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What were you thinking 4 years ago?

Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
In the past 18 months, but especially for the past 6 months, many people (here and elsewhere) have complained about the IT labor market. Many feel slighted by increasing labor pool (from overseas) and employers who make candidates jump through hoops for low paying jobs.
Out of curiosity, what was going through your mind back in, say, 1999? Did you ever hear software engineers feel sorry for companies who were now paying twice as much for college grads as they did just 5 years before? Did people stop and say, maybe this tight labor market isn't fair to the companies? Maybe a $10,000 raise over the salary at my last new job (6 months ago) is a little out of touch with reality?
I bring this up not to chastise anyone in particular, but to make people think. While I was happy to see a booming IT market, I had always felt things got a little out of hand at the end (e.g. a porche for referring 3 people to the company, $120k salaries for people with 2-3 years of experience). Employees definately took the companies to the cleaners--although, in fairness, the companies themselves didn't seem to mind as long as the dot com economy kept growing.
Now the shoe is on the other foot and employees are complaining. Somewhat rightly so; but at the same time, can you blame the employeers? We gave them no quarter during the boom, why should we expect sympathy now? True, we never organized as a union to force the high wages, it just came naturally from a tight labor market. Today the companies aren't colluding, they're just making the most of a soft labor market.
Let's suppose things are going pretty well in 2 years. Maybe not like 1999, but maybe like late 1996 or early 1997. Will you act any differently from how you acted back then? Should you?
--Mark
Greg Neef
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 16, 2003
Posts: 82
Before I got into IT, I worked for two years in the Oil 'Bidness' when it boomed in Colorado, USA. It busted flat. Shortly thereafter I saw a bumper sticker "Please God, just give me one more chance. I promise not to piss this one away". Unfortunately for the that career, I never found work in it again. Hopefully I am not reliving that nightmare again and this time "I Promise not to piss it away".


SCJP 1.4
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
Well, Mark. Interesting thought.
For one thing, I didn't play the dot.com game, never swapped jobs to rocket up the pay ladder. I saw younger workers with much less value than I had switch jobs and almost double their pay.
But I am paying for the bubble. The job I recently began is down 30% from my last one. Possibly I wasn't worth the market figure in 2000 (though it was lower than some were getting at the time). I saw the bust coming and did my best to get into a strong firm where we could ride out the hurricane together. Turned out the employer wasn't as strong as I thought. Either financially or managerially (particularly the latter), and I ended up with about 18 months of employed hell before getting my throat cut.
It wasn't as bad as it could have been, so I'm not dwelling on it, but I would never go back!
Right now I'm possibly 15-20% underpaid, but I'm not worried. I'll put in at least a year here and we'll see. If they promote me and pay me decently I'll probably stay. If not I'll look for a similar firm who will pay me what I'm worth. Thus far I like it better than the firm I left, despite the pay. They seem far better grounded. I'm trying to be grounded too....


SCJP1.4, SCWCD
Richard Scothern
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 25, 2001
Posts: 83
In 1999, I was 19 and in university. In 2000, I did an internship for a year in a software company in Silicon Valley. It took ages to find somewhere to live, rents were sky high, my pay was a fraction of everyone else, and being on a student visa, I couldn't change my job for a better one (not that I think I would have).
Now in 2003, I have just changed jobs, and got a 25% pay increase. My standard of living is much greater. So roll on the twenty-first century, I far prefer this 'normalised' market.
Richard
Marie Mazerolle
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 01, 2002
Posts: 81
I graduated in October 2000, and by that time, I just felt very lucky to have found a job right after graduation. I worked there for 2 years before my lay-off. Again, I was very lucky as I found another job with a great organization 2 months after.
I think industries all have their ups and downs, just as the global economy does, and the best thing you can do is to stay prepared. The IT industry will pick up eventually, although I would be very surprised if it ever came back to the level it was in the mid-1990s. So until then, I study & read as much as I can. And when that time comes, I will force myself to continue studying and learning because I know that eventually, the market will get tighter again...
Tony Collins
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 03, 2003
Posts: 435
I can make more money picking the rubbish of Londons Railways than working in IT. It just isn't very interesting. But I did work in Telecoms.
Tony
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
Originally posted by Marie Mazerolle:
I graduated in October 2000, and by that time, I just felt very lucky to have found a job right after graduation. I worked there for 2 years before my lay-off. Again, I was very lucky as I found another job with a great organization 2 months after.
I think industries all have their ups and downs, just as the global economy does, and the best thing you can do is to stay prepared. The IT industry will pick up eventually, although I would be very surprised if it ever came back to the level it was in the mid-1990s. So until then, I study & read as much as I can. And when that time comes, I will force myself to continue studying and learning because I know that eventually, the market will get tighter again...


That is a healthy attitude, Marie, though the peak of the market was probably sometime in 2000 rather than the 'mid-90s'. It is true that the world began to leave it's senses as early as the Netscape IPO in the 1995-96 timeframe, but the real craziness really began no earlier than 1998 or early 1999.
The 'mid-90's' was in fact merely a healthy market, close to a normal peak.

Keep learning and growing, and save some money if you can. Live below your means and be prepared for sudden change, and you'll be alright....
[ August 19, 2003: Message edited by: Alfred Neumann ]
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16250
    
  21

I'd wondered about "1999" myself!
In 1999 - and in early 2001, I was a faithful corporate drone. Decently paid, but hardly "Dot-Com" salary, and no-one was accusing me of being overpaid for what I did. When I finally did get the sack, it was because the department in which I worked - being an adjunct of and adjunct to the core company business - was being carved down for sale.
In over 25 years in the business, ONLY during that short period around Y2K did I ever consider it to be an "employees" market. All the rest of those years, employers pretty much had it their way. It's nothing new for want ads to demand an exact match on unlikely skills - only the size of the list changed over the past 2 years.
So no. I'm not in the least feeling sorry for employers. I think they've managed to make up for the dot-com era and maybe even come out ahead in the game.


Customer surveys are for companies who didn't pay proper attention to begin with.
Rufus BugleWeed
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 1551
Back then I was not making money like the pimps were/are.
Back then I felt I was being fairly compensated for bringing to market a skill in short supply.
Back then I felt I was being fairly compensated for taking, what with 20/20 hindsight, we can see was tremendous risk.
Back then, as today, I felt there are lots a direct employees with outdated skill sets, performing at a fraction of capacity drawing fat salaries because the free market you so fervently misunderstand cannot fire them.
Employees definately took the companies to the cleaners--although, in fairness, the companies themselves didn't seem to mind as long as the dot com economy kept growing.

The companies made offers and labor accepted them.
This is so far from train your H1-B replacement so we can fire you, that one has a hard time, a very hard time, as seeing it as anything but flame bait.
[ August 19, 2003: Message edited by: Rufus BugleWeed ]
Jon McDonald
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 02, 2001
Posts: 167
1999, I remember it well. The year I decided to get into technology.
I took my first CS course that summer. One of my friends who was going to graduate a semester before me had started a dotcom sometime before and just bought a $500,000 condo, with cash. a few years before he had been on financial aid to get through school. I guy from my high school, who was a year older and whom many people considered a loser, returned to his 5 year high school reunion and told about how he was retired and owned a townhouse in san fransico. Another buddy of mine was in serious talks with an angel investor to fund his business , with only a half-assed business plan and some salesmenship skills. The CS friends I had were getting salaries of 50K+ at the absolute lowest. Most were in the High 50K-60k range. And even they weren't doing the best. The econ and a few business majors were getting 70K-90K, Seriously, to work in investment banking.
Knowledge of economic history told me this bubble was going to pop. However, I found out that I loved the field and decided to jump in. I have to admit, if the money wasn't so huge, I would have never even considered the field. But my reason for deciding to stay in the field is based solely on my love of programming and software developement. I still think it was one of the best decisions I made.
Jon
[ August 19, 2003: Message edited by: Jon McDonald ]

SCJP<br/>
"I study politics and war that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy in order to give their children a right to study painting poetry and music."<br />--John Adams
Mike Dahmus
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 07, 2002
Posts: 29
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
Today the companies aren't colluding, they're just making the most of a soft labor market.

This is dishonest.
H1-B and L-1 are examples of the companies "colluding" in the sense that they are artifically manipulating the market.


-----Mike Dahmus mike@dahmus.org
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Mike Dahmus:

This is dishonest.
H1-B and L-1 are examples of the companies "colluding" in the sense that they are artifically manipulating the market.

Not in the slightest. It's not dishonest when the law says you can do it.
As for collusion, it's no more collusion then when unions go on strike, or when the public pushes for minimum wages and restrictions. The term used by those not getting screwed is "collective bargaining." They artificially manipulated the market by having laws passed. Unions did the same.
--Mark
Joe Pluta
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 23, 2003
Posts: 1376
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
Not in the slightest. It's not dishonest when the law says you can do it.

I disagree entirely. There are plenty of things that are entirely legal and are entirely dishonest and/or immoral.
Dishonest? Palm readers are legal, as is the TV show Crossing Over and as is WWF wrestling. It's perfectly legal to tell someone a car was driven by a nice old lady. In fact, that's what the phrase caveat emptor is all about. Lying is perfectly legal.
As to immoral, there are so many immoral but legal things it's hard to count. Heck, tobacco is still legal, and it kills hundreds of people a day while providing no benefit for anyone except tobacco farmers (and their pet politicians). There are plenty of other examples.
As to the point in question, it is my firm belief that the H- and L- visa provisions are being dishonestly manipulted by corporations to avoid paying fair wages to American workers. But that's my own PERSONAL opinion.
Joe
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Joe Pluta:

I disagree entirely. There are plenty of things that are entirely legal and are entirely dishonest and/or immoral.

I was taking your definition of dishonest as being secretive. Tobacco isn't inherently immoral. These days there's a warning on the box, disregard at your own risk (let's not get into smoking in public). Years ago, when the tobacco companies put out false reports and mislead consumers, that was immoral. Companies saying we want foreign workers and trying to pass a law is not equivalent to companies being dishonest.
Originally posted by Joe Pluta:

As to the point in question, it is my firm belief that the H- and L- visa provisions are being dishonestly manipulted by corporations to avoid paying fair wages to American workers. But that's my own PERSONAL opinion.

Dishonestly manipulated how? What exactly are they doing that is wrong? Giving campaign contirbutions to politicians? Guess what, labor does that, too. Trying to talking Congress into serving their needs? America was build on that basis.
So how exactly are they manipulating the via programs?

--Mark
Joe Pluta
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 23, 2003
Posts: 1376
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
Tobacco isn't inherently immoral.

You and I have a fundamental disagreement on what is moral. Making profit from someone's disease and death is pretty immoral to me, no matter how much you tell them. If you put a warning label on crack, is it moral to sell it? However, we're veering into opinion, and I choose not to debate this point.
As to the manipulation of the H- and L- visas, there is just a truckload of information on this subject on the Internet, including the wording of the provisions themselves. The problem is that the visas were originally put in place because of a "shortage of qualified American workers" (ostensibly because of the Y2K problem and the dot-com bubble). These provisions were then extended and INCREASED even after 2000, when Y2K was past and the dot-com market had collapsed, and despite the fact that record numbers of qualified American IT workers were out of work.
The visa provisions were NOT put in place to "level the playing field" or make cheap foreign labor available to corporations; if they had been worded that way, they likely would not have been passed. They were put in place only because corporations claimed there weren't enough skilled Americans. Since the condition that justified the provisions no longer exists, the provisions should be discontinued. The fact that they are not is the manipulation.
Joe
Junilu Lacar
Bartender

Joined: Feb 26, 2001
Posts: 5018
    
    8

In the end, it boils down to looking out for number one. If you went out to buy a car, wouldn't you want to get the best price you could for it? If the dealer was willing to give you $500 below invoice and you were willing to pay $500 over, wouldn't you take the lower price? If you went out to buy a house and the seller agrees to a price that is less than what you would have been willing to pay, would you offer to give him more?
Businesses try to undercut each other all the time. If you're new in the market, you try to offer your products/services at a discount to attract customers. It's all driven by what everyone is willing to take or be taken for. I take comfort in the thought that the companies who pay less for foreign employees often get what they pay for.
When I first came to the US in 1997 on an H1B, I suspected I was getting paid slightly less than market. But after a year, I was able to show that I could do good work and was able to negotiate a 25% increase in pay. In early 2000, I joined my current company with another 25% increase in pay. I consider myself relatively fortunate in that I don't feel that I am being exploited and more importantly, finding myself in a position where I can be exploited. I know other people are paid a little more than me but I also know a lot of folks are paid far less. That's just the way it is.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's hard to pin the blame on any one party since we're all part of the whole "system" and contribute in one way or another--perhaps some more than others--to the situation we find ourselves in. For the most part, everybody tries to take as much as they can get. If you're not happy with what you have, just keep working and try to do better next time.
Just my $0.02...
"Life's not fair...Get used to disappointment." -- "The Princess Bride"
Junilu Lacar
Bartender

Joined: Feb 26, 2001
Posts: 5018
    
    8

:roll: I see my reply is a little out of beat with the discussion in the last two posts.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Joe Pluta:

You and I have a fundamental disagreement on what is moral. Making profit from someone's disease and death is pretty immoral to me, no matter how much you tell them. If you put a warning label on crack, is it moral to sell it? However, we're veering into opinion, and I choose not to debate this point.

So noted. I'm going to make a comment on the meta-point. I always supported anti-smoking laws. But fundamentally, I think people do have a right to "hurt themselves" by smoking. One cigarette doesn't kill, but it does increase ytour chances of death; and there a certainly advnatages to smoking, i.e. enjoyment, even if you and I personally don't find it enjoyable. If that's not ok, then what about alcohol, or fatty foods, or bunjee jumping, or a whole host of other things which can do harm. All those things are also enjoyable, but increase the odds of harm or death.
Originally posted by Joe Pluta:

As to the manipulation of the H- and L- visas, there is just a truckload of information on this subject on the Internet, including the wording of the provisions themselves. The problem is that the visas were originally put in place because of a "shortage of qualified American workers" (ostensibly because of the Y2K problem and the dot-com bubble). These provisions were then extended and INCREASED even after 2000, when Y2K was past and the dot-com market had collapsed, and despite the fact that record numbers of qualified American IT workers were out of work.

Show me what wording you object to. Because I don't know of any objectionable clauses.
Shortage is a relative term. I think there obviously was a shortage back in 99. Even when the market first dropped in May or 2000, it wasn't clear that it wouldn't rebound. The labor market was still strong through the fall of 2000 (I was still hiring people then).
Now let's suppose for a moment, that the provisions did increase after 2000 (I don't know what the facts are). So what? The companies didn't smuggle workers across the boarder. If it increased it did so because Congress changed the law. Now Congress isn't known for being pro-active. They only pass laws because people/corporations tell the politicians that they want the laws changed. As it happened, corporations make noise before labor and got the laws passed before it was clear to the politicians that the labor market would change.
Yes, it sucks losing out. Our political system wasn't designed to be fair to everyone all the time. It was designed to handle competing interests all trying to screw each other by balancing them against each other (read the Federalist Papers). "Fair to all" is a metastable point. Instead, we oscillate around centric policies.
It's not always fun, but it's not immoral.

--Mark
Joe Pluta
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 23, 2003
Posts: 1376
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
I always supported anti-smoking laws. But fundamentally, I think people do have a right to "hurt themselves" by smoking.

You support laws banning things you consider acceptable.
That finishes the conversation for me. I won't get into even a discussion with someone who can argue both sides of the street. This allows you to use either side of the position to prolong the argument, and I don't have the time. The same with the wording of the visa provisions; I already explained it. They were put in place because of a shortage that no longer exists, so they should be phased out. This is really simple stuff, and absolutely clear. Just because you choose to argue doesn't make it productive for me to do so.
Joe
[Added: And please don't take this to mean that I am saying your position is untenable, or that you're not serious in your argument. Simply that I find it difficult to carry on a conversation with your style of logic and that I consider it unlikely that anything fruitful will come of the conversation. This is just as much a shortcoming of mine as a problem with your position.]
[ August 21, 2003: Message edited by: Joe Pluta ]
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Joe Pluta:

You support laws banning things you consider acceptable.
That finishes the conversation for me. I won't get into even a discussion with someone who can argue both sides of the street.

I'll bet you do, too. Do you support the right to bear arms? What about personal surface to air missles?
I think you have a right to smoke and hurt yourself. I don't think you have a right to do so indoors where you hurt others. The two aren't mutually exclusive.
--Mark
Joe Pluta
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 23, 2003
Posts: 1376
Okay, simple question: do you think it's moral to sell crack? The crack user knows the problems, so by how I understand your logic, it's okay to sell it to them.
(I know this is a little adrift of the primary topic, but you seem to be willing to try to find a common ground, so if you'll permit me a little latitude in my questions, maybe we can do so.)
Joe
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Joe Pluta:
Okay, simple question: do you think it's moral to sell crack? The crack user knows the problems, so by how I understand your logic, it's okay to sell it to them.
(I know this is a little adrift of the primary topic, but you seem to be willing to try to find a common ground, so if you'll permit me a little latitude in my questions, maybe we can do so.)
Joe

Well, it's somewhat parallel to the topic. The motivation for my post was that I feel many developers are only complaining when the laws/environment/situation is unfair to them. I'm not saying that they have no right to complain, but rather that they should see both sides.
I'm sending you a personal reply, because I need to be careful about what I say onrecord on this topic.
--Mark
Paul Pullman
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 28, 2003
Posts: 19
L-1 was intended to grant to foreign executives of US international companies to work in the US for a short term. However, many foreign, in particular Indian, consulting companies have been using it to bring thousands of software developers as co-CEOs, VPs and the likes into this country to do consulting work for US companies. Dishonest? Immoral?
Paul
Rufus BugleWeed
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 1551
I'm sending you a personal reply, because I need to be careful about what I say onrecord on this topic.

Oh?
Suppose you were a boomer in 1999 and made in the 10% of wage earners in IT development. Do you think the top 10% earned more than an analogous group in the legal profession? Do you think ambulance chasers, those who sue doctors trying to advance the healing arts, those who represent stupid people who spill hot coffee deserve a bigger piece of the pie than those who develop complex software systems.
Which has a higher value to society
a) the coffee at McDonalds is 175 F +/- 2 degrees
b) the electric power grid is reliable
To insinuate that IT developers were asking for too much fails to let the invisible hand work.
Hiring an H1-B at below market is/was illegal. Maybe some companies do right by their employees, legally public companies are obligated to maximize their share holders return. IMO more companies will pay less and pocket the profits.
Greg Neef
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 16, 2003
Posts: 82
Visa driven floods of programmers or not, the tide has turned fundamentally counter to the trend of the last 20 years (which I so much enjoyed). The web makes it easy for people to work on US projects from outside the US. Java promises that code written this year won't have to be re-written in two years (although I will believe that when I have seen it in action for a bit longer). The hay days are over and now it is going to be just another job with a diminishing cache and pay premium.
What I don't know is where it can stop. Today jobs are flooding to India where rates are 1/5th US. In 3 years, India may be screwed with jobs flooding out of there to China or somewhere else with rates even lower than India's (as is happening in textiles today). I honestly don't see the answer. Does the whole world's standard of living have to sink to the lowest common denominator? That seems to tbe the trend. The cyber-libertarian point of view says. "So be it", but baring some serious deflation (read Depression) in the develped countries which will bring living cost down to those of the 3rd world I am unclear how we can compete.
The answer is supposed to be that I should go get a job at a company which exports stuff to China that they don't make. I am still looking.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Paul Pullman:
L-1 was intended to grant to foreign executives of US international companies to work in the US for a short term. However, many foreign, in particular Indian, consulting companies have been using it to bring thousands of software developers as co-CEOs, VPs and the likes into this country to do consulting work for US companies. Dishonest? Immoral?

Seems like if that was the real intention, it should've been written that way. Lobbyists are great at spinning intepretations of bills different for different audiances. I suspect the bill was written as is to include exactly this type of loophole.
Originally posted by Rufus BugleWeed:

Do you think ambulance chasers, those who sue doctors trying to advance the healing arts, those who represent stupid people who spill hot coffee deserve a bigger piece of the pie than those who develop complex software systems.

I believe that the market will decide this for us. It will just take time--probably more then half our careers.

Originally posted by Greg Neef:

What I don't know is where it can stop. Today jobs are flooding to India where rates are 1/5th US. In 3 years, India may be screwed with jobs flooding out of there to China or somewhere else with rates even lower than India's (as is happening in textiles today). I honestly don't see the answer. Does the whole world's standard of living have to sink to the lowest common denominator? That seems to tbe the trend. The cyber-libertarian point of view says. "So be it", but baring some serious deflation (read Depression) in the develped countries which will bring living cost down to those of the 3rd world I am unclear how we can compete.


See, now here I was thinking the benefit is that the whole world's standard of living rises to some middle ground. Amazing how we can take the same idea and spin it in opposite ways.
There was an article in Newsweek this week on this topic. The problem is that US the largest importer of good and too many countries rely on the US for their products. If they don't learn to decrease their export surpluses and import more, their going to hurt themselves because eneturally the US will stop (meaning cut back) on importing. It's already happening in a down US market.
Assuming everyone does regularly import, then we compete by following economics 101. Each country produces goods at which it is best. They produce good like textiles which are labor intensive. We produce goods like drugs and fighter jets, which are technology intensive. Everyone is better off because they buy good cheaper than they could make them.
We just might be in a field which happens to be done cheaper elsewhere--although I don't believe that.
--Mark
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16250
    
  21

A more likely result would be that the presently cost-advantaged parts of the world see a rise in standard of living, and the cost-disadvantaged parts see a fall.
Problem is, the gap is so wide, and the number of people involved is so great, that I fear that the rise will be fairly small and the fall will be fairly large. Then again, my own personal concern is that the fall of the "haves" will be so far and so hard that it will rebound on the "want-to-haves". That is, if the Western economy gets trashed too badly, we won't be able to sustain our role as heavy consumers (this is something to be proud of???), and the developing nations won't have had their standard of living raised enough to be able to take over.
The prosperity that offshoring has brought to India has had some notable effects. Middle-class Indians are now able to go to malls and buy foreign-made products. That made me feel a little better about all the income I've lost. However, the depressing thing about the article I read was that they were saying things like "now for the first time, we can afford refrigerators".
Of course, nothing's this simple. The Western way of life isn't scalable. Long before everyone in China alone has their own personal SUV with fuel and roads to enjoy it, the planet runs out of resources. One of the greatest dangers of instant prosperity is that the developing nations will attempt to become just like the US. Because, unless someone's made some substantial math errors, it won't work. In truth, one of the best hopes for the planet is for people used to more frugality come up with more efficient and inexpensive ways to make life more enjoyable.
Maybe instead of repeating our mistakes, they can offer something uniquely valuable of their own.
Ashok Mash
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 13, 2000
Posts: 1936
On the original topic:
Four years ago, I was badly in need of a change from my FoxPro/C/C++/Netware environment, and I decided to challenge myself with a certification, and I decided to try either OCP (Oracle Certification) or SCJP. I did Sun Authorised Training on Java (no good, let me tell you!), and then learned Java on my own (was easy coming from C++ background). I resigned my programming job, moved to a bigger city, took up a teaching job and taught Java, Websphere and everything related to these two for almost 6 months. This gave me enough time to prepare for SCJP. Cleared SCJP on Jan 2000 and was immediately offered a great job (EJB's, Netfinity servers and all that) at a big International Bank. Things were looking really good in 2000. Started plans to take SCEA.
Wrong decisions followed - took another job outside India for better salary, but poorer work content - Applets, JSP's and such client-side coding for a small product development company. Plans to take SCEA still on!
Three years later, after changing employers twice and surviving four rounds of redundancies, still doing low-profile jobs for cheap money! Still planning to try SCEA!! :roll:


[ flickr ]
Ashok Mash
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 13, 2000
Posts: 1936
Originally posted by Tim Holloway:

The prosperity that offshoring has brought to India has had some notable effects. Middle-class Indians are now able to go to malls and buy foreign-made products.

IMHO, that statement is not fully correct.
Offshoring alone wouldn't be enough to make any significant effect in a country as big as India. With out denying the fact that IT-offshoring revenue has helped, there are a number of other points thats causing the relative prosperity of India's growing middle-class, most important of which is India's opening up its market and giving up government monopoly in major business areas. Opening up its markets to outside competition has compelled Indian firm to be more professional and competitive and also it has brought in a lot of foreign and private investment in to the country. Also the new surge in manufacturing jobs in automobile and pharmaceutical industries is another big money spinner in India.
Having said this, I agree, offshoring income has helped. But then again, buying a refrigerator is not following the west, but acquiring whats most needed during scorching Indian summers!
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Ashok Krishnan:

Opening up its markets to outside competition has compelled Indian firm to be more professional and competitive and also it has brought in a lot of foreign and private investment in to the country.

More evidence of the benefits of the free market system! :-)
--Mark
Nathan Thurm
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 26, 2003
Posts: 36
See, now here I was thinking the benefit is that the whole world's standard of living rises to some middle ground. Amazing how we can take the same idea and spin it in opposite ways.

I don't disagree, but I have a difficult time reconciling the various views shown on these boards including the following:
1. You're obviously a fan of the free market.
2. But yet you have a �so be it� attitude with L1, H1B, India's tariff's , and China's pegging the yuan to our dollar. You've indicated that you don't think the US should do anything about these government interventions into the free market which I can't understand.
3. On top of that the reason you've dismissed any concerns for US jobs and doing anything about these interventions is that you perceive them to be �artificial� and that India is merely �propping up an inefficient industry� and that China�s pegging the yuan to the dollar at it�s own risk. And then you cited the example of Thailand's failure when they fixed their currency. So let me get this straight, even if these "artificial" interventions may take our jobs, we shouldn't do anything because what India/China is doing may not work for them? And then what. Do we get our jobs back when this is done, whether it works or not? And if we don't get our jobs back, then why shouldn't we do something about it?
4. And then finally you�re thinking that the whole world�s standard of living will rise because of outsourcing, even though numerous government interventions are making this possible. Which to me implies that you think that outsourcing while using these government interventions WILL work, which confuses me since you're such a big advocate of the free market. So, if this does work, are you going to ease back from some of your free market views then?
The best reconciliation I can do related to your views on the topic above is:
United States should follow the free market (except in the case of H1b and L1's we should just leave these bills be including the umlimited cap currently on L1's) and we shouldn't encourage other countries to do anything to change their policies even though free market is the best way to go. If government intervention works for them great, well that's the goal raise their standard of living, and if it doesn't well it's no surprise because they didn't follow the free market.
And as for doing anything to proect jobs from this government intervention the US government shouldn't do anything. So be it.

I would like a reconciliation of these views when you have time.

Here�s my take for what it's worth:
1.I think that the bipartisan report issued by United States Trade and Deficit Review Commission has the right attitude, that we should work on freeing up the markets including reducing India�s tariff�s and getting China away from pegging the yuan to the dollar. Estimates have it at being 15% to 40% undervalued.
2.By the same, token, I don�t see how you can say China�s pegging the yuan to the dollar at it�s own risk. Far from it, if China goes down US goes down economically.
Currency fixing helps Chinese, irks U.S. business leaders
http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradenton/news/world/6556460.htm
�The Herculean task of maintaining a steady exchange rate means the Bank of China intervenes incessantly in the currency markets, buying billions of dollars from currency traders just to manipulate the yuan's price. In doing so, China amasses huge sums of dollars, which it spends to buy U.S. Treasury-issued securities.
By buying Treasuries, the Chinese are buying America's debt and extending the U.S. a loan. And the U.S. urgently needs foreigners like China to advance it about $1 billion every day so that Americans, who run a trade deficit with many of its trading partners, can continue to buy more than they produce.
If China changed course and stepped out of the Treasury market, the world's biggest economy effectively would lose a line of credit in a move that could whipsaw back on the U.S. economy.�
We�re going down together on this one from what I see. Unless we reduce the deficit and then start getting them to adjust their rates gradually over time.
3.L-1�s are taking our jobs. I know you have a �so be it� attitude regarding this but I think the new bills coming out, refereneced in the link I put out yesterday, putting a cap on the L1 number and also restricting terms are a good step. Any thoughts on this.
I�m just interested in seeing how far apart our views are on this.
[ August 22, 2003: Message edited by: Nathan Thurm ]
[ August 22, 2003: Message edited by: Nathan Thurm ]
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
I think you're confusing my views on outsourcing with my views on foreign workers in the US. They are two different (although arguably related) issues.
Originally posted by Nathan Thurm:

1. You're obviously a fan of the free market.

You got it. :-)
Originally posted by Nathan Thurm:

2. But yet you have a ?so be it? attitude with L1, H1B, India's tariff's , and China's pegging the yuan to our dollar. You've indicated that you don't think the US should do anything about these government interventions into the free market which I can't understand.

Um, what attitude should I have? I happen to be a US citizen, which means I have a right, some would even say an obligation, to try to get my government to what I feel is best. I have no authority over India or other countries. Now I do have some secondary interests in other countries. For example, if two countries go to war it can obviously have global impact. So can their economic policies. Still, I feel that if they embark on poor policy choices, it's ultimately not my place to tell them they must do otherwise.
As for H1B's, we should do what's in our (meaning US) interest. I do not believe we should open the floodgates and let anyone come into the US who wants to. There may be times to import foreign labor. This may or may not be one of those times. My attitude with respect to the H1B and L1 programs is not whether it's a good or bad economic decision, but rather that companies have embarked on this because its good for them. Right or wrong, it's not inhernetly immoral, just a matter of self-interest. (And while actions based on self interest can be immoral, they are not necessarily so; IMO, they are not so in this case.)
Originally posted by Nathan Thurm:

3. On top of that the reason you've dismissed any concerns for US jobs and doing anything about these interventions is that you perceive them to be ?artificial?
...
So let me get this straight, even if these "artificial" interventions may take our jobs, we shouldn't do anything because what India/China is doing may not work for them? And then what. Do we get our jobs back when this is done, whether it works or not? And if we don't get our jobs back, then why shouldn't we do something about it?

Let me propose the following analogy. There are two software firms who compete for contracts. One regularly underbids the other in terms of schedule. Naturally, they start getting more contracts. Of course, the way the meet this shortened deadlines is by cutting corners. In a few years their customers realize the number of bugs and maintainance costs far exceed the savings from the faster schedule. Eventually the custmers will abandon this company and turn to the one who does software the right way.
What should the company losing contracts do? It could respond by also producing quick and cheap, shoddy software, or it can rid it out. The right thing, of course, is to ride it out. Certainly, if it will take 10 years to ride out and the company can't afford to stay in business that long under these circumstances, then it must consider alternative options.
I believe the US should ride it out, and they we have the resources to do so. Is it convienent for us, personally? No. But from a utilitarian standpoint, I believe its better for the country as a whole. (This is the crux of my arguement, if it's not clear, let me know.)

Originally posted by Nathan Thurm:

4. And then finally you?re thinking that the whole world?s standard of living will rise because of outsourcing, even though numerous government interventions are making this possible. Which to me implies that you think that outsourcing while using these government interventions WILL work, which confuses me since you're such a big advocate of the free market. So, if this does work, are you going to ease back from some of your free market views then?

You're reading too much into my statements. If you're not familiar with the economic theory of comparative advanage you should take a look at it. It basically says we're better off with free trade (undoubtedly others can explain it better than I). Countries engaging in this will have more efficent production which will help improve their standard of living. It's not clear that it's the whole world which will gain, but clearly some places will.
I'm unclear what government intervention is necessary to make this possible? None is inherently necessary for me to buy something from another country. However, over the centuries, countries have historically engaged in protectionist policies (e.g. tarriffs). NAFTA and similar treaties have been created in which basically each side promises not to impose tarriffs. In short, the government intervention is simply a promise of no government intervention.
As for the H1B and similar programs, I don't think, as is, it will have any significant effect on living standards. I'm not sure if this is what you were refering to by government intervention. If not, please clarify.
Originally posted by Nathan Thurm:

United States should follow the free market (except in the case of H1b and L1's we should just leave these bills be including the umlimited cap currently on L1's)

We should follow the free market as much as possible. This doesn't mean never pass a bill. Clearly there are times when we do need thing slike crop subsidies, federal loans, minimum wage, occupational safty laws, etc. I can't give a blanket rule for when and were these are necessary.
Originally posted by Nathan Thurm:

and we shouldn't encourage other countries to do anything to change their policies even though free market is the best way to go.

We should do whatever is in our (mean the country's) interest. If its in our interest to do that, then we should. But my point is that if other countries do not change their policies, the invisible hand is gonna smack 'em.

Originally posted by Nathan Thurm:

If government intervention works for them great, well that's the goal raise their standard of living, and if it doesn't well it's no surprise because they didn't follow the free market.

I don't know where I ever said or implied this. I do not believe I have commented on the motivations for foreign government policies.
Originally posted by Nathan Thurm:

And as for doing anything to proect jobs from this government intervention the US government shouldn't do anything. So be it.

Of course it should. If US companies are getting blown up overseas, the US government should protect them. Otherwise those jobs would disappear. Why do you think the US has the biggest military presence around the world? It's because we've got the largest global economic reach, and we need to protect those interests. Someone invading our country isn't exactly high on our threat list.
I believe the US should act in its best interest. Protectionist policies are not in the long term interest of the US.
Originally posted by Nathan Thurm:

2.By the same, token, I don?t see how you can say China?s pegging the yuan to the dollar at it?s own risk. Far from it, if China goes down US goes down economically.

Um, this is starting to push the limits of my economic training. Why isn't the following true? They (China) inflate the price by creating artificial demand, buying dollars for yuan at higher prices then they are worth; in other words, paying, 8 yauns per dollar instead of, say, 5. When it finally becomes unhinged, those who bought the dollars at the overinflated price will be in serious trouble. Chinas thought it had the equivalent of 8,000 yauns (in dollars), but its really only worth 5,000 yuans.
Originally posted by Nathan Thurm:

3.L-1?s are taking our jobs. I know you have a ?so be it? attitude regarding this but I think the new bills coming out, refereneced in the link I put out yesterday, putting a cap on the L1 number and also restricting terms are a good step. Any thoughts on this.

Again, I never claimed L-1s and H1Bs were good for US workers. I only said that outsourcing was good for US consumers. I further implied, on the principle of competitive advantage, that this is a net benefit to the US as a whole.

--Mark
Nathan Thurm
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 26, 2003
Posts: 36
I happen to be a US citizen, which means I have a right, some would even say an obligation, to try to get my government to what I feel is best. I have no authority over India or other countries. Now I do have some secondary interests in other countries. For example, if two countries go to war it can obviously have global impact. So can their economic policies. Still, I feel that if they embark on poor policy choices, it's ultimately not my place to tell them they must do otherwise.

But, if you (general you throughout this paragraph) believe that these poor policies are affecting your own country detrimentally (losses of millions of jobs enabled through tariffs and other non-tariff barriers), it is definitely your place to try to get them to do otherwise, by telling your government to do what you feel is best through the means that it has at its disposal, in this case, negotiation. I fully support what the Bush administration has been doing through the various ongoing trade negotiation rounds to try to reduce the Indian and Chinese tariffs. There's no reason you can't throw your support behind this, especially if you're a fan of the free market.
Let me propose the following analogy. There are two software firms who compete for contracts. One regularly underbids the other in terms of schedule. Naturally, they start getting more contracts. Of course, the way the meet this shortened deadlines is by cutting corners. In a few years their customers realize the number of bugs and maintainance costs far exceed the savings from the faster schedule. Eventually the custmers will abandon this company and turn to the one who does software the right way.
What should the company losing contracts do? It could respond by also producing quick and cheap, shoddy software, or it can rid it out. The right thing, of course, is to ride it out. Certainly, if it will take 10 years to ride out and the company can't afford to stay in business that long under these circumstances, then it must consider alternative options.
I believe the US should ride it out, and they we have the resources to do so. Is it convienent for us, personally? No. But from a utilitarian standpoint, I believe its better for the country as a whole. (This is the crux of my arguement, if it's not clear, let me know.)

I don't think this analogy holds though. The reason work is going to India and China isn't from cutting deadlines or anything other shortcuts, it's because their costs (including salaries)are so much lower (I've seen estimates of $5000 to $10000 a year) that it should be and will be easy for them to underbid us. In fact, it will be very easy to raise their salaries (12% plus raises for this past year acording to one article) for many,many years and still beat us. The tariff compound this effect, by making it more difficult to export items to India to offset this loss in jobs. We're going to be the one's going down in flames cutting costs, trying to meet tighter deadlines not them.

You're reading too much into my statements. If you're not familiar with the economic theory of comparative advanage you should take a look at it. It basically says we're better off with free trade (undoubtedly others can explain it better than I).

I agree for the most part (I think there's a limit to free trade), except our trade with India and China and other countries is currently not free, not with tariffs in place and the resultant huge deficits we're running with both countries.

I believe the US should act in its best interest. Protectionist policies are not in the long term interest of the US.

Agreed, for the most part, my suggestions are not protectionist policies though. Reducing tariffs, allowing the yuan to float, limiting L-1 visas are not protectionist policies.
Um, this is starting to push the limits of my economic training. Why isn't the following true? They (China) inflate the price by creating artificial demand, buying dollars for yuan at higher prices then they are worth; in other words, paying, 8 yauns per dollar instead of, say, 5. When it finally becomes unhinged, those who bought the dollars at the overinflated price will be in serious trouble. Chinas thought it had the equivalent of 8,000 yauns (in dollars), but its really only worth 5,000 yuans.

Right, but according to the research I've read and the article I posted that could be the position that China is in very soon but by the same token as we produce less and less and and keep running a higher and higher deficit we're going to be in dire trouble too if China can't buy our debt.
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Nathan Thurm:

Again, I never claimed L-1s and H1Bs were good for US workers. I only said that outsourcing was good for US consumers. I further implied, on the principle of competitive advantage, that this is a net benefit to the US as a whole.

It's only a net benefit if we can find that competitive advantage though. Reading some articles about outsourcing written one or two years ago, it was ok that we outsourced the jobs then because that enabled us to focus on the higher-dollar more technology intensive jobs like in our field. Now, they're outsourcing these jobs too, among many other white collar, middle class jobs, and I'm not seeing millions of new jobs coming along to replace them.
[ August 22, 2003: Message edited by: Nathan Thurm ]
[ August 22, 2003: Message edited by: Nathan Thurm ]
[ August 22, 2003: Message edited by: Nathan Thurm ]
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Nathan Thurm:

But, if you (general you throughout this paragraph) believe that these poor policies are affecting your own country detrimentally (losses of millions of jobs enabled through tariffs and other non-tariff barriers), it is definitely your place to try to get them to do otherwise, by telling your government to do what you feel is best through the means that it has at its disposal, in this case, negotiation.

And when the US wants to engage in such negotiations, I don't object. I don't feel strongly enough to raise my voice to encourage them on this, and if the government doesn't do it, I don't mind. In other words, I don't think it's hurting us as much as others here do.

Originally posted by Nathan Thurm:

I don't think this analogy holds though. The reason work is going to India and China isn't from cutting deadlines or anything other shortcuts, it's because their costs (including salaries)are so much lower (I've seen estimates of $5000 to $10000 a year) that it should be and will be easy for them to underbid us.

It's not a perfect analogy. But I see two trends. First the real cost of outsourcing is much higher than most companies think. I fundamentally believe software creation is a communication problem and not a technology or raw engineering problem. As such, the narrow pipe in outsourcing will be costly. Second, I think the the production costs in India will increase to the point that it will balance out with the US in a period of time short enough for the US to endure without extra policies.

Originally posted by Nathan Thurm:

Right, but according to the research I've read and the article I posted not only China could be in deep, deep trouble with their yuan valuation but by the same token as we produce less and less and and keep running a higher and higher deficit we're going to be in dire trouble too if China can't buy our debt.

So then you agree that China is the one who will be directly impacted when they discover that they overpaid for dollars with yuan. Um, how are we worse off? We (US gov't and companies) be better off for selling out goods (dollars and products) for more yuan than they were really worth.
Now China quickly converts those dollars into treasury bonds, effectively lending the US government back the dollars it bought. At some point, the US needs to get back the dollar to pay off the bond. Where will it get that dollar? It must buy it on the market. If China keeps the exchange rate inflated, or even increasing, we're in trouble. But if it ever collapses, then the government buys back the dollar less. Specifically, the US government sold the dollar for 8 yuan (overpriced). The US government then borrowed the dollar from China, promising $1.16 in 5 years. If the exchange rate collapses in 3 years, then 5 years from now, the US buys the dollar back for 5 yuan, gets' another $0.16 for another yuan, and pays back its debt to China. But now the US still has 2 yuan left!
If this cycle continues, the US could be in trouble. But effectively, this is a bubble. bubbles do burst (ref: US economy 1995-2000). Personally, I think the US has enough capital to outlast China in this game, so I'm not worried.

Originally posted by Nathan Thurm:

It's only a net benefit if we can find that competitive advantage though. Reading some articles about outsourcing written one or two years ago, it was ok that we outsourced the jobs then because that enabled us to focus on the higher-dollar more technology intensive jobs like in our field. Now, they're outsourcing these jobs too, among many other white collar, middle class jobs, and I'm not seeing millions of new jobs coming along to replace them.

The flaw in that argument, in my opinion, is that these "white collar" jobs deserve some special protection. 200 years ago to make clothing you had to become an apprentice and spend years training. Now we can pay some unskilled laborer to do it after 2 weeks of training. Times change.
Our industry has changed, too. It used to be that you needed a PhD to work in software. Then only a computer science degree. These days high school kids can write web servers. Seems to me that this is not a highly skilled job. Our advanced tools (like sewing machines and patterns, and industrial manufacturing equipment) have made it easier to do with less skill and knowledge
Take your favorite IDE. It can be produced anywhere in the world. Ultimately, it will be produced in the country with the cheapest labor (we're simplifying things like national infrastruture). On the other hand, when GM asks a consulting firm for help creating and deploying its new global accounting system, they'll need experts here in the US, where their headquarters are.
Drug manufacturing, which requires a $1B R&D investment, and heavy manufacturing equipment cannot so easily be outsourced--yet.
We simply must accept that fact that software is not some special industry available only to Americans. That's scary for an American programmer to accept (I had trouble with it myself, at first), but that doesn't make it any less true.
--Mark
Paul Pullman
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 28, 2003
Posts: 19
Just read in my hotel room that the local economy of this state was growing last month, including the job market. Even though the best-performing sectors were business services,IT was not one of them, and they were office assistants, dating services, dry cleaning, and home repair. If that will be trend, it is not encouraging at all!
Well, let's hope they were hiring those office assistants to greet us when we all come in for an interview in the months and years to come.
Paul
Matt Cao
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 03, 2003
Posts: 715
Hello,
Four years ago, I was busy how to slice a pyramid into many sections without topple the whole model because I was very much figure academia and governmental business operation models like a cube whereas private sector was more like a pyramid. I did not tell a single soul in the company about it.
In 2000, the company president did exactly that and I was a part of the management group that oversaw all the organizations within the corporation. Each organization have it own departments.
If globalization operates like this model, then we will survive just fine. But the process still not quite right with living standards differences. Currently, if someone from a lower living standard comes to higher living standard sites, then the accounting dept have to subsidize to those individuals, but not the other way around. This creates friction among space people because those third world countries folks have a peculiar way to see differences in income.
Thought that I could help lighten things up a little bit.
Regards,
MCao
[ August 23, 2003: Message edited by: Matt Cao ]
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
Nathan Thurm wrote:
I don't think this analogy holds though. The reason work is going to India and China isn't from cutting deadlines or anything other shortcuts, it's because their costs (including salaries)are so much lower (I've seen estimates of $5000 to $10000 a year) that it should be and will be easy for them to underbid us.

Mark Herschberg replied:
It's not a perfect analogy. But I see two trends. First the real cost of outsourcing is much higher than most companies think. I fundamentally believe software creation is a communication problem and not a technology or raw engineering problem. As such, the narrow pipe in outsourcing will be costly. Second, I think the the production costs in India will increase to the point that it will balance out with the US in a period of time short enough for the US to endure without extra policies.

A brilliant summation of the balancing factors to the offshoring "boom", Mark. Software engineers with english-language fluency aren't exactly rare but are a limited resource globally. The boom in India has been fueled by the large supply of them in India, but rapid wage increases recently indicate that the supply has been taken up. The Middle East and China are another source but the supply of english-speaking SE's much smaller in those places.
The current efforts of the large Indian offshoring houses to source cheap labor to China will come to grief on communication and cultural issues, I fear.
We agree (I think) that the current crisis is overwhemingly due to the applications bust and that things will come right when the applications backlog (which must be immense by now) asserts itself. The offshoring issue is minescule by volume compared to the true problem.
Where I differ with your opinion is this: You and I agree that a lot of offshoring now going on is management malpractice. You seem relaxed about it, but I am not. The flawed decisions these managers are taking not only impact shareholders they impose massive (and largely undeserved) personal costs on IT workers on the developed countries. Many of us never played the dot.com greed game, so we do not deserve the consequences.
On a pragmatic basis this all is going to have a major negative impact upon labor market supply in the medium to long term. The industry will pay a heavy price for making the software engineer's career path into an unstable and unrewarding one......
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Alfred Neumann:

Where I differ with your opinion is this: You and I agree that a lot of offshoring now going on is management malpractice. You seem relaxed about it, but I am not. The flawed decisions these managers are taking not only impact shareholders they impose massive (and largely undeserved) personal costs on IT workers on the developed countries. Many of us never played the dot.com greed game, so we do not deserve the consequences.

Yep, that sounds like the key difference. I wouldn't say totally relaxed. Obviously I prefer stable, steady growth to wild swings. It comes down to the fact that this is indeed a problem stemming from short-sighted managers, but I don't believe it is the job of the government to compensate for corporate stupidity (except in the most extreme of cases).
--Mark
Al Newman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 30, 2003
Posts: 716
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:

Yep, that sounds like the key difference. I wouldn't say totally relaxed. Obviously I prefer stable, steady growth to wild swings. It comes down to the fact that this is indeed a problem stemming from short-sighted managers, but I don't believe it is the job of the government to compensate for corporate stupidity (except in the most extreme of cases).
--Mark

Government action, no. Except maybe to recognize and point out the rank stupidity of the trend (talk-talk).
Letting the H1B visa limit fall back to 65,000 is a good symbolic step though not really on point. I think the L1's need a strong blaring public review if not abolishment.
As for the managers, well 'government action' is too good for them! Tar and feathers is a good policy for the ones capable of learning. The bastinado is a good option for the terminally boneheaded. Only the very worst should be subjected to staking out on anthills with honey applied to strategic places....
Videos should be taken and used in MBA programs.....
[ August 27, 2003: Message edited by: Alfred Neumann ]
Derek Grey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 09, 2002
Posts: 204
What was I thinking???
I don't think I was thinking at all. Else why would I reject job offers to pursue a full-time Master's in Computer Science.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
subject: What were you thinking 4 years ago?