by CIO Staff

Top 10 IT News Stories of the Week: H1B Visas

Mar 09, 20077 mins
IT Leadership

1. “Tech Needs More Immigration Visas,”

PC World, 03/07

“Gates Calls for New Privacy Law,”, 03/08

Bill Gates went to Washington, D.C., this week to do a bit of lobbying on behalf of IT, calling on Congress to raise the cap on skilled-worker visas because the country’s economic future is at stake. Gates lent his voice to the growing chorus calling for more H-1B visas as he testified before the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee. His preference is for an “unlimited” number of foreign workers to be allowed to work in the U.S., but he allows that may not be a politically feasible approach. Instead of challenging his opinions, members of the committee instead availed themselves of the opportunity to pick his brain about how education in the U.S. can be improved. Besides appearing before Congress, Gates spoke at a Center for Democracy and Technology dinner, calling on Congress to pass a comprehensive privacy law this year so that people have better control over how their personal information is used.

2. “Cebit: Trade Show Wrestles with an Image Crisis,”

Network World, 03/06

If you’re among the thousands headed to Hanover, Germany, next week for the huge Cebit trade show, you’ll find plenty of new and future products to check out for your company. But you’ll also be able to check out the latest in HDTVs, digital cameras and next-generation DVD players. The ever-increasing number of consumer-focused displays led some exhibitors to decide to skip this year’s show, finding that it’s just not worth the time and expense. The number of exhibitors will be about 6,000 this year, compared to 6,200 last year and 8,000 in 2001. And, incredibly, even up until early this week there were hotel rooms available in Hanover next Friday. The show opens Thursday of next week and even with fewer exhibitors, 6,000 of them is still a lot of ground to cover.

3. “Jury: Vonage Infringed on Verizon Patents,”, 03/09

A U.S. jury ruled that Vonage infringed three Verizon patents involving VOIP and ordered Vonage to pay Verizon $58 million in damages plus royalties. Verizon sued Vonage last June, arguing that the VOIP provider violated seven patents. Vonage, which was founded in 2001, contended that Verizon was out to eliminate “a formidable competitor” and hailed the fact that the jury found that four of the seven patents were not infringed. Vonage also said that its customers shouldn’t notice any change in service as a consequence of the ruling.

4.  “Microsoft Moves to Replace JPEG With HD Photo,”, 03/08

Microsoft plans to submit the HD Photo format to an international standards organization. HD Photo, which is the new name for what used to be called Windows Media Photo, could make JPEG obsolete by offering higher-quality images with better compression, according to Microsoft. While that has yet to be seen — and printer, camera and application vendors must also get behind HD Photo — the format is being used in Vista and XP and Adobe and Microsoft are releasing plugins for versions of Adobe’s popular Photoshop program that will support HD Photo.

5. “Rumors Abound of Potential Google Mobile Phone”, 03/08

Because the world can’t have too many mobile phone choices, rumors have picked up that Google is studying the possibility of designing a phone. Google won’t comment on rumors or speculation, but the rumor mill has been fed by a job listing on the Google Web site that says the company is “experimenting with a few wireless communications systems including some completely novel concepts.” Google is assembling a “small team of top-notch Logic Designers and Analog Designers aimed at nothing less than making the entire world’s information accessible from anywhere for free.” The job requires “extensive circuit modeling and analysis experience,” along with programming skills and switch power supply design experience. Oh, and a ham radio license.

6. “Wikipedia Founder Speaks on the Essjay Controversy,”

Infoworld, 03/09

Given the periodic problems that have arisen with Wikipedia’s open model for information contributors and editors, it has seemed inevitable for some time that a stronger system of control was going to be necessary — the temptation for mischief being so great on the Internet. The online encyclopedia’s founder Jimmy Wales said in interviews this week from Japan that a new policy is being discussed by those who regularly contribute and maintain Wikipedia that would ensure the claimed credentials of contributors are for real. The latest brouhaha occurred when the alleged credentials of a frequent contributor who went by the name “essjay” were found to be fake. Instead of being a tenured theology professor who taught undergraduate and graduate courses and held doctorates in philosophy of theology and cannon law, “essjay” is in reality a 24-year-old man who lives in Kentucky. The deception didn’t sit well with Wales and others in the community and has led to external questions about the credibility of Wikipedia entries and the suitability of its open model as well as internal soul searching.

Also check out CIO Associate Staff Writer Chris Lynch’s blog post on the subject.

7. “No Microsoft Security Updates Coming Next Week,”, 03/09

For the first time in 18 months, Microsoft isn’t going to issue any security patches on its monthly “Patch Tuesday,” which would have been next week. But that doesn’t mean that Microsoft software is free of security issues for the month — the company has a number of patches in the works, but they aren’t yet ready. The company does plan to release a number of nonsecurity, high-priority software updates, so those in charge of patching probably shouldn’t plan to take the day off.

8. “Companies Warned about ’March Madness’ Fallout,”

Computerworld, 03/05

Fans of men’s college basketball look forward to the annual stretch of “March Madness,” the 64-team tournament that opens March 15 and ends with the final showdown between the two teams still standing on April 2. But company IT departments have more to worry about than a little side betting going on among the staff — network bandwidth at small and midsize companies predictably take a hit during the NCAA tournament time as employees check out real-time scores and streaming video of games and replays. As if that weren’t enough of a potential headache, hackers can be expected to try to get in on the action, too, setting up fake sites or hacking into official sites to put malicious code on them to infect computers of unsuspecting Web surfers.

9. “UK Biometric Passports Not Secure,”

PC World, 03/06

This week’s RFID security concern comes from the U.K., where a security expert cracked one of the country’s new biometric passports, siphoning data off an RFID chip from a passport that was in a sealed envelope. The attack left no evidence that the passport had been tampered with, which security consultant Adam Laurie said was of particular concern. He used what personal details he knew of the woman whose passport he cracked and augmented that with a little Internet research before writing a “brute force” program that, after 40,000 attempts at finding the right combination cracked the passport’s encryption key. He used a common RFID reader to scan the chip in the passport. The U.K. defended its biometric passports and their security by saying that even though the passport was hacked information on the RFID chip cannot be changed, so the hack was “pointless.” 

10. “New McAfee Leader Sees Great Potential,”

Network World, 03/06

EMC Executive Vice President Dave DeWalt will take over as McAfee president and CEO April 2. The company focus will stay on large businesses as DeWalt steers McAfee away from recent accounting problems and heightened competition. McAfee might have to restate more financials owing to the stock-options backdating, but on the positive side it has taken the lessons learned from the investigation into its accounting practices and improved its compliance and audit product as a result, he said.

-Nancy Weil, IDG News Service

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