Knives don’t kill people

Edeka, a supermarket chain in Germany, stated that they no longer sell kitchen knives any longer. This decision was made after an attack was carried by an asylum-seeker in Hamburg. This is, by all means, both incredibly stupid and a failure in service design on their part. It is also a failure on the German officials on not keeping proper tabs on the assailant after, especially considering how many attacks there has been in Germany and United Kingdom as of late, especially with crimes by migrant has seen an increase on German soil. The assailant was found psychologically ill, but it seem he was left to his own devices rather than given proper care. Whether or not he was actually psychologically ill is beside the point.

While the only person who is responsible for the attack that cost a life is the assailant, it does raise the question how he was able to just grab a knife and begin attacking people.  I’ve seen no reports of what brand of knife it was. It could’ve given us a chance to see whether or not the knife’s package was properly prepared in order to prevent the incident to some occasion. I’ve criticised many knife manufacturers for not putting enough resources in their knife packaging, often simply opting to cover the edge of the blade in a cardboard sleeve, if even that. Sometimes it’s a plastic container that’s easily slipped away. Rarely there are packaging solutions that would require a heavy effort to forcibly open within the store, e.g. have a plastic screw going through a hard plastic housing that would prevent both damage to the knife during transit as well any sort of opening of the package without an external tool. One of those vacuum styled packages, that are bloody impossible to open without a knife or scissors, can only protect so far.

All this may sound rather extreme for just a kitchen knife, but a safe package does not only protect the product itself, but also the handler, and in Hamburg’s case, could’ve possibly caused more trouble for the assailant to gain access to a naked blade. Edeka probably never gave a second thought about this, and it is a bit too common to see stores of any kind selling knives of any kind on the open. Knives are a tool meant to cut, and even a kitchen knife is able to severely damage and kill. Edeka could’ve begin to demand their knife suppliers to create better casing for their goods.

Another here is one of safety. While hunting knives and such are often sold behind safety glasses, kitchen utensils aren’t despite of their sharp nature. Rather than pulling knives from sale, Edeka could’ve opted to create a supposedly safer environment where access to the more dangerous tools would’ve been restricted with a safety glass case. That, or an increase in security. Security of course is a problem, and not all smaller stores even have a security guard on-site all the time.

Edeka’s failure to foresee the event is understandable. Kitchen utensils have been sold in supermarkets for decades now without many incidents. However, Edeka’s on the issue is completely backwards, blaming the knife rather than the man wielding their knife. Knives really aren’t the problem here. The problem in cases like this are always the people wielding the weapon.

Edeka’s action is highly questionable, as it shows two things. One is that people still don’t get that slashing is more effective than stabbing. Second is that Edeka has not pulled their corrosive acids from sale as well. Considering an attack with a knife requires close physical contact in order to cause damage, an acid attack can be enacted from a distance. Hell, you could put acid into a slightly modified Super Soaker and start shooting people with it. You can find, for example, effective pipe cleaner sold openly in stores. It’s not uncommon to find sulphuric acid cleaning solutions either. An acid attack may not kill the target outright, but it certainly will incapacitate and damage can be severe. Especially if eyes have been targeted. The attacks in UK are on the news every other day, or so it seems. Where is Edeka’s kneejerk reaction to the possibility of their acidic compounds to be used within their store against other customers? They’ve made a solution that can’t fix the problem. If we’re going to be rather crass with the whole deal, there are few items in a supermarket’s utensils and tools section that couldn’t be turned into a damaging weapon of sorts.

Edeka’s solution is a terrible one, and barely a solution at all. It will cost them money to pull all the knives from sale and they will lose all the possible future knife sales. Depending whether or not this is permanent decision on their part is yet unknown, but I hope they will see the light of common sense and put them back on the shelves. As mentioned, if they want to ensure customer safety, they might want to implement better safety solutions rather than just outright remove the knives.

It also does not offer any solution to the core problem that is the people wielding the knives in order to attack. All these could do is to make it harder to gain access to a knife while out in the open.

Similarly to Edeka’s decision, ministers in the UK are considering putting some restrictions on the sales of corrosive liquids. This would not remove the problem either and would only require future assailants to be more creative in their attacks, or gain access to these items some other ways.

All this really reminds me to remind you, dear reader, to take care of your own kitchen knives. A monthly sharpening and using something like mineral oil (or the same oil you use in cooking) keeps them in a good condition and makes cooking much more enjoyable experience. If you’re looking for a sharpener, and would be willing to pay a bit more for a good one, I have a review up for Vulkanus sharpener. Be sure to store them in a proper manner as well, a manner that does not allow children to easily access them. After all, it’s not the tool that causes the damage, it’s the wielder.

Monthly Music; Compilerbau

Ah, monthly music. This time the song was selected due to the fact that my time is slowly coming to an end here elsewhere. I have learned something new and managed to further solidify what I already had acquired.

Which actually raised a question in my head at one point; knowing how to do something is one thing, but how it is conveyed to someone and in which manner is highly important, a matter that service design heavily invests in. To know what your customer expectsfrom you varies from culture to culture, and here elsewhere I’ve noticed that while I can act mostly the same as back home, there have been some key differences. For example, self-service cashiers have been a new but very welcome thing, but the amount of plastic bags offered is just insane. Within this culture it is assumed that everybody uses more than one flimsy piece of plastic that barely holds a full bottle of coke, whereas back home everyone is encouraged to use as few plastic bags as possible and are offered sturdy cloth bags to be used or just as sturdy paperbags. Little things like this make the difference, especially when you’re there face to face with your customer, or even through the Internet.

Knowing the background of what you’re expected is important. Basic cultural knowledge is expected wherever you might work. Would I be able to work here the same way as I would back home? I doubt I would and the time it would take me to adapt to the local culture would be slightly more significant. I am rather sad to note that most of my time here has gone with high amount of work, which means that I have not yet seen much outside the city. Luckily, by the time you read this I am well over done with my demanded workload and will be travelling towards North to hunt fossils and dinosaur footprints.

As I will most likely need to broaden my possible customer base in the future, I have to study Russian history during the summer in order to understand them better. Not to say that I do not have basic knowledge of their history, but deeper understanding will always benefit me more, hopefully even profit. The recent events in Ukraine actually triggered this to some extent, but that’s a small thing compared to my wish to further explore history, one of my favourite subjects next to female body studies.

In other metanews, by the time this post is out, the page A good artist is a service provider has now been revamped to reflect the evolution this blog has seen through these three years.  The new name of that page is now Craftsman and beyond; the purpose of this site. The old splashtext will be left there for history to laugh at me. To give some history, I started this blog from remnants of my older blog with awful content and at the time there was no true direction where I would go with all this. There exist some personal entries early on, a thing I have completely excisedfrom the blog outside what is relevant for the blog to some extent, like these Monthly musics.

I have noted that the amount of images on this blog has also seen a drastic drop. This is mostly because during these four months or so I haven’t had an access to my considerable pool of usable images, and that I have tried to keep them at minimum for the sake of your browser. I’ve got few comments that certain posts have been rather image heavy and caused problems. Well I wouldn’t know about that and I don’t give a damn if your toaster can’t show an image of questionable nature.

In another notion, we will be returning to the standard two posts per week around late July or Early march, whichever gives me a breather and allows me to set myself into the normal daily rhythm. Whatever plans I had prior January will be returned to if they are  worth at the time any more. I’m having a feeling that it might be a definitive No.

It does everything else except what you want

I thought I would have no reason to type anything about Xbox One, but I need to get it out of my systems.

Xbox One is a travesty even before it has been released.

Xbone is the anti-game machine. It is designed to be the multimedia centre of your home. It is designed to play music, video, movies, TV and then perhaps add some games in there. Xbone is not a game console. It has more in-common with Apple computers than game consoles with its way of thinking. It is hatred against games personified.

I want to know what Microsoft’s execs where thinking while designing this console’s functions. First of all, Xbone’s constant surveillance on the customer is unethical. It is practically invading one’s own privacy. No wonder there have been some reports that it has been deemed illegal in certain countries. Of course, many theories have already been thrown out why such a function exists, and some of them are probable. Data mining is one, as Microsoft is clearly very keen on making money on everything else but video games. That’s a huge problem.

I’m sure you’ve already read what Xbone does in general outside games, and all these bits are a symptoms of the larger problem within the industry; video game industry absolutely hates making money on games. They want to remove competition from every area where possible, they only want to compete with Hollywood styled million dollar games that take friggin’ five to seven years to finish and with staff that has more useless people working on the games than cheap whores have crabs. The question they need to ask is why they aren’t getting their money back from their games. The answer is simple; the customers refuse to pay for shit. Why do the developers expect you to pay for a product that has been under work for far too long, is far too short and lets you down? We have abundance of games already on the table for us to pay for through companies’ own services, through XBLA, PSN and Virtual Console, not to mention GoG and STEAM. All these current games are directly in competition with older games that are actually making money. That’s just the digital downloads. Now Microsoft wants to remove GameStop styled stores from the equation, and now you’re supposed to pay money for used games.

And that, dear readers, is stupid. 

If a company notices that their current product is making less money than products of the past that are just as easily available, the right choice is not to remove the competition, but to create a product that would make the past products useless. But oh God how game industry hates competition. It damages the developers creativity, it forces the developers to think the customers’ best and to actually do their damn job. In all of design, the most important part is to disregard your own wants and wishes and do what is expected from you.

And this is why Xbone ticks me off. I refuse to call it a game console. The Wii was a game console. When you add useless properties on your console, it becomes more and more like a computer that can’t do everything it could. It becomes a dumbed down PC, and with it the games become more dumb and less about quality.

When the last game console generation was released, economics were completely different. Now, the customers are refusing more than last time, and pushing out any console that has even little similarity with PS3’s release will fail like a fish on land. We are in a slump, and money is tight. We all know it and it affects us all. A company that would want to make money would recognize this and design their product to meet the demands of the time. The STEAM Box, whatever it’s named today, will fail for the same reason as Xbone. How the hell they’re going to sell a 500 dollar toybox that has nothing to play on? We already have things that play movies and music, we already have a perfect way to watch TV and we don’t need extra equipment for those. Why do we need more equipment to do the same things we already are able to do? I have never watched one DVD on my game consoles. Well, I watched one DVD on my Wii, but that’s that. I have watched one BD on my PS3 just to test it out. If people need a box that does everything, they have a damn PC for that. A lot of my friends who are into Apple have set their Macs to run the music while controlling it through their iPhone. [Editor.I have a friend who does that, too.] Most of them have a separate DVD/BD players simply because the history has proven that people tend to like products that do one thing well. Nobody will Xbone to watch TV, post on Facebook, browse the Internet, listen to music or anything like that. All these things already can be used on better machines. The only thing Xbone should be competing with is the games, because that’s why game consoles exist, and they’re not emphasizing on the part that sells the machine. On top of it all, they’re further enforcing the industry to not compete. In the end, we’re going to end with similar situation that Atari had in the early 80’s; companies spewing out software and hardware people simply won’t buy.

Whenever you hear something is selling well, ask how much profit is the company making on that product. Video game industry is barely making profit, and the larger sums we see mean nothing if there is no profit. Is video game industry bigger now? Yes. Is it making more money than it used to? No. Simply looking at the numbers of sold products is never enough. You need to take notice on population growth, current macro-economics and everything between, you should notice rather soon that the amount of profits these companies should be getting is nowhere near they think they are. There are no winners when everybody’s losing. There isn’t a better console over another when none of them are successful. There isn’t competition where there is only one mildly successful machine. The 3DS, whatever its success is now, is very there simply because the Vita has barely anything to offer. Much like the Xbone, the Vita is in no-competition place, and with no competition there will be no quality to offer, and no-quality products will not make profit, and companies that do make profit will suffer.

How am I supposed to buy something when then companies are offering nothing?

By any other name, rose, yada yada

Designer as a profession is nothing new. It is a continuation of certain craftsman traditions, be it in the entertainment business or not, but the visibility and the importance of people who sole purpose is to design for others rose after the Industrial Revolution. Artists and craftsmen fulfilled the role of designers we have nowadays. Government officials were the ones who engineered the service design. For example, during the Black Death’s rampage, the British government made a complete plan to to create a separate graveyard for the plague victims and laid them down in certain way. The same official also designed a method to transport these bodies to the graveyard to begin with, and practically designed the modern street cleaning system in the medieval times. By modern standards these might not sound anything special, but during Dark Ages this kind of things were the absolute apex of service design. Imagine if somebody would put up a service that would start cleaning your streets that are overflowing with faeces and animal intestines. Yes, it would be revolutionary.

And yet we do not call none of these people as designers. They were government officials. To take an extreme example, Da Vinci can be described as a designer of his time. Yes, above all else he was a genius and an artist (in the real meaning of the word, not in the meaning that’s generally used these days) but also an artisan. He designed a lot of things that were ultimately never made, but would’ve worked. Da Vinci really was a man of man talents, so why would we not call him a designer as well?

There has been some opposition from my friends. The idea does not seem to suit them, to call artists and artisans of old as designers. After all, such name or profession never existed. Then we might as well go back and call the dinosaurs are ROAR as the name “dinosaur” did not exist in some 80 million years ago. I do understand why it would feel odd to call someone like him a designer, but he fits the bill quite well. The truth nevertheless is that designer, as a profession, did not exist before Industrial Revolution. Here, by any other name, the rose would smell different.

Designing stems from combination of fine arts and crafts with a twist of all that is service. Names and terms are important, and time shows that while certain things change. We call dinosaurs as dinosaurs, and those who know the language of the dead thunder lizards may call them ROAR still.

P.S. This post was made because I lost another bet. Damn my bad luck.