Monday, October 31, 2016

Major conflicts over employee personal blogging still affect the workplace


I am aware of a situation at a particular international employer where there seems to be a dispute with an associate over complaints the associate has made in social media in public mode.

I won’t identify the employer or person now (it’s a non-profit) because many facts, at least in my opinion, seem, contradictory and frankly bizarre,  and the truth is far from clear.
 
But I want to make a note of it now because I have often written about “conflict of interest” in these blogs concerning an associate’s writings on a personal website, blog, or social media account.  I’ve been concerned about this problem way back to 2000.  I had an issue myself in the 1990s when I was working for a company that served the interests of military officers and wanted to oppose the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy publicly  The circumstances led to a merger-related corporate transfer from northern Virginia to Minneapolis in 1997, which worked out well and led to some of the best years of my own life.
 
Employers may rightfully regulate public speech by associates who are in a position to make decisions that affect others.  Disputes that can’t be resolved typically lead to terminations or resignations.  That’s not new and not controversial.  Employers, however, may not “hack” or physically interfere with social media accounts actually belonging to the person as an individual.  To do so would potentially constitute a crime.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Andela places immigrants in hard-to-fill software professional positions; what about visas and possible asylum later?


Fareed Zakaria on GPS interviewed an executive from Andela, a company that places information technology professionals from Nigeria and Kenya, and maybe other African countries.  Mark Zuckerberg is said to be backing up Andela.

The company says that in some software areas, there are five jobs in the United States for every applicant.  The company says there are no known cases where a U.S. born employee was laid off to make room for one of its immigrants.



Nigeria has an "academy" to train employees, but only 1% of those who apply are selected and able to complete the course.

Reversing the argument, it is very hard for associates of some US companies to consider assignments in some African countries (especially for humanitarian work) because of the anti-gay policies of some of them.

Immigrants do have to get work visas in the US.  When they expire, immigrants from authoritarian countries (or with vitriolic anti-gay policies, like Nigeria) are more likely to suddenly seek asylum. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Twitter layoff comes as it makes a turnaround, to be more like Facebook?


Twitter has announced a 9% layoff of its staff, but its earnings seem to be turning around.  Note the stories in the New York Times, Vanity Fair, and CNET.

Twitter is considering doing much more work to sequence tweets by topic or user interest (like Facebook) rather than reverse chronology (although it allows one theme tweet to stay at the top).

I haven’t seen much movement on the 140-character problem.



So what would it be like to work as a developer for this company?  How to moves and elevations get done?  How does the 24-hour support work? It seems to be a more precarious life there than at some of its "competitors".

And is Twitter losing out to Instagram in social visibility?  I haven’t found the time to use Instagram that much.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

NSA contractors take work home the old-fashioned way


A story on p. A3 of the Washington Post Thursday morning (Oct. 13) by Ellen Nakashima and Matt Zapotosky, “A low-tech scheme for NSA suspect?” points out a lingering security problem from the past for many employers.  “Officials say he may have simply left workplace with printed-out papers”, the story sidebar says.  The story is here.  I believe there are other office buildings, off the NSA campus, where contractors work in the Columbia MD area, along US 29 or along US 1 toward Baltimore.
 
When I worked for mainframe shops in the 1980s and 1990s, we took work home all the time.  In the late 1980s, a major billing implementation in Dallas was tested by running full parallels with production data and the QA manager actually took printouts home just to check them.  In the 1990s, I kept full compiles and some file-compare printouts and sample runs at home just to have around to look at, if any problem occurred to me.
 
Of course, in the 80s and 90s, there was not nearly the sensitivity about consumer PII that there is today. Even so, my own first experience with a personal credit card getting compromised would happen in 1995, with telephone charges in Canada showing up on a Merrill Lynch visa card.