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NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

[Sep 01, 2019] NetSlaves: True Tales of Working the Web by Bill Lessard

Notable quotes:
"... Being an unemployed techie myself, I cannot begin to describe what a godsend this book is. NETSLAVES finally reveals the truth about what it is to be part of what is likely the most under-appreciated sect of the working class. ..."
"... It is a comment on upper and middle management corporate business practices in general, and the dismal fate of the vast armies of workers used as cannon fodder since day one for the follies of unscrupulous robber barons; or morons who just happen to find themselves in the right place at the right time to make market killings; or Scrooges who will never learn what it is to have a heart. Baldwin and Lessard are heirs to the muckrakers of the early 20th Century. Corporate E-merica, take heed. ..."
Apr 16, 2003 | www.amazon.com
Arthur Lindsey III , April 16, 2003
A 246 Page "Support Group"

Being an unemployed techie myself, I cannot begin to describe what a godsend this book is. NETSLAVES finally reveals the truth about what it is to be part of what is likely the most under-appreciated sect of the working class.

The stale stories of "dorm-room success" have been supplanted by the pathetically sad/darkly humorous accounts of those who have been saddled with with million-dollar job titles, bleeding ulcers, and ramen noodle grocery budgets.

NETSLAVES is an entertaining and enligtening read, written by two men who have actually been passengers in every sewer pipe that is the new-media industry. This book is a must for every modern library, as it can be considered a "warning shot" for those with IT aspirations, or as a source of vindication for those of us who have been dismissed and trampled on. Bravo!

A customer, November 24, 1999

Handwriting on the Wall

NetSlaves tells it like it is for the millions of us on the business end of the IPO and monopoly screwdrivers. Apply these lessons to the law, publishing, automotive, chemical, airline industries, etc., etc. This book is not just a cerebral and satirical indictment of the internet industry.

It is a comment on upper and middle management corporate business practices in general, and the dismal fate of the vast armies of workers used as cannon fodder since day one for the follies of unscrupulous robber barons; or morons who just happen to find themselves in the right place at the right time to make market killings; or Scrooges who will never learn what it is to have a heart. Baldwin and Lessard are heirs to the muckrakers of the early 20th Century. Corporate E-merica, take heed.

[Aug 30, 2019] Over 50, Unemployed, Depressed and Powerless by D. A. Wolf

Notable quotes:
"... I know what it feels like to be marginalized because you're out of work. To be judged by others as if there's something wrong with you. To grow increasingly depressed, demoralized and despairing as three months turns into six months and that goes on for a year or more; as rejection after rejection becomes crushing, humiliating, and leaves you feeling worthless. ..."
"... All money-related impacts aside, you lose confidence. You wear out. You start to give up ..."
"... Now and then, an acquaintance will make an off-hand remark about those who borrow money or live on credit cards. The assumption is that credit purchases are frivolous, or that the person who racks up consumer debt does so out of irresponsibility and poor judgment. ..."
"... Never assume. Yours truly? I borrowed to put food on the table. I borrowed to pay for school supplies for my kids. I borrowed to enable them to take advantage of academic opportunities that they earned through their own hard work. I also counted my blessings. While I had no family to assist, my kids were healthy and doing well, I was basically healthy despite chronic pain, and I was able to use credit. Borrowing is a double-edged sword of course, especially if it continues for an extended period. But for my little household, debt was the only path to survival. For all I know, it will be again. ..."
"... These days? I still live on a tight budget, I dream of recovering from the years of financial devastation "someday," and I take every gig I can get. Willingly. I've gained new skills along the way and continue to refine them, I'm always looking for another project and thrilled when I nab one, and I'm accustomed to a 12- to 14-hour workday. I put in long hours throughout my corporate career and I have no problem doing so now. In fact, I'm grateful for these workdays and I take none of them for granted. Moreover, I suggest that few of us should take our sources of income as a given ..."
"... The longer that Americans are unemployed, the more likely they are to report signs of poor psychological well-being," says the study. "About one in five Americans who have been unemployed for a year or more say they currently have or are being treated for depression - almost double the rate among those who have been unemployed for five weeks or less. ..."
"... To be in this position - wanting to work, needing to work, knowing you still have much to contribute but never getting a foot in the door - is deeply frustrating, horribly depressing, and leaves us feeling powerless. Add up these elements and you have the formula for despair. ..."
"... One small act of compassion can breathe new hope into the worst situation. And here's what I know with 100% certainty. We may be unemployed, we may be depressed but we aren't powerless if we come together and try to help one another. ..."
Apr 30, 2016 | Daily Plate of Crazy

Are you over 50, unemployed, depressed and feeling powerless? For that matter, are you any age and feeling hopeless because you can't seem to land a job?

Frustrated Middle Age Man

The recession may be officially over, and for some segments of the population, things are looking up. But too many are still sinking or hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Long-term unemployment or underemployment has become a way of life.

This issue, for me, is personal.

I know what it feels like to be marginalized because you're out of work. To be judged by others as if there's something wrong with you. To grow increasingly depressed, demoralized and despairing as three months turns into six months and that goes on for a year or more; as rejection after rejection becomes crushing, humiliating, and leaves you feeling worthless.

All money-related impacts aside, you lose confidence. You wear out. You start to give up. And you don't even make it into the "statistics." It's been too long since your last employment relationship.

Overqualified, Over-Educated, Over 50

Despite my fancy educational background and shiny corporate career history, for a number of years I was unable to obtain work that was even remotely close to using my skills. Paying me a living wage? Let's not even discuss it. I must have applied to 100 positions over the course of several years, attended the usual networking events, and schmoozed every contact I could come up with.

No go. I suffered from the three O's: Overqualified, Over-educated and Over 50, though I may not have looked it. That last? If you ask me, age was the kicker. Throughout that period, as post-divorce skirmishes continued to flare (further complicating matters), I nonetheless took every project I could eke out of the woodwork, supplemented by debt.

Hello, bank bail-out? How about a few bucks for those of us who foot the bill in tax dollars?

The Borrowing Trap

Now and then, an acquaintance will make an off-hand remark about those who borrow money or live on credit cards. The assumption is that credit purchases are frivolous, or that the person who racks up consumer debt does so out of irresponsibility and poor judgment.

Never assume. Yours truly? I borrowed to put food on the table. I borrowed to pay for school supplies for my kids. I borrowed to enable them to take advantage of academic opportunities that they earned through their own hard work. I also counted my blessings. While I had no family to assist, my kids were healthy and doing well, I was basically healthy despite chronic pain, and I was able to use credit. Borrowing is a double-edged sword of course, especially if it continues for an extended period. But for my little household, debt was the only path to survival. For all I know, it will be again.

Fighting Your Way Back

These days? I still live on a tight budget, I dream of recovering from the years of financial devastation "someday," and I take every gig I can get. Willingly. I've gained new skills along the way and continue to refine them, I'm always looking for another project and thrilled when I nab one, and I'm accustomed to a 12- to 14-hour workday. I put in long hours throughout my corporate career and I have no problem doing so now. In fact, I'm grateful for these workdays and I take none of them for granted. Moreover, I suggest that few of us should take our sources of income as a given.

You know the expression - "There but for the grace of God go I." Misfortune can visit any one of us. Layoff. Accident or illness. Gray divorce. The phone call or email with no warning, saying "you're done" as you're replaced by someone 20 years younger.

And yes, I've internalized the wisdom of this little gem: "If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." But I also know it isn't always possible, and the secret to success is not as simple as hard work. It's aided by the assistance of others, not to mention - luck.

Unemployed and Depressed

Forbes reminds us of the clear links between unemployment and depression, which isn't to say that underemployment or hating your job is a picnic.

Forbes staff writer Susan Adams cites a Gallup poll as follows:

The longer that Americans are unemployed, the more likely they are to report signs of poor psychological well-being," says the study. "About one in five Americans who have been unemployed for a year or more say they currently have or are being treated for depression - almost double the rate among those who have been unemployed for five weeks or less.

She goes on to note:

The long-term unemployed, unfortunately, have good reason to be depressed. They suffer plenty of discrimination in the job market. A 2012 study by economist Rand Ghayad found that employers preferred candidates with no relevant experience, but who had been out of work for less than six months, to those with experience who had been job hunting for longer than that.

.... ... ...

I'm certain that many of you have fought your way back; I'm still fighting after years, but I have seen progress. Slower than I'd like, but progress all the same.

If someone helped you out, have you paid it forward by making connections for others?

Please do read this comment from Cindy. I have responded as best I can. I'm sure she would welcome your suggestions.

A Note on Despair

To be in this position - wanting to work, needing to work, knowing you still have much to contribute but never getting a foot in the door - is deeply frustrating, horribly depressing, and leaves us feeling powerless. Add up these elements and you have the formula for despair.

It's brutally hard to fight your way back from despair. But sometimes, an act of compassion can help.

I've been on the receiving end of those incredible kindnesses - from strangers, from readers, and from one friend in particular, herself too long living on the edge.

One small act of compassion can breathe new hope into the worst situation. And here's what I know with 100% certainty. We may be unemployed, we may be depressed but we aren't powerless if we come together and try to help one another.

... ... ...

[Aug 30, 2019] Over 50 and unemployed: Don t panic!

Highly recommended!
Don't panic is always a good advice. Following it is another story...
Notable quotes:
"... Using contacts, no matter how far in the past they rest, is nothing to be ashamed of! You've probably spent most of your life working, and meeting a lot of people along the way. ..."
"... Your resume should be tailored to each and every job you apply for. While it is important to showcase your talent and skills, how you present the information is equally important. ..."
Jan 03, 2012 | Palmetto Workforce Connections

When you find yourself over 50 and unemployed, the thought of finding another job may seem daunting and hopeless.

It is quite easy to become discouraged because many people fear being stereotyped because of their age, the tough job market, or the prospect of being interviewed by someone half their age. However, there are some things the older unemployed should keep in mind while on the job search. Using the following tips will increase your chances of a short job search and create an overall more pleasant experience.

  1. Quit telling yourself that no one hires older workers. This is simply just not true. In some cases older workers have to exert more effort to overcome discrimination, but this is certainly not the case for every employer. There are even entire websites with jobs posted specifically for older workers, and a quick Google search will render you a list of those websites. Take advantage of such resources!
  2. Take advantage of new technology. Learn to blog and micro-blog, via Twitter, about your profession and interests. You should even create a LinkedIn profile (a website similar to Facebook yet has a more career oriented function) to assist it meeting people in your desired field. All of which will help you stay fine tuned on your skills, while developing new ones. Learning to use social networking will indicate to potential employers that you can adapt to change and learn new things, particularly technology, fairly quickly.
  3. Use all those hard earned contacts. Using contacts, no matter how far in the past they rest, is nothing to be ashamed of! You've probably spent most of your life working, and meeting a lot of people along the way. It is completely acceptable to reach out to former colleagues, class mates, co-workers and employers for job possibilities. Using resources like Facebook or LinkedIn are great ways to find those long lost contacts as well. Chances are they would love to hear from you and help you out if possible.
  4. Don't clutter your resume. Your resume should be tailored to each and every job you apply for. While it is important to showcase your talent and skills, how you present the information is equally important. This means keep it straight to the point and relate your past experience to the skills necessary for the job you are applying for. Essentially, don't do a history dump of every job you've ever had, instead, make each word count!
  5. Don't act superior to the interviewer. It is likely that the people interviewing you will be younger than you. But this does not mean you should look down upon them. Obviously they have earned their position, and if you play your cards right, in due time, you will earn yours! Even if you've worked more years than your interviewer has been alive, it's not okay to tell him or her that you can "teach" them anything. A better idea would be to state your experience working in a multi-generational work place.

Use these tips to help make your job search less stressful and more positive. Whatever you do, don't throw in the towel before you've even tried. Your experience and knowledge will be recognized. All you need is the right employer to identify it.

[Aug 28, 2019] My Top 5 Movies About Unemployment

Apr 30, 2016 | Christianity Today
Erin Brockovich

2000 | Rated R
directed by Steven Soderbergh
Based on the true story of an unemployed mother of three who forced her way into a job as a legal clerk and built an anti-pollution case against a California utility company. Erin Brockovich has become a name for someone with tenacity and perseverance.

The Journey of Natty Gann

1985 | Rated PG
directed by Jeremy Kagan
Disney's family-friendly adventure demonstrates how tough the Great Depression was on kids, namely the teenage girl of the title who journeys across America to reunite with her father. Grounded by strong performances, including a young John Cusack, this gem serves as a fine introduction of a difficult subject to younger viewers.

Tootsie

1982 | Rated PG
directed by Sydney Pollack
This light-hearted, quirky comedy stars Dustin Hoffman as an unemployed actor who pretends to be a woman for a full-time role in a soap opera. Beneath the hilarity is a sobering reminder that landing a job sometimes requires thinking outside the box, to say the least.

Up in the Air

2009 | Rated R
directed by Jason Reitman
George Clooney is stellar as a veteran hatchet man who has lost his ability to form meaningful relationships, living a life on the road. Ultimately this is a poignant drama about identity and what defines us. If we are nothing more than our occupation, what remains when that is gone?

Russ Breimeier, a freelance film critic who lives in Indianapolis, was unemployed for two years until recently landing a part-time job.

[Aug 28, 2019] What do you call a 50 year old engineer?

Mar 03, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Synoia , March 3, 2016 at 10:25 am

Q: What do you call a 50 year old engineer?

A: Unemployed.

[Aug 26, 2019] Overshoot The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change

Secular stagnation of the US economy might be parcially driven by high (above $50 per barrel) oil prices. That nessesarity generates high level of unemployment, especially chromic unemployment and "perma-temps".
Apr 08, 2005 | www.amazon.com

Amazon.com

By J. Mann on April 8, 2005

Masterpiece, offers solution for THE problem of our time/div> I am astonished at the quality of this book, which is about the eighth book in a personal reading program that included Paul Roberts' The End of Oil, Kenneth Deffeyes' Beyond Oil, Jared Diamon's Collapse, Cottrell's Energy and Society, Michael Klare's Blood and Oil, and others, all extremely good and relevant books.

The task this author undertakes is to help readers find a new perspective from which to constructively and usefully interpret inevitable and major changes the world around us. By taking this approach, the author is providing the very essential tool we need to cope with these changes.

The issue is our ecological footprint.

Catton uses the term "Age of Exuberance" to represent the time since 1492 when first a newly discovered hemisphere and then the invention of fossil-fuel-driven machines allowed Old-World humans to escape the constraints imposed by a population roughly at earth's carrying capacity, and instead to grow (and philosophize and emote) expansively.

He then reminds us that we are soon to be squeezed by the twin jaws of excessive population and exhausted resources, as our current population is utterly dependent on the mining and burning of fossil energy and its use to exploit earth's resources in general.

In spring 2005, the buzz about "the end of cheap energy" is reaching quite a pitch, and when and if the "peak oil" scenario (or other environmental limit-event) is reached, the impact on our social / political world will be enormous. Already the US is brandishing and using its superior weaponry to sieze control of oil assets; this same kind of desperate struggle may well erupt at all levels of society if we don't find a way to identify the problem, anticipate its consequences, and find solutions.

Catton offers a perspective based on biology / ecology -- not bad, since we are indeed animals in an ecology and we are indeed subject to the iron laws of nature and physics.

With this perspective we can avoid ending up screaming nonsense at each other when changes begin to get scary. My urgent recommendation is, read this G.D. book and do it now.

[Dec 27, 2016] Peak Robot: The humans as the fragment of machines

Dec 27, 2016 | econospeak.blogspot.com
http://econospeak.blogspot.com/2016/12/peak-robot-fragment-on-machines.html

December 25, 2016

Peak Robot: the Fragment on Machines

Martin Sklar's disaccumultion thesis * is a restatement and reinterpretation of passages in Marx's Grundrisse that have come to be known as the "fragment on machines." Compare, for example, the following two key excerpts.

Marx:

...to the degree that large industry develops, the creation of real wealth comes to depend less on labour time and on the amount of labour employed than on the power of the agencies set in motion during labour time, whose 'powerful effectiveness' is itself in turn out of all proportion to the direct labour time spent on their production, but depends rather on the general state of science and on the progress of technology, or the application of this science to production. ...

Labour no longer appears so much to be included within the production process; rather, the human being comes to relate more as watchman and regulator to the production process itself. (What holds for machinery holds likewise for the combination of human activities and the development of human intercourse.)

Sklar:

In consequence [of the passage from the accumulation phase of capitalism to the "disaccumlation" phase], and increasingly, human labor (i.e. the exercise of living labor-power) recedes from the condition of serving as a 'factor' of goods production, and by the same token, the mode of goods-production progressively undergoes reversion to a condition comparable to a gratuitous 'force of nature': energy, harnessed and directed through technically sophisticated machinery, produces goods, as trees produce fruit, without the involvement of, or need for, human labor-time in the immediate production process itself. Living labor-power in goods-production devolves upon the quantitatively declining role of watching, regulating, and superintending.

The main difference between the two arguments is that for Marx, the growing contradiction between the forces of production and the social relations produce "the material conditions to blow this foundation sky-high." For Sklar, with the benefit of another century of observation, disaccumulation appears as simply another phase in the evolution of capitalism -- albeit with revolutionary potential. But also with reactionary potential in that the reduced dependence on labor power also suggests a reduced vulnerability to the withholding of labor power.

* http://econospeak.blogspot.ca/2016/12/peak-robot-accumulation-and-its-dis.html

-- Sandwichman

[Dec 27, 2016] Facing Layoff, An IT Employee Makes A Bold Counteroffer

Carnival Corp. told about 200 IT employees that the company was transferring their work to Capgemini, a large IT outsourcing firm
Notable quotes:
"... Senior IT engineer Matthew Culver told CBS that the requested "knowledge transfer activities" just meant training their own replacements , and "he isn't buying any of it," writes Slashdot reader dcblogs . ..."
"... Foreign workers are willing to do a job at a lower salary in most if not all cases b/c the cost of living in their respective countries is a fraction of ours. ..."
Dec 26, 2016 | it.slashdot.org
(computerworld.com) 134

Posted by EditorDavid on Sunday December 25, 2016 @05:05PM from the Bob-Cratchit-vs-Scrooge dept.

ComputerWorld reports:

In early December, Carnival Corp. told about 200 IT employees that the company was transferring their work to Capgemini, a large IT outsourcing firm. The employees had a choice: Either agree to take a job with the contractor or leave without severance. The employees had until the week before Christmas to make a decision about their future with the cruise line.

By agreeing to a job with Paris-based Capgemini, employees are guaranteed employment for six months, said Roger Frizzell, a Carnival spokesman.

"Our expectation is that many will continue to work on our account or placed into other open positions within Capgemini" that go well beyond the six-month period, he said in an email.

Senior IT engineer Matthew Culver told CBS that the requested "knowledge transfer activities" just meant training their own replacements , and "he isn't buying any of it," writes Slashdot reader dcblogs . "After receiving his offer letter from Capgemini, he sent a counteroffer.

It asked for $500,000...and apology letters to all the affected families," signed by the company's CEO. In addition, the letter also demanded a $100,000 donation to any charity that provides services to unemployed American workers. "I appreciate your time and attention to this matter, and I sincerely hope that you can fulfill these terms."

And he's also working directly with a lawyer for an advocacy group that aims to "stop the abuse of H-1B and other foreign worker programs ."

Re:Dear Matthew ( Score: 5 , Insightful) by Anonymous Coward writes: on Sunday December 25, 2016 @06:00PM ( #53553189 )

Foreign workers are willing to do a job at a lower salary in most if not all cases b/c the cost of living in their respective countries is a fraction of ours.

I would be willing to do my job at a fraction of what I am paid currently should that (that being how expensive it is to live here) change. It is equally infuriating to me when American companies use loopholes in our ridiculously complicated tax code to shelter revenues in foreign tax shelters to avoid paying taxes while at the same time benefiting from our infrastructure, emergency services, military, etc..

Its assholes like you that always spout off about free market this or that, about some companies fiduciary responsibilities to it's shareholders blah blah blah... as justification for shitty behavior.

Re:Dear Matthew ( Score: 2 ) by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) writes: on Sunday December 25, 2016 @06:13PM ( #53553247 )
It is equally infuriating to me when American companies use loopholes in our ridiculously complicated tax code to shelter revenues in foreign tax shelters to avoid paying taxes

So who are you infuriated at? The companies that take advantage of those loopholes, or the politicians that put them there? Fury doesn't help unless it is properly directed. Does your fury influence who you vote for?

... while at the same time benefiting from our infrastructure, emergency services, military, etc.

No. Taxes are only sheltered on income generated overseas, using overseas infrastructure, emergency services, etc. I am baffled why Americans believe they have a "right" to tax the sale of a product made in China and sold in France.

Re:Dear Matthew ( Score: 2 ) by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) writes: on Sunday December 25, 2016 @06:33PM ( #53553303 )
I am baffled why Americans believe they have a "right" to tax the sale of a product made in China and sold in France.

In a seriously silly Monty Python sketch about taxes, someone mildly suggested:

"I think we should tax foreigners, living abroad."

Kinda sorta the same idea . . .

Re:Dear Matthew ( Score: 3 ) by fibonacci8 ( 260615 ) writes: on Sunday December 25, 2016 @08:43PM ( #53553777 )

I suppose it's related to the idea that intellectual property "rights" granted by a country of origin should still have the same benefits and drawbacks when transferred to another country. Or at the very least should be treated as an export at such time a base of operations moves out of country.

Re:Dear Matthew ( Score: 5 , Insightful) by Rob Y. ( 110975 ) writes: on Sunday December 25, 2016 @06:37PM ( #53553317 )

Except that calling, say iOS sales 'generated overseas' when the software was written in the US, using US infrastructure, etc . And the company is making the bogus claim that their Irish subsidiary owns the rights to that software. It's a scam - not a loophole.

Re:Dear Matthew ( Score: 5 , Insightful) by geoskd ( 321194 ) writes: on Sunday December 25, 2016 @07:35PM ( #53553547 )
It's a scam - not a loophole.

They are the same thing. The only way to ensure that there are no tax dodges out there is to simplify the tax code, and eliminate the words: "except", "but", "excluding", "omitting", "minus", "exempt", "without", and any other words to those same effects.

Americans are too stupid to ever vote for a poltiician that states they will raise taxes. This means that either politicians lie, or they actively undermine the tax base. Both of those situations are bad for the majority of americans, but they vote for the same scumbags over and over, and will soundly reject any politician who openly advocates tax increases. The result is a race to the bottom. Welcome to reaping what you sow, brought to you by Democracy(tm).

Re: ( Score: 2 ) by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) writes:

Except that calling, say iOS sales 'generated overseas' when the software was written in the US, using US infrastructure, etc .

That makes no sense. Plenty of non-American companies develop software in America. Yet only if they are incorporated in America do they pay income tax on their overseas earnings, and it is irrelevant where their engineering and development was done.

It has nothing whatsoever to do with "using infrastructure". It is just an extraterritorial money grab that is almost certainly counterproductive since it incentivizes American companies to invest and create jobs overseas.

Re: Dear Matthew ( Score: 2 , Insightful) by Anonymous Coward writes:

Yes, taxes are based on profits. So Google, for instance, makes a bunch of money in the US. Their Irish branch then charges about that much for "consulting" leaving the American part with little to no profits to tax.

Re: ( Score: 2 ) by SwashbucklingCowboy ( 727629 ) writes:

Oh get real. Companies make it appear that nearly all income is generated overseas in order to get around that. It's mostly a scam.

Re:Dear Matthew ( Score: 4 , Insightful) by msauve ( 701917 ) writes: on Sunday December 25, 2016 @07:45PM ( #53553601 )

"I am baffled why Americans believe they have a "right" to tax the sale of a product made in China and sold in France."

Because the manufacturing and sales are controlled by a US based company, as is the profit benefit which results. If a US entity, which receives the benefits of US law, makes a profit by any means, why should it not be taxed by the US?

[Dec 26, 2016] Scientists Develop Robotic Hand For People With Quadriplegia

Dec 26, 2016 | science.slashdot.org
(phys.org) 22

Posted by BeauHD on Tuesday December 06, 2016 @07:05PM from the muscle-memory dept.

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org:

Scientists have developed a mind-controlled robotic hand that allows people with certain types of spinal injuries to perform everyday tasks such as using a fork or drinking from a cup. The low-cost device was tested in Spain on six people with quadriplegia affecting their ability to grasp or manipulate objects. By wearing a cap that measures electric brain activity and eye movement the users were able to send signals to a tablet computer that controlled the glove-like device attached to their hand. Participants in the small-scale study were able to perform daily activities better with the robotic hand than without, according to results published Tuesday in the journal Science Robotics .

It took participants just 10 minutes to learn how to use the system before they were able to carry out tasks such as picking up potato chips or signing a document. According to Surjo R. Soekadar, a neuroscientist at the University Hospital Tuebingen in Germany and lead author of the study, participants represented typical people with high spinal cord injuries, meaning they were able to move their shoulders but not their fingers. There were some limitations to the system, though. Users had to have sufficient function in their shoulder and arm to reach out with the robotic hand. And mounting the system required another person's help.

[Dec 26, 2016] Autonomous Shuttle Brakes For Squirrels, Skateboarders, and Texting Students

Dec 26, 2016 | tech.slashdot.org
(ieee.org) 74

Posted by BeauHD on Saturday December 10, 2016 @05:00AM from the squirrel-crossing dept.

Tekla Perry writes:

An autonomous shuttle from Auro Robotics is picking up and dropping off students, faculty, and visitors at the Santa Clara University Campus seven days a week. It doesn't go fast, but it has to watch out for pedestrians, skateboarders, bicyclists, and bold squirrels (engineers added a special squirrel lidar on the bumper). An Auro engineer rides along at this point to keep the university happy, but soon will be replaced by a big red emergency stop button (think Staples Easy button). If you want a test drive, just look for a "shuttle stop" sign (there's one in front of the parking garage) and climb on, it doesn't ask for university ID.

[Dec 26, 2016] Robots Are Already Replacing Fast-Food Workers

Dec 26, 2016 | hardware.slashdot.org
(recode.net) 414

Posted by EditorDavid on Sunday December 11, 2016 @05:34PM from the may-I-take-your-order dept.

An anonymous reader quotes Recode:

Technology that replaces food service workers is already here . Sushi restaurants have been using machines to roll rice in nori for years, an otherwise monotonous and time-consuming task. The company Suzuka has robots that help assemble thousands of pieces of sushi an hour. In Mountain View, California, the startup Zume is trying to disrupt pizza with a pie-making machine. In Shanghai, there's a robot that makes ramen , and some cruise ships now mix drinks with bartending machines .

More directly to the heart of American fast-food cuisine, Momentum Machines, a restaurant concept with a robot that can supposedly flip hundreds of burgers an hour , applied for a building permit in San Francisco and started listing job openings this January, reported Eater. Then there's Eatsa, the automat restaurant where no human interaction is necessary, which has locations popping up across California .

[Dec 26, 2016] IBMs Watson Used In Life-Saving Medical Diagnosis

Dec 26, 2016 | science.slashdot.org
(businessinsider.co.id) 83 Posted by EditorDavid on Sunday December 11, 2016 @09:34PM from the damn-it-Jim-I'm-a-doctor-not-a-supercomputer dept.
"Supercomputing has another use," writes Slashdot reader rmdingler , sharing a story that quotes David Kenny, the General Manager of IBM Watson:
"There's a 60-year-old woman in Tokyo. She was at the University of Tokyo. She had been diagnosed with leukemia six years ago. She was living, but not healthy. So the University of Tokyo ran her genomic sequence through Watson and it was able to ascertain that they were off by one thing . Actually, she had two strains of leukemia. They did treat her and she is healthy."

"That's one example. Statistically, we're seeing that about one third of the time, Watson is proposing an additional diagnosis."

[Dec 26, 2016] Latest Microsoft Skype Preview Adds Real-Time Voice Translation For Phone Calls

Notable quotes:
"... Skype Translator, available in nine languages, uses artificial intelligence (AI) techniques such as deep-learning to train artificial neural networks and convert spoken chats in almost real time. The company says the app improves as it listens to more conversations. ..."
Dec 26, 2016 | tech.slashdot.org
(zdnet.com) 37

Posted by msmash on Monday December 12, 2016 @11:05AM from the worthwhile dept.

Microsoft has added the ability to use Skype Translator on calls to mobiles and landlines to its latest Skype Preview app. From a report on ZDNet: Up until now, Skype Translator was available to individuals making Skype-to-Skype calls. The new announcement of the expansion of Skype Translator to mobiles and landlines makes Skype Translator more widely available .

To test drive this, users need to be members of the Windows Insider Program. They need to install the latest version of Skype Preview on their Windows 10 PCs and to have Skype Credits or a subscription.

Skype Translator, available in nine languages, uses artificial intelligence (AI) techniques such as deep-learning to train artificial neural networks and convert spoken chats in almost real time. The company says the app improves as it listens to more conversations.

[Dec 26, 2016] White House: US Needs a Stronger Social Safety Net To Help Workers Displaced by Robots

Dec 26, 2016 | hardware.slashdot.org
(recode.net) 623

Posted by BeauHD on Wednesday December 21, 2016 @08:00AM from the one-day-not-so-far-away dept.

The White House has released a new report warning of a not-too-distant future where artificial intelligence and robotics will take the place of human labor. Recode highlights in its report the three key areas the White House says the U.S. government needs to prepare for the next wave of job displacement caused by robotic automation:

The report says the government, meaning the the incoming Trump administration, will have to forge ahead with new policies and grapple with the complexities of existing social services to protect the millions of Americans who face displacement by advances in automation, robotics and artificial intelligence. The report also calls on the government to keep a close eye on fostering competition in the AI industry, since the companies with the most data will be able to create the most advanced products, effectively preventing new startups from having a chance to even compete.

[Dec 26, 2016] Stanford Built a Humanoid Submarine Robot To Explore a 17th-Century Shipwreck

Notable quotes:
"... IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine ..."
Dec 26, 2016 | hardware.slashdot.org
(ieee.org) 47 Posted by BeauHD on Friday December 23, 2016 @05:00AM from the how-it's-made dept.

schwit1 quotes a report from IEEE Spectrum:

Back in April, Stanford University professor Oussama Khatib led a team of researchers on an underwater archaeological expedition, 30 kilometers off the southern coast of France, to La Lune , King Louis XIV's sunken 17th-century flagship. Rather than dive to the site of the wreck 100 meters below the surface, which is a very bad idea for almost everyone, Khatib's team brought along a custom-made humanoid submarine robot called Ocean One . In this month's issue of IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine , the Stanford researchers describe in detail how they designed and built the robot , a hybrid between a humanoid and an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV), and also how they managed to send it down to the resting place of La Lune , where it used its three-fingered hands to retrieve a vase. Most ocean-ready ROVs are boxy little submarines that might have an arm on them if you're lucky, but they're not really designed for the kind of fine manipulation that underwater archaeology demands. You could send down a human diver instead, but once you get past about 40 meters, things start to get both complicated and dangerous. Ocean One's humanoid design means that it's easy and intuitive for a human to remotely perform delicate archeological tasks through a telepresence interface.

schwit1 notes: "Ocean One is the best name they could come up with?"

[Dec 26, 2016] Slashdot Asks: Will Farming Be Fully Automated in the Future?

Dec 26, 2016 | hardware.slashdot.org
(bbc.com) 278

Posted by msmash on Friday November 25, 2016 @12:10AM from the interesting-things dept.

BBC has a report today in which, citing several financial institutions and analysts, it claims that in the not-too-distant future, our fields could be tilled, sown, tended and harvested entirely by fleets of co-operating autonomous machines by land and air. An excerpt from the article:

Driverless tractors that can follow pre-programmed routes are already being deployed at large farms around the world. Drones are buzzing over fields assessing crop health and soil conditions. Ground sensors are monitoring the amount of water and nutrients in the soil, triggering irrigation and fertilizer applications. And in Japan, the world's first entirely automated lettuce farm is due for launch next year. The future of farming is automated . The World Bank says we'll need to produce 50% more food by 2050 if the global population continues to rise at its current pace. But the effects of climate change could see crop yields falling by more than a quarter. So autonomous tractors, ground-based sensors, flying drones and enclosed hydroponic farms could all help farmers produce more food, more sustainably at lower cost.

[Dec 26, 2016] Self-Driving Trucks Begin Real-World Tests on Ohios Highways

Dec 26, 2016 | news.slashdot.org
(cbsnews.com) 178

Posted by EditorDavid on Sunday November 27, 2016 @04:35PM from the trucking-up-to-Buffalo dept.

An anonymous reader writes:

"A vehicle from self-driving truck maker Otto will travel a 35-mile stretch of U.S. Route 33 on Monday in central Ohio..." reports the Associated Press.

The truck "will travel in regular traffic, and a driver in the truck will be positioned to intervene should anything go awry, Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Bruning said Friday, adding that 'safety is obviously No. 1.'"

Ohio sees this route as "a corridor where new technologies can be safely tested in real-life traffic, aided by a fiber-optic cable network and sensor systems slated for installation next year" -- although next week the truck will also start driving on the Ohio Turnpike.

[Dec 26, 2016] Stephen Hawking: Automation and AI Is Going To Decimate Middle Class Jobs

Dec 26, 2016 | tech.slashdot.org
(businessinsider.com) 468

Posted by BeauHD on Friday December 02, 2016 @05:00PM from the be-afraid-very-afraid dept.

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Business Insider:

In a column in The Guardian , the world-famous physicist wrote that "the automation of factories has already decimated jobs in traditional manufacturing, and the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this job destruction deep into the middle classes , with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining." He adds his voice to a growing chorus of experts concerned about the effects that technology will have on workforce in the coming years and decades. The fear is that while artificial intelligence will bring radical increases in efficiency in industry, for ordinary people this will translate into unemployment and uncertainty, as their human jobs are replaced by machines.

Automation will, "in turn will accelerate the already widening economic inequality around the world," Hawking wrote. "The internet and the platforms that it makes possible allow very small groups of individuals to make enormous profits while employing very few people. This is inevitable, it is progress, but it is also socially destructive." He frames this economic anxiety as a reason for the rise in right-wing, populist politics in the West: "We are living in a world of widening, not diminishing, financial inequality, in which many people can see not just their standard of living, but their ability to earn a living at all, disappearing. It is no wonder then that they are searching for a new deal, which Trump and Brexit might have appeared to represent." Combined with other issues -- overpopulation, climate change, disease -- we are, Hawking warns ominously, at "the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity." Humanity must come together if we are to overcome these challenges, he says.

[Dec 26, 2016] Many CEOs Believe Technology Will Make People Largely Irrelevant

Notable quotes:
"... The firm says that 44 percent of the CEOs surveyed agreed that robotics, automation and AI would reshape the future of many work places by making people "largely irrelevant." ..."
Dec 26, 2016 | it.slashdot.org
(betanews.com) 541

Posted by msmash on Monday December 05, 2016 @02:20PM from the shape-of-things-to-come dept.

An anonymous reader shares a report on BetaNews:

Although artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and other emerging technologies may reshape the world as we know it, a new global study has revealed that the many CEOs now value technology over people when it comes to the future of their businesses . The study was conducted by the Los Angeles-based management consultant firm Korn Ferry that interviewed 800 business leaders across a variety of multi-million and multi-billion dollar global organizations.

The firm says that 44 percent of the CEOs surveyed agreed that robotics, automation and AI would reshape the future of many work places by making people "largely irrelevant."

The global managing director of solutions at Korn Ferry Jean-Marc Laouchez explains why many CEOs have adopted this controversial mindset, saying:

"Leaders may be facing what experts call a tangibility bias. Facing uncertainty, they are putting priority in their thinking, planning and execution on the tangible -- what they can see, touch and measure, such as technology instruments."

[Dec 26, 2016] Microsoft Researchers Offer Predictions For AI, Deep Learning

Dec 26, 2016 | hardware.slashdot.org
(theverge.com) 102

Posted by BeauHD on Tuesday December 06, 2016 @10:30PM from the what-to-expect dept.

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge:

Microsoft polled 17 women working in its research organization about the technology advances they expect to see in 2017 , as well as a decade later in 2027. The researchers' predictions touch on natural language processing, machine learning, agricultural software, and virtual reality, among other topics. For virtual reality, Mar Gonzalez Franco , a researcher in Microsoft's Redmond lab, believes body tracking will improve next year, and then over the next decade we'll have "rich multi-sensorial experiences that will be capable of producing hallucinations which blend or alter perceives reality."

Haptic devices will simulate touch to further enhance the sensory experience. Meanwhile, Susan Dumais , a scientist and deputy managing director at the Redmond lab, believes deep learning will help improve web search results next year.

In 2027, however, the search box will disappear, she says.

It'll be replaced by search that's more "ubiquitous, embedded, and contextually sensitive." She says we're already seeing some of this in voice-controlled searches through mobile and smart home devices.

We might eventually be able to look things up with either sound, images, or video. Plus, our searches will respond to "current location, content, entities, and activities" without us explicitly mentioning them, she says.

Of course, it's worth noting that Microsoft has been losing the search box war to Google, so it isn't surprising that the company thinks search will die. With global warming as a looming threat, Asta Roseway , principal research designer, says by 2027 famers will use AI to maintain healthy crop yields, even with "climate change, drought, and disaster."

Low-energy farming solutions, like vertical farming and aquaponics, will also be essential to keeping the food supply high, she says. You can view all 17 predictions here

.

[Dec 26, 2016] Neoliberalims led to impoverishment of lower 80 pecent of the USA population with a large part of the US population living in a third world country

Notable quotes:
"... Efforts which led to impoverishment of lower 80% the USA population with a large part of the US population living in a third world country. This "third world country" includes Wal-Mart and other retail employees, those who have McJobs in food sector, contractors, especially such as Uber "contractors", Amazon packers. This is a real third world country within the USA and probably 50% population living in it. ..."
"... While conversion of electricity supply from coal to wind and solar was more or less successful (much less then optimists claim, because it requires building of buffer gas powered plants and East-West high voltage transmission lines), the scarcity of oil is probably within the lifespan of boomers. Let's say within the next 20 years. That spells deep trouble to economic growth as we know it, even with all those machinations and number racket that now is called GDP (gambling now is a part of GDP). And in worst case might spell troubles to capitalism as social system, to say nothing about neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization. The latter (as well as dollar hegemony) is under considerable stress even now. But here "doomers" were wrong so often in the past, that there might be chance that this is not inevitable. ..."
"... Shale gas production in the USA is unsustainable even more then shale oil production. So the question is not if it declines, but when. The future decline (might be even Seneca Cliff decline) is beyond reasonable doubt. ..."
Dec 26, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

ilsm -> pgl... December 26, 2016 at 05:12 AM

"What is good for wall st. is good for America". The remains of the late 19th century anti trust/regulation momentum are democrat farmer labor wing in Minnesota, if it still exists. An example: how farmers organized to keep railroads in their place. Today populists are called deplorable, before they ever get going.

And US' "libruls" are corporatist war mongers.

Used to be the deplorable would be the libruls!

Division!

likbez -> pgl...

I browsed it and see more of less typical pro-neoliberal sentiments, despite some critique of neoliberalism at the end.

This guy does not understand history and does not want to understand. He propagates or invents historic myths. One thing that he really does not understand is how WWI and WWII propelled the USA at the expense of Europe. He also does not understand why New Deal was adopted and why the existence of the USSR was the key to "reasonable" (as in "not self-destructive" ) behaviour of the US elite till late 70th. And how promptly the US elite changed to self-destructive habits after 1991. In a way he is a preacher not a scientist. So is probably not second rate, but third rate thinker in this area.

While Trump_vs_deep_state (aka "bastard neoliberalism") might not be an answer to challenges the USA is facing, it is definitely a sign that "this time is different" and at least part of the US elite realized that it is too dangerous to kick the can down the road. That's why Bush and Clinton political clans were sidelined this time.

There are powerful factors that make the US economic position somewhat fragile and while Trump is a very questionable answer to the challenges the USA society faces, unlike Hillary he might be more reasonable in his foreign policy abandoning efforts to expand global neoliberal empire led by the USA.

Efforts which led to impoverishment of lower 80% the USA population with a large part of the US population living in a third world country. This "third world country" includes Wal-Mart and other retail employees, those who have McJobs in food sector, contractors, especially such as Uber "contractors", Amazon packers. This is a real third world country within the USA and probably 50% population living in it.

Add to this the decline of the US infrastructure due to overstretch of imperial building efforts (which reminds British empire troubles).

I see several factors that IMHO make the current situation dangerous and unsustainable, Trump or no Trump:

1. Rapid growth of population. The US population doubled in less them 70 years. Currently at 318 million, the USA is the third most populous country on earth. That spells troubles for democracy and ecology, to name just two. That might also catalyze separatists movements with two already present (Alaska and Texas).

2. Plato oil. While conversion of electricity supply from coal to wind and solar was more or less successful (much less then optimists claim, because it requires building of buffer gas powered plants and East-West high voltage transmission lines), the scarcity of oil is probably within the lifespan of boomers. Let's say within the next 20 years. That spells deep trouble to economic growth as we know it, even with all those machinations and number racket that now is called GDP (gambling now is a part of GDP). And in worst case might spell troubles to capitalism as social system, to say nothing about neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization. The latter (as well as dollar hegemony) is under considerable stress even now. But here "doomers" were wrong so often in the past, that there might be chance that this is not inevitable.

3. Shale gas production in the USA is unsustainable even more then shale oil production. So the question is not if it declines, but when. The future decline (might be even Seneca Cliff decline) is beyond reasonable doubt.

4. Growth of automation endangers the remaining jobs, even jobs in service sector . Cashiers and waiters are now on the firing line. Wall Mart, Shop Rite, etc, are already using automatic cashiers machines in some stores. Wall-Mart also uses automatic machines in back office eliminating staff in "cash office".

Waiters might be more difficult task but orders and checkouts are computerized in many restaurants. So the function is reduced to bringing food. So much for the last refuge of recent college graduates.

The successes in speech recognition are such that Microsoft now provides on the fly translation in Skype. There are also instances of successful use of computer in medical diagnostics. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer-aided_diagnosis

IT will continue to be outsourced as profits are way too big for anything to stop this trend.

[Dec 26, 2016] Michigan Lets Autonomous Cars On Roads Without Human Driver

Notable quotes:
"... Companies can now test self-driving cars on Michigan public roads without a driver or steering wheel under new laws that could push the state to the forefront of autonomous vehicle development. ..."
Dec 26, 2016 | tech.slashdot.org
(go.com) 166

Posted by msmash on Friday December 09, 2016 @01:00PM from the it's-coming dept.

Companies can now test self-driving cars on Michigan public roads without a driver or steering wheel under new laws that could push the state to the forefront of autonomous vehicle development.

From a report on ABC:

The package of bills signed into law Friday comes with few specific state regulations and leaves many decisions up to automakers and companies like Google and Uber. It also allows automakers and tech companies to run autonomous taxi services and permits test parades of self-driving tractor-trailers as long as humans are in each truck . And they allow the sale of self-driving vehicles to the public once they are tested and certified, according to the state. The bills allow testing without burdensome regulations so the industry can move forward with potential life-saving technology, said Gov. Rick Snyder, who was to sign the bills. "It makes Michigan a place where particularly for the auto industry it's a good place to do work," he said.

[Dec 26, 2016] Googles DeepMind is Opening Up Its Flagship Platform To AI Researchers Outside the Company

Dec 26, 2016 | tech.slashdot.org
(businessinsider.com) 22

Posted by msmash on Monday December 05, 2016 @12:20PM from the everyone-welcome dept.

Artificial intelligence (AI) researchers around the world will soon be able to use DeepMind's "flagship" platform to develop innovative computer systems that can learn and think for themselves .

From a report on BusinessInsider:

DeepMind, which was acquired by Google for $400 million in 2014, announced on Monday that it is open-sourcing its "Lab" from this week onwards so that others can try and make advances in the notoriously complex field of AI.

The company says that the DeepMind Lab, which it has been using internally for some time, is a 3D game-like platform tailored for agent-based AI research. [...]

The DeepMind Lab aims to combine several different AI research areas into one environment. Researchers will be able to test their AI agent's abilities on navigation, memory, and 3D vision, while determining how good they are at planning and strategy.

[Dec 26, 2016] Here is my top 5 backup tools in Linux

March 26, 2016 OSTechNix

Data is the backbone of a Company. So, performing backup on regular intervals is one of the vital role of a system administrator. Here is my favourite five backup tools that I use mostly. I won't say these are the best, but these are the backup tools which I considered first when it comes to data backup.

Let me explain some of my preferred backup tools.

1. BACULA

BACULA is a power full backup tool . It is easy to use and efficient in recovering of loss data and damaged files in the local system and remotely. It having rich user interface( UI ) . It works on different cross platforms like windows, and Mac OS X.

Concerning about BACULA features, I can list the following:

  1. SD-SD replication.
  2. Enterprise binaries avaliable for univention.
  3. Restore performance improved for hard data files.
  4. Periodic status on running jobs in Director status report.

BACULA has the following components.

2. FWBACKUPS

FWBACKUPS is the easiest of all backup tools in linux. It having the rich user interface, and also it is a cross platform tool.

One of the notable feature of FWBACKUPS is remote backup. We can backup data from various systems remotely.

FWBACKUPS having some features are listed below.

  1. Simple Interface – Backup and restoring the documents is simple for user.
  2. Cross – platform – It's supports different platforms like windows, and Mac OS X. It restores the data on one system and restores into another system.
  3. Remote backup – All types of files can handle remotely.
  4. Scheduled Backups – Run a backup once or periodically.
  5. Speed – Backups moves faster by copying only the changes.
  6. Organized and clean – It takes care about organized data and removal of expired one. It list the backup to restore from which list of date.
3. RSYNC

RSYNC is a widely used tool for backups in linux. It is a command line backup tool. RSYNC is used to collect data remotely and locally. It is mainly used for automated backup. We can automate backup jobs with scripts.

Some of the notable features are listed below:

  1. It can update whole directory trees and filesystems.
  2. It uses ssh, rsh or direct sockets as the transport.
  3. Supports anonymous rsync which is ideal for mirroring.
  4. We can set bandwidth limit and file size.
4. URBACKUP

URBACKUP is a client/server backup system. It's efficient in client/server backup system for both windows and linux environments. File and image backups are made while the system is running without interrupting current process.

Here is the some features of this tool:

  1. whole partition can be saved as single directory.
  2. Image and file backup are made while system is running.
  3. Fast file and image transmission.
  4. Clients have the flexibility to change the settings like backup frequency. Next to no configuration.
  5. Web interface of URBACKUP is good in showing the status of the clients, current status of backup issues.
5. BACKUP PC

BACKUP PC is high performance, enterprise-grade backup tool. It is a high configurable and easy to install, use and maintain.

It reduces the cost of the disks and raid system. BACKUP PC is written in perl language and extracts data using Samba service.

It is robust, reliable, well documented and freely available as open source on Sourceforge .

Features:

  1. No client side software needed. The standard smb protocol is used to extract backup data.
  2. A powerful web interface provides log details to view log files, configuration, current status and allows user to initiate and cancelled backups and browse and restore files from backups.
  3. It supports mobile environment where laptops are only intermittently connected to the network and have dynamic IP address.
  4. Users will receive email remainders if their pc has not recently been backed up.
  5. Open source and freely available under GPL.

These are the top backup tools that I use mostly. What's your favourite? Let us know in the comment section below.

Thanks for stopping by.

Cheers!

[Dec 26, 2016] Interns At Tech Companies Are Better Paid Than Most American Workers

Dec 26, 2016 | tech.slashdot.org
(qz.com) 158 Posted by msmash on Monday December 05, 2016 @03:00PM from the something-worth-pondering dept. According to a survey conducted by Jesse Collins, a senior at Purdue University and former Yelp intern, interns at tech companies make much more money on an annualized basis than workers in the vast majority of other occupations . From a report on Quartz: About 300 of the nearly 600 people who responded to the survey said they had received internship offers from big companies like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Goldman Sachs for 2017. On average, the internship recipients said they would be paid $6,500 per month, the equivalent of $78,000 per year (the survey is still open, so results may change). Many also said they would receive more than $1,000 worth of stipends per month for housing and travel or signing bonuses. Internships typically run for a summer, but we've annualized the numbers. If the average intern who responded to Collins' survey were to work for a year, he would make $30,000 more than the average annual income for all occupations in the U.S., which is $48,000. Of the 1,088 occupation categories within which the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks average income, workers in only about 200 of them on average make more money in a year than the intern would.

[Dec 05, 2016] Why I left Google -- discussion

Notable quotes:
"... "Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn't invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation," Whittaker wrote. "The fact that no one came to Google's party became the elephant in the room." ..."
"... Isn't it inevitable that Google will end up like Microsoft. A brain-dead dinosaur employing sycophantic middle class bores, who are simply working towards a safe haven of retirement. In the end Google will be passed by. It's not a design-led innovator like Apple: it's a boring, grey utilitarian, Soviet-like beast. Google Apps are cheap - but very nasty - Gmail is a terrible UI - and great designers will never work for this anti-design/pro-algorithms empire. ..."
"... All of Google's products are TERRIBLE except for Gmail, and even that is inferior to Outlook on the web now. ..."
"... I used Google Apps for years, and Google just doesn't listen to customers. The engineers that ran the company needed some corporate intervention. I just think Larry Page tried to turn Google into a different company, rather than just focusing the great ideas into actually great products. ..."
"... It seems the tech titans all have this pendulum thing going on. Google appears to be beginning its swing in the "evil" direction. ..."
"... You claim old Google empowered intelligent people to be innovative, with the belief their creations would prove viable in the marketplace. You then go on to name Gmail and Chrome as the accomplishments of that endeavour. Are you ****** serious? ..."
"... When you arrived at Google it had already turned the internet into a giant spamsense depository with the majority of screen real estate consumed by Google's ads. The downhill spiral did not begin with Google+, but it may end there. On a lighter note, you are now free. Launch a start-up and fill the gaping hole which will be left by the fall of the former giant. ..."
"... Great post. Appreciate the insights the warning about what happens when bottom-up entrepreneurship loses out to top-down corporate dictums. ..."
"... The ability to actually consume shared content in an efficient and productive manner is still as broken as ever. They never addressed the issue in Buzz and still haven't with G+ despite people ranting at them for this functionality forever. ..."
"... Sounds like Google have stopped focusing on what problem they're solving and moving onto trying to influence consumer behaviour - always a much more difficult trick to pull off. Great article - well done for sharing in such a humble and ethical manner. Best of luck for the future. ..."
Apr 02, 2012 | JW on Tech

Whittaker, who joined Google in 2009 and left last month, described a corporate culture clearly divided into two eras: "Before Google+," and "After."

"After" is pretty terrible, in his view.

Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) once gave its engineers the time and resources to be creative. That experimental approach yielded several home-run hits like Chrome and Gmail. But Google fell behind in one key area: competing with Facebook.

That turned into corporate priority No. 1 when Larry Page took over as the company's CEO. "Social" became Google's battle cry, and anything that didn't support Google+ was viewed as a distraction.

"Suddenly, 20% meant half-assed," wrote Whittaker, referring to Google's famous policy of letting employees spend a fifth of their time on projects other than their core job. "The trappings of entrepreneurship were dismantled."

Whittaker is not the first ex-Googler to express that line of criticism. Several high-level employees have left after complaining that the "start-up spirit" of Google has been replaced by a more mature but staid culture focused on the bottom line.

The interesting thing about Whittaker's take is that it was posted not on his personal blog, but on an official blog of Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500), Google's arch nemesis.

Spokesmen from Microsoft and Google declined to comment.

The battle between Microsoft and Google has heated up recently, as the Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission begin to investigate Google for potential antitrust violations. Microsoft, with its Bing search engine, has doubled its share of the search market since its June 2010 founding, but has been unsuccessful at taking market share away from Google.

Microsoft is increasingly willing to call out Google for what it sees as illicit behavior. A year ago, the software company released a long list of gripes about Google's monopolistic actions, and last month it said Google was violating Internet Explorer users' privacy.

Despite his misgivings about what Google cast aside to make Google+ a reality, Whittaker thinks that the social network was worth a shot. If it had worked -- if Google had dramatically changed the social Web for the better -- it would have been a heroic gamble.

But it didn't. It's too early to write Google+ off, but the site is developing a reputation as a ghost town. Google says 90 million people have signed up, but analysts and anecdotal evidence show that fairly few have turned into heavy users.

"Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn't invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation," Whittaker wrote. "The fact that no one came to Google's party became the elephant in the room."

Ian Smith:

Isn't it inevitable that Google will end up like Microsoft. A brain-dead dinosaur employing sycophantic middle class bores, who are simply working towards a safe haven of retirement. In the end Google will be passed by. It's not a design-led innovator like Apple: it's a boring, grey utilitarian, Soviet-like beast. Google Apps are cheap - but very nasty - Gmail is a terrible UI - and great designers will never work for this anti-design/pro-algorithms empire.

Steve

I have to be honest with you. All of Google's products are TERRIBLE except for Gmail, and even that is inferior to Outlook on the web now.

I used Google Apps for years, and Google just doesn't listen to customers. The engineers that ran the company needed some corporate intervention. I just think Larry Page tried to turn Google into a different company, rather than just focusing the great ideas into actually great products.

Matt:

It seems the tech titans all have this pendulum thing going on. Google appears to be beginning its swing in the "evil" direction. Apple seems like they're nearing the peak of "evil".

And Microsoft seems like they're back in the middle, trying to swing up to the "good" side. So, if you look at it from that perspective, Microsoft is the obvious choice.

Good luck!

VVR:

The stark truth in this insightful piece is the stuff you have not written..

Atleast you had a choice in leaving google. But we as users don't.

I have years of email in Gmail and docs and youtube etc. I can't switch.

"Creepy" is not the word that comes to mind when Ads for Sauna, online textbooks, etc suddenly begin to track you, no matter which website you visit.

You know you have lost when this happens..

David:

A fascinating insight, I think this reflects what a lot of people are seeing of Google from the outside. It seems everybody but Page can see that Google+ is - whilst technically brilliant - totally superfluous; your daughter is on the money. Also apparent from the outside is the desperation that surrounds Google+ - Page needs to face facts, hold his hands up and walk away from Social before they loose more staff like you, more users and all the magic that made Google so great.

Best of luck with your new career at Microsoft, I hope they foster and encourage you as the Google of old did.

Raymond Traylor:

I understand Facebook is a threat to Google search but beating Facebook at their core competency was doomed to fail. Just like Bing to Google. I was so disappointed in Google following Facebook's evil ways of wanting to know everything about me I've stopped using their services one at a time, starting with Android.

I am willing to pay for a lot of Google's free service to avoid advertising and harvesting my private data.

root

You claim old Google empowered intelligent people to be innovative, with the belief their creations would prove viable in the marketplace. You then go on to name Gmail and Chrome as the accomplishments of that endeavour. Are you ****** serious?

Re-branding web based email is no more innovative than purchasing users for your social networking site, like Facebook did. Same for Chrome, or would you argue Google acquiring VOIP companies to then provide a mediocre service called Google Voice was also innovative?

When you arrived at Google it had already turned the internet into a giant spamsense depository with the majority of screen real estate consumed by Google's ads. The downhill spiral did not begin with Google+, but it may end there. On a lighter note, you are now free. Launch a start-up and fill the gaping hole which will be left by the fall of the former giant.

RBLevin:

Great post. Appreciate the insights the warning about what happens when bottom-up entrepreneurship loses out to top-down corporate dictums.

Re: sharing, while I agree sharing isn't broken (heck, it worked when all we had was email), it certainly needs more improvement. I can't stand Facebook. Hate the UI, don't care for the culture. Twitter is too noisy and, also, the UI sucks. I'm one of those who actually thinks Google+ got 21st century BBSing right.

But if that's at the cost of everything else that made Google great, then it's a high price to pay.

BTW, you can say a lot of these same things about similar moves Microsoft has made over the years, where the top brass decided they knew better, and screwed over developers and their investments in mountains of code.

So, whether it happens in an HR context or a customer context, it still sucks as a practice.

bound2run:

I have made a concerted effort to move away from Google products after their recent March 1st privacy policy change. I must say the Bing is working just fine for me. Gmail will be a bit tougher but I am making strides. Now I just need to dump my Android phone and I will be "creepy-free" ... for the time being.

Phil Ashman:

The ability to actually consume shared content in an efficient and productive manner is still as broken as ever. They never addressed the issue in Buzz and still haven't with G+ despite people ranting at them for this functionality forever.

Funny that I should read your post today as I wrote the following comment on another persons post a couple days back over Vic's recent interview where someone brought up the lack of a G+ API:

"But if it were a social network.......then they are doing a pretty piss poor job of managing the G+ interface and productive consumption of the stream. It would be nice if there was at least an API so some 3rd party clients could assist with the filtering of the noise, but in reality the issue is in the distribution of the stream. What really burns me is that it wouldn't be that hard for them to create something like subscribable circles.

Unfortunately the reality is that they just don't care about whether the G+ stream is productive for you at the moment as their primary concern isn't for you to productively share and discuss your interests with the world, but to simply provide a way for you to tell Google what you like so they can target you with advertising. As a result, the social part of Google+ really isn't anything to shout about at the moment."

You've just confirmed my fear about how the company's focus has changed.

Alice Wonder:

Thanks for this. I love many of the things Google has done. Summer of code, WebM, Google Earth, free web fonts, etc.

I really was disappointed with Google+. I waited for an invite, and when I finally got one, I started to use it. Then the google main search page started to include google+ notifications, and the JS crashed my browser. Repeatedly. I had to clear my cache and delete my cookies just so google wouln't know it was me and crash search with a notification. They fixed that issue quickly but I did not understand why they would risk their flagship product (search) to promote google plus. The search page really should be a simple form.

And google plus not allowing aliases? Do I want a company that is tracking everything I do centrally to have my real name with that tracking? No. Hence I do not use google+ anymore, and am switching to a different search engine and doing as little as I can with google.

I really don't like to dislike google because of all they have done that was cool, it is really sad for me to see this happening.

Mike Whitehead

Sounds like Google have stopped focusing on what problem they're solving and moving onto trying to influence consumer behaviour - always a much more difficult trick to pull off. Great article - well done for sharing in such a humble and ethical manner. Best of luck for the future.

jmacdonald 14 Mar 2012 4:07 AM great write-up

personally i think that google and facebook have misread the sociological trend against the toleration of adverts, to such an extent that if indeed google are following the 'facebook know everything and we do too' route, i suspect both companies may enter into issues as the advertising CPMs fall and we're left with us wretched consumers who find ways around experiences that we don't want

more on this stuff here: www.jonathanmacdonald.com

and here: www.jonathanmacdonald.com

for anyone that cares about that kinda angle

Mahboob Ihsan:

Google products are useful but probably they could have done more to improve the GUI, Standardization and Usability. You can continue to earn business in short term enjoying your strategic advantage as long as you don't have competitors. But as soon as you have just one competitor offering quality products at same cost, your strategic advantage is gone and you have to compete through technology, cost and quality. Google has been spreading its business wings to so many areas, probably with the single point focus of short term business gains. Google should have learnt from Apple that your every new offering should be better (in user's eye) than the previous one.

Victor Ramirez:

Thanks for the thoughtful blog post. Anybody who has objectively observed Google's behavior and activity over the past few years has known that Google is going in this direction. I think that people have to recognize that Google, while very technically smart, is an advertising company first and foremost. Their motto says the right things about being good and organizing the world's information, but we all know what Google is honestly interested in. The thing that Google is searching for, more than almost anything else, is about getting more data about people so they can get people better ads they'll be more likely to click on so they make more money. Right now, Google is facing what might be considered an existential threat from Facebook because they are the company that is best able to get social data right now. Facebook is getting so much social data that odds are that they're long-term vision is to some point seriously competing in search using this social data that they have. Between Facebook's huge user-base and momentum amongst businesses (just look at how many Super Bowl ads featured Facebook pages being promoted for instance, look at the sheer number of companies listed at www.buyfacebookfansreviews.com that do nothing other than promote Facebook business pages, and look at the biggest factor out there - the fact that Facebook's IPO is set to dominate 2012) I think that Facebook has the first legitimate shot of creating a combination of quality results and user experience to actually challenge Google's dominance, and that's pretty exciting to watch. The fact that Google is working on Google+ so much and making that such a centerpiece of their efforts only goes to illustrate how critical this all is and how seriously they take this challenge from Facebook into their core business. I think Facebook eventually enters the search market and really disrupts it and it will be interesting to see how Google eventually acts from a position of weakness.

Keith Watanabe:

they're just like any company that gets big. you end up losing visibility into things, believe that you require the middle management layer to coordinate, then start getting into the battlegrounds of turf wars because the people hired have hidden agendas and start bringing in their army of yes men to take control as they attempt to climb up the corporate ladder. however, the large war chest accumulated and the dominance in a market make such a company believe in their own invulnerability. but that's when you're the most vulnerable because you get sloppy, forget to stop and see the small things that slip through the cracks, forget your roots and lose your way and soul. humility is really your only constant savior.

btw, more than likely Facebook will become the same way. And any other companies who grow big. People tend to forget about the days they were struggling and start focusing on why they are so great. You lose that hunger, that desire to do better because you don't have to worry about eating pinches of salt on a few nibbles of rice. This is how civilization just is. If you want to move beyond that, humans need to change this structure of massive growth -> vanity -> decadence -> back to poverty.

Anon:

This perceived shift of focus happens at every company when you go from being an idealistic student to becoming an adult that has to pay the bills. When you reach such a large scale with so much at stake, it is easy to stop innovating. It is easy to get a mix of people who don't share the same vision when you have to hire on a lot of staff. Stock prices put an emphasis on perpetual monetization. Let's keep in mind that Facebook only recently IPO'd and in the debate for personal privacy, all the players are potentially "evil" and none of them are being held to account by any public policy.

The shutdown of Google Labs was a sad day. Later the shutdown of Google Health I thought was also sad as it was an example of a free service already in existence, akin to what Ontario has wasted over $1 billion on for E-Health. Surely these closures are a sign that the intellectual capital in the founders has been exhausted. They took their core competencies to the maximum level quickly, which means all the organic growth in those areas is mostly already realized.

There needs to be some torch passing or greater empowerment in the lower ranks when things like this happen. Take a look at RIM. Take a look at many other workplaces. It isn't an isolated incident. There are constantly pressures between where you think your business should go, where investors tell you to go, and where the industry itself is actually headed. This guy is apparently very troubled that his name is attached to G+ development and he is trying to distance himself from his own failure. Probably the absence of Google Labs puts a particular emphasis on the failure of G+ as one of the only new service projects to be delivered recently.

After so much time any company realizes that new ideas can only really come with new people or from outside influences. As an attempt to grow their business services via advertising, the idea that they needed to compete with Facebook to continue to grow wasn't entirely wrong. It was just poorly executed, too late, and at the expense of potentially focusing their efforts on doing something else under Google Labs that would have been more known as from them (Android was an acquisition, not organically grown internally). There is no revolution yet, because Facebook and Google have not replaced any of each others services with a better alternative

The complaints in the final paragraph of the blog regarding privacy are all complaints about how much Google wants to be Facebook. Thing is that Google+ just like all the aforementioned services are opt-in services with a clear ToS declared when you do so, even if you already have a Google account for other services. The transparency of their privacy policy is on par if not better than most other competing service providers. The only time it draws criticism is when some changes have been made to say that if you use multiple services, they may have access to the same pool of information internally. It's a contract and it was forced to be acknowledged when it changed. When advertising does happen it is much more obvious to me that it is advertising via a Google service, than when Facebook decides to tell me who likes what. Not to give either the green light here; but the evolution is one of integrating your network into the suggestions, and again, it isn't isolated to any one agency.

One way to raise and enforce objections to potential mishandling of information is to develop a blanket minimum-requirement on privacy policy to apply to all businesses, regarding the handling of customer information. We are blind if we think Google+ and Facebook are the only businesses using data in these ways. This blanket minimum requirement could be voluntarily adopted via 3rd party certification, or it could be government enforced; but the point is that someone other than the business itself would formulate it, and it must be openly available to debate and public scrutiny/revision. It is a sort of "User License Agreement" for information about us. If James Whittaker left to partake in something along these lines, it sure would make his blog entry more credible, unless Microsoft is focused so much more greatly on innovation than the profit motive.

It is also important for customers and the general public not to get locked into any kind of brand loyalty. One problem is Facebook is a closed proprietary system with no way to forward or export the data contained within it to any comparable system. Google is a mish-mash of some open and some closed systems. In order for us as customers to be able to voice our opinions in a way that such service providers would hear, we must be provided alternatives and service portability.

As an example of changing service providers, there has been an exodus of business customers away from using Google Maps as they began charging money to businesses that want to use the data to develop on top of it. I think that this is just the reality of a situation when you have operating costs for a service that you need to recoup; but there is a royalty-free alternative like Open Street Map (which Apple has recently ripped off by using Open Street Map data without attribution).

Google won't see the same meteoric growth ever again. It probably is a less fun place for a social media development staffer to work at from 2010 to present, than it was from 2004 - 2010 (but I'm betting still preferable to FoxConn or anything anywhere near Balmer).

Linda R. Tindall :

Thank you for your honest comments Mr. Whittaker. And yes, Google is not like it was before..

It is Scary, Google may destroy anyone online business overnight!

Google penalize webmasters if they don't like a Website for any reason. They can put out anyone they want out of business. How does Google judge a webmaster's?

Google's business isn't anymore the search engine. Google's business is selling and displaying ads.

GOOGLE becomes now the Big Brother of the WWW. I think it is scary that Google has so much power. Just by making changes, they can ruin people's lives.

As it turned out, sharing was not broken. Sharing was working fine and dandy, Google just wasn't part of it. People were sharing all around us and seemed quite happy. A user exodus from Facebook never materialized. I couldn't even get my own teenage daughter to look at Google+ twice, "social isn't a product," she told me after I gave her a demo, "social is people and the people are on Facebook."

Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn't invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation. The fact that no one came to Google's party became the elephant in the room.

[Nov 12, 2016] How a Programmer Gets By On $16K-Yr He Moves to Malaysia

Slashdot

Interview With A Digital Migrant Meet John Hunter - Unchartered Waters

John Hunter

"Move to low cost-of-living area of the world, set up shop working remote, work ten hours a week while building a huge nest egg."

Whole books have been published on this model, along with terms like "The Nouveau Rich", people who get to earn wealth while enjoying the easy life.

And yet …

It seems to never actually happen.

Or, at least, it doesn't seem to happen much. Often the people living the "Jimmy Buffett Life" are already millionaires living off interest. Often the person speaking is selling something (perhaps a dream) more than a reality. We can do better.

Then I met John Hunter and learned about his technology business.

John is not independently wealthy. He did not have a big IPO, and does not have have a revenue stream. Nor does he have a best-selling book on, say, how to live cheap.

Instead, he was a practicing programmer and IT program manager who moved from Virginia to Malaysia, on the expectation of taking a year long "sabbatical," and, if he could find a way to make it work, to stay a bit longer.

And Now. John has been in Malaysia for a bit over a year now, with no sign of returning anytime soon.

I thought he was worth talking to, and sharing here.

by Stiletto (12066) writes: on Monday March 18, @06:44PM ( #43208399)

It's not causal. Working long hours does not cause you to be highly paid or wealthy. If that were true, all a vegetable picker would have to do is work 120 hours a week and retire in comfort. A CEO does not make 800X what his average staff makes because he works 800 times as long.

Sadly, on average, the most accurate predictor of someone's income is their father's income.

Re:30 hours per week? (Score:5, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, @08:33PM (#43209445)

It does if you count high school and college and grad school. Tell me, how hard do you think those vegetable pickers were working when they were 16? Were they staying late after school to learn Calculus, or were they cutting class to get high with their homies? Working hard and being smart actually matter. Anyone who says otherwise has never tried either working hard or being smart.

They were probably too busy picking vegetables at 16. They probably study when they can. College? Grad School? With fruit pickin' parents? You really are disconnected from the real world down here aren't you.

Funny, most business owners/CEO's I've met are decent with basic algebra but weak when it comes to calculus, trig, etc.

A.) They know people. (usually part of a boys club at an expensive university)
B.) Have rich fathers
C.) Work hard.

Pick any two of the above and it will fit most CEO's... they also have to be willing to make hard choices at the expense of others to further their agenda.... or perform some CYA.

No, it's because what he knows is 800x as valuable. Not all work is equal. That's one of the many flaws in Marx's philosophy.

So Carly Fiorina's contributions were worth more than a seasoned electronics engineer with 25 years of experience? I think not.

A CEO is a corporate face undeserving of being put on a pedestal unless they built the company they are running with their bare hands in the beginning.

Sadly, on average, the most accurate predictor of someone's income is their father's income.

That's because income is dependent on intelligence and hard work. Intelligence is highly heritable and appreciation for hard work is handed down in successful families.

Spoken like a true wannabe aristocrat. The possibility of being intelligent may be inherited, but actual intelligence isn't. Most trust fund babies I've ever met have been pretty useless except for office political gain. Breeding has nothing to do with being fit for the job.

The hard work that's handed down is soaked in the blood of the people who actually worked for it that were desperate enough to allow themselves to be exploited.

Re:30 hours per week? (Score:5, Funny)

by ColdSam (884768) on Monday March 18, @08:55PM (#43209631)

Ok let's test you theory:

Nicely done. Your rigorous analysis sure proved him wrong.

It takes skill, hard work, ruthless ambition and extreme good luck to get rich and stay there.

Is it okay if we use your method on your own theory?

Paris Hilton - nope

George Bush - nope

gordo3000 Re:30 hours per week? (Score:3)

do you have any sources that say the majority of wealth in this country was inherited? A skimming the forbes richest list show quite a few people who didn't get there via just cashing an inheritance and others who did (walton's family, as the obvious top examples).

I've generally found in 3rd world countries the amount that inheritance matters and who you know matters far more than in the US. In fact, I think the US is the most democratic on this (I've traveled quite a bit and lived abroad, but I've never done hard research, so I'm not saying this is research). But that is relative across countries, to speak towards working towards your wealth and inheriting in an absolute manner is a hard research question. here is what I mean:

Most upper income people I know got there by hard work, but that is not saying parents didn't help them a lot and that those advantages can be passed down. I know doctors and lawyers (as two high income profession classes), all worked hard to get there, some had lots of family money getting them through, others didn't. What I have found is that having family money helps make up for lower qualifications, making upper income a sticky level to be at (though this doesn't speak to super rich families where children never need to work). A great example is poor performance in college. Upper income people can afford to have their children stay in college longer, pay more for tuition, or send them abroad for medical school to get them to being a doctor. Lower income people just have to fight it out onshore.

Re:30 hours per week? (Score:4, Interesting)

by SpaceMonkies (2868125) on Monday March 18, @09:19PM (#43209821)

If you can make $15/hr remotely, I'd suggest Montenegro. Find a place near the sea, you got it made. You might have to work at getting a really great broadband deal, but there are some to be had. If you're single, the women there are beautiful and have sexy accents, you've got the sea and off-season the tourists go away and you can really enjoy the good life. You're a short hop from shopping in Italy, skiing in the Alps and you're still not in the EU (yet). Learn to play tuba in a Balkan horn band. Drink lots of coffee and slivovitza. Go out in your backyard and pick fresh figs for breakfast. Even if swimming in crystal-blue seas is not your idea of fun, you can set yourself down in a sidewalk cafe and watch one Mila Jovovic after another walk by. And there's none of the snobbiness of Western Europe.

Re:

I know that a lot of janitors/custodial service as well as bus drivers that do that. Some people in retail and "health care"/assisted living places work that much too. White collar workers mostly have it "easier" because their jobs pay far more. 50 hours is a bit low, since many of them work weekends too.

udachny

Entrepreneurs!

Entrepreneurs never stop working, off hours, weekends, holidays, those are just words, they don't mean anything when you run a business.

ph1ll

... and I can't find a country called Malysia (please note, editors: it's Malaysia).

I know Malaysia well (even though I live in the UK). I first went there in '97 and married a Malaysian-born woman. Some observations: They really like and respect white people. They don't particularly like Chinese people (my wife is half Chinese so I see rampant discrimination against this large minority - about 25% of Malaysia's population - all the time). The weather is great (although sometimes a little too humid).

Kuala Lumpur is a very advanced city that can compare to anything in the West. Broadband speeds are so-so according to my cousin-in-law. There appears to be a demand for good engineers (according to another cousin-in-law, a Chinese who studied IT in England). So, assuming you can get a visa, getting some interesting work shouldn't be too hard. The political situation there is... interesting. But I get the impression that if you don't cause trouble you will be left alone - especially if you are white.

HTH

Re:What article (Score:5, Interesting)

tlhIngan:

I know Malaysia well (even though I live in the UK). I first went there in '97 and married a Malaysian-born woman. Some observations: They really like and respect white people. They don't particularly like Chinese people (my wife is half Chinese so I see rampant discrimination against this large minority - about 25% of Malaysia's population - all the time). The weather is great (although sometimes a little too humid). Kuala Lumpur is a very advanced city that can compare to anything in the West. Broadband speeds are so-so according to my cousin-in-law. There appears to be a demand for good engineers (according to another cousin-in-law, a Chinese who studied IT in England). So, assuming you can get a visa, getting some interesting work shouldn't be too hard. The political situation there is... interesting. But I get the impression that if you don't cause trouble you will be left alone - especially if you are white.

HTH

The reason is that after the war or so, the first people to start running businesses and such were Chinese (most likely chased out from Singapore by the Japanese), and they got very rich doing so.

The government exploits the fact that a lot of Malaysians are jealous of the Chinese for being successful (which happens because they worked hard at building businesses and such) , so they put up huge campaigns of national identity and such to encourage hatred of the Chinese. However, they government doesn't really do anything about it (they can't - said Chinese businesses pay a good amount of tax and employ a lot of Malays). So basically the Chinese are demonized for being successful and "exploiting" Malays

If you're white, you're usually a tourist or an investor, so you're treated well to get at your $$$. If you're a Chinese investor with $$$, everyone eyes you like you're going to enslave them.

The government feeds off this sentiment and basically just fans the flames. There's no real democracy (there is voting, but the opposition is usually highly discredited, or even arrested if they have a chance of winning - being a Muslim state, there are plenty of "crimes" that one can accuse the Opposition of).

Kagato

That closes the loop on what I noticed about the Chinese in Singapore hating the Japanese. I actually witnessed a shop keeper play dumb with a Japanese trying to buy something using Engrish. Old Japanese guy stormed out in frustration. I go to buy something, no problem, he explained the other guy was Japanese.

I don't know if I would choose Malaysia or Singapore though. Both are kind of strict countries if you run afoul of the local powers that be. Fun to visit, not so much on the living there. I'd hit up Belize. Nice locals, cheap and only 1 hour plane ride to Miami if the shit goes down.

[Nov 12, 2016] How Did You Become a Linux Professional - Slashdot

linux.slashdot.org
August 26, 2012 | Ask Slashdot

fahrbot-bot

Just another tool in the box...

August 26, 2012

I've spent 1/2 my 25+ year career as a "Unix" (you know what I mean) system administrator and the other 1/2 as a Unix system programmer, sometimes application programmer, all with a little (sigh) DOS/Windows thrown in. I've worked on just about every flavor of Unix running on PC class to Cray-2 hardware, usually several at any one time. For most of that time, there were no books on the topics, just man pages and the compiler. Linux is just another tool in my toolbox.

It seems almost universal that every prospective employer only sees the "other" half of my experience - We want a sysadmin, but you're a programmer. We want a programmer, but you're a sysadmin. I simply tell them I do both and I do both well. Resume and references speak for themselves.

I got my first jobs at my university doing LISP research and working in the CS office. First real job because employer liked my school experience (did more than just took classes). It was small company and I did both system programming/admin (on 8 different versions of Unix). Second job, I bumped into professor from school and got job as both Unix system admin/programmer at NASA Langley (super computing network) and another contractor as sysadmin (100+ Sun/SGI workstations); then The New York Times for a few years as Unix sysadmin; now defense contractor (can't say who) for 11 years, because of friend from very first job. Now I work on primarily Solaris, Linux and (sigh, still) Windows systems as a system/application programmer - in about 10 different programming languages - and sysadmin when needed.

All in all, you learn what you need to know and what interests you - sometimes the weirder the better. You never know where it will lead.

There is one definitive: I hate Windows, especially Windows 7 - or as I call it "Windows for Dummies".

CAIMLAS (41445) writes:
it's a bag of tricks (Score:2)
'Linux professional,' I mean anyone in a paid IT position who uses or administers Linux systems on a daily basis.

Being a "Linux Professional" (or as people tend to more often call me, "Linux Guru", damn them) is more about a broad and deep level of experience than it is about 'knowing linux'. For instance, you're going to know the inner workings of how many protocols work; you're going to know how to build your own Linux distro (more or less), and you're going to know how hardware behaves properly. There are many 'professionals' who don't know this, but if you're specializing you've got to know pretty much everything.

Think: RHCE or similar.

Over the past five years, I've developed an affection for Linux, and use it every day as a freelance IT consultant. I've built a breadth of somewhat intermediate skills, using several distros for everything from everyday desktop use, to building servers from scratch, to performing data recovery. I'm interested in taking my skills to the next level - and making a career out of it - but I'm not sure how best to appeal to prospective employers, or even what to specialize in

You'll become a generalist unless you become a "Postfix Administrator" or something like that. That's the most likely first step. You will pick up your specialty over the years, largely depending on which type of systems you're working on.

(I refuse to believe the only option is 'sysadmin,' though I'm certainly not opposed to that).

That's not the only option, but it's the main and first one you'll have to master. Being an architect or systems specialist (mail, dns, filesystems, whatever) is the next step up. It takes a while to get there, and usually requires either a specialized company dealing exclusively with something in that domain, a very large corporation, or contracting.

Specifically, I'm interested in what practical steps I can take to build meaningful skills that an employer can verify, and will find valuable.

This is sorta "LOL". You assume that your employer cares more than anything other than a stable work history and/or specifically applicable experience to what you will be doing on a day in and out basis. It is a rare IT manager who cares more about this, even. Being highly skilled and capable, in a field where your skillset is in demand, is entirely different than being employable doing said work.

So, what do you do, and how did you get there? How did you conquer the catch-22 of needing experience to get the position that gives you the experience to get the position?

You know the right people, or you luck out and get a job in the field right after school. Part of lucking out is knowing the right people.

Every single IT job I've gotten has either been due to the employer being desperate because they have someone vacating a crucial position or expansive growth they can't manage, or through a friend. I've also not gotten jobs through friends, after failing interviews (not enough experience in such-and-such technology or the snap-judgement IT Director not liking me, or any number of other things.)

Did you get certified, devour books and manpages, apprentice under an expert, some combination of the above, or something else entirely?"

Everyone is different in this regard. I personally got a 4 year degree and spent many, many long hours devouring man pages, chatting on technical IRC, experimenting/pushing my envelope, and reading in general. That's the easy part. The hardest part of all of it is breaking into a linux-oriented job, IMO. If you're not in the right market, you've got to get yourself to that market before any of your experience even matters. Knowing the right people is, IMO, key. Personally, it took approximately 5 years of constant trying, experimentation with what works, etc. to get my first 'linux' job - and that was primarily a FreeBSD job, at that. Now I'm working primarily with AIX (just several years later). There is no golden bullet, here, and you will probably find it almost impossible to find your 'ideal' job. (Mine would be doing systems engineering/administration/management in an academic/scientific setting. I've done it for a year so far, and would love to get back to doing it again.)

[Nov 12, 2016] 9 Reasons Why Application Developers Think Their Manager Is Clueless

Aug 15, 2012 | Business Technology Leadership

"My manager is clueless." These are words you don't want to hear if you want to earn the respect of your application development professionals. So how do you avoid being a clueless manager? Steer clear of these behaviors:

1. The manager is a control nut. If you want to be a Controller then get a job in the accounting department. Okay, so maybe you are not a certifiable control nut. Maybe it is just a strategy you are employing because your direct reports can't get the job done. If this is the case, then control is not the solution. Have the courage to replace those managers that aren't strong. Control won't work in the long run anyway.

2. The manager is aloof. Stop thinking about your golf game. You may have a great team-strong individual managers and team chemistry-but your leadership is still necessary to keep things on course (not the golf course). Besides, no matter how much you practice, your golf game will still be mediocre, but you can be at the top of your game as manager if you work at it.

3. The manager gulps vendor Kool-Aid. Did you know that there are more than 34,750 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C., for just 435 representatives and 100 senators? That's 64 lobbyists for each congressperson. I wonder how many vendor account managers there are per manager. You are smart enough to know that vendors are trying to sell you and you won't be fooled wholesale. Yeah right. Their influence can eat away at you without you even realizing it. Be even more skeptical than you are now. Just say no.

4. The manager is a technical dinosaur. Unless you are running for president of the United States, experience does matter. Technology has changed since you were writing RPG on the mainframe umpteen years ago. And for you younger guys who made your bones writing VB or Java Web apps, make sure you know why there is so much buzz about Ruby on Rails and multicore programming. Your ability to talk tech will go a long way to earning the respect of application development professionals.

5. The manager thinks changes can happen overnight. Sorry to have to break this to you: You are not a wizard and your magic wand doesn't work.

6. The manager doesn't know the difference between resources and talent. The fastest way to lose respect is to put clueless managers in charge. Clueless managers equal clueless managers. Can you ever imagine Doc Rivers, coach of the 2008 world champion Boston Celtics, talking about player resources like they were interchangeable? "I need two guard resources." "I need a center resource." No. Talent and teamwork make winning teams. Talent matters. Don't pay lip-service to talent. Find a way to locate and use the talent in your organization. You will only be as good as the team you assemble.

7. The manager collaborates to death. Whether it is the character flaw of being indecisive or some middle-school notion of democracy, you are in charge. Collaboration is critical, but you also need to make the right decision at the right time. Collaborate like Captain Kirk. "Spock?" "Bones?" He gets opinions from his experts but there is never any question about who will make the final decision. And, if you never watched Star Trek then you shouldn't even be a manager.

The real reason managers are clueless (Score:1)
by roster238 (969495) on Tuesday July 01, @08:33PM (#24024329)

The reason why managers are normally clueless is that you have to be competent to recognize incompetence. The folks who normally select senior IT managers are business people who have no understanding of technology whatsoever. The are in fact "technically" incompetent. They choose the person who scares them least.

They want the person with whom that can communicate without being bogged down with any complexities or difficult concepts. They will stay far away from the most knowledgeable and experienced people in favor of someone who laughs and jokes with them about the big game, a television show, or anything else they can understand. They will reject someone with the capability to understand a system from the ground up as not seeing the "big picture". This is why senior IT managers are often unsure that they are getting the bang for the buck that an IT department should bring to the table. It's because they pick the least qualified person to lead based on their personality rather than ability.

On the positive side the senior IT manager who wants to keep his job will find a few key people who really know what they doing and throw money at them to ensure that they don't leave. They are the folks who really run the department by proxy.

[Nov 12, 2016] Business Has Killed IT With Overspecialization by Charlie Schluting

Apr 07, 2010 | Enterprise Networking Planet

What happened to the old "sysadmin" of just a few years ago? We've split what used to be the sysadmin into application teams, server teams, storage teams, and network teams. There were often at least a few people, the holders of knowledge, who knew how everything worked, and I mean everything. Every application, every piece of network gear, and how every server was configured -- these people could save a business in times of disaster.

Now look at what we've done. Knowledge is so decentralized we must invent new roles to act as liaisons between all the IT groups. Architects now hold much of the high-level "how it works" knowledge, but without knowing how any one piece actually does work. In organizations with more than a few hundred IT staff and developers, it becomes nearly impossible for one person to do and know everything. This movement toward specializing in individual areas seems almost natural. That, however, does not provide a free ticket for people to turn a blind eye.

Specialization

You know the story: Company installs new application, nobody understands it yet, so an expert is hired. Often, the person with a certification in using the new application only really knows how to run that application. Perhaps they aren't interested in learning anything else, because their skill is in high demand right now. And besides, everything else in the infrastructure is run by people who specialize in those elements. Everything is taken care of.

Except, how do these teams communicate when changes need to take place? Are the storage administrators teaching the Windows administrators about storage multipathing; or worse logging in and setting it up because it's faster for the storage gurus to do it themselves? A fundamental level of knowledge is often lacking, which makes it very difficult for teams to brainstorm about new ways evolve IT services. The business environment has made it OK for IT staffers to specialize and only learn one thing.

If you hire someone certified in the application, operating system, or network vendor you use, that is precisely what you get. Certifications may be a nice filter to quickly identify who has direct knowledge in the area you're hiring for, but often they indicate specialization or compensation for lack of experience.

Resource Competition

Does your IT department function as a unit? Even 20-person IT shops have turf wars, so the answer is very likely, "no." As teams are split into more and more distinct operating units, grouping occurs. One IT budget gets split between all these groups. Often each group will have a manager who pitches his needs to upper management in hopes they will realize how important the team is.

The "us vs. them" mentality manifests itself at all levels, and it's reinforced by management having to define each team's worth in the form of a budget. One strategy is to illustrate a doomsday scenario. If you paint a bleak enough picture, you may get more funding. Only if you are careful enough to illustrate the failings are due to lack of capital resources, not management or people. A manager of another group may explain that they are not receiving the correct level of service, so they need to duplicate the efforts of another group and just implement something themselves. On and on, the arguments continue.

Most often, I've seen competition between server groups result in horribly inefficient uses of hardware. For example, what happens in your organization when one team needs more server hardware? Assume that another team has five unused servers sitting in a blade chassis. Does the answer change? No, it does not. Even in test environments, sharing doesn't often happen between IT groups.

With virtualization, some aspects of resource competition get better and some remain the same. When first implemented, most groups will be running their own type of virtualization for their platform. The next step, I've most often seen, is for test servers to get virtualized. If a new group is formed to manage the virtualization infrastructure, virtual machines can be allocated to various application and server teams from a central pool and everyone is now sharing. Or, they begin sharing and then demand their own physical hardware to be isolated from others' resource hungry utilization. This is nonetheless a step in the right direction. Auto migration and guaranteed resource policies can go a long way toward making shared infrastructure, even between competing groups, a viable option.

Blamestorming

The most damaging side effect of splitting into too many distinct IT groups is the reinforcement of an "us versus them" mentality. Aside from the notion that specialization creates a lack of knowledge, blamestorming is what this article is really about. When a project is delayed, it is all too easy to blame another group. The SAN people didn't allocate storage on time, so another team was delayed. That is the timeline of the project, so all work halted until that hiccup was restored. Having someone else to blame when things get delayed makes it all too easy to simply stop working for a while.

More related to the initial points at the beginning of this article, perhaps, is the blamestorm that happens after a system outage.

Say an ERP system becomes unresponsive a few times throughout the day. The application team says it's just slowing down, and they don't know why. The network team says everything is fine. The server team says the application is "blocking on IO," which means it's a SAN issue. The SAN team say there is nothing wrong, and other applications on the same devices are fine. You've ran through nearly every team, but without an answer still. The SAN people don't have access to the application servers to help diagnose the problem. The server team doesn't even know how the application runs.

See the problem? Specialized teams are distinct and by nature adversarial. Specialized staffers often relegate themselves into a niche knowing that as long as they continue working at large enough companies, "someone else" will take care of all the other pieces.

I unfortunately don't have an answer to this problem. Maybe rotating employees between departments will help. They gain knowledge and also get to know other people, which should lessen the propensity to view them as outsiders

[Nov 12, 2016] Is the Information Technology Revolution Over

The article was a little too early call... But in 2016 it is definitely over. And degenerated into perversions...
Notable quotes:
"... The problem as I see it and it seems to be everywhere is not nearly enough people paying for custom software development done in house. ..."
"... I used to lead teams that built custom software for internal use. The ROI can be high under the right conditions, but Commercial Off The Shelf is often a better solution. ..."
"... Another reason to avoid custom software is risk mitigation. A business that relies on software built by one "someone on staff" is running a real risk if/when that someone leaves. ..."
"... Vendor which try to capitalize on ignorance of a typical IT management layer. ..."
"... One Unix group manager in a large company that I used to know for example did not understand the fact that IBM Power servers and Intel servers are based on CPU with two different architectures. When at the meeting I realized that my jaw simply dropped. ..."
"... For example for older people a cutting edge computer technology can probably provide the level of service comparable with the level of service of nursing home ..."
"... I also don't think it's even close to over not just because of robotics but also because of machine learning. ..."
Jun 04, 2013 | Economist's View

Quick one, then I have to figure out how to get to Toulouse (missed connection, in Paris now ... but should be able to get there ... long day so far):

Is the Information Technology Revolution Over?, by David M. Byrne, Stephen D. Oliner, and Daniel E. Sichel, FRB: Abstract: Given the slowdown in labor productivity growth in the mid-2000s, some have argued that the boost to labor productivity from IT may have run its course. This paper contributes three types of evidence to this debate. First, we show that since 2004, IT has continued to make a significant contribution to labor productivity growth in the United States, though it is no longer providing the boost it did during the productivity resurgence from 1995 to 2004. Second, we present evidence that semiconductor technology, a key ingredient of the IT revolution, has continued to advance at a rapid pace and that the BLS price index for microprocesssors may have substantially understated the rate of decline in prices in recent years. Finally, we develop projections of growth in trend labor productivity in the nonfarm business sector. The baseline projection of about 1¾ percent a year is better than recent history but is still below the long-run average of 2¼ percent. However, we see a reasonable prospect--particularly given the ongoing advance in semiconductors--that the pace of labor productivity growth could rise back up to or exceed the long-run average. While the evidence is far from conclusive, we judge that "No, the IT revolution is not over."

Comments

Darryl FKA Ron said...
The pickup reflects ongoing advances in IT and an assumption that those gains and innovations in other sectors spur some improvement in multifactor productivity (MFP) growth outside of the IT sector relative to its tepid pace from 2004 to 2012.5 These developments feed through the economy to provide a modest boost to labor productivity growth.

[Using technology to replace people or make them more productive, generally considered the same thing, is one form of productivity increasing technology integration. Automating accounting functions from producing bills to meter reading or selling your goods on the WWW were examples of the revolution of picking low hanging fruit. Using technology to manage systems in ways that people could not realistically accomplish is another way of increasing productivity. From running power production and distribution, traffic lights, and just in time manufacturing integrated with ERP accounting systems from order entry through to shipping and general ledger were other ways of increasing productivity. The green fields of labor replacement have largely been sewn. The green fields of automated systems management are without end. Economists have a limited lens into operations with metrics that often confuse value and price.]

Darryl FKA Ron said in reply to Darryl FKA Ron...
IOW, the MFP is underpriced because its marginal benefits get absorded by price competition.
squidward said in reply to Darryl FKA Ron...
Economists have a limited lens into operations with metrics that often confuse value and price.

That can be very true when looking at it qualitatively. Google or Amazon could be loading your browser with cookies and data mining your online habits to maximize sales. Their increases in revenue don't help the average consumer much other than consume more. It's not quite the same brave new world we had with the advent of online banking, bill paying and 24 hr shopping with home delivery.

I would have to agree that now marginal increases in productivity due to IT aren't giving the same marginal increases in value to the end consumer.

john personna said...
As I understand it, middle class incomes have fallen as productivity has risen. Doesn't that make a productivity centered view much less interesting to compassionate observers?
reason said in reply to john personna...
Not sure, but it makes redistribution more interesting.
Fred C. Dobbs said...

Yesterday I watched three techs work for two hours to get a laser printer going again that had been working fine Friday, but now was down due to 'network problems', so I would have to say, yeah, it could be over.

Julio said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...
I watched the same scene twenty years ago, and it was a crappy dot-matrix printer that cost ten times as much.

What does it all mean?

john personna said in reply to Julio...
I suspect that techs stretched out a ticket, then and now.
Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...

Such problems, which are infrequent, seem to be invariably network-related. Network support techs
are in short supply so 'everything else' is always tried first, even when that doesn't make much sense.

KJMClark said...

If economists at the FRB are still getting paid to ruminate on whether the IT revolution is over, then the IT revolution is not over. We'll know it's nearly over when we're replacing all but the top level of economists with intelligent software. (The top level will be helping the top-level software developers write the software.) We'll know it's completely over when the politicians decide we've had enough of the experiment of replacing people with machines. Or, rather, when we get the intelligent machines' responses to the politicians saying we're done.

ezra abrams said...

ya know, if u economist ever got outta yr offices, and did some real work...
You would find that the gains yet to be realized from the IT revolution are IMMENSE
People like myself, highly paid and educated PhDs, we can all be dispensed with
or, how about an earpiece that in real time tells a trial lawyer, *while s/he is in court*, what ruling he needs to cite to rebut a just made oral argument...

or CAD software that allows automotive design engineers to shave 10% of the weight of a car in an iteritve fashion (lower the weight of one component; therefore suspension can be less sturdy, in turn you then need less horsepower due to the lower wieght...)

or software that can solve Navier stokes for non laminair flow at high reynolds number

i mean, seriously, the it revolution is over ?
I'm sure they said the same thing about RailRoads and the tansportation revolution in, say 1890

jt said...

Couldn't automation lead to declining gross productivity via underemployment of displaced workers into low productivity jobs (services)? In fact, one could argue that the dual mandate of monetary policy will produce exactly this outcome. Labor income distributions seem to confirm this split in the labor market. The more interesting comparison, is in industry that use a lot of IT, has their productivity improved?

Michael Gamble:

Computer technology with out software is just a paperweight. The technology revolution is stalled but not over. The problem as I see it and it seems to be everywhere is not nearly enough people paying for custom software development done in house.

Every company any bigger than a few employees needs someone on staff who manages software purchases, installation and the creation of custom software to make the bridge between a lot of chimerical software, but no one wants to pay for it.

I don't blame them mind you there has been a lot of over hyping going on by the big players in the industry for years. And looking around you would think your entire business could be run from your phone with all the advertising, technology and hype put in to mobile phones?

Observer said in reply to Michael Gamble...
I used to lead teams that built custom software for internal use. The ROI can be high under the right conditions, but Commercial Off The Shelf is often a better solution. It depends. My off the cuff guess is that custom is hard to justify for a small business, except in very special cases.

Custom software that actually supports business critical processes tends to be quite expensive, with reason.

Another reason to avoid custom software is risk mitigation. A business that relies on software built by one "someone on staff" is running a real risk if/when that someone leaves.

Part of the unwillingness to pay is that people's expectations are influenced by consumer software price points, $0 to a few hundred dollars.

Jerry said...
A secondary inhibiter might be the growing mess in the software patent world. There seems to be an increasing reluctance to make an investment because of the patent toes that might get tweaked.
squidward said in reply to Jerry...

This is very true, the whole tech industry is a mess with antiquated patent law. You have to wonder how many products aren't being brought to market because a smaller company can't afford to get in a heavy weight patent brawl a la Samsung v. Apple.

I'm no expert but I have always wondered why writing code isn't more analogous to copyrighting than inventing and patenting. If we could incentivize more open source we could have more innovation.

Second Best said...

For the US, much of the IT revolution was over after the major carriers killed the internet revolution in its tracks, and it ain't coming back anytime soon.

See 'Captive Audience' by Susan Crawford.

kievite said...

Situation is enterprise datacenters definitely corresponds to definition of stagnation. We see a lot of cost cutting.

Percentage of custom software is small and getting smaller as Observer already noted above. Programmers are disappearing from the enterprise IT departments.

At the same time a new dangerous trend is in place. Some "of-the-shelf" packages on which enterprise depends are problematic with some subsystems close to junk or even harmful (SAP/R3, some IBM products, etc). Moreover there is now a new type of enterprise software vendors who are specializing in selling completely useless or even harmful software on the pure strength of marketing (plus fashion). Vendor which try to capitalize on ignorance of a typical IT management layer.

Like Kolmogorov once said "You can't overestimate the level of ignorance of the audience". That was about different audience, but fully applicable here. So snake oil salesmen in IT are making good money, may be better than honest sailmen.

But the problems with "off-the-shelf" packages are increasing due to their often unwarranted complexity (which serves mainly as barrier of entry for competitors), or just complexity for the sake of complexity.

This and the fact that generally software is a the most complex artifact invented by mankind lead to the level of understanding of existing packages and operating systems that can be called dismal. Even people who "should know" often look like coming from the pages of "The Good Soldier Švejk" or "Catch 22". One Unix group manager in a large company that I used to know for example did not understand the fact that IBM Power servers and Intel servers are based on CPU with two different architectures. When at the meeting I realized that my jaw simply dropped.

People who saw the software evolution from its humble beginning and can understand internals and nature of compromises taken in existing hardware and software are now close to retirement and in the new generation such people are exceedingly rare.

That is true for operating systems such as Linux or Solaris, this is even more true for web-related software such as Apache, MediaWiki, Frontpage, etc. As a result a lot of things are "barely run" and a lot of system are bought just because people have no clue that already bought systems can perform the same functions.

This is also true about Office, especially Excel. One think that I noticed that the level of knowledge of Excel is really dismal across the enterprise. I would agree with "squidward" that for office (but only for office) "I would have to agree that now marginal increases in productivity due to IT aren't giving the same marginal increases in value to the end consumer. ". But that's for office only. Cars, homes, etc are still "terrra incognita".

But while internally everything looks rotten, externally situation looks different: there is unending assault of automation on existing jobs. So JT is on something when he asks the question "The more interesting comparison, is in industry that use a lot of IT, has their productivity improved?" Yes and to the extend that many workforce cuts are permanent and moreover cuts might continue.

As for statement "For the US, much of the IT revolution is over" I doubt it. Computer will continue to eat jobs. The "cutting edge" simply moved elsewhere and one hot area are various robotic systems. Here is one example:

"IBM is using robots based on iRobot Create, a customizable version of the Roomba vacuum cleaner, to measure temperature and humidity in data centers. The robot looks for cold zones (where cold air may be going to waste instead of being directed to the servers) and hotspots (where the air circulation may be breaking down. IBM is putting the robots to commercial use at partners - while EMC is at an early stage on a strikingly similar project."

Both home and datacenter are huge application areas. Even in consumer electronics what we have is still very primitive in comparison with what is possible on the current hardware. That is true for smartphones, tablets and other mass gargets. And it is even more true for home. For example for older people a cutting edge computer technology can probably provide the level of service comparable with the level of service of nursing home. Automated cook who accepts a simple menu and deliver dishes is already feasible automation. Currently the cost will be high but gradually it will drop and quality of service improves.

One interesting area is saving energy. How many people here have home network which integrates thermostat, outdoor and indoor lights, and security system. And probably nobody here has computer automated shades on windows.

Autonomous datacenters with robot service are in my opinion an interesting development which in many cases can serve as "distributed cloud".

Sunny Liu said in reply to kievite...

I agree. That was a wonderfully informative post, and thank you for that. I also don't think it's even close to over not just because of robotics but also because of machine learning. The implications for data mining and big data are enormous, and the research being done in those fields are still yet to be fully utilized.

Right now, machine learning and big data are advancing research in biology, but what about the optimizations possible in pharmaceuticals or manufacturing?

geoff

not sure if this qualifies as IT. Not even sure if that is a meaningful distinction, but as a distributor I can't help thinking that 3D printers will have a profound impact on both manufacturing and distribution.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-05-16/bloomberg-view-why-3d-printing-can-make-the-world-a-better-place

The issue now becomes whether the technology will transform manufacturing more broadly. At the moment, 3D printing is a small part of the economy. The printers are typically slow, and the material they use is expensive and inconsistent. As the industry advances, however, printing on demand could reduce assembly lines, shorten supply chains, and largely erase the need for warehouses for many companies. Cutting back on shipping and eliminating the waste and pollution of traditional manufacturing could be an environmental boon.

Kaleberg

The software revolution is over, just the same way the written word revolution ended in 1900.

Tom Shillock:

Does increased labor productivity increase living standards? What if the products are lower quality and either must be disposed of sooner than if they were of higher quality or incur greater lifecycle service costs than if they were of higher quality? If increased productivity degrades the natural environment (air, water, soil, food) are living standards increased? If productivity numbers increase because more people are unemployed or under employed or suffer stagnant or lower wages from globalization has the standard of living increased?

Looking at aggregate data glosses losers and winners. For the last three decades the winners are relatively fewer in number but grabbing a greater share of GDP, while the loser are vastly greater in number and have fewer opportunities to be winners other than through random luck (marriage, inheritance, connections).

Is IT innovation necessarily good or more productive? The increase in semiconductor performance (pick your metric) at a given price, or even lower price, will not increase productivity if you already have all the IT performance you can use. In some cases, it might reduce productivity. E.g., having larger hard drives means more data will be collected (data collects to fill the space available: Shillock's Second Law of Storage). Unless one has efficient methods to keep track of it all then searching for it will reduce productivity. Also, access and seek times have not improved linearly with capacity. Another hit to productivity from IT. This is why the Fed's incorporation of a "hedonic index" for microprocessors into its price index muddies the water (c.f. p. 8)

What if some IT innovation gives a company a competitive edge such as happened in finance? Others are compelled to adopt it ASAP but that does not necessarily make the financial industry more productive. Indeed, it facilitated fraud on a massive scale that caused the Great Recession while leaving insiders vastly wealthier for it. It could be argued that IT innovations have facilitated the increasing and increasingly server financial crises over the past three decades, if only because they create the delusion among users that they know more than they do thereby feeding their hubris.

The Dictatorship of Data http://www.technologyreview.com/news/514591/the-dictatorship-of-data/

Most of the gains to productivity from IT are in two areas. First, is that large financial and reservation systems. These run on IBM mainframes. The second is the application of smaller computers to manufacturing to run tools. The vast amount of PC level IT probably reduces productivity because most people do not know how to use it. Word processors allow more people to take more time making their emails and interoffice memos grammatically better and with fewer spelling errors. Most people have little clue how to use spreadsheets, even Rinehart and Rogoff were challenged. PowerPoint and similar PC apps are great for enabling the incompetent and ignorant to appear otherwise, which accounts for their popularity. They are the lingua franca of IBM. So far Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. are a great waste of time for the neurotically self-conscious and self-important.

Economics is a literary genre in which contestants focus only on the numbers and usually those they like then use their imaginations to spin stories about the numbers. Audiences then vote on which story they find most pleasing.

[Nov 06, 2016] Backup and restore using tar

www.unix.com
Q:

tar -cjpf /backup /bin /etc /home /opt /root /sbin /usr /var /boot

When i include the / directory it also tar's the /lib /sys /proc /dev filesystems too (and more but these seem to be problem directories.)

Although i have never tried to restore the /sys /proc and /dev directories I have not seen anyone mention that your cant restore /lib but when i tried the server crashed and would not even start the kernel (not even in single user mode).

Can anyone let me know why this happened and provide a more comprehensive list of directories than the 4 mentioned as to what should and shouldn't be backed up and restored? Or point me to a useful site that might explain why you should or shouldn't backup each one?

A:
There's no point in backing-up things like /proc because that's the dynamic handling of processes and memory working sets (virtual memory).

However, directories like /lib, although problematic to restore on a running system, you would definitely need them in a disaster recovery situation. You would restore /lib to hard disk in single user or cd boot mode.

So you need to backup all non-process, non-memory files for the backup to be sufficient to recover. It doesn't mean, however, that you should attempt to restore them on a running (multi-user) system.

Full Hard-Drive Backup with Linux Tar

[Nov 06, 2016] How to restore a backup from a tgz file in linux

serverfault.com

Antonio Alimba Jun 9 '14 at 13:01

How can i restore from a backup.tgz file generated from another linux server on my own server? I tried the command the following command:
tar xvpfz backup.tgz -C /

The above command worked, but it replaced the existing system files which made my linux server not to work properly.

How can i restore without running into trouble?

You can use --skip-old-files command to tell tar not to overwrite existing files.

You could still run into problem with the backup files, if the software versions are different between the two servers. Some data file structure changes might have happened, and things might stop working.

A more refined backup process should be developed.

[Nov 04, 2016] Coding Style rear-rear Wiki

Reading rear sources is an interesting exercise. It really demonstrates attempt to use "reasonable' style of shell programming and you can learn a lot.
Nov 04, 2016 | github.com

Relax-and-Recover is written in Bash (at least bash version 3 is needed), a language that can be used in many styles. We want to make it easier for everybody to understand the Relax-and-Recover code and subsequently to contribute fixes and enhancements.

Here is a collection of coding hints that should help to get a more consistent code base.

Don't be afraid to contribute to Relax-and-Recover even if your contribution does not fully match all this coding hints. Currently large parts of the Relax-and-Recover code are not yet in compliance with this coding hints. This is an ongoing step by step process. Nevertheless try to understand the idea behind this coding hints so that you know how to break them properly (i.e. "learn the rules so you know how to break them properly").

The overall idea behind this coding hints is:

Make yourself understood

Make yourself understood to enable others to fix and enhance your code properly as needed.

From this overall idea the following coding hints are derived.

For the fun of it an extreme example what coding style should be avoided:

#!/bin/bash for i in `seq 1 2 $((2*$1-1))`;do echo $((j+=i));done



   

Try to find out what that code is about - it does a useful thing.

Code must be easy to read Code should be easy to understand

Do not only tell what the code does (i.e. the implementation details) but also explain what the intent behind is (i.e. why ) to make the code maintainable.

Here the initial example so that one can understand what it is about:

#!/bin/bash # output the first N square numbers # by summing up the first N odd numbers 1 3 ... 2*N-1 # where each nth partial sum is the nth square number # see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_number#Properties # this way it is a little bit faster for big N compared to # calculating each square number on its own via multiplication N=$1 if ! [[ $N =~ ^[0-9]+$ ]] ; then echo "Input must be non-negative integer." 1>&2 exit 1 fi square_number=0 for odd_number in $( seq 1 2 $(( 2 * N - 1 )) ) ; do (( square_number += odd_number )) && echo $square_number done

Now the intent behind is clear and now others can easily decide if that code is really the best way to do it and easily improve it if needed.

Try to care about possible errors

By default bash proceeds with the next command when something failed. Do not let your code blindly proceed in case of errors because that could make it hard to find the root cause of a failure when it errors out somewhere later at an unrelated place with a weird error message which could lead to false fixes that cure only a particular symptom but not the root cause.

Maintain Backward Compatibility

Implement adaptions and enhancements in a backward compatible way so that your changes do not cause regressions for others.

Dirty hacks welcome

When there are special issues on particular systems it is more important that the Relax-and-Recover code works than having nice looking clean code that sometimes fails. In such special cases any dirty hacks that intend to make it work everywhere are welcome. But for dirty hacks the above listed coding hints become mandatory rules:

For example a dirty hack like the following is perfectly acceptable:

# FIXME: Dirty hack to make it work # on "FUBAR Linux version 666" # where COMMAND sometimes inexplicably fails # but always works after at most 3 attempts # see http://example.org/issue12345 # Retries should have no bad effect on other systems # where the first run of COMMAND works. COMMAND || COMMAND || COMMAND || Error "COMMAND failed."

Character Encoding

Use only traditional (7-bit) ASCII charactes. In particular do not use UTF-8 encoded multi-byte characters.

Text Layout Variables Functions Relax-and-Recover functions

Use the available Relax-and-Recover functions when possible instead of re-implementing basic functionality again and again. The Relax-and-Recover functions are implemented in various lib/*-functions.sh files .

test, [, [[, (( Paired parenthesis See also

[Oct 12, 2016] Crash: how computers are setting us up for disaster

Oct 12, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

Guardian (resilc). Today's must read.

[Sep 12, 2016] Linux.com CLI Magic Bash complete

Notable quotes:
"... Shashank Sharma is studying for a degree in computer science. He specializes in writing about free and open source software for new users. He is the co-author of Beginning Fedora , published by Apress. ..."
Sep 12, 2016 | www.linux.com

CLI Magic: Bash complete

By Shashank Sharma on May 08, 2006 (8:00:00 AM)


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Comment on this article Comments

The auto complete feature of the Bourne Again SHell makes bash one of the most loved and newbie-friendly Linux shells. Just by pressing the Tab key you can complete commands and filenames. Press the Tab key twice and all files in the directory get displayed. But you can do more with autocomplete -- such as associating file types with applications, and automatically designating whether you're looking for directories, text, or MP3 files. With simple commands such as complete and the use of Escape sequences, you can save time and have fun on the command line. You can use the dollar sign ($) , tilde (~) , and at (@) characters along with the Tab key to get quick results in autocomplete.

For instance, if you want to switch to the testing subdirectory of your home directory, you can either type cd /ho[Tab]/tes[Tab] to get there, or use the tilde -- cd ~tes[Tab] . If the partial text -- that is, the portion before you press Tab -- begins with a dollar sign, bash looks for a matching environment variable. The tilde tells bash to look for a matching user name, and the at-sign tells it to look for a matching hostname.

Escaping is good

The Tab key can complete the names of commands, files, directories, users, and hosts. Sometimes, it is overkill to use the Tab key. If you know that you are looking for a file, or only user names, then use the Escape key instead for completion, as it limits bash's completion field.

You can use several Escape key combinations to tell bash what you are looking for. Invoke Escape key combinations by pressing a key while keeping the Escape key pressed. When looking for a file, you can use the Esc-/ (press / along with Escape) key combination. This will attempt filename completion only. If you have one file and one directory beginning with the letter 'i,' you will have to press the Tab key twice to see all the files:

$ less i <tab><tab>
ideas im articles/

When you type less i and press '/' while keeping the Escape key pressed, bash completes the filename to 'ideas.'

While Control key combinations work no matter how long you keep the Ctrl key pressed before pressing the second key, this is not the case with Escape key sequences. The Esc-/ sequence will print out a slash if you delay in pressing the / key after you press the Escape key.

You can also use Escape along with the previously discussed $ , ~ , and @ keys. Esc-$ , for example, completes only variable names. You can use Esc-! when you wish to complete command names. Of course you need to press the Shift key in order to use any of the "upper order" characters.

Wildcard expansion
The asterisk (*), caret (^), and question mark (?) are all wildcard characters. All *nix shells can perform wildcard expansion. Use the asterisk wildcard if you don't wish to view any hidden files. ls * would display all files and directories in the current directory except for those beginning with a dot (hidden).

If you wish to view only files with five-letter names beginning with a given letter, use the question mark wildcard. ls p???? will display only files with names with five letter files starting with 'p.' You can also use the square brackets for filename completion. ls [a-d]* displays all files and directories that begin with any letter between 'a' and 'd.' The caret wildcard excludes files. mv *[^.php] ../ would move all files to the parent directory, exculding those with .php extension.

Even smarter completion

By default, Tab completion is quite dim-witted. This is because when you have already typed cd down before pressing Tab, you'd expect bash to complete only directory names. But bash goes ahead and displays all possible files and directories that begin with 'down.'

You can, however, convert bash into a brilliant command-reading whiz. As root, edit the /etc/bash.bashrc file. Scroll down to the end of the file till you see the section:

# enable bash completion in interactive shells #if [ -f /etc/bash_completion ]; then # . /etc/bash_completion #fi

Uncomment this section and voilà, you have given bash powers far beyond your imagination! Not only is bash now smart enough to know when to complete only directory names, it can also complete man pages and even some command arguments.

Don't despair if you don't have root previleges. Just edit the last section of your ~/.bashrc file.

Associating application with file types

The complete command in bash lets you associate file types with certain applications. If after associating a file type to an application you were to write the name of the application and press Tab, only files with associated file types would be displayed.

complete -G "*.txt" gedit would associate .txt files with gedit. The downfall of using complete is that it overwrites bash's regular completion. That is, if you have two files named invoice.txt and ideas.txt, gedit [Tab][Tab] displays both the files, but gedit inv[Tab] , which should complete to invoice.txt, no longer works.

complete associations last only for the current bash session. If you exit and open a console, gedit will no longer be associated with .txt files. You need to associate file types to applications each time you start a new console session.

For permanent associations, you need to add the command to one of the bash startup scripts, such as ~/.bashrc. Then, whenever you are at the console, gedit will be associated with .txt files.

Shashank Sharma is studying for a degree in computer science. He specializes in writing about free and open source software for new users. Shashank Sharma is studying for a degree in computer science. He specializes in writing about free and open source software for new users. He is the co-author of Beginning Fedora , published by Apress.

[Jul 14, 2016] Maintenance release of MC with LUA support

Jul 14, 2016 | typo.co.il
A new release of mc^2 is out. It's mainly a maintenance release,
so there aren't many exciting new features.

    http://www.typo.co.il/~mooffie/mc-lua/docs/html/

News:

The C side:

  - The branch is rebased against mc 4.8.17.

The Lua side:

  - A few minor bug fixes.

  - New module: "dynamic skin"

    It lets you change the skin automatically depending on
    the directory you're in.

    So, for example, when you're examining an old backup disk
    you've mounted, or when you're on a remote machine, or when
    you're browsing a panelized or filtered listing, or when
    you're in a read-only directory, you can get a very
    noticeable visual indication reminding you of this.

  - New module: "colon"

    It lets you type :commands :like :these on the
    command-line (or in the editor). Like in 'vi'.
    E.g., you can rename files by typing:

        :s/\.jpe?g/jpg/i

    (This launches Visual Rename, where you can inspect
    the changes before committing them.)

  - The snapshots module can now save/restore panelized listings.
_______________________________________________
mc-devel mailing list
https://mail.gnome.org/mailman/listinfo/mc-devel

[Jul 14, 2016] mc-4.8.17 released

Notable quotes:
"... Copy & move operations now use an adaptive buffer, just like the corresponding coreutils commands, which will significantly improve the performance (hopefully!) for many of our users. ..."
www.midnight-commander.org

This is a maintenance release that includes bugfixes for a bunch of very annoying bugs that surfaced in the previous version (FISH, patchfs, segfault and tcsh detection on FreeBSD) and brings several new features.

Copy & move operations now use an adaptive buffer, just like the corresponding coreutils commands, which will significantly improve the performance (hopefully!) for many of our users. Move to the new high-level mouse API has not only simplified our code, but also resolved a number of long-standing mouse bugs. Finally, the new panel centered scrolling mode is weird, but fun; try it out!

For a detailed list of changes since the last version, please refer to the release notes.

Download page: http://ftp.midnight-commander.org/?C=N;O=D

Major changes since 4.8.16

Core

VFS

Editor

Misc

[Jun 26, 2016] Hillary Clinton email scandal shines light on specter of shadow IT

Notable quotes:
"... Surely, The State Department had an enterprise-grade email solution in place in 2013. We can only hope that Clinton protected her personal accounts with something more sophisticated than "Chelsea1980". ..."
"... 52% of IT executives said they don't have processes in place to manage outside sources, such as Dropbox in Vision Solutions' 2015 State of Resilience Report . Meanwhile, 70% of employees that use Dropbox do so solely for work, according to a 2013 Forrester report, and shadow IT appeared as a concern for the first time in the 2015 SIM IT Trends Study . ..."
"... Former FBI Director Robert Mueller said in 2012, "There are only two types of companies: those that have been hacked and those that will be." ..."
"... What kind of security risks does shadow IT create for your organisation? What happens when an employee uses the same password for both personal and enterprise accounts and hackers target that person's personal account? ..."
"... Their low-security Google Drive password just created a big headache for your organisation. ..."
"... Sourced from Bob Dvorak, founder and president, ..."
Mar 6, 2015 | Information Age

Consumer-grade and insecure applications can make headlines – and not in a good way

...This revelation should have public and private sector IT pros questioning their policies and practice around shadow IT – those programs outside of the formal control of the information technology department.

The Times wrote: "Her expansive use of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach."

Surely, The State Department had an enterprise-grade email solution in place in 2013. We can only hope that Clinton protected her personal accounts with something more sophisticated than "Chelsea1980".

IT has an important job, and keeping tabs on the personal email accounts of executives or high-ranking officials should be the least of their worries. However, with 783 reported data breaches in 2014, according to The Identity Theft Resources Center, shadow IT is a strategic IT issue that is too important to ignore.

The topic raises an important issue around policy and practice of shadow IT, individual or departmental use of consumer-grade applications, such as personal email accounts, and cloud storage, departmental (or individual) SaaS accounts, even employee social media activity. All fall within this category in an age where the lines between work life and personal life are increasingly blurred.

While there may be individual, departmental or even organisational benefits to some elements of shadow IT, there are both operational and security risks associated with it and professionals' use of consumer grade tools for email, cloud storage and other services. CIOs and IT leaders need to be vigilant in developing, instituting and enforcing corporate IT governance policies and procedures.

52% of IT executives said they don't have processes in place to manage outside sources, such as Dropbox in Vision Solutions' 2015 State of Resilience Report. Meanwhile, 70% of employees that use Dropbox do so solely for work, according to a 2013 Forrester report, and shadow IT appeared as a concern for the first time in the 2015 SIM IT Trends Study.

...Gartner reported in its 2015 CIO Agenda that shadow IT consumes as much as 20% of a company's IT resources and, for the first time, respondents to the SIM IT Trends Study included shadow IT among their list of management concerns.

So what happens when Dropbox experiences downtime, as it did in January of last year? How do businesses react? What happens to the customer data, financial data or important documents they stored there?

When nearly two-thirds of organisations using the cloud reported not having HA or DR solutions for their enterprise applications, according to Vision Solutions, you can imagine how low the number must be for companies actively able to recover from, or are even monitoring, employee activity in the cloud.

The small matter of security

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller said in 2012, "There are only two types of companies: those that have been hacked and those that will be."

What kind of security risks does shadow IT create for your organisation? What happens when an employee uses the same password for both personal and enterprise accounts and hackers target that person's personal account?

Their low-security Google Drive password just created a big headache for your organisation.

You may not face a public records request that brings the specter of shadow IT in your organisation to light, but publicly traded corporations have internal control requirements to consider and private companies are notoriously protective of their intellectual property and confidential information.

All it takes is one instance and your company can be front-page news – and not in a good way.

Sourced from Bob Dvorak, founder and president, KillerIT

[Jun 26, 2016] Hillary Clinton takes shadow IT mainstream by Larry Dignan

Notable quotes:
"... Now let's strip away all the politics, sniping and legality over Clinton's email practices. What you have is shadow IT for official business and a State Department without the IT clout to stop it. You could argue with all the NSA snooping that Clinton's own email infrastructure was warranted. ..."
"... Security issues often are tossed aside for convenience. For Clinton it was a homemade email server. For the rest of us it's a personal cloud storage account. ..."
"... In the end, the Clinton email flap will play out for months. There will be hearings and non-stop election coverage about it. Just keep in mind what you're witnessing is shadow IT at a grand scale ..."
March 4, 2015 | ZDNet / Between the Lines

Hillary Rodham Clinton is in one big email mess, but if you zoom out and look at her as any other employee you have a leading example of shadow IT at play.

Hillary Rodham Clinton reportedly ran her own email server out of her house and now is in the middle of political firestorm. For our purposes, Clinton has provided us with the most high-profile case of shadow IT practices. And the first lesson of shadow IT is that the techies aren't going to push around the top execs. For the folks in business tech, the concept of shadow IT isn't exactly new. You're the CIO. Your other C-level peers have had their own cloud services provisioned for years. Developers have Amazon's cloud on a corporate Amex. It started with an innocuous printer under a desk. Then went to a server. Then smartphones to cloud services. People bring their own devices, apps and business practices with them to work.

Hell, the poor CIO is just finding out about some of these things.

Enter Clinton. According to the Associated Press, Clinton ran her own email as a Cabinet-level official. Enter records laws and all sorts of concerns. On the bright side, Clinton at least wasn't using a public email server. She at least earns some techie props for that.

Now let's strip away all the politics, sniping and legality over Clinton's email practices. What you have is shadow IT for official business and a State Department without the IT clout to stop it. You could argue with all the NSA snooping that Clinton's own email infrastructure was warranted.

Boil this down to Clinton as an employee and you have the following.

  1. Clinton was a top exec and those folks often get to push IT around. How do you think the iPad and iPhone became an enterprise juggernaut? You guessed it. The CEO wanted one.
  2. The email infrastructure Clinton ran was techie, but how many of you are conducting work on personal accounts? Thought so. You may not have federal records laws, but you're ignoring IT policies almost daily.
  3. Security issues often are tossed aside for convenience. For Clinton it was a homemade email server. For the rest of us it's a personal cloud storage account.

In the end, the Clinton email flap will play out for months. There will be hearings and non-stop election coverage about it. Just keep in mind what you're witnessing is shadow IT at a grand scale

[Jun 26, 2016] Hillary clintons private email account hacked the perils of shadow IT

www.tripwire.com

According to the Washington Post, the worst scenario may have come true when hacker "Guccifer" reportedly released several emails pertaining to Benghazi, which appear to be between Sidney Blumenthal and Hillary Clinton at the "clintonemail.com" domain. The domain was registered January 2009 through Network Solutions.

clintondomain

Looking a bit deeper at the MX records for the domain they map to a service run by McAfee:

clintonemail2

MX Logic was acquired by McAfee in June of 2009 and is now part of McAfee's SaaS offerings. So, it looks like someone knew what they were doing at some level to modify the MX records to use McAfee's service.

However, the risk of this email account being compromised is significant and one wonders who else aside from Guccifer may have had access to sensitive communications.

Before we pick on Hillary Clinton too much, we should evaluate how common this practice is. If the goal is to circumvent a regulatory requirement and is putting communications at risk, these shadow IT practices should be evaluated government-wide.

tonyE

This is a security breakdown at a very high level.

From personal experience I can tell you that any emails that are classified MUST be routed via very specific networks.

For the SecState to use a private network is a breakdown of security at the HIGHEST LEVEL.

She is guilty of a very serious crime, there is simply no way for her to excuse herself.

Also, how about all the people who were communicating with her? Surely they knew they were breaking the law... ( and I&#039m not talking about the records, I&#039m talking about a security breach at the highest level of our nation).

[Jun 25, 2016] Clinton's e-mail scandal another case of the entitled executive syndrome

Notable quotes:
"... And lest we forget, well before Clinton came to the State Department, members of the George W. Bush administration used a private e-mail server (at gwb43.com) run and paid for by the Republican National Committee-at least 88 accounts were set up for Bush administration officials in order to bypass the official White House e-mail system and avoid the regulations around presidential record retention, the Federal Records Act, and the Hatch Act (which bans the use of government e-mail accounts for political purposes, among other things). In the process of using that system, more than 5 million e-mail messages were "lost," which led to the resignation of a number of White House officials, including Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove. None of the e-mails for 51 of the 88 accounts was preserved by the RNC. ..."
"... Clinton was well aware of the Bush administration e-mail fiasco before she was nominated and confirmed as Secretary of State. She even told the State Department's assistant secretary for diplomatic security that she "gets it" after being briefed on why there were problems with her using a BlackBerry. ..."
"... Sure, the State Department's IT support is not exactly customer-centric. But its IT department has supported BlackBerry devices for unclassified e-mail in the past, and if Clinton could have dealt with sticking to using a computer while inside the State Department secure compartmented information facility (SCIF) and using a BlackBerry for unclassified e-mail, the State Department could have probably accommodated her. It was purely about Clinton's discomfort about using a PC for e-mail and her desire to use e-mail just like she did while running for office. ..."
"... So, as the State Department Office of the Inspector General reported, she paid a State Department staffer (who had worked for her directly in the past) off the books to create a shadow e-mail service of her own, and she used a personal BlackBerry not configured to State Department security standards to carry out official business. Having had a BlackBerry and the full control offered by private e-mail service during her presidential campaign in 2008, Clinton knew what she wanted, and she was going to have it whether it was approved or not. And she provided the same shadow e-mail service to her core staff as well-taking all of their communications off the grid and out of federal oversight. ..."
"... Besides, Clinton's excuse basically boils down to this: other people broke the rules, so she should have been allowed to as well. It's the entitled executive syndrome writ large. ..."
arstechnica.com

A certain class of executives wants a specific phone supported or special IT support for their chosen staff, and they want it now, rules and regulations be damned. "Yes" is the only answer they ever hear, and they will keep asking until they hear it-either from the IT department or from someone who will do it for them on the side. When I worked in IT, particularly when I moved up to a role as a "director of IT strategy" at a previous employer, these requests for special treatment happened so frequently we started calling it the "entitled executive syndrome." No matter how many times I explained the laws of physics and the limits of our budget and capabilities, I was told to find a way to make it happen… or come up with a creative workaround.

Sure, there's often a reason for dissatisfaction with the organizational norm. But skirting the norm can create all sorts of regulatory and legal headaches-Sarbanes-Oxley-related ones are the most common in the corporate IT world. Looking at the government sector, shadow IT has constantly gotten people in trouble for a host of other reasons: federal records laws, Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) violations, and privacy violations. For example, in 2010, doctors at a Department of Veterans Affairs got caught using Google and Yahoo cloud calendar services to schedule surgeries, breaching the security of health care data. They used it because it was more convenient than the VA's internal shared calendar system.

And lest we forget, well before Clinton came to the State Department, members of the George W. Bush administration used a private e-mail server (at gwb43.com) run and paid for by the Republican National Committee-at least 88 accounts were set up for Bush administration officials in order to bypass the official White House e-mail system and avoid the regulations around presidential record retention, the Federal Records Act, and the Hatch Act (which bans the use of government e-mail accounts for political purposes, among other things). In the process of using that system, more than 5 million e-mail messages were "lost," which led to the resignation of a number of White House officials, including Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove. None of the e-mails for 51 of the 88 accounts was preserved by the RNC.

Clinton was well aware of the Bush administration e-mail fiasco before she was nominated and confirmed as Secretary of State. She even told the State Department's assistant secretary for diplomatic security that she "gets it" after being briefed on why there were problems with her using a BlackBerry.

As previous e-mails obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests have shown, Clinton pushed hard to get the State Department's information security officers to approve her use of a mobile device for e-mail and do it from inside the State Department's secure executive suite-largely on the grounds that she was uncomfortable using a PC. The National Security Agency suggested she use an approved secure device capable of doing Secret-level classified e-mail as well as official unclassified e-mail. But the State Department was unprepared for the cost of supporting such a device, and its IT department didn't have the resources (nor, likely, the skills) in-house to support it.

Sure, the State Department's IT support is not exactly customer-centric. But its IT department has supported BlackBerry devices for unclassified e-mail in the past, and if Clinton could have dealt with sticking to using a computer while inside the State Department secure compartmented information facility (SCIF) and using a BlackBerry for unclassified e-mail, the State Department could have probably accommodated her. It was purely about Clinton's discomfort about using a PC for e-mail and her desire to use e-mail just like she did while running for office.

So, as the State Department Office of the Inspector General reported, she paid a State Department staffer (who had worked for her directly in the past) off the books to create a shadow e-mail service of her own, and she used a personal BlackBerry not configured to State Department security standards to carry out official business. Having had a BlackBerry and the full control offered by private e-mail service during her presidential campaign in 2008, Clinton knew what she wanted, and she was going to have it whether it was approved or not. And she provided the same shadow e-mail service to her core staff as well-taking all of their communications off the grid and out of federal oversight.

Clinton's excuse for her decision, which she now calls a mistake, was:

But no other secretary of state before her used e-mail as heavily, and the regulations regarding preserving e-mail records have changed over the past two decades. Condoleezza Rice did not use a personal e-mail account, according to the OIG report; she used a BlackBerry, but it was State Department issued. Madeline Albright never even sent e-mails. And while Colin Powell did use a personal e-mail account, the State Department was just getting Internet-connected e-mail at the time (on a system called OpenNet).

Besides, Clinton's excuse basically boils down to this: other people broke the rules, so she should have been allowed to as well. It's the entitled executive syndrome writ large.

[Jun 25, 2016] Clinton email flap highlights issues of shadow IT by Aaron Boyd

Notable quotes:
"... "The reality is that every organization has a BYOD program - whether they think they do or not," Stevens said. "Now's the time to shore up the systems and enable mobility without sacrificing security." ..."
March 4, 2015 | .federaltimes.com

"I can recall no instance in my time at the National Archives when a high-ranking official at an executive branch agency solely used a personal email account for the transaction of government business," former NARA Director of Litigation Jason Baron told the Times.

While pundits and politicians are debating the ethics and legality of this, it also raises questions about the security of Clinton's communications.

"This news is yet another example of the lines blurring between work and personal lives and should serve as a wake-up call to federal IT departments," said Bob Stevens, vice president of federal systems at Lookout. "This trend towards mobility has clear benefits but it also adds a nuanced layer to not just email security, but all security."

Stevens noted that mobile devices, by their nature, move about and touch multiple networks as they do so. Since some networks are less secure than others, it becomes even more important to use secure programs and services to communicate.

"The reality is that every organization has a BYOD program - whether they think they do or not," Stevens said. "Now's the time to shore up the systems and enable mobility without sacrificing security."

Subsequent reports revealed that Clinton maintained her own server, but whether that server was more or less secure than commercial or federal email offerings is still unknown.

[Jun 25, 2016] The Perils of Shadow IT Your Most Senior Executives Are Doing It

Notable quotes:
"... In fact, according to the survey respondents, the average company already uses 20+ SaaS applications - think about it: Asana, Dropbox, Skype, Basecamp, Apple iCloud, Gmail, LastPass, not to mention your Facebooks and Twitters. But of those 20 or so SaaS platforms, more than 7 are non-approved. So, "…upwards of 35 percent of all SaaS apps in your company are purchased and used without oversight." ..."
"... Instead of losing sleep over perceived risk, companies must develop clear and concise policies governing cloud computing and SaaS usage. And don't stone me for saying it, but IT departments shouldn't exclusively own this exercise. Today, most executive level employees are well versed in SaaS, and they are probably well aware of what systems and platforms their teams are using day to day. ..."
duckduckgo.com
They say any press is good press, and the ruling is still out as to whether or not Hillary Clinton knowingly broke any laws when she used a private, home based email account for official State business as Secretary of State. She admitted on Tuesday that she had made a mistake and should've created two email accounts: a government one and a personal one. Still, one thing is clear: When the story broke last week, the entire world was talking about the latest threat to corporate security: shadow IT.

For those of you heavily immersed in the tech side of running a business, this won't be news to you. But for many business executives and CEOs the idea of classified information being run through outside servers or software can be chilling.

Basically, Shadow IT, also known as Stealth IT, describes solutions and SaaS, specified and deployed by departments other than the organizations own IT department.

As far back as 2012, IT research and advisory company Gartner was predicting that 35 percent of enterprise IT expenditures for most organizations would be managed outside the IT department's budget by 2015. Surely today, based on the innovations in technology which have occurred in 2012, that number's even higher.

And if you think the blame lies with those hipster millennials and their "always on" lifestyle, you would be wrong.

The Enemy Is Us

According to a 2014 study by Stratecast and Frost & Sullivan and based on input from organizations in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, the biggest users of Shadow IT services are IT executives and employees.

Now extrapolate that fact across your organization, to other executives, managers, and employees, and you can see just how quickly those numbers begin to add up.

In fact, according to the survey respondents, the average company already uses 20+ SaaS applications - think about it: Asana, Dropbox, Skype, Basecamp, Apple iCloud, Gmail, LastPass, not to mention your Facebooks and Twitters. But of those 20 or so SaaS platforms, more than 7 are non-approved. So, "…upwards of 35 percent of all SaaS apps in your company are purchased and used without oversight."

So, if you can't blame the millennials, who or what can you blame?

You can blame technology.

Get Off'a My Cloud

More to the point, you can blame the rise of cloud computing. As with most things in life, that which can benefit us the most, can also harm us.

With more and more companies adopting BYOD policies (often also referred to as BYOC, or cloud), it's no surprise that Shadow IT isn't really in the shadows anymore. Which probably isn't news to any of you.

In fact, as the study discovered, Shadow IT is now being perceived as an important step in innovation, opening new channels of development for businesses, and reducing overall costs.

Here's why:

Of course, these are in addition to the direct benefits to a corporate IT department: No monies paid out in development costs, maintenance, testing, upgrades capacity planning, or performance management. Plus, backup and recovery of data and infrastructure is generally also the responsibility of the platform's vendor.

Manage Your Risk

So, where does that leave us? With remote working, job sharing, file sharing, and BYOD policies becoming commonplace, along with the rise of mobile and the ever evolving technological advances happening around us daily, it's a little too late to shut that barn door.

And, contrary to how nefarious the term Shadow IT "feels," it appears most employees who "go rogue" and use unapproved SaaS during work hours are doing so with the best of intentions: They simply want to do their jobs, as efficiently and as cost effectively as possible. What's not to like about that?

They're not doing it just because, either. These are generally speaking a smart group of people who want to get things done. They cite reasons like quickly gaining access to the right tools, overall comfort level with certain apps and platforms, and, perhaps most importantly, the desire to avoid a steep learning curve and the waste of time conquering such a learning curve entails if forced to adopt something new.

I think the responsibility today in handling cloud computing and unregulated corporate SaaS usage lies squarely with each organization. As we need to look inward to see who's really performing this Shadow IT (our own executive, managers, and IT people), we also need to look inward when it comes to corporate policies and guidelines. Because most companies today don't have any.

Instead of losing sleep over perceived risk, companies must develop clear and concise policies governing cloud computing and SaaS usage. And don't stone me for saying it, but IT departments shouldn't exclusively own this exercise. Today, most executive level employees are well versed in SaaS, and they are probably well aware of what systems and platforms their teams are using day to day.

The ideal approach to Shadow IT is to collaborate. We've got to break down silos between IT and the rest of the organization, and involve all areas of your organization to work together to create best practices and help put the right policies in place to minimize corporate risk. Think outside the box. Remain flexible. Be prepared to drop old-school "firewall" thinking. And remember, the end-goal really is to improve business outputs and add to the bottom line of the organization.

Was Clinton breaking the law with her Shadow IT efforts? I don't know. The State Department's email system is known to be vulnerable to hackers. But what I do know is she was leaps and bounds ahead of Romney and Palin, who conducted official business on free email services from Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.

Sometimes, perspective really is everything.

What do you think? Are you aware of any Shadow IT occurring in your organization? What do you think would be the most important things to include in policies and guidelines supporting SaaS usage? I would love to know your thoughts in the comment section.

This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. For more on these topics, visit Dell's thought leadership site PowerMore . Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don't necessarily represent Dell's positions or strategies.

[Jun 25, 2016] Hillary Clinton's Shadow IT Problem

Notable quotes:
"... Again, the point here is not that Clinton should have ditched the secure, government system in order to use her phone of choice. In her circumstances, the security concerns should have outweighed her personal comfort. But for many, the desire to stick with tech that they know and love is often counter to logic, efficiency, security and policy. And most of us work in environments where bucking the system isn't quite as dire as it could be for the nation's top diplomat. ..."
"... " Shadow IT " is technology that users install without company approval because they prefer it to what's offered. What I know is that I can't secure my network if it's packed with technology that my users hate. ..."
March 20, 2016 | Techcafeteria
...Judicial Watch, a conservative foundation looking for evidence that Clinton broke laws in her handling of the email, received some fascinating information in response to a recent FOIA request.

Upon joining the State Department in early 2009, Clinton immediately requested a Blackberry smartphone. Having used one extensively during her 2008 Presidential campaign, she, like almost every attorney in that decade, had fallen in love with her Blackberry, hence the request. After all, Condoleezza Rice, her predecessor as Secretary of State, had used one. President Obama had a special secure one that the NSA had developed for him. But they said no. Even after being called to a high level meeting with Clinton's top aide and five State Department officials, they still said no.The NSA offered Clinton an alternative. But it was based on Windows CE, a dramatically different, less intuitive smartphone operating system. A month later, Clinton started using her own server. Judicial Watch claims that this info proves that Clinton knew that her email was not secure, but I think that she has already admitted that. But it also reveals something much more telling.

As a three plus decade technology Director/CIO (working primarily with Attorneys), I can tell you that people get attached to specific types of technology. I know a few Attorneys who still swear to this day that Wordperfect 5.1 for DOS was the best word processing software ever released. And there are millions who will tell you that their Blackberry was their virtual right arm in the 2000's.

How devoted are people to their favorite applications and devices? I worked for a VP who was only comfortable using Word, so when she did her quarterly reports to the board, she had her assistant export huge amounts of information from our case management system. Then she modified all of it in Word. Once delivered, she had her assistant manually update the case management system in order to incorporate her changes. Efficient? Not at all. But she loved herself some Word. I've seen staff using seven year old laptops because they know them and don't want to have to learn and set up a new one. And it wasn't until the bitter end of 2014 that both my boss and my wife finally gave in and traded up their Blackberries for iPhones.

Again, the point here is not that Clinton should have ditched the secure, government system in order to use her phone of choice. In her circumstances, the security concerns should have outweighed her personal comfort. But for many, the desire to stick with tech that they know and love is often counter to logic, efficiency, security and policy. And most of us work in environments where bucking the system isn't quite as dire as it could be for the nation's top diplomat.

"Shadow IT" is technology that users install without company approval because they prefer it to what's offered. What I know is that I can't secure my network if it's packed with technology that my users hate. Smart people will bypass that security in order to use the tools that work for them. An approach to security that neglects usability and user preference is likely to fail. In most cases, there are compromises that can be made between IT and users that allow secure products to be willingly adopted. In other cases, with proper training, hand-holding, and executive sponsorship, you can win users over. But when we are talking about Blackberries in the last decade, or the iPhone in this one, we have to acknowledge that the popularity of the product is a serious factor in adoption that technologists can't ignore. And if you don't believe me, just ask Hillary Clinton.

[Jun 25, 2016] How to Turn Hillary Clintons Shadow IT Habits into Opportunity

Notable quotes:
"... Hillary Clinton has quickly become the public face of so-called "shadow IT" practices, which already affects almost every organization ..."
"... In other words, shadow IT is the unapproved, unmanaged solution that frustrated employees (and government officials) turn to when official systems don't meet their needs. In Chua's view, it's simply a good idea to take this bull by the horns, identify the pain points people are trying to avoid, and meet those needs through official channels instead. ..."
"... "Heavy-handed approaches are not going to eliminate shadow IT, it'll just go farther underground," ..."
"... In other words, a light touch might do wonders to tame the shadow IT beast even where strict policy edicts fail. And this lesson needs to be absorbed by a very large audience. ..."
The Motley Fool

... there's also a big upside to Clinton's home-brew email solution getting national attention. Hillary Clinton has quickly become the public face of so-called "shadow IT" practices, which already affects almost every organization -- from small and medium businesses to enterprise-class giants, and onward to the government behemoth. It's high time investors and business managers take a closer look at this trend, so let's thank her for opening the debate.

... ... ...

"I think we're at a point in time where companies can no longer ignore shadow IT," Chua said. "They need to put official policies in place, start talking to employees about what they need, make sure that these needs are aligned with the business.

"If they don't, then people can start creating their own solutions and create this whole shadow IT problem."

In other words, shadow IT is the unapproved, unmanaged solution that frustrated employees (and government officials) turn to when official systems don't meet their needs. In Chua's view, it's simply a good idea to take this bull by the horns, identify the pain points people are trying to avoid, and meet those needs through official channels instead.

"This is definitely an opportunity to sit up and take action," Chua explained. "The IT industry is moving away from cookie-cutter solutions with help desk tickets and red tape around everything. This debate gives IT departments a chance to say, 'Hey, different business units have different needs. I'm going to create a baseline framework, but I'll be agile and respond to the various needs of different units.'"

Chua's comments underscore a growing sentiment among IT industry professionals. Talking to the CIO magazine this week, Deputy Chief Technology Officer Steve Riley of data networking specialist Riverbed Technology (NASDAQ:RVBD) expanded on the problem. "Heavy-handed approaches are not going to eliminate shadow IT, it'll just go farther underground," Riley said. "There's no positive outcome for being a disciplinarian about something like this. You might end up with services that are even more dangerous, where people now actively seek to circumvent policies."

How the solutions fit the problem

In other words, a light touch might do wonders to tame the shadow IT beast even where strict policy edicts fail. And this lesson needs to be absorbed by a very large audience.

According to Softchoice's data collection, over 80% of organizations -- businesses, corporations, churches, you name it -- already see some members stepping outside the formal IT structure to enjoy the convenience of cloud-based public services.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is a popular provider with tools including Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) might lose some software license sales to other cloud providers, but its Windows Azure and SkyDrive services are also leaders in their own right.

Sure, some of these service choices already have the official support of the IT department. But one-third of all users in a large Softchoice audit program recently reported employing tools such as SkyDrive or Google Calendar at work -- without so much as notifying the IT department.

The shadow IT market seems to open up a very large business opportunity for software-as-a-service providers such as Google and Microsoft. Managing these tools in a properly approved and budgeted fashion will help in closing boatloads of security and transparency concerns. And that way, they could soak up the demand for unofficial email servers and unapproved data warehouses running in some random employee's garage, beyond the reach of corporate firewalls.

Final words

A flexible approach to systems management can help businesses and government agencies make the most of their resources. There will always be rogue systems and maverick users, but acknowledging this reality can help contain the problem -- and maybe turn it into a strength instead.

Sweeping shadow IT under the rug, on the other hand, only opens up the door to more security leaks and the next Clinton-style transparency scandal.

[Apr 21, 2016] For Mental Health, Bad Job Worse than No Job by Matt McMillen

Notable quotes:
"... Unemployed people who found a job that rated well in these areas reported a substantial improvement in their mental health. By contrast, newly employed people who felt overwhelmed, insecure about their employment, underpaid, and micromanaged reported a sharp decline in their mental health, including increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Even those who couldn't find a job fared better. This last finding was "striking," Butterworth says. "This runs counter to a common belief that any job offers psychological benefits for individuals over the demoralizing effects of unemployment." ..."
"... Policymakers should address the impact that the workplace has on mental - and not just physical - health, Butterworth says. "In the same way that we no longer accept workplaces that are physically unsafe or in which employees are exposed to dangerous or toxic substances, there could be a greater focus on ensuring a more positive psychosocial environment at work." ..."
March 14, 2011 | Health.com

With unemployment still high, job seekers who have been discouraged by a lack of work might be inclined to take the first opportunity they're offered. That will help pay the bills, but it could cause other problems: A new study suggests that some jobs are so demoralizing they're actually worse for mental health than no [...]

With unemployment still high, job seekers who have been discouraged by a lack of work might be inclined to take the first opportunity they're offered. That will help pay the bills, but it could cause other problems: A new study suggests that some jobs are so demoralizing they're actually worse for mental health than not working at all.

The findings add a new wrinkle to the large body of research showing that being out of work is associated with a greater risk of mental health problems. In the study, which followed more than 7,000 Australians over a seven-year period, unemployed people generally reported feeling calmer, happier, less depressed, and less anxious after finding work, but only if their new jobs were rewarding and manageable.

"Moving from unemployment to a poor-quality job offered no mental health benefit, and in fact was more detrimental to mental health than remaining unemployed," says the lead author of the study, Peter Butterworth, PhD, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University, in Canberra.

The study was published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Butterworth and his colleagues analyzed data from an annual survey in which participants described their mental state, their employment status, and-for those with a job-details of the working conditions that they enjoyed (or didn't enjoy, as the case may be). The survey respondents were asked how strongly they agreed with statements such as "My job is complex and difficult" and "I worry about the future of my job."

The researchers focused on four job characteristics that are closely linked with mental health: the complexity and demands of the work, job security, compensation, and job control (i.e., the freedom to decide how best to do the job, rather than being ordered around).

Unemployed people who found a job that rated well in these areas reported a substantial improvement in their mental health. By contrast, newly employed people who felt overwhelmed, insecure about their employment, underpaid, and micromanaged reported a sharp decline in their mental health, including increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Even those who couldn't find a job fared better.

This last finding was "striking," Butterworth says. "This runs counter to a common belief that any job offers psychological benefits for individuals over the demoralizing effects of unemployment."

Although certain types of jobs-such as working in a customer-service call center-are more likely to be downers, the working environment tends to have a greater impact on mental health than the job description itself, Butterworth adds.

Managers are especially important to employee well-being, says Robert Hogan, PhD, an expert on personality in the workplace and a former chair of the department of psychology at the University of Tulsa. "Bad bosses will make anybody unhappy," Hogan says. "Stress comes from bad managers."

Policymakers should address the impact that the workplace has on mental - and not just physical - health, Butterworth says. "In the same way that we no longer accept workplaces that are physically unsafe or in which employees are exposed to dangerous or toxic substances, there could be a greater focus on ensuring a more positive psychosocial environment at work."

[Mar 23, 2016] How to Lay Off An Employee - the Right Way

Their dirty ways: " One day last October, when employees at Cenovus Energy showed up at the office, many discovered that they couldn't access their computer files on the company's internal system. That's how they found out they were being laid off.
Alberta Oil Magazine
How to Lay Off An Employee - the Right Way

Companies that fought to attract and keep staff have been learning the hard way how to shed them in a hurry. But that doesn't mean it can't – and shouldn't – be done right

One day last October, when employees at Cenovus Energy showed up at the office, many discovered that they couldn't access their computer files on the company's internal system. That's how they found out they were being laid off. Two months earlier, employees at Hutchison Ports Australia in Sydney and Brisbane got a text message, then an email in the middle of the night inviting them to a beachside hotel. They, too, were being laid off.

Cenovus called its move a mistake. Hutchison Ports Australia said it had begun its consultations with staff and unions regarding redundancies in June. Whatever the explanation, companies need to start approaching layoffs more carefully. And though everyone in the energy business is hoping the bloodletting is over, if it isn't, there are ways to soften the blow of layoffs, and do them fairly and transparently.

Communication

A company should keep its employees informed of the economic forces acting on the business and their employment prospects, says Martin Birt, president of HRaskme.com and a human resources consultant with 30 years in the business. "Closures should never, in my view, be a surprise," he says. Neither should layoffs. You can communicate messages with your employees such as how decisions will be made in what Birt calls a "long-game communications plan," a set of HR principles that will be applied should anything be decided regarding the company's long-term employment potential. That way, employees have some context as to what to expect when market circumstances change.

If you choose not to share your long-game communications plan in your employee manual, when speaking to the people you're laying off, at least communicate how, why and when you made the decision, Birt says. Your actions will get back to suppliers, contractors and layoff survivors. And if you've communicated fairly and awarded appropriate compensation and benefits, the external environment will understand what kind of corporate citizen you are.

Listen to Your Experts

Involve the correct teams – operations, human resources and legal – and involve them as early in the decision-making process as possible, says Birt. These teams will protect you as a corporation from any liability associated with a layoff.

Soften the Blow

Henry Hornstein is an assistant professor at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario's Algoma University, specializing in organizational change management. In the early 1990s, he was among the staff let go from Imperial Oil's Strathcona refinery. "It was not pleasant," says Hornstein, "but the way Imperial Oil handled that at the time cushioned the blow." They provided him with a year's worth of salary and benefits, and services with an outplacement firm. These included resumé writing, interview training and networking support. "Rather than treating people as commodities, people are treated compassionately," says Hornstein of the experience. You can provide your employees with psychological support in addition to proper severance, benefits and outplacement services, he says. Consider offering group meetings where people can talk to others about the negative psychological impacts of downsizing that they've experienced. "Downsizing is a significant assault on an individual's self-esteem Everybody has a story, and when somebody is downsized, the organization can [seem to] take an approach that they don't care what the background story is, they just want to get rid of the people." says Hornstein. Birt agrees, saying companies should be prepared to offer an employee assistance program (EAP), a short-term counseling service for employees in need of support. This can also add a buffer against the company's liability.

Confidentiality

Having said that, to maintain confidentiality, limit the planning group to only those whose participation is necessary, says Birt. Consider using specific project-related confidentiality agreements, as well, and clearly describe the consequences for breaching confidentiality. He also suggests reminding participants with pre-existing confidentiality agreements of the terms of those agreements. If you are a publicly traded company, you should know if you are required to first inform the markets of your actions. If that is the case, managers must be prepared to communicate with employees immediately after informing the markets.

Finalize the Details

Before you deliver the news of layoffs, finalize all the details with human resources and legal, including severance, benefits and pension entitlements, says Birt. You'll be prepared to immediately answer individual questions. Everything you say orally in a termination meeting should be captured in a termination letter as well, he says. However, give terminated employees a few days to review their termination package and ask any questions, says Fraser Johnson, a professor at the Ivey School of Business in London, Ontario. "As soon as you hear the words that you're being laid off, your mind might go blank," he says.

Share the Pain

Rather than targeting employees with layoffs, share the cuts across the corporation, just as Canadian Natural Resources did when all staff pay was cut by up to 10 percent. Or, introduce flexible work arrangements like part-time work, voluntary leaves of absence, or deferred compensation in which an employee can work full-time at 80 percent salary for several years before taking a paid sabbatical.

[Jan 09, 2016] How people survive when economy dies

Notable quotes:
"... His motto (which he shares with me every other day), is, "Never throw anything away". And damned if he can't find exactly what I need when I come over to scrounge at what I call, "Our Store". ..."
"... We wear our clothes out and watch what we buy. We don't travel by air, and limit trips to local visits with family. In the future, perhaps this will be the norm for most instead of today's extravagent consumption which is thought of as normal for Canadians and a birthright. ..."
"... Perhaps as a group, as a species, it seems as if we never learn and make the same and even greater mistakes over and over. But as individuals we can try to do things better, live better; until we can't go on. That is my plan, and I am sticking with it until I can't go on. ..."
"... the banjo prevailed and damned if it isn't getting better. I am well on the way to mastering (to use that term loosely) an Iris Dement version of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms", "I can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash, and "I Believe In You" by Don Williams. I think I have sub-conciously chosen these songs to combat my own confessions of doom and gloom. ..."
peakoilbarrel.com

aws. , 01/08/2016 at 10:50 pm

Back in early 2012, the Premier of Ontario suggested that the loonie (Canadian dollar) was becoming a petro-dollar. He was slapped down by the Cons, and walked back his comment.
"That has knocked the wind out of Ontario exporters and manufacturing in particular," explained McGuinty.

"The only reason the dollar is high - it's a petro dollar , right? It's been driven by the global demand for oil and gas to be sourced in Western Canada.

"So if I had my preferences, as to whether we have a rapidly growing oil-and-gas sector in the West or a lower dollar benefiting Ontario, I'll tell you where I'd stand - with the lower dollar."

Canadian Dollar's Worst Rout Ever Raises Petro-State Worries

Ari Altstedter, Bloomberg, January 4, 2016

By the middle of 2014, oil's share of Canada's total exports reached 19 percent from about 6 percent a decade earlier. Meanwhile, the Ontario-based auto industry was seeing its share of the export pie fall to to 14 percent from 22 percent. The heavier reliance on crude became an issue in last October's national election, as Harper and his Western-based Conservatives were accused by all their opponents of having favored oil to the detriment of other regions.

In the process, the Canadian dollar had effectively joined the ranks of petro-currencies. The correlation between movements in the price of oil and the loonie has increased five-fold since 2000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In 2015, while all commodity-exporting countries faced currency pressure, the Canadian dollar was more sensitive to oil price movements than such petro-states as Mexico, Norway and Russia.

I don't actually see low oil prices re-balanacing the Canadian economy. The cure for low oil prices is low oil prices. Would you invest in an export dependent industry in Canada? One can reasonably model a scenario where the price of oil goes up to $100/barrel, the loonie returns to parity with the greenback and an exporters competitiveness disappears with our petro-loonie's parity with the U.S. dollar.

Being a petro-state makes for a pretty ugly domestic economy.

Paulo , 01/08/2016 at 11:40 pm
AWS (and Ron)

I believe the decline will bring us Canadians back to our roots and strengths. Personally, I have been disgusted with our past 30 year transformation into urban consumers, no matter what part of the country we live in.

I remember my Grandparents playing penny poker on winter evenings. I grew up with stories of the Depression. While I am 60, my good friend down the road is 75. He often tells me about living in our Valley from '46 onwards ..a time of bailing water from the river into a 45 for home supply, canned venison and salmon for winter, oil lamps because Hydro did not arrive until the latter '60s. His Dad built up a sawmill and his folks provided room and board for 'the crew'. His mom washed their clothing by hand on Saturdays and finally got a gas powered ringer washer to make it easier. Nowadays, he scrounges scrap steel (old bedframes and the like) from the recycling bins for our welding projects. He helps me make up power saw chains from scraps and pieces. His motto (which he shares with me every other day), is, "Never throw anything away". And damned if he can't find exactly what I need when I come over to scrounge at what I call, "Our Store".

I don't know what will happen to the Vancouverites or Torontonians when property values dive. I imagine that many will lose everything they think they have, (when their debt bomb blows). I guess then we will see what people are made of. Will they whine? Or will they pick themselves up and make the best of it?

As for Ron's post, it is similar to one last year. I could hardly read that one as well. Yes, there are deserts and sewers made by man, and that will be the best that many can hope for. But what is your sphere of influence and power to change things? I have replanted several thousand trees on our property and let most of it regen into a bramble-filled mixed forest. I have put in a pond that trout have found from the drainage ditches and flooded wetlands next door. I have cut trails for deer and elk crossing routes. We grow our gardens without pesticides and with as much compost as possible. We wear our clothes out and watch what we buy. We don't travel by air, and limit trips to local visits with family. In the future, perhaps this will be the norm for most instead of today's extravagent consumption which is thought of as normal for Canadians and a birthright.

Ron, the facts are glum. Your story is true. I accept that. What I don't accept is allowing it to bring me down and giving up .on myself, my loved ones, and my people. Perhaps as a group, as a species, it seems as if we never learn and make the same and even greater mistakes over and over. But as individuals we can try to do things better, live better; until we can't go on. That is my plan, and I am sticking with it until I can't go on.

I am teaching myself to play the banjo. (My blessed wife is so so patient). Today, the weather was cold and foggy, my lumber is frozen into ice lumps, and I was quite house bound being sick of crunching around my frozen yard trying to be productive. So, the banjo prevailed and damned if it isn't getting better. I am well on the way to mastering (to use that term loosely) an Iris Dement version of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms", "I can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash, and "I Believe In You" by Don Williams. I think I have sub-conciously chosen these songs to combat my own confessions of doom and gloom. Sometimes, it is all we have. For you post readers, I will provide the Youtube links for a pick-me-up. A nice glass of whiskey makes for a good listening partner.

regards and thanks for your heartfelt honesty and efforts

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGbxrNqK4-4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSsqWHtg7Ig
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Biz5kBIAtic

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