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Comment: Re:Really? (Score 2) 441

by bmajik (#47734635) Attached to: Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

*raises hand*

I've posted about this before many times.

I have a pulse
I am not sure about having a conscience -- that may disqualify me.
I have an IQ over 30
I am a citizen
I am not a politician
I am not a CEO.

I've been an engineer at Microsoft since 2000. I've worked on developer tools and ERP products. I've worked in Redmond; I currently work in Fargo.

I have interviewed hundreds of people for Microsoft positions. I am not a manager, but I've played manager at times. I understand the compensation system quite well, and how it has evolved over my 15 years at the company.

I have also worked with non-citizens and non-native born my entire career, including many who are on H1-Bs currently.

You could go and dig through my old posts if you wanted to. I'll try and give the short version

1) In my opinion, Microsoft pays very well. If i lost my job in North Dakota, I think i'd be taking a huge pay cut to work anywhere else. I base this on the numbers people throw out when I've interviewed with other companies. (You get frustrated from time to time in 15 years with the same company. I've shopped around. I've stayed put)

2) There are a lot of "paper qualified" people out there. I can't hire even half of the ones I talk to.

I see both ends of the "funnel" of candidates. For university recruiting trips, there is essentially no filtering done before I get to talk to them. For industry hires, they had to get through a few people before they talk to me.

We're already paying a competitive wage and we cannot hire many of the people we talk to. The obvious move is to try and expand the # of people we're able to talk to.

3) For a variety of reasons, it is MORE expensive for Microsoft to deal with H1-B candidates. There are all kinds of legal costs and challenges, as well as employee time wasted dealing with immigration bullshit -- that normal domestic employees do not incur.

For each domestic job type at Microsoft, there is a flyer posted in the breakroom that says what the title is, what the qualifications are, and what the salary range is. The salary ranges are the ones I am familiar with. Any H1-B could simply look at the flyer, and if they were getting paid less than that, they could lawyer up and retire. Every state's attorney in the US would want in on that lawsuit. Saving a few thousand dollars a year on salary costs couldn't possibly be worth it to us.

4) I feel no particular allegience to "the american worker". So you were good at choosing where your parents were when you were born? And the benefits of this should accrue to you WHY?

I am interested in people who will improve the caliber of my company and the caliber of my society. Hard working, intelligent people often have that potential. I don't care about where they were born. i care about what they will do.

I want the US to suck every brilliant engineer out of India and China. I don't want China getting any better at matching the US military industrial complex, and I want India to change its society so that innovators can effect meaningful change there, instead of being trapped in a hopeless system of patronage and bribery.

(have you talked to Indians who are in the US? There's a reason they are here...)

I would love to have the problem of drowning in qualified American talent. But that isn't a problem I've ever had in my entire career.

Finally, before you run your mouth about Microsoft not doing anything about to help with the domestic labor supply, Microsoft pays for me to volunteer 1 hour a day teaching Computer Science at a local high school. I start my 2nd year this Monday. I'll be helping teach a section of AP Computer Science -- in JAVA. Do you think this is some kind of sweetheart deal for MS? They are losing my work time, they are giving money to the school, and I am teaching the kids using Eclipse and the Java stack -- the direct competitors to the product and ecosystem that I work on (i work on Visual Studio).

What we're doing, is widening the pipeline of people who get exposed to CS, so that hopefully, more of them do CS in college, and more of them are GOOD at it. That is going to help the entire industry.

I don't know what experiences you've had, but I feel confident in saying that they haven't been at Microsoft.

Comment: Re:you must not have done well in math class (Score 2) 214

by bmajik (#47686907) Attached to: Figuring Out Where To Live Using Math

Focusing on gun crimes is the tactic that gun control advocates use.

The problem is that victims don't care if they are stabbed to death or shot to death.

The correct metric is _total_ crimes of bodily threat or assault. Good guys use legally carried weapons to deal with bad guys irrespective of what the bad guys did or didn't bring.

So, don't focus on gun deaths (which, btw, also counts suicides.. which is also totally disingenuous)

Focus on murders. How does Illinois compare to say, North Dakota, in murders?

I'll stay in rural North Dakota, thanks.

Comment: Changing form factors, changing software (Score 2) 125

Suppose for a moment that you are building a new processor for mobile devices.

The mobile device makers - Apple, Google, and Microsoft -- all have "App Stores". Side loading is possible to varying degrees, but in no case is it supported or a targeted business scenario.

These big 3 all provide their own SDKs. They specify the compilers, the libraries, etc.

Many of the posts in this thread talk about how critical it will be for the compilers to produce code well suited for this processor...

Arguably, due to the app development toolchain and software delivery monoculture attached to each of the mobile platforms, it is probably easier than ever to improve compilers and transparently update the apps being held in app-store catalogs to improve their performance for specific mobile processors.

It's not the wild west any more; with tighter constraints around the target environment, more specific optimizations become plausible.

Comment: Separation of Powers (Score 1) 427

by bmajik (#47633523) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Life Beyond the WRT54G Series?

Claim: the routing and security features on the edge devices your ISP provides as CPE are not sufficient

Claim: You want the ability to reset the shitty CPE your ISP gives you without losing LAN connectivity

Claim: Specific purpose devices are often better suited to their tasks than all-in-one devices

Solution: Treat your ISP-supplied CPE as a dumb device. Put a smarter device behind it that does routing, segmentation, translation, dhcp, etc, the way you want those things done.

Ideally, do PPPoE or something from the smarter device across the CPE, because CPE firmware is so often just terrible, but if not, double-NAT is often fine.

Critically, make your wifi APs a separate function both from your core home router and your edge device.

For a trivial amount of money, you can keep buying Ubiquiti APs and place them all over your property, as needed, and get an arbitrarily high level of speed and coverage. The configuration is completely painless, and this setup is completely independent of your edge device and edge connectivity.

Comment: Re:Space Junk Chain Reaction (Score 1) 150

by bmajik (#47600527) Attached to: Japan To Launch a Military Space Force In 2019

Who needs weather satellites, GPS, and communication equipment anyway?

In the modern world, we all do. Which is why we should be more alarmed that all of these things are so very vulnerable to an increasingly long list of state-actors who don't like the West, and are so difficult to replace on short notice.

We've "gotten away with it" for a long time now. But any honest person knew those days were numbered.

At some point, we're going to have to really deal with the problem of space junk, and with the problem of space warfare as a prolific source of new space junk.

Comment: Re:We need a new browser (Score 1) 172

by chrish (#47514753) Attached to: Firefox 31 Released

Switched to Pale Moon when Firefox when full-Google Chrome in the UI; it's like Firefox classic, compiled for 64-bit systems.

Only been slightly annoying at work, due to Cisco's WebEx not having a 64-bit plugin, a fact that I can't seem to remember before trying to join an online meeting... every. damn. time.

Oh, and annoying when Firefox Sync upgraded their back-end in ways that blocked Pale Moon from working. Installed Xmarks (hey, I use LastPass anyway, why not) and forgot all about Sync thanks to being able to sync my bookmarks properly between Firefox, Pale Moon, Chrome and Safari (IE too, if I ever used that for anything other than my company's broken internal sites).

Comment: Re:Minivans are practical but ignored (Score 1) 205

by bmajik (#47501367) Attached to: New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

I think VW might contract the actual manufacturing to Chrysler.

Indeed. The VW Routan was a Chrysler Town and Country with some different skins on the inside and out. It was so much not a VW product that the VCDS system (the thing you can use to do vehicle diagnostics on any VW, Audi, Seat, or Skoda product since the early 90s) doesn't even talk to it.

In the German market, VW sells Vans of all different sizes. None of them are currently imported to the US; the Eurovan was the last rest-of-world van that was available in North America.

Comment: Re: Hmmm (Score 3, Informative) 205

by bmajik (#47501143) Attached to: New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

We have 3 kids in car seats, and an Odyssey.

When we lived in town, it was great. Back then, my only serious gripe with the Odyssey is that if you are running a second set of wheels (e.g. for permanently mounted snow tires), and don't fit a 2nd set of expensive TPMS sensors to those wheels, the VSA (stability control) cannot be defeated via the console switch.

This is a problem because the VSA implementation sucks and is frankly unsafe when accelerating on surface transitions - for instance, when you are waiting on a gravel road and are about to pull onto a paved highway, the VSA system senses differing levels of wheel grip between the wheel on pavement and the wheel still on gravel, and cuts power, precisely when you need maximum power to quickly get to highway speed.

Last fall we moved to a rural area, and now poorly maintained roads (deep snow in the winters until I clear it, deep ruts whenever there are rains) has really shown me the shortcomings of the vehicle. My wife has gotten it stuck 4 times in our first winter.

The Odyssey needs 2 things to be superlative. Air suspension with adjustable ride height (it is a very low vehicle, for ease of entry/exit for small kids), and a proper AWD system.

My wife is now desperately wanting an AWD vehicle. But to get a proper AWD system (e.g. locking transfer case or at least a torsen differential), and the useful seating capacity of a minivan, you need to be looking at full-size truck based SUVs, like the Excursion or Sequoia.

I'm aware that the Sienna comes in an AWD version, but its particular AWD system and ride height doesn't inspire me that they will be foolproof enough to want to make the switch.

Sadly, my wife also refuses to drive a Mercedes G-wagen :)

As an aside, the Odyssey towing capacity isn't really sufficient. It's 3500lbs, and it requires upfitting the vehicle considerably with things that don't come factory - PS cooler, ATF cooler, hitch wiring, etc. (In addition to the actual hitch receiver).

When we were considering camping options, essentially nothing that had enough floor space for a family of 5 could be towed behind an Odyssey.

Comment: Re:Work Shortage where is the Wage Increases?, (Score 1) 529

by bmajik (#47491797) Attached to: US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

Hi there. Been an engineer at Microsoft since 2000. Have interviewed hundreds of people at all skill levels.

Why do you assume that wages at Microsoft aren't increasing?

I understand the compensation model, and how it has changed in my 14 years. The comp packages we are offering to college grads these days are astoundingly lucrative. Every few years in my career, there has been a big compensation realignment based on market realities. Everytime something at work upsets me enough that I start talking to other companies, their comp packages (especially with cost of living factored in) aren't able to match what I'm getting now from Microsoft.

Lately, high comp packages are required to compete with Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc, who all have plenty of money, and, for younger developers, are often seen as cooler places to work than old stodgy Microsoft.

I just see no evidence that H1-Bs are a mechanism for the company to save money. Dealing with HB-1 hassles involves a lot of overhead and expense that are not applicable to domestic employees.

As I said earlier, I have interviewed many, many folks, for many positions. The hire rate is not as high as we would like it to be. It never feels good to have to turn someone down, and it is a waste of time for everyone when an interview doesn't go well. But the bottom line is, we talk to many more people than we can feel confident about making an offer to. There are lots of STEM graduates, foreign and domestic. But not all of them are someone we could feel comfortable hiring. I'm sure you've known people in your CS class who could get good grades but who couldn't code... those people count as "qualified STEM applicants" to people that are pushing the "H1B is evil" rhetoric, but we all know that just because someone has a degree doesn't mean they are employable in that field... and certainly not by the top organizations in that field.

I've also seen no evidence that Microsoft has a preference for hiring H1-Bs, or that there is any compensation disparity for H1-Bs. I have seen evidence that H1-Bs cost the company money that domestic employees do not. For example, the company has special lawyers and paperwork people that deal with H1-B and other immigrant-labor related problems. That's a cost. When H1-B engineers are dealing with this stuff (which is frustratingly often), they aren't writing code or analyzing tests. That's a hit to their productivity, which ultimately, is another cost.

Comment: Re:it depends on what "skilled worker" means. (Score 1) 401

by chrish (#47399003) Attached to: No Shortage In Tech Workers, Advocacy Groups Say

Look at it from the point of view of your executives.

Getting rid of (err, sorry, out-sourcing) the support group massively reduces costs in one area by spreading the cost of downtime and whatnot across all the other areas in the company.

One executive gets a huge bonus for reducing costs, and the other executives get slightly smaller huge bonuses because their efficiency has gone down. It's win-win for the exec who "owns" the support group.

Comment: Re:Diversity is not a virtue (Score 1) 265

by bmajik (#47326137) Attached to: Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo

No, it is not bigoted or racist to assume that someone of a different skin color may have had a different upbringing than you

It is certainly racist.

You are using race as the determining factor to make a presumption about an individual human.

What other useful definition of racism could there be?

Comment: Re:And not an EQ above 50 among them (Score 1) 561

by bmajik (#47326023) Attached to: Match.com, Mensa Create Dating Site For Geniuses

Counter-anecdote.

My dad was active in Mensa when I was younger and he was newly divorced. My dad is an unapologetic anti-democrat; I think Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan may be above Jesus in his world view.

As near as I can tell, his interest in Mensa was for social networking with people that had a chance of understanding him. He's brilliant, loyal, fair, judgmental, and not at all sentimental. He has great difficulty expressing himself emotionally. Only certain people "get" him, and that's fine with him as long as there's at least one.... He's a hardcore INTJ.

He has no desire to run the world or to run other people's lives.

I haven't bothered to apply officially for Mensa, but I think I'd be borderline for admission. I'm also NOT a technocrat and ALSO not a liberal democrat.

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