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LinuxWorld.com: Virtual case study: Cutting IT costs with Unix

Nov 20, 2001, 03:45 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Murphy)
"The following scenario is that of a new systems manager brought into a small company 'to bring systems costs under control.' The company, its staff and products are fabrications but the situation presented, and the remedies offered, reflect the author's recent experience with real-world clients that were overly optimistic about the prospects for e-commerce applications. Whackabilly is imaginary, but the conditions, decisions, and outcomes described are broadly based on real events.

I am the new Information Technology (IT) vice president at Whackabilly Toy. My company makes the Ventables series of training aids and the Whackabilly line of deformable plastic dolls along with the Microsoft Windows software that goes with them. The products are made out of a dense foam material incorporating up to about 30 percent sand for weight and feel, and have one or more pressure sensors embedded near the center. The toys are typically about eight inches high. The training aids usually nearly life size. All products ship in Styrofoam kits complete with instruction manual, CD-ROM, and mouse cable splitters for both serial and PS2 connectors. The Whackabillies also include a foam-rubber mallet.

When the dolls are deformed the software grabs the amount, direction, and initial duration of the deformation to trigger an appropriate action. For the toys, this is a sound and graphics display set according to user preferences. For the training aids, it is usually a measure of the source, direction, and strength of the pressure applied. We ship a default set of these with each product but also provide an exchange service for users who make their own and wish to share them with others. These, needless to say, are often hilariously obscene and far more creative than the cartoonish violence and sound effects our lawyers let us ship."

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