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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times reporter Sharon Chan.

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January 16, 2008 1:04 PM

Microsoft reading rodeo

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Here are some interesting stories with links to Microsoft and technology that I'm reading today:

Tech Crunch reports that three German investors, the Sawmer brothers, are buying in to Facebook. The Wall Street Journal followed up with an estimated size of their stake -- between $10 million and $15 million -- at the $15 billion valuation imputed by Microsoft's investment in the social networking site in October.

Whenever we report on comments from Bill Gates and other technology leaders about the shortage of engineering talent in the U.S. and the need to raise the number of visas for high-tech workers, I know a deluge of email from readers will follow. The majority of the feedback comes from people who say there is no actual shortage and that the tech companies are inventing one to try to depress wages for engineers or give themselves cover to move jobs off shore. The emails tend to be long, angry and full of links to various articles and reports supporting their point of view.

Here's one to add to the list: Business Week published a story by Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Harvard Law School and executive in residence at Duke University. Wadhwa's research shows "that there is no general shortage of engineers in the U.S." Instead, age is at issue -- and more to the point, a failure by some older engineers to keep their skills current as tech marches on. Echoing comments I've heard from readers in this region, Wadhwa writes, "Tech companies prefer to hire young engineers. Engineering has become an 'up or out' profession---you either move up the ladder or you face unemployment. In other words, even though globalization has compounded the difficulties for aging engineers, it's not the culprit."

The Times Online reports on a Microsoft patent application for "a computer system that links workers to their computers via wireless sensors that measure their metabolism. The system would allow managers to monitor employees' performance by measuring their heart rate, body temperature, movement, facial expression and blood pressure." Break out the Big Brother bromides. (sorry) Here's the patent application.

For anyone who toured Google's new Fremont engineering office yesterday and is maybe weighing whether to toss her or his hat in the ring, check out this in-depth look at the company by Ken Auletta in the New Yorker. Not a lot new, but a very intimate look at how the search giant operates at the highest levels.

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