Posts in the ‘News’ category

Sprint Brings WiMax to Baltimore

This week, Sprint Nextel Corp launched WiMax in Baltimore, Maryland under the brand name XOHM. WiMax (which stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, aka 802.16 and 802.16e) is a broadband wireless technology that allows high speed internet access without wires. WiMax is similar to the ubiquitous WiFi you find in homes, airports, and coffee shops except it offers a much greater range and the ability maintain connectivity on the move.

XOHM is designed to be a direct competitor to cable, DSL, and FIOS in the home, providing competitive speeds without the need to install wires, cable, or fiber optics to the house. It is also a direct competitor to data services provided by cellular companies, providing twice the speed for a more competitive price.

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A Shocking Discovery: Most mothers don’t get enough sleep

A new report was unveiled today that found that U.S. mothers do not get enough sleep!

Um… did they really need a study to figure this out? Have the sponsors of this study not met any mothers before?

Well, upon further investigation, it appears that the study was sponsored by a pharmaceutical company that wants to encourage sleepless mothers to talk to doctors about prescription sleep aids. And guess what? That paraceutical company happens to sell prescription sleep aids!

They have a website called Sleepless Moms with tips on how to get more/better sleep, but none of the tips really address the societal reasons mothers are pulled in so many directions that they don’t have time to sleep.

What strategies do you use to balance work and life and still have enough time to get a good night’s sleep? Leave a comment and share your experiences.

New Web Site: Web Worker Daily

Om Malik of GigaOm recently introduded a new website called Web Worker Daily.

This site is going to highlight the lifestyle, work habits and technology of the mobile web workforce or the Web Bedouin as they call it.

The lead writer is Jackson West and he seems to have a nice readable style. I will be keeping an eye on them to see how much they cover issues facing home office workers. However, if you find yourself outside of the home office a lot, you should check them out too.

Welcome to the neighborhood!

Telecommuting Proposals for Congress

I came across two related articles about congress members and telecommuting today…

Yes they are satire. Yes, I do enjoy making fun of our political leaders. Yes, it is generally more fun to mock the party in power, but I believe taking shots at either party is fair game and well deserved.

Enjoy.

Be Careful What You Ask For

I am going to file this one under, “Yikes!”

AOL recently released three months worth of search data to researchers. To “protect the privacy” of the searchers, their names were replaced by identifying numbers. Of course it isn’t too difficult to narrow down the identity of an “anonymous” searcher by looking at what they searched for. The author of this article in the New York Times did exactly that.

AOL has since taken down the data and apologized, but the damage has already been done. It has been copied and spread all over the internet now.

The point is that our privacy is slipping away. There are records of everything you do and it doesn’t take much for these records to get out. Be careful. Be outraged.

Save Time and Money!

The Baltimore Business Journal made a shocking claim. It says that employees’ reluctance to telecommute costs them a lot of time and money.

They gleaned this information from the 2005/2006 National Technology Readiness Survey.

Of the survey respondents, 25% had employers that supported telecommuting or jobs that were conducive to telecommuting, but only 11% actually took advantage of telecommuting.

If the folks that could telecommute managed to do it once or twice a week, they would save a collective $3.9 billion in gas alone. This number doesn’t count wear and tear on the roads or pollution.

The median commute found in the study was 10 miles and 20 minutes each way.

The survey was prepared by Rockbridge Associates and sponsored by the R.H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.

Laptop Stolen from VA Teleworker Recovered

The head of the VA reported that the stolen laptop with veterans’ personal information on it had been recovered.

If, as it appears, the data has not been compromised then this is good news for vets. However, I don’t see how it lets the VA off the hook for their shoddy data security practices.

They don’t need to forbid teleworking, they simply need to implement policies and practices to protect data. Some of these practices will include technology, some will include behavioral changes. All will include an awareness of security implications on the part of all who access or transport data.

Wow! Buffett Gives $37 Billion to Charity!

Yeah. That’s billion with a “B”.

Warren Buffett, the second richest man in the world, announced that he is giving about $30 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (You know, the charitable foundation created by the richest man in the world.) Buffett is also giving about $7 billion to the charitable foundations of his wife and kids.

For those counting along at home, this leaves about $7 billion for those incidental expenses required as Warren winds his way through his senior years.

Wow!

I don’t really know what else to say. I just hope to do the same thing some day. I had better get started.

“Extreme” Telecommuting?!

On Wednesday, the Baltimore Sun had an article called “Telecommuting to Extremes“. Apparently, telecommuting has become so commonplace that people are trying to find ways to make it sound exciting again.

Of course, what they call “extreme telecommuting” I call “work”. According to the Sun, telecommuting becomes extreme when the teleworker is in a different state than the company for which they telecommute.

Frankly I don’t think the distinction is that important. I also find it a little funny that they would use the hip young term extreme to describe something they go on to say isn’t really embraced by the younger set. One point they make in the article is that younger workers often benefit from being in the workplace because it helps them strengthen their career path.

I don’t think age has as much to do with being a successful telecommuter as maturity, discipline, and need for regular human contact, but if you are going to generalize I guess it makes sense to say that older folks have more of those qualities than younger ones. I am 33 so I’m not sure in which group people would plunk me.

So maybe it’s just a slow news day. The rest of the article goes on to make all the important points about the pros and cons of telecommuting.

(editor’s note: the Baltimore Sun’s online version of the story has been renamed “Telecommuting Long Distances Works.”)

VA cuts back on telework to increase security

GovExec.com reports that the VA is cutting back on telework and prohibiting the use of personal computers for telework.

Um… didn’t they already have that rule?

The theft of data on 26 million veterans could have been prevented if existing rules weren’t ignored and unenforced. Period. Punish the people that are flouting the rules and fix the process.

I believe in rules, especially for teleworkers. I believe that if security policies and processes aren’t in place to effectively protect important data, then teleworking shouldn’t occur when that data is required to do the work.

The problem is people are lazy and that is really one thing you can’t be if you work from home. You have to do the job and you have to do it better than people that go to the office everyday and are seen regularly.

Simple everyday technology would have protected the data that was stolen. Encryption is easily implemented on laptop harddrives. VPN and terminal server access could prevent the data from ever leaving the servers in the VA office.

If you run a business or a telework program for your business you have to take security into account when you design your program and set your policies. Just like you have a lock on your front door and an anti-virus program on your computer, encryption will be the next mandatory component for the mobile workforce.

I am currently doing some research on encryption for small business. An article on the topic is on my to-do list.