Production & Consumption Archives

May 3, 2005


Some people I know from another forum are struggling with the definition of the word "wallyrigged". The origins should be self-evident, but here are some examples which cover provenance and illustrate usage:

On the Frontline, Walmart show, they spend some time explaining "pricepoint marketing". This is the cheapest possible price for a item even if it means closing a factory and killing the employees. The intent of pricepoint is to create an illusion of value. To deceive customers into thinking they have obtained a working product.

An example of wallyrigging would be to fix a broken tie-rod with a plastic replacement that had a lifetime warranty, Even though it was clearly marked "Made in China for entertainment purposes only".

A whatever it takes to do something at the lowest cost solution. A total abandonment of concern and consequences is wallyrigging. This is not limited to consumer levels. Wallyrigging starts in the boardroom, is echoed in the halls of congress and born on the backs of average Mericans.

And another real-life example:

For the recent extended family trip, my father bought a cheap Walmart canopy to erect on the beach and provide shelter from the sun. My brother and I went down to the beach with it and poured the contents of the box out on the sand and began assembling the pieces. What a rubiks cube of a mess - in the end, the Chinese widget factory had mislabled one of the snap in support poles and we ended up kluging a fix that lasted until (10 minutes later) a stiff wind bent one of the support poles until the whole contraption looked like it was knelt in prayer towards Mecca. It still supplied a wee bit of shade low to the ground but it looked too much like an OkieQ family-reunion-come-to-Jesus-prayer shrine, so I broke it down and threw it in the trash.
This is not a rant about quality or meant to be a disparaging comment on the ability of any country to make a quality product. Rather it just points out that "you get what you pay for" and sometimes a lot more. Many thanks to Rman and Joel for the examples!

June 23, 2005

How much is luck?

When I read tales like this one about the founding and consequent millions of dollars made from Excite it always seems that the element of serendipity gets glossed over in a sort of "if I wasn't at the table rolling the dice I wouldn't have won" sort of way, the implication being that being willing to roll dice is the key factor in the success. To a limited extent that is true. Football players don't hit home runs. But what about the role the dice themselves play? And what about the thousands of losers who also rolled the dice and didn't win? I've heard that Venture Capitalists expect one out of many of the ventures they fund to succeed. We get to see the story of the 1 and the story of the 99 are swept out with the trash.

The stories also point out that some sort of network is essential. You can increase your chance of winning by buying more lottery tickets. And the post-success stories show that once you have won, the network comes to you. People are willing to bet on you again, or at least they are willing to suck up to a billionaire.

I guess the question I'm asking is that are those few who hit the $billion mark really that much smarter or working that much harder? To be honest, I don't always think so. I'm not convinced. Sometimes being in the right place at the right time is the key factor. The stories of the losers would be an interesting place to look. The stories of the winners tell us less than what we need to know.

September 2, 2005

$100,000 for Small Businesses

I haven't seen much in the news about this, so in case you haven't heard:

Subject: Intel/SBTI Grant Announcement: 100,000 dollar grant in technology for small businesses

Intel® Corporation and the Small Business Technology Institute (SBTI) – a non-profit institution, are sponsoring The World of Difference Program to help small businesses understand how their business can benefit from technology. The program consists of two parts: a $100,000 contest and a series of educational conferences in select cities.

U.S. based small businesses can enter independently, or work with an active Intel Reseller to enter their business vision.

Five finalists will receive a trip to NYC to present their business case at the final World of Difference Contest in NYC. The contest winner will receive $100,000 in technology products and services. Terms and conditions apply. The entry deadline is September 6, 2005.

Enter the World of Difference contest at, or visit to link to the world of difference site.

September 20, 2005

Hasta La Vista Allchin

Latest news from Microsoft is that Jim Allchin is leaving at the end of next year when Windows Vista ships. I don't know that this will be a big deal or not, but I couldn't resist the headline.

March 23, 2006

At first I thought it was a joke

My logs show someone from Chinanet showing up here looking for Plastic Flower Pot Manufacturer:
I mean, hey, if they really wanted plastic flowerpots they would search with Accoona not Yahoo.
But perhaps I was wrong and plastic flower pot manufacturing is more popular than I ever imagined.
Next up "Mifare MF rc-531 (wireless chip)". I'm more interested in what I might have to say about a spring festival though.

January 20, 2007

Gapminder Visualization from Google

Just ran into this visualization tool which shows animated statistics for a number of key categories (child mortality, CO2 emissions, fertility rate, economic growth, urban population and a bunch of others) broken down by country over time.
Fun to play with and it does show some encouraging trends. Child mortality has been decreasing steadily in most parts of the world. Africa shows a few exceptions.

Worth taking a look at here

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