Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A few states and cities ban "asking" salary or compensation history


Gerald Skoning has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on p A19 on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, “When It’s Illegal to Ask, ‘How Much Do You Make?’” Apparently California has followed Delaware, Massachusetts and Oregon in making it illegal to ask salary history.

Skoning does seem to believe it’s better to keep overqualified people out.  I write this on the 16th anniversary that my long-track IT career had its cardiac arrest.  I’ve never returned to it.  But for W-2 jobs, most headhunters ask you the hourly range you want.  Do these rules apply to hourly gigs for contractors? 

Sunday, December 03, 2017

If you move (your residence) "clientization" can affect whether your credit cards keep working


I’ve had some misadventures after moving from an estate house (which I sold) to a condo, with “clientization” of my records with credit card companies and now Verizon wireless.

I’ve had a couple credit cards fail, and it seems critical to delete all invalid phone numbers (the old land number has been canceled when I canceled Comcast at the old address).

I prefer to use a UPS store address for contact and mailing (with that zip code for verification at gas stations).

But it is difficult to get some companies to set up a UPS store as a primary address now.  They can detect that, even though it is a land address and not a PO Box according to UPS, it still functions much like a PO Box.

Some companies make it very difficult to find the proper place to change addresses online, and hard to reach a human phone operator.  And some phone assistance operators have trouble following this idea.

Clientization was a major project at ING (insurance back in 1998-2001), in both DB2 and copied to a midtier GUi by replication.   Furthermore, we processed automated feeds from the USPS with Group-1 software (now Pitney Bowes).  I even had a job interview with that company in 2003.

Proper clientization is important for security and controlling identity theft. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Websites on Windows servers can have outages because of IIS permissions issues


Recently my legacy “doaskdotell.com” site has had some outages, in the form of slow response, connection refused errors, and sometimes HTTP 503 service unavailable.  Througout the outages I could log on to my account and see the files directly (without http).  I was finally told that the permissions for my account within Microsoft IIS server were not correctly set, apparently when it was transferred to another server over a year ago after a corporate buyout of the hosting company. 

  

Here is a document explaining how permissions work in IIS.  t this point, I do not believe it would be a security problem. 



Update: Nov. 30

Further experimentation (by chance, with a new laptop set up by Geek Squad for travel) shows that the IIS has trouble if the user enters or clicks on a url that requires translation of the "www".  That is "http://doaskdotell.com/movies" will work when "http://www.doaskdotell.com/movies" sometimes gives a service unavailable or connection refused. This sort of thing used to happen before 2000 on some servers.  

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Geek Squad apparently suspends service to support Black Friday sales for Best Buy (until Sunday) in some locations


Here’s another little customer service snafu. 

Today, I wanted to take in a backup laptop, an early 2015 Lenovo with Windows 8.1, to get all the updates brought up to date, because the updates don’t run now. I may use it as a second laptop on a road trip soon.

So I go over to a Best Buy Geek Squad around 10:30 this Saturday morning (supposedly “Small Business Saturday”, ironically), and find that the Geek Squad is closed until Sunday, because all the agents were out “selling” as a continuation of Black Friday.

Useless trip.  A big business should be open for customer service during its normal hours.  It should not divert repair technicians to “sales”, which sounds like a temperamentally different career.
Although I remember this kind of controversy when working for Univac in New Jersey from 1972-1974. I didn’t have a “marketing profile.” 
Update: Sunday Nov. 26

I turned in the device today, and was told that the shutdown of GS happens every year for Black Friday, but that techies work on catching up, not on selling.  There actually is a sign that says you need to make an appointment even to drop off an item for repair. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

There is demand for teachers in prisons to work with inmates


I’ll put this little “scoop” on this blog, even though it’s about teaching jobs rather than programming.

Today at a Thanksgiving dinner, I heard a man, upper middle age, describe what it was like to work as a teacher, teaching math (algebra) not just to adults but specifically to prisoners.

Some prisoners are serious about getting GED’s and training. But some tend to sandbag their grades to stay at lower levels, he said. 
  
I came close to an adult education teaching job at the end of 2005. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Database calls and customer service in a cab company


Here’s an example of I.T. affecting customer service.  Recently, I moved to a condo.  I had apparently used a cab company’s app before.  When I requested a ride to the airport with their website, I put in the new address and printed out the request.

Yet, when the cab didn’t come, I called twice and apparently found that their request still had pulled the old address from the app. Maybe it read my phone.  Maybe it’s a database “current of set” problem if it uses something like IDMS.

Then, when I rented a car, I had to talk to an agent by remote screen, and was given a contract for any compact car. When I walked there, there was none.  Finally one came, and I was told the car couldn’t go out.  I wound up with a full sized car after a 30 minute wait.  Why couldn’t they assign me a specific vehicle? 

Monday, November 06, 2017

Government contractor fires female employee over being seen on social media giving Trump motorcade the finger from her motorbike


A female associate of Virginia contractor Akima LLC was fired from her job for violating the company’s personal social media policy after a picture of her giving Trump’s motorcade the finger went viral on social media even though her face was not identifiable in the picture. She did admit to HR to being the person.  She had been riding a motorcycle when she encountered the motorcade by happenstance. 

The woman, Juli Briskman, held a “marketing” position at the contractor.  Perhaps it’s more understandable that could be viewed as bad for business.  There is no double life anymore. 
  
A typical story appears on the site AVClub, here.

Sinclair-owned WJLA also has a story today here

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

How to tell when you're slipping out of favor at work


On Oct. 24, Sue Sellenberger offered a tutorial on how to know when you are falling out of favor at work, and how to tell if your job is gradually falling into jeopardy.

You know the signs – not invited to all the meetings, boss seems indifferent.  I used to see this happen to other people, especially in the late 1980s at Chilton.  Then it happened to me after 9/11 at ING, although I think 9/11 accelerated it. External global politics matters. 

  

When you have a regular job, it becomes your universe until you lose it.  You don’t want to become a “loser”. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Given the waffling on carryon vs. checked baggage rules for electronics, what are the best laptops for travel?


As I may be traveling a lot more myself soon, I wonder what is the most reliable lightweight laptop to carry and get through the TSA. 


This article from Sept. 2017 from indietraveler recommends a Chromebook (very tied to Google).  

The high end high storage laptops that are super lightweight tend to be pricey, as one would expect (start with Surface). 
  
Right now, we’re back to not checking devices with lithium batteries in checked luggage at all, but I’d watch for some kind of innovation that doesn’t use lithium.

This is a developing topic. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

More on prepperism and manual labor, if we lose our civilization


Intellectual Takeout, a conservative site to say the least, has a lecture by Annie Holmquist, “Want to Raise a Capable Adult? Have Your Child Do These 5 Activities”.  
  
Again, there is a rising populist sentiment that people should not go out and pretend to be leaders in a digital world without some hands-on survival skills in case we lose a lot of our civilization.  Prepper stuff?

The point on doing your own oil changes is interesting.

Some of the points seem to work better for families that own their own homes.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

I find my own "amateur" sites blocked in another workplace


Today I was at an office for a business matter.  I had brought my ASUS laptop and Verizon hotspot. When I didn’t have the Verizon password with me, I had to use the office wi-fi.

I found that Sophos security under “officedefender.com” (which is not reachable) blocked my own “doaskdotell.com” site under category “politics/opinion” and blocked two of my own blogs (Blogger) with their own domain names under “uncategorized.”

It did not block CNN or the Washington Post.  I wonder if it would have blocked Brietbart.
It did not block Facebook or Twitter (even Donald Trump’s Twitter page).

It did not block blogs of mine that don’t have their own URL’s and are accessed by Blogspot (with https). Yet these would elicit politics or opinion.


There seems to be a question as to how workplaces should block “amateur” sites. 


  

When I worked at ING (to the end of 2001) my sites were not blocked. When I worked as a substitute teacher, school libraries did not block my sites.  When I worked as a debt collector in 2003, there was no web access through the company’s P2P access to its own servers (Unix terminals).

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Severe shortage of laborers in Houston hampers homeowners, exacerbated by Trump's immigration crackdown


It seems like manual labor (a great virtue with my own father during my own upbringing) is a real virtue now in Houston, as there is a severe labor shortage as homeowners struggle to repair homes from flood damage.


CNBC has a typical article here 
  
A major irony is that Trump’s immigration crackdown has reduced the labor pool available. A lot of homeowners would be glad to have the help of undocumented laborers (Chicago Tribune story). 
  
By Zereshk - Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link

Friday, September 29, 2017

Low-wage workers in franchised business chains face non-compete agreements


Rachel Adams gives us a perspective on “non-compete” agreements for employees even in the fast-food industry, which tends to keep wages down, story (Sept. 27) here

The practice seems to affect mainly people from moving from one owned franchise instance to another. 
  
It would sound like it could happen with any business typically run by selling branded franchises to individual owners.  This is certainly not my own cup of tea. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

NYTimes article takes on the issue of older people learning to code in "newer" OOP languages


“To Old to Code: That Does Not Compute”, an article in “retiring” I the New York Times by Vivian Marino, on p. 5 of the Sunday Business of the New York Times, Sept. 24, 2017.  The by line is “You don’t have to be young to master skills such as web design or programming.”

There is information on Khan Academy courses as well as “boot camps”.  I wonder if there is such a thing for music composition software like Sibelius.
  
I found the transition from “mainframe” (COBOL, JCL) to “client-server” back in 2000 difficult. But one problem is you have to build an application from bottom up and support it yourself to become good at things. That's especially true of object-oriented programming.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Landlords, condos, insurance companies may become more concerned about "working from home"


It’s becoming more common for a lot of people to set up their own small businesses to supplement income or replace income after layoffs, or after retirement. Multi-level marketing has appealed to many more extroverted people.

Back some number of years ago, you heard a lot about Amway.  You still do. 

Much like with a franchise, you become an “individual business owner.  This would appear to mean you have to take the legal steps:  a DBA name, probably a home-based business license in most communities, and state sales tax filing (article).  

A lot of people obviously do this in apartments and condominiums, and I have wondered if people get into trouble.  Probably not often, unless they have large meetings of “subordinates” (which they may need to have) in their homes, requiring traffic and parking. But as local and state government systems go more online and as “public records” become easier to find, it would sound logical in the future if landlords or some homeowner’s groups become intrusive. Even homeowner’s insurance companies might become concerned.

Yet, you hear cases where people rent Airbnb in apartments they rent under the table, like here
I do wonder if this kind of problem could break out into the open. 

Another topic would be work-at-home customer service agents for companies like Sykes Alpine Access (list for VA).  But these sound like telecommuting jobs, not individually owned home-based businesses requiring legal documentation as such.  

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

What if the federal government tries to guarantee everyone a job?


Vox has a provocative article by Dylan Matthews, “What America Would look Life if It Guaranteed Everyone a Job”. 

I presume this would try to keep retirees (even me) working as long as possible, maybe well into their 80s, and cut social security dependence.


It would practically force people used to solitary “individual contributor” work into social contact with those in need or at other cognitive levels – note the child care, eldercare, etc. 

It is hard to see if less skilled people could do the infrastructure career.
  

It would also end the “inherited capital” based career I have as a citizen journalist.  You could only publish when you were going to get paid for it.  

Sunday, September 03, 2017

I do end user testing of companies as a customer


I worked on billing systems on two of my major employment gigs from the 80s into the 90s. 

Recently, I did overlook a bill with my local gas company.   I had had problems with its website before, but when I got a collection notice, I went online immediately and got in, and paid by check.

At first, it seemed to work.  The site listed the payment as “pending”.

The payment did not show up on my bank.  So I checked an hour later and the payment had disappeared. I did not get a confirming email. But I had written down the confirmation number. So I called the collections department.  The collector couldn’t find the payment, so I did it over the phone again.  It disappeared again.

The next day, though, both payments showed up again. 

Am I doing the user testing for this company’s collections system even though I don’t work for them?  

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Workplace rudeness


Jennifer Breheny Wallace has a nice WSJ essay, “The cost of workplace rudeness”, link here

I got my share of accusations of this over the years.  “Bill doesn’t know what he did.”  You would be surprised how people can interpret things, in their own space.
   

One time, a clerk at a Rite-Aid claimed it was rude for someone to put money down on a counter in front of her, thinking it implied she was untouchable because she was black.  That was the farthest thing from my mind.  It was just the physical arrangement of the space.  

I wonder how this issue would have played out on "The Apprentice". 

Sunday, August 06, 2017

A real job, again


Here's an example of a real job.

The cornet did not move off load point very much while I filmed.

Blue collar, anyone? 

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

More white collar people take proletarian blue collar jobs


The bourgeoisie may be turning into the proletariat, one person at a time, according to  USA Today article July 31 by Paul Davidson, ‘Tired of the Corporate Grind: A Blue-Collar Job Might Be for You”, link here.

Maybe a welding job is for you?

This has happened before. Even back in 1992, with the George H W Bush recession, the advice was to “take grunt work.”

In the next-to-last story in my DADT-III book, “Expedition”, this happens to one of the characters. 
For retirees, the issues has been more about being pushed into hucketerism.   Then there is the 1978 movie "Blue Collar".  Or my 1969 novel draft "The Proles" where this sort of thing has to happen. 

This may get us back to the doomsday prepper world.  How many of us can do our own home repairs? 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Non-compete agreements in tech a problem for employees in some states, especially in Idaho


Conor Dougherty of the New York Times has a disturbing front page article today “Quit your job for a better one? Not if you live in Idaho”, link .  The article discusses Idaho’s employer friendly non-compete agreement laws, making it relatively easy to sue employees (especially in tech companies) who quit for better-paying jobs with competitors.  “The Boys of Boise” indeed.  It is relevant that Boise, while a tech center, is geographically isolated.



California, on the other hand, doesn’t allow non-compete clauses.

Back in the early 1970s, EDS had a habit of firing programmers and suing them if they worked for someone else.

Wikipedia attribution link for Boise NASA aerial picture, p.d. 

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Security clearances and social media use


Here’s a piece by David Brown from early 2016 on the extra care techies with security clearances must use with personal social media, “Hold a security clearance?  Using social media can cost you your job

There is important discussion on “what is a public utterance?”  Apparently setting privacy settings (something insurance companies seem to advocate) doesn’t mean what you said isn’t public in the clearance area, where sometimes social media passwords are asked for.  This tracks backs to earlier discussions by me of “conflict of interest

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Would I go back to work at age 74? Maybe yes, "to serve my country"


As I approach my 74th birthday, I still wonder, would I go back to work?

I seem to have a full time job providing news content where “It’s free”.

But there are a couple of ideas where I think I could contribute something genuine by going back to work in a more formal way.

One of these is as a “business analyst” so to speak, specifically on health care policy  I do have about 18 years of insurance experience on my formal resume from the glory days  I could imagine revisitng Lewin (where I worked from 1988-1989 on simulating hospital Medicare operating margins --  there was a small corporate merger, so to speak, during this period in which I played a key, if unconventional, part).  But this time, work would be a kind of public service.  That is, figuring out a healh insurance plan that really will cover everybody and that can pass Congress.  I don’t care about the partisanship or about the “repeal then replace” jargon.   I presume the CBO has run models similar to Lewin’s.  Back in 1989, the government (PROPAC) ran models similar to Lewin’s on Medicare, and one of the technical problems turned out to be making sure that their own computer code (in COBOL) really matched the formulas and policies published in the Federal Register; in one critical incident, it did not.

As for policy, there are ideas, like making proper use of reinsurance, properly managing subsidies, and following some examples of private-public systems in countries like Singapore, Taiwan, and especially Switzerland, that could lead to a health care law that would work for both sides and yet seem to follow “conservative” principles supposedly favored by Republicans (although not allowing more tax breaks for the very rich).  For any policy, code has to be written to model it, and models have to be run with different policy parameter assumptions over different time periods.



The other would be that my blogging and associated body of research could be valuable to a news organization, probably one with a conservative focus.   OANN  (Washington Post critique)  is certainly interesting  as is Sinclair (which owns WJLA7)/   I think I could help a group like this in some specific areas, like health care, and energy policy (especially power grid security, which Sinclair has paid more attention to than any other major broadcasting company).  Of course, I am quite familiar with LGBT issues, ranging from the military issue of the past (and the transgender issue today) to HIV prevention and treatment, to workplace discrimination -- from the viewpoint of individualism, not identity politics.  And I am especially familiar with the potential pitfalls in the tech world, ranging from the phasing out of net neutrality to challenges to downstream liability protections (Safe Harbor and Section 230) and Internet business model challenges (from privacy concerns). Still another issue handling refugees and asylum seekers (the latter is much trickier) once this ridiculous travel ban fiasco gets sorted out (at least the Supreme Court made some progress in guidance on this recently).



Let me reinforce my conviction that the major news outlets (major newspapers, broadcasters, and CNN) are not purveying fake news (with rare exceptions). It is very important that the president and Congress answer to the valid criticisms being made about their behaviors.  I did work for NBC (as a mainframe computer programmer, Univac, on their financial systems) in New York City from 1974-1977.  That was a long time ago.  I wonder what it is like today.

I am not interested in contacting people to pimp things to them.  Since my end-of-2001 "retirement" I have gotten calls to sell life insurance, financial planning, tax preparation (some of these were more valid than others), even subprime mortgages, and Medicare replacement (with Advantage).  I'm not interested in being someone's lifestyle coach.  But I do understand that a lot of the US economy has been predicated on the idea of people being open to being approached by sales persons, and I haven't exactly played ball.  I don't think I'm a good fit to represent the interests of one particular charity or needs group (even AARP or LGBT insofar as it is an identity politics approach), or to supervise people in charity fundraising (I actually got a call about this out of the blue) or caregiving.

It isn't likely that my background fits exactly a conventional job posting at any such company.  But if I can help make a difference in solving this health care silliness once and for all, or in preventing a national catastrophe with the power grid (think solar storms, even North Korea) I would bite on it.
 
In the future, I expect that any detailed blog postings about my specific workplace experiences will be on my Wordpress “footnotes” blog, supporting my books, where I took up many of these issues (especially Internet speech) in the 2014 DADT III book.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Was Seattle's $15 minimum wage really good for "workers"?


There are different spins on the effects of Seattle’s recent minimum wage laws setting the bar high at $15 an hour.

In general, the number of minimum wage jobs did go down slightly.  But there were more jobs in the slightly higher area (about $20 an hour).  Companies were willing to hire more skilled people who could bring in the given amount of revenue in less time.



It is a little hard to see how this would work in the fast food business, unless companies automated more of the food delivery.  I can remember that in NYC in the 60s there were restaurants called “Automats” that have been forgotten.

Ben Spielberg has a story in the Washington Post here.

Forbes, however, compares the opposing viewpoints on this quite thoroughly, here.

After my career ending retirement at the end of 2001, I went back to the beginning and worked for $6 an hour calling for contributions for the Minnesota orchestra in 2002.  That became a new normal, a free market cultural revolution. As a debt collector in 2003, I made $10 an hour (plus commissions).  We weren’t paid when the system went down and we got sent home.  I didn’t care that much because I had decent severance and retirement.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Automation ironically forces men into more "personal care" work


Here’s a New York Times story in Sunday Review, p. 3 by Susan Chira, “The Jobs Men Don’t Wamt” specifically male nurse, and especially home health aide or caregiver, story link.

Bu on p. 4, Kai-Fu Lee writes “The real threat of artificial intelligence” is to force people into jobs in tending to other people, things that we view as volunteering today, link.  Edward Luce, in “The Retreat of Western Liberalism”, which I will review soon, attributes the same idea to “remote intelligence”, or offshoring. Trump is trying to stop that.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mac environments have to be kept updated, too


So, I find out that the reason my MacBook keeps trying to make me sign on to iCloud again is that I haven’t updated to the latest operating system.  I still have Yosemite (10.10) and the latest is Sierra (10.12).

I’m told that it’s important to replace operating systems for the newest security features, just as with Microsoft.

I finally did get my Apple iCloud synched.



I use the MacBook for music composition (Avid Sibelius), for which I have 7.5.  I’m told I need to update that.  I also have Final Cut and will use it soon for video editing.

So I hope all my files (for the sonatas and other pieces, discussed on my newer Wordpress blogs) will be compatible.

Here’s the problem.  Most of my other legacy work (my books and blogs) are on Microsoft (Windows 10, now Creators Update) platforms.  I don’t use the Mac quite often enough so stuff gets out of sync (including the Carbonite backups).

Most people have just one platform to maintain, and a smaller set pf apps. Most people have the formally acquired expertise (like music composition) and focus on just one content-generating activity.  I am spread very thin.
 
But systems not used all the time do tend to get out of synch, with updates and password management and security.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Does cold calling still work these days? "Yeth!"


Is cold calling still an acceptable practice?

Should business people focus educating their consumer with social media, or on actual sales in social media?

I got an email recently, which I can’t find now, reporting on a controlled experiment where focused effort to sell still led to better income.



A lot of people don’t want to be called, or disrupted (or maybe put in danger by unannounced day-to-day visits).  But there seems to be a real divide right now in our culture on what kind of customers will “play ball”.  Consumers who use social media less may be much more responsive to sales calls.
Interesting clue on the video about FSBO.  Someone who lists his house for sale by owner is likely to be sociable and more interested in taking calls.

Someone who says online they are seeking anything tangible might be more receptive.  I do know that trolling who responded to ads or search habits is done to generate leads, but this probably gets harder in a world of “do not track” and privacy controls while searching and browsing.  Still, a lot of people don’t bother.  And then they wonder later at the repeated unwanted calls.

Here’s a recent piece on the topic. “Always be closing” indeed.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Suddenly. my iPhone6 gets disabled, when I don't think I entered the PW too many times


I had a bizarre incident last night where my iPhone6 suddenly displayed the keyboard in front of my key pad and said it was disabled, as I tried to enter the pin.  I hadn’t tried the pin more than once.

It was right after I had walked into a movie theater and I wondered if the theater was blocking it.  I was able to get rid of the problem simply leaving the auditorium for moment, turning off the phone, and then turning it back on again.

Using recovery mode looks very complicated and would not work if you were on a trip or on the road and not easily able to use a synced laptop. Here is a writeup.
 
You can go to an Apple store but typically the “Genius Bar” requires appointments.
 
I have had a problem with an unwanted iTunes sign in popping up, as well as iCloud siginons on my MacBook.  The Apple store cleared it once, but it returned.  I just now signed on to iCloud on a windows computer and that worked and send the usual 2-step verification code.



I also accidentally let the power go down yesterday, but had charged it back up before the incident.
 
The usual reason for a phone’s being disabled is signing on with the incorrect pin more than 6 times (source), which was not the case for me (unless there was a nearby hacker, or somehow the phone had banged into mechanically;  I had stored the AMC movie ticket on the phone).  . I got a “try again in one minute” message.  It’s possible that time consumed in shutting down and rebooting simply caused the problem ti time out.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

When can off-hours activism endanger your job?


Here’s a good question by Jen McGregor on p. G2, “Taking Stock”, of the Washington Post on Sunday June 4, 2017, “Off-hours activism can hurt you at work” (?)
 
She notes that about 12 states have laws prohibiting private employers from interfering with off-the job activity unless it involves trade secrets or privacy issues.  Attorney Gene Volokh says that this problem doesn’t come up as often in practice as one would expect, because most employers find a “live and let live” approach better for business.

However, there can be a hostile workplace issue when people with direct reports engage in some open speech off the job, as I outlined here  or here  on my legacy site.

I would wonder how this plays out in Trump's businesses.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Robots won't eliminate jobs requiring real people skills


Danielle Paqette has a story about wages in the Washington Post on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 that should please Barbara Ehreneich (“Nickel and Dimed”). P. A15, “Low-paid jobs safer from robots” in print, “The worst paying jobs for college grads boasts this sneaky advantage”.
 
I’m not so sure this holds, as a lot of knowledge-based jobs still depend on human judgment (even day trading).  But the writer is right in that provision of personal care (especially child care or elder care) can’t really be replaced by machines.  But it may have been a “career” that was once seen as demeaning.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Facebook to hire 3000 more screeners for removing violent content; but do these jobs require the usual coding skills?


Facebook has announced it will hire up to 3000 more people to screen content (especially Facebook Live videos) in addition o the 4500 it already has, on its community operations team.  It is not clear if these jobs are all onsite or can be done at home, and if they are in multiple locations around the country.

The Los Angeles Times has a basic story here.  Wired is here  The San Francisco chronicle writes here.

Facebook has a link that explains its job interviewing process, which is multiple steps, including peer interviews, and a coding exercise that takes about a half hour.  It doesn’t say what language, and that probably depends on the position (C++, java, Perl, PHP, etc).  But the Facebook article says that coding is “fractal”.


 
It would sound reasonable to hire a mixture of people to screen videos, including many minorities who may recognize certain sensitivities, bilingual, and probably retirees, for social judgment.  LGBT issues in videos could require special awareness.  It's not clear if these particular jobs would require a lot of coding skills.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Should young adults consider working abroad?


I saw a newspaper article a few days ago, that I cannot locate, “If you want a job, get on a plane” and fly East. Don't be skittish about the TSA or airline behavior and delays.

But the article argued for job seekers to be open to working overseas, especially in less developed countries.  Or in more authoritarian countries, like China.

The article also noted that Americans often don’t develop usable conversational skill in second languages.  It argued that everyone should be able to carry on a conversation in Spanish, and maybe noe non-European language, especially Chinese.

Here’s an older article from a St. Louis paper making similar arguments.

All of this sounds challenging for LGBT persons, and companies with major operations in the developing world and needing to bring in people from the US or Europe for technical expertise or in other roles (teaching) could be challenged.



In early 1971, when I was facing layoff from my first job at RCA, I looked into the idea of employment overseas, especially Britain and Australia.

All of this sounds like a flip-side of Trump’s ideas of “America first.”

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Creator's Update for Windows 10 goes smoothly on ASUS then runs into a power management glitch


I did install the Windows 10 Creators Update this weekend on a new ASUS 324 laptop upon returning from a trip.

It went through two phases.  During the “working on updates” phase, it restarted twice.  The whole process of the “restart” took about 25 minutes.

After starting up and getting through the welcome screens, it seemed to work OK for a while.  Then Google Chrome froze and stopped responding.  After about a minute the computer unfroze and everything worked normally.  It seemed to be updating something else during the freeze period.

I have found one small issue with Wordpress in the Creator’s Update.  If you “copy as text” from Word to start a posting, it converts some punctuation marks into character strings.  But Wordpress updated tp 4.7.4 automatically early this morning as I got up, and that may have a Windows 10 Creators compatibility fix.  I’ll update later.  (Note: later this morning I tried it under 7.4 and it still has the same problem.)

Then late last, I turned on the ASUS on battery, and the task bar would not come up.  Applications (like Chrome or Firefox) would be clickable but would not start or load.  I found I could unfreeze the laptop by suspending it with the power button (hold it down for a second so it blinks) and then plugging in the battery to current,  Yet the battery showed a 92% charge and will charge up to 100% normally.

I reported this to Microsoft.  If the problem has not been resolved (like by another update fix) by mid week I will show it to Geek Squad.

One other issue: on an older Lenovo laptop, still with Windows 8.1, I fell behind in updates, and now the "checking for updates" loops forever and never finds them to catch up.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tech companies offer paid time-off for demonstrations (against Trump); what happened to objectivity?


Some tech companies are allowing workers to take paid time-off to join protests, especially against “Trump”, according to a Washington Post story by Abha Bhattarai

Facebook will allow employees to take paid time-off on May 1 for pro-immigration rallies.
 
I did not allow employers any involvement in my personal politics during my long career.  Back in August 2001, ING-ReliaStar had a sales conference in August in Minneapolis and gently encouraged “volunteers”.  Ii declined.  I went to one session and heard one paid speaker predict a 35000 Dow.  That is one reason I don’t like to  “join in” to “other people’s” causes when often they are factually wrong.

I also had an inherent “conflict of interest” which I have often written about. While working on my first DADT book, I was working for a life insurance company specializing in selling to military officers.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Electronic Frontier Foundation has an open position for digital activist



Electronic Frontier Foundation has announced a position as a Digital Activist in this announcement.   The official title for the position is “Activist: Grassroots Advocacy” and the online application is available with the article.

The full time job would require travel, working with local organizations or groups, people skills, content management skills, but, perhaps curiously (given that it is political advocacy or “activism”, so by definition not objective) journalism skills.  The job would be located in San Francisco.
 
By User:DaveOinSF - User:DaveOinSF, Public Domain, Link

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Microsoft is forcing Creators Update out on users quickly, and it's a big update that probably most users don't "need"


I just got Windows 10 Version 1607 (KB3150513) along with the usual defender, malicious software and adobe updates.  On both my newer laptop and the slightly older (and retrofitted on top of 8) HP Envy, the “getting windows ready” screen spun for about 15 minutes before the percentage completed updated and restarts resumed.

But Microsoft has started rolling out a more radical change, the Creators Update, build 1703.  Ars Technica has an analysis of the features, many of which matter only to gamers or very advanced visual developers.  But there are also more security features.  The update can be expected to take even longer, especially on older devices.

Less experienced users will not want to take the time right now for such a massive change that could make some devices unstable.  Microsoft will roll out the update, with a privacy settings warning (to save them, as the update overlays them with defaults), to newer devices first.  I would think many users would have to accept the update by the second week of May. There is a defer option on Professional operation systems but not on the Home edition. There are details here, or here.

But it appears that home users will be able to defer the restart for a while (details).  People may not want to do time-consuming updates right before taking laptops on trips, for example.

The Verge also has a major story here.



Update: April 16

The update popped up (after privacy settings reminded) today on the newer ASUS.  It will allow me to delay the Restart for seven days.  The shut down and restart options now allow restart without update.  (In Windows 7, Updates after shudown have happened sometimes even without being told they will happen.)


Saturday, April 08, 2017

You actually need labor (help) to keep your Internet world running


When you leave a company, and most of all when you get laid off, you leave all that work behind, modules or programs or jobs (in the mainframe world) you had supported for years.  I could say that “the bills” (around 1991) have been supplanted by “the blogs” (present day).  Same sense of instant gratification.

But I really own all my work now – the three (really four) books, and thousands of blog postings over the years, and various legacy online sidebars and essays.  As for “the bills”, I lost access to them permanently, and instantly, when my career took its cardiac arrest on December 13, 2001.

But I find that the infrastructure to keep everything going requires support, just as it did when I was working.  Companies are constantly changing things.  Google replaces Adsense on Wordpress, and I have to stop and figure out how to do it.  One day soon there will be a lot of work to go to all htpps, probably.  Even my cable TV service has sudden radical changes, with new boxes that require you to use Internet TV, effectively.  The changes are more needed by others than by me, but I have to learn how to use them.
 
After all, for years I worked in “in house” applications, as companies needed to pay programmers to maintain applications.  They needed to pay systems programmers to put in new gens of MVS and CICS.  Even applications programmers needed to fine tune access techniques (by like using the right SQL access techniques and avoiding deadly embrace lockouts) for high volume performance and user response time. As my little journalism experiment encompasses everything, should I be able to get away with no staff? I am the ultimate creative destroyer.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

NASA will pay "contractors" for "jobs" staying in bed for weeks, to test low gravity


Here is a job for a couch potato – well, not really.

NASA is looking for subjects to spend about 70 days in bed, and carry on all their activities without getting up.  Does that mean bed pans?

Applicants have to be in top physical condition and will go through rigorous physicals first.

Beds will be tilted toward the head at a 6-degree angle.

People could still work on a computer if able to do it lying down.  It’s not clear if sitting up is ever allowed.



NASA has sponsored various training exercises before, including some in a water tank in Huntsville AL which I visited in 1989 (and again in 2014).

Forbes has an article on the experiment.

In my own screenplay “Epiphany” the characters reside on a Rama-like space station set up on Titan, so gravity is a vector sum of artificial (spinning) with the moon of Saturn (1/7 of Earth).
 
Vice has a story from another participant.  Electrocardiographic leads were hooked up for the experience, according to the pictures.