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This is an old page from Rod Begbie's blog.

It only exists in an attempt to prevent linkrot. No new content will be added to this site, and links and images are liable to be broken. Check out begbie.com to find where I'm posting stuff these days.

Entries for week beginning October 23, 2005

October 29, 2005



Odd juxtaposition -- The McDonalds on Boylston St in Boston has this sign at the entrance to its parking lot. They clearly get a classier kind of burger-eater than most drive-thrus.

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October 28, 2005

LJNet - LiveJournal Social Network Visualization

This is rather fun — It maps out your friends-of-friends-of-friends network from LiveJournal. It takes a long time to run, but the output is nifty.

Archie Goes Goth

“Totally dismal and excellent”

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Microsoft Office Templates: Crime scenes with shapes

Visio: It’s not just for process flows

October 27, 2005

Newbury Comics coupons

Some decent savings this weekend at New England’s finest record chain, Newbury Comics.

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Why you should try VMWare's free virtual machine runtime

I’ve been gabbling excitedly for the last week to anyone in earshot about what a big deal I think the free VMWare Player is. Here’s some more great arguments for it.

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October 26, 2005

H-1Beating a dead horse

Following on from yesterday’s post, Ephraim kindly forwarded me a quote from John Miano of the “Programmers’ Guild”. I haven’t yet got permission to post it here, but in summary, it confirms that years of experience was not taken into consideration when compiling their report.

Miano further states that according to the law, experience is not supposed to be taken into account when defining the prevailing wage.

Boy, did I feel silly.

Until I spent thirty seconds on Google and found the following on a Department of Labor webpage:

All employer applications for a prevailing wage determination shall initially be considered an entry level or Level I wage. The employer’s requirements for experience, education, training, and special skills shall be compared to those generally required for an occupation… and shall be used as indicators that the job opportunity is for an experienced (Level II), qualified (Level III), or fully competent (Level IV) worker and warrants a prevailing wage determination at a higher wage level.

Hey, it only directly contradicts the methodology used by the Programmers’ “Guild”.

Why I am so hot under the collar about this?

Because I’ve got a lot out of the H1-B scheme (it indirectly lead to me meeting Joy, after all), and think it’s one of the best ways for America to top up its melting pot.

Especially when the alternative is, you know, chance.

Being a non-resident is a pretty tough deal. When an employer is faced with two candidates for a position, one of whom is a US resident, and the other needing visa sponsorship, they’re only going to fork out thousands of dollars in filing and lawyers’ fees and wait the necessary time if the H1B candidate is thought to be significantly more beneficial to the company.

Yes, I’m certain abuse does exist. If someone wanted, I’m certain they could provide evidence of dubious “body shop” consultancies bringing in “cheap” foreign labour and treating them poorly. (Any parallels drawn here between software consulting and prostitution would be tasteless. Luckily I’m above such things.) But such companies knowingly break the law, and I’m would no more change their practices in response to visa caps than a crack dealer would when he sees McGruff the Crime Dog. (Hrmmm… Is comparing software consultants to crack dealers any better?)

The Programmers’ “Guild” is engaged in racism, pure and simple, and as such, should not be tolerated by an educated society. My hope is that Infoworld will consider posting a correction or clarification, or better yet, a follow-up column questioning their motives.

Online Wage Library - Search Wizard

Find out what the “prevailing wage” is for your job. Apropos of nothing, obviously.

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Slim Devices : Squeezebox

The new Squeezebox is gorgeous. Throw in excellent format support (MP3, OGG, WMA, AAC and FLAC) and an open-source server, and it’s a geek’s dream.

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Motorway map of England, Scotland and Wales

Nicely done map of the British motorway system in the style of the London Underground map. Not particularly *useful*, but man, is it pretty.

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October 25, 2005


Ooh, I’m grumpy at this InfoWorld article which makes your standard “Bloody foreigners! Coming across here and stealing our jobs, sleeping with our food, and eating our wives and children” argument about computer programmers. For those unware, H1B is a specific visa that allows a non-US citizen to work in the US for a specific employer, for no more than six years. And it’s how I entered the country in 1998.

Unfortunately, he fails to link to the original report, instead cherry picking facts like “On average, applications for H-1B workers in computer occupations were for wages $13,000 less than Americans in the same occupation and state.”

Note that he just refers to “workers in computer occupations”. Not “workers in computer occupations with three years experience”. Apparently, every programmer is created equal. I’d hazard that most H1-B holders are like I was—Just out of university, and wanting to move to the States. If that’s the case, then it makes sense that the “average” H1-B holder gets paid less than the “average” permanent resident. They’re probably less experienced.

Also, the sources quoted seem very apples and oranges. The H1B salaries were taken from the information filed at the time the H1B holder was hired. In my first job, my salary went up by 50% over the two years I was employed there, but that was never reported to the immigration services. On the other hand, the Bureau of Labour statistics are refreshed every few months by asking employers for salary information.

I’d love to see the original report to know for sure, but for now it looks like nothing more than fodder for anti-immigration fuckwits.

UPDATE: Although the report isn’t on their site, I’ve just found the authors, The Programmers Guild. Wow, they’re a lot closer to the Minuteman Militia than I’d imagined.

UPDATE2: Ephraim Schwartz, author of the article, has responded in my comments. Thanks, Ephraim.

Flickr.Net Screensaver

Flickr screensaver for Windows. Rather nicely, it displays different photos on each monitor if you’ve got multiple screens.

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Letter database

Handy Unicode resource — A lookup tool for glyphs.

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October 24, 2005

Firefoxit: Firefox Widgets

Extension bringing Dashboard-esque widgets into the Firefox environment.

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Cassette Jam

Yikes! It’s kind of creepy that seeing some of these blank tapes reminds me of the ZX Spectrum games I had pirated on each kind!

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How-to: VMware player modification

Use the free VMWare Player to *create* virtual machines.

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Python Unicode HOWTO

Linked to, because I keep forgetting this shit.

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About This Site

This is an archive of groovmother.com, the old blog run by Rod Begbie — A Scottish geek who lives in San Francisco, CA.

I'm the co-founder of Sōsh, your handy-dandy guide for things to do in San Francisco this weekend.