from the unionize-now dept.
Computing is notorious for not having a worthwhile professional association. Some practitioners join the IEEE, the IET or the ACM. However, membership typically costs hundreds of dollars per year and offers little practical help to computer professionals working in small companies. If you're working for government or a large corporation or you're a super programmer in a well funded start-up then you probably have a union or you don't need a union. However, if you're the sole techie in a small business, appreciation for your dedication is just the start. What happens when you're asked to do something unethical or illegal? Where do you turn when a job goes sour? How do you avoid the problem? How can you avoid really toxic employers?
Rather than paying hundreds of dollars per year for talks and conferences, you require local experts who have first-hand experience of local employers and local employment problems. How can this be achieved reliably and cost-effectively? This is where our expertise should shine. Firstly, union entry should be at least as stringent as the conceirge union. Secondly, there should be a web-of-trust within each metropolitan region (and ideally between regions). In the best case, the network distance between all members should be four or less. Thirdly, an obligatory website should incur less hits than SoylentNews and therefore an upper bound for costs can be established for a volunteer effort. Essentially, it should be possible to run a union from donations of US$3000 per year or significantly less. Indeed, the major cost to members would be food and drink expenses when informally meeting other members.
So who wants to join a computer professional union with sensible fees and obligations?
Selena Larson writes at ReadWrite that Facebook has a perception problem, which is largely driven by the fact it controls huge amounts of data and uses people as fodder for advertising and just can't shake its ultimately flawed nature and gain the trust of consumers.
"Perhaps the largest driver of skepticism towards Facebook is the level of control it gives users-which is arguably limited. Sure, you can edit your profile so other people can't see your personal information, but Facebook can, and it uses your data to serve advertisers says Larson. "Keep in mind: This is information you provided just once in the last 10 years-for instance, when you first registered your account and offered up your favorite movies, TV shows and books-is now given tangentially to advertisers or companies wanting a piece of your pocketbook."
Another thing people hate about Facebook is that when the time comes for someone to abandon the social network, whether over privacy concerns or frustration with the company, Facebook intentionally makes it hard to leave. "Even if you delete your account, your ghost remains. Your email address is still tied to a Facebook account and your face is still recognizably tagged as you, even if the account it's associated with has vanished." Even when you die, Facebook continues to make money off you.
Facebook has many exciting projects, but it won't have an audience left unless it addresses its perception problem says Larson. "Trust is paramount, especially on the Internet, and people need to know that Facebook is making things to improve the human experience, not just spending billions to make even more billions off our personal information," concludes Larson. "Prove to us you don't just care about money, Facebook, and perhaps we'll all realize how much you really have grown in the last 10 years."
It seems likely that everyone here has heard the old saw "No one ever got fired for buying|using Microsoft". Well, times change.
The government of the Italian province of South Tyrol wants to save money and, noting Munich's savings of over 10 million euros, it sees Free Software as a solution. (The freedom thing isn't lost on them either.)
Governor Arno Kompatscher says "We've started to review our license costs. If there are free and open source alternatives, and where the costs and risks of changing are justified, we will switch to these." The new policy is meant to reduce IT costs. Should this fail, the region must resort to reduce its workforce, in order to balance the region's budget.
Did you catch the nuance? If you are a gov't employee and they can't change software because you aren't adaptable enough to use something other than Windows, you can plan on being the first one out the door. Hat tip to Robert Pogson for just the right spin on this story.
The article is entitled "Intel reveals big data's dirty little secret" but I read it a little bit differently.
From the article: "Companies are spending billions on tools and engineering to analyse big data, though many are hampered by one little problem: they still don't know what to do with all the data they collect."
This means that, of all the egregious breaches of personal privacy that companies regularly perform (the Target-knows-you're-pregnant-when-your-parents-don't story comes to mind), they have still only scratched the surface of making sense of your information, and using it effectively. Which means that, as Big Data gets people who actually know what they're doing, the more frightening the possibilities become, which is probably only a matter of time.
How would you feel about getting a bunch of targeted spam from divorce lawyers because your wife/husband's personal details were in the big Ashley Madison data leak, before you even heard about it? What if you were the guy who got drunk and put a profile up one time after a big fight but never followed up on it? This is why I don't have a Facebook account.
Peter N. M. Hansteen asks the question, "Does Your Email Provider Know What A "Joejob" Is?" in his blog and provides some data and discussion. He provides anecdotal evidence which seems to indicate that Google and possibly other mail service providers are either quite ignorant of history when it comes to email and spam, or are applying unsavory tactics to capture market dominance.
[Ed Note: I had to look up "joe job" to find out what it is. According to wikipedia:
A joe job is a spamming technique that sends out unsolicited e-mails using spoofed sender data. Early joe jobs aimed at tarnishing the reputation of the apparent sender or inducing the recipients to take action against them (see also e-mail spoofing), but they are now typically used by commercial spammers to conceal the true origin of their messages.
Bryan Lunduke at Network World calls out what other mainstream media have been too timid, or bought out, to call out. He starts by pointing out that choosing Microsoft Windows for your organization should get you fired and that if you haven't already replaced Windows, across the board, you absolutely stink at your job.
There. Finally the topic is broached in mainstream media and a proper discussion can now start among decision makers who can arrange complete migrations to GNU/Linux, Chrome/Linux, one of the BSDs, or a combination of them.
As Microsoft security problems continue to escalate since even the pre-networked, MS-DOS days, managers and front-line grunts will find themselves increasingly culpable for selecting unviable software, such as Microsoft Windows. If they wish to pay big bucks for maintenance, there are plenty of companies around to participate in the money. Canonical, Red Hat, M:Tier are just a sampling.
[Ed. Note: I debated whether or not to run this story — in some respects it's just the Windows vs *nix argument all over again. Also, there are proprietary programs which are critical for certain industries which currently only run on Windows. On the other hand, gaining a mention like this in the more mainstream media, does that mean we are approaching an inflection point? Witness the increased displeasure with Windows 10's telemetry and the difficulty in completely blocking it. What programs do you use that are only available on Windows? What keeps you from moving to another OS? --martyb]
The San Francisco Chronicle reports
A San Francisco technology company laid off a group of software engineers as they were trying to join a labor union, according to a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board.
The Communications Workers of America [CWA] claims Lanetix, which makes cloud-based software for transportation and logistics companies, violated federal labor laws by cutting 14 software engineers in January in San Francisco and Arlington, Va.
Most of the engineers were fired [January 26], about 10 days after they filed a petition seeking union representation, according to the complaint filed by the CWA's Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild. A hearing to determine a date to hold the union vote was scheduled for [February 1].
[...] While unions have made inroads in representing Silicon Valley bus drivers, security officers, food service workers, and custodians, the Lanetix case could break new ground because union activity is still unusual for software engineers, who are generally highly paid and in short supply, labor lawyers said.
[...] there are [reasons other than gripes about pay, whereby] unions can attract higher-paid tech workers, including "if you feel mistreated by the company or if you feel there's favoritism going on or lack of job security", said labor law attorney Steve Hirschfeld, founding partner of Hirschfeld Kraemer of San Francisco.
"There's a myth that if you're a highly paid employee, you either can't join a union or wouldn't be interested", Hirschfeld said.