|Volume 1: No. 38|
Engineering unemployment has dropped to 2.1%, and should continue dropping to 1.3% by mid-1993. [Robert A. Rivers, Engineering Manpower Newsletter. John A. Adam, The Institute, 11/91.] Although engineering unemployment is low, it is higher than for other types of professionals. Approximately 100K engineers lost their jobs in the last year. [AAES. Walter S. Wingo, Design News, 11/4.]
1987 to 1990 R&D expenditures for U.S. information software rose from $1B to $1.2B. (Looked at another way, it was essentially constant. Or maybe these aren't even constant dollars.) Related hardware R&D went from $12B to $14.5B, and telecommunications equipment R&D went from $7.7B to $9.3B. [CBEMA. Computerworld, 12/9.]
Corptech ran a survey of 171 U.S. firms producing technical/scientific software. They found overall growth of 5.3%, for a total of 599 new jobs. 28% of the companies were growing, 57% were stable, and 15% were shrinking or had failed (1%). (See V1 N31 for a comparison with other small high-tech companies.) Highest employment growth was in the Southeast (24%) and North Central regions (18%). California was up 10%, the Northwest 9%, Southwest 7% and Mid-Atlantic 5%. New York was down 6% and New England 9%. [Computerworld, 12/9.]
What's it worth to be on a board of directors? Thomas J. Friel of Heidrick and Struggles reports that total cash compensation is about $30,000. There are also a substantial number of companies offering stock options, grants, or other equity arrangements. "The composition of large, public-company boards continues to run heavily to the historic model of 'Three officers, three friends of the CEO, a minority and a college president.'" The CEO generally controls the selection, compensation, tenure, and decision-making authority. (They, in turn, set the CEO's compensation. Nice, hmm?) In a start-up, it's usually the other way around: the board controls the CEO. Unfortunately, a board of founders and investors may have insufficient experience to really help the CEO. [Upside, 9/91.]
A survey of six major user groups in the U.S. and Canada has drawn the attention of software retailers. The Association of PC User Groups found that 76% of user group members claim to influence their companies' PC buying decisions, averaging $80,000 per year. Nearly 29% are themselves leaders or owners of companies. (Often single-person consultancies, I'm sure.) The average member is male, has a household income of $61,261, owns 1.9 computers costing $4,797 for home use or $7,072 for office use, and spends 25.6 hours per week at the computer. [Orange County Register. SJM, 12/8.]
DEC has introduced two RISC workstations to compete with Sun's SPARCstations. A Personal Decstation 5000 Model 20 with 40Mb memory is only $3,995. The 20MHz CPU is rated at 21.6 MIPS (or 16.3 Specmarks), which analysts consider lackluster -- but a 33MHz accelerator will soon be available. The Model 25 is also under $10K. (A Model 240, with 480Mb at 40MHz, is $11,995.) The new workstations come with Ultrix 4.2A (DEC's version of Unix) and Insignia Systems' MS-DOS emulator. Microsoft has pledged to port its [unshipped] Windows New Technology operating system. [Maryfran Johnson, Computerworld, 12/9.]
Newsweek did a piece on NeXT, saying that the company is finally starting to reach its potential. NeXT's object-oriented operating system makes custom application development easy, and there are customers (e.g., in financial trading) willing to buy. A NeXT ad in the Wall Street Journal said THE IBM/APPLE ALLIANCE WILL PUT POWERFUL SOFTWARE ON YOUR DESK IN THREE YEARS. CALL NOW FOR A FREE DEMONSTRATION. Engineering/mass-market rival Sun Microsystems isn't worried, but NeXT could win big if hardware- market saturation makes custom software a major selling point. [John Schwartz, 11/18.] (Since AI research sells to the custom- application market, NeXT might be a good platform.)
IBM has failed to exercise its option on NextStep, and Steve Jobs has announced that IBM no longer has any rights to the operating system. [Rory J. O'Connor, SJM, 12/11.]
For years, BMUG Inc. (Berkeley, CA) has been telling the IRS that they're not a Macintosh-specific club, they're a graphic- interface club (of 10,000 Mac owners). Well, they've finally started a Windows SIG that will meet in Berkeley on the second Tuesday of each month. Their slogan is "BMUG breaks into Windows." Even non-members can now get [limited] Windows help from the BMUG helpline. (510) 549-2694, or 540-1742 for the helpline. (They also have a NeXT group.) [Computer Currents, 11/5.] If you'd rather send email, try address BMUG on America Online, BIX, Connect, Delphi, MCI, or The Well. Internet and Usenet are email@example.com, and UUCP is pacbell!well!bug. BITnet is bmug@ucbgarnet; Prodigy is HCHT96B; CompuServe is 73237,501; and AppleLink is BMUG, UG0001. As a sample of BMUG's services, their latest newsletter (11/91) recommends The Chip Merchant (San Diego, CA; (800) 426-6375) as a good source of 1Mb 80NS SIMMs for $35. For hard disks, they recommend Quantum or WREN drives from Alliance Peripheral Systems (Independence, MO; (800) 233-7550).
A group of four or five Americans representing Global Contract Consultants (San Francisco, CA) just ripped off a great many people in Melbourne. (There is no such company.) They advertised through a local employment agency, then interviewed hundreds of job applicants at the Melbourne Hilton. Applicants were charged US$10 for putting resumes and other data into the company's computer database. The charge in U.S. currency was easily made via credit cards, and an American secretary encouraged this. The credit charge they reported to Australian banks, though, was as much as $3,200. Banks are covering the amounts paid before the scam was discovered. [Carlson Ho (firstname.lastname@example.org), misc.jobs.misc, 12/6.]
TRW (Cleveland, OH) has settled with the FTC, and has agreed to spend another $26M in 1992 to clean up its credit reporting. One particularly thorny problem is keeping files of similarly named people from getting mixed. Another is keeping deleted material from reentering the record. [Lance Wallace, SJM, 12/11.] Other corporations that may be upgrading their database software are Equifax (Atlanta, GA) and Trans Union Corp. (Chicago, IL).
Because of political sensitivity, it is unlikely that the federal government will implement a national database for locating delinquent citizens. The government has, however, passed laws that penalize states for not having such systems. It has agreed to pay 90% of the cost of computer systems to track absent fathers, and will cut off 1% to 5% of federal welfare funds for any state without a certified system by 10/95. (California is planning a distributed system to link 57 counties. Los Angeles will have its own system.) Once the systems are in place, jurisdictions will be able to track individuals by requesting data from other systems. [Mitch Betts, Computerworld, 12/2.] These systems cost $13M to $70M per state. There may be a little consulting money in there for people with knowledge-representation skills.
Getting hired by the U.S. government used to take months, and by then the best-qualified applicants had taken other jobs. (Explains things, doesn't it?) Test scoring has been automated, but compiling applicant referral lists can still take days. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) -- formerly the Civil Service Commission -- is now planning to extend an Automated Applicant Referral System (AARS) that can tell hiring managers about applicants in less than an hour. Only applications from entry-level engineers, physical scientists, and mathematicians have been loaded into the system, but 10,000 applicant lists have been requested since early 1990. DoD has set up a clone called the Defense Outplacement Referral System (DORS) for placing laid-off Defense Department workers into civilian jobs. [Gary H. Anthes, Computerworld, 12/2.]
The Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and the Research Libraries Group (RLG) have failed to negotiate joint projects to reduce duplicate cataloging and technical library support. The two have now squared off as competitors, and are actively competing for market share. [Nancy Melin Nelson, MeckJournal, 12/10.] The result may be increased spending for bibliographic and text-based R&D.