POLITICO: Google sought fellow tech giants’ help in stalling kids’ privacy protections, states allege

October 23, 2021

A woman walks below a Google sign on the campus in Mountain View, Calif. on Sept. 24, 2019. “Google sought to use an August 2019 meeting with fellow tech giants Apple, Facebook and Microsoft to stall federal efforts to strengthen a children’s online privacy law, attorneys general for Texas and other states alleged in newly unsealed court documents on Friday.
Google also bragged about “slowing down” new privacy rules in Europe that would apply to digital services like services such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Microsoft’s Skype, according to internal documents quoted by the states. But the search giant expressed concerns that Microsoft, which had been making “subtle privacy attacks” on its Big Tech rivals, might not go along with its plans.”

The Busier You Are, the More You Need Quiet Time

October 8, 2021

imageExcerpt:  Taking time for silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy, and conditions our minds to be more adaptive and responsive. For example, silence is associated with the development of new cells in the hippocampus, the key brain region associated with learning and memory.

But cultivating silence isn’t just about getting respite from the distractions of office chatter or tweets.  Real sustained silence, the kind that facilitates clear and creative thinking, and quiets inner chatter as well as outer. Try going on a media fast, sitting silently for 2 minutes during the middle of your workday, or taking a long walk in the woods — with no phone. The world is getting louder, but silence is still accessible.

Read the full article here:

Mental health is the next big workplace issue

October 5, 2021

imageEmployees’ mental health is quickly becoming a top concern for companies as they try to hold on to workers through the pandemic.

Why it matters: The firms that confront mental health are poised to win the war for talent.

“These days there are worker shortages everywhere,” says Chris Swift, CEO of The Hartford, a financial services and insurance company. Mental health is a massive contributor to that, he says.

Read the entire article from Axios here:

NEWS: Use of employee surveillance software has jumped over 50% since the pandemic started

October 5, 2021

Headline: “Your company could be spying on you: Surveillance software use up over 50% since pandemic started.”

Yeah, that’s not unsettling at all. <sarcasm>

I’ve had more than a half dozen customers ask me, “How can I monitor the keystrokes of my employees?”


“Yeah, we wanna make sure that they’re working while they are remote.”

This is the most common scenario I’m told is the reason companies are looking for ways to monitor their employees computer activity.

Which if course is ridiculous.  Computer activity is never a measure of productive work. 

The urge to monitor employees however is an indicator that management doesn’t know how to measure employee productivity or their success – and that’s a failing of management, not their employees.

Who cares if the employee works only 3 days a week if they’re not required to be at a physical location?  If they do their job with excellence – why should anyone care? 

Sales jobs often do exactly this:  They have sales quotas that they have to meet for the year as the metric of their job performance.  I’ve met numerous salespeople that have completely blown out their quotas in the 1st half of the fiscal year… then effectively went on vacation for the remaining 6 months.

Some say this doesn’t translate to other jobs: I disagree.  The majority of jobs do in fact have measurable outcomes.  Everyone has quantifiable goals that their job requires.  And there are tasks that are necessary to attain those goals.  Simply identifying when employees complete those tasks & ultimately, reach the goals & outcomes of their jobs are simple metrics that every manager can establish & do every month, quarter, and review period.

If you can’t verifiably measure an employee’s productivity or excellence, maybe you should spend time & effort on that before you think of doing something as valueless as monitoring employee computer activity.

HOWTO: Stop“paused TV” ads when using DirecTV Genie DVR

October 2, 2021

imageFor years, my DirecTV DVR would show a floating DirecTV logo as a screensaver when TV was “paused” for 5 minutes.  This was great because it’d prevent burn-in on people’s projection or OLED TVs and I appreciated that. 

One day, instead of a floating DirecTV logo after “pausing” for 5 min, the DirecTV Genie DVR started showing still image advertisements for future TV programming, pay-per-view shows, and sometimes even products.  These rotated every so often and were pretty obnoxious.  I didn’t like this but it wasn’t that distracting.

But THEN, during the pandemic, my DirecTV “Genie” DVR started playing 30 second VIDEO ADS when live or recorded TV is paused after only 30 seconds. Suddenly, 30 seconds after pausing the TV program, “Lily from AT&T” is on a loop pitching completely irrelevant business phone service on my screen.

Video ads during a pause?  Now that’s distracting and extremely annoying.

imageSo the question is, how do we make it stop?  I contacted DirecTV and of course their people gave me completely irrelevant & incorrect advice which is inline with the kind of guidance they’ve given me in the past:

  • First, they said to “turn off power savings” – which has nothing to do with the ads that run during paused TV.
  • imageThen they actually told me to “turn off” my DVR and turn it back on, providing the worst, most embarrassing tech support I’ve gotten in years.

I resorted to Internet searches at this point.

The short answer is I found out that you can block the following domains on your DNS or your home router and it will stop the ads from appearing during paused TV:

  • xaaf-be-live.att.com
    Blocking this one domain will prevent the full motion video ads from playing after 30 seconds of paused TV.  You will still see still-image ads after 5 min of paused TV. (I’ve tested this and it works perfectly when I block this domain on OpenDNS, my DNS provider)
  • Blocking the list of domains below will reportedly prevent still-image ads from appearing.  The only thing you should see, assuming you’ve blocked both domains is a moving DirecTV logo screensaver. (I haven’t set this up yet but many folks have confirmed that it works.
        • xaaf-be-live.att.com
        • xandrssads-sponsored.akamaized.net
        • insights-collector.newrelic.com
        • dtvstb-screensaver.secure.footprint.net
        • iw.dtvce.com
        • callback1-stb.dtvce.com
        • cmd.dtvce.com
        • stb-plugin-akamai.directv.com.edgesuite.net
        • bbvds.dtvbb.tv
        • ums-stb.dtvce.com
        • analytic.rollout.io
        • itv-pxy.dtvce.com

I’ll update this once I’ve entered in all the domains above to block in OpenDNS.

How IBM Public Cloud struggled against AWS and Microsoft

October 2, 2021

imageInsiders say that marketing missteps and duplicated development processes meant IBM Cloud was doomed from the start, and eight years after it attempted to launch its own public cloud the future of its effort is in dire straits.

The words stunned IBM’s cloud executives in November 2013. Former CEO Ginni Rometty had just told them that Watson, IBM’s dubious crown jewel, should run on the company’s own Power chips inside SoftLayer, IBM’s recently acquired cloud-computing division.

There was one big problem: SoftLayer, like all major cloud efforts at that point, only used x86 chips from Intel and AMD.

What came next can only be described as a scramble, according to sources who worked for IBM at the time.

Read the full article here: