Friday, June 29, 2012

Nowhere To Hide










     Did you ever call in sick and then go hang out with friends? Were you ever supposed to call on clients, but decided to go to a movie instead? Did you ever "forget" to tell your boss that a business lunch has been canceled, and then go out to lunch with your spouse? If you got away with this kind of thing in the past, forget about it. Your days of tricking your boss are over. 

People probably called you "paranoid" if you were someone who was positive that "they" always know where we are. Guess what? You're not paranoid anymore. "They" do know where you are. Our friends at Google have come up with a smart phone app that will allow your boss to be able to see where you are at all times. Called "Maps Coordinate," this little devil of innovation is part of a paid business version of Google's map program. An employer can just sit back and watch where his employees go and how long they stay there.

 Of course, Google doesn't describe this as a way for bosses to spy on workers. They say that the purpose of the device is to help assign jobs and decide who goes where "more efficiently." Right. And social networking sites don't sell your information to other companies. 

Google tested this product on government agencies. If it could be limited to government employees, I probably wouldn't think it was such a bad idea. We could finally find out where members of Congress actually go when they're supposed to be voting on an important bill or when they say they're on the Appalachian Trail. 

Unfortunately, this device won't just be used to keep an eye on politicians. Pizza delivery guys were another test group. That's really going too far. What kind of country will we be living in if pizza delivery guys can't goof off on the job? 

Google can talk all it wants about how this will make companies more efficient and therefore more profitable. However, that ignores the negative economic impact of this thing. For example, one economic sector that will be hit hard is the sleazy motel industry.

There's another reason to hate these eyes of Big Brother. If it can be used for business purposes, what's to stop it from being used in our personal lives? Won't boyfriends, girlfriends, and spouses be able to track people down, too? 

Young people who actually understand how these things work are probably laughing at me for being concerned about a little app. Let me remind you who scoff that there is another group that will certainly want this device -- parents. Do you really want them to know where you go when you say that you can't go dinner with them because you have to go to a friend's house to study? 


Ironically, it's because of these very same young people that I'm confident that this won't be a problem soon. They can make a computer jump through hoops while they watch the latest video of a baby trying to change his own diaper. So it won't be a problem at all for some smart computer whizzes to come up with programs to disable things like this Google Snoop. In the meantime, I'll just continue to write my column here in this dusty old library. Or am I at the beach? I'll bet "they" know. 




Monday, June 4, 2012

It's A Search Engine, Stupid









    You'd have to be crazy to lie on your resume’ these days. It's so easy for others to use a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo! to check that resume. So who would try to sneak a lie past them? The CEO of Yahoo! 

Recently, Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson was caught with a little too much creativity on his resume’. How did he think he could get away with it?  Besides, as the CEO of Yahoo!, the better he made the company, the greater were the chances his lie would be discovered. Does he arm-wrestle with himself, too?

     What was that grandiose lie on Thompson's resume’? He claimed that he had gotten a degree in Computer Science from Stonehill College. Stonehill College? I'm sure that's a fine school, but is that the one you'd choose if you were going to risk your future with a lie?

       Last year, authorities discovered that Yale's football coach, Tom Williams lied on his resume’. Coach Williams had said that he had been a finalist for a Rhodes scholarship. It turned out that the coach had never been a Rhodes Scholar candidate, or even an applicant. What was he thinking? "There's no way anybody could possibly find out that I'm making up this little Rhodes Scholar thing?" 

In a particularly odious episode, during Richard Blumenthal's 2010 campaign for Senator in Connecticut, he claimed he had served in Vietnam. This was exposed as a lie during the campaign.

Remember Michael "Way To Go Brownie" Brown, the FEMA director during Katrina? His resume’ stated that he had been a political science professor at the University of Central Oklahoma. School officials said he was never a member of the faculty. This revelation was quite disturbing, since everything else about Brown seemed so exemplary.

So why do people do this when the odds are so much against keeping their secrets secret? I'll bet most of them could still do fine without padding their resume’s. All right, forget about "Brownie" – if you can. Scott Thompson had proved he could be a successful CEO before Yahoo! Richard Blumenthal won his election even after he was caught lying about serving in Vietnam. So why do they do it?

I don't think saying they want to get caught is the whole picture. I think it's more that they want there to be the possibility of getting caught. Maybe in this sit-behind-a-desk-all-day world, this is the kind of thrill some people have found to replace the physical thrills of yesteryear. They aren't going to wrestle a grizzly bear before their morning latte, so they lie about where they went to school. They aren't going to win the one they love in a duel while waiting for the car's GPS to be fixed, so they lie about fighting in a war. They aren't going to fight off a python and save a kid's life after their wine tasting class, so they claim, well, they claim they fought off a python and saved a kid's life. For them, their bravery is tested on the battlefield of the internet. Like with most famous warriors, they know the odds are against success. That's probably what makes the fight so exciting. 

I'll never be tempted to lie on a resume’ just so I can see if I can beat internet search engines. I don't need a substitute for physical bravery. For the last two years, I've been getting my rush from fighting amateur boxing matches. So far, I'm eight and two, nine and one if you count the controversial Lopez decision. Think I made that up? Well, I just can't imagine how you could check on me.


 





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