If you buy stuff from on-line stores such as Banggood, GearBest, or any other of a laundry list of China-based wholesalers, you may be surprised at what is going on behind the scenes with many of these businesses. I wasn’t aware of the scale of this problem until recently when i came across a video about electric motors for the remote-controlled hobby industry while researching parts for a build-it-yourself multi-rotor/drone aircraft. But first, a little of the back-story.
Remember when the big-box stores such as Sears, Grants, and later, Walmart, actually sold quality products? Unless you’re in your 50s or older, probably not, but i happen to have been around long enough to be able to observe the massive decline in the quality of the products they sell. You see, it used to be that when you bought a refrigerator, a washer, or a lawn mower from a store like Sears, your kids might have inherited it because it was built to last. I remember seeing refrigerators and other appliances that were far older than i was and some of them are probably still in operation. Today however, in our “consumer” driven society, it is common to have to replace our appliances, tools and electronics every few years because we live in a world of planned obsolescence where products are specifically designed to fail. Worse, it seems the public at large doesn’t even mind spending their cash on the same gadget over and over again, as though it is the new normal. Of course planned obsolescence makes perfect monetary sense from an economic point of view because it is obviously far more profitable to sell consumers the same product multiple times than it is to design products they never have to replace.
Ignoring the ethical problem of planned obsolescence for a moment, we can realize a much bigger problem and that is the fact that we live and depend upon a precious little planet which holds a finite amount of resources such as coal and oil, both of which are critical in the manufacturing of the widgets we buy, and yet our economic systems are based on an infinite growth model. Obviously this cannot continue because it is simply not possible and yet manufactures and wholesalers, like Banggood and so many others, continue to add to the problem by designing and marketing junk which is largely manufactured by cheap Chinese labor. And it gets worse. It isn’t just that they sell a lot of junk, they also sell a lot of fake junk that is marketed as the real junk. Apparently what is happening is that these Chinese wholesalers are taking products which are in high demand and hiring China-based companies to clone them using sub-par components and then sell the copies on their international websites for the same price as the originals. Like myself, you may have known that the Chinese are great at replicating things, but what you may not have known, and i certainly didn’t, is that these copies are showing up en masse among some of the largest on-line retailers on the web and it gets even funnier, or sadder, depending on how you look at it.
As i wrote earlier, i learned about these shenanigans whilst watching a video of a guy talking about the electric motors that are used in the hobby industry, specifically the multi-rotor faction of it (so-called “drones” or “quad copters”), but in no way whatsoever is this problem limited to the hobby industry. In the video, he discloses information that was obtained directly from various engineers regarding these Chinese wholesalers, some who live and work in China. The video picks up at the 26:50 mark where he begins discussing the topic, but if you happen to be an RC enthusiast who has a deep interest in electric motor design, you might want to watch it in its entirety.
- Planned obsolescence – Wikipedia
- Apple’s Factory in China – Rare Footage – YouTube
- Top China Wholesalers, Best Chinese retailers & resellers – www.Keryet.com (a list of businesses to avoid)
- Motor Construction – LOT of info, mostly correct – YouTube
- The Lightbulb Conspiracy – Planned Obsolescence – YouTube
- OBN – How We Became a Throw-away Society
- Open Letter to Craftsman and Sears – Why Ax Professional and USA-Made Tools?!
- Made in China = Piece of Junk – CBS News
- NOT Made in America: Top 10 Ways Walmart Destroys US Manufacturing Jobs | Demos
- Counterfeit Electronics Components – This Is How You Spot Them | Bit Rebels
People are now creating scripts to mine cryptocurrencies using your computing power while you visit any websites which employ these scripts. I first learned about this when The Pirate Bay used such a script in certain sections of their website.
This is an extremely interesting development and it will be just as interesting to see how wide-spread it becomes. Just days after TPB was found running such a script, there was already a cryptocurrency miner WordPress plug-in on wordpress.org with 300+ active installs as of Sep. 27, 2017.
At first i categorized this as outright malware and, in fact, i would say this was accurate in the case of The Pirate Bay when they introduced it secretively and didn’t make it an opt-in option for its users. It also appears that ad-blockers, including uBlock Origin, as well as anti-virus software vendors, are targeting these mining scripts. After giving it some thought however, this seems like it might be an excellent way for independent journalists and others to generate some “cash” to support their work whilst dumping, or at least cutting back on their intrusive ads.
The company apparently responsible for all the hub-bub is Coinhive and, frankly, i very much like what they have to say about their cryptocurrency miner. There are millions of people — me being one of them — running ad-blockers to remove all the in-your-face garbage that people and corporations use to monetize their websites and the service offered by Coinhive could be a revolution in this regard in that everyone, from the Google’s of the world to individuals like yourself, could monetize websites and services with cryptocurrency miners that are virtually transparent to their visitors. I say “virtually” because i think it is absolutely critical that such mining scripts only run if the visitor chooses to run them. Apparently Coinhive feels the same way. Here’s some comments from the Coinhive blog:
Our goal was to offer a viable alternative to intrusive and annoying ads that litter so many websites today. These ads are not only a distraction to end users, but also provide notoriously unpredictable and non-transparent revenue numbers. We set out to change that.[…]
We’re a bit saddened to see that some of our customers integrate Coinhive into their pages without disclosing to their users what’s going on, let alone asking for their permission. We believe there’s so much more potential for our solution, but we have to be respectful to our end users.[…]
Right now i’m blocking these scripts, but hopefully this will change in the future.