Private universities and Sri Lankan bloggers

There’s been some really heavy discussions happening in the blogosphere about the whole Private University debate for Sri Lanka. Indi and Morquendi are the two main contributors, Kavinda linked to these guys earlier this week and by god, these guys are still going at it today. Read the latest post from Indi titled Private University FAQs. Ivap posts a summary of the debate between these guys.

Boy, I for one am excited to see our very own Sri Lankan’s actively blogging and slogging things out. There’s even a cool hosting a whole heap of Sri Lankan bloggers. Way to go guys!

Private universities and Sri Lankan bloggers

Glass tombstones

I wonder if I’ll be able to get a tombstone like this when I die. (I need to add this to my TODO list!)
Mark Frauenfelder: Lundgren Monuments makes glass tombstones.

Radiant and incredibly tactile, Lundgren Monuments are designed for the individual who defies definition, and in the setting of a memorial park or cemetery they are glowing beacons that stand out amongst the traditional stone memorials.

Link (Thanks, Kirsten!)

Glass tombstones

Green-card regulations encourage offshoring

New rules make hiring foreign nationals more difficult than ever

By  Ephraim Schwartz

I recently spoke with Frida Glucoft, a leading immigration lawyer and a partner and chair of the immigration practice at law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp. She tells me that changes made by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) during the past three months will limit many companies’ ability to hire and retain new IT employees. If you typically hire recent computer science grads who are not U.S. citizens, you should listen up.

As of December, filing fees for H-1B visas have gone up more than 1,000 percent, from $185 to $2,185 per applicant. But you might as well add on another $1,000 for what’s called “premium processing” of the visa application. Premium processing guarantees 15-day turnaround; otherwise, processing can take between four and six months, according to Glucoft.

If you think your company can afford to wait six months for some hotshot software engineer, consider this. Last year, as they do each year, 65,000 H-1B visas became available on Oct. 1. When the 65,000 are gone, employers have to wait another 12 months for new visas to become available. All of last year’s visas were spoken for by Oct. 3.

Here’s another interesting glitch. The Department of Labor announced a new program on Dec. 27, 2004, which went into effect March 27, 2005. Called PERM (Program Electronic Review Management), it is the first step in applying for lawful permanent residence status — also known as a “green card” — as part of the greater Permanent Labor Certification program.

Case law suggests that non-U.S. citizens who want green cards need about two years of work experience even if they have a bachelor’s degree. Work experience with an applicant’s first employer, however, is considered on-the-job training and does not count.

So, if you have an employee working for you on an H-1B visa who has just graduated from a U.S. university and you want to get that employee a green card, you can’t. Employees who want to stay in the country on a more permanent basis have to start filing a contractor’s insurance claim dispute and have to change jobs; time served at their first employers counts only toward green-card status after they’ve taken a job with a second employer.

Finally, here’s another beaut. Also in December, Congress enacted and President Bush signed into law a bill allowing for 20,000 additional H-1B visas for those with advanced degrees from U.S. universities. This added 20,000 additional visas to the existing quota of 65,000.

The law was to take effect on March 7, 2005, Glucoft said; however, USCIS has issued a statement that it will not accept these cases until further notice, pending “publication in the Federal Register.” So, we have employers ready to hire workers, we have workers who may have given notice to their current employers, but now everything is on hold.

Policies such as these will certainly encourage offshoring. Why go through the expense — including not just the visa fees but also the legal fees needed to process the visas, the time it takes to get new employees trained and up and running, plus the uncertainty, delays, and lack of permanency of investments you may have made in hiring foreign workers — when you can just contract a company outside our borders and still get most of the benefits of having the best and the brightest working for you?

Green-card regulations encourage offshoring


Another very nice tool is DebugView. This is a tool from Sysinternals that enables you to monitor all debug messages on your system. This allows you to have the following in your code:


Debug.Write(“This is written trough System.Diagnostics.Debug.Write.”);

Trace.Write(“This is written trough System.Diagnostics.Trace.Write.”);


Debug.WriteIf(inDebug, “This is written because inDebug is true.”);      

Having this in your code is very handy for debugging in an early stage, where you haven’t added a logging component, such as Enterprise Library, yet. Or in a scenario where you don’t want to attach the Visual Studio Debugger, or can’t attach it, but still want to view some debug information from your program.

It’s also possible to connect to a remote computer, and intercept these debug messages remotely


After having added code like this, the only thing that has to be done is open DebugView and run the program. DebugView would then intercept the messages and display them as following:


This tool is only 240 KB in size, and completely free, which is really amazing for such a powerful and useful tool.



IE Search Prefixes

I use Maxthon as my default browser and it has this cool feature for using keywords. For example to search google I just type g and the search word in the address bar and hit enter. What I never released though was that you could do the same thing using IE until I read this post by Jamie Buckly a Program Manager on MSN Search. I tried it and it works!
We’re always looking for ways to give you search results faster.  The popular Desktop Search Shortcuts from MSN Desktop Search are good examples of this.  On a related note, Internet Explorer (5.0 and above) has a little known feature that lets you quickly search for something on any site: IE Search prefixes.

After the search prefixes are set up, you can type a single word identifier (prefix) and search query in the IE address bar to send the query to any website.  For example, the prefix “msn” can go to MSN Search and typing “msn chicken fried rice” in the IE address bar sends the query “chicken fried rice” to our web search.


05-03-29 extensions

This script installs the search prefixes below to your machine.  The “Alternate” column lists additional prefixes to launch the same query (e.g. “images corvette” and “image corvette” both do the same thing).

Prefix Alternate Query Target Example
define definition, dictionary MSN Search, web search with definition define alpaca
dencarta   MSN Search, Encarta search encarta history of china
images image MSN Search, image search images corvette
kb   Microsoft Knowledge Base kb microsoft word
ms site ms windows xp
movies movie MSN Movies movies the incredibles
msdn   Microsoft MSDN msdn cocreateguid
msn   MSN Search, web search msn chicken fried rice
music   MSN Music music peter gabriel
news   MSN Search, news search news iraq
shop shopping MSN Shopping shop digital camera
quote stockquote MSN Money, stock quote quote msft
syn thesaurus Encarta thesaurus syn vanguard

If you want to add prefixes for other websites, try the Microsoft Tweak UI utility for Windows XP.  There are also a few shareware tools compatible with older versions of Windows.  Enjoy!

Jamie Buckley
Program Manager, MSN Search

IE Search Prefixes

Installing Visual Studio .NET on a Domain Controller

As part of setting up the TDD environment for the next project that I’m going to be working on, I started by trying to setup CruiseControl.NET on my VSS server when I released that it didn’t have Visual Studio .NET.

But trying to install Visual Studio .NET over Terminal Services on a domain controller started throwing up a multitude of error messages and finally failed installing the FrontPage Web Extensions.

So what did I do? I figured it was something to do with Terminal Services, so instead I setup RealVNC (they’ve recently release Version 4) on the box and then ran the setup. Would you believe it, not a single error message.

Installing Visual Studio .NET on a Domain Controller