Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Judgment of parents makes us scared to leave kids alone

Despite the occasional scare headlines of kidnappings and snatches, kids are safer than ever--yet many parents refuse to let them walk six blocks home from school or take a subway.

As kids, in the Wayback, we ran free as feral cats from after school until dinner.

A University of California Irvine study shows that we are now reluctant to let kids stretch their wings because this has become socially unacceptable.

In other words, said the author of the study, we have exaggerated the danger kids are in to justify our moral disapproval we feel for parents who violate this new norm.

As published in Collabra, the survey-based study showed that children whose parents left them alone on purpose--to work, help out a charity, relax, or meet a lover--were perceived to be in greater danger than kids whose parents were involuntarily separated from them,

 They set up five scenarios--from a 10-month-old child left asleep for 15 mins in a cool car in a gym underground garage to an 8-year-old reading a book in a coffee shop a block from home.

For each scenario, the reason for the parent's absence was controlling. One was an involuntary absence--mom hit by a car. The others were voluntary--work, charity, relaxing, meeting a lover.

Then they participants were asked how much danger the child was in--from 1-10.

Overall, they thought all the scenarios were quite dangerous--6.99 on average.

Those left alone on purpose were judged in more danger. This, despite the fact that the child left alone on purpose was probably in less danger because the parent probably took steps to give the child a phone or go over safety rules.

The parent meeting the lover was thought to have put the child in worse danger than the one who went to work.

In other words, moral judgments entered in to jack up the perception of risk.

The researchers said, at very least, those who enforce the law should not let this bias creep into the situation and invest it with the force of law.

Food for thought, anyway.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Maybe working at home is not best for Millennials

Meredith Bennett-Smith, Government Executive Magazine, Aug 24, 2016, says telecommuting is on the rise. Almost 40% of workers say they have worked from home at some point. That was 9% in 1995.

Companies tend to encourage this now--cutting office overhead and increasing productivity.

In ten years, in fact, new companies may not even shell out for offices.

Still, don't write off the "real" office just yet. Gathering people in a physical space provides intellectual stimulation, collaboration, and better time management.

Sometimes a text or email won't cut it..People face to face feed off each other's energy and enthusiasm.

People get to know each other better--get more interested in the work and the good of the rest of  the team. You can read body language. There is less miscommunication.

You can never get away from home--but you can leave the office behind. Or should be able to without escaping to someplace with no cell service.

When Marissa Mayer--CEO of Yahoo--banned telecommuting, everyone freaked out.

She said most people are more productive at home--but more coolaborative and innovative when they are together.

And she stuck to it.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Five bad interview habits

Excellent start.
Ladan Nikravan, CareerBuilder, says job searching is hard enough without screwing up (I paraphrase).

Some ways you might be sabotaging yourself:

--Negativity. I you think and "see" only the worst outcome, the interviewer may pick up on that. Also--don't be negative about former companies or bosses.

--Embellishment. Lying or exaggerating can catch up with you fast. Today's employers check a lot of sources, Recently in a CareerBuilder survey, 69% of employers said catching a lie was an instant dealbreaker.

--Bad body language. Don't fail to make eye contact, smile, and also don't play with something on the table or desk.

--Phone. Never check it during an interview.

--Homework. Employers can tell if you're interested enough in the company and job to check it out first.

Interest is good. I remember back when I was hiring people (when dinos roamed). If the person did not seem to want the job--didn't express this--I thought, "What the hey, I don't want that person."

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Warning--the Louisiana flood scammers are afoot

The Department of  Homeland Security says to be extra vigilant when donating to charities to aid victims of Louisiana's horrible floods (worse than Katrina).

Scam charities get right on it and send emails after such a disasters--these could contain malware. the Federal Trade Commission joins with DHS in warning about these.

--Do not open any attachments!

--Keep your antivirus programs updated.

--Verify that an organization is legitimate by calling a trusted number--check the Better Business Bureau's National Charity Report Index--google or go to http://bbb.org.

--Never assume appeals on social media are legitimate. Before texting money, confirm the phone number with the charity.

In other words--don't be a chump. People are not all good. Some, in fact, are lower than low lifes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

No, no, no--not a good way to get hired

CareerBuilder has done its latest lists of no-nos for job interviews. We can use some comic relief about now, right?

--Candidate asked a priest to contact the hiring manager and recommend he be hired.

--Bought a first class ticket so could sit next to the hiring manager on a flight.

--Came dressed in a Halloween costume (hey, it was October).

--Asked the interviewer to share an ice cream cone.

--Sent embroidered socks with a message that he or she would knock the company's socks off if hired.

--Showed up in camp counselor attire--complete with children--to show leadership ability.

--Sent a shoe with a flower in it--saying trying to get a foot in the door.

--Mailed money to the interviewer.

--Arrived in a white limo, an hour early in a three-piece suit. The position was middle wage and strictly khakis and a button-down.

--Kissed the hiring manager.

--Wore a tie with the name of the company on it.

Me, I like the camp counselor gambit--if the job is as the Pied Piper.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Money issues can distract employees

When people have money issues pecking at them, it makes working more difficult.

Therefore some businesses are promoting the use of software called Your Money Made Easy.

Along with this, they put on seminars and training aimed at  managing personal finances.

Many people think about doing a budget and then it seems too hard and their minds drift to other things--but not necessarily to work...

In the US, half of the households are middle income--but only 30% of households with an income from $30K to $75K have any sort of a budget.

Result: pain, lost sleep, worry.

Your Money Made Easy (yourmoneymadeeasy.com) is a Windows program that creates a framework for day-to-day management.

A company promotes it--the supervisors use it. Everyone is ecnouraged to try it. After the 30-day evaluation period, those who continue get reimbursed for the license fee.

People  in payroll or human resources are trained to help users.

Sounds interesting...I guess the company-based aspect is the unique part.

I would wonder how closely employees would want their fellow employees to be clued into their financial situation.

Monday, August 22, 2016

There are data scientists and data scientists

Ann Irvine, principal data scientist at Red Owl, writing in Government Executive, says the FBI is hiring its first senior-level data scientist. This might be more challenging than they think, she says.

Data scientists have wildly different backgrounds, skill sets, and responsibililties.

Even just at Red Owl, one set of data scientists prevents insider threats such as rogue trading. A second group works with customers. And a third contributes to the core software.

All have  knowledge of math, machine learning, and expertise in cybersecurity, good communication skills and experience in software development.

This is why the FBI or any entity needs to be clear in its requirements.

Data sceintists often need to explain what is possible with data science and what isn't. Could a certain type of data answer a certain question. How much would be needed? What types of algorithms would be needed? How will these be evaluated? What kind of mistakes could the algorithms make? Has this problem been solved before--and how?

As a first timer, the FBI data scientist will have to be incorporated into the culture.  Will he or she get easy access?

And the new data scientist cannot be overloaded--there must be an onboarding process.

I was surprised to learn the FBI does not have a senior data scientist, what with all the data they handle.