Barney's Blog

Blog archive

Mailbag: $0 Laptop Scheme, H-1B Debate, More

One reader takes the Indian government's plan to make a $10 laptop to the next level:

Why pay even $10 for a laptop? Seems to me that if Radio Shack can offer a netbook for $99 with a two-year wireless service plan, why not just subsidize the whole thing and charge $0 for the netbook with a two-year plan? Granted, the $0 netbook at sign-up becomes a $1,440 netbook (assuming $60/month for service), but the computer itself would be free. Then perhaps you could negotiate your plan to one of these online companies that sublet your contract to another for a small fee. Not that I'm suggesting this scheme or anything...

Another responds to a recent letter defending companies that hire H-1B visa workers:

H-1B visas were meant to bring people to the country to augment the work force, to provide talent that doesn't exist here. But the talent does exist here -- just not at the bargain-basement salaries that many companies want to pay. Guess why the schools have a disproportionate amount of foreign students? American students have seen the wave of imported, cheap labor and have shunned the field.

It's not prejudice to expose the greed of multibillion-dollar companies and the disservice they do to their country by the misuse of H-1B visas. Do these foreign workers pay taxes? Yes, but due to lower pay scales, they pay less taxes than their American counterparts. Also, how much of that money is sent out of the country to support folks at home, taking it out of the U.S. economy altogether? This is not some sort of windfall. Do you think that politicians would stand by and let companies import thousands of laborers to supplant unionized factory workers? No, but since tech workers don't have that union backing or lobbyists in D.C., forget about it. (Of course, the politicians will let companies ship their manufacturing offshore, even to communist countries, but that's another rant.)

And Matt shares his misgivings about a teacher who almost faced 40 years in jail for accidentally inviting malware onto a school computer:

I have recently several articles about Ms. Amero. While I think her possible punishment was excessive, I am still bothered by several things about this incident. One, was she supposed to be checking her personal e-mail from a school computer? She also supposedly spent "several hours" trying to get rid of the pop-ups to no avail. Who in their right mind spends that much time attempting that sort of task without asking for help?!

She maintains that she isn't computer-savvy and didn't know how to turn off the computer. I have had clients that are, uh, "non-savvy," but they all figured out they could pull the power cord to shut off the computer. Lastly, there is no way she or the administration truly believed that this incident wouldn't be talked about. A note should have been sent home with each student in her class telling them what happened and that the school was looking into the incident to ensure it didn't happen again.

Again, while I think giving her 40 years in jail is excessive, I don't have a problem with her losing her teaching certificate. If she truly is that poor at problem solving, I don't think I would want her teaching my children, anyway!

Check in on Friday for more reader letters, including some more thoughts on Windows 7. Meanwhile, tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to

Posted by Doug Barney on February 11, 2009 at 11:53 AM