Indian IT Companies Planning to Make Saturday Working Day

From an article on the The Times of India,

It seems like the saga of five-day working week, enjoyed by over 15 lakh technology professionals in the country, would soon be a thing of the past.

TOI had first reported last month that such a thing was being considered by some companies to offset the impact of the rupee appreciation on their margins. Now we hear some are actually moving ahead on the idea, and implementing it in certain sections.

There is no official communication yet, but that, employees think, may be because the company does not want to upset overall morale.

Here is what Wipro HR VP says:

‘‘Some of us are already working on Saturdays depending on delivery schedules and deadlines. But there is no plan to introduce a six-day working regime, although the idea sounds good.’’

I am sure this asshole has never worked a saturday in his whole life, except maybe teeing up the golf ball.
All this sounds very depressing to me. These companies are NOT looking to cut losses (none of them are losing any money, their profits are in the billions, and their growth percentage are still positive), they are just trying to fight their decrease in profit margins as a result of the appreciation of the Rupee. What a boost this would be to the employee morale !

Read the complete article here.

13 Governors Request for Increase in H1-B and Green Cards

Governors of 13 states, including Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Rick Perry of Texas, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Chris Gregoire of Washington and Eliot Spitzer of New York, have sent a letter to Senator Harry Reid, Senator Mitch McConnell, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader John Boehner asking for an increase in the number of H1-B visas and Permanent Resident visas (Green cards). The governors said they recognized there may not be time for comprehensive action on immigration laws during this session of Congress but said quick movement is needed on the skilled visa issue, as evidenced by the rapid speed by which this year’s quota was met.

The PDF copy of the request can be viewed here.

An article on CNET News Blog discussing the same can be viewed here.

Most Expensive Cities in the World

According to CNN Money, the most expensive city in the world in Moscow, Russia. It kepts its #1 spot from last year. The #2 spot is for London, United Kingdom which moved up from the #5 spot last year. Seoul, Tokyo, and HongKong take up #3, #4 and #5 spots respectively.

What is unbelievable is

A luxury two-bedroom in Moscow now rents for $4,000 a month; a CD costs $24.83, and an international newspaper, $6.30, according to Mercer. By comparison, a fast food meal with a burger is a steal at $4.80.

The most expensive city in USA is New York which is at #15, down from #10 last year. Los Angeles, the second most expensive city in USA, is at #42. LA was at #29 last year.

Here is the list of top 20 most expensive cities in the world.

  1. Moscow
  2. London
  3. Seoul
  4. Tokyo
  5. Hong Kong
  6. Copenhagen
  7. Geneva
  8. Osaka
  9. Zurich
  10. Oslo
  11. Milan
  12. St. Petersburg (Russia)
  13. Paris
  14. Singapore
  15. New York City
  16. Dublin
  17. Tel Aviv
  18. Rome
  19. Vienna
  20. Beijing

I Googled these facts after having a chat with my college mate Kiran Swaminathan (who is currently in London) when we compared living expenses in UK and USA :-)

the dip

the dip

Seth Godin writes well. No doubt about it. But I wish he never wrote this book. I am glad I read this book from the library instead of buying it. Even if I bought it, I would have returned it. I wish Seth would plant quite a few trees to make up for the trees cut down to print this book.

The title of the book is the dip – a little book that teaches you when to quit (and when to stick). Part of that is true. It is a little book. The second part is false. It teaches you nothing. Seth Godin writes in 80 pages what you already know. The main idea of the book is this – there are certain things you do in life when no matter how hard you try you are not going anywhere. Then there are certain times when the going is tough but if you stick with it, you are going to reap the benefits. The first situation is called the cul-de-sac and the second one is called the dip (there is a third situation called the cliff but that is not even worth mentioning it here). Quit when you are in the cul-de-sac and try harder when you are in the dip. There you are, now please hand over $12.95. Thank you very much.

Average salary in Indian Software industry up by 11% in 2007

From an article in Economic Times:

 The average salary in the Indian software industry grew by 11 per cent in 2007 compared to a three per cent dip last year, an annual survey conducted by a leading industry analyst said on Tuesday.

The more interesting thing is:

 It found that there is virtually no correlation between ‘salary levels’ and ‘satisfaction with salary’.

HCL infosystems was way down at No 23 in salary rank, but it has topped the charts on employee satisfaction with salary.

While TCS employees ranked their company at No 4 in terms of ‘satisfaction with salary’, it was ranked at No 13 in terms of salary. Infosys was ranked at No 12 in terms of salary but No 28 in terms of ‘satisfaction with salary’.

Read the complete article here.

New music watermarking technique patented by Microsoft

A patent entitled “Stealthy Audio Watermarking” has been awarded to Microsoft on Sep 4, 2007. The patent abstract states:

Described herein is audio watermarking technology for inserting and detecting watermarks in audio signals, such as a music clip. The watermark identifies the content producer, providing a signature that is embedded in the audio signal and cannot be removed. The watermark is designed to survive all typical kinds of processing and malicious attacks. In one described implementation, a watermarking system employs chess spread-spectrum sequences (i.e., “chess watermarks”) to improve the balance of positive and negative chips in the watermarking sequences. The balance is not imposed in an orderly fashion, which might make the watermark sequence more easily detectable to an attacker, but in a pseudo-random fashion. In that way, better sequence balance is achieved while preserving its randomness for an attacker without knowledge of the keys. In another described implementation, a watermarking system employs an energy-level trigger to determine whether to skip encoding of a portion of a watermark within a given time span of an audio clip. If a large discrepancy in energy levels exists over a given time frame, then the frame is not watermarked, to avoid audible time-dispersion of artifacts due to spectral modifications (which are similar to “pre-echo” effects in audio coding). In another described implementation, a watermarking system begins encoding of a watermark at a variable position after the beginning of an audio clip.

This is already being touted as the “Uncrackable DRM”. DejaVu, anyone ?

B-1 visa holders can do H-1B work

From Chennai US Consulate website:

Any person holding a B1 or B1/B2 visa may be eligible to perform H-1B work in the United States as long as they fulfill the following criteria:

  • Hold the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree
  • Plan to perform H-1B-caliber work or training
  • Will be paid only by their foreign employer, except reimbursement of incidental travel costs such as housing and per diem. The employee must not receive any salary from a U.S. source.
  • The task can be accomplished in a short period of time.

These travelers would be admitted as B1 visitors, and may only stay in the U.S. for the time allotted by the Department of Homeland Security upon entry.

Like any other B1/B2 applicant, travelers must still show strong professional, familial and financial or other ties, which indicate a strong inducement to return to the country of origin or another country other than the United States.

Consulate General Chennai is prepared to issue B1/B2 visas to qualified applicants for this purpose. These visas may also be used for tourism. Current holders of B1/B2 visas may already use this provision without seeking another visa.

When seeking a visa for this purpose, please clearly explain this in the applicant’s BEP cover letter.

If the applicant and employer so chooses, they may also apply for a more limited B1 visa with the annotation “B-1 in lieu of H.” These visas may not be used for pleasure travel.

The Customs and Border Patrol agents at Ports of Entry are aware of this provision. If asked at the border, applicants are advised to explain completely their purpose of travel and that they will not be paid from sources based in the United States. Travelers are encouraged to carry a letter from their host company and Indian employer listing the traveler’s duties, length of stay and remuneration plans.