IT News Blurbs This Week

Here are a few news items from the many email newsletters I get each week that seem interesting, for one reason or another, and their source if you would like to read further.

You DST Me! (But do I even care?)

For many, the spring session of the bi-annual nonsense of changing clocks for Daylight “Savings” Time is this Sunday, March 13.  Apparently, the State of Arizona in the United States does NOT follow “Daylight Saving Time” at all. Indiana also used to follow this policy of consistency and reliability over the spring and fall rituals of racing about the house changing clocks forward or back one hour supposedly so that business in the State (and jobs for normal working class Hoosiers) is increased because we are on the same time as New York and other States who don’t give a gnat’s behind about us. I have never seen any legitimate, evidence based, statistical proof (such as lower unemployment) that this spring and fall nonsense has brought one more job to Indiana, none-the-less the issue plagued our Legislature for years until finally we were condemned to the same ritual other less sensible States follow, most likely on the basis of shouting, golf game buddies, and too many glasses of premium beer.

Apparently, today Arizona now stands tall and alone as The State emotionally mature enough to resist the need to be like everybody else because an unsubstantiated rumor says they should switch to the insanity called Daylight Savings Time. But has it mattered? Does Arizona hurt in any way because they don’t bother racing around their State, like a Jack Russel Terror on too much espresso barking at the door bell, changing every microwave, VCR, stove, and beeping vacuum cleaner robot’s clocks in their State twice a year? Is it Spring Back, Fall Forward; or Spring Forward, Fall Back? You can’t remember either? Mayby it’s two steps back for every one forward….

However, this article in Network World discusses the impact of Daylight Savings Time on the IT industry in Arizona. The article quotes Network World Test Alliance partner Joel Snyder, who lives in Arizona, and is a senior partner at Tucson-based consulting firm Opus One:

Arizona doesn’t participate (in DST) because it doesn’t make sense.

Actually, it’s not clear to me that DST makes sense anymore in any context, but certainly the original idea was to save energy by shifting schedules to increase the amount of daylight that people had.

Well, in Arizona, as I like to say when answering this question, we already have plenty of daylight.

He continues on later

From a technical point of view, generally, it’s not a problem. In fact, before the era of NTP, I used to watch with great amusement as my colleagues all around the U.S. had to be up at 2 in the morning to switch their clocks one way or the other twice a year. In some companies it was a very big deal; I used to work for CompuServe and they billed by the second (actually they billed by the jiffy, but that’s a different story) and if you lost an hour of time — or accidentally charged a customer for an hour when they’d used a second — that was a big deal.

I notice from his comments that Daylight “Savings” Time has apparently always created hassles for business, not simplified things. Anytime you must pay employees to sit up at 2:00 AM just to change clocks so customers do not get miss-billed, that must be expensive. Anytime you must deal with mad customers because they did get miss-billed due to the DST change, or their misunderstanding of it, that has also got to be expensive — maybe even costing the State jobs instead of helping. He also mentions that early PDAs had some quality control to them and tended to get DST correct, but mobile devices these days lack much pride in workmanship, even so far as selling a device that costs $20 to make for $600 and can’t even multi-task or run flash, or selling a device where the antenna is exposed and stops working whenever a person holds it to make a phone call. More often than not these devices do not even get DST right — he says that even Microsoft Outlook still doesn’t do DST properly.

It seems to me we that we did the world no favors by switching to DST: we should have stood with Arizona as an example for the rest of the world to see that the concept of DST was outdated and that people everywhere are sophisticated enough today to understand it is a different time in London or New York or Tokyo than it is in Indianapolis. We would have stayed a technological leader in that case, being on the cutting edge of the wave of future policy, and it would have been far easier on the technology and require much less trouble for businesses and citizens.

You watch it: it watches you

Cable and Satellite TV content companies have been using their customer’s TV’s to observe their customers, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal By Jessica E. Vascellaro. The article is at

Data firms and technology companies are using TV watchers’ personal data to help sell targeted ads, Jessica Vascellaro reports. We discuss how cable and satellite co’s are mining this data, how they’re using it to stay ahead in the age of the Internet – and how you can opt out of being tracked.

Data-gathering firms and technology companies are aggressively matching people’s TV-viewing behavior with other personal data—in some cases, prescription-drug records obtained from insurers—and using it to help advertisers buy ads targeted to shows watched by certain kinds of people.

Now that’s not actually surprising, but it is disturbing. They get into your medical records to target ads on your TV. On computer we expect this kind of thing — some of us even put little covers on our webcams to prevent clandestine use without our consent, but outside of some wacked out sci-fi book, who would imagine their TV doing the same thing?

This new wave in monitoring Americans is driven, in part, by fear: The TV industry is moving quickly lest it lose ground to Internet advertising companies, which have found they can charge a premium for online ads that target individual people based on their specific interests.

In a rallying cry last month at a TV ad-targeting conference hosted by Broadcasting & Cable, one keynote speaker cited the space race of a half-century ago: “This is our Sputnik moment,” said Tracey Scheppach, senior vice president at Starcom MediaVest Group, a unit of advertising firm Publicis Groupe SA.

Visible World’s founder, Seth Haberman, says his company doesn’t know the names or personally identifying information about the people sitting in front of a given set-top box.

You mean they really do have a camera in those things that is literally recording video of you watching TV in your own “private” home?!!!!!
There is more information in the article than you wanted to know — including some examples of companies, such as the US Army, which have used this technique for their profit, and a side bar with instructions on how to “opt out” of being spied upon. It didn’t mention if they used a little camera in the TV to record what you and your spouse do after the popcorn runs out — in the future there could be a TV channel with content solely based upon ‘real people’ with a continuous slide show of pictures taken of people falling asleep with drool running out one side of their mouths. I agree with Haberman’s last comment in the WSJ article: “It is a little spookie.'”

I guess former FBI head and cross dresser  J. Edgar Hoover really is finally getting his request: now there really is a TV camera in almost every bedroom. Now that’s just creepy.

Perk Up

If you are interested in the perks CEOs get, there is a slideshow at

Stupid Americans! Ha! Ha!

A Baseline Magazine article by Jennifer Lawinski has a slideshow on the techniques used by cyber criminals to manipulate Americans. It is at Basically they use our cultural instinct to help others to rob us, or try using greed or sex as traps.

Successful cybercrime often depends on the kindness of others – trusting souls who believe that Facebook message , LinkedIn request or Tweet they received is on the up-and-up. Understanding this vulnerability to social networking platforms is an IT imperative; nice people like your colleagues are easy pickings for cybercriminals

The show is quick, and merciful.

Business Skills from On-Line Gaming

Another article from baseline Magazine by Dennis McCafferty shows which computer gaming skills provide an advantage in business. The article is

Do you think of hours spent playing Call of Duty as professional development time? It’s not such a stretch. Gaming culture helps people thrive in a corporate environment, according to Aaron Dignan, founder of Undercurrent, a digital strategy firm. Games stress peak learning conditions and focused achievement, allowing participants to sharpen professional skills and discover untapped strengths.

It is only eight (8) slide long, but food for thought. And with that idea in mind, I should be off to test his theory with a bit of LOTRO.

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