Re: National Sign-On Letter to House on H-1Bs, U.S. Immigration

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From: Adam L. Beberg (
Date: Thu Jun 08 2000 - 03:14:34 PDT

On Thu, 8 Jun 2000 wrote:

> Debunking the Myth of a Desperate Software Labor Shortage
> Testimony to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration
> -- Dr. Norman Matloff

I remember reading this a couple years ago just after it was presented.
Unfortunately ever word of what he says is true.

The most interesting part to me then (and now) was the section on age
discrimination, tho I suspect the recent updates are H-1B related. The
problem with hiring people with less then 10 years of real world
experience is that they don't work well with others in a team, take 5
times as long to do something, rely on drugs to stay awake, and then you
still have to find someone with experience to fix all the junk they

The users wonder why software (both commercial and open source) sucks so
badly. Maybe because the junk is never fixed, no quality control or
coding practices are in places, and the coders don't have any any idea
"why" they are doing - only "what". The software industry is driven by
faster, cheaper, with no concern for better since there is no warranty
or liability. If software is ever going to improve then liability needs
to reenter the picture. As long as the software can hold out until after
the buyout/IPO and everyone gets rich, noone cares.

For most companies, selling junk is just fine, users expect it, but what
if people need your software to work all the time and always the right
way? My last day job was a place where 99.999% uptime was the minimum.
Oddly everyone was 30+ and had a family, and I was the only single guy.
But for a dot-com I'm already near retirement age. With 8 years on my
resume, it took me about 5 months to find a job. The other place that
made an offer was a medical device company, where 100% uptime was
required because a "scary looking probe-thing" was inside someones heart
when it was running. So those willing to hire people with experience are
doing it becasue they need quality, or worse things then needing to
reboot a machine happen.

A computer science degree now is far more about training then about
theory. When I was in school maybe 10% of the undergrad pure-CS majors
were in it because it was what they loved (preaty much the ACM folks).
The EE/CpE students tended to be much better and far less numerous. Most
were there because computer science majors made piles of money when they
graduated. This isn't so bad, since building an e-commerce web site or a
Java applet doesn't require anything you learn beyond the freshman year
anyway. Who needs "why", where is the paycheck. The problem is that a
degree doesn't mean anything any more, so you can't blame companies for
looking at only the top few percent of students, hoping that they will
get one of the real ones.

some hiring rules for writing non-crap software:
[or, why I'll never win]

1. Degree + 8 years in the field (may overlap).
2. Programming experience _before_ college.
3. Knows the theory underlying the role they have. If they touch a
   database they better know what BCNF is.
4. Experience with quality control methods, code review, etc.

- Adam L. Beberg
  Mithral Communications & Design, Inc.
  The Cosm Project - -

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