By Soulskill from Slashdot's train-your-replacement-to-train-your-replacement department
An anonymous reader writes: VentureBeat is running an indictment of the tech industry's penchant for laying off huge numbers of people, which they say is responsible for creating a culture of "disposable employees." According to recent reports, layoffs in the tech sector reached over 100,000 last year, the highest total since 2009. Of course, there are always reasons for layoffs: "Companies buy other companies and need to rationalize headcount. And there's all that disruption. Big companies, in particular, are seeing their business models challenged by startups, so they need to shed employees with skills they no longer need, and hire people with the right skills."
But the article argues that this is often just a smokescreen. "The notion here is that somehow these companies are backed into a corner, with no other option than to fire people. And that's just not true. These companies are making a choice. They're deciding that it's faster and cheaper to chuck people overboard and find new ones than it is to retrain them. The economics of cutting rather than training may seem simple, but it's a more complex calculation than most people believe. ... Many of these companies are churning through employees, laying off hundreds on one hand, while trying to hire hundreds more."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-you-can't-beat-'em department
An anonymous reader writes: Ars Technica's Peter Bright argues that it's time for Microsoft to make Internet Explorer open source. He points out that IE's major competitors are all either fully open source (Firefox), or partially open source (Chrome, Safari, and Opera), and this puts Microsoft at a huge disadvantage. Bright says, "It's time for Microsoft to fit in with the rest of the browser industry and open up Trident. One might argue that this argument could be made of any software, and that Microsoft should by this logic open source everything. But I think that the browser is special. The community that exists around Web standards does not exist in the same way around, say, desktop software development, or file system drivers, or user interfaces. Development in the open is integral to the Web in an almost unique way. ... Although Microsoft has endeavored to be more open about how it's developing its browser, and which features it is prioritizing, that development nonetheless takes place in private. Developing in the open, with a public bug tracker, source code repositories, and public discussion of the browser's future direction is the next logical step."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's union-is-still-pretty-uniony department
writes: Coding got a couple of shout-outs from the White House in Tuesday's State of the Union Address. "Thanks to Vice President Biden's great work to update our job training system," said President Obama (YouTube), "we're connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs like coding, and nursing, and robotics." And among the so-called "boats" in the new "River of Content" that the White House social media folks came up with to enhance the State of the Union is a card intended to be shared on Twitter & Facebook which reads, "Let's teach more Americans to code. (Even the President is learning!)."
President Obama briefly addressed human spaceflight, saying, "I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs – converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kid; pushing out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay
." He also called once more for action on climate change. Politifact has an annotated version of the transcript
for more background information on Obama's statements, and FiveThirtyEight has a similar cheat sheet
.Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's a-bit-too-standard department
An anonymous reader tips an Associated Press report saying that Healthcare.gov is sending users' personal data to private companies
. The information involved is typical ad-related analytic data: "...it can include age, income, ZIP code, whether a person smokes, and if a person is pregnant. It can include a computer's Internet address, which can identify a person's name or address when combined with other information collected by sophisticated online marketing or advertising firms." The Electronic Frontier Foundation confirmed the report, saying that data is being sent from Healthcare.gov to at least 14 third-party domains
The EFF says, "Sending such personal information raises significant privacy concerns. A company like Doubleclick, for example, could match up the personal data provided by healthcare.gov with an already extensive trove of information about what you read online and what your buying preferences are to create an extremely detailed profile of exactly who you are and what your interests are. It could do all this based on a tracking cookie that it sets which would be the same across any site you visit. Based on this data, Doubleclick could start showing you smoking ads or infer your risk of cancer based on where you live, how old you are and your status as a smoker. Doubleclick might start to show you ads related to pregnancy, which could have embarrassing and potentially dangerous consequences such as when Target notified a woman's family that she was pregnant before she even told them. "Read Replies (0)