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Friday, October 24, 2008

Whiteboxes in Texas

I came across this interesting article with a long thread of responses.
You all know this topic is dear to my heart, but my heart sank like a rock as I made my way down the thread.

Look at Davidt’s message: Not In Texas, unfortunately
The time got away from me to post a timely reply to his message regarding whiteboxes being illegal in Texas as of September 2008. I did a bit of research and found it’s HB2417 to which he alludes. Bear in mind I am a layman in these matters and do not take what I say as a final word.

House Bill 2417 is an environmental law which will requires recycling of computers by manufacturers. The bill addresses the problem concerning whitebox (or, “no brand”) computers, namely, that they do not bear the manufacturers name. The bill, as I understand it, is not so much that whiteboxes are illegal, but that the manufacturer must identify itself as the manufacturer in some way even if by some means other than the manufacturers name. Ultimately, the law is about ensuring all computers are disposed of in legal, proper
compliance with Texas state law. Manufacturers are required to submit a recycling policy.

My personal (what else could it be, right?) of the law is that it focuses on manufacturers, not individual sole proprietors. If you advise your neighbor in the purchase of computer components over a three month period, assemble it, load software you have just manufactured a whitebox computer. If you built it for yourself that is a whitebox you manufactured. By all means, as a responsible citizen, turn it over to Dell, HP or retailer who are collection centers for recycling at no cost to you.

The Texas business climate is favors entrepreneurs. I believe our current economic times will
have laptop buyer parents looking at desktops for a better bargain. Yes, laptops are quite inexpensive. Desktops are even more. Whiteboxes even more, still.

Go’on. Build you one.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Whitebox Wonderland

Admittedly, I feel I should have got this one to you sooner. On the other hand, I feel vindicated about what I have been posting on this blog regarding the revenue potential for independent and small business custom system builders.

Read the article, Whitebox Wonderland by Damon Poeter

What are you doing in for yourself in the whitebox market?
What are you doing in the whitebook market?

Some early posts:

Monday, October 13, 2008

If you build it for the good of all

The words whispered to Ray Kinsella played by Kevin Costner in the 1989 movie, “Field of Dreams” were the catalyst for building a baseball park for the legacy and the legends of the game. We never see the finished park. What was to attract fans was not a humongous facility, but the re-capture of a simple, wholesomeness for the good of all.

The words, “If you build it they will come” were as much about the players, those who play for the absolute love of the game, as well as the fans.

I have been urging and encouraging people with the Knowledge, Skills and Experience to build computers and servers for small business and neighbors, alike. That’s nothing spectacular. People will come to you not for the glitz, but for the homespun trust and “service” (actually, it’s “being neighborly”) they chance not finding at their local retailer for something they can use and is affordable. It is a means of revenue for the system builders and a means of allowing low-income Americans the opportunity to own a computer.

My search for the cheapest computer came up with $279, $195 and $164 (monitor not included). I am not going to name brands as a matter of principal. I maintain with a little resourcefulness an at-home tech-built computer system will beat the cheapest. How, you ask?

Lets understand, for starters, even $164 is a bit more than many people can comfortable to pull out of pocket for a single purchase. So, why do I believe they would be willing to pay even twice as much?

The next time your co-worker, neighbor or friend laughs at the prospect of owning a computer tell him to drop by when he’s got $10 to spare. Then, you send him off with a single-item grocery list to Goodwill or a discount parts reseller to buy a power supply, keyboard or mouse. Next month he’s got $20 and he holds it another month until he’s got $35. You send him off with a grocery list and he returns with a motherboard. Finally, six months later after purchasing a hard drive and monitor and other essentials he has everything you need to build his system.

On a sunny Saturday morning your friend brings coffee and tacos (donuts? bagels?) and joins you in the garage. You assemble the system and install the Windows copy he bought at Goodwill or you go online to download the OS for his computer. After numerous reboots your friend is a happy, proud owner of his first system and puts $30 dollars in your hand as agreed between neighbors, previously. Total price: $400. SAY WHAT!! Whoa thar, hombre!!

What happened to the cheaper-than-retailer talk? No, this is not a case of poor addition. The above scenario is not to depict exact price for every single piece nor your service fee. It is intended to show how your friend, on his own terms, buys all the essential components for his system, himself. In the end the price tag could possibly exceed the reseller’s display case model. What’s the advantage for your friend? It is a deal he is never going to get at Best Buy, Circuit City, Walmart, Dell or HP. He won’t even get that on layaway and it's certainly not a handout.

The advantage and the reason your friend is happy is that despite the fact he could see this was turning out to cost a bit more than the store model

The bottom dollar price was one he was able to absorb into his daily living expenses.

This scenario, when replicated through the dynamic of a network is nothing less than the inclusion of the low-income consumer into the cyber world. Greater still than building a computer for a neighbor is the buildup of community one neighbor at a time for the good of all.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Do you believe in myths?

America is a consumer society. We buy things and ideas. When it comes to computers those in the industry, who are themselves consumers, buy, both computers and the IT myth: There is no longer a digital divide.

Other takes on this myth: Desktops are out. Everybody’s buying laptops. Sure.

The focus of the EDUCAUSE Review article The Myth about the Digital Divide: We Have Overcome the Digital Divide by Brian L Hawkins and Diana G Oblinger is on computer owners, primarily. Elsewhere, I have called for computer manufacturers and VARs and resellers to target the low-income consumer market; those who do not own a computer in America. This is a consumer overlooked on the blazing path to obliterating (NOT!) the digital divide.

The four points below are taken from the IT myth article.

1. Do we know whether students have a computer? Do we know their skill level? Although it is easy to assume that all students own a computer and are computer-literate, is that a correct description of the student body? Is ownership the same for all students, or are there significant differences between groups, such as traditional-age students and adult learners? Are there different needs based on academic discipline?

2. Do we look beyond who has Internet access to consider online skills? What online skills, support, and freedom of use define an appropriate threshold for digital access and use on campus?

3. Do we limit the definition of digital divide to a haves and have-nots dichotomy? The digital divide is not a yes-no proposition; it is a continuum. Beyond computer ownership lie issues of Internet access at a reasonable speed, as well as availability of support. The campus may need to define its own metrics to determine the extent of its underserved, digital divide population.

4. How limiting will inadequate online skills be to students? The ultimate issue behind the digital divide is the ability of students to learn, explore, and become participating members of their chosen communities. Education is increasingly dependent on students technical proficiency not only to find information but also to analyze material and access experts. If students are regularly expected to participate in online discussions or use tools such as wikis, campuses should provide reasonable support to ensure that students can participate effectively and autonomously.

What I infer from this article is there is a sizeable market among these existing computer owners. Unless they are buying a new computer Dell, HP and Lenovo have no interest in them. These computer owners are not a myth. They are an open market for VARs, resellers and independent consultants who don’t believe the myth.

Get your name on the IC-TechNetwork. Spread the word.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A step closer to Prom 2009

I went to Jo-Ann’s Fabrics, today.

What was that like you ask? Well, if you walked into O’Reilly’s and saw all the shiny auto parts, how would you feel? I was a bit apprehensive about being there. I thought to turn and run, but when Toni called “number 18" I stepped up.

Toni stepped out from behind the cutting table (is that the correct term?) to assist me. She followed me to the fabrics section. She was very cordial and helpful, not patronizing or condescending even though she knew she was dealing with someone who doesn’t know taffeta from muslin.

My mission was to get some idea of three key things when making your own prom dress: Fabric, pattern and price. Toni showed me some examples: one Vogue (V2891) and two Simplicity (4070 & 3784) patterns.

The Simplicity 3784 pattern was priced at $16.95, or with the store 40% discount; $10.17. The Vogue V2891 pattern was priced at $27.50 and at 40% discount; $16.50.

Fabric prices ranged at one end from 5.99 – 9.99/yd for the 60 inch bolt to 3.75 to 4.75/yd for the 45 inch bolt.

The approximate cost of the Simplicity 3784 and fabric price at the high end in both ranges is below.

Simplicity pattern 3784: $ 10.17 10.17
Fabric 4.25/ 3yds 14.25
Fabric 9.99/ 3yds 29.97

Total $ 40.14 $ 24.42

Who are your clients? Moms and daughters who will be shopping for prom dresses for Prom 2009. Where are they? McNeil, Round Rock, Stony Point and Westwood high schools in Round Rock Texas or wherever you live.

Once you consult with your client they go and shop Jo-Ann Fabrics for the above pattern (or one similar) and fabric at between 40 and 24 dollars they have taken a big part in the ownership of their designer prom dress.

The next part is yours. You have measurements, needle and thread and a delivery date. The fee you set is your business, but whether a low $40 or high $70 you have a client who has agreed to your fee in consultation. The bottom line fee may be the same or no less than your client would have obtained from a retailer or online. The great thing about it though is they got THEIR fabric, color, fit and price all in time for the big event. No last minute rush shopping.

Something else to consider. The earlier consultation allows clients the benefit of being able to purchase these materials far in advance. Then they can then direct their finances toward covering your fee. In other words, they don’t have to be hit hard with an expenditure of 90 to 120 dollars all at once on the same day.

Think up some incentives to reward clients who send you referrals. An economy like our current one always has opportunity, both for you and your clients. Just do it.

Finally, all the above is my best attempt at being accurate and honest with the numbers. I must allow the possibility I erred in my math somewhere, but I trust you quite likely have a far better understanding of what I’m talking about.

You are invited to get your name posted on the PROM-DRESS NETWORK. It' free. Spread the word.

This is not to be taken as any kind of endorsement by Jo-Ann’ Fabrics, but I can certainly point you in their direction.

Yes. My name is Gilbert Torres and I approved this message.

Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Larger SuperstoreShops At Arbor Walk10515 N Mopac Expressway Nb, Bld 1Austin, TX 78759Get maps and driving directions
512-795-8086Mon-Sat 9a - 9p Sunday 10a - 7p
Weekly Sales Flyer

Sunday, October 05, 2008



PROM 2009

It is a source of wonder to me the readership on this blog. The StatCounter on my blog has exceeded the free entries I am allowed. That means I am no longer able to get complete, accurate figures for the number of visitors to the blog. More important for me than the numbers is the “visitor paths”, that is, from where the blog site visits come.

Over the past several months there have been repeat visits from Oregon, Florida, Texas, England, Mexico to name a few. Although my initial plans do not extend beyond US borders it indicates an interest on the part of these readers. These are the top four most read posts

Cedar Park TX freelance pattern maker


Round Rock Prom Dress Style

Hollister CA

Clearly, the PROM DRESS posts draw the most interest.

It pleases me greatly to announce I have succeeded in, despite being tech-challenged, posting the PROM-DRESS NETWORK link.

Do you think the Prom will be canceled in 2009 because of our economy or because mom or dad have lost their jobs whether in Round Rock TX or Oregon?

I don’t think so. What this does present is a need and an opportunity involving prom dress choices, purchases, costs and income for creative, resourceful people.

Anybody in the 50 US states can have their name added to the Network. Anybody, high school student, mom, dad with the Knowledge, Skills and Experience to assemble/create or design a prom dress in the comfort of their home can do so.

Actually, I see no reason why anybody outside the US can’t be included in the Network if they believe it might help them.

How does it work?

A Stony Point, Round Rock, McNeil, or Westwood high school girl and/or mom is browsing the Internet for Prom Dress choices. This blog site shows up in their Google search. They click the hyper-link and look under their state heading for consultants, that is, a designer in their town or closest to them. They call and come to terms. The designer delivers the client their dress at an affordable price in time for the big event.

Price and payment are agreed upon between consultant and client.
Prom 2009 will be here before you know it. Now is the time to lay down some groundwork. Get your name on the Network.

Email your information to: Subject: signup

Then, spread the word.