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When Smart People Make Bad Employees 491

theodp writes "Writing for Forbes, CS-grad-turned-big-time-VC Ben Horowitz gives three examples of how the smartest people in a company can also be the worst employees: 1. The Heretic, who convincingly builds a case that the company is hopeless and run by a bunch of morons; 2. The Flake, who is brilliant but totally unreliable; 3. The Jerk, who is so belligerent in his communication style that people just stop talking when he is in the room. So, can an employee who fits one of these poisonous descriptions, but nonetheless can make a massive positive contribution to a company, ever be tolerated? Quoting John Madden's take on Terrell Owens, Horowitz gives a cautious yes: 'If you hold the bus for everyone on the team, then you'll be so late that you'll miss the game, so you can't do that. The bus must leave on time. However, sometimes you'll have a player that's so good that you hold the bus for him, but only him.' Ever work with a person who's so good that he/she gets his/her own set of rules? Ever been that person yourself?"

Anti-Product Placement For Negative Branding 130

An anonymous reader writes "Product placement to promote your brand just isn't enough any more. These days, apparently, some companies are resorting to anti-product placement in order to get competitors' products in the hands of 'anti-stars.' The key example being Snooki from Jersey Shore, who supposedly is being sent handbags by companies... but the bags being sent are of competitors' handbags as a way to avoid Snooki carrying their own handbag, and thus potentially damaging their brand."

Comment Illness vs mortality (Score 1) 430

I read that article before. The fatal weakness of its reasoning is that it only focuses on fatalities. The reality is that even if you got ill with the flu, you almost never died (under 0.1% fatality rate). Even the super-fatal pandemic flu of 1918 was about 5% fatal among those sickened. I doubt if it is feasible to get a statistically significant count of fatalities in a controlled study sample.

But even if you do not die, flu is pretty costly. It is costly in the time you spend miserable, sick and out of action. It is costly to the colleagues, friends and family that you in turn sicken. It is costly to society as a whole. Vaccines either prevent that sickening altogether or reduce its severity. That makes vaccination campaigns valuable to society as a whole -- even to the unvaccinated -- because any flu case prevented or shortened will eliminate yet another infection source. Since flu spreads, well, virally, stopping even one source is significant. That's why govt agencies tend to be on board, because they are worried about the health of the overall society.


Alan Cox Quits As Linux TTY Maintainer — "I've Had Enough" 909

The Slashdolt writes "After a stern criticism from Linus, the long-time kernel hacker Alan Cox has decided to walk away as the maintainer of the TTY subsystem of the Linux Kernel, stating '...I've had enough. If you think that problem is easy to fix you fix it. Have fun. I've zapped the tty merge queue so anyone with patches for the tty layer can send them to the new maintainer.'" A response to a subsequent post on the list makes it quite clear that he is serious.

Liability and Computer Security 159

Pelerin writes "In the latest Crypto-Gram, Bruce Schneier has written an interesting essay with some thoughts about the current lack of business incentives for the deployment and production of more secure software. His main recommendation/prediction is this: "Step one: enforce liabilities. This is essential. Today [...] the marketplace rewards low quality. More precisely, it rewards early releases at the expense of almost all quality. If we expect CEOs to spend significant resources on security -- especially the security of their customers -- they must be liable for mishandling their customers' data. If we expect software vendors to reduce features, lengthen development cycles, and invest in secure software development processes, they must be liable for security vulnerabilities in their products." Schneier's five-step plan for thinking about security is also good.

Free Agency via FreeAgent.Com? 8

heiho1 asks: "I recently began consulting through a service known as Freeagent.com. It is a company which is hyped as a 'virtual corporation' for 'free agents'. The idea is that you work as an employee of a corporation but you are free to set up contracts with your own clients. You pay a monthly fee to Freeagent.com for their services [something like $220/month]. You provide the services and Freeagent handles invoicing, lawyers, $5 million in liability insurance, accounting, etc. They also provide re-imbursement for expenses. The last part is interesting because they do not allow for many of the typical business expenses [for example, computer hardware (my PowerBook!) is not considered an expense even though I would normally depreciate such an item as a corporate expense]. All in all they are supposed to save you time, money and headache. I've gone the incorporation route before and am trying this out to see if it does save me grief. I'm interested in the opinion of Slashdot about the pros and cons of such an approach. How does it compare to just owning your own corporation or LLC and getting your own accountant?" There's more on the site than just ways to get work as a freelancer, there's legal advice and discussions on the site as well. Is this the future of freelancing?

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