Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fired with cause? Interesting column from Nick Corcodilos

Insightful column on a very tough topic; check it out!

P.S. The below-mentioned newsletter is more detailed, useful and not annoying; I recommend it.
P.P.S. Make sure to read the reader comments at the end of the article! There are clunkers, but the general quality is very good.

How much should I say about getting fired?

Filed under: How to Say It, Interviewing, Q&A, Readers' Forum

In the January 31, 2012 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader asks what to say in a job interview — if he got fired previously for doing something wrong:

I was fired for a minor policy violation. How much should I tell prospective employers about it? Everyone I've spoken to has agreed that my indiscretion did not warrant being fired, so in interviews do I tell what happened and hope for the best? Or, do I make up a story to cover it up? Should I refuse to speak about it at all? How much can my old employer say, or shouldn't I use them as a reference even though they've agreed to do it?

Here's the short version of my advice: (For the entire column, you need to subscribe to the free newsletter. Don't miss another edition!)

My Advice

Do not lie if you're asked why you left your last job, and do not offer made-up stories to cover up the past. However, I believe the only ethical responsibility you have is to disclose anything that you believe would materially affect your ability to do the job the way the company wants it done.

Why not just ask your old boss what kind of reference will be given? (The policy violation was not "minor." It was major enough to get you fired. This would be a good time to apologize, if you haven't done so already.) If you know what the company is saying about you, you'll know better how to handle it.

You can also research the reference indirectly. This is an aggressive approach, but if you do it without any misrepresentations, I think it's legit(This part is only in the newsletter… Don't miss next week's edition. Sign up now! It's free!)

More important, you must line up at least two good references at your old company. Their words will count a lot, even if your ex-boss says something negative.

If you're asked in an interview, respond candidly. Admit you made a mistake but keep it in context. Demonstrate your self-confidence, and make a commitment.

How to Say It
"My references will tell you I'm very good at my work and I'm trustworthy. You're getting a talented, dedicated, hard-working employee who has learned a lesson, rather than someone who has yet to make a mistake. I won't let you down."

That last sentence is a very powerful commitment. You must live up to it.

Some companies will decline to hire you. Others will hire you based on what they see and hear. Then it's up to you to prove they made a good choice.

Have you ever been fired? How did you deal with the facts in a job interview? Did it even come up? If you're an employer, have you ever hired someone who was fired for doing something wrong? Why did you take a chance on the person? How did it work out?

What advice would you give about the situation in today's Q&A?

: :

Monday, January 30, 2012

Too much computer? courtesy of Gary, Bradley, and Carol :-)

From: Gary Smith

Thanks Bradley & Carol !!!


From: Bradley Stoll
To my computer friends




Don't let your life end this way! 



Computer addicts never die...they just go offline.












No virus found in this incoming message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 8.5.441 / Virus Database: 271.1.1/3042 - Release Date: 07/31/10 18:34:00


A blow against email phishing, courtesy of Official Gmail Blog

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: The Gmail Team <gmailteam@google.com>
Date: Sun, Jan 29, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Subject: [Official Gmail Blog] Landing another blow against email phishing
To: gmail-blog-posts@googlegroups.com

Posted by Adam Dawes, Product Manager

Email phishing, in which someone tries to trick you into revealing personal information by sending fake emails that look legitimate, remains one of the biggest online threats. One of the most popular methods that scammers employ is something called domain spoofing. With this technique, someone sends a message that seems legitimate when you look at the "From" line even though it's actually a fake. Email phishing is costing regular people and companies millions of dollars each year, if not more, and in response, Google and other companies have been talking about how we can move beyond the solutions we've developed individually over the years to make a real difference for the whole email industry.

Industry groups come and go, and it's not always easy to tell at the beginning which ones are actually going to generate good solutions. When the right contributors come together to solve real problems, though, real things happen. That's why we're particularly optimistic about today's announcement of DMARC.org, a passionate collection of companies focused on significantly cutting down on email phishing and other malicious mail.

Building upon the work of previous mail authentication standards like SPF and DKIM, DMARC is responding to domain spoofing and other phishing methods by creating a standard protocol by which we'll be able to measure and enforce the authenticity of emails. With DMARC, large email senders can ensure that the email they send is being recognized by mail providers like Gmail as legitimate, as well as set policies so that mail providers can reject messages that try to spoof the senders' addresses.

We've been active in the leadership of the DMARC group for almost two years, and now that Gmail and several other large mail senders and providers — namely Facebook, LinkedIn, and PayPal — are actively using the DMARC specification, the road is paved for more members of the email ecosystem to start getting a handle on phishing. Our recent data indicates that roughly 15% of non-spam messages in Gmail are already coming from domains protected by DMARC, which means Gmail users like you don't need to worry about spoofed messages from these senders. The phishing potential plummets when the system just works, and that's what DMARC provides.

If you're a large email sender and you want to try out the DMARC specification, you can learn more at the DMARC website. Even if you're not ready to take on the challenge of authenticating all your outbound mail just yet, there's no reason to not sign up to start receiving reports of mail that fraudulently claims to originate from your address. With further adoption of DMARC, we can all look forward to a more trustworthy overall experience with email.

Posted By The Gmail Team to Official Gmail Blog at 1/29/2012 09:00:00 PM

You received this message because you subscribed to the Gmail Blog via email.
To unsubscribe, email gmail-blog-posts+unsubscribe@googlegroups.com. More info at http://groups.google.com/group/gmail-blog-posts?hl=en

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Snake Oil? The scientific evidence for health supplements, courtesy of InformationIsBeautiful

Snake oil? Scientific evidence for health supplements

play with the interactive version | find out more about this image | post a comment | see the data | look at the previous version (Jan 2010)

UPDATE 2 – 1st October 2010 -Top to bottom revise of the data. See the change log for details.
UPDATE 1 – 21st March 2010 - We’ve updated our data thanks to excellent visitor feedback and new evidence. See the change log for details.


This image is a “balloon race”. The higher a bubble, the greater the evidence for its effectiveness. But the supplements are only effective for the conditions listed inside the bubble.

You might also see multiple bubbles for certain supps. These is because some supps affect a range of conditions, but the evidence quality varies from condition to condition. For example, there’s strong evidence that Green Tea is good for cholesterol levels. But evidence for its anti-cancer effects is conflicting. In these cases, we give a supp another bubble.

This visualisation generates itself from this Google Doc. So when new research comes out, we can quickly update the data and regenerate the image. (How cool is that??)

As ever, we welcome your thoughts, crits, comments, corrections, compliments, tweaks, new evidence, missing supps, and general feedback. Thank you!


Like this? Subscribe for more Web Feed Twitter FB
See dynamic chart at this link:

Snake Oil? The scientific evidence for health supplements

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"No" is the New "Yes": Four Practices to Reprioritize Your Life, courtesy of Harvard Business Review

"Do the most important thing on your list first when you get to work in the morning, for up to 90 minutes. If possible, keep your door closed, your email turned off and your phone on silent. The more singularly absorbed your focus, the more you'll get accomplished, and the higher the quality of the work is likely to be. When you finish, take a break to renew and refuel. "

Tech job with training alone? courtesy of Ask Annie

Ask Annie

Can you snag a tech job with training alone?

January 26, 2012. 10:02 AM ET

Maybe. But despite a plethora of government-funded training programs and lots of job openings in IT, getting hired isn't easy.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

FORTUNE -- Dear Annie: Since being pink-slipped from my job as a construction manager almost three years ago, I've been making ends meet with a string of low-skilled jobs that don't really use my abilities and aren't leading anywhere. I keep hearing that there are a lot of opportunities in high tech, and I'd love to go after a job in that field, but I have almost no formal tech training (although I enjoy fooling around with computers and have taught myself a couple of programming languages in my spare time). I did take a few computer science courses in college, but I never graduated.

So, I have two questions: Would I have to go back and finish college to get into IT? And, even if I somehow managed to do that, what are my chances of getting hired with no work experience as a techie? — Dead End Dan

Dear Dan: It's certainly true that job opportunities are plentiful in high tech. Most in demand right now are people skilled in health care IT, security (both network and mobile), systems integration, and mobile app development. Then there's the cloud. Help-wanted ads for cloud computing are up 61% over last year at this time, according to a new study by workforce-research firm Wanted Technologies.

Altogether, says Todd Thibodeaux, head of computer industry trade group Comp/TIA, about half a million IT jobs in the U.S. are going begging. One reason employers can't find enough skilled hires, even with unemployment so high: a wide range of federal and state-funded grant programs are available to pay for tech training, yet most people who are eligible to apply (like you, perhaps) are unaware that the programs exist.

"It's a huge problem," says Thibodeaux. "Government agencies that administer these grants, at both the federal and state levels, need to do a much better job of getting the word out."

In the meantime, anyone interested in looking into a training for a new career can find all the relevant information on a special Department of Labor web site.

The good news, from your point of view: You don't need to go back to school for a bachelor's degree. Many top IT training courses are offered by community colleges, by tech companies like Microsoft (MSFT), and by specialized computer training schools, online and in person. "To get started on a tech career, you don't need anywhere near a four-year degree," Thibodeaux says.

You might consider beginning with one of the basic certifications Comp/TIA offers (which, like most other legitimate training courses, are covered by government grants, if you qualify), such as the basic A+ certification. Employers look for these credentials. In one recent survey, 86% of IT hiring managers said certifications are "a high priority" in evaluating job candidates.

Complete descriptions of all Comp/TIA certifications, including a new one in cloud computing that launched just last month, are available on the association's web site, along with aptitude tests to help you choose a specific career path. "You don't have to be a math or science genius to succeed in IT," Thibodeaux says. "But you do need problem-solving aptitude and interest -- and, increasingly, good people skills."

Let's assume you have those. Your second question -- whether you can get hired without work experience -- is tougher. "Employers tend to prefer candidates with at least some experience," notes Tom Silver, senior vice president for North America at tech job board Dice.com. However, he adds, the current talent crunch may work in your favor: "In order to address the skills shortage, companies may have to compromise on experience requirements. That might make it easier on entry-level job applicants."

Take cloud computing, for instance. Researchers on the Wanted Technologies study found that about half of the additional job ads that were posted this year (compared to last year) stated that cloud experience is a must. The other half require training, but no experience.

Another area where newbies may find a welcome is Microsoft's .NET, a platform for mobile app development. A recent Dice report notes that the platform is "an accessible entry point" for "novices looking to break into the tech industry." Says Silver, "It's a relatively straightforward framework to learn and, while recruiters often chase mid-career talent, almost one-third of .NET searches in our database call for less than three years of experience."

Of course, even getting one or two years of experience may be a challenge. Three suggestions: First, tap your network. "If you know anyone in IT, friend them on Facebook, join their LinkedIn networks, and get connected to their contacts," says Thibodeaux. "Only about 30% of IT jobs now are filled through advertised postings. The other 70% of the time, people are hiring people they know."

Second, try temping. Once you have some training and a certification or two under your belt, companies like Manpower, Robert Half International, and Kelly IT Resources can help you find short-term, entry-level project work where you can build practical know-how and meet people.

And third, keep in mind that attitude counts. "Training and certifications are a great start," says Michael Dsupin, CEO of Talener, a tech staffing company. "But more and more, our clients are looking for someone passionate, hungry, and enthusiastic." The fact that you've been teaching yourself programming languages just for fun is a clear sign of genuine enthusiasm, so do talk about it: "Without actual work experience, it's critical to discuss your tech hobbies."

Dsupin tells a story you may appreciate, about what he calls "one of my favorite placements of all time." A job applicant was trying to switch to a tech career from a different field, with a brand new Microsoft Certification and no experience. Confronted with a skeptical team of hiring managers, recalls Dsupin, "he said something like, 'I know this certification means nothing. I want to learn and, given the opportunity, I will deliver.'"

He got the job.

Talkback: If you're in IT, how did you get your first job? If you're a tech hiring manager, would you hire someone with training but no experience? Leave a comment below.

Filed under: Ask Annie, Contributors

See more Ask Annie

About This Author
Anne Fisher
Anne Fisher

Anne Fisher has been writing "Ask Annie," a column on careers, for Fortune since 1996, helping readers navigate booms, recessions, changing industries, and changing ideas about what's appropriate in the workplace (and beyond). Anne is the author of two books, Wall Street Women (Knopf, 1990) and If My Career's on the Fast Track, Where Do I Get a Road Map? (William Morrow, 2001). She also writes the "Executive Inbox" column on New York City entrepreneurs for Crain's New York Business.

Email Anne

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How to be THE LUCKIEST GUY ON THE PLANET in 4 Easy Steps, courtesy of Altucher Confidential

How to be THE LUCKIEST GUY ON THE PLANET in 4 Easy Steps Altucher Confidential:

It's not the first time I've referred you to his blog, he covers a lot of good territory. This one is about: Life...

How to be THE LUCKIEST GUY ON THE PLANET in 4 Easy Steps

I told my dad, “I’m a lucky guy.” He said, “But are you lucky in love?” I was six years old. Love was the most disgusting thing in the world to me. What the hell was he talking about? Love was living in another neighborhood at that time. Or another planet. It would be years before Love stuck its ugly little nose into my house and said, “hello, anyone here?
Luck was all about rolling the dice. Or finding a quarter on the ground. Or seeing a double rainbow after a quick storm.
But now I’m different. I’m constantly checking in and out of the Hospital of No Luck. I’m older. I need luck to be constantly transfused into me or I run out of it. Without luck, I’m dead. For me, good luck equals happiness. On a scale of happiness from 0 to 10, I think I’m about a seven or eight. But that’s a big improvement. When I was lying on the floor here, I was probably about a zero. Or at different points in this story, I was maybe at negative. So I’m trending upwards. I get lucky when I stick to three simple goals:
My ONLY Three Goals in Life
A) I want to be happy.
B) I want to eradicate unhappiness in my life.
C) I want every day to be as smooth as possible. No hassles.
That’s it. I’m not asking for much. I need simple goals else I can’t achieve them.
There’s been at least ten times in my life that everything seemed so low I felt like I would never achieve the above three things and the world would be better off without me. Other times I felt like I was stuck at a crossroads and would never figure out which road to take. Each time I bounced back.
When I look back at these times now I realize there was a common thread. Each time there were four things, and only four things, that were always in place in order for me to bounce back. Now I try to incorporate these four things into a daily practice so I never dip low again.
A) Physical – being in shape. Doing some form of exercise. In 2003 I woke up at 5am every day and from 5-6am I played “Round the World” on a basketball court overlooking the Hudson River. Every day (except when it rained). Trains would pass and people at 5:30am would wave to me out the window. Now, I try to do yoga every day. But its hard. All you need to do, minimally, is exercise enough to break a sweat for 10 minutes. So about 20-30 minutes worth of exercise a day. This is not to get “ripped” or “shredded”. But just to be healthy. You can’t be happy if you aren’t healthy. Also, spending this time helps your mind better deal with its daily anxieties. If you can breathe easy when your body is in pain then its easier to breathe during difficult situations. Here’s other things that are a part of this but a little bit harder:
  1. Wake up by 4-5am every day.
  2. Go to sleep by 8:30-9. (Good to sleep 8 hours a night!)
  3. No eating after 5:30pm. Can’t be happy if indigested at night.
B) Emotional– If someone is a drag on me, I cut them out. If someone lifts me up, I bring them closer. Nobody is sacred here. When the plane is going down, put the oxygen mask on your face first. Family, friends, people I love – I always try to be there for them and help. But I don’t get close to anyone bringing me down. This rule can’t be broken. Energy leaks out of you if someone is draining you. And I never owe anyone an explanation. Explaining is draining.
Another important rule: always be honest. Its fun. Nobody is honest anymore and people are afraid of it. Try being honest for a day (without being hurtful). Its amazing where the boundaries are of how honest one can be. Its much bigger than I thought. A corollary of this is: I never do anything I don’t want to do. Like I NEVER go to weddings.
C) Mental – Every day I write down ideas. I write down so many ideas that it hurts my head to come up with one more. Then I try to write down five more. The other day I tried to write 100 alternatives kids can do other than go to college. I wrote down eight, which I wrote about here. I couldn’t come up with anymore. Then the next day I came up with another 40. It definitely stretched my head. No ideas today? Memorize all the legal 2 letter words for Scrabble. Translate the Tao Te Ching into Spanish. Need ideas for lists of ideas? Come up with 30 separate chapters for an “autobiography”. Try to think of 10 businesses you can start from home (and be realistic how you can execute them)? Give me 10 ideas of directions this blog can go in. Think of 20 ways Obama can improve the country. List every productive thing you did yesterday (this improves memory also and gives you ideas for today).
The “idea muscle” atrophies within days if you don’t use it. Just like walking. If you don’t use your legs for a week, they atrophy. You need to exercise the idea muscle. It takes about 3-6 months to build up once it atrophies. Trust me on this.

(use waiter pads to write down ideas)
D) Spiritual. I feel that most people don’t like the word “spiritual”. They think it means “god”. Or “religion”. But it doesn’t. I don’t know what it means actually. But I feel like I have a spiritual practice when I do one of the following:
  1. Pray (doesn’t matter if I’m praying to a god or to dead people or to the sun or to a chair in front of me – it just means being thankful. And not taking all the credit, for just a few seconds of the day).
  2. Meditate – Meditation for more than a few minutes is hard. It’s boring. Here I give tips for 60 second meditations. You can also meditate for 15 seconds by really visualizing what it would be like meditate for 60 minutes. Here’s a simple meditation: sit in a chair, keep the back straight, watch yourself breathe. If you get distracted, no problem. Just pull yourself back to your breath. Try it for 5 minutes. Then six.
  3. Being grateful – I try to think of everyone in my life I’m grateful for. Then I try to think of more people. Then more. Its hard.
  4. Forgiving – I picture everyone who has done me wrong. I visualize gratefulness for them (but not pity).
  5. Studying. If I read a spiritual text (doesn’t matter what it is: Bible, Tao Te Ching, anything Zen related, even inspirational self-help stuff, doesn’t matter) I tend to feel good. This is not as powerful as praying or meditating (it doesn’t train your mind to cut out the BS) but it still makes me feel good.
My own experience: I can never achieve the three “simple” goals on a steady basis without doing the above practice on a daily basis. And EVERY TIME I’ve hit bottom (or close to a bottom, or I’ve been at some sort of crossroads.) and started dong the above 4 items (1991, 1995, 1997, 2002, 2006, 2008) magic would happen:
The Results
A) Within about one month, I’d notice coincidences start to happen. I’d start to feel lucky. People would smile at me more.
B) Within three months the ideas would really start flowing, to the point where I felt overwhelming urges to execute the ideas.
C) Within six months, good ideas would start flowing, I’d begin executing them, and everyone around me would help me put everything together.
D) Within a year my life was always completely different. 100% upside down from the year before. More money, more luck, more health, etc. And then I’d get lazy and stop doing the practice. And everything falls apart again. But now I’m trying to do it every day.
Its hard to do all of this every day. Nobody is perfect. I don’t know if I’ll do all of these things today. But I know when I do it, it works.
You will rule the planet if you follow me on Twitter.

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