close this bookVolume 2: No. 28
View the documentNews -- politics
View the documentNews -- economy
View the documentNews -- graphics
View the documentNews -- computer industry
View the documentNews -- OCR; handwriting recognition
View the documentNews -- job opportunities
View the documentDiscussion -- software careers

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the U.S. will lose over 800K defense-sector jobs by 1995 -- or possibly 2.5M by 1997 if larger cuts are made. Each prime-contractor position entails about three subcontracting jobs and 1.5 service-industry jobs. California has lost 75K aerospace jobs this year (mostly in Southern California), and can expect to lose another 220K. Defense contractors may be able to offset 25%-30% of the losses with private-sector work, but very few such companies have ever made a successful transition to non-defense. Smaller manufacturing companies are also in danger, despite their strengths in applying state-of-the-art technology. They often need government assistance with strategic planning, management, production processes, and accessing new markets. [Richard D. Schmidt, SJM, 6/29.] The manufacturers may need consultants and new hires with technical skills, as well as business consultants.

Candidate Bill Clinton has pledged to move money to the civilian sector, doubling the current 9% budget for "investments in the future" such as R&D, training, and infrastructure. He would create a civilian DARPA, boost high-speed rail transit and door-to-door fiber optics, aid small defense manufacturers, implement national K-12 testing and an apprenticeship program, and strengthen R&D and investment tax credits. [John A. Adam, The Institute, 7/92.]

Senator Gore (D-TN) has entered a bill, The Information Infrastructure and Technology Act of 1992, that calls for NSF to connect K-12 schools to NSFNET and to sponsor educational software and teacher training ($300M/5 years); NIST to develop networking technology for manufacturing ($250M); NIH, NLM, and NSF to develop applications for health care ($300M); and NSF, NASA, and DARPA to develop digital libraries and databases ($300M). OSTP would coordinate the activities under the HPCC initiative. Gore's office is (202) 224-4944. [David J. Farber (, com-priv, 7/1.] Text of Gore's bill is available via FTP as gorebill.1992.txt in /nren/iita.1992 on You can also mail a "send gorebill.1992.txt" message to [Mark Davis-Craig (, com-priv, 7/6.]

Dave Hughes ( says that the Community Learning and Information Network (CLIN or CLN) shows promise as a national educational infrastructure. It was proposed to the Educational and Human Resources Committee of the Federal Coordinating Council on Science, Engineering and Technology (FCCSET) Learning Communities in Washington by a loose consortium centered on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Goals included U.S. workforce retraining, K-12 education, and military reservist training. It would cost $40 million to launch, but would fund itself as it grew. Early flaws have been fixed and the remaining backers are can-do people. Dave likes it because it's the only strategic plan that could serve heterogeneous end-user communities through virtual learning centers. (CLIN's early draft specified a physical "big-urban, high-tech learning center" model.) The program's chief scientist is UCSD's Mike Wiskerchen. [com-priv, 7/5.] Dave later pointed out that Congress was very unhappy with the time it took to bring reservists up to speed for Desert Storm. (Some of them never made it.) Simulators and computer aides for reservist training may be an R&D opportunity.

A House bill by Tom Lewis (R-FL), H.R. 4418, would return graduate-student stipends to pre-Reagan tax-exempt status, and would return all such taxes paid since 1986. [murgesh, Bill Park (, 6/25.]

Bill H.R. 5011 would repeal the infamous "1706" legislation that forced many computer consultants to become employees of clients or brokers. You can get the text from your Representative or from the CSIA Computer Software Industry Association's legislative section on the DICE BBS, (408) 727-3423. [Kaye Caldwell, SEF, 7/92.]

California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) is proposing that independent consultants and contractors (including lawyers and other professionals) be subject to tax withholding on their fees and that they pay estimated taxes monthly rather than quarterly. Fees paid to out-of-state consultants by California firms might also be subject to withholding. Brown's office is at (916) 445-8077, (916) 446-4189 Fax. [SJM, 7/2. Brett Glass (, misc.taxes. Cliff Williams (cmw, online, 7/2.] CSIA reports that the matter has been "laid to rest" for now, with no active bill pending. [Kaye Caldwell, SEF, 7/92.]

Two technology advisors to the Bush administration complain that scientists are not articulating their case. Alan Bromley says "When groups come to see us, [I ask] what would you do with the assistance? The typical response is" 'We haven't gotten around to that yet.'" Bromely, the President's science advisor, can be reached at (202) 456-7116. Clayton Yeutter, the President's domestic policy counselor, awaits your comments and questions at (202) 456-2216. [New Technology Week. Rory J. O'Connor, SJM, 7/1.]

Hughes Aircraft Co. will lay off 15% of its workforce over 18 months due to Pentagon cuts. Many cuts will be supervisors and managers, including half of the 1,050 corporate staff in Los Angeles. The LA area has lost a third of its aerospace employment in the last six years. High-tech defense work in Silicon Valley is less likely to be cut. [SJM, 7/1.]

The day of U.S. corporate conglomerates may be gone. Mid-size firms are doing relatively well, but "the Fortune 500 is over" according to Peter Drucker. The late Bill McGowan of MCI said, of the difficulty in managing large empires, "The chump-to-champ- to-chump cycle used to be three generations. Now it's five years." [Tom Peters, SJM, 7/6.]

IBM's Jim Cannavino is one of the few people to make it to the top without a college degree. He's in charge of IBM's new PC Division, which has groups for PCs, workstations, and software. IBM had early success with an "entrepreneurial" PC group headed by Don Estridge, but "it was only a matter of time before IBM's big brass stepped in and tried to institutionalize this product and the division behind it. ... [By 1986,] the bureaucracy had crept into this division and sapped much of the life out of it. They made decisions by committee and people were working together on single projects out of five or six sites, making it very difficult to get anything done." The new division may do better, as it's supposed to be independent -- but is fighting to reduce the 5% overhead that it has to pay IBM. [Tim Bajarin, CC, 6/16.]

Tom Peters wants it both ways. He advocates "thriving on chaos" and tossing as many products as possible into the marketplace to see what succeeds. Now he's also advocating long-term research and unhurried product development. Creativity comes in spurts, through dedication to practice and improvement. It takes ten years to master any important field and establish a position of authority. You can't reach the next plateau of mastery unless you accept the inefficiency of careful reevaluation. Companies should have someone on staff who spends a decade developing the next important product; otherwise we just get 64 new varieties of pizza sauce each year (as we did in 1991). [SJM, 6/29.]

NEC Research Institute Inc. (Princeton, NJ) encourages scientists to take the long view. It's like a university, with a five-member board of scientists to allocate project funds. Daizaburo Shinoda is acting president, following the May death at age 61 of Dawon Kahng. Hitachi, Toshiba, Sony, Shisedo, and others have also set up labs to strengthen their basic research. Computer scientist Michael Harrison says that the NEC lab is now the only corporate lab "devoted to unrestricted, undirected research in the U.S." The budget is $26M, but planned staff increases have been postponed due to a 43% drop in NEC's income last year. [Joseph Weber, BW, 7/13.]

Motorola's Robert Galvin has suggested that Congress seed classrooms with 1M-2M multimedia computers in order to kick-start a new computer industry. Congress has not responded. [Electronic News, 4/27.]

The VITAL VII(i) flight-training system from McDonnell Douglas (McLean, VA) uses ASIC to display up to 2,250 colored surfaces and 3,000 symbols. Surfaces may be textured, so fewer polygons are needed. Wispy cloud, foliage, and smoke effects are also available. (703) 883-3825. [PR NewsWire, 4/9. agentsee.]

Prime Computer (Bedford, MA) has created a new CV-DORS business unit to market its Computervision Developers Open Resource Software. The DORS software library includes a geometric modeler and graphics engine suitable for electronic design and CAD/CAM. $3K, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's an educational discount. "It's all incremental revenue for the company," according to Dr. Ken Versprille. [Electronic News, 4/27.]

Entertainers Lily Tomlin and Shelley Duvall joined a Digital World panel to extol the promise of multimedia. Duvall owns Think Entertainment, a company producing multimedia titles. (She has also produced and directed fairy tales for TV and videotape release.) "I don't think I'll be satisfied with working in three dimensions ever again." [Rory J. O'Connor, SJM, 7/1.] Bill Park says that Madonna also has her own multimedia production company.

Dr. William "Information Technology Consultant to the Stars" Park ( offers a tip for selling studies to executives. Information professionals have little time for reading in-depth analyses, but are hungry for easily explained charts and graphs. Ready-made vu-graphs are popular, especially with Japanese customers. Graphic artists often subscribe to clip-art services; apparently executives are eager to do the same with trend-revealing charts and graphs.

The world market for personal productivity software should grow from $45B in 1991 to $101B by 1996, according to Forrester Research, Inc. This includes databases, operating systems, utilities, development tools, and applications. The share for independent software vendors will increase from $20B now to $58B. Client/server software will show the largest growth, from $1B to $23B. Stand-alone and file-sharing systems will retain 15% and 9% of the growing market, while time-sharing systems will drop from 74% to 56%. Mainframe software development is likely to drop from 59% of developer revenue to just 36%, or about a 30% increase in real dollars. [CW, 6/15.] A rising tide lifts all boats.

Japan's PC market has had its first decline since 1980, down 7% from last year. Notebooks accounted for 85% of Japanese PC sales last year, up 15%, and shipments of 32-bit computers rose 81%. [JEIDA. Lori Valigra, IDG News Service. Electronic News, 5/11.]

Poqet Computer has been renamed Fujitsu Personal Systems, part of a $2B personal systems group aimed at field automation and mobile worker applications. [Dana Blankenhorn, Newsbytes. CC, 6/16.]

Toshiba Corp. claims its Prolog-based "Fountain of Wisdom" program can search through commercial databases, drawing analogies and suggesting new ideas. First you have to sit at a workstation and load in knowledge of the domain, but that only takes half a day. It bootstraps knowledge from declarative sentences like "steak equals a broiled piece of meat." [Robert Buderi, BW, 7/13.]

Donna Dubinsky, a founder of Claris, has been recruited as president/CEO of Palm Computing (Los Altos, CA), a start-up specializing in palmtop computers. [SF Chronicle, 6/26.]

Aion Corp. (Palo Alto, CA) will merge with AICorp Inc. (Waltham, MA). Robert Goldman of AICorp will be chairman; James Gagnard of Aion will be CEO. A name for the $35M company will be announced in September. Staff will be reduced from 300 to 245, with the number of people at the Palo Alto headquarters increasing slightly. Waltham will continue to have a major facility. [SJM, 6/26.]

Compaq is transforming itself from a hardware manufacturer to a system integrator and software provider. It is currently looking for software partners who can boost the value of Compaq hardware. [Michael Fitzgerald, CW, 6/15.]

Next Computer Inc. reports that it has a new $55M line of credit from Canon and $10M from Steve Jobs. The company is believed to have absorbed over $200M without showing a profit, although sales last year were $127M. Steve Jobs still plans to take the company public soon. [Lee Gomes, SJM, 6/30.]

Attendees at LUV-91 have formed an Association of Lisp Users (ALU) and a Lisp Industry Council (LIC) to promote the use of Lisp. Contact Jim Aragones, (518) 387-6967. [AI Magazine, Summer '92.]

IBM will abandon OfficeVision LAN, its low-end office environment. Users will be encouraged to switch to Lotus Notes. [Rosemary Hamilton, CW, 6/8.]

A DEC-owned Business Enterprise Cluster has opened in Mountain View, CA. The 15,000-square foot Cluster leases short-term space to start-ups and supports entrepreneurs in other ways. Jim Robbins, (415) 691-4546. [SEF, 7/92.]

OSF, USL, and Sun have agreed to adopt Tivoli Systems' WizDom object-oriented technology for managing distributed Unix systems. [CW, 6/15.]

The most prominent companies producing object-oriented databases are Itasca Systems, Object Design, Objectivity Inc., Ontos, Servio, and Versant Object Technologies. Last year they sold $25M; five years from now the industry expects sales of $500M. [Joseph R. Garber, Forbes, 7/6.]

Symantec and Apple Computer have agreed to market Symantec's "Bedrock" cross-platform object-oriented application framework for generating Mac and Windows C++ source. The program should be available by next summer, although certain developers may get it this fall. Users of Apple's MacApp will be encouraged to migrate to Bedrock, which will eventually support OS/2, Windows/NT, and Unix as well. For technical information, call (415) 592-7600 and request the "Bedrock Framework White Paper." [Jon Pugh (, tcl-talk, 6/22. Bill Park (]

FaxMaster is one of the hottest new products at PC Expo. The $249 Windows system (excluding fax modem) will capture a fax, extract text and graphics, and compress the result. Caere Corp. (Los Gatos, CA), (408) 395-7000. [Peter H. Lewis, NYT. SJM, 7/5.]

Text-retrieval company Verity Inc. (Mountain View, CA) has named Michael Kallet VP of software engineering and Clifford Reid EVP of advanced development. [SJM, 6/26.]

Dr. Dobbs Journal is organizing a handwriting recognition contest. (The prize is a Mac Powerbook). The "handprin" data files can be FTP'd from, but no instructions accompany them. [, comp.programming, 7/3. Bill Park.]

I've seen a demo of the Longhand writer-independent script recognizer from Lexicus (Palo Alto, CA). Its dictionary-based word recognition works pretty well, especially on longer words. The company is doing additional training so that initial capitals can be handled. (My kids contributed a bit of the training data.) CEO Ronjon Nag ( wouldn't discuss the recognition strategy, but says that he and his co-founder are trained in HMM speech recognition and other statistical pattern recognition tools. (415) 323-4771. Robert Blissmer reports that topological analysis and contextual analysis are used.

ParaGraph International (Boulder, CO), a Soviet-American venture, uses stroke analysis (with 30 basic strokes), trigram frequencies, and dictionary-based context analysis for its Calligrapher system. Shelija Guberman is the algorithm designer and director of product development. Other companies working on handwriting recognition include Communication Intelligence Corp. (CIC; Redwood Shores, CA), GeoWorks (Berkeley, CA), Nestor Inc. (Providence, RI), Slate Corp. (Scottsdale, AZ), and SRI International (Menlo Park, CA). Established products include GoWrite from Go Corp. (Foster City, CA), Penscribe from Microsoft Corp. (Redmond, WA), and PenRight from Grid Corp. (Fremont, CA). [Robert H. Blissmer, Computing 2000, EE Times, 5/18.]

Upside magazine for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and investors has reached 50K circulation after just 2.5 years. The Foster City company is now hiring managers with extensive publishing experience. Co-founder/publisher Anthony Perkins retains only fund-raising duties and a seat on the board. Co-founder/editor Richard Karlgaard has left, saying that poor ad revenues forced repeated venture capitalization until his 30% share was cut to under 1%. He worked 70 hours per week for three years without a vacation, but has recovered enough to plan a new high-tech magazine (at two or three times his previous salary). He's looking to hire "the best writers in the land, to take risks and occasionally outrage people." [Rory J. O'Connor, SJM, 7/2.]

A [start-up?] publisher is looking for freelance reporters to sift the network for news items. Send samples of your short, hard-news writing to Internet Reporter, 199 Mass Ave., Suite 615, Boston, MA 02115. [m.j.o, 7/1. Bill Park.]

Andersen Consulting's Center for Strategic Technology Research (CSTaR) in Chicago needs an MS/PhD in CS to develop object-oriented, knowledge-based CASE tools incorporating visual or end-user programmer. Kanth Miriyala ( [m.j.o, 7/1.]

The University of Neuchatel (Switzerland), Institute of CS and AI, has a 4-year assistantship for a French-speaking PhD student. Study can be in graphics, parallel computation, or AI agents. Contact J.-P. Mueller ( by 7/31. [inmuller@cnedcu51.bitnet, m.j.o, 7/2.]

The Wichita State University (Kansas) needs a CS department chairperson. A primary responsibility will be the development of a Ph.D. program. Faculty interests include AI, ML, theorem proving, CS theory, databases, logic programming, software engineering, languages, simulation, and modeling. Contact Dr. Rajshekhar Sunderraman ( by 8/17. [m.j.o, 7/4.]

Princeton University needs an assistant professor in cognition, including computational modeling. Search Committee VU, Dept. of Psychology, Princeton University, Green Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544-1010, by 12/1. [Gilbert Harman (,, 7/2.]

IBM Almaden Research Center (San Jose, CA) has 1- or 2-year PT/FT openings for CS graduate students. Near-term work is challenging but not necessarily research-oriented. Felipe Cabrera ( [Arun Swami (arun,, 7/1.]

UMaryland Baltimore County (UMBC) has several openings for state-of-the-art network implementors and data processing managers. Contact Jack Suess (, (410) 455-2577, by 7/24. [Tim Finin (, 7/1.]

A large AI consulting group is looking for Phoenix and West Coast knowledge engineers experienced with rule-based systems and Unix/Motif development. Fabio Marino ( [m.j.o, 6/23.]

King's College London has a postdoc opening in optoelectronic implementations of neural networks. Dr. T.J. Hall, KCL Dept. of Physics, KCL, Strand, London, WC2R 2LS. [Gary (, connectionists, 7/3.]

The San Jose Mercury did a piece on executive compensation in Silicon Valley. John P. Morgridge at Cisco Systems accumulated $80M in stock in just four years. (Increases in the value of previously held stock aren't counted as current compensation, though. There are [several] formulas for computing the future value of current stock options, and these are the basis of compensation reports.) Ten top incomes this year ranged from John Sculley's $6.18M down to Charles Geschke's $1.98M. Stock options are the biggest portion, with cash payments amounting to only $.28M-$1.53M. Executives often get bonuses to sign on, bonuses for performance, and bonuses if they are terminated. Loans to buy houses are often given to cash-strapped hires as golden handcuffs, due if the executive leaves. They may also get loans to exercise their stock options -- after all, the options wouldn't be motivating if they couldn't be exercised. Such loans are often forgiven in stages, much like pension vesting. Silicon Valley executives generally do earn their pay by growing their companies. (Software companies are the least productive, accounting for 2% of Silicon Valley profit and 14% of CEO pay. Networking, telecommunication, and service companies also appear to overpay relative to profits.) Stock is more readily available to employees than it is elsewhere in the country, with discount or revalued stock options used to retain and motivate employees (including executives) during hard times. Critics say that this amounts to giving people a raise because of poor corporate performance. Repricing stock options most helps executives (who own a lot of options), and any new stock issued at the lower price dilutes the equity of investors. [Ron Wolf, SJM, 6/29.]

About 20% of 11,000 employees at Microsoft's Redmond headquarters may now be millionaires, if they held onto their stock options. (Microsoft says it's only about 500 people.) They may be the nation's first large group of millionaires from technical backgrounds. (Most others are executives, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and people with trust funds.) They're not in it for the money; they just want to change the world. They wear blue jeans, avoid country clubs, and may never have bought a house. Their favorite car is a Lexus, the same as Bill Gates. Gates works 16-hour days, and so do many of his employees. Base pay is below the industry norm, but stock-option vesting keeps turnover extremely low. [NYT. SJM, 7/4.]

To judge a company's career environment, watch how employees at your level are treated during a recession. Most companies cut engineering staff when revenues fall. HP instead cut salaries by 10% and cut work time to nine days every two weeks. Employees kept their jobs, benefits, social relationships, and self-esteem. Only a few other companies have done as well. [George Rostky, EE Times, 5/4.]

San Jose's main library is closing its employment-related Silicon Valley Information Center. 22,000 people visited last year, but the library can't afford $80K/year to keep it running. The center was started in 1986 with $895K in city and state grants, and has grown through corporate contributions of annual reports, press clippings, and videotapes. Some materials will remain available, including clips being transferred to CD ROM. [Sherri Eng, SJM, 7/1.] Similar centers could be started elsewhere -- especially if you can copy the database and CD ROMs.

There's an important principle behind Unix, Usenet, shareware, and GenBank: distributed user development. The GenBank genetic database was founded in 1983. By 1987, it had fallen two years behind, and the literature was starting to double every 15 months. Then IntelliGenetics won a $5M/year contract to convert GenBank to a user-maintained system. Free DOS and Mac interfaces were sent to 7,000 scientists, allowing them to enter their own data. (They could also match their data to other entries, so they had reason to enter the sequences.) The database has since grown from 5M base pairs to 78M, and often leads the published literature. [Gary H. Anthes, CW, 6/15.] Lesson 1: If you want to build a service empire, enable users -- or developers, or volunteers -- to contribute most of the work. Lesson 2: Find an angel or cash cow to pay for the coordination effort.

(Apple started with an external development strategy, but shifted most of its support to a few large developers. It lost its vision as "the computer for the rest of us," although the change may have kept the company in business. Microsoft, NeXT, Electronic Arts, and the Free Software Foundation may now be doing a better job of supporting developer communities. Perhaps it works because Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Richard Stallman are charismatic; John Sculley is not.)

A SEF Expert System SIG panel recently discussed opportunities for AI developers. Panelists were Bob Fondiller (IntelliCorp), Amos Barzilay (Syntelligence Systems, Inc.), and Leor Jacob (A.I.novation). A report by Dr. William T. Park -- (Gets around, doesn't he?) -- says that nearly all of the remaining expert system tool vendors such as IntelliCorp have moved into C/C++/OOP or CASE mainframe tools. (The C environment at Sun is approaching the power of Interlisp D. Oscar Firschein at DARPA is leading a program to implement C++ on Lisp Machines.) MIS developers are the new expert-system market, except that CBR tools are popular with MBAs. Aion is trying to move into Unix, and it and AI Corp. have been chasing the insurance industry. LISP tools survive mainly at Apple, as the Dylan language. ILOG (from France, pronounced eelog) will be marketing Lisp-based expert systems from a small Palo Alto office. Enfin (San Diego, CA) will be selling expert-system workstation-to-mainframe connectivity tools written in a SmallTalk clone. [SEF, 7/92.] Incidentally, Syntelligence Systems, Inc. is a new company that has purchased the assets of the defunct Syntelligence, developer of Lending Advisor. Major AI labs have downsized or disbanded: ADL, Coopers & Lybrand, Martin Marietta, Price Waterhouse. AI can't compete with cheap labor -- except on speed, uptime, and distributed availability of expertise.

Bill Park also forwarded several net items about crazy working conditions at government agencies. Carl Robinson ( notes that government is conserving budget by hiring contractors rather than civil servants -- even though the GAO warns that long-term costs are higher. Agencies are also starting to cut total workforces through hiring freezes and reductions in contractor workforces. Bruce Salem ( says that an infusion of knowledgeable contractors would benefit the U.S. Geological Survey (Menlo Park, CA). Computing resources, including 50 isolated databases, reflect turf wars between the administrative field geologists. "The only group that has its act together is the group that maintains the seismological data network." The agency produces good printed products, but couldn't provide the same data online. Scott J. Spetter ( tells horror stories from SAIC's Comsystems Division in San Diego. (Other netters have said nice things about SAIC.) Scott calls this group "the most political, cut-throat, abusive of employees, and unethical I have ever seen." He mentions exploitative salaries, refusal to pay referral fees, time-card falsification, swearing, rudeness, hostile treatment, false and damaging personal reviews, lies about layoffs, and one-sentence reference letters (after good references had been promised). [m.j.m, 7/2.] (As middle-management ranks are thinned out, the incompetence of top private-sector executives is becoming more obvious -- and industry is increasingly willing to fire the least competent. That hasn't happened yet in the government and nonprofit sectors.)

Joseph B. Dunphy ( submitted some good advice to He's a mathematician studying stochastic processes, but has found there are few commercial prospects for theoreticians. (He's particularly upset that interviewers have no comprehension of his technical skills. One asked "If you were a flavor of ice cream, what flavor would you be?") If you hope to work in applications, get a second graduate degree in your favorite application area. ("You could point out that we haven't seen one person do EVERYTHING necessary to produce a product since the Paleolithic era. Pointing it out will get you nowhere.") Go to your professor and ask about application areas. Your mathematical background will give you a leg up, so the second degree will be easier than the first. Learn as much computing as you can. Afterwards, you can put out a consultant's shingle to attract [manufacturing] companies who know that they need your skills. (Charge at least $40/hour. Faculty members get $1K/day.) Go to SIAM or other professional meetings for support from professionals in your field. Contact placement firms that advertise in your journals, but don't expect results. Sign up for substitute teaching work ($50/day) to pay the bills. Assemble computers or other consumer goods in your spare time. Avoid personnel departments, placement firms that charge, mass resume mailings, job-hunting books, networking parties, and saturated markets like the financial and service sectors. [Bill Park (, 7/3.]

A job tip from career author Carol Kleiman: "Find out what your boss likes least and take it over." [Newsweek, 6/15.]

-- Ken