Friday, November 27, 2009

Chevettes and Pintos and Netbooks, oh my!

Holy Lemons! A study quoted in a recent New York Times GadgetWise column says 20.4% of laptops fail over three years.

The study, produced by SquareTrade, an online vendor of extended warranties, found evidence that netbooks fail at a higher rate, 5.4% in the first year of use compared with 4.2% for a premium-level laptop.

The study also says the accident rate for laptops is another 10%, so the total failure rate over three years is closer to 30%.

What’s most fascinating is that different manufacturers have compiled startlingly different failure rates.

SquareTrade concluded that Asus and Toshiba laptops fail about 15% of the time. At the other end of the scale is Hewlett-Packard, with a failure rate of more than 25% (my first laptop was one of those statistics - right out of the gate).

How sad is it that the report concludes, “In some cases, it would appear that failure is not only an option, but the expectation.”
We need higher manufacturing standards. Yes, price points are competitive, but the failure rate is just too high.
The big U.S. hardware brands should recall what happened to Detroit in the 1970s when foreign carmakers got the unique idea to focus on quality.

Learn from the past, or forfeit the future.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Friendly Challenge

According to , this banner was posted at the entrance to McGhee-Tyson Air National Guard Base, Knoxville, Tennessee.

New management would be very welcome.

Something is stalking the streets at night

Here's an epic piece of journalism I had to share with you.

New editor welcome.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Corporate carpetbaggers

Eight years ago. the city of New London, Conn., lured drug giant Pfizer to town by offering them a 10-year, 80% break on normal property taxes. The city even created an economic development corporation to expropriate houses near the Pfizer complex for a proposed new "urban village" of hotels, shops and condos that would better suit the new biggest employer in town.

Some local residents fought back on behalf of their neighborhood. The dispute went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled 5 to 4 in 2005 that municipalities indeed have the right to expropriate private homes for vague redevelopment plans.

Last week, Pfizer announced that in two years' time (about the time their tax holiday ends), they will be moving out of New London and consolidating operations at their campus in nearby Groton. New London will lose 1400 jobs - and any chance of seeing that "urban village" it fought so hard for.

As the New York Times reported, local residents now see Pfizer "as a corporate carpetbagger that took public money, in the form of big tax breaks, and now wants to run."

A spokesman for the landowners told the Times that Pfizer’s announcement “really shows the folly of these plans that use massive corporate welfare and abuse eminent domain for private development.”

The only good news is that 43 states have since moved to strengthen private property laws to prevent money-hungry municipalities from taking people's homes.

Which is worse? Overzealous bureaucrats, or corporate welfare bums?

Read the gruesome details here.