Loakal moves from downtown Oakland to gorgeous space in Jack London Square. New pop up location is at 550 2nd Street. Open Tuesday thru Sunday. 1130-530. Find Oakland based artists and designers. Current gallery show features Scott Hove and Jessica Hess.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Etched into the base of Google’s new wireless home media player that was introduced on Wednesday, is its most intriguing feature. On the underside there is a simple laser-etched inscription: “Designed and Manufactured in the U.S.A.”
The Google executives and engineers who decided to build the player, the Nexus Q, here are engaged in an experiment in American manufacturing. “We’ve been absent for so long, we decided why don’t we try it and see what happens?” said Andy Rubin, the Google executive who leads the company’s Android mobile business.
Google is not saying a lot about its domestic manufacturing, declining even to disclose publicly where the factory is in Silicon Valley. It also is not saying much about the source of many of its parts in the United States. And Mr. Rubin said the company was not engaged in a crusade
Still, the project will be closely watched by other electronics companies. It has become accepted wisdom that consumer electronics products can no longer be made in the United States. During the last decade, low-cost Chinese labor and looser environmental regulations have virtually erased what was once a vibrant American industry.
Since the 1990s, one American company after another, including Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Apple, has become a design and marketing shell, with huge work forces deployed at contract manufacturers in Shenzhen and elsewhere in China.
Now that trend is showing early signs of reversing.
It’s a trickle, but American companies are again making products in the United States. While many of those companies have been small, like ET Water Systems, there have also been some highly visible moves by America’s largest consumer and industrial manufacturers. General Electric and Caterpillar, for example, have moved assembly operations back to the United States in the last year. Analysts have speculated that Apple may be planning to follow suit, but a company spokesman denied the rumors.
There is no single reason for the return. Rising labor and energy costs have made manufacturing in China significantly more expensive; transportation costs have risen; companies have become increasingly aware of the risks of the theft of intellectual property when products are made in China; and in a business where time-to-market is a competitive advantage, it is easier for engineers to drive 10 minutes on the freeway to the factory than to fly for 16 hours.
That was true for ET Water Systems, a California company. “You need a collaboration that is real time,” said Pat McIntyre, chief executive of the maker of irrigation management systems that recently moved its manufacturing operation from Dalian, China, to Silicon Valley. “We prefer local, frankly, because sending one of our people to China for two weeks at a time is challenging.”
Harold L. Sirkin, a managing director at Boston Consulting Group, said, “At 58 cents an hour, bringing manufacturing back was impossible, but at $3 to $6 an hour, where wages are today in coastal China, all of a sudden the equation changes.”
The firm reported in April that one-third of American companies with revenue greater than $1 billion were either planning or considering to move manufacturing back to the United States. Boston Consulting predicted that the reversal could bring two million to three million jobs back to this country.
“The companies who are investing in technology in the U.S.A. are more imble and agile,” said Drew Greenblatt, president and owner of Marlin Steel Wire Products in Baltimore, which continues to manufacture in the United States by relying on automation technologies. “Parts are made quicker, and the quality is better.”
Other factors are playing a role as well, said Mitch Free, chief executive and founder ofMfg.com, an electronic marketplace for manufacturing firms. He pointed to trends including distributed manufacturing and customization as playing an important role in the “reshoring” of manufacturing to the United States.
The biggest challenge in bringing manufacturing home has been finding component suppliers nearby. Industry executives note that the decision to stay in China is often determined by the web of parts suppliers that surround giant assembly operations, like the one that Foxconn, the manufacturing partner of Apple and many other big electronics companies, operates in Shenzhen. The advantages can be striking. A design change made in a product might be executed in a few hours.
The Nexus Q, which links a TV or home sound system to the Internet cloud to play downloaded video and audio content, contains almost all American-made parts. The engineers who led the effort to build the device, which is based on the same microprocessor used in Android smartphones and which contains seven printed circuit boards, found the maker of the zinc metal base in the Midwest and a supplier for the molded plastic components in Southern California.
Semiconductor chips are more of a challenge. In some cases, the chips are made in the United States and shipped to Asia to be packaged with other electronic components.
Google did not take the easy route and encase the Q in a black box. The dome of the Magic-8-ball-shaped case is the volume control — the user twists it — a feature that required painstaking engineering and a prolonged hunt for just the right bearing, said Matt Hershenson, an engineer, who is a member of a small team of consumer product designers. They have worked together at companies like Apple, General Magic, Philips, WebTV and now Google.
At $299, the device costs significantly more than competing systems from companies like Apple and Roku. Google says the price is in part because of the higher costs of manufacturing in the United States, but the company expects to bring the price down as it increases volume. The company is hoping that consumers will be willing to pay more, though it is unlikely that the “Made in America” lineage will be part of any marketing campaign.
Google uses a contract manufacturer to make the Q. Last week it was being assembled in a large factory 15 minutes from Google headquarters. The company declined to say how many people were employed at the plant, which can run as many as three shifts each day. However, during a brief tour, made with the understanding that the exact location would not be disclosed, it was clear that hundreds of workers were involved in making the Q.
It’s the kind of building that was once common across Silicon Valley during the 1980s and even the 1990s. More recently, former semiconductor fabrication and assembly factories have given way to large office campuses that house the programmers who design software and support Internet Web sites. Google’s engineers repeatedly stressed that it was a significant advantage to have design close to manufacturing.
“For us it’s really great that we can be at our desk in the morning, have meetings with hardware and software people and then a subset of that team can be in the factory in the afternoon,” Mr. Hershenson said. “The time it takes from being in the assembly process to being in the living room of a product tester we can measure in hours and not days.”
via The Bay Citizen
Two recent stories reported what many people looking to live in San Francisco have already discerned from dismal housing searches: The rental market is clogged and expensive, and home prices are the highest in the country.
It seems accounts of the city’s second tech boom and its effect on the rental market are churned out daily, but recent stories are buoyed by some sobering numbers. A piece that ran in the Wall Street Journal yesterday described the tribulations of tech-sector folks trying to land apartments in the city.
A constricted real estate market and new workers moving in from outside San Francisco all contributed to “the nation’s fastest-rising costs to rent a home in the first three months of this year,” where “average monthly rent hit $1,888, up 5.9% from a year earlier.”
An owner of a property management company admitted to boosting the rent on a 600-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment in the Mission by 40 percent, to $2,800 a month.
The Mission neighborhood, a locus of hipster culture in the city, is in high demand. The cheapest apartment in the area currently listed on Craigslist is a 330-square-foot studio for $1,450, and the most expensive is a $7,000 “master suite” on the top floor of a condo.
And things aren’t much rosier for buyers. Business Insider reported that the median home price in San Francisco is $585,000, making it the most expensive city in the nation for homebuyers. New York clocked in at $450,000.
Meanwhile, housing construction has slowed in the Bay Area, the debate over affordable housing rages on at City Hall, and fewer builders are including affordable housing in their developments.
The issue of owners renting out homes as short-term vacation rentals instead of long-term housing also has squeezed the market, though Supervisor David Chiu introduced legislation [PDF] to reverse the trend and the city recently decided to apply the hotel tax to short-term rental website Airbnb. But high-profile events like the America’s Cup yacht race create attractive opportunities for those looking to use their homes like hotels: A search for “America’s Cup” on Craigslist turns up 111 returns for the San Francisco Bay Area section.
via Huffington Post
LONDON — Embattled WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange took refuge Tuesday in Ecuador’s embassy in London and is seeking political asylum, his organization and the South American nation said.
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said the leftist government of President Rafael Correa was weighing the request. He did not indicate when a decision might be made.
The move comes less than a week after Britain’s Supreme Court rejected Assange’s bid to reopen his attempts to block extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning after two women accused him of sexual misconduct during a visit to the country in mid-2010. He denies the allegations.
“I am grateful to the Ecuadorian ambassador and the government of Ecuador for considering my application,” Assange said in a brief statement.
WikiLeaks confirmed its leader’s request for political asylum on its Twitter account, but calls, texts, and emails seeking further comment from Assange and other WikiLeaks members weren’t immediately answered.
Ecuador’s mission in London said Assange will “remain at the embassy, under the protection of the Ecuadorian government,” while his application is considered.
“The decision to consider Mr Assange’s application for protective asylum should in no way be interpreted as the Government of Ecuador interfering in the judicial processes of either the United Kingdom or Sweden,” the embassy statement added.
Assange’s legal struggle to stay in Britain has dragged on for the better part of two years, clouding his website’s work exposing the world’s secrets.
Patino told a news conference in Quito that Assange had written to Correa, a U.S.- and European-trained economist who is closer to Venezuela than the United States, saying he was being persecuted and asking for asylum.
He said that Assange, who is Australian, had argued that “the authorities in his country will not defend his minimum guarantees before any government or ignore the obligation to protect a politically persecuted citizen.”
Assange said it was impossible for him to return to his homeland because it would not protect him from being extradited to “a foreign country that applies the death penalty for the crime of espionage and sedition,” Patino said in a reference to the United States.
Assange, 40, claims the U.S. has secretly indicted him for divulging American secrets and will act on the indictment if Sweden succeeds in extraditing him from Britain.
In the letter, he accused Swedish officials of “openly attacking me” and investigating him for political crimes, according to Patino, who did not take questions from reporters.
The foreign minister said his country would consider the asylum request “taking into account the respect for the norms and principles of international law as well as Ecuador’s policy of protecting human rights.”
Earlier this year, Assange launched a television talk show built around the theme of “the world tomorrow.” Among other guests, he interviewed Correa and Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki.
Assange received offers of asylum during each of those sessions, which were broadcast on the Russia Today channel, according to a woman who was present during the shows and familiar with the offers. The woman spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the media.
It was not immediately clear if the offers came directly from the presidents themselves, although Marzouki told Assange during the show: “If you ever have some problems you’ll be welcome in Tunisia.”
Correa has himself been assailed by human rights and press freedom activists for using Ecuador’s criminal libel law in sympathetic courts against journalists from the country’s biggest newspaper, El Universo, who he says represent oligarchists seeking his ouster. This month, he told his Cabinet ministers not to grant interviews to members of privately owned media.
Correa’s government has also been leading a campaign by leftist Latin American nations that critics say aims to weaken the powers of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
In November 2010, Ecuador’s deputy foreign minister said the country was offering residency to Assange. However, Correa told reporters the following day that neither he nor Patino had approved the offer and that it would need to be studied.
Assange and Wikileaks shot to international prominence in 2010 with the release of hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. documents including diplomatic cables and a hard-to-watch video that showed U.S. forces gunning down a crowd of Iraqi civilians and journalists whom they had mistaken for insurgents.
Australian authorities have investigated WikiLeaks’ conduct, but concluded that Assange broke no Australian law.
Last month, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said her country could not protect Assange, a former computer hacker, from other countries’ justice systems. Her foreign minister, Bob Carr, said Washington had said nothing to indicate an indictment was planned there.
via East Bay Express
Looks like Art & Soul is going to be awesome this year, and we’re a part of it. More exciting announcements to come soon!
And this year East Bay Express helped quarterback the event, partnering up with the city of Oakland to bring additional arts programming from The Crucible, NIMBY, Oakland Underground Film Festival, Ex’pression College for Digital Arts, and a slew of other worthy organizations. Not to mention we booked the eponymous EBX Plaza Stage, which will feature DJ Dyloot, Metal Mother, Saviours, Vetiver, Forrest Day, Persephone’s Bees, long-standing local hip-hop group Souls of Mischief, indie fourtet Churches, and Oceanography.
Then of course, there are the tentpole headliners: Luce and Blame Sally will perform at the KFOG Main Stage on Saturday, while R&B singers Kellye Gray and Lalah Hathaway will dominate Sunday’s lineup, under the auspice of KBLX 102.9 FM. Saturday’s lineup also features a Community Unity Gospel Stage capped by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, followed, on Sunday, by the Bay Area Blues Society showcase. It’s a new spin on the usual format, and we’re certainly thrilled to be part of it.
From Jingletown, to Chinatown, to Uptown, we take pride in being from “The Town”, and come second to no one. From the historic Latino roots of California, to the loncherias in Fruitvale, let them know where you’re from in perfect Oakland fashion. Oakland el orgullo. Hecho En Oakland.