agricultural End User

Tractors, tractors, tractors and tractors – a world record attempt for the rural readers but the city boys might like it too

action from the World Ploughing Championships held in Lincoln in October 2010The idea for this post was crowd sourced (all 2 of us) The STX 440 Quadtracon Twitter when I mentioned I was going to the Lincolnshire Show. The subject is tractors. Well one tractor in particular. I’m talking about the Steiger STX-440 Quadtrac. You know the beast. It’s manufactured by CaseIH. Also because I know you like this sort of thing I’ve included some photos of tractors down the ages.

Tractors these days are boys toys like no other. I got to sit in the cab although I daren’t touch anything. Partly because itme in the cab of the STX 440 Quadtrack was £200k’s worth of kit pulling another £60k of trailer. I could have been devastating. Mr Bean would have filled a whole series with the ensuing chaos.

In one sense the romance has disappeared from the tractor world. One man cocooned in his climate controlled (not air-conditioned as I was told more than once) cab, his hydraulic seat smoothing out the bumps so as not to distract him from watching his favourite episode of Emmerdale, can plant 100 – 150 acres of rape seed in one day, depending on the soil type. STX 440 Quadtrac trailerHis GPS system, accurate to 2 mm, ensures he covers every inch of field (mixing units here I know) with his ploughing, harrowing, planting weed killing or furtiloizing.

The tractor shown in the photo is one of two used to service the 3,500 acres of Westhall Farm Welton Cliff. Gone is the image of the lone ploughman following behind his horse struggling to plough an acre a day. The STX-440 with a 12/4 plough will do 10 acres an hour. It’s still a one man job mind you and I daresay the ploughman still likes his crust of breadSteiger STX-440 front view and cheese with a pickled onion, and no doubt a pint or two of his favourite local ale in the Royal Oak, or Rose and Crown, or Frog and Parrott or whatever it’s called these days.

Comms on board are limited to the GPS, a two way radio and a mobile phone. This surprised me. I thought it would be sending back real time data on progress. Instead the system inputs data onto an SD card (I think – I didn’t see it and Neil the tractor driver called it a microchip) which, when “full”, is then plugged into the farm computer for record keeping. Helen Rainthorpe of Westhall Farm has complete data on what has been done to every field on her farm going back 4 generations. Has the EC been going that long?

One of the fields, note, is 190 acres. It’s dimensions are all programmed into the system and all the driver does is turn the machine around when it gets to the end of the field (he must byhorse plough - the way it used to be now have seen absolutely every episode of Emmerdale since the year dot). The speed of progress is programmable and normally determined by what the Quadtrack is towing. If the field has a curve then the STX-440 will naturally follow the curve. There is more, If the field spans two counties which than mean two different lots of paperwork the system recognises this when compiling the data.

I don’t know how much diesel it can take but it needs a hugeThen in 1905 along came the Big Mac - eat yer heart out McDonalds :) tank. No miles per gallon here. It’s gallons per mile more like as its Drawbar power (max) is 371.35 hp (276.9kW) consumes 21.8 gallons (82.5l) per hour. Note the 8hp of the Titan steam tractor (photo inset).

If you’re interested the tractor is busy all year round – July until the end of Oct is prime time for wheat for next season. End of Jan to March/April is the time for planting for spring wheat and barley.

The Titan, with 8bhp came along in 1915 - looking more like a tractor

In finishing you should note the John Rainthorpe Quadtrac World Record attempt (I have an affinity with world record attempts) – “Most Quadtracs Cultivating In One Field” is taking place at WestHall Farm on 28th July. The event is in aid of Cancer Research – gates open at 11am – record attempt at 1pm. Give them your support – oo arr.

David Brown brings us into the modern era

Engineer internet

Submarine Networks and targeted marketing

Submarine Networks World 2012, Marina Bay Sands, SingaporeThere is a big pile of junk mail in my pigeonhole – downstairs behind reception. This morning I took the unusual step of looking at it. I have to do this once in a while because every now and again something turns up that is not junk. Very infrequently.

Today it was, as usual, junk. One flyer did catch my eye though. An invitation to “Submarine Networks World 2012“. I noticed it because I thought it was a wonderfully badly targeted piece marketing – a good subject for a blog post. Maybe they saw my piece on the Virgin undersea cable near the Isle of Man and figured I would be a good guy to have along.

The flyer arrived airmail from Singapore. Hmm, Singapore eh? I quite like Singapore. Before Timico I did quite a bit of globetrotting in my job and Singapore was a paradise in the Far East that one could rest at between visiting countries where the signs were totally illegible to the Western eye. I used to stay at the Hyatt Grand Regency on Orchard. Beautiful hotel, great bar, fantastic service etc etc.

So now I’ve changed my mind and I’d like to go to the conference. I don’t want it to cost anything mind you. Certainly not the S$4,190 it costs to attend or the business class airfare (it’s a long flight and I need to be in the right frame of mind when I get there). I don’t even want to pay the S$319 room rate at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel though I’m sure that’s good value for the quality of the accommodation.

In fact I’ve convinced myself that this is the one conference I absolutely need to attend in September 2012. If someone will stump up the cash – £7k will probably cover it – I’ll go. In return I promise to write a blog post condensing  my learnings into three concise, highly readable and absolutely on the money paragraphs  that will save you the effort of having to go (there could be a business idea here 🙂 ). The post will undoubtedly include pictures of palm trees and the Indian Ocean (Pacific?).

All that aside this is still not very well targeted advertising. This is surely a business model that needs to change.

charitable End User social networking

world record attempt – the results are in #comment24

世界記録のコメントWe had a good go at it guys. When I first discussed the world record attempt for “most comments on an online news post” with the Guinness World Records® people there was no record in place. We came in at 5,455 comments in 24 hours.

Unfortunately in the meantime a Japanese pop star – don’t ask me his name, I was too distraught to register it1  – has come in with 56,800 on his fan website. Apparently a quarter of all his registered fans left a comment. That’s life folks.

However we should not be dismayed. We should rejoice. First of all we raised just over £6k for the RNLI. The RNLI needs £150million a year to keep going. That’s a lot of two pences rolling down that lifeboat donation box and every little helps.

Secondly I contacted Charles Arthur, Tech Editor of the Guardian who after digging around a bit discovered that the most comments ever on a Guardian news post was 4,789.  The Guardian is reputed to have a monthly unique readership of 50 million people globally so the fact that we beat their number for most comments is huge news. NOTW phone hacking not unsurprisingly seems to be the subject that generally attracts most people to comment at the Guardian.

Perhaps I’ll change the subject next time to something more inflammatory. I think we will have another go – next year maybe. There was huge enthusiasm amongst everyone who participated. The main feedback from GWR, apart from the fact that they enjoyed following the attempt was that it appears that this sort of record is generally best suited to celebs with huge  followings. A bit obvious but perhaps we can prove that wrong someday:)

Still to do: tech post & look at the “most inspiring comments”. As regard the latter if anyone has any they would like to highlight let me know – leave a comment on this post linking to their favourite comment.

That’s all folks.

PS world record attempt blog post here

1 tbh it’s ‘cause I couldn’t understand it & didn’t want to look stupid asking for the name again 🙂

charitable Cloud datacentre End User social networking surveillance & privacy

The social media summary of the world record attempt

UK trending for @tref & #comment24 on twitter The world record attempt started at 6am on Thursday 5th Feb and ended at 6am the following day. There are three stories to tell here. The first is the charity fundraising aspect that was covered on Friday.

Second is the social media story. This was an event largely promoted using the #comment24 hashtag on twitter but the story was also posted on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. The effort also caught the imagination of a good number of friendly journalists as the list of names in the table of top referrers for 5th Jan illustrates.

referring site

# visits


time on site

1 (Twitter)





























































In all according to Google Analytics there were 162 referring sites over the 5th and 6th January. A Google search for

charitable Cloud End User

promo interview with BBC for Thursday 5th Jan world record attempt #comment24

More world record stuff. Keep the sponsorship coming in by the way. It’s starting to build momentum.

charitable Cloud End User social networking

The story behind the world record attempt #comment24

This attempt at a Guinness World Records® Record all started back in November when I took a customer out to dinner to celebrate a bit of business. The customer mentioned that he read and, to cut a long story short, I said that Timico would donate £1 to his favourite charity for every comment left by one of the staff from his company. I capped this at £100 – it was just a bit of fun. His favourite charity is the RNLI.

A glass or three of wine followed and we decided, as you do, that we would go for a world record. Considering this I upped the ante to 1,000 comments from his employees (£1 each) and said Timico would double up if we got a world record out of it. The record, whatever it was, seemed eminently doable. This customer has thousands of employees globally with many of them being industry analysts and commentators with large twitter followings.

I was sure that we could have a good time with this important customer and raise some funds for charity at the same time.

I woke up the next day thinking hmm what have I committed to

charitable Cloud End User social networking

World record attempt – Most comments on an online news story in 24 hours #comment24

To get 2012 off to a racing start we will be having a bit of fun on and aiming for a world record for “Most comments on an online news story in 24 hours”

This is a genuine Guinness World Records category in which the current record stands at 100,000. That’s just over one comment a second. Should be easy huh? 🙂

The attempt begins at 6am GMT on Thursday 5th January 2012 and ends 24 hours later. It would be nice to think that we could smash the existing record by a country mile. Someone mentioned 1million comments – why not?

Between now and then the blog is moving to a high availability, high performance platform, details of which will be made available in a blog post on Tuesday 3rd January.

In the meantime there is much spreading of the word to do to make this a great success.  You will be kept up to speed with any relevant news regarding the world record either on the blog, Twitter (#comment24), Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn (actually all of the above).

We will also be letting you know in advance the type of content that will be in the post for the record attempt so that you can get your thinking hats on in advance for your own comment.

It would be great if you could spread the word on this by “liking”,” Linking”, “sharing” “tweeting” or just telling your friends by good old fashioned “word of mouth”. also has a page on Facebook where you can find out more and a Facebook event here.

Hope you can help  🙂