Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Employers sometimes impose "term limits"

The Huffington Post reports today on an employment policy that it considers controversial. A new casino in Atlantic City. NJ, the Revel, will hire workers with “term limits”, the provision that they must reapply every four or six years. The story is here

The idea may be as bizarre as it sounds.  Employees who follow contracts from one company to the next experience the same thing in IT and engineering. And as far back as the early 60s, GE once had a policy of firing the weakest 10% at a location every year. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

If you can take the chance, travel for a year

AOL and Huffington this morning offered a video by Bill Hemmer, who describes how he “took a chance” and quit a job and traveled around the world, being of service in some places, and started a career in “professional” journalism.   He says, “do it”. Actually, Anderson Cooper did something similar, and so did Sebastian Junger.

Hemmer, now 47, is a Fox news anchor for America’s Newsroom.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Employers demand submission of online presence without traditional resume; does the employer "own" the associate's web presence?

The Wall Street Journal has a story indicating that some companies may be demanding a web presence, in fact that’s all they want, no resume.  They want “one identity” on the Web. (Isn’t that Facebook’s philosophy?  Anything else shows lack of “integrity”.

Rachel Emma Silveman has a story on the policy of Union Square Ventures, here

Applicants are asked to send a “web presence” such as identifying a Twitter account, or “Tumblr blog”?  They also want a video self-presentation.  (It helps to be cute.)  What about Facebook (and the Timeline)?  What about Blogger?  What about Wordpress?

I guess the old text-based format (Web 1.0) of doaskdotell.com wouldn’t make a good impression.

But some employers are starting to act like they want to own the associate’s web presence.

The company says that venture capital firms rely heavily on associates’ use of their own social media.  See related story Jan. 23. 

This is beginning to sound more like a world in which the character "Nolan" from ABC's "Revenge" does very well. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

More technical employees will be encouraged to share public school teaching duties

Today I heard station WJLA report on efforts by computer companies, especially Microsoft, to place technical employees into volunteer or part-time teaching positions teaching computer science and possibly math in high and perhaps middle schools around the country. WJLA did not have the story online yet, but there is a similar story from Washington state here

A good question would be, whether the employees would eventually be required to get the clock hours for teacher certification.

Presumably these are eager students so the discipline problems I encountered as a sub a few years gao would not apply.

Technical employees will probably find they are approached to share teaching responsibilities more often in the future as part of an economic recovery plan.

Students will be learning to work with paperless textbooks, online with laptops or notebooks or possibly iPads in some school districts, such as Fairfax county VA.  

Microsoft's "Partners in Learning" page is here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What happens to social media accounts when employees leave, especially if the employer "used" personal accounts?

Sam Richter has a discussion at “Know More” on the question of “what happens to social media accounts when your employees leave”, Jan. 23, link here

Some employers encourage employees to use their own Facebook or other social media accounts for corporate purposes with detailed policies as to how to use them, rather than depending just on “branded” employer accounts. But then tricky questions arise when an employee leaves. This almost sounds like the "no personal use of company resources" problem (which started to become very clear during the mainframe age) turned around. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA/PIPA bills probably would hurt IT jobs; a look at their jobs today

Does the SOPA blackout on the Web today (by Wikipedia, Reddit, and even Google’s blacking out of its own trademark on its home page for the day) have a lesson for the job market?
I think so.  As conceived (I’ve covered this at length on the main blog), SOPA would cost more jobs in lost startups and established service companies than it would save in media companies.  For a variety of reasons, it actually would be very ineffective in preventing piracy and saving Hollywood and music industry jobs in legacy companies, although allowing legacy companies more of an oligopoly on what can be produced and distributed at all might protect some guild members.

It’s well known that it could burden service companies with having to police “user generated content”, not just for direct copyright violation but perhaps for linking to or inadvertently supporting “rogue” foreign companies beyond the reach of usual US (and Interpol) law enforcement.  It would be a kind of conscription against a "foreign enemy" (to legacy companies).

Yes, SOPA could put “amateurism” in jeopardy, but that’s a bit ironic as the effect of social networking sites, forcing people to lead “unified lives” on the web to remain employed, may be having the same effect.

As for the Occupy movement and the support from Anonymous (which have vigorously opposed SOPA), I wonder one thing:  Someone with the skills to useful to “Assange” has the skills to get any job he or she wants in the Internet security industry.  There’s no reason to live in tents in city parks, or to wind up in jail.  I wish I had the skills and quickness of a “Lisbeth” (“Dragon Tattoo”), a Nolan (“Revenge”), or even V. (Yup, Nolan is even "cute".) 

By the way, I've actually looked at Hollywood employment before.  After the 2001 layoff, I actually looked at the jobs on the Warner Brothers website in early 2002. At the time, there was a lot of DB2, but they seemed to want mainframe and C++ in the same person.  The jobs actually looked pretty good.  I didn't contact them, though, when I went to California in February 2002 for 10 days.

Actually, their IT job listing (for Time Warner) now is pretty interesting. It's here.   I wonder what they mean by "workbrain".

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Capitalism's "creative destruction" (by Mitt Romney) and the changes in the IT job market

Jia Lynn Yang has a major story and video about the GOP candidates’ – especially Mitt Romney – record in creating and destroying jobs in their own histories today.

Everyone knows that corporate raiders merge companies and eliminate jobs to “eliminate redundancies of function”.

What I found in my own career is that companies would try to give incentives to stay to key employees to keep a ship running based on older technology, which would not be helpful to them in finding new work later.  That was especially the case at Chilton, which was bought by TRW in 1989.  I left and didn’t stretch my luck, since the background was all Datacomm DB/DC, which died by the wayside.

It was interesting to see how companies wanted specific technologies for short times.  In the early 90s, mini computers were the rage (Vax/VMS, AS400, Silverlake, etc), but soon the Internet took over the job market.   Then the Internet itself cycled over – the dot-com boom going bust and settling into a few companies (like Google, Apple and Facebook) that demand a culture of super-talent and constantly test people to see who is “hottest”.   (That’s great for 20-year-olds who grew up on computers.)  The mainframe market grew with Y2K, but then became fragmented into rotating professionals how knew specific packages (Vantage, MMIS) or databases (DB2 or iMS internals).  

Conventional wisdom is that mergers get rid of jobs already being done inefficiently – and that’s true – but they also force established professionals to retrench into arcane areas of expertise and troll the country looking for contracts.   

Monday, January 09, 2012

Now all registry cleanup programs for Windows are created equal

Here’s a little review of Registry Cleanup programs (five of them) for Windows 7 and Vista, on Tech Republic.  I wasn’t aware that the “deeper cleaning” might make a computer unbootable. 

I used RegCure during the last year of my first harddrive on a 2003 Dell 8300; but the drive failed at the end of 2009 anyway. The boot up process took longer and longer and would stall displaying Nvidia icons.  Regcure only helped marginally. When a hard drive starts to fail, slow operation, especially at bootup, seems to be a major symptom.

The bootup process on this machine, Windows 7, Dell XPS, sped up after installation of Webroot Secure Anywhere.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Facebook seeks talented programmers with its January Hacker Cup

Remember the line from “The Social Network”, “let the hacking begin”.  Now, the Facebook Blog entry today, “Announcing Facebook’s 2012 Hacker Cup”, starts with “Hacking is core to how we build at Facebook”. The post goes on to explain its programming contest Jan. 20-23 in Palo Alto, CA, link here.   It sounds almost like a USCF chess tournament. 

Laurie Segal has a story on CNN Money, “Facebook seeks world champion hacker”, here

You can’t get quick and good enough at this without not just “curiosity” (as one coworker said back in the 1990s) as with dare-devilness.  What happened to all the plodding care involved in regressive testing, elevations, and on-call production support so familiar from the old mainframe world?

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Adventures with the newer iMovie

Something weird happens when I connect a new Sony Handycam with movies in memory to the MacBook in iMovie.

Actually, in Finder, after the USB connection (to memory), I can find the directories but not the .mov elements.

If I go to "Import" and try to go to "other", it never finds the movies.  If I go to "Import from Camera" before doing the USB connection, I get invited to record myself through the webcam, and to then connect the external camera.  But then it works, and finds and IMPORTS all the movie clips (as .mov) from wherever you point for your "Event".

Finder "File" function doesn't "eject" either.  I don't understand why the Mac Finder doesn't work with the Sony Handycam (HDR CX550V) in a straightforward way. Sony documents only the Windows PMB (Picture Motion Browser) interface, which is complicated.

Final Cut Express, by the way, always asks for a Firewire interface, which I don't have. It doesn't seem to be able to import movies on my MacBook by USB, but can open and manipulate the iMovie elements, showing them as individual editable frames.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Today's "cable guy" -- a paradigm for the future job market?

First, I wanted to notice that the record of companies I worked for over the years for customer service, at least internally, was outstanding – that being so even given some occasional performance problems.
As a user in “retirement” I’m not finding that all companies have the infrastructure to deliver that kind of customer service at least to home users.
But the job market is certainly tending to place much more emphasis on skills appropriate for visiting customers at home. That varies from Geek Squad “black tie agents” to “cable guys” – who now have to be geeks who troubleshoot as well as people who can climb poles.

Conversely, the emphasis on “home work” could change the nature of much of the job market to something that stresses physical capabilities (like climbing) too.  Did you ever want to have to pay your dues by repairing storm damage on poles?  Wonder what it is like to be a utility worker?
The New York Times on Jan. 1 has a relevant article, “Today’s Cable Guy: Upgraded and Better Dressed”, by Amy Chozick, link here).  Today’s home users are demanding much more infrastructure, and cable companies may also be selling home security soon.
Around 2002, I recall, after my own layoff, that Time Warner Cable had jobs “selling” cable service in new real estate developments (in Minnesota, then), claiming possible earnings of $75000 a year. And it was door-to-door.