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Letters As a nine-year old Pakistani girl passes the exam to become a Microsoft Certified Professional, Bill Gates publicly bemoans the fact that there just aren't enough decent software engineers out there. You, as always, have a few suggestions for Mr. Gates to consider:

Why would anyone go into the Computer field these days. Just look at the recent round of [Anticipated, not confirmed - Ed] layoffs at HP. The constant outsourcing of jobs to India has convinced students there is no future in the Computer field.

And BTW Mr. Gates HP is laying off 14,500 people so that should be enough to fill your need or is it that you are wanting people who will work for nothing.

I will agree with you there that there is a shortage of people willing to work for nothing.

Lisa


Could Mr.Gates recruitment problem stem from the fact that he has made computers too easy to use, and as such there are less people needing or wanting to play around with the OS and writing their own applications? And those who do want to do this, have moved to Linux, with it's open licensing and free protocols?

Alex


If Gates cant find the staff, then perhaps he should have a look at why no-one studies engineering anymore. Could it be that your job will be outsourced/offshored after just a few years post graduation, or the fact that you will earn less through your life eventually retiring at about 45 as you are considered too old for the 'IT' game.

If the money is there, the kids will go back to University to study these subjects as they did between 1995-2001.The fact of the matter is there is no place for new-grads in I.T and the money is poor compared to other science subjects.

Hans


Hmm, maybe they're all dropping out before finishing their courses, to set up their own companies, Bill?

Regards, Mike


Could the relentless downward drift of Engineering salaries in equivalent purchasing power over the last 20 years have anything at all to do with this "problem"? There seem to be plenty of Doctors and Lawyers coming out of the academic mill. I suspect the problem is self-generating.

More imported engineers/programmers equals lower average salaries equals fewer folk interested in the 5 years of brain sweat needed to earn a technical degree. It's hard work and it pays slightly less each year. What a coincidence that there aren't "enough" US citizens graduating with technical degrees.

Retired (early) Engineer


Hah!

Perhaps there's no shortage, but the staff greatly prefer to work for organisations and companies that embrace open source and competition (or more accurately co-opetition)?

Or perhaps there is a real shortage, in which case the DMCA and software patents must have played a part. People used to learn by hacking. Today, cryptography makes that well-nigh impossible, and the DMCA threatens anyone brave enough to try with several years in a USA jail.

Bill, you helped make the bed, now it's yours to lie in.

Nigel


A bunch of industry types have tried to get together to define spyware. A brave effort, and one that you were happy to add you tuppence worth to:

The scope of the definition of spyware is so broad that it leaves malware open as a service mark for Internet Explorer and other Microsoft products.

Merton


Spyware and other potentially unwanted technologies are those that "impair users' control over material changes that affect their user experience, privacy, or system security; use of their system resources, including what programs are installed on their computers; or collection, use, and distribution of their personal or otherwise sensitive information."

Have they noticed that this definition includes, as many of us have said for years, the operating system of a certain Redmond WA company?

Chris


Who considers a port scanner to by unwanted, let alone mal/spyware? I'm gona be really angry if Nmap gets blacklisted, whats next Nessus?

Matt


From spyware to virus writers, and the rewards offered to those who help track them down. That was $250,000 worth of reward, in case you missed it the first time. Could a new business model be in the works here?

So, the virus author lands a sweet gig and his buddies get a pile of money? Looks like getting caught was the best thing that could have happened to this group of delinquents. I'm sure glad they caught the only juvenile capable of writing malware, because this might actually encourage this behavior.

Matt


Here are a few better ways for MS to spend their money instead of paying some rats.

1. pay those who've been affected by the viruses. Since they charge for their "OS" they could as well pay some damages.

2. pay some people to fix "well known bugs" in less then 2 years

3. pay the virus authors to work for MS and report the bugs only to MS so they can be fixed before they become public

4. rebrand their OS from "windows" to "holes" and help people make an informed choice

5. offer the people who have suffered because of the security lapses of MS t-shirts that say "my money went to Microsoft and all i got is this zombie pc"

caseta


There's no doubt that virus writers do cause a certain amount of mayhem and there are real costs to businesses. It costs us around $4000 a year in subscription and employee costs to make sure all our workstations are patched.

So yes, punishment is needed, but this wasn't the work of organised crime, no identities were stolen and used for illicit shopping, so we don't need to give the writer the kind of sentence we normally reserve for rapists and drug dealers.

As for the reward, it proves it works - apparently the cost of friendship has a relatively low price..

Andy


A new name for a new threat to cyber-citizens: Phlooding. Oh yes. If a word starts with an F, it is now fair, sorry, phair game to be used to encapsulate some kind of online nasty for easy media consumption:

Overloading authentication and log-in programs? Should have been called "Phlogging," not "Phlooding."

David


Phlooding is just a high-tech version of what we in low-tech calls jamming.

The main difference is: Phlooding prevents users from logging on to the network, and does not interrupt those already running. Jamming kills all communications, both for those already on, as well as those trying to log on.

It is trivial to protect against Phlooding. Just a simple internal firewall to quarantine any access point that makes more than 20 attempts a minute. And after 2 minutes open again. The the Phlooders will be Phooled.

BTW: Most enterprise quality access points has a local cache of credentials, just in case the central server does not answer. So it seems the phocking phlooding only works against small companies with very cheap equipment.

Povl


Given that presumably these terms originated from "phone phreaking", by now the connection with phones is pretty tenuous, but they now have a life of their own.

Rather like the press's love of sticking "-gate" on the end of words (Cheriegate), even though there had been no break-in or bugging involved.

On the other hand, the ideal candidate, "Kofigate", following Clare Short's revelations, never made an appearance ...

Regards, Mike


IT professionals, in the face of all the trials and tribulations they endure as part of their jobs, can probably be forgiven for needing a cuddle. We're not sure about a full body massage, though:

I can imagine that the techs in Vulture Central are demi-gods or if not, that the BOFH will see to it, but in the real world, where beancounters rule, the fight for more budget, working crazy hours for little recognition and having to put out fires left and right, things are just that tad bit different.

Execs who make ludicrous demands of technology they don't understand, make people jump through hoops because they don't want to fork out the money for essential equipment and the screaming stress that comes from the knowledge that there is precisely one [1] drive holding key company information that when it gets lost, not if, will mean the whole joint might as well close down [and having pointed that fact out month after month makes no difference], make working in the IT industry something akin to working on a 1950s Kolchoz and daddy just pissed off the local party apparatchik by asking for a bottle of milk extra to feed the kids.

A hug? Make that a full-body massage and three sessions a day in a health spa.

Jorge


One in ten IT professionals not enjoying their job? How many Burger King employees enjoy their work? They get paid less too.

John


Some US citizens have taken exception to our coverage of the US and the UN and their discussions about the future of the internet. We're not sure these are the most measured of all the responses that came in:

The anti -American slant in your articles is amazing! Do you want something as corrupt as Kofi Annan's mafia taking over the internet? Let's see, the UN is the organization that has allowed Libya to take over the Human Rights Commission and has some of the most repressive regimes in the world on it... Then there's the oil-for-food scandal that is still unraveling... It was only investigated at the behest of the USA & UK govts!

Are you sure you want these crooks running the internet? Think about the effectiveness of other UN programs, and you might think again! LOL!

The real danger here is that the US forges ahead w/ our own version of the internet, w/ US Govt maintaining control, while the rest of the world is left to 'co-ordinate amongst themselves'.... This would ultimately lead to a de-facto present situation (which has run amazingly well!) I mean, do you really want the French govt to have a say in how the internet is run? Let them stick to fu*king up France & leave the rest of us alone!)

BTW, from your article;

"Perhaps rather conveniently, all the staff at the US government body in charge of this controversial role, the NTIA, has gone on a two-day "off-site retreat" and won't be unavailable until Monday. Fancy that. ®"

Won't be unavailable???? Who taught you grammer in school?? I thought you were British, and considering you invented the language, you would have a better handle on things.... Two negatives=a postive, meaning that NTIA representatives WILL be available according to what you wrote! :D

Peter G

Pst, Peter. We'd like to draw your attention to the spelling of the word grammar. Now, we know we are hardly ones to judge, but if you are going to have a pop at us for poor sentence construction, please do so in correctly spelled words. We are but poor vultures, and we are easily confused...


So the UN wants to take "control" over the internet, eh?

This idea deserves a solid "Bite my crank" as the UN (in this man's "obviously biased" US based opinion) is:

A) More corrupt and biased than the US Government could EVER be.

B) Unable to make or administrate any decent INTELLIGENT decision because the UN is biggest "Cluster F*&K" in the world. They can't even get a good handle on their own "Johnsons" preferring to milk ours, while they lift our wallets.

C) Will eventually make decisions that will screw up a perfectly good system beyond all repair.

D) Only motivated by personal aggrandizement, greed and politics.Can you say "Oil for Food?" Oh, I forgot...the French & German governments are completely without blame?!? Hmm.. who engineered & made the gas centrifuges for Iran and Gerry Bull's super cannon for Saddam? It wasn't the USA!

For God Sakes folks, Al Gore and George Bush know more about the internet than the UN does. (All sarcasm meant utterly seriously)

By the way, if you are TRULY concerned about the "Rise of the Machines", you ought to be worried about "One World Government".

Who do you think those Lizard People are anyway?

The UN officials are all a bunch thieving, backstabbing spy's who don't pay their bills or their parking tickets. I say "Throw the bums out" and send the "UN" to Strassbourgh where they all belong! Let them eat snails!

Dan


Finally, a most witty, nay, droll question about the campaign run by No2ID, to get people to pledge that they will refuse to register for ID cards:

If I don't want to go on a database, why should I then agree to go on a database of people who don't want to go on a database ?

Regards, Mike

That is quite enough of that, thank you. Back on Friday with more. ®

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