Thursday, October 17, 2019

Chrome browser update linked to major failure on some Apple Mac OS video editing work stations with file system corruption

There has been a spectacular software update failure that seems to be attributed to Google Chrome.
In a specialize environment especially with video editing and the use of Avid Media Composer, many workstations belonging to film editors, especially at some film production companies, on Mac OS Pro failed and would not reboot.

Google Chrome, in some unusual circumstances, could corrupt the APFS file system.  This might have to do with the possibility that the systems may or may not be in case-sensitive mode, as is normal with Unix and Linux-like systems.
The problems occurred mainly on Monday, Oct. 14,  Variety has a detailed story by Janko Roettgers. 
 A major part of the problem may have been disabling Apple’s own System Integrity Protection.
Malcolm Owen of Apple Insider had a somewhat different story and gave some coaching on terminal mode commands involved in the fix, here. 

Apple’s own instructions are here. It appears that you need a recovery disk and system backup (like from Carbonite).
Here is Avid’s own account.  I found this on Twitter when I routinely checked their Support account before buying a Mac today myself. 

There’s a moral.  I’ve never had to restore an entire computer myself.  But in 2016, I had Geek Squad replace a conventional hard drive with an SSD (Windows 8.1 then) after repeated errors, but was able to get a clean backup of the hard drive (as far as I know) and had Carbonite.

After my forced “retirement” at the end of 2001, I actually looked a IT jobs at Warner Brothers online, which at the time were mainframe and involved DB2.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Does OS Catalina and Sidebar give an efficient way to have a (iPad 2nd) touch screen with your MacBook?

I’m getting ready to upgrade my Mac environment for music composition, and a big issue is being able to use touchpad surface.

It seems like you’re supposed to use Apple Sidebar with Macbook and iPad’s that are new enough and have new operating systems. Apple's document is here

They should not to be sharing connections elsewhere (cellular for iPad, Internet for Macbook).
It appears that you are supposed to have Mac OS Catalina on your Macbook but I am still checking with Best Buy, Apple, and Avid.  It takes a while for the retail outlets to learn everything.

Update:  Oct. 10 

OS Catalina was released Oct. 7 according to Wikipedia.  Gizmodo explains the iPad as second screen here  (point 2).  Music is no longer part of iTunes but its own app.

Many popular applications, including AVID Sibelius, say they cannot yet guarantee compatibility with Mac OS 10.15.  There is discussion in various sources, such as here. NotateMe (with Sibelius Ultimate) would appear to benefit from the new features and right now (with 10.14.x) it requires an external scanner to view handwritten scores and change them (apparently).  Most of this issues have to do with complicated new security requirements.  Further discussion of these issues will continue on a new posting to be done on Wordpress soon.

Avid's own statement on "floating compatibility" is here.

Their direct reference on requirements for Sibelius Ultimate is here.

Monday, October 07, 2019

It's not that easy to "become" a "programmer"

Andy Serkowitz now explains “5 Reasons Why You’re Not Becoming a Programmer”.

The basic problem is that you need to start practicing and doing real projects immediately.

A second problem is “perfectionism”.

The third problem is “fear”.

A fourth is “bouncing around” without mastery not enough “fun” (Clive Barker would understand that).

The last is a poor job search strategy.
I would add to this discussion something about the difficulties many older professionals had in moving from mainframe to Internet and client server after Y2K.  The problem is that you have to do a project more or less from scratch to learn the style of OOP to be able to support the work of other people.  And Y2K, with the conversion of old mainframe apps, got in the way.  Then a few years later the IT world really wasn’t ready to do a good job with Obamacare, and you see where it is now. The welfare of the country is at issue with how well the job market and skill levels work.

Friday, October 04, 2019

Andy lists "5 programming anti-patterns" (bad habits) for beginners

“5 Programming Anti-Patterns for Beginners”, by Andy Serkowitz, talks about faddish OOP coding practices that make it harder for others to maintain the code.

Here are some bad practices:
(1)    Obscure or overly shortened variable names
(2)    Magic strings and numbers (like 21 as a drinking age).
(3)    Lava flows (includes dead code)
(4)    Cut and paste
(5)    Poltergeist  

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Remembrance of my last good job

It’s interesting to walk past a building you worked in for four years 20 years ago, and where your career had its cardiac arrest one morning, Dec. 13, 2001.

The building is rather plain, compared to the original building across the street, Washington Ave, in Minneapolis, where now Voya (was ING, was ReliaStar) is still flashy.

I was thinking today, however, that no one really has a handle on what happened to the IT job market, as in the mainframe world it disintegrated into a gig economy.  It seemed that the field now belongs to the prodigies, who learned new ways of thinking early enough in life.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

CBD might make you fail an employer's required drug test

Recently there have been news reports of people fired, especially from law-enforcement jobs, for positive THC drug tests when they took CBD over the counter for back pain.
Quest Diagnostic, for example, has a writeup on the problem.   

Cannabidiol is not illegal by itself and does not have significant mind-altering properties.  But sometimes CBD’s may contain trace amounts of THC that cause positive drug tests.
I can recall having to take a urine drug test before starting my job at USLICO in January 1990, which eventually became Reliastar / ING / Voya .  The company soon dropped the requirement.
Supposedly you don’t get a positive test from being in a room or bar where other people are smoking pot, although it is a precautionary measure I used to be concerned about.

Update:  Sept. 25:

NBC Washington reports on Federal employees and especially employees with security clearances failing random drug tests over CBD and getting fired. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

"You Can't Be Anything You Want To Be", according to Bernard

I think I’ve used this creator on my Movies blog, but I wanted to share a video by Bernard, Chubbyemu, about career. He says “You Can’t Be Whatever You Want to Be”.

The speaker says he is 26 and has two degrees, and has a relatively good life (as an apparent “Asian American” in tech).  He grew up near Chicago (as did Tim Pool).  He says he was bad in English, getting an F on a paper on a criticism of feminism in a Victorian novel. He says he was good in math in science.

The video goes on to give another anecdote about a law school graduate failing bar exams, and then settles in on the idea of not being spread to thin.

That’s good advice, generally, as “we” need to be schooling people in the jobs that need to be done, the trades – except that they could go away with automation.

I have a personal issue with this.  In my background, I was moderately good at a lot of academic things and wound up with 32 years of stability employed in mostly mainframe IT when that was the dominant computing culture.   I really did not make the transition well, and I can see the mistakes I made in retrospect.  I might have become a classical pianist or composer – say had I been born a few decades later and had the tech advantage.

Other speakers tell it differently.  Martin Goldberg (“Economic Invincibility”) is big on versatility but talks about learning employable skills rather than college for most people.  Tim Pool talks about learning in the streets.  John Fish talks about reading and study habits (and sells audiobooks and other items good for students) but is spending his gap year working in tech and, so far, teaching coding classes online. John’s other passion is running track.  (I had a grad student friend at KU who was big on track;  another was big on baseball.)  Jack Andraka has built a research career over his undergraduate years at Stanford and now finishing it with a Master’s, research which some biotech companies are paying for.  Unlike some others, he doesn’t really need a YouTube channel.  His other passion was competitive kayaking.

Magnus Carlsen’s one big passion (besides working as a male model at one time) is chess.
Taylor Wilson will save our power grids.
But Bernard’s channel has some interesting advice, too.  Don’t live on junk food, another video explains what happened to a teen who did, and still gives a personal take on fat-shaming, much constructively than Milo.    

I seem to remember that Tony Orlando and Dawn used to preach, "you can be more than you are." 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The CompTIA Security+ certificate experience, according to Martin

Economic Invincibility (Martin Goldberg) shares his experience getting the CompTIA Security+ certificate for work.  He discusses the workbook and test. 

He discusses the workbook and exam (75-82 questions), which includes 30 “performance questions”.  

 It takes about two months to prepare, he says.
I did come away from watching this video with the feeling that my own job search experience after the beginning of 2002 might have gone differently than it did.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

California AB 5: uber/lyft drivers, truckers, freelance writers

California is all set to pass a law, AB 5 which would force many employers to classify contractors as employees if they meet certaing guidelines.  California made an exception for newspaper delivery carriers for one year with AB 170.  Here is the USA Today story.  
Some of the biggest groups of workers who might benefit would be ride-hailing drivers, for Uber and Lyft.  The standards for remaining a contractor and not getting employee benefits would be:  having your own business as a separate platform, having discretion over how you do the job, and doing something out of the employer’s normal course of business. The last provision seems to ensnare Uber and Lyft and probably trucking companies. But there is the issue that the drivers use and insure their own personal cars.  That sounds like a problem.
Consumers in California could find ride-hailing more expensive and closer to cab costs.
Freelance writers pose another problem.  There was a suggestion that if you contributed 35 or more paid pieces to a publication, even all online, you become their employee. 
 It is common for IT contractors to be W-2 "employees" of staffing companies who give them benefits, and that has been common since the 1970s. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

"Professionalism" is no longer a virtue in the new workplace

“How less professionalism will get you ahead in the workplace in the future”, by Aaron Hurst on the Big Think.

I became a “professional amateur” after my Dec 2001 big layoff (at age 58), and I would get asked “what is your profession” and they wanted me to sell insurance (since I had done the IT for it). Hurst says that AI will change everything. 

Friday, September 06, 2019

John Fish conducts "learn to code" (so to speak) livestream class from his new setup in Montreal

John Fish gives a two-hour class in coding Python from his new studio in Montreal, (Learn) Code with Us, in a livestream on Friday Aug. 30 that attracted over 800 students.

The title of the video brushes up against a supposed ban of the meme "Learn to Code" on Twitter since the phrase is thought to harass laid-off mainstream journalists. The phrase might have been meaningful right after Y2K two decades ago as older mainframe programmers needed to learn the style of terse scripting languages coded from the command prompt (or terminal mode) on the Internet. And do you learn it for Windows?  Linux? (more or less Apple).  
This is done on a Mac Pro (it looks like), so this could be useful to me soon as I prepare to set up a new Mac studio for my music.  If John knows much about music software, that would be a great idea for another class.

One issue for the Mac (I think I’ve covered it here before) is the controversy over why it doesn’t offer touch screen on the monitor, but requires some kind of interface like Wacam. 

There are supposed to be major announcements from Apple and Avid on their software next week from a conference in Amsterdam (Netherlands).

John seems to publish his videos on Saturdays, so I don’t know if there will be more classes (like what I just suggested), or coverage of workplace issues like bilingualism in Quebec. 

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Tips for using the Apple "Genius Bar"

Here’s a little article with tips about how to make sure your appointment with the Genius Bar at an Apple store really works, in Business Insider, by Lisa Eadicicco. 

One of the testiest problems is your iCloud password, which I have had trouble with, and which can be tricky to get reset. My iCloud PW seems to be the same as the Macbook.

Another issue is having the device backep up beforehand.
I find with Sibelius that if I change something (like an sib file) or add something, it doesn’t back up on Carbonite until the next time I log on to the Apple.  It is always one day behind.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

China uses LinkedIn to recruit spies in the U.S.

Edward Wong writes in the New York Times, front page, today, Wednesday  August 28, 2019, “Wanted: Spy. Employer. China. To Apply: Click.” Online, it says “How China uses Linked-In to Recruit Spies Abroad”. 

 The idea is to use fake linked-in accounts. They probably prefer people who look like they come from North America. 

LinkedIn (owned by Microsoft) is known as the “professional” social network for looking for work or setting up a professional presence.  There is Monster (which I became familiar with after my 2001 layoff). It has not been viewed as controversial like Facebook and Twitter. It has been a place for people to indicate clearances.

The long story is provocative and could escalate Donald Trump’s claims he wants to cut off companies doing business with China, starting with the tariff war. I can see how it relates to Trump’s claims of “intellectual property theft”.

I was repeatedly approached near the end of 2013 about whether I wanted to register my “doaskdotell” site in China, despite the fact that Blogger is blocked. They don’t seem to block non-social-media hosted accounts and may find them useful to gauge American social politics.  My own records show hits from China, Russia, and various mid-eastern authoritarian countries.

Monday, August 26, 2019

A cautionary tale on non-compete agreements

Joshua Fluke, a (former?) software developer in Utah, in a video “I’ve Been Targeted”, talks about his father’s career.  Another video which I embedded on my Retirement blog talked about his having to support his dad.

This video shows him talking to his father, who was 52 when laid off.  He had been hired at 27 in 1990.  He signed a non-compete clause which said he would no go to work for a competitor.  It is true that these agreements were common then.  I have signed a few of them.

When his laid-off dad formed his own business doing the same thing, and was still sued over his own business.  I haven’t really heard of a non-compete suit under these circumstances (it was in Utah).  He even had money seized and got evicted from an apartment.

The dad said his job had been to sell consumers things they didn’t need.  That was a real problem with “sales culture” (like the movie “100 Mile Rule”) after Y2K and 9/11 when I was interviewing.  I don’t want to manipulate people for a living either. The Internet has changed everything and lot.  I am a little bemused if his dad was selling things in his own business, when he says he doesn’t like to sell things people don’t need. Agreed.  Blogtyrant used to talk a lot about that.

I signed a non-compete agreement with Chilton when I went to work for them in Dallas in the fall of 1981. The agreement said you could not work for another credit reporting company (Pinger in Houston was conceivable).  Chilton would be bought by Borg Warner in 1986, sold to TRW in 1988 and get spun off as Experian and is still in Dallas. You could be laid off (people were in 1989 although I had left), but the policy was programmers were simply expected to look for work as mainframe programmers in other industries.  The environment was Amhdah MVS, compatible with IBM mainframe, but it had Datacomm DB/DC instead of IMS and CICS (later DB2) which is what employers wanted then.  So the non-compete was problematic. 

He presents a post where another blogger excoriates Josh for his “attitude”.  I’ll let the visitor decide for himself. I don’t think you can film at your workplace generally (just like you can’t go into a MacDonald’s and film the people working without permission).
I think that Grindreel is Josh’s business now?

Wikipedia attribution:   
By NASA Astronaut -, Public Domain, Link I was in Salt Lake myself in May 1981, and at airport in 2012. Salt Lake’s streets are very logically named and easy to follow.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Meritocracy in the workplace, may melt like the ice caps

Does meritocracy drive the workplace in IT?

For me, in mainframes three decades ago, not exactly.  It became a rather stable culture that went nowhere after Y2K and broke down into gigs, when we were going to need mature old-fashioned professionals to rewrite health care.

And we needed to train people to do security.

The “business” got used to low-balling, to expect on-call production support without pay.

The rest of the world was preoccupied with selling things, and billable hours.

Read, in the Atlantic Sept. 2009, “Meritocracy’s miserable winners”, by Daniel Markovits (p. 14). 

There is also a “conversation” about “your professional decline” on p. 10.

The article reminds us that “the rich now dominate society, not idly but effortfully.” 

But Tim Pool seem to believe that the meritocratic rich can afford “luxury beliefs” that don’t require their skin in other people’s games. It’s based on Rob Henderson’s piece in the New York Post.

I had written a "legacy" piece on meritocracy myself back in 2002, old, fixed html, here

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Why does Apple resist putting touchscreens on its computers when Microsoft encourages it?

As I get ready to set up a studio to “finish” some of my music, I wonder why Microsoft-based PC’s offer touch screen (which would respond to pens writing music by hand on a staff, as with NotateMe) and Apple has split the world, offering touch technology only on tablets and phones (iOS) and needing a separate interface for music software processing on the main computer (a MacBook or iMac) under a modern MacOS.
iMore offers some insights with a 2018 article by Rene Ritchie. There is a belief that sitting at a desk and working with a touchscreen is not very ergonomic, unless you are working with a pencil, and then you would want a tablet in your lap (like a piece of paper).  There are also some indications that Apple and Sibelius will announce major improvements possible in MacOS 10.15 at a conference in the Netherlands in September (according to an Apple store I visited).

I’m not sure how much the Touch Bar on the newer MacBooks accomplishes (I don’t have it on my 2015 MacBook), but that’s discussed here by Busten Hein on Cult of Mac.  .

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Should the childless subsidize paid family leave? Another debate

Donald J. Boudreaux has an interesting article in AIER, the American Institute for Economic Research, “Unseen victims of government policies”.

He uses a “Stanford experiment” scenario, fictitious, to dramatize his point.

But then he gets around to explaining how mandatory paid family leave is paid for by others, particularly those who don’t have (or at least adopt or foster) children.
Rick Sincere shared this in his Daily “li” paper Tuesday.  The video above seems to come from the UK.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Can you be expected not to act "gay" or "fluid" on the job?

Some different for this blog to start a sleepy August.

Should you be expected to act gender binary in the workplace?  Or just neutral?

Speaker Riyadh Khalif talks about this.

His boss (in the TV station business) asked him to tone it down.  He says he didn’t.

Social media and the preoccupation with pronouns has had an effect on corporate America.

But of course, gay men in the workplace in the past weren’t noticed for behaving any differently, particularly independent media.

In the past, the paradigm was salesmen going out and meeting customers and having to behave in business-like fashion. 

My own father did that for 40 years, although he sold only wholesale. 
And, yes, YouTube has a few softcore “comedy” videos of job applicants “giving in” to get jobs.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Wall Street Journal reports on employers spying on workers; and for chefs, hand appearances matter

Sarah Krouse has a big article in the “Exchange” section of this weekend’s Wall Street Journal (July 20, 2019), “The new ways your boss is spying on you”.

A lot of the article deals with movement monitoring for jobs like waiters, but some of it applies to desk workers too.  One of the packages discussed is comes from Ambit Analytics.

The article also advises against “bring your own gear” and suggests separation between personal and work-related hardware, even phones. It is also taking the position that most people need to be sparing about the way they use social media (although I’ve talked a lot about that before, as I made a career of it early in the game).

The Russia Today video above misspelled "employees".  
Nick Kostov has a whimsical piece about the importance of the appearance of chef’s hands on food videos. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Walmart uses an Oculus Go virtual reality system to screen, train associates

Peter Holley describes a new kind of interview tool for companies putting people into regimented retail jobs, at least for promotions, on p. A21 of the Washington Post Monday July 15, 2019. 

That is an Oculus Go virtual reality headset, through which applicants will be tested to see how well they can perform tasks and how quickly when confronted by practical situations that happen suddenly in a retail store.
In March 2004, I had interviewed for a retail job at Hollywood Video before I started substitute teaching.  I guess I was overqualified (“IYI”).

Monday, July 08, 2019

YouTuber loses job because of his videos supposedly connecting him to Pewdiepie

A YouTuber named Isaiah Photo relates how he lost his job (or a major client) because of his “fun” videos making fun of (or with) Pewdiepie.

At about 3:40 he reports that a client said it didn’t want to work with someone “associated” with Pewdiepie, who was perceived as a “racist” or “anti-Semitic”.  That is certainly false objectively, but Wikipedia gives a little bit of an idea why some people have this impression (see a couple of sentences under "Media Controversies").

Later in the video Isaiah talks about the possibility that the Christchurch attack aggravated the situation, which might not have otherwise happened.

Seriously, there have been deplatformings (as by Patreon) against persons merely because of their perceived "associations" with other groups or persons thought to be connected to white supremacy or neo-Nazism, but nearly always these supposed connections (with a very few exceptions) are false. Very few high profile speakers in the US, UK. etc. actually advocate ethno states. And Donald Trump does not.

There is a problem of  "dumbing down" as companies have to deal with the gullibility of a rather illiterate public in understanding social media. 
I’ve talked about my own issues with “conflict of interest” in my own self-publishing and the workplace (esp. Feb. 4, 2014).  

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Apple moves its assembly of its top-line Mac Pro to China, maybe risking tariffs?

Apple seems to be defying Trump’s tariff actions and threats by announcing it will move final assembly of the Mac Pro to China, from Austin, TX, as in this Ars Technica story by Jon Brodkin. 

The new desktop would cost around $6000, but theoretically tariffs could raise the price to $8000.  This possibility doesn’t seem to be explained.  We’re left with Trump’s senior moment, calling the Apple CEO “Tim Apple”.   This product is said to be low in volume compared to the smaller computers. 

I will replace my Apple MacBook (2015) with a new unit by the fall, in order to complete my music projects and bring them into performable shape. My own investigation seems to show that the Sibelius Ultimate product would need an Apple unit that costs around $2300 or so (and apparently no tariff).  But I’ll look to see what ThioJoe has to say about this.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

How reliable is shared web hosting?

On Monday, June 19, 2019, Bluehost, which hosts my four Wordpress blogs, started getting timeouts through Sitelock and soon I could not log on to the hosting account.  I called the tech support and they told me that 900 servers were down!

The outage lasted 11 hours and was noted on downdetector.  One other site, “isitidownnow” which does pings, noted non-responsiveness for about two hours before the pings would work.

The outage happened very shortly after controversial news on major media about US covert cyber war against Russia behind Trump’s back.  You can imagine the rumors.

This problem sounds more like a spanning tree topology problem, which had occurred at this company in December 2016. A misconfiguration can cause a network to start looping and stop responding. It reminds me of the dreaded java “thread death”.

If the server you are on had to be replaced by the host, you might have to wait a few hours for repropagation of your new IP address to work.

The company’s twitter support account is not monitored late at night.  I messaged them at the start of its early morning shift, and the person who answered at first seemed not to know about the large outage.

I found a couple of interesting articles on hosting companies.

Here is one on how shared hosting works, and with some advice on outages.
Generally, hosting companies don’t get involved in censorship except for specific AUP violations (which now includes violating FOSTA, as well as running illegal pharmacies and sometimes selling weapons).  But after Charlottesville, Godaddy and other hosts became sensitive to activist complaints about hosting white supremacist content, and this problem may well be spreading.
Here is one about Endurance, which owns many hosts silently.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Tim Pool warns job seekers: going "woke" on Twitter will keep you from having almost any decent job, and Twitter followers are not useful "dark money"

Tim Pool, in a video today talking about Think Progress, talked about Subverse’s hiring.

He gave a stern warning to applicants for anything in media to watch their social media, especially Twitter, at about 9:25.

He warns people about becoming “woke warriors” destroying their own personal credibility when they play the clickbait game with tweets (or Facebook posts) that they personally don’t even believe. 

Twitter followers won’t pay your rent, he says.

I’ve talked about online reputation and employment a lot on my blogs ever since I started them.  I made a very important post about the founding of “Reputation Defender” on Nov. 30, 2006 on my main blog. The idea of online reputation and its effect on the workplace started to develop around 2000, when a few employers started announcing “blogging policies”.  I wrote a controversial piece in March 2000 on my old hppub site that I recently republished here

Heather Armstrong founded her site “dooce” after she was fired in 2002 by a software developer for blogging about her own workplace.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

YouTube could limit monetized journalistic videos to "trusted providers" and set up a contractor interview process to "hire" them.

The suddenness (after several erratic moves in response to a “feud” between two personalities on YouTube”) of YouTube’s announcement of a new content policy, especially with respect to monetization this week (Wednesday, June 5) was shocking to the whole Vlogger community. There was even a news embargo until about 1 PM EDT, at which time numerous journalists and account holders were told that their accounts were demonetized and some specific videos taken down by email immediately.

YouTube, however, had in the past said that it expected in the future to have to restrict even the uploading of videos, in Europe and maybe everywhere, to “trusted providers” as a result of the EU’s “Article 17” (part of its Copyright Directive for the Digital Common Market) to “trusted provider” because it would be treated by EU law as a publisher, not as a utility platform with downstream liability protection.  Of course, it’s curation of content in the US raises questions as to whether it could eventually lose its Section 230 protections from downstream liability here.

It’s the “trusted provider” idea that I want to focus on.  It seems logical that YouTube could contemplate an interview process where someone applies to become a content provider.  The interview could be done by a committee of separate trusted third parties who are supposed to be ideologically neutral and international. 

Perhaps individual content providers would have to travel to a Google location (near Mountain View CA, or New York City, or Charlotte, or one of a number of other cities, similarly in Europe).  Providers could be given a written test to see if they understand the rules.  They could be deposed as to their intentions, particularly with journalistic filming of disturbing or possibly violent demonstrations in public spaces.

The system needs journalists who operate separately from corporate and union structures, as a check on larger companies to make sure they cover everything.  We saw what happened in January with the “Covington Kids”.

The end result, however, is that if you want to make a living as an independent journalist, you will need to “pay your dues” and show good faith somehow.  That might even extend eventually to offering content for free (essentially) as I do most of the time.   There would be more independent publishers than established companies (even in the EU, where copyright is so strict), maybe ten times as many; but still you would have to “prove yourself” to “get published” and show you could produce content that would attract decent analytics and that advertisers were reasonably comfortable with. This could also lead to revival of individual media perils insurance (as a requirement). 
So a journalist who makes a living this way would in a sense be a bit like a contractor in today’s employment world.  That might be resisted (look at the situation with Vox and its union) but in the long run it is a little bit like the world of IT professionals with W2 gigs that became common after 2001.
There would also be a possibility (however chilling this sounds) that the interview process could look at “social credit” in the sense of previous volunteer service or community engagement.  But this sounds a but like what China would do, and guess what, you don’t have objectivity when you have coerced activity first.  Or maybe you need some of this to know what shoes the people you report about and film really walk in.  Remember the idea of “no spectators”.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

John Stossel: women may be better off if paid family leave is not mandatory

John Stossel and Reason RV take on the arguments for mandatory paid family leave.  He calls it a "fairy tale", like Grimm's. 

Only the United States and New Guinea don’t mandate some form of paid family leave among larger employers.  But in Europe, where everyone does, women have a harder time getting hired to better paying jobs.  

Logically, it would seem that if paternity leave were mandatory, that would balance that problem.

Stossel also discusses Rubio's proposed "Cradle Act" which would allow workers to borrow compensation from future Social Security benefits. 
Trump at one time had supported only paid maternity leave.
Stossel covers how most major employers are voluntarily offering paid family leave to attract better employees. And what about the childless? 

Sunday, June 02, 2019

John Fish describes "10 Years of Code in 10 Minutes"

John Fish, who has finished his sophomore year at Harvard, offers us a summary of “learning to code”, “10 Years of Code in 10 Minutes”.

He started coding at age 10, in grade school in Waterloo, Ontario. All the coding projects were in scripting languages, which are very terse compared to older mainframe languages like COBOL and FORTRAN.  Many of the projects were game-like.  His first exercise was learning to code HTML

Toward the end, he gets a summer job at Shopify, for which I think he has another video.

The change in style of coding (particularly OOP) helps explain the difficulties older professionals may have in the changing job market, but is also helps explain the loss of the experience base in really big financial systems requiring mainframe, which severely affected the implementation of Obamacare.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The IRS and financial institutions need to make reporting of asset sales simpler for taxpayers, would require major "mainframe technology" project

I’ve had a bit of a row with the IRS, as I haven’t been reporting the 1099-B’s properly, although it looks like when I go back in and find a stepped-up basis to insert into two of the entries, it won’t make much difference now.

But it seems as though the IRS ought to create a project, and have a contractor analyze and implement it (some company like Unisys, EDS, or even IBM) to provide taxpayers consolidated reporting information on a 1099-B summary on the first page so they don’t have to look through the details.

That would mean summarizing all the 8949 subcategories, but moreover, looking up “unreported” cost bases off of databases for historical prices for securities.  This might mean that the SEC would have to set these databases up for LLC’s.  This would be a traditional mainframe project, with COBOL and probably DB2, with lots of direct connect, and intricate security access protocols.  But as Obamacare found out, mature old-fashioned financial systems professionals don’t seem to be around these days.

Furthermore, for "grantor trusts" and taxpayers with multiple accounts at one institution, they need consolidated reporting summarizing all accounts. 

I can remember job-hunting in Dallas in 1981 that there was a company called Fasttax.  Dallas would be a logical place to house such a project. 
Mainframe based systems are much harder to hack, still.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Amazon wants its employees to convert to the gig economy and start their own businesses with A-trademark; "skin in the game"?

Amazon has most recently attracted attention by announcing that it will pay existing employees a $10000 stipend (and the best three months of salary) and offer various support to start their own delivery businesses. CNBC has a typical story. 

Amazon reasons that this networked arrangement would shorten delivery times for prime customers.
The idea appears to be open only to existing employees.
The plan certainly follows the idea of the gig economy, following onto Uber and Lyft, for example.

A good question would be whether the franchisee’s could have a health care program set up for them to offer employees.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb had warned readers in his “Skin in the Game” book, “You must start a business.”  But does that mean hanging the sign of somebody else’s brand, their trademark?  Do you lose your own identity?

Monday, May 13, 2019

Working in a phone bank, probably this one is illegal; very regimented

Here’s a link inside a spam call center, by Jim Browning.

This looks more like a tech support scam than a robocall center to sell health insurance or warranties.
But imagine what it would be like to work there.  It’s probably in India.

This is what goes on in countries without good job markets. A “phone bank” used to be the only job some people could get.  But they aren’t “bad people”.  I’ve heard that said exactly.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Can your laptop ever be accidentally wiped out by nearby magnets?

Yesterday, while at the Parkway theater in Baltimore, while in a lounge, I put my laptop down on a table at it held the computer like a magnet.

I immediately pulled it away, put it on a hassock, and it worked oK.

I’m told that you don’t have to worry about modern laptops and ordinary household magnets.  I guess you don’t have to worry about being near power lines either.  Also smart phones, tablets, cameras, etc. should be OK.

But I definitely remember that you could not get away with putting old floppy disks next to kitchen magnets.

The TSA tells you not to bring unprocessed film through checkpoints.
It you are in a building, could a neighbor with a flux device wipe out your electronics?  Has this ever even happened?  That’s the idea behind E1 EMP  (a Popular Mechanics article in Sept 2001, just before 9/11). 

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Does under-employment drive the skills gap? Do low wages?

Matthew Yglesias has an interesting piece on Vox about how the skills gap is a result of unemployment or under-employment, not its cause.

During the later years of my IT career (through the end of 2001) it became harder to keep up with the “new stuff” because it was so different in work style from the IBM mainframe world, which everybody needed to have to get a job in the late 1970s.

And IBM was different from Univac (Exec 8), Vax, Unix, Linux, etc, which in the 2000’s began to retake the job market back.

Friday, April 19, 2019

"Not Everyone Should Code": the Dunning-Kruger Effect

OK, “Not Everyone Should Code”, at least according to PolyMatter, which offers a new online class called Skillshare.  It strikes me that Skillshare could help with some projects I have (music - Sibelius -- and video -- Final Cut).  

The average programmer salary is now said to be about $79800 in the US.  When I left ING at the end of 2001, I made $73000.

Tech companies push the idea and politicians in countries with the tech companies (the US) push it because it gives them cultural power.
The video talks about the public perception of a Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Will former Trump administration officials really be blackballed? Dangerous idea

SJW’s are pressuring Fortune 500 companies to blackball former Trump administration officials in hiring, especially over the family separation at the border issue, Phil Bedard story in the Washington Examiner here. 

This sounds a lot like some conservative commentators being cut off by payment processors.
Maybe it sounds like the beginnings of a social credit score system in the US.
Should people be blackballed for having worked for an employer whom we now decide is anti-social?  What about a tobacco company?

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

More techies tell newbies "do not 'learn to code'"; maybe, learn to sell?

There are quite a few videos out there about (don’t) “learn to code”.

This monologue from Silicon Valley is pretty typical. He warns that artificial intelligence may eliminate the jobs.

I can remember being called a “coder”.  I was the grunt who did the work, and fixed the abends in the night cycle (at my own expense, undermining other people’s jobs). Remaining an individual contributor made your personal life freer, however, as to other "choices". 
So I’m glad I’m “retired”, developing the content of websites trying to help people “connect the dots” among policy issues.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Yuppie career guy in NYC explains how he gave it all up and joined the proletariat

“Exploring Alternatives” presents the story of a man of about 40 who gave up a lucrative job and lifestyle in New York City to become a prole.

He became a grocery store (and natural foods store) clerk in a smaller city in upstate New York and downsized to a smaller apartment with no clutter.
I didn’t make the transition in the 2000s after the big layoff at the end of 2001 as well as he did.

I note his minimalist lifestyle in the apartment.  By having fewer possessions, it takes him very little labor and time to keep it clean (unlike my situation after downsizing not so completely from an inherited house).

He could have considered an intentional community, like Twin Oaks in VA if he wanted to make hammocks or tofu. (See Issues blog, April 7, 2012). 

Friday, March 29, 2019

Should getting a job be about "who you know"? It nearly always is

Should individual contributors in technical fields be “groomed for management” or direct sales?
We’re back to the question, “Can techies sell?” that was circulated around 2002.
People Development weighs in on this on Twitter here. 

The “Job Sauce” has a good article on whether knowing someone in a company or org is important to getting a job.  The answer is, often.  After my one early layoff in 1971, I quickly got a job in the government because I knew a chess player there (someone whom I usually beat).

There has been a debate on this question on Twitter, should you help someone you “know” get a job in your company? 

This might really work right now in the small indie journalism YouTube channel market, where there are vloggers who contract out work.  

Friday, March 22, 2019

"False positives" in Internet security scans reminds me of an old "professionalism" issue in mainframe COBOL programming

I gave this link on my “Internet Safety” blog on June 25, 2018 but I thought I would mention again here with respect to a problem that SiteLock sometimes finds in monthly “application scans” of wordpress sites. That is the “1=1” tautology problem.

The English composition (or technical writing – that’s a job description itself) in the piece is a little hard to follow (with typos) but it seems to imply that the application element is there for self-debugging, rather like a DISPLAY statement in a batch COBOL program in the old mainframe world.

The practice of allowing DISPLAY statements was viewed as unprofessional and reviewing that the programmer doesn’t have 100% confidence in what she is moving to production. With in-house written applications, which many shops had developed and maintained well into the 90s (and had to put through Y2K) you could get away with it.  And “in-house” often meant a consulting company that was running a data center for an entire government agency (like New York State MMIS in my own background -- the lower Manhattan HQ for Bradford's processing center in the late 1970s is shown above).

Starting in the late 80s, it became more common for large shops to use purchased application systems.  Vantage for the life insurance and annuity industry is one of the largest and best known. (I barely missed out on getting Vantage experience, and that is a narrative of its own – if I had, the last twenty years might have been very different than they were  -- “Vantage rules the world”).

When you work as an application programmer for a system that will in turn be sold or licensed to other companies to use for their own large-scale application (banking, insurance, securities, etc) you have to follow very strict coding standards, for consistency and professionalism.  You can’t allow “false positives”.

In the culture of Internet security, though, “false positives” are taken as inevitable and necessary.