So Many Subjects, So Little Time

Let me start off by saying that my server crashed just before the first of the month (taking most of my unread e-mail with it), and if I haven’t replied to you by now I’m probably not going to. I still have everything saved, but AOL doesn’t seem to want to read it. An upgrade to AOL 5.0 on my Win ’98 machine appears to be impossible, yet the only way to retrieve downloaded but unread mail. Since I’ve railed against AOL before, I’ll discuss newly discovered peeves instead.

Peeve number one, Compaq. For those of you that weren’t around prior to Dell, Compaq was Dell on steroids back in the 80’s. Tiny green screen, keyboard that snapped over that screen and the 5 1/4″ drive(s) to allow it to be portable (compact, as it were). The fact that Compaq ran DOS rather than CP/M, coupled with their production capabilities, allowed them to exceed everyone except IBM in the production of “PC compatible” systems and to toast CP/M rivals like Cromemco and Osborne and DOS rival Kaypro. How Compaq could put out such a cruddy machine now (yep, that’s the server that crashed) parallels the company’s stock price.

Number two, badmouthing of consultants. Actually, this is nothing new but seems to have taken on a darker tone of late. Rather than defend my own position, which would then require further defense against those that would “pick nits”, I’ll say this — if you don’t like consultants, you’ve had more than one bad one. If you’ve only had one bad one and still dislike consultants in general, then you’re guilty of gross generalization. Just don’t paint all of us with the same brush.

Peeve number three, the so-called H1-B visa “controversy”. We ran out of these allotments earlier this year than ever before, yet businesses are screaming for more. Why? Nearly every consultant and contractor I know that is out of work has been so for quite some time, and these are GOOD people as opposed to Y2K opportunists. Despite an unemployment rate of 1.4% in my geographical area, IS job listings have been at an all time low around here for the past several months. The only “need” for H1-B visas that I and others see is a need to pay people less than market wages for equivalent work. If area companies like SAS, IBM, Red Hat, Nortel, Cisco and the like need high-tech workers, perhaps they should advertise in the local paper instead of lobbying congress. Back when I had a “real” job (and unemployment wasn’t nearly so low), the paper regularly ran classifieds for computer jobs in excess of five pages. I often caution those coming here from overseas about the business practices of those sponsoring them — it appears that my fears of exploitation for the latter are still valid.

ULTIMATE peeve — “the new economy”. There IS NO “new” economy! There are new companies and technologies in which persons unqualified to do so (because they don’t understand the industry) are investing great bags of cash in the hope of a large return, but these are no more “new economy” than the bloated stock price of Microsoft or the “plastics” from the days of “The Graduate”. Plastics did well long-term, but not as well as they did the first two weeks after that movie opened. Wall Street is legalized gambling, plain and simple. They try to woo you with numbers and statistics but, if you’re betting on a single winner “du jour”, you’d be better off at the track. Long term investments are good stuff, but don’t let anyone fool you into believing in this “new economy” horse emission. The NASDAQ proved it today, but it will take a long-term beating of the idiots that drove companies like over $100 per share to get the idea through everyone’s head. P/E ratios cannot be ignored just because a company has “dot com” at the end of its’ name, nor should a company be allowed to be in business for nearly five years without making a profit and still make up a portion of someone’s retirement fund…