Friday, June 08, 2018

Workplace customs change a lot with the times; get use to it; AIG pimps insurance careers



Joann S. Lubin has a valuable piece in the Wall Street Journal, based on her own career with the paper,  about how to negotiate workplace policies as they change with time, especially on how employers reimburse moving expenses and certain other expenses (like hardships with overtime), link here .  These practices change with the times.
  
In the early 1970s it was common for employers to pay travel expenses for interviews and initial relocation, but that had stopped after the mid 1970s oil-driven recession, by the late 70s.
   
Here’s another curious link from the Washington Post’s “brand studio”, from AIG, which got bailed out after 2008, for millennials, to consider careers in insurance.  The site is a bit funky to use.  I got calls to get into this after I retired because I had worked in life insurance as a mainframe computer systems analyst, but I did not want to troll and recruit clients.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Legacy mainframe vendor IBM now vies for industry leadership in blockchain



Tonight on CNN, IBM advertised its own IBM Blockchainservice .

This is interesting to someone whose early mainframe career (in the 1970s and 1980s) was based on the idea of the need to “get IBM” on your resume if you had something else (like Sperry Univac, the biggest competitor until the late 1970s).


But control of a service by one corporation or vendor could provide an existential vulnerability, as Wikipedia’s article explains under “disadvantages”.

Any alien civilization will have mastered blockchain. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Workers today are much less mobile than a generation ago (even as I was)



A reader of the Wall Street Journal writes an LTE “Why workers aren’t as mobile as they used to be” in response to a heady piece “The Weekend Interview with Glenn Hubbard: A Conservative Economics of Dignity” (May 19), link .

The reader talks about family and filial responsibility, and interdependence of individuals in a family in hard times.  I have been a singleton all my life, and had to be very calculating on how I approached work.  Nevertheless, I “engineered” three relocations to new cities to my benefit, but returned “home” to near parents in pullbacks.  But I remained steadily employed in IT for 30+ years. 
  
But it’s true, only the most talented and able today can make relocation work in this “winner take all” world.  I do see teens making unusual accomplishments and entering college with huge financial independence already.  They are the minority.  But they are also the best parented. 

Note also the AP article today by Anne D’Innocenzio, “Entry-level jobs harder to snag”, link. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Underemployed actors work as undercover journalists, and more



Here’s an odd story about the workplace.  Underemployed or unemployed actors are hired to infiltrate companies that are on someone else’s hit list. 
  
Here is the May 15 Truthout story by Maura Stephens, here
  
Journalists have done this in the past, to investigate working conditions in companies like Food Lion, which have sometimes turned around and sued them and the news organizations for “breach of loyalty” or some such tort.
  
   
The other way this sort of conflict occurs is with associates writing about their employers in social media.  I even think when I was job-hunting in the 2000’s that some employers or clients feared I had a tendency to work somewhere, quit, and blog about the company after I quit.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Possible iPhone 8 bug; disruptive? -- solved by a retail clerk?



Today, I had a rather disconcerting experience with the iPhone8.
  
On the road, I was trying to locate an address in Google, and suddenly the screen went dark. I could barely see it, some bizarre message from Twitter.
  
I finally went into a retail store and a young clerk knew how to fix it – it had to do with the behavior of the activation button on the bottom.  You slide it a certain way and the settings for brightness come back and it lets you reset them.

This sounds like an unwanted feature that can disrupt normal operation.

I was a half hour late to an event because of this problem.
  
I feared it could be malware at first, but it sounds like a bug that a future release of IOS will fix.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

How to get Codeguard to work in Bluehost


I've done the Codeguard backup.

A few tips if you do it with Bluehost or a similar Wordpress provider.

You use the same IP address (as the hostname) for every database (if you have a "dedicated hosting" of a shared "bluebox".

You should enable SHH first (under security) and supply your main user ID and bh password and Port 22 to set up the FTP credentials.

The you add the databases.  The whitelist given by Codeguard may not be sufficient.  Bluehost will probably have to add 3-4 more hardcoded IP's through Remote SQL to make this work.

You should add a new user to each database in MYSQL with a separate password for each.  Bluehost may have to add one more master user on your principal account (if the other db's are addons).

During the backup, CodeGuard will tell you that the provisioning can take up to 4 hours.  Mine took about 10 minutes for the first backup, and then the other three (which are larger) each took around 5 minutes.

Bluehost identifies database names to blogs deep within the File Manager, under PHP code under public-html, specific to each addon.  This is rather analogous to the way a mainframe (COBOL) module might be written to access a specific DB2 table (like in a financial or health care company) through a separate CICS transaction, in the old fashioned work world.

Here's the best static codeguard writeup that I could find.

Note:  to see progress on Bluehost. log in to your account and then go to  .../cgi/codeguard. 


Monday, May 21, 2018

Does SCOTUS think workers should be able to low-ball one another?



The Supreme Court probably encouraged some worker lowballing today, as it ruled 5-4 that workers who have to sign arbitration agreements cannot use federal labor law to bring class action suits.  New York Mag has a typical summary story here. 

The case was Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis.

  
The general result is to favor individual workers who are willing to work for less, probably often singles, and to discourage organizing.  This seems to be a ruling for the “individualistic workplace”.
  
Here’s the document for the 5-4 opinion.


Monday, May 14, 2018

Looking into Wordpress backup products



Recently I have learned that the “free” Site Backup Pro from my Bluehost Wordpress sites is gradually being deprecated (I found out after I noticed the April monthly did not run); support suggests CodeGuard, which would provide a “time machine” backup for each website blog.
  

WPBeginner has some instructions here

Codeguard's directions for BH (India) appear to be here.  Here's a more detailed video. 
  
It appears that there is a choice between using the Plugin and using an FTP mechanism (presuming you have a paid hosting service).
  
Here’s another link, on the seven best WP backup products, of varying prices (from free to moderate, although most charge a price for each blog).  Of these, the most promising looks like Vault, which is associated with Jetpack.

I believe I tried to sign up for it in November 2016 and it never implemented, and in fact one time I got an internal server error.  I’ll grant that maybe I did something wrong.  When I did get the error, I had to use the daily Site Backup Pro (fortunately it was up to date for that day) to get the blog back up (BH support had to do this). 
  
I’ll look at both of these carefully and pick one pretty soon.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Microsoft Windows 10 "April issue" is the 1803 feature update



Today, Microsoft updated my HP Envy (2014, new solid state drive in 2016) Windows 10 to version 1803 with a feature update.  But it left my ASUS laptop at 1709 with a much smaller update.  Maybe it offers only one feature update at a time.


The update spun “restarting” for almost 10 minutes, and the computer restarted one extra time during the registry update part, which lay a long time at 84% and 90%.  It also spun a while when I logged on for the first time. The whole process took about 30 minutes.
  
Here is Microsoft’s own account of the update.


Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Companies encourage blue collar



BNSF railway, as well as many other companies, are offering signing bonuses for blue collar trade workers, especially in the Midwest, as with this Washington Post story by Danielle Paquette. 

So there is less reason for a lot of students to go into college debt, perhaps?

And the Wall Street Journal reports that some towns, such as Hamilton Ohio (SW Ohio) are paying people to move there and work.

  
And we have already examined why fewer men work today. Instead, they watch.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Windows 10 update issues; mouse issue




Here are some tips on what do if Windows gets stuck doing a scheduled 2nd Tuesday update, either starting the update, or doing the registry cycle (which once in a while can require two or three restarts to complete).
 .
I had some trouble this week (Windows 10 Creators) with the left click on my HP stalling or jumping functions.  I got a brief update once on Tuesday night.  Today I bought a new keyboard and mouse and everything seems OK. Oddly, the restart took longer after I put in the new stuff, like it had to fix the registry again.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Major League Baseball is not as diverse in employment (or players) as it claims to be



This may seem like an odd posting for an “IT workplace” blog, but big league sports is a workplace (remember the film “Moneyball”) and Major League Baseball has gotten criticism for not attracting more black players and employees, as in this US Today story by Bob Nightengale. 
  
The story of Jackie Robinson was well told in the film “42”.  In the early 1950s, in my own boyhood trips to Ohio, I was used to Cleveland Indians players like Larry Doby or Luke Easter, or the White Sox Minnie Minoso.
  
Baseball may become more attractive to minorities as football comes under a cloud because of concussion injuries.  Remember Bo Jackson, who played both pro football and baseball (for the Royals)?  

The Nationals released manager Dusty Baker after 2017 when he failed to get past the first round of the playoffs two years in a row, after winning two divisions. 

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

COBOL jobs seem to come back?; when you work for someone else, they own your output



My old LinkedIn profile recently has attracted more emails about COBOL jobs, which hardly seem appropriate at age 74 after a 16-year-hiatus. 

There does exist object-oriented COBOL, but I don’t know how often it is used.

It still is remarkable to me how the “style” of computing changed in the 1990s, with younger programmers getting used to less verbose languages where they could type commands quickly online (like Mark Zuckerberg, as played by Jesse Eisenberg, does in his dorm room while drunk when inventing Facebook).  “Kid’s stuff”.  Older programmers, who had matured in the days of punched cards and daily turnarounds, had trouble fitting in to a culture that was much more piecemeal.  Yet, that sort of slow-paced maturity was badly missing when the nation designed and implemented Obamacare.

There is one more thing to ponder.  When you get laid off from a job (as I did on December 13, 2001 after three decades with no layoff) you suddenly lose access to all your work.  As an independent blogger, there is no way that can happen – unless it is taken away force, either criminal or foreign enemy, or by government. 
   
Picture: Not where I was laid off, but I worked there in 1989.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

"Scrubber" and "Rep'n Up" will clean up your social media posts before job interviews


WJLA-7 in Washington has reported on a couple of startup products that can clean up social media posts and therefore “online reputation” before job interviews.

One of these is “Scrubber”.  Note that it says political and religious posts are fine with them, but they’ll scrub them if asked to.  The problem is political or religious creates a real issue for people with direct reports or underwriting responsibilities in the workplace.


The other is Rep’n Up.  DCinno and the Boston Globe have detailed stories.
  
It’s important to remember that when people are not allowed so speak about political (or religious) matters for themselves, organizations develop more power and pull to demand “solidarity” from others and to recruit people into their “tribes”.  I’ll take this up in more detail again on Wordpress. 

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Tattoos in the workplace



Should employees get corporate tattoos?  Should they be expected to?  Allowed to?
   
A story in the Wall Street Journal by Rachel Feintzel and Kelsey Gee examines the issue at places like WalMart, Anytime Fitness, US Forest Service, and more. Sailors have long used tattoos to mark places they have been (like crossing the Equator).
  
  
Workplace tattoos seem like a way to “join the tribe”.  That would fit into the ideas o Amy Chua’s book.
  
But body art might violate the idea of body sanctity in my style of thinking.

Picture: A DC restaurant appears to refer to the transgender character "Pie O Pah" in Clive Barker's Imajica ("Pie Oh My"). 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Do you mention the kids on a job interview?


Here’s an interesting perspective on whether to discuss family responsibility matters in a job interview, “When to Mention the Kids”, by Rob Walker.
  
  
It sort of reminds me of an ad from the Nemacolin spa in Pennsylvania, “with the kids”.
  
The conservatives are going to battle this – pay disparity is indeed affected by pregnancy. When you have mandatory paid family leave, the childless people will subsidize the families of parents with essentially free labor. So everyone plays.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Local DC station gives comprehensive result on fake business address scams



WJLA aired its story on search engine map fraud Feb. 15, here.
    
Map points turn out to be random addresses (sometimes homes) but not the businesses advertised. But they make it much harder for legitimate businesses to be found on Adwords, and divert customers away from legitimate businesses.
    
You would think the search engine companies could work with USPS (MoveForward, etc) to solve this problem.  If I were in the job market (at 74) maybe they would hire me based on my old resume.
        
But the problem could also link up to issues with county business licenses, home based businesses, state sales tax licenses, and even condo bylaws. 
    
Splinternews reports on a fake business experiment here
    
I would even be concerned about this problem for self-published book authors.  Some self-publishing companies pressure their authors to be able to retail books on their own commercially and advertise themselves as doing such, rather than just depend on Amazon.
   
The problem can also invite foreign hacking, as we saw from the story about Russian indictments today.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

USPS address software gets manipulated by scam artists for fake business listings




WJLA-7 TV in Washington was gong to air a story tonight on fake business scams, using real USPS land addresses, which would often be other businesses, even residences.

The airing was delayed by coverage of the Florida school shooting today.
  
However this early 2017 story in the UK Daily Mail seems to explain how the scam works.  Much of it has to do with attempts to manipulate Google search results with its map app.  Google says it now has procedures in place to counter the scam.  It's also possible for the scam to create false results on other sites like Yelp. 

 Unlicensed contractors would use the scam to get higher prices from consumers.
  
I’ve worked with the Pitney-Bowes (formerly Group 1) Software  Move-Forward (when I worked for ING-Reliastar – I did an NCOA implementation in 1998).  So I am aware of how clientization and address verification can work.
  
This might be an issue for local governments when they issue business licenses, especially for home-based businesses, as more governments move more of their public records online. So there could be more to this story.  Let’s hope WJLA airs it soon or gives its own web address for it today. 

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Companies trend toward not asking salary history of job applicants (Bank of America is the latest)


The Bank of America will stop asking job applicants for salary history in March 2018, according to multiple news reports, following an example set by Wells Fargo in October and by tech companie sin many states, typical story here

The Bank said that avoiding salary history discussions will allow more parity by gender in pay. But it won’t necessarily address other issues, like seniority and promotions.

But employers have sometimes asked salary history to avoid hiring “overqualified” people during recessions.  People also vary greatly, by temperament, in their interest in formal promotions, and that can distort attempts to show equality.
  
I took a pay cut at the end of 1981 when I moved to Chilton (in Dallas) and then again in 1988 when I moved back to DC to go to work for CCG which became Lewin.  Then when I went to work for USLICO at the start of 1990 I took the same salary, but got much more generous salary progression in the twelve years that would follow (ReliaStar, ING).

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

How I fixed "iCloud not updating" my photos (cheating a little)


When I moved into my condo, I got a new cable-Internet (Cox) and pretty soon noticed that even though I was connecting my iPhone to wifi, my iCloud backup stopped working.

Then I find that scheduling an appointment with the “genius bar” at an Apple store is much harder than it used to be.  It was over a week in advance.  When I got there, they didn’t solve it.
So here is what finally happened.  I managed to change the PW to the iCloud account on my iPhone from the Settings, my name, ICloud. 

With the new one, I changed the logon to the  (https) icloud site on a macbook.  It took.  The Macbook keeps flashing two extra logons where the PW takes but it never sends back the two-step verification box on the MacBook.  This seems like an OS problem, might go away with a new OS.

I bought a new phone-USB connector at a Best Buy, and tried both windows machines and then the MacBook.  On Windows, I couldn’t easily get to the photos on the phone (without some third party app). But on the MacBook I did, and under iPhoto, it quickly added all the new photos to the MacBook HD.  Then suddenly, with the Icloud site logged on, it started updating the iCloud from the MacBook.   The whole event took about 90 minutes for 300 photos (it was slow), just before Trump’s SOTU. 

Update: February 2

Here is a detailed article on how iCloud works. 

Monday, January 01, 2018

New York State mandates paid family leave even on small employers; Vermont prohibits social media password demands


New York State has passed a law, starting today, to require employers to offer paid family leave for up to 12 weeks in a variety of circumstances.  These appear to include eldercare for parents or family pressures when someone (a spouse) is deployed in the military, as well as birth of a child.
The NBC article (by Pete Williams) did not say if it includes adoption of a child.
Vermont has passed a law, joining about half the states in banning employers from asking social media passwords. ]