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What could possibly go wrong?

What could possibly go wrong?

Last week, the 30th Annual Bristol Sound & Vision Show took place, in its spiritual home of the Marriott City Centre Hotel in the middle of Bristol. I’ve attended probably 25 of those 30 shows in a reporting capacity, and while it’s a lot of work to pack into three days, it’s a know resource. Arrive with camera, notebook, and press pass, walk the halls, and find the new stuff. It’s a well-trodden path.

What could possibly go wrong?

The image at the top of this blog is of an ingenious little thing called a DoohicKey. It’s a key tool by a company called Niteize, and it has permanent residence on my key ring. It combines a flat-head screwdriver, small flat pry bar, bottle opener, a blunt but effective box-cutter, short ruler, and hex wrench (of sorts). It’s entirely airline-friendly (armed with this and the gaffer’s tape and a few paperclips that tend to live in my camera bag, I could MacGyver my way out of a number of sticky situations, without the indignity of having my pocket knife taken from me before I get to the departure lounge) and costs less than five dollars or pounds.

I use my DoohicKey a lot (mostly in the box-cutting and bottle opening department), so when I saw a bit of sticky ‘gak’ that had somehow attached itself to two contacts of my SD card and was proving hard to remove, I set to it with my key tool. The more correct course of action might have been to get some lighter fluid and a rag and remove said ‘gak’ with some elbow grease. But no, there was no time, and I knew better.

What could possibly go wrong?

Had I been a bit more on the ball, I would have performed daily downloads of my images instead of waiting until the show had ended. Had I paid a bit more attention to my camera’s settings, I could have set the data storage to either mirror the images to its second card, or place RAW images on one card and JPEG on the other, knowing that I’d have some back-up if I reached some kind of ‘SHTF’ scenario. Had I not simply smiled and nodded along to Alan Gibb of The Chord Company, when he described storage as either being broken, or being about to break, I would have seen this as sage advice, and even prophecy.

But no… what could possibly go wrong?

This week, I discovered precisely what can go wrong, discovering at first hand the implications of what looked like a tiny dent on the back-side of an SD card, caused by pressing a little too hard on a piece of sticky ‘gak’ with my extremely handy DoohicKey. This week, I discovered that when you try to upload images from a damaged SD card, they take a ‘little while’ to upload, and many of them end up as corrupted after that ‘little while’. So, by Wednesday of this week when I had managed to upload approximately three images, I also discovered I had achieved Peak Swearing, creating new and interesting portmanteaus of cursing. In fact, things got so sweary, I had to adopt a (bad) Glaswegian accent, because the cadence of Scottish is more geared toward swearing. Swearing profusely at a sliver of black plastic is, I discovered, profundity at an Eighth Dan level, and the slightly damaged local guy with Tourette’s syndrome gave me one of those knowing “one of us” smiles as a result.

I wasn’t the only one hit by a localised outbreak of Murphy’s Law at Bristol this year. Spare a thought for Anders Ertzeid of Hegel. He is the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, and travels the world putting on very good, refreshingly down-to-earth demonstrations at shows. He knows the highs and lows of shipping a complete demonstration system around the world, and – like most professionals in the field – factors in a healthy wiggle room in order to accommodate unexpected delays in shipping or customs.

Once again, what could possibly go wrong?

What could go wrong was the combination of a delay at customs and storm Doris: the British are new at naming their storms, having only started naming them a couple of years ago, and we are terrible at it. On the night before the show began, an unusually subdued Anders was still waiting on his shipment to enter the UK. On the first morning of the show, one of Hegel’s UK retailers travelled across the country with a delivery of enough Hegel equipment to get him started, and everyone pulled together the best they could to get his room up and running, but none of the promotional material, none of the display material, brochures, tables, cables, room treatment, and the rest of the equipment we all use to set up our rooms had arrived, and there was not enough spare equipment at the show at this last minute to construct a system up to Hegel’s normal standard.

The fact people rallied round Anders as best they could is in part a sign of just how well-liked the company – and the man – is within the industry. There’s some empathy there, because any company that runs the audio show ‘circuit’ knows that the same thing could happen to any of them the next time, but this was more than ‘oh dear, what a pity’, this was people rallying round a guy who has proved to be a bit of a mensch. That also shows something a little more professional and sympathetic than the industry has been capable of in past years, and maybe that we’re losing a touch of the ‘lone wolf’ mentality.

I am also pleased to say I had my own spot of being helped out in my quest for finding photos, in that my colleague Jason Kennedy ‘ganned’ me a few images for our belated show report (‘gan’ is an old news photographer’s term, where reasonably friendly rivals would help one another out with images; it’s short for ‘Give us A Negative’). And I managed to take the image of the DoohicKey with my shiny new SD card.

My next show reports come from Headroom at the end of March, and AXPONA in April. What could possibly go wrong?

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