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APPLES TO APPLES

When researchers at Duke looked into the widely held assumption that universities in India and China were graduating more engineers than the U.S., the numbers told a different story.

The researchers examined the annual production of bachelor’s and subbaccalaureate engineering, CS and IT degrees awarded in China, India and the U.S. in 2004. The subbaccalaureate category included shortcycle degrees in China, associate’s degrees in the U.S. and 3-year diplomas in India.

The number of engineering graduates in the U.S. was relatively easy to track, although the National Center for Education Statistics tallied different numbers based on the way they classify engineering grads. The lack of comparable information from India and China, where the term “engineer” is loosely translated, made the international numbers harder to verify.

What’s the upshot of Duke’s research? The data suggests the U.S. annually awards 750 bachelor’s and subbaccalaureate degrees per 1 million citizens, compared with 500 in China and 200 in India, according to Duke.

HYPOMETER

Hypometer

If wearing your Nike running shoes, Izod polo shirt, Levi’s jeans and Nike baseball jacket aren’t enough to make you look like a walking billboard, Laptop Design USA has an idea that will peg the needle on your Hypometer. The company will paint the lid of your laptop with your brand of choice, with a company’s colors, logos and trademarks.

GAME PLAY

Think you know enough to run an IT shop? One way to find out is to try the Intel IT Manager Game on Intel’s U.K. site. The game purportedly tests your IT expertise and leadership skills. You must manage the IT department—juggling equipment, human resources and your budget to create the most streamlined and profitable company possible. Here’s where to try it.

AGILE LEAPS FROM ONE VERTICAL TO THE NEXT

High-tech product companies were first to adopt agile dev processes such as eXtreme Programming, Scrum and DSDM. Enterprise IT is leading the next wave of adoption across vertical industries, according to a survey, conducted by Forrester Research, of 911 software decision-makers at North American and European enterprises.

Already using:
Insurance 32%
Telecom 23%
Wholesale trade 22%
Transprotation & logistics 20%
Financial services 20%
Consumer products 16%
High-tech products 16%
Retail 16%
SOURCE: Forrester Research

10 YEARS AGO

Ten years ago, Harvard University won first place in the enterprise client/server development category of the ADT Innovator Awards by following the money. The university needed infrastructure to support a $2-billion fundraising campaign. Each college within the university used its own computer systems. To get information on alumni, fundraisers needed to fill out a request form and bring it to the alumni office for processing. Development Computer Services at Harvard solved the problem by building a university-wide client/server system using a Sybase System 10 relational database, Solaris running on Sun’s 690MP— McNealy is a Harvard grad—and Blyth Software’s Omnis 7 to build Windows and Mac front ends. The result: Fundraisers raised more than $1 billion in less than 2 years. Developers at ShowTime Networks who created a client/server, object-oriented, intellectual property management system to help manage multimedia and other intellectual assets associated with movies, production and talent won in the object-oriented development category.

Long-distance telephone services provider Sprint won in the data warehousing category for building a management information data warehouse to aid its marketing efforts. In the wake of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Jill K. Norris, director of Decision Support Services, commented, “Nowadays, it’s a jungle out there.”

Finally, Gulf Insurance’s information system analysts and modelers developed architecture to support several processes in claims management to place first in software engineering. The architecture, the result of joint application design sessions with business managers, was a three-tier client/server platform, using OS/2 on clients.

BUY THE NUMBERS

Hourly wages for highly skilled technology professionals hit record levels in the fourth quarter of 2005, according to the latest Yoh’s Index of TechnologyWages.

In the fourth quarter, wages increased 3.1 percent overall, when compared to the same quarter in 2004, Yoh says. Wages reached a peak average in the quarter of $30.27 per hour.

The jobs in greatest demand nationwide during the fourth quarter of 2005, and their average hourly pay rates as determined by the Yoh Index, are:

Clinical Research Associate
$38.52

Data Manager
$45.06

CRM Project Manager
$62.01

Data Warehouse Architect
$69.03

Hardware/Firmware Engineer
$59.34

.NET Developer
$45.77

Oracle Database Administrator
$55.82

Project Manager
$57.07

SAP Functional Consultant
$75.09

Senior Scientist
$43.76

NOVEL TRUTH

Dan Brown’s novel, Angels & Demons, featuring Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, is a high-tech drama that foreshadows his bestseller, The Da Vinci Code. A prominent physicist is found murdered with an ambigram—a word designed to be read rightside up and upside down—carved into his chest. The ambigram is Illuminati, the name of a secret brotherhood of early scientists with a vendetta against the Catholic church.

An Illuminati expert, Langdon is called in to decode a series of symbols and ambigrams in a race to thwart a plot to destroy the Vatican. The plot involves stolen antimatter from international physics org CERN, a real lab known to those outside the physics realm as the birthplace of the World Wide Web. To find out which parts of the book involving antimatter are technically accurate and which are science fiction, check out the “Spotlight on Angels and Demons” pages on CERN’s Web site.

WALL STREET WORDS

VC Bill Burnham, who blogs about software technology and investing at Burnham’s Beat, observes that although software is popping up everywhere from TiVos to iPods to Treos, the aggregate market cap for the sector shrank almost 10 percent in 2005, while the broader NASDAQ rose 1.4 percent. He points to five factors driving the decline in a blog posting:

1. Software is moving from growth to value. No longer viewed as a highgrowth industry by investors, value managers—who are moving in to replace growth managers—“aren’t willing to pay 35x next year’s EPS for anything, which is leading to major multiple contractions in many of the top names in the industry,” reports Burnham.

2. Open source and SaaS The upfront licensing fees that developers of proprietary software relied on for 95-percent gross margins and fast revenue growth are harder to come by because these trends are creating a new reality not lost on investors. Open source, which makes revenue off services and support, is causing traditional vendors to lower licensing fees and increase maintenance fees, says Burnham. Software as a service, which uses on-demand and subscription pricing models, generally means lower margins and slower revenue growth.

3. No big platform transition Anchor products from major platform transitions, that customers need to adopt, traditionally drive revenue. Web services have not produced any anchor products yet, and revenue is not sufficient to counter declining growth in n-tier apps. 4. Networking companies are encroaching on software company turf. Application-aware devices may soon start to offer data analysis, workflow and other software capabilities through on-board flash memory or chips. This trend, if it happens, could encroach on software industry revenues. 5. Being public ain’t so great. Higher compliance costs after Sarbanes-Oxley and steep charges for options are hurting the margins of public software companies, says Burnham. The 236 public companies at the start of 2005 dwindled to 213 by year’s end. For every company that went public last year, roughly 7 were either acquired or shut down, according to Burnham.

COOL TECH

Last summer, Microsoft and the Industrial Designers of America challenged designers and students to re-think the Windows-based PC experience, and the results of the design competition are in. The Judges’ Award, worth $50,000, went to a design team from Purdue for an expandable “bookshelf” platform—capable of expanding with add-on hardware from digital service providers. It’s configured to download and play content while protecting copyright owners. Bill Gates and a committee selected a student backpack with a built-in PC and digital sketch pad for the Chairman’s Award, also worth $50,000.

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