Thursday, July 28, 2011

Keep your backup travel notebooks in use all the time, if you need to depend on them when playing on the road

Here’s a quirky problem. My little Windows 7 Starter Toshiba notebook-laptop hands after I enter the admin password on the “please wait” screen.  I cut off power, re-power, say yes to normal restart, and it finishes immediately (after asking for the admin pw one more time).  It’s true that I hadn’t used it in about a week.  There will be beaucoup updates, although it did load W7 Service Pack 1 last week.  The computer had done several other small updates after SP1 and reconfigured normally. But this morning it still tells me that it installed updates the last time, when it wasn’t the last time?

Anyone else seen this kind of “behavior”?

Moral of the story. If you have a travel computer and its Windows anything, use it frequently, even when you are home. Too many updates at once confuses it. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Social Intelligence" start-up offers employers a way to do "safe" social media "background investigations"

The Business Day Section of the July 21 New York Times centers with a disturbing story by Jennifer Preston, “Social Media History Becomes a New Job Hurdle”, link here

There is a start-up called “Social Intelligence” (with a service mark) whose website says to employers “Are you putting yourself and job candidates at risk by using Google as a job screening tool?”  It also rotates among a number of other questions about managing online reputation issues for candidates, employees, and the employing companies themselves.  The link is here

The company apparently offers a service to address questions of unfair employment practices in doing haphazard “Internet background investigations” which run the considerable risk of finding wrong people or of judging people on the basis of categories not allowed to be considered under federal and state laws (including race, religion, and often sexual orientation).

The company would look at the candidate’s media activity in public places (it’s a little unclear what happens with Facebook profiles where privacy settings are high). It can also look into message boards and into the deeper Internet and is supposed to be able to determine if a candidate’s photos were unfairly tagged by others.

One can draw interesting and unclear parallels between using credit reporting histories of applicants and social media histories.  So far, the FTC regards some of this BI investigation as "legal" if it is based on information the applicant made public; it's less clear when it invokes material or photos made by others.

The service does seem to locate unusual connection to drugs or weapons activity, or extremism (which could be a subjective concept -- remember Barry Goldwater). For example, electric utilities have been warned by Homeland Security to be very careful about whom they hire because of the possibility of sabotage from home-grown terror groups. 

If I were subjected to such an “investigation”, I think SI would not turn up anything negative in the usual sense; the main question would be the motive behind the enormous volume of postings accumulating for the past fourteen years.  That is a topic for a chapter of a book (or maybe a movie)!  But I do have a "sharp edge" (like Mt. Katadhin's Knife Edge, maybe).

Social Intelligence is headed by Max Drucker, who may become a player in the "online reputation monitoring" business similar to that established by Michael Fertik (below). 

There is another story (already) about Preston's NYT article on "Reputation Communications" here

(My "BillBoushka" blog has a coordinated post about Michael Fertik's "" July 20.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Bridge Jobs" appeal to seniors who contemplate retirement (or buyouts)

Several media outlets today discussed the concept of “bridge jobs”, especially for active seniors or people who accept large severance or buyout agreements, as an alternative to “retirement”.  Some employers could provide part-time bridge jobs for training other workers, or for part-time customer support.  Other ideas could involve substitute teaching or career-switching, or various part-time jobs that emphasize selling to the public, conducting surveys or research, and the like.

Employment Digest has an article on the subject here

ABC presented the concept as part of its “retirement revolution” tonight.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On a weekend trip, I visit old haunts (when I worked for Univac, in 1973)

On a trip this weekend, I passed through my own haunts from 1973 or so along Bloomfield Ave. in northern New Jersey, on a beautiful summer day after torrential rains.

In the town on Montclair, I found the “side street” Claremont Ave, and the old three-story building where I went to work for Sperry Univac as a “systems analyst” for the Montclair branch in September 1972.  I would actually spend most of the first six months at Public Service in downtown Newark as a “site rep” for Fortran!  Then I would work on the 1110 benchmark.  In those days, Univac was credible competition for IBM with JCL (Exec 8) with a simpler syntax, a bit like today’s Linux. COBOL would eventually be ASCII, not EBCDIC as with IBM.

Univac rented the second and third floors of 205 Claremont Ave, which is now a municipal building for Montclair.  The SA’s and branch management had offices and cubicles on the second floor, and on the third floor they actually had a sales force selling keypunch equipment back then!  Montclair was a beautiful place in October.

Two towns and four miles west on Bloomfield Ave and on top the next “mountain” at about  800 feet elevation, I lived in the town of Caldwell, on Espy road, which spins off just as the hill slopes down to the west and approaches US 46 (West Caldwell first).  My old garden apartment building was still there.

 Bonus picture: Grover Cleveland birthplace, Caldwell. 

Saturday, July 09, 2011

A job fair on another planet

In a dream, I went to a jobs fair on an M-Star planet, like that depicted in AMC Theater's trademark ad of an outdoor theater with a view of an extraterrestrial city.

The career that everyone dangled in my eyes was "legacy financial planner".  Then another guy tries to get me to become a busboy on a local Hilton Hotel on the planet.

It's as if people could chose to go back in time and live in times when you could count on social security.

I guess if a habitable planet always face the same side of its Sun, its economy would be affected. I doubt it would have "legacy systems" with nightly cycles written in COBOL.

I wonder, maybe in fifty years, people who can't find work will become settlers on Mars.

Update: 7/11: 

More team building at work: a dream about a bicycle race inside the Metro tunnels, riding on the rail guard.  Wind resistance protections mandatory. The lesson of team building sessions at work: "You don't worry about what you can't do anything about."  I remember a jam session like this at work in 1998.  And so last night's weird dream.  You never retire.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Some recruiters want more liberalized H-1B rules for highly skilled workers,graduates

Recruiters for techies in specialty areas say that H-1B visa rules should be more liberal, and should allow different quotas from different countries, especially India which always has a lions share of skilled applicants.

The Politco story is “Tech execs seek visas for ‘hotshots”, link here.

Laid off IT professionals have sometimes complained that immigrants have taken away job openings from them. But in the mainframe area, the same set of people tend to stay within a group of related contracts (like MMIS) and employers often know more or less whom they want.

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) is sponsoring a bill allowing foreign born graduates with advanced degrees remain in the country more easily.  An earlier typical blog entry of hers is here

Friday, July 01, 2011

Why was Microsoft Front Page such a pain at one time, anyway? Getting started with Expression

This week, I finally got around to playing more with Microsoft Expression Web. I did find it very easy to set up the kind of tabular and link-laden web pages common in my work. However, I was not able to connect to my domain directly as I had with FrontPage.

Of course, with WS-FTP, export to an external site is lickety split, as always.  Expression also offers the same FTP connection, so maybe there is no reason to bother with signing on and updating directly.

What I do recall is that Front Page Extensions used to be a big controversy for webmasters ten or more years ago. Back in January  1999, a friend, who hosted my sites, got mine working through TelNet from work, which raised an ethical question with my manager if that was inappropriate use of resources (after all my contortions with “conflict of interest” as I have written about), except that everything was done through Telnet, so there was not use of company computing resources.  (Curiously, I never hear this scenario discussed in perambulations about corporate computer use policies. But, it’s not good to invite even small ethical lapses; they just invite more uncertainty later.)

At work twelve or so years ago, I had always used Allaire Home Site to code the HTML, and then an intranet copy script of some kind. Later, we went to builds and did everything through Unix.
So why was Microsoft Front Page ever offered the way it was and why was it such a big deal?