Secret Sauce

On the way to Italy, then on to Israel, I worked a bit on my presentation. I had offered several different topic ideas to the LUG organizer and he chose the most technical one. The topic: Building Linux Hardware. As a how-to, it seemed appropriate to share my company’s favorite suppliers, the best-of-the-best OEMs and where we find the juiciest information on building Linux hardware.

As  I looked at my presentation, it made me worry that maybe I was giving away the proprietary recipe to my company’s Secret Sauce, the thing that makes my company unique.

I went ahead with my Secret Sauce talk (although I didn’t call it that — who knows how that would translate in Hebrew? It might have a different meaning). Happily, bizarrely, unexpectedly, I didn’t give anyway anything they didn’t already know. Instead, it was an exchange of equally informed hardware builders.

See, in Israel, there are no stores. At least, no stores like we’re accustomed to in the US. There’s no Costco, no Best Buy, no Fry’s. They have a different type of consumer activity level and to be honest, I found it a bit refreshing to not be surrounded by stores.

As the wonderfully supportive LUG attendees informed me, in Israel, when you need a computer you go to the little computer shop that’s tucked away in some little spot inbetween buildings. When you need your computer fixed, you ask the kid down the street to take a look at it. I chuckled. This is so much easier than how I have seen many people do it in the US. It goes like this: Drive 30 min to large chain store; stand in line; endure salesmanship; stand in another line; endure the cashier’s “Are you sure you don’t want to give us another $200, er, I mean purchase extended warranty coverage?”; leave; drive another 30 minutes; set up box at home and spend the next two days on the phone to tech support because the box was poorly built in the first place.

In the little shops in Jerusalem in Haifa, you tell the computer shop owner what you want. He builds it for you in front of you. You tell him what parts you want. You know the names of the manufacturers. The builders use mostly whitebox towers. You don’t necessarily care about the big name brands because, after all, you are buying this computer from Omar or Rami, not Best Buy. You know the names of the components and you hear from your friends which ones they like. It all works out. In the process, you get to know what’s what.

I really shouldn’t worry about any Secret Sauce leaks, especially when there are other great cooks in the kitchen.

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