Q: What do many IT departments & the Chinese government have in common?

August 28, 2011


A:  The old “give us your framework & we’ll do the work & cut you out” tactic.

What does this mean?  A friend shared the following link with me.

  • Why Amazon Can’t Make A Kindle In the USA – Forbes
    I recently noted how conventional cost accounting inexorably focuses executives’ attention on increasing short-term profits by cutting costs.The same thing happens in economics. Take a recent study that set out to shed light on the role of Chinese businesses vis-à-vis American consumers. Galina Hale and Bart Hobijn, two economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, did a study showing that only 2.7% of U.S. consumer purchases have the “Made in China” label. Moreover, only 1.2% actually reflects the cost of the imported goods. Thus, on average, of every dollar spent on an item labeled “Made in China,” 55 cents go for services produced in the United States. So the study trumpets the finding that China has only a tiny sliver of the U.S. economy.  So no problem, right?

The story talks about the dangers of outsourcing oneself out of an industry & gives the example of how Dell outsourced their operations to ASUSeTek & in the end ASUSeTek came back as a Dell competitor and stole their market right out from Dell, selling Asus PCs into Best Buy at cheaper costs, cutting Dell out as the middle man, once they learned the business through Dell’s internal operations.

The Chinese are well-known for this “we’ll do the work for you, then we’ll cut you out as the middle man” tactic.  As you may know, consulting organizations get this from customer IT departments all the time, thinking they’re being ‘crafty’ saying, “Give us your full project plan as your proposal & show us a framework of how to do the deployment… then we’ll take your template & do the work ourselves.”

Fortunately there are limitations to this knowledge transference ‘technique’ – especially when the customer is in way over their head and doesn’t have the expertise, savvy, or vision to accomplish the job correctly:

Take the story of McDonnell-Douglas:
China pulled this exact maneuver back in the 1990s with MD telling them that if they wanted the multi-billion dollar China Air & Govt plane contracts they had to train Chinese to build & maintain the planes themselves:

MD had no choice. The problem was, there was a massive language barrier that multiplied the time required to traing the students by 6-8 fold.  They ended up flying out to train on Chinese soil – very slowly – through translators using extra-demonstrative techniques like assembling engines with transluecent piping that students could visually examine & view thru, plastic parts that could easily be hand-assembled and snapped together to minimize the assembly time, during class, etc.  After the multi-year project was thru, the Chinese never called them back and went radio silent.

4 yrs later they were brought back out of the blue under very costly contracts to examine “what they did”.  To their surprise, the Chinese started fabbing the parts per the specifications given in class.  More surprisingly, they had put the plane together using ‘class parts’ – including translucent piping, snap-together assemblies, etc. and couldn’t understand ‘why things didn’t work’.

After ‘fixing’ the dozens of ‘misunderstandings’, 12 pilots were brought in to fly the first MD-80, assembled on Chinese soil.  6 knew the story about the plane’s assembly and refused.  I don’t know if the MD engineer who told me this story & was involved with the trainings was exaggerating but he told me, these 6 were all declared traitors of the state and sent to a firing squad.  The remaining 6 pilots went under duress.  The plane’s first flight lifted for a couple seconds before it was forced down. 

The Chinese continue to purchase planes from Boeing & AirBus today.  They maintain the fleet they have but it’s a well-known statistic that China Air has the single greatest number of fatal air disasters in the world, next to Cubana & Air Zimbabwe, who are both statistically insignificant in relative volume. http://www.airdisaster.com/statistics/

The US Federal Budget boiled down to a household level

August 6, 2011

imageI received a document in my email the other day that put into picture the situation America has with its debt & the problem with the recently confirmed budget cuts.  The full document is available for download here, originally from a law firm called Hailey, McNamara, Hall, Larmann & Papale, L.L.P.:

The document very succinctly put into 5 brief lines America’s budget/debt issue by simply removing EIGHT ‘zeroes’ from the end of each line and putting the US income/debt into numbers people can wrap their heads around by imagining a fictitious family named “Jones”:

  • Total annual income for the Jones family: $21,700
  • Amount of money the Jones family spent:  $38,200
  • Amount of new debt added to the credit card:  $16,500
  • Outstanding balance on the credit card:  $142,710
  • Amount cut from the budget:  $385

Now obviously the actual negotiated change is more complicated than that, but to be honest, that’s really what the outcome is at this point in time.  We cut <1% of the budget.


COMMENTARY: Somebody needs to tell Google to shut up.

August 4, 2011

UPDATE 8/6/11 9:07AM
And the sentiment continues.  Brian Hall has written a very poignant analysis of his concerns with Google and why Google’s supposed outcry is facetious & disingenuous.


UPDATE 8/5/11 1:25AM
Apparently, I’m not the only one that thinks Google is whining pathetically.  ConceivablyTech has gone so far as to called Google’s David Drummond, the Chief Whining Officer.


imageHave you ever seen someone on the losing end of an beating just keep jawing & talkin’ and digging themselves an even bigger hole – and all you can think of is, “Dude.  Somebody needs to tell him to shut up already.  It’s just getting sad now.”

Recently, Google whined about how the industry, Microsoft in particular, was according to them at least, ganging up on them by collectively buying a set of influential patents from Nortel and leaving Google out in the cold, vulnerable to litigation associated with the purchased intellectual property… then going off on a rant about how the patent system was evil & all that.

Microsoft fired back by producing an actual email where it specifically asked Google to join in on the purchase to ensure equal protection across all companies from patent litigation involving the purchased Nortel intellectual property… AND GOOGLE DECLINED.

Y’know, Google had to be really embarrassed by being called out.  Sure enough though, they mustered enough gall to try to paint themselves as being ‘victims’ as described by Tom Warren in his post:  http://www.winrumors.com/google-fires-back-at-microsoft-in-public-android-patent-spat/

The key comment in Google Chief Law Officer David Drummond’s reply  (also known as wordsmithing, misdirection, or just plain ol’ lawyer B.S.) is in this line:

A joint acquisition of the Novell patents that gave all parties a license would have eliminated any protection these patents could offer to Android against attacks from Microsoft and its bidding partners.

(Underlining is mine.)

There’s two notable things you can derive from this puppet speak:

  1. If Google, Apple, Microsoft and any other parties own the patents – they all share in the intellectual property use equally and negate the possibility of each using the patents against each other.  It negates the threat of patent litigation amongst the bidding partners.  This is the precise reason Google was invited to participate in the first place… TO CREATE A DÉTENTE
  2. Interestingly… or maybe even laughingly, Google appears to be admitting that they are infringing on patents – because otherwise why would they need them to defend Android OEMs?

The answer is simple:  Google can’t profit from this.  This Twitter conversation between journalists/authors Mary Jo Foley & Paul Thurrott was just too awesome not to write up:

  • @DaQuantumFro: @edbott @maryjofoley @thurrott Having read the update to Google’s post, isn’t licensing what MSFT would’ve use the patents for
  • @maryjofoley: @DaQuantumFro @edbott @thurrott  I don’t know what to think any more. I don’t understand Google’s argument here, I admit
  • @thurrott: @maryjofoley It’s, we don’t want to pay. And we don’t understand why can’t just run roughshod over this industry without MS getting in way.
  • @maryjofoley: @thurrott  Yes… good cliffnotes version
  • @thurrott: @maryjofoley You have to think they really expected people to applaud them for this.
  • @thurrott: @maryjofoley That and, “we would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those dang laws.”
  • @maryjofoley: @thurrott  Funny thing is they are the ones who initiated the whole “patent attack” thing. So they brought attention to themselves on this

Then, Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s Corporate Communications lead responded on Twitter with this volley to explain Google’s likely motivations once and for all:

  • @fxshaw: Hello again David Drummond. This is going to take a few tweets, so here we go. Let’s look at what Google does not dispute in their reply.
  • @fxshaw: We offered Google the opportunity to bid with us to buy the Novell patents; they said no.
  • @fxshaw: Why? BECAUSE they wanted to buy something that they could use to assert against someone else.
  • @fxshaw: SO partnering with others & reducing patent liability across industry is not something they wanted to help do

Seriously, Google.  Walk away.  This is getting sad.

The stupid, unmovable ‘white box’ on my desktop

August 2, 2011

So for the past week or so, I’ve noticed that when I put my machine to sleep and wake it up later there is a ‘white box’ that appears in the upper left hand/top left corner of my my desktop that overlaps about 1/8th of my desktop, covering over the Recycle Bin and a few other folders I have.

And it’s completely immoveable.

It looks like it’s a window or dialog box that simply doesn’t have any borders or controls on it.  It can’t be dragged and dropped.  I can’t be right mouse clicked.  Nothing appears in the task tray below to represent it.  It just sits there. 

So I loaded up Security Task Manager.  Security Task Manager is a tool I’ve used for years to identify errant or weird processes that are loaded into memory.  It actually displays an English language description next to the running process in question which differentiates it from the standard Windows Task Manager.  It’s very useful in identifying issues – especially things that slow down your PC or might otherwise be a security threat.

In this case, I suspected that some process was lingering that was causing this ‘white box’ or window to exist.


A key indicator that a process is active in memory is that there is an entry next to the process for the amount of memory that it is actively consuming.  After all, if a process is dormant, it probably isn’t doing something like displaying an annoying ‘white box’ on my screen.

So I’m perusing the running processes and I notice that one of them is “SOLUTO”.  Soluto is a boot-time utility that monitors the execution of services at boot in order to allow the user to ‘cut down on how long it takes to boot the system’.  I found it strange that it was consuming 32MB of memory however when it’d been a long time since I booted up.

So I killed the process.  Lo-and-behold, the ‘white box’ disappeared.  Suddenly it started to make sense.  One of the things Soluto does at boot time is display a borderless window that iterates through all the processes still being loaded as part of the boot process, even though the user has already logged on.  This borderless window doesn’t have a means by which one can close the window without knowing exactly where the “X” is to close it.  I suspect that this window got whitewashed somehow and lingered in the OS after the system got put to sleep and woken up again.

So if you have a ‘white box’ on your screen it’s likely the remnant of a borderless window from another running process on your system.  If you wanna see what processes are still running and want a description of each of them, check out Security Task Manager.