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Businesses

Submission + - Will You Shop Local Like the President, or Online?

theodp writes: President Obama and his daughters headed to an indie bookstore last Saturday to promote shopping local. The White House did not disclose which books were bought, but author Lauren Oliver tweeted her delight after a White House photo showed her books Delirium and Pandemonium were among the 15 children's books purchased by the Obama family for Christmas gift-giving. While it made for a nice Small Business Saturday photo op, do you suppose the President paid much more for the books at the small indie bookshop than he might have at Amazon.com, where the hardcopy edition of Pandemonium is $10.15 (44% off the $17.99 list price) and the hardcopy edition of Delirium can be had for $10.47 (42% off the $17.99 list price)? Kindle Editions of the books are also available for $7.99. And with both titles eligible for free Amazon Prime shipping, the President could've saved on gasoline and Secret Service costs, too! So, will you be following the President's lead and shop local this holiday season, or is the siren song of online shopping convenience and savings too hard to resist?
Businesses

Submission + - They Work Long Hours, But What About Results?

theodp writes: HBS lecturer Robert C. Pozen says it's high time for management to stop emphasizing hours over results. By viewing those employees who come in over the weekend or stay late in the evening as more 'committed' and 'dedicated' to their work, as a UC Davis study showed, managers create a perverse incentive to not be efficient and get work done during normal business hours. 'It's an unfortunate reality that efficiency often goes unrewarded in the workplace,' writes Pozen. 'Focusing on results rather than hours will help you accomplish more at work and leave more time for the rest of your life.'
Businesses

Submission + - (MSFT's Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Privacy)

theodp writes: GeekWire reports that Microsoft is sticking to its decision to implement 'Do-Not-Track’ as the default for IE 10, despite drawing the ire of corporate America, the Apache Software Foundation, and the FTC Chairman. Representatives of a veritable Who's Who of Corporate America — e.g., GM, IBM, BofA, Walmart, Merck, Allstate, AT&T, Motorola — signed off on a letter blasting Microsoft for its choice. 'By presenting Do Not Track with a default on,' the alliance argues, 'Microsoft is making the wrong choice for consumers.' The group reminds Microsoft that Apache — whose Platinum Sponsors include Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Yahoo — has branded Microsoft’s actions a deliberate abuse of open standards and designed its software to ignore the 'do-not-track' setting if the browser reaching it is IE 10. It also claims that the FTC Chairman, formerly supportive of Microsoft's privacy efforts, now recognizes 'the harm to consumers that Microsoft’s decision could create.' So, is this a watershed moment for consumers? Will Microsoft cave under the pressure?
Businesses

Submission + - High Tech Companies Becoming Fools for the City

theodp writes: Drawn by amenities and talent, the WSJ reports that tech firms are saying goodbye to office parks and opting for cities. Pinterest, Zynga, Yelp, Square, Twitter, and Salesforce.com are some of the more notable tech companies who are taking up residence in San Francisco. New York City's Silicon Alley is now home to more than 500 new start-up companies like Kickstarter and Tumblr, not to mention the gigantic Google satellite in the old Port Authority Building. London, Seattle, and even downtown Las Vegas are also seeing infusions of techies. So, why are tech companies eschewing Silicon Valley and going all Fool for the City? 'Silicon Valley proper is soul-crushing suburban sprawl,' Paul Graham presciently explained in 2006. 'It has fabulous weather, which makes it significantly better than the soul-crushing sprawl of most other American cities. But a competitor that managed to avoid sprawl would have real leverage.'
Businesses

Submission + - Are 12-16 Hour Workdays 'A Good Life'?

theodp writes: 'It's important to me,' former Opsware CEO Ben Horowitz recalls saying as he threatened a manager for termination because one of his subordinates failed to conduct 1:1 meetings, 'that the people who spend 12 to 16 hours/day here, which is most of their waking life, have a good life. It’s why I come to work.' Ben seems to be cut from the same management cloth as new Yahoo CEO Marissa "I-Don't-Really-Believe-In-Burnout" Mayer, who boasted how she solved the work-life balance problems of mother-of-three 'Katie' [presumably Twitter's Katie Stanton], who was required to attend nightly 1 a.m. video conference calls with her Google Finance team in Bangalore, by no longer making Katie also stay for late meetings on her Google day shift on those occasions where it'd make her miss her kids' soccer games and recitals.
Businesses

Submission + - Microsoft Buys MultiTouch Pioneer Perceptive Pixel

theodp writes: Back in 2006, a post on Jeff Han's multi-touch screen technology — a real TED crowd-pleaser — gave Slashdot readers a taste of the iPhone and iPad future. Han spun off his NYU Research into a company called Perceptive Pixel which, among other things, gave the world CNN’s Amazing Magic Wall. On Monday, Steve Ballmer announced that Microsoft is acquiring Perceptive Pixel, which not only means you'll be able to run Windows 8 on an 82-inch touchscreen, but that the Apple v,. Motorola Mobility lawsuit is about to get more interesting!
Businesses

Submission + - Silicon Valley Values Shift to Customersploitation

theodp writes: Bill Davidow is the real Silicon Valley deal. Commenting on how Silicon Valley has changed over the decades, Davidow is not impressed, dishing out harsh words for Facebook, Apple, Google, and others. 'When corporate leaders pursue wealth in the winner-take-all Internet environment,' concludes Davidow, 'companies dance on the edge of acceptable behavior. If they don't take it to the limit, a competitor will. That competitor will become the dominant supplier — one monopoly will replace another. And when you engage in these activities you get a different set of Valley values: the values of customer exploitation.'
Businesses

Submission + - DHS Best-and-Brightest STEM Program Under Fire

theodp writes: In mid-May, the Department of Homeland Security quietly expanded a program that allows foreign science, technology, engineering and math grads to work in the U.S. for 29 months without a work visa. 'Attracting the best and brightest international talent to our colleges and universities and enabling them to contribute to their professional growth is an important part of our nation's economic, scientific and technological competitiveness,' explained DHS Chief Janet Napolitano. But last week, Senator Chuck Grassley called on the GAO to 'fully investigate' the student visa program, citing reports of abuse and other concerns in his letter. Now, Computerworld reports that the DHS STEM Visa Extension Program continues to be dominated by Stratford University and the University of Bridgeport (as it was in 2010), prompting some tongues to wag. It is "obvious to any reasonable person that the schools producing most of the OPT students are not prestigious research universities," quipped policy analyst Daniel Costa, "which means that many of the OPT students across the country are not in fact the 'best and brightest.'" While conceding that top students can come from lesser-known schools, 'those will be the exception to the rule,' argued Costa, who suggested the government should include performance metrics in the OPT program, such as grades and university rankings.
Businesses

Submission + - 'Goofing Off' to Get Ahead?

theodp writes: His old day job at Gawker entailed calling BS on tech's high-and-mighty, but Ryan Tate still found things to like about Silicon Valley. In The 20% Doctrine, Tate explores how tinkering, goofing off, and breaking the rules at work can drive success in business. If you're lucky, your boss may someday find Tate's book in his or her conference schwag bag and be inspired enough by the tales of skunkworks projects at both tech (Google, Flickr, pre-Scott Thompson Yahoo) and non-tech (Bronx Academy of Letters, Huffington Post, Thomas Keller Restaurant Group) organizations to officially condone some form of 20% time at your place of work. In the meantime, how do you manage to find time to goof off to get ahead?
Businesses

Submission + - IBM CEO Ginni Rometty Goes Mute Again on Augusta

theodp writes: Back in 1961, Emily Post was asked if it was permissible for a woman to give her order directly to a waiter. Ordinarily, replied Mrs. Post, the man should speak for the woman when the waiter asks for the order. Fast forward 51 years. When an attendee at IBM's Shareholder Meeting asked IBM CEO Virginia 'Ginni' Rometty if Georgia’s Augusta National Golf Club had admitted her as a member yet (like the four male IBM CEOs who preceded her), Big Blue Chairman and Augusta National member Sam Palmisano decided he should field the gender discrimination question for her. Thanking the shareholder for the 'very kind comment,' Palmisano said, 'We were all curious as to when that would come up. But thank you again. Can I have another question please?' Too bad someone didn't ask if Palmisano's heard any good n-word jokes at Augusta that he could pass on to President Obama. Or what IBM was thinking when it chose he-ain't-heavy-he's-my-Master imagery for an IBM commercial celebrating Augusta National and The Masters, institutions that an LA Times sportswriter called "as white as the Ku Klux Klan" back in 1969. Augusta National did admit a black member in 1990, almost two decades after the death of Augusta National co-founder Bobby Jones (pictured here with Augusta co-founder Cliff Roberts and jokester Dwight D. Eisenhower), who's been reincarnated as an IBM pitchman.
Businesses

Submission + - Bezos: You're Welcome, Society!

theodp writes: GeekWire reports that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos's annual letter to shareholders is different this year, chock-full of testimonials from authors, merchants and developers who have benefited from the company's Amazon Web Services (AWS), Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Thanks to Amazon's self-service platforms, says Bezos, "even the improbable ideas can get tried, because there’s no expert gatekeeper ready to say 'that will never work!' And guess what – many of those improbable ideas do work, and society is the beneficiary of that diversity." Fair enough, but some certainly benefit more than others.
Businesses

Submission + - Engineer Who Got Obama's Attention Still Jobless

theodp writes: Looks like President Obama better keep his day job. Back in January, the President offered to play high-tech headhunter for unemployed semiconductor engineer Darin Wedel after the ex-TI engineer's wife questioned the government's policy concerning H-1B visa workers. But more than two months later, reports the Star-Telegram, Wedel still doesn't have a job. 'We got our hopes up a little,' said Wedel's wife Jennifer. 'I mean, he's the POTUS. But it seems not even the leader of our country can get [Darin] a job.' Meanwhile, US Citizenship and Immigration Services officials told The Times of India it has received about 22,000 petitions for the much-coveted H-1B work visas in the first four days after it started accepting FY2013 applications on April 2. So much for Vice President Joe Biden's mistaken contention that 'no H-1B visa can be granted to an employee to come to a company unless they can prove there is no American to fill the job.'
Businesses

Submission + - US CTO Built Fortune on Offshoring Health Records

theodp writes: Politico reports that Todd Park, the guy tapped by President Barack Obama to be the nation's next CTO, got a standing ovation from techies at South by Southwest. Park, who starts his new gig this Friday, discussed how he likes to apply 'startup principles I used in the private sector' with his government teams. Politico also noted that Park's co-founding of athenahealth, a medical billing company whose just-beat-the-meltdown IPO gave Park enough walking around money to reportedly ante up $95k in 2008 to Obama-friendly organizations (a donor database shows Park and Obama CIO appointee Steven VanRoekel respectively kicked in $25k and $50k for Obama's 2009 inauguration festivities), saying it 'gives him street cred in a place like SXSW, where scrappy startups, Web enthusiasts and social media mavens gather to talk shop and swap strategies.' At athenahealth, where econ major Todd's CS-savvy brother Ed incidentally held the title of CTO, the strategies employed included offshoring the processing of U.S. health records to India and the Philippines. The SEC had to prod athenahealth into disclosing details of its dependence on offshored operations, which the company later spun as 'Geographic Diversity' at an Investor Summit, explaining that its 292 onshore FTEs and 35 offshore direct FTEs were complemented by 700+ offshore contract FTEs. Hey, the White House said the U.S. CTO is responsible for job creation; it didn't specify where. BTW, Obama won't be the first President that Park works for. Among the selling stockholders listed in athenahealth's 2007 IPO was the George and Barbara Bush Community Property Trust — athenahealth co-founder Jonathan Bush is George H.W. Bush's nephew, and George W. Bush's cousin.
Businesses

Submission + - President by Day, High-Tech Headhunter by Night

theodp writes: The White House is following up on an offer made by President Barack Obama this week to help find a job for an unemployed semiconductor engineer in Texas. The offer was made during a live online town hall after the ex-TI engineer's wife questioned the government's policy concerning H-1B visa workers. Obama asked for EE Darin Wedel's resume and said he would "forward it to some of these companies that are telling me they can't find enough engineers in this field." While grateful, patent-holder Wedel said the president's view on the job prospects for engineers in his field "is definitely not what's happening in the real world." Duke adjunct professor Vivek Wadhwa offered his frank take on 40-year-old Wedel's predicament: 'The No. 1 issue in the tech world is as people get older, they generally become more expensive. So if you’re an employer who can hire a worker fresh out of college who is making $60,000 versus an older worker who is making $150,000, and the younger worker has skills that are fresher, who would you hire?' Coincidentally, Texas Instruments sought President Obama's help in reducing restrictions on the hiring of younger foreign workers in 2009, the same year it laid off Wedel.
Businesses

Submission + - Obama Stumped by Mystery of the Laid-Off Engineer

theodp writes: 'As a basic matter there is a huge demand for engineers around the country right now,' President Obama informed the wife of a laid-off Texas semiconductor engineer after she confronted the President on H-1B use during a Google+ hangout. 'I'd be interested in finding out exactly what's happening right there because the word we're getting is that somebody in that kind of high-tech field, that kind of engineer, should be able to find something right away. And the H-1bs should be reserved only for those companies who say they cannot find somebody in that particular field.' So, who's going to tell the President that offshore outsourcing companies dominate the top 10 list of H-1B users? Or that the NY Times says that old techies can't get hired? Or that there's no Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, or Tooth Fairy? Perhaps the President might be more in touch had he invited someone more familiar with hi-tech hiring reality to sit with Mrs. Obama at the State of the Union together with Steve Jobs' widow and the young co-founder of look-Ma-no-revenue Instagram. The Washington Post reports that the White House has followed-up by forwarding the out-of-work engineer's resume to contacts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. So, if you're hiring, and don't believe engineering life has to end at 40, why not take a gander at EE Darin Wedel's LinkedIn profile and TI patent?

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