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.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

I get an all Windows 10 laptop, not converted from an earlier version


I finally picked up an all Windows 10 laptop today – a 2016 machine with Windows10 Cumulative as the original operating system, and not converted from 8 or 7.  It is the Asus “In Search of Incredibile” (like the 2005 animated movie “The Incredibles”) the Q11222.  It has a rather perfunctory quick start guide.

The trackpad now insists that you use only one finger, which is pretty hard to get used to (exception, when using a browser scroll bar).  So I got the mouse, which uses up one USB port.  There are two USB 3.0 ports, as well as a new USB-C.

The memory is 16G and the solid state drive is 512G.  It is about as fast at startup as any computer I have every had.



ASUS is from Taiwan, so I haven’t made America great again,  But at least Taiwan isn’t part of the former Red China (although there is still a one China policy)

This should be good for travel.  I don’t see Dubai or the middle East soon.  But I worry that problems with being able to carry laptops on board could spread.  But the ASUS is "well boxed".

Monday, March 13, 2017

Trump/Bannon war against federal "administrative state" has more good than bad news for job markets


Time Magazine has a feature story Marcy 20, “Inside Donald Trump’s War Against the State”  which comports with Steve Bannon’s promise “to disassemble the administrative state” (or was it "deconstruct"?).  How this matches up against nationalism, I’m not so sure.

But the Washington Post offers Damian Paletta’s front page story this morning, “Historic cuts in Trump budget; Plan would shake government; Top workforce contraction since end of World War II”.
 
How would this affect subsidiary jobs in the area;  will contractors also get cuts?  It seems to be mostly outside of the military and law enforcement.  Jobs in defense, homeland security and law enforcement (and especially in areas like cyber security) should increase.  W-2 contracting jobs for states' social service agencies could increase around the country if states have to take over more of their own business.   That could be good for the market nationwide but not so good locally in DC.  It might not be so good for real estate values either.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

GOP bill could give employers more access to associate genetic test results


MSN reports about a House bill that would allow employers to see employee genetic test results, if it’s in connection with an employee wellness program (presumably related to workplace hazards), story link here.

During my last year, 2001, at ING (now Voya) in Minneapolis, there was an employee wellness program that paid a slight bonus for getting an annual physical.  That resulted in my starting mild hypertension medication.



By the way, you may want to read George Will’s column, “The Liberals Who Love Eugenics”  with a video about disruptive protests at a Vermont college when libertarian author Charles Murray spoke.  I’ll mention that there have been negative news stories about IQ and immigrants from poor countries – but the cause is probably educational and cultural deprivation during childhood (which Nicholas Kristof and others want to address) and disease rather than raw genetics itself.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Companies pay their associates to disconnect completely during vacation


NBC News reported tonight that some companies will actually pay associates a bonus for staying disconnected from work during a vacation.  That means no reading of email or accessing corporate servers in any way (as to check on production cycles in I,T.)  NBC’s link for the report is here.

One of the companies was Olark Live Chat in San Francisco.  The report also mentioned Seed Factory Branding in Atlanta.

Unplugged vacations are legally mandatory in some European countries.

During my last two years at ING I did have four weeks vacation.  I went to Europe twice (1999, 2001).

Since I know somebody at Interface Engineering, I wonder how it fits into this paradigm.  The "paperless" drive is interesting.  Twenty years ago, it was common for people (me especially) to keep hardcopy paper trails for CYA purposes.  That's not feasible today, and absolute adherence to proper elevation procedures (wrt to security) is more important now than it was three decades ago. You want to forget your job when you are a few thousand miles away on vacation.  Or maybe you're in a space station orbit.  Sorry, to go to Mars it's a minimum of 3-4 years.

Picture: Brown Mountain, NC.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Are there "best places to work"?


Washingtonian Magazine has an article “50 Great Places to Work in Washington”(March 2017), link here.

The list online isn’t quite the same as in print.  For example, online we see American Immigration Lawyers, which is an interesting choice given the times (and the people helping immigrants need as much legal help sometimes as the immigrants themselves).

The last comprises a variety of small companies, some with fewer than 25 associates.  Many are partially “employee owned” – wonder if that means you get paid in stock.  Many offer all kinds of generous benefits and paid, gender-neutral family leave. All would be LGBTQ friendly, probably (although one of them is mostly working moms).

They are in a variety of businesses (one even sells cars);  some are Beltway-bandit software companies.  Some are in healthcare.

Many are located just outside the Beltway (Rockville MD is popular).

Friday, February 17, 2017

Facebook, Linked-In add new widgets for job seekers, especially for people who don't know they're looking


Facebook will help you find a job, even if you aren’t looking, according to a Washington Post story Friday by Abha Bhattarai.   It will provide widgets to enable you to apply for jobs from Facebook, based on your likes and behaviors.

It would sound conceivable that this could put me in touch with news outlets to become a “real” journalist at 73.

But I wouldn’t look at conventional sales jobs.  Being interested in classical music doesn’t make me want to call people to get them to buy concert subscriptions (any more).

Linked-In wants you to apply for jobs on its site under your boss’s nose, story by Jena McGregor here.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Some employers offering "free" branding tattoos


This hardly sounds relevant to IT, but I’ve noted a story about a pizza company offering free tattoos of the company logo to associates, Washington Post story by Abha Bhattarai     The company seems to have a generic name (&pizza).

I would wonder what happens if an employee leaves.  It seems that some of the tattoos were intrusive, covering entire forearms or chests.
 
A new idea, though, could be to use DuoSkin for temporary branding tattoos, or new “exterior implants” to unlock doors, access computers. Etc.   Could body art, previously considered uncouth, become mandatory?  Your body doesn’t seem to be completely your own anymore.  Remember the barber shop the first morning of Army Basic?

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Rare laptop fire at southern CA home; fortunately, "the kids are all right"


A 2006 Dell laptop exploded while charging on a couch in a southern California home recently.  It exploded four times before finally stopping.  The kids were home and fortunately nothing else caught fire. The story is here.

The old laptop had a lithium battery that had been recalled.  Such fires are rare, but the incident could raise question again about airlines.

Most of us have to carry our laptops with us, as hotel business centers are generally rather inadequate. Yet, around 2000 or so it was still common for people to depend on Internet cafes with desktops (like Kinkos) with time to rent while traveling.

Remember, Donald Trump says, "No computer is safe".

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Spicer hints at the idea of "conflict of interest" in speech only in federal jobs


Sean Spicer has been underscoring the idea that people should leave jobs where they disagree with what the boss wants them to do, as in this story in The Hill about employee reaction to Trump’s immigration ban.  Today, Tillerson, in taking over State, was more accommodating but told employees to “do their jobs”.

Along these lines, several departments have been embargoed from sending out tweets especially on areas like climate change.

This would not normally affect employees with their own social media accounts, or would it?  I’ve always said that once someone has direct reports and can make underwriting decisions that affect others, one loses the right to one’s own public voice (without gatekeepers) separate from work. Back in the 90s, with my work situation and gays in the military, this was a potentially big conflict of interest.

And then in the 2000’s, I suppose that when I was in my old job market, I suppose my tendency to report “like a journalist” on everything I saw later (without gatekeepers) could be seen as making me a potential long stream whistleblower threat as a hire.

Trump's hiring freeze on Federal employees (outside of defense and law enforcement) may hide a bigger problem:  if Trump is serious about replacing Obamacare, the government, or especially its contractors, will need to hire much more mature people than they did before.  And Hillary Clinton's email scandal shows a lack of judgment and maturity in her own IT staff letting her get into this kind of trouble.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Sub-min wage employee dependent on tips get abused by employers


The “Working World” column in the Washington Post Magazine Nov. 20, 2016 has an article by Paula Brantner from her “workplace fairness” feature, “Do these policies reach the tipping point?”


This concerns a letter from a mother about a daughter who works as a waitress for sub-minimum wage ($2.13 an hour) plus tips.  The trouble is employers can require some untipped time at the same rate (up to 20% of hours), and can pool tips.  And work can be regimented, nontstop. 

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Swedish company pushes little microchip skin implants for identification in the workplace


A Swedish company called Epicenter has been promoting RFID’s (“Radio Frequency Identification Chips”), the size of a rice grain, that are somehow planted on the side of the hand or wrist, maybe with a technology like DuoSkin. Here’s the best link I can find on Facebook.

I wouldn’t like the idea of having skin implants for work.  But I don’t do tattoos or body art, which have gradually become more acceptable with the modern workplace dress codes. But making them standard?
 
Remember the line in “Magic Mike” where Channing Tatum’s model character is asked by Cody Horn, “Why do you shave your legs for work?”  Especially when he’s not a drag queen.