I was saddened to read about Jim Gray's loss at sea ("Search For Jim Gray," April 2, 2007). I didn't know Jim but had heard of him in several circles. I'm a Coast Guard captain/officer who just retired after 30 years and CIO and director of IT for Mitchell 1, Snap-on. I can appreciate the massive volunteer effort that was engaged. As a sailor, I know the dangers that exist on a sailboat, especially one that size with only one person.
Jim's legacy is twofold: One that says friends and acquaintances do care and reflect the love they had for a man who in life loved them back. And second, the technology that was his livelihood and passion was extended and new knowledge created as a result of his passing. I hope that information was shared with the Coast Guard in our continued search for better methods of search and rescue.
I know the area where Jim was headed. Those are rough waters on a good day. With the gear of an offshore sailboat, I would have thought he'd have had an electronic positioning radio indicator beacon. This beacon is usually engaged either through manual means or when it's turned upside down or becomes submerged. Once the beacon goes off, its signature is captured and can be plotted. It's strange that either he didn't have that tool onboard or that it wasn't engaged.
I will mourn Jim's loss at sea but give thanks that he was a part of our craft and that he affected others as well as technology in the most positive ways.
MARK ZECCA Senior Director, CIO, Mitchell 1 Div., Snap-on
Time For Reform
The H-1B visa program needs to be completely scrapped ("The H-1B Limit," April 9, 2007). I've seen firsthand the abuses of this program. The engineers brought in are virtual slaves of the company, working for low wages, unable to change jobs without risking their visas. Along with that, the primary reason these engineers were brought in was to keep wages down, for both them and the U.S. engineers in the company.
What needs to occur is complete immigration reform: a mechanism that would allow these engineers and experts into the country, on track for either a green card or U.S. citizenship, so that they can then compete fairly with the workforce already here and can change jobs without risking their status.
WILLIAM MOSHIER Director of Engineering, Xentest
Newbury Park, Calif.
In the summer of 2000, I was listening to a radio talk show host discuss the H-1B visa program--specifically the pros and cons of increasing the visa cap to meet the demand of the technology industry. I work in the field of economic development in rural North Dakota where out-migration has been crippling our economy, and the idea hit me: Go to Washington and ask that the visas be granted to areas such as ours that have suffered from out-migration of workers and loss of population. I spoke to colleagues and we quickly developed the 21st Century Homestead Act, went to Washington, and developed a draft amendment to include on the IT bill moving through Congress.
I read your article and had to smile as it's the exact same thing I heard seven years earlier. I have the same belief today as I did then: Immigration should be directed to areas that have lost population, have the infrastructure to support growth, need families to fill the schools, and would welcome the people.
ERIC G. HOBERG Executive Director, South Central Dakota Regional Council
Families Pay The Price
In Bob Evans' column, "Wal-Mart's Latest 'Orwellian' Technology Move," he suggests we "get over it" and embrace what he views as our destiny: to have workers' schedules dynamically determined by customer demand (April 6, 2007).
Mr. Evans dismisses concerns that Wal-Mart's deployment of Kronos software will trample family commitments and cause hardship for America's low-wage workers. But won't it do exactly that? How does a family schedule day care, after-school care, or elder care resources if their work schedules become "dynamically adjusted"?
Mr. Evans' article smugly ignores the hard social cost of Wal-Mart's recent actions. It does so at our own peril, as the erosion of the American family and society's basic fabric will diminish our global competitiveness--not advance it.
JACK DOWNING IT Consultant, Company name withheld by request
As a former VP of one of the companies mentioned in your Wal-Mart article, I can tell you that the software enables more flexible schedules with one of the primary customer-stated aims being to allow employees to tell the software when they'd prefer to work and to as much as possible respect their wishes.
A lot of employees really like this. Under the old manual scheduling methods, it simply wasn't possible.
As with any software, the first few schedules weren't quite perfect and as time progressed, people learned how it could best be configured for them.
SCOTT MORRELL CEO, Marshwood Consulting
Who's Laughing Now?
We've lost much of our competitive edge ("Are You Part Of The Solution Or Just In Denial?" April 9, 2007). In the auto industry, we follow visionaries like Lee Iacocca who were unaware of the simple laws of economics. Customers determine what they want, not corporate America. While American manufacturers produce behemoth gas guzzlers with poor workmanship and high profit margins, the competition builds high-quality, fuel-efficient cars at a reasonable price. We're no longer laughing at Hyundai and Kia, but we may be crying.
The reasons for our self-denial are numerous, but arrogance and stupidity top the list. The MBA has become the holy grail of our economy. MBA 101 states that you make as many dollars as you can today to raise quarterly profits, take the money, and run. There's no investment in the future or long-term vision.
JOHN MANZELLA CTO, Kreltec
Massapequa Park, N.Y.