that will change things.

it is an experiment. it might not work. but that is the thing with ideas, you just gotta try stuff.

there will be people here who will say ' I don't have ideas' and in my experience the best ideas usually come from them.

i have no idea if it will work or how it will work.

but if you jump off the cliff, you just have to make your wings on the way down

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Narrowing down the options...

Over the weekend I had some time to do some more research into the Digital SLR question. After much trawling on the internet and multiple visits to camera shops (some more useful than others) I seem to have narrowed down the options to two.

If money was no object I would definitely add a third to the list, the Leica M8 Rangefinder. It is a stunning bit of kit, but extremely expensive. However, when the Canon S70 is up for replacement I will think very hard about the Leica DLux 3. It is an awesome little camera...

So, as usual the debate quickly centred around Canon vs. Nikon. This perennial debate feels a bit like the PC vs. Mac debate...people become very brand loyal and never switch. Given that I will need to replace the lenses that I have with my 35mm SLR to account for the difference in focal length all the options were back on the table. However, the debate rapidly narrowed down. Much of the research on the net pointed towards Nikon as the leader in the battle.

Effectively one can compare the Nikon D80 and the Canon 400D and they are much of a muchness. However, for me the canon felt all wrong in the hand, the ergonomics seem better suited to a small hand and would become irritating to the index finger. And as such, one of the contenders became the D80.

At the next stage up, the comparison is a bit more difficult. In the Nikon range the next step up is the D200. However, if one compares it to the Canon 30D the Nikon wins hands down. One really need to compare it to the 5D. However, although the 5D is a great camera it comes in at almost twice the price (and the Nikon isn't exactly cheap). So, we have the second contender.

So the final pair are the D80 and the D200. There is a fair gulf between the two in style and substance but unfortunately in price as well. The D80 is more user friendly and around two thirds of the price...including a basic lense. However it is made from a poly carbonate body rather than a magnesium body (not so great when travelling) and the holy trinity of manual controls are harder to manage (White Balance, Quality and ISO). I think that the D200 will be the one but need to reflect on the pros and cons a little more before parting with the cash...

And then there is the lense question...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Howies are growing

I was interested to see on the Howies blog that the owners have finally decided to partner with Timberland to help manage the next phase of their growth. The blog entry talks a lot about their selection criteria for a partner and how strong their ethical credentials are.

I guess this was inevitable at some stage, but it does feel a little sad that they are having to team up with a large multinational, given all the things that they have said so publicly about large corporations. I wish them the best of luck going forwar but I suspect that they may get run through the corporate mill. I'll certainly be digging into Timberland in a bit more detail now...

Shame they couldn't have teamed up with Patagonia...I guess they may have been a better fit in the long term.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

29er envy...

I am definitely starting to feel bit of 29er envy. Two things have spiked my envy recently. The first and most recent was seeing Cass's On-one Inbred in action. Cass had switched out his new carbon On-one fork and put the Reba back in, however, it was eating up the trail at Cwm Carn.
The second was a post on the Singletrack website that showed a picture of the Jeff Jones titanium 29er. As they say in the article, this bike will polarise opinion (the marmite of the cycling world). If you ask me he is the kind of maverick that framebuilding needs...what I'd do to get a titanium 29er from the crazy man of woods!
Photos courtesy of Singletrack and Cass Gilbert