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PS Reports - Published by Ample Technology
Three people now have commented that PS Reports is in bad taste. One person sent us an email that sounded much like we'd insulted his religion.
Is this in bad taste, or is it a public service? In our opinion, Practical Sailor has failed to demonstrate they are competent to review electrical equipment and come to meaningful conclusions. If you have blind faith otherwise, you won't like what you read here.
Some people think that our efforts to publicize good electrical system information, and to design equipment with truly superior functionalty, are the underlying reasons that electrical systems have improved as much as they have over the last 10 years. Indeed, it's hard to find any suppliers of chargers and regulators who haven't addressed some of the issues we have raised.
While we don't intend to belittle anyone, we feel a public service responsibility to point out performance failures, particularly when those failures come from a publication that claims to be unbiased, and to possess competence to write reports grading equipment performance. If in the end you're insulted by these reports and decide to purchase equipment elsewhere, we've both lost. You've lost because you are not going to get Ample Power performance, and of course Ample Power dealers and ourselves have lost a sale.
That's unfortunate, but one of the things that differentiates us from the others is the idea that we should first be a reliable source of information, and follow that up with solid engineering.
We're not alone!
Perhaps many years ago you read about Ample Power Company going out of business. Yes, there was a reorganizaton, with PowerTap, Inc. taking over retail sales and Ample Technology continuing the production of Ample Power products. There was not a single day during the reorganization when sales and service of the products was unavailable, and three of four telephone numbers stayed the same.
Practical Sailor took the opportunity to report that Ample Power was no longer in business, although a simple phone call would have cleared up any confusion. Only many months later did they print a very small correction, but the damage was done, and our competitors repeated the Practical Sailor report for years.
We've always felt, and still do, that the real issue we and others have with Practical Sailor is their lack of competance on many subject about which they write. We've received many emails over the years from people who would like to contest the accuracy of their articles, but have been afraid to do so. Such emails have come from wind generator manufacturers, refrigeration manufacturers, battery manufacturers, water heater manufacturers, and others. Can Practical Sailor really have on staff authors who are experts in the subjects they write about? If so, who are they, and what are their credentials? Just about every other magazine we know about will have a short bio on the author, which implies, at least some competance in the subject matter. Why is this lacking with Practical Sailor?
Well it turns out that at least one other company has the guts to make their
opinion felt about Practical Sailor.
Finally, we're going to ask some other tough questions.
Where are the experts who will defend the articles in Practical Sailor? Experts can usually agree on how measurements should be made, although they might still argue on the significance of them. But without a meaningful set of measurements, any discussion of merit is, well, without merit.
Why is it that people, who are quick to disclaim their own technical expertise are the first to find our criticism in `bad taste', and raise doubts in their mind that our own data is valid? We agree that it's in bad taste, but sometimes distasteful acts need to be taken. Puncturing the myth of infallability that Practical Sailor preaches to those without the expertise to know better is one such act.
Educated customers are the best customers.
Of course we're wrong to think that educating customers is the right thing to do. In fact, when the seller knows much more about the technical workings than the buyer of a product, the greater is the opportunity for profit. The Nobel prize in economics for the year 2001 went to George Akerlof, Michael Spence and Joseph Stiglitz for their work on that very subject. They show clearly that the path to greater profits is to create a confusing complexity, to create FUD. That acronnym has become common place in the computer world and stands for "fear, uncertainty, and doubt".
Their arguments not withstanding, we plan to continue providing accurate and pertinent information about electrical systems. We owe it to the many people who outfit their boats with our gear, especially those who add an Ample system everytime they get a new boat.