Wednesday, May 19, 2010

There's always a down side.

I took the plunge and bought an iPad. I talked myself into the expense by telling myself it will be able to be a second credit card machine using the cool new square device. But there can be no doubt that I was tempted by the promise of a device I've been dreaming about for a loooong time. Something like 6 years ago there was a neat little tablet device called the eePc. It was WinCE powered. I was able to install and read Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 days" on it. I've kept track of sales at shoes using simelar WinCE devices for years. I knew back then that a tablet PC was a viable product.  Netbooks are good but they still aren't a great surfing device despite the better battery life.

 So now I have the iPad and it is very good. Quick boot or instant on with amazing battery life. Stunning screen. Apps that work to remove the need for a mouse and a virtual keyboard that is actually very easy to use. So what's the down side? It has nothing to do with the device and everything to do with where it comes from. Shenzen China and a company called FoxConn. They make lots of electronics, including my iPad. So it sucks to read about the work conditions at the factory, where there have been 7 suicides this year.

FoxConn has now hired almost 100 Councillors and even brought in Buddhist monks to drive evil spirits out of the machines. Really? Evil spirits? Maybe it has nothing to do with spirits and everything to do with the absurd hours these kids are working. The lack of social contact. The depression of living in a kind of indentured servitude.  The factories are bright and clean. The employees aren't chained to the assembly line. They are free to leave...but to do what?

I don't have any real answers. I like my shiny toy, but I don't want someone to work themselves to death for it. I could wait an extra week or two if it let them slow down. I'd happily pay a little more if it went to the line workers. But the wheels of capitalism must turn and nothing can get in their way.

What happens to disarmed nuclear weapons?

A short but cool article with a killer pic.