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URGENT: In Case You aren’t Aware…

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Goggle may be phishing paradise

A security researcher found a problem in Google’s own login page that could allow a hacker to easily steal people’s passwords — and the company apparently isn’t too worried about fixing it.

Whereas Apple fixed an iOS security flaw in hours

Security firm Lookout announced on Thursday that it discovered a major security flaw that exploits iOS and can give a third party complete control over your iPhone.

But 86% of users haven’t applied the patch.

If you are one of them fix it at Settings > General > Software Update.

Ducks in a Row: Perks that Work

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016


Free food. Free in-office massages. On-site dry cleaning. Concierge services. The list goes on…

These perks are so easily copied, not to mention prevalent in certain industries, that they hardly qualify as retention policy, AKA, people holders.

Are these really the perks on which to spend your money?

Think about it and consider far more dynamic policies that others are doing.

After every seven years of service, employees become eligible for a six-to-eight week paid sabbatical, which they can use to spend time with their families, travel, and accomplish longstanding personal goals — no strings attached.

Aarstol believes that a shortened workday could motivate employees to work more efficiently. And he is proving to be right through his own company, Tower Paddle Boards, which continues to expand, even after a year of rolling out the five-hour workday. Last year, it was named the fastest-growing private company in San Diego. Aarstol even published a book titled “The Five Hour Workday” this month.

REI, for example, gives its employees two paid days off a year, called “Yay Days,” to enjoy their favorite outside activity. The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) takes every other Friday off, coining those “Panda Fridays.” We also give our employees every other Friday off — and we pay them for it. We call it the “18-Day Work Month,” and we truly believe it’s the key to a more productive workforce.

Gusto, a startup with 300 employees in San Francisco and Denver, just became the first midsize company in the US to cover fertility treatments in a way that will help single women and same-sex couples, according to Cigna.

However, some of the best perks cost the company nothing.

SEI made Forbes’ 2016 Best Small Companies list earlier this year, in part because of its unusual employee goal-setting policy. Twice a year managers meet with reports who lay out goals, including compensation, and SEI pledges to support employees’ wishes.

The main point: this is not a high-profile kind of job at Facebook, not a developer building a feature that will be used by millions, nor an engineer working on some of Facebook’s moonshot projects like its solar-powered drone or Internet.org.
“At Facebook we believe that ‘Nothing at Facebook is somebody else’s problem’ — it’s yours,” she writes. “I’m tasked with finding creative, innovative and realistic solutions for my clients, even if it has never been done before.”
In other words, she feels a sense of empowerment.
In fact, academic research shows that there’s a strong correlation between job satisfaction and employee empowerment. People who are given the freedom to solve problems in their own creative ways simply like their jobs and their companies better.

In fact, it’s the willingness of management to help their people function at their highest level, grow and succeed, i.e., a manager who cares, that is worth more than most tangible perks.

Flickr image credit: allen watkin

Fighting Back: Google and You

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016


Like porn, privacy evil seems to be in the eye of the beholder (me), but not in Google’s eye.

I’ve written in the past about the fluidity of evil and the privacy difference between Apple and the rest (Google, Facebook, etc.)

Now I see that Google is going above and beyond in the name of “user convenience.”

Google will need to convince people that having AI manage your life is more convenient than it is creepy.

I get that many of you like the idea and have no problem with suggestions and tracking, etc., so you may have no interest past this point.

But those of you who consider tracking more akin to stalking and are happily capable of managing your own life/world will find the following truly valuable.

In a truly informative and useful article Business Insider provides links so you can see what Google knows about you.

Better yet, it walks you through how to delete and control how Google uses it and what it sells to third parties.

It’s a long way from the privacy Europe enjoys, but it’s sure better than nothing.

Thanks, BI!

Image credit: Lamerie

Ducks in a Row: Deleting Your Google History

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016


https://www.flickr.com/photos/ephoto/6139060786/How would you feel if someone constantly followed you and then shared that info with friends?

Would it bother you more if the info was sold for cash?

Would you report your stalkers? Or at least find a way to stop them?

Essentially, that’s what Google does.

It follows you on your jaunts around your cyber-world and both shares and sells that info.

Remembered the last time you surfed around looking for a particular product and then found ads for the same thing on every page you looked at for months afterwards?

What many of us consider commercial stalking Google and others call “improving the user experience.”

For decades, our Congress, in its infinite wisdom, has pooh-poohed the idea of any kind of privacy policy, such as Europe has, saying it would hamper growth.

My solution is using the DuckDuckGo search engine that doesn’t track you, or for total anonymity I use ixquick.

But what can you do if you’re addicted to Google and have been using it for years?

You can say thanks to Business Insider and use the step-by-step, illustrated instructions for deleting your history preventing continuing surveillance that they recently provided.


The funny thing is that what most people want is choice, i.e., the ability to easily opt out when a search is extremely sensitive — by their definition, not a third party’s.

And, at the end, since it’s all about money, perhaps if enough people opt out Google will change its approach and give you a simple way to decide who is privy to what in your own little corner of cyberspace.

Or, an even more heretical idea, pay you for it use.

Image credit: E Photos and Business Insider

Golden Oldies: Coming or Going?

Monday, April 18th, 2016

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over the last decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written. Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

I was reminded of this particular post when I read two Harvard articles, How to Hire a Millennial and What Do Millennials Really Want at Work? The Same Things the Rest of Us Do. It’s been such a joke to me ever since the Millennials hit the marketplace. Reading/hearing and working with clients, all freaking out on how to attract a workforce so different from the Boomers and Gen X. Ha! I said it then and Harvard says it now — people of any age pretty much want the same things from their employers; nothing new except how long they’ll wait to get them. Read other Golden Oldies here.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shinazy/7310391140/Bosses across the spectrum are wringing their hands and worrying about creating an environment that will attract and retain young workers, while still motivating and retaining the rest.

It would be amusing to watch them try and jump through the required hoops if it wasn’t so sad.

Sad because so many of the required behaviors aren’t new.

The Millennials are demanding what people have wanted all along.

Yes, there are differences between what Millennials, Gen-X and Boomers want, but the important cultural basics are the same.

The biggest difference is patience, i.e., how long they will stay when not getting what they want?

Millennials want their work to matter; they want to be heard, recognized, challenged, mentored and grow.

Correcting for descriptive language, there is nothing new on that list from what good workers have wanted for decades.

So what changed; why is it so imperative now?

Partly the numbers.

In America its staff are young: 62% are from Generation Y, 29% are from Generation X and just 9% are baby-boomers.

But mostly the impatience. The young vote with their feet far more easily than older workers because they have less to lose—no mortgage, no kids and responsible only for themselves—and the economy improves Gen-X and the Boomers will also vote more quickly with their feet.

Google is often portrayed as the embodiment of millennial-friendly work practices. But Laszlo Bock, a human-resources chief at the internet firm, points out that it has workers as old as 83. And he argues that the only thing different about Generation Y is that it is actually asking for the things that everybody else wants.

The improving economy is a sword over every boss who considers talent replaceable and, therefore, expendable.

Bosses don’t need Google-style perks to hire and keep great talent, but they do need to create a culture that provides the intangible wants, whether in synergy with or in spite of what their company does.

Flickr image credit: Bitchin’ Ol’ Boomer Babe


Why NOT to Trust Your Apps

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

When I in college, I remember discussing a newspaper story with my aunts. I remember saying that I didn’t believe something and my aunts saying that if something wasn’t true it would not be in the paper.

They really believed that, because in the world they grew up and lived in it was mostly was true.

Fast forward to today and you find the same attitude being applied to the information supplied by the tech they use.

They don’t question the stuff supplied by various apps, especially if it’s from known vendors.

Vendors such as MaxMind.

Maxmind identifies IP addresses, matches them to a map and sells that data to advertisers.

Trouble is, accuracy isn’t their strong point.

Back in 2002, when it started in this business, Fusion reports, MaxMind made a decision. If its tech couldn’t tell where, exactly, in the US, an IP address was located, it would instead return a default set of coordinates very near the geographic center of the country — coordinates that happen to coincide with Taylor’s front yard.

Taylor is the unfortunate owner of a farm that sits on one of those catch-all co-ordinates.

And although the info isn’t supposed to be used to identify specific addresses, surprise, surprise, that’s exactly how people do use it, law enforcement included.

The farm’s 82-year-old owner, Joyce Taylor, and her tenants have been subject to FBI visits, IRS collectors, ambulances, threats, and the release of private information online, she told Fusion.

As bad as that is, at least the Taylor’s still have their home, unlike the two families who are homeless because a contractor assumed Google maps was correct, so he didn’t check the demolition addresses.

Unbelievable that they accepted the tech without checking.
Unbelievable that they first called it a minor mistake.
Unbelievable that the owners aren’t suing.

Video credit: Business Insider

Foolish Google’s Mic Drop Day

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016


Google is supposedly packed with smart, above-average-intelligence people who are savvy to the ways of users.

Assuming that’s true, one wonders why they violated the number one caveat of software for their traditional April Fool’s Day fun by changing Gmail’s long-used UI (emphasis mine).

The premise of the joke was simple. In Gmail, next to the standard “Reply” button, Google added a “Mic drop” button. Using it would reply to the email, archive it — and also add a GIF of a “Despicable Me” minion dropping a mic. (…) Its placement directly next to the default Reply button — replacing the “Send and archive” button — meant it was easy to click by accident, especially if a user didn’t understand what it was.

Unbelievable. Even non-biz people know you don’t change long-used/well-loved anything (think Coke/New Coke), especially without warning, and expect your users/customers not to react strongly and, most often, negatively.

Especially as a joke.

Google’s product forums are full of furious users claiming they pressed the button by accident, often on important professional emails.

If you think Gmail “Mic Drop” stories of lost jobs/opportunities/etc can’t be true, remember: there are 900m Gmail users. It was live 12hrs. — Charles Arthur (@charlesarthur) April 1, 2016

Doing this was stupid, but Google’s response made it worse by totally ignoring user feedback and blaming a bug.

In a statement, a company representative said: “Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year. Due to a bug, the MicDrop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs. We’re truly sorry. The feature has been turned off. If you are still seeing it, please reload your Gmail page.”

How’s that for uncaring, it’s-not-our-fault, smug and inane?

Perhaps Google should have renamed itself Arrogance instead of Alphabet.

Ducks in a Row: Psychological Safety

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/28208534@N07/6129796947/Is your team psychologically safe?

As a boss, no matter the level, it’s your responsibility to foster a psychologically safe culture for your team.

First, you need to know that it’s a relatively simple concept.

Psychological safety is a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking.[1] In psychologically safe teams, team members feel accepted and respected. It is also the most studied enabling condition in group dynamics and team learning research.

But not that simple to implement.

It’s also something that is highly unlikely to happen by accident.

If you are interested in the concept why not learn from Google as they set out to build the perfect team.

Flickr image credit: JC

Booze, Sex, Drugs and — Google?

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

http://www.amazon.com/The-Show-Filip-Syta/dp/1941758150Is it possible that Google’s vaunted culture has a dark side?

A dark side composed of booze, sex, drugs and lies.

Sound unlikely?

It’s always dangerous to take the word of an ex employee without at least a pinch of salt or, maybe a few pounds — or sometimes none.

Filip Syta worked as an ad sales executive at Google for two years until 2014, when he became disillusioned with his work. So Syta dropped out and wrote a novel, “The Show,” about a fictional search advertising giant. The story describes a San Francisco company called Show that employs a lot of 20-somethings who make a lot of money, have a lot of parties, drink a lot of booze, sleep with one another indiscriminately, and take a lot of cocaine.

Is it possible? Or likely?

Yes and yes.

Just as possible as in any situation where young, immature, mostly male humans suddenly have a lot of cash and are seriously bored.

“You get bored after a while, you get everything there, basically. They do everything that your mother doesn’t do for you anymore. There’s a dry-cleaning service, swimming pool, dentist, doctor, food, massage — you don’t have to think about anything. You just go to work and it’s all taken care of.

“And also I think a lot of talent is being wasted there because we hired smart people. We will hire smart people, but they hire overqualified people because they have such a strong brand. Many people are bored at their job … It’s kind of chill and might get boring. These other people seek out other adventures when they’re together — they don’t have to care about anything. They know Google has their back. It’s like a kindergarten for grown-ups. And obviously there was a higher and more adventurous type who obviously take more risks. Everyone is very relaxed, and they don’t take the safe way.”

But what’s really troubling is what he claims goes on in sales.

Syta told Business Insider the company was “extremely data driven.”

“They measure everything, and you want to look good to your manager and your manager wants to look good to their manager and up the chain it goes, so you want to report great numbers,” (…)   Does nobody check?

“No, no because no one cares.”

But surely there are numbers and metrics that can be easily verified?

“No, no, not always,” Syta said. “Because the upper manager will not go down to the account manager-level and check. Of course they will see real cash flow coming in. But in specific cases of a specific client, they won’t check. As long as it looks good everyone is happy because everyone cares only about their own task to look good to their next upper manager.”

So we [Business Insider] were curious: How much of this is true, or inspired by real events?

“Ninety percent,” Syta told us.

90%? That would definitely worry me if I was advertising with Google.

I haven’t read the book and, to be honest, it doesn’t hold much interest for me.

Obviously, the majority of people in either the fictional or real company aren’t involved in the shenanigans, but still…

Do I think it’s different/better at Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or other high flyers?

Probably not, but maybe that’s just my own cynicism.

I saw the results of too much money too fast up close and personal decades ago, although I admit it wasn’t even close to what goes on in the Valley today.

So yes, there probably is a dark side at Google.

Image credit: Amazon

The Long Tail of Arnnon Geshuri

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016


Some bad actions seem to have a much longer tail than others and are more personal.

The length of the tail also seems related to how much the breach affects “people like me.”

The proof of this is happening right now and playing out in social media. It started with the addition of a Wikipedia board member.

Nearly 200 Wikipedia editors have taken the unprecedented step of calling for a member of the Wikimedia Foundation board of directors to be tossed out. (…)  “In the best interests of the Wikimedia Foundation, Arnnon Geshuri must be removed from his appointment as a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation Board.”

Geshuri played a central role in the “no poach” scandal (where a number of top companies, like Apple and Google, agreed not to recruit from each other) that has had lasting effects on countless careers.

Although I’ve said many times that past performance does not predict the future and I firmly believe in second chances there are caveats.

One is that the the person agrees it was wrong, takes responsibility for their share of the action and accepts some kind of punishment — whether a monetary fine, jail time or just a public statement.

When it’s an ethical lapse, as in this case, I consider if the person should have known better — which Geshuri should have.

However, this wasn’t just an ethical lapse; both the scheme and his actions were illegal.

And there is no question that as a high ranking HR professional he did know it was both illegal and unethical and was in an excellent position to assess the long-term damage it would do.

Geshuri was actively involved along with facilitating others.

Therefore, I tend to agree with the editors that he doesn’t belong in an organization that runs of pure trust.

But I am just as sure he still has a great career path in most of corporate America, where they would understand (and in some cases even condone) what he did, as well as in politics, where both the criminal and civil breaches would just be business as usual.

Image credit: Myleen Hollero / Wikimedia Foundation

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