7-Vodka writes: I work as an engineer for a multinational company. For two years my group was divided in half to focus on separate products. My group exploited division of labour by subdividing into smaller functional teams. This greatly improved our quality of work, output and morale. Meanwhile the other group flattened out, making everyone jack-of-all-trades and interchangeable. Now the other group is going to swallow us whole and intend to dismember our functional teams. How can I best analyze the situation to explain why having formal specialization was so beneficial to us?
Obviously, there's a limited time window to make my case. Do I need a crash course in economics and management?
7-Vodka writes: You can thank Glenn Greenwald for the astounding information below:
Microsoft has collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow users' communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company's own encryption, according to top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian.
The files provided by Edward Snowden illustrate the scale of co-operation between Silicon Valley and the intelligence agencies over the last three years. They also shed new light on the workings of the top-secret Prism program, which was disclosed by the Guardian and the Washington Post last month.
The documents show that:
Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new Outlook.com portal;
The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail;
The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide;
Microsoft also worked with the FBI's Data Intercept Unit to "understand" potential issues with a feature in Outlook.com that allows users to create email aliases;
In July last year, nine months after Microsoft bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism;
Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a "team sport".
7-Vodka writes: In an interview with Fortune, Balmer first admits that vista was badly done then when asked about Google giving away Android for free versus Microsoft, which charges smart phone carriers, Ballmer took issue with that assessment, stating, "And there's nothing free about Android. I mean at the end of the day as we certainly have asserted in a number of cases you know there's an intellectual property royalty due on that. Whether they happen to charge for their software or not is their business decision."
7-Vodka writes: I read via http://www.hardocp.com that the Electronic Frontier Foundation is conducting a new experiment called Panopticlick.
Panopticlick tests your browser to see how unique it is based on the information it will share with sites it visits. Follow the link to https://panopticlick.eff.org/ and you will be given a uniqueness score, letting you see how easily identifiable you might be as you surf the web.
As for myself, I suppose it's a bad thing that the message I receive is "Your browser fingerprint appears to be unique among the 633,402 tested so far." However I'll check back when the database grows.
7-Vodka writes: Time has posted a top 50 inventions of 2009 list. There are plenty of pictures and a few videos covering recent innovations which made the cut and also a few entries for worst inventions of 2009.
7-Vodka writes: "That's right, the very popular online computer parts store and second largest online-only store has filed the necessary papers for an IPO.. In doing so they've also released the most recent 5 years of financial statements.
While their financial performance is very impressive, one may wonder now if their newfound dubious pricing practices will eventually drive loyal customers away."
7-Vodka writes: Xcel Energy customers who have their own solar panels are worried about a new fee being proposed by the company.
The monthly fee to pay for transmission and distribution of energy would be charged to customers who have solar panels irrespective of their energy use for the month.
An Xcel Energy spokesman said that the fee is to ensure that regular customers don't subsidize the "connectivity fees" for the solar panel customers who don't pay their fees when they use no electricity.
Unfortunately, when pressed the spokesman admitted that nobody actually pays a "connectivity fee" yet however they wanted to prevent the mooching from occurring in the future (presumably when they hit everyone with such a fee) and also called the absence of a connectivity fee for solar customers a "double subsidy" because many solar customers receive rebates to install the panels.
7-Vodka writes: Most political campaigns are run from the top down. Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul's campaign is a self-organizing distributed movement with virtually no central control that uses the Internet as it's infrastructure. This campaign was receiving very little attention until last month when an independent supporter, Trevor Lyman, helped to organize a fundraiser that raised $4.3M on November 5th. Because the November 5th fundraiser had a Guy Fawkes theme and the political shock waves were massive, it was nicknamed the 'Money Bomb'.