Jolt Awards 2007 Finalists

The books:

General Books
  Beautiful Code Edited by Andy Oram and Greg Wilson O’Reilly
Geekonomics: The Real Cost of Insecure Software by David Rice Addison-Wesley Professional
Manage It!: Your Guide to Modern Pragmatic Project Management by Johanna Rothman Pragmatic Bookshelf
Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun O’Reilly
Outside In Software Development by Carl Kessler and John Sweitzer IBM Press
Release It!: Design and Deploy Production-Ready Software by Michael T. Nygard Pragmatic Bookshelf
Technical Books
  Continuous Integration: Improving Software Quality and Reducing Risk By Paul Duvall, Steve Matyas, Andrew Glover Addison-Wesley Professional
Fuzzing: Brute Force Vulnerability Discovery By Michael Sutton, Adam Greene, Pedram Amini Addison-Wesley Professional
Head First SQL Your Brain on SQL—A Learner’s Guide by Lynn Beighley O’Reilly
The Rails Way by Obie Fernandez Addison-Wesley Professional
WPF Unleashed by Adam Nathan Sams Publishing
xUnit Test Patterns: Refactoring Test Code by Gerard Meszaros Addison-Wesley Professional

The complete list is 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 :-)

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.

Congress Pushes Back on H1-B Visas, Increases H1-B fees

From an article on

With Democrats taking over control of Congress this year, tech harbored hopes of an increase in H-1B visas from the current 64,000 per year. The cap does not apply to petitions made on behalf of current H-1B holders or from applicants who hold advanced degrees from U.S. academic institutions, for whom an additional 20,000 visas are made available.

Yet while the bill was still in play, the U.S. Senate voted to increase the fees on H1-B visas while not raising the cap.

“What many of us have come to understand is that these H-1B visas are not being used to supplement the American work force where we have shortages but, rather, H1-B visas are being used to replace American workers with lower-cost foreign workers,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in his May 25 floor comments.

Under Sanders’ bill, H-1B visa fees would have jumped $1,500 per application to $5,000 from the current $3,500. The increased fees would be funneled to a scholarship fund for Americans seeking degrees in math, technology and health-related fields.

Bad news for H1-B aspirants.

Internet Cafes to be Monitored

This is stupid.

Mr. Vijay Mukhi is intelligent enough to realize that terrorists wont be using their home machines, but does he think that they dont have an alternative ? Like a wi-fi hot spot ? Or tapping into somebody else’s connection ? Or just crack the monitoring software ?

“The question we need to ask ourselves is whether a breach of privacy is more important or the security of the nation. I do not think the above question needs an answer,” said Mukhi.

Mukhi won’t be so enthusiastic if his personal computer is monitored too.

“The police needs to install programs that will capture every key stroke at regular interval screen shots, which will be sent back to a server that will log all the data.

The police can then keep track of all communication between terrorists no matter, which part of the world they operate from.This is the only way to patrol the net and this is how the police informer is going to look in the e-age,” added Mukhi.

I just cringe.

Researcher Says Skilled Foreign Nationals Need Green Cards, Not H-1B Visas

From an article on ComputerWorld :

Although one out of every four international patent applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty are submitted by foreign nationals living in the United States, unless the federal government does something to make it easier for foreigners to obtain green cards or permanent residency, many of those inventors may leave the United States, causing a “reverse brain drain,” concludes a new study. The study, “America’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs,” written by researchers at Duke, Harvard, and New York universities, was led by Duke adjunct professor Vivek Wadhwa. Wadhwa says the United States is experiencing a brain drain similar to what countries such as India experienced when so many highly educated foreigners came to the U.S., except now they are leaving the country and returning to tech centers in their native countries. Wadhwa says some venture capitalists estimate that 100,000 skilled workers have returned to China and 50,000 have returned to India over the last few years. There are over a million skilled workers and their families waiting for permanent resident visas, but immigration policy mandates that only 8,400 green cards can be issued to China and 8,400 to India every year. Wadhwa suggests increasing the total number of permanent resident visas from 120,000 per year to either 250,000 or 300,000 and removing all per-country limitations until the backlog is cleared. Wadhwa says the H-1B visa creates more problems than it solves by distorting market forces and allowing companies to bring in workers who will work for lower salaries than American workers. He says it should be eliminated in favor of permanent resident visas. Although he also believes the country’s priority should be to encourage American children to study math and science and participate in technical fields, until the nation accomplishes this he says we must rely on foreign nationals to keep the United States competitive.