How Your Electronics Are Made

I just listened to a This American Life episode about the working conditions in which all of our electronic crap is made in China. It is really quite eye-opening, and it is amazing yet totally predictable that pieces like this are not more common.

Our economic model (capitalism) guarantees that these atrocious working conditions will exist. Capitalism turns everything, including people, into mere objects. When you have an iPhone, it is just an iPhone. It is not this particular unique piece that contains aluminum from a particular mine and made by a particular person with their own unique feelings, wants, needs, fears, and passions.

The person that made your iPhone in fact does not have time or space to express themselves as a unique human. During their 12 to 16-hour working day, they aren’t even allowed to talk to their coworkers while on the assembly line. They then go “home” to a 12′ x 12′ dormitory containing 15 beds. There are even cameras in their dormitories.

One Foxconn (the actual manufacturer of Apple crap) worker died after working for 34 hours straight. Other workers are poisoned from hexane, losing use of their hands in their 20s, or even dying from it. If they complain to the official government agency about working conditions, they get put on an official government blacklist. With nowhere to turn, many workers choose to end their life.

And of course Apple and Foxconn did not want to talk to Ira Glass. They, like all of us, see what they want to see. Apple complains a certain amount about the working conditions, but clearly not enough to prevent all of the above from happening consistently year after year.

The New York Times “liberal” Paul Krugman and “conservative” Nicholas Kristof actually speak highly of the current economic phase that China is in. Kristof actually has an article titled Two Cheers for Sweatshops. Sure, there may be problems with sweatshops, they say, but the lives of the workers are better than they were when living in their hovels. At least Kristof is honest enough to call them sweatshops. Steve Jobs wouldn’t even admit that Foxconn was a sweatshop.

You’re officially allowed to stop celebrating the life of Steve Jobs. Certainly, we’re all guilty in this globalized system. It’s complex. But the level of guilt is on a continuum from “just trying to get by” to “massively profiting from the misery of others and the destruction of our planet.” Steve Jobs was on the latter end of this spectrum.

It always amazes me that these people, people like Jobs, Kristof, Krugman, and almost any economist, are actually taken seriously. How poor are our critical thinking skills that we accept their dichotomy of abject poverty on the one hand and sweatshops on the other? Why should the lives of people in third world countries be reduced to these two choices? And how little respect we must have for these people to never realize that it is not up to us to decide what is best for them? It is our responsibility, in fact, to instead model our world around giving people their due human rights and then letting them decide what is best for themselves.

Props to my friend Greg for linking to the This American Life episode that inspired this post. This post was tapped out on an Apple Macbook Pro 15″.

Western Digital 1TB

After working in a data center for six months and seeing with my own eyes the failure rate of different brands of hard drives, I will never again buy anything but Western Digital. They’re always among the most inexpensive and fastest of all the brands, too. They usually lag behind by a few months in the size category, though.

Well, thankfully, they finally reached one terabyte. I’ll probably pick up one of these in the next few months, especially considering I can put one more hard drive in my computer before I have to start just upgrading the ones that are already in there.

One more cool thing – the new drives are “green”. Go Western Digital.

Trusty Little Webserver

I love my trusty little web server that could. It lives in my closet and is a Pentium M (the same type you find in some laptops – low power, can run under high heat)…

root@pub0|log 12:15pm uptime
12:15:38 up 107 days, 16:21, 4 users, load average: 0.33, 0.10, 0.02

2.33 Terabytes

My personal computer storage is now up to 2.33 Terabytes. Sweet…

But I could totally use about another 3 drives.


It’s official; the Hitachi 1TB SATA hard drive is on Newegg.

Anyone got $600 to spare?

Of course, I am partial to Western Digital, so I probably won’t get a 1TB drive until they release one. Probably within a year, I am guessing.


Seagate releases a 750GB hard drive.

I am excited, even though I probably won’t be getting one. I am excited because this drives down the price of the 500GB drives, which is what I’ll be buying now instead of the 320GB drives. My current drives (for my main desktop):

1 Internal 250GB: Windows, Program Files, Music
1 Internal 320GB: Movies. Lots of movies.
1 Internal 120GB: “Temporary” storage. Where I put my Bit Torrent downloads until I can organize them, and where I put my DVD rips until I can encode them, and then delete the huge temporary files.
2 External 320GB: One has TV shows and software. The other is a backup of my movies drive.

Actually when I get more drives, they’ll be used for backup mostly. And when I stick another internal drive in, I want to get a new power supply.

It’s a damn shame that I probably won’t actually get to buy more drives for a while. *plays world’s smallest violin for self*

Don’t Cheap Out on Me

There are certain things that you should never cheap out on when buying computer hardware. Here is a list…hopefully it can save someone some of the pain I have gone through in my years of geekdom:

  • Power supply. Go with Antec, or if you don’t mind reading for a bit, head over to Tom’s Hardware and read one of their PSU reviews.
  • RAM. Skimp on other things and get lots of RAM (hopefully 2GB nowadays). You will need it. Also, go with a name brand: Crucial, Corsair (my fav), Kingston, Mushkin, or OCZ.
  • hard drive. Worry about brand before you worry about size. Definitely do get Western Digital (I don’t buy anything else), and definitely don’t get Hitachi. There aren’t many things worse than a dead hard drive.
  • KVM switch. Go with a Belkin, and don’t get one of their shabby ones. Bad KVM switches will annoy the hell out of you.

On side note, my arms feel removed from my body. It is a very weird sensation. And for some reason I can still type correctly.

More crap that I want

Hello, my name is Stu and I am a computer addict.

I keep a wish list on my personal wiki. I started this because I found myself always buying little things and never being able to save up for the big-ticket items that I really wanted. I figured if I wrote down what I really wanted, I would be able to save up for it. It is working, at least a little bit.

Anyway, so my wish list is kind of crazy. On it, I have the following:

  • $400 sound card
  • $400 laptop
  • $350 printer
  • $90 network switch
  • $60 network switch
  • $160 RAM
  • $340 video card
  • $200 hard drive
  • $75 scanner

I am kind of glad that I am not rich. Because if I was, I would spend a lot of damn money.

No cheap iBooks


(Image removed because it was being used way too often on other sites)

No cheap iBooks. I guess I won’t be using a Mac then…ever.