The International Steam Pages

Sweet Dreams Reviews

We released our first CD with some apprehension.  Here are some of the nice things which people have said to me about the CD (to save their embarrassment I have not mentioned their names): Click here for Keith Chester's extended review.

  • "Actually, after a first look on the Sweet Dreams-CD, I can only say:
    WOW! Really, some shots are absolutely great!"
    "Great to see what I missed on my one and only visit in 1993...Really surprising how many different open-line-shots there are possible!
    Once more, thank you very much for sending the CD - it will be warmly recommended in one of the next "fernexpress"-issues!"
  • "Thanks very much. I've had a good look at the contents and am most impressed. The reproduction of the photographs is brilliant.
    Also liked the presentation, the instructions, and its complete user friendliness.My computer literacy is just above basic but I had no trouble finding my way around."
  • "I received the CD on Monday. It is great, congratulations ! I am waiting for the second CD with steam on the state railway."
  • "The CD arrived in good condition. We've had an opportunity to view it and are quite impressed obviously not only with the subject matter, but also the picture quality. You have done a fine job and we are looking forward to spending many hours viewing it in detail."
  • "The seemingly endless supply of high-quality stills are very impressive."
  • "Thanks very much for the CD, which contains some excellent shots and would be most informative for a person who had not ever been there. I really enjoyed it. "
  • "Pictures which display quite brilliantly"

Keith Chester's review follows (totally as received, I promise!):

"Nearly twenty years ago I first went to the island of Java to look at the remaining steam on the state railway, the PJKA. Roaring around the island in ancient Mercedes buses and clapped out Buick taxes, I kept having distant glimpses of tiny narrow gauge steam locos in the canefields. Eventually I even got to photograph a few and a fascination with the sugar cane railways of Indonesia and their brightly painted engines was born; a fascination which has not been diminished by the years and many return visits to Java.

But what was my fascination has been Rob Dickinson's love affair. He took his first photo in Java's sugar fields in the mid 1970s and has been back to the island nearly every year since. Not only has he photographed and filmed these delightful engines (which incidentally range in size from miniscule 0-4-0Ts to substantial 0-10-0s and embrace a host of methods for getting locos around sharp curves: Mallets, Klein Lindner & Lüttermoller axles, Engerth style "Stütztender" etc etc), but has also become incredibly well-versed in their history and ways.

The photos and the knowledge have all been put to excellent use in "Sweet Dreams", a CD-Rom containing 300 images and 16 video clips of the Javanese sugar railways. Divided into sections focussing on a specific aspect of operations or locomotives, the flexibility of the CD-Rom offers a very good overall view of what can (still) be seen and experienced in Java.

Looking at "Sweet Dreams" was my first experience with a CD-Rom. As someone who has grave doubts about the quality of video as a medium, I was somewhat sceptical about the whole idea. I must say, however, that I was very pleasantly surprised. The system is incredibly easy to use, even for a computer-illiterate like myself. Picture quality is far better than I had expected (and of course will only improve over the years).

Some of the images are rather dark, but presumably this reflects the quality of the original slide and some should have been omitted. My major criticism is that some images kept cropping up in different sections: I would have thought that after all these years of photting in Java, RD would have enough different photos not to have to do this.

Most of the photos date from the 1990s and if you've never been to Java, they provide an excellent introduction to the sheer variety of steam on offer. Personally I was disappointed that there were not more images from RD's earlier visits in the 1970s and of types no longer to be seen. But this is a minor quibble. "Sweet Dreams" awoke in me a whole host of very sweet memories, enough to make me think of coming out of my gricing retirement and of going back to Java. And for those of you yet to enjoy the Java experience, it should have you rushing to book that plane ticket now."

Rob Dickinson