Friday, November 6, 2020

Welcome, IBM. Seriously.

I apologize for the paucity of posts on the Empoprise-BI business blog. I've been too busy running my own business, Bredemarket, to talk about other businesses.

So I thought I would highlight this episode of the Bredemarket podcast, because this episode is not devoted to my company, but to another company - the company known back in 1981 as Apple Computer.

If you don't remember Apple's 1981 "Welcome, IBM. Seriously." ad, listen to this episode. I don't analyze the ad - it's been analyzed to death. I simply read it. 

The podcast, by the way, is available on many popular podcast platforms. Just search for "Bredemarket."

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Monkeys (allegedly) doing the jobs that Thai people don't want to do

This morning, Catherine Ngai tweeted about a USA Today article. The article discusses allegations of forced labor in the production of a product, and how various US companies are responding to the allegations.

The US companies that are reportedly no longer selling the product in question include Costco, Food Lion, Giant Food, Stop & Shop, and Walgreens.

The product in question? Coconut milk. 

But that's not the interesting part.

The interesting part is the forced labor. It turns out the the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has alleged that the coconuts used to produce coconut milk are harvested by forced labor.

Specifically, monkeys. 

Were monkeys forced to pick your coconuts?

Many kind people choose coconut milk instead of cow’s milk because they don’t want to support cruelty to animals. But a disturbing PETA Asia investigation reveals that terrified young monkeys in Thailand are kept chained, abusively trained, and forced to climb trees to pick coconuts that are used to make coconut milk, meat, flour, oil, and other products.

But wait. This is PETA; you know the story will turn more gut-wrenching.

Denied the freedom to move around, socialize with others, or do anything else that is important to them, these intelligent animals slowly lose their minds. Driven to desperation, they pace and circle endlessly on the barren, trash-strewn patches of dirt where they’re chained.

Hmm, sounds like lockdown. What's the problem?

For its part, coconut milk producer Theppadungporn Coconut Co. Ltd told USA Today that it conducted its own audit of third party coconut plantations and found no evidence to support PETA's claims. 

There's an easy way to validate this, but neither party has done so. For its part, PETA claims that one of the sites abusing monkeys is a supplier to Theppadungporn Coconut Co. Ltd. The latter company doesn't state whether this particular site was checked in its audit. And neither side is revealing exactly where this particular site is. 

So if PETA's claims actually are correct, shifting from animal-based food to plant-based food isn't a guarantee of things being wokefully wonderful. But PETA already told us that:

Whether it can be proved that plants experience pain or not, vegan foods are the compassionate choice because they require the deaths of fewer plants and animals.

So if you don't want to kill animals, and you don't want to kill plants, there's only one solution, and it uses a word not popular in the woke circles.

Abstinence.


Monday, October 19, 2020

(on the correct blog this time) When Standards Day doesn't even occur during Standards Week - thanks to @mitchwagner and @doctorow

 I've written about standards before, such as the time when the Canadian Standards Association web site made a reference to 6:00 pm without specifying which of Canada's six time zones was being referenced. And then there's my post that referenced the sausage-making aspect of standards, the Jackson Family Honors, and Machiavelli. 

Well, here's the newest about so-called "standards."

Mitch Wagner shared post from Cory Doctorow's Pluralistic. In the post, Doctorow took note of this announcement:

Each year on 14 October, the members of IEC, ISO and ITU celebrate World Standards Day, which is a means of paying tribute to the collaborative efforts of the thousands of experts worldwide who develop the voluntary technical agreements that are published as International Standards.

At the same time, Doctorow noted a separate announcement:

Save the Date: The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has announced dates for World Standards Week 2020, which will be held October 19-23 in Washington, DC. ANSI's World Standards Week (WSW) is the standardization community's premier annual gathering, with multiple conferences, committee meetings, and special events designed to inspire open dialogue about standardization and conformity assessment.

Doctorow and others have noted that this appears to violate the principles of standards. At least in 2019, World Standards Day fell within World Standards Week:

World Standards Week is scheduled for November 4-8 this year, culminating in the main World Standards Day Conference on November 7.

Uh, strike that. That was ANSI's World Standards Day. The ISO World Standards Day occurred on October 14, 2019 as usual. 

So why does ANSI move its world standards celebration around? Does ANSI have some odd calendar?

Perhaps I'm too harsh. Improbable Research applauded ANSI for at least being horseshoe-like close this year:

Some of America’s days are less than a week distant from the world’s World Standards Day.

I guess this is an application of the "sorta-" prefix

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

It's scam day!

 The last nine hours have been interesting, to say the least.

Late last night, I received a message from a European friend saying that her credit card had been stolen. Now if this had been a scammer, the message would have continued like this:

I have no money now. I need you to go to a Walmart and buy some gift cards. To reach me, call this Google Voice number before noon Nigerian time - I mean French time.

In this case, however, it wasn't a scam. This message truly WAS from my European friend, and the thief had run up charges on the stolen credit card. However, since it was a credit card and not a debit card, things will be sorted out quickly.

After that, I went to sleep...and woke up this morning to find out that a former neighbor was now following me on Instagram. So I followed her back, and she started talking to me.

How are you doing today..?

I was going to craft a personal response to my friend, but (luckily, in retrospect) I kept it vague and simply answered

Doing well, other than the heat.

So my friend responded:

Am doing pretty good,I saw your name on GFA list,have you heard about them?

Well all right. I haven't spoken to this friend in a couple of years, but this isn't sounding like her. So I searched for the acronym "GFA" and noticed this CBS News article in the search results. Here's an excerpt:

For Shellie Drummond, it started when she found the Facebook profile for a friend from years back, named Deborah Boyd.

"I was on Messenger and my friend's name came up," she told CBS News correspondent Anna Werner.

Soon "Boyd" was telling her about a so-called government grant she'd gotten through an agent on Facebook. Sure enough, the agent then told Drummond she could get financial assistance from the government. All she had to do was provide some personal information, then send $1,500 in fees, to get up to $100,000 in grant money.

Drummond was scammed out of her $1,500, and I didn't want the same thing to happen to me. So I went back to my conservation with my "friend," and answered the "have you heard about them?" question. 

I have.

I then posted the link to the CBS News article - enough so that my "friend" could see the article title, "Facebook scams: When your 'friends' are actually hackers."

Apparently my "friend" couldn't read the article title, because the attempt to scam me continued.

It is GLOBAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE to help people with money all over the world to take care of kids, house,pay rents and maintain the standard of living for 2020,Have you heard from them?

I didn't respond, because I was busy alerting my real friend (through two avenues) of the scammer and reporting the scammer's account to Instagram for impersonation. (Instagram apparently does NOT support a "phishing" report.)

I hadn't blocked the fake account yet, so "she" sent me one more message:

??

An hour later, "her" account was no longer found, and "she" is presumably cloning new accounts and moving on to other targets. (Note to self: make sure MY Instagram account is not cloned.) 

Well, all of this Instagram stuff was dramatic, so I thought I'd go to my regular email account before heading to (looking for) work. And I found a message FROM me, with the message title identifying me as the customer of a bank for which I was NOT a customer.

Turns out my email provider DOES provide the ability to report for phishing.

And how was YOUR morning?


Saturday, July 11, 2020

Moving from the present to the past tense

Since I recently wrote about the fact that I blog here, I guess I should actually blog here. 

And I have a lot to blog about. 

As I’ve noted elsewhere, I am now a free agent – because it sounds better to say “I am now a free agent” than to say “I was laid off in the middle a pandemic because fewer people are buying my (former) company’s services.”

(Tangential comment to those who have happened to read my recent posts in Tymshft and Empoprise-MU - yes, I do recycle introductions.)

But after working for IDEMIA since its founding, and working for several predecessor companies, it's taking my brain a while to get used to NOT working for IDEMIA - in essence, to move from "we" to "they" in referring to the company.

I can give you a couple of examples. 

IDEMIA, like most companies, has competitors. And since IDEMIA offers multiple products and services in multiple markets, it has MANY competitors. From force of habit, while I certainly won't disparage our - I mean THEIR - esteemed competitors, at the same time I will not go out of my way to praise them except in very special circumstances. (Raffie, I still owe you for everything you did for me during the Motorola days.)

So earlier this week, after my employment at IDEMIA had officially ended, I was relaxing by reading Instagram stories from the accounts that I follow. If you were born in the 20th century like I was, perhaps I should explain that Instagram stories are snippets that appear on your screen for only a few seconds, to be replaced by something else. And unless the poster chooses to "highlight" story, it disappears completely after 24 hours, never to be seen again. (As I've stated earlier, I posted my own Instagram story on Wednesday evening, consisting of a picture and a music snippet.)

So anyway, I was sitting back and absorbing the Instagram stories, and one came across that I liked. It was from a vendor of security equipment for airports, and the Instagram story included the word "Obrigado." (People in my industry can probably guess the company to which I am referring.) From force of habit, I immediately thought, "I can't like this, because it's from a competitor" - and by the time that I realized that it WASN'T from a competitor (any more), the story had already passed me by. 

Pe├žo desculpas.

A second example. For as long as I can remember, I have been paid every two weeks, on a Friday. So when that day comes, I have habitually remembered, "Oh, it's Friday," and then I would proceed to do things that one does after one is paid. 

Yesterday happened to be one of those Fridays, so I immediately thought, "Oh, it's Friday. I just got paid. I need to do..."

Then I paused.

"Wait a minute. I didn't just get paid today. I got paid earlier in the week, in connection with my last day of employment."

(And no, I'm not facing an immediate financial issue in two weeks. Everything is fine.)

So, I'm sure that it will take some adjusting, but my brain is slowly moving around to "they" mode. 

And now I'm working on who my new "we" is going to be. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Work Boy Work - but from where?

This certainly wasn't expected.

In mid-March, I was getting ready for my exchange student daughter's spring break. We hadn't booked anything yet, but we were planning to show her the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.

Instead, we spent her spring break at home, with the exception of a drive to LAX to return her to her home country after the cancellation of her foreign exchange program (and many other foreign exchange programs).

Although we were obviously sad to see her go, there was one advantage - I could now use her room for a home office.

Because a few days before her return home, a vice president at my company sent a message to her reports, telling them that they had to work from home. Although I don't report to this particular vice president, I aligned with this decision and started working from home myself. I'd go into the reasons, but then this post wouldn't be succinct. Which is why I didn't even go into THIS level of detail in my most recent podcast episode...

...Oh, I guess I should announce that I've started my own podcast now.

More on that later.

Anyway, here's the most recent episode, entitled "Work Boy Work."



As I noted in the episode, I've been working from home for over a month now, as have a lot of people. Even at Yahoo, which famously reversed its remote working policies back in 2013. Yahoo was somewhat of a special case - after floundering for years, new CEO Marissa Mayer was trying to get all of Yahoo working together, and she thought that physical presence was the way to do it. Well, that wasn't enough to save Yahoo, which technically no longer exists, so Yahoo employees aren't working from home or from the office. Many employees of Yahoo successor Verizon Media, like the rest of Verizon, are working from home.

Seven years later, a whole bunch of companies were suddenly forced to recreate the benefits of working together even when people weren't physically working together. My company does not use Zoom, but it has heavily used another teleconferencing service for regular meetings AND less formal discussions. And of course there's the steady stream of emails, text messages, and the really retro voice phone calls. (No Morse code. Yet.)

So what happens as the country opens up again, and people can return to work? Will they? Rani Molla of Recode speculates that "[s]ome who are still employed will now permanently work from home, and some employers will choose to downsize their leases or look for flexible office space rather than long-term leases."

Maybe:

"As the coronavirus takes a steep toll on the economy and the workforce, many won’t have jobs to go back to."

And a concluding plug for the Empoprises podcast. The podcast is hosted by Anchor and is also available on Breaker, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, and Spotify.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Value Creation

My employer offers courses to employees via Udemy, and one of the available courses is Seth Godin's Master Class in Value Creation.

The course strongly recommends that you apply the course materials to a specific problem, and use the course questions to better understand the problem. I can't reveal the problem that I am trying to solve, but I can say that the course material includes some very specific questions that you can ask to better understand how to solve the problem.

It doesn't take a doctoral degree to figure out the basic question you want to answer:

This project you’re working on, the new business or offering, what sort of value does it create?

This is a loaded question but a vital one.


And this loaded question raises others, as Studiorupt notes, word for word.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Half the time, Amazon doesn't deliver its packages. Who does?

If you go to logistics.amazon.com, you'll see a picture of a happy person with a bright future in logistics.

If you love building and leading teams, start your own business as an Amazon Delivery Service Partner, delivering smiles to customers across your community.


And you can read on about how wonderful this opportunity is, and the great success stories, and then some yahoo comes up to you and shares a story from GeekWire:

Amazon stops working with several small delivery contractors, forcing companies to lay off hundreds

And then someone else shares a story from BuzzFeed:

3,200 Amazon Drivers Are Going To Lose Their Jobs

All of these facts are not mutually exclusive. It turns out that Amazon needs new delivery contractors to replace some of those that have been terminated.

Both GeekWire and BuzzFeed report the same facts about the contractors that are being terminated, but the authors choose to emphasize different parts of the story. GeekWire:

In an emailed statement sent to GeekWire, Amazon said these companies did not meet safety or performance requirements....

"“Some of these companies have not met our bar for safety, performance or working conditions, and we’re in the process of exiting them from the program."


Sounds great! Amazon, the force of good, is protecting the people who work WITH them from hazardous working conditions.

BuzzFeed's article, while stating the same facts, has a slightly different emphasis:

But since mid-2018, Amazon has been aggressively shifting its delivery model toward smaller contractors that work from a single location and manage no more than a few dozen routes.

Because of their size, those smaller companies have less negotiating leverage with Amazon, which in some cases pays them as much as 5% less than it paid its so-called legacy or 1.0 carriers for the same work, court records show. While Amazon pays legacy carriers a monthly stipend to cover the cost of dispatchers, for example, there is no such payment for the newer firms.


Sounds bad! Amazon, the force of evil, is racing to the bottom by dumping established firms with ones that will work even more cheaply.

Of course, both could be true. Amazon could be using its power to churn its delivery partner relationships so that it always has top-performing talent working WITH them. And then in a few years or a few months, if there's a better alternative partner, then Amazon could shift to that one.

Meanwhile, because of branding, none of us know the difference. We see an Amazon logo on a truck, and we automatically assume that the driver is with Amazon.

And we assume the same when we see a FedEx logo.

Or a
McDonald's logo.