Tag Archives: tech opinion

The Corporate Miss: Cubefarms and Open Office Environments


I work in a very interesting open office environment. And you know what one of the benefits of this setup is? Nothing.

It sure keeps us quiet. If that’s the idea, it works pretty well. We sit feet from each other and we stare into our “privacy-enhanced” dual monitors and we don’t talk. Talking would be rude. And when the younger group of consultants, talks about 50 feet behind me, it IS annoying. This is a huge miss. We’d rather send an email than drop by and say hi. For consideration of our neighbors.

So everyone wears ear buds and listens to music or pretends to listen to webcast presentations. We’re really just hanging out in our little fishbowl, wondering who is watching us and why they’ve got us all clustered together. This building has about 2 complete floors of available space. They could give us each cube and offices if they wanted to. But they don’t. Something about this layout says “innovation.” Something about this open environment says modern. What it really says to all of us, “I’m watching you.”

And if you know anything about corporate IT you already know they can watch every keystroke. Do they? No. It would be extremely boring and inefficient. But they put little sniffers on your computer. 1. Is he opening Facebook? 2. Is he checking his personal G-mail account too often. 3. Is he opening inappropriate sites? 4. What applications does he spend the most time on? (They can ask for a break down of you entire day, week, or month by application activity. So, it’s not like we’re going to get away with anything if we were not looking over each other’s shoulders.)

And the millennials are not much happier. Sure, they break out in song and dance every now and then to piss the rest of us off. But for the most part their joy is also muted by the observation of considerate silence.

I was walking around the building today and walking past a very clean and open cube farm. I once thought cube farms were the height of impersonal space. Today, I think a cube farm would be a major upgrade. When I visit my friends on the 5th floor, they’ve all got their own spaces. Their own walls to hang things. Their own extra chair for people to stop by and chat.

So what’s the motivation behind the open office environment? Enforcement? Compliance? Space savings? What ever it is, the research shows the detrimental effects of being in an open environment. I’ve just mentioned a few.

  1. Isolation – rather than open
  2. Noise – zero privacy
  3. High stress – as opening your Facebook page might get you busted

What they’ve shown, more than carrots and sticks, workers prefer being given the opportunity to succeed on their own terms. Mastery seems to be its own reward. So if they put us in spaces that respected our human nature the wouldn’t need a manager in a desk looking directly over everyone. It’s demeaning. It’s cruel. It fosters subversion and hiding in conference rooms.

Whatever the open office experiment was, it has failed just like the open classroom idea that came in vogue as I was entering 7th grade. No work got done. In middle school all we did was make eye contact with our friends and goof off. In the corporate environment the exact opposite occurs. We make zero eye contact, we rarely talk, and in the middle of a group of people we can feel more isolated than when we are alone.

I’m not going to change my company anytime soon. But I have to say, I’m really glad I only work with them as a consultant, part-time. If I were there 40+ hours a week, I’d bug out.

Reference: Why the Open Office Fails – Forbes

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

Life in the Cloud; Life in the Aether Is Going to be Much Cooler


Remember when we talked about cloud computing? Everyone and everything wanted to be in the cloud. Guess what? We’re there. And if cloud computing is like air travel, we’re heading for interstellar storage. On demand, free, and everywhere.

That’s the problem with the cloud today, you’re only able to access your data if you’re connected. If you’re long international flight doesn’t offer wifi, you’re SOL. But we won’t be in the Write Brother’s age of computing for too long. Devices and smart programmers are working towards something more seamless and something more ubiquitous.

YouTube Music is Google’s first play into the music space. And powered by YOUR YouTube music selections, it does a great job of knowing what you like and what you want to hear. It’s not Pandora yet, but it’s getting there. The cool thing about YT Music is it’s ability to create an offline playlist for when your signal goes offline.

Based on your song selections, YTM can pre-download a selection of music based on how much space you allocate, or how much time you believe you are going to be offline. Then, using your previous selections, YTM builds a playlist for your flight. No matter where you are, YTM is there with songs. Pandora can’t do this. Spotify can, but only the paid version.

And Google docs has some similar features built into Google Drive. With Drive you can work on and save documents to your local computer, that will then be synced once you’re back online.

So the cloud is interesting, life in the aether will be much cooler.

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

Tech Room 2014: TOP BINGE TV SHOWS (Nerd Bias)

In the tech room, awaiting people to help, your nerds chose our top binge-watch quality TV shows.


  1. Torchwood
  2. Heroes
  3. Dr. Who
  4. Farscape
  5. MI-5
  6. Lexx
  7. Luther
  8. The Guild
  9. BSG
  10. Firefly
  11. Star Trek Universe
  12. Stargate
  13. Red Dwarf
  14. Primeval
  15. Sherlock
  16. Game of Throwns
  17. Supernatural
  18. Arrow
  19. Flash
  20. Agents of S. H. I. E. L. D.
  21. Sleepy Hollow
  22. Utopia
  23. Silicon Valley
  24. IT Crowd
  25. Fringe
  26. Walking Dead
  27. Revolutions

See Also:

Tech Room 2014: TOP SCI-FI BOOKS

In the tech room, awaiting people to help, your nerds chose our top sci-fi books.

techroom 225x300 Tech Room 2014: TOP 10 SCI FI MOVIES of ALL TIMETHE BEST SCIFI BOOKS (NOT IN ORDER)

  1. Dune – Herbert
  2. 1984 – Orwell
  3. Ender’s Game (series)- Orson Scott Card
  4. The Dragonriders of Pern – Anne McCaffrey
  5. Foundation (series) – Asimov
  6. The Belgariad, Vol. 1 – Eddings
  7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Adams
  8. The Martian Chronicles – Bradbury
  9. Fahrenheit 451 – Bradbury
  10. Childhood’s End (Arthur C. Clarke Collection) – Clarke
  11. The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles, 1-10 (Chronicles of Amber) – Zalazny
  12. Rendezvous with Rama – Clarke
  13. Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1) – Butcher
  14. VALIS and Later Novels – P. K. Dick
  15. Ringworld – Niven
  16. Snow Crash – Stephenson
  17. Neuromancer – Gibson
  18. Altered Carbon – Richard K Morgan



See Also:

Tech Room 2014: TOP 10 SCI-FI MOVIES of ALL TIME

In the tech room, awaiting people to help, we have created the TOP TEN TECH/SCIFI movies of all time. All staff and customers were given three votes once the list was established.


  1. Lord of the Rings (all) V: 5
  2. The Matrix (all) V:9
  3. The Fifth Element V:7
  4. Star Wars (original 3) V: 14
  5. 2001: A Space Odessey V: 7
  6. Aliens V: 5
  7. Bladerunner V: 6
  8. Serenity V: 3
  9. Guardians of the Galaxy V: 4
  10. Inception V: 3

Honored but voted off the top-10 list (ALT titles were in the top-10 for a while)

  • ALT: Harry Potter (“cause it’s not scifi)
  • ALT: Star Trek: Reboot
  • ALT: Avengers
  • Avatar (“pocahontas in space”)
  • Mission Impossible (“Tom Cruise, scientology, meh”)
  • Promethius (“just, not my top 10”)
  • Terminator
  • Men in Black
  • ID-4
  • Ender’s Game
  • Back to the Future
  • Terminator
  • Total Recall
  • TRON
  • Dark City
  • Adjustment Bureau
  • Heavy Metal
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Mad Max
  • District 9
  • Jurassic Park
  • Pixar – all
  • Minority Report
  • X-Men
  • Dune
  • Brazil
  • Time Bandits
  • ID-4
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Planet of the Apes (Original and Reboot)
  • Watchmen
  • 300
  • Spaceballs
  • Oblivion
  • E.T.
  • Men in Black
  • The Abyss (director’s cut)
  • Galaxy Quest

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The Big Rip Off: Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6+ Most Wanted

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 8.13.59 AM

The real tragedy of the massive iPhone 6 release on Friday, is aside from being the largest iPhone release yet, it also signals the next wave of the “most stolen” device of the decade. And Apple/ATT/Verizon/T-Mobile could’ve done something about it, but why… They are going to sell millions of these shiny new coveted objects, and then they are going to sell a second iPhone 6 to all the people who lose them to theft. (Here’s my 2012 iPhone 5 theft story.)

A new voluntary commitment from the phone manufacturers and carriers is going to add the “kill” feature to their devices and plans by July of 2015. At least that’s the promise. Today we can wipe or lock our phones. And Apple even has a cool “Find My iPhone” feature that’s been successful at recovering a number of lost phones. But it’s not enough. A “locked” phone can be reactivated after being reset. And there’s simply no reason for that to be the case. That little unique ID code on your phone SHOULD be able to lock it forever. This would render the stolen phone after market null and void.

In Mexico when my week-old iPhone 5 was ripped out of my hands by two thieves on a motorcycle, I was able to use the software to track the phone until they turned it off. And then nothing. After a bit of software manipulation I’m sure my phone was on sale within hours. And somewhere, up in ATT’s bowels, when the phone showed up again for reactivation, there should’ve been an alarm signal and KILL execution. But I’m sure ATT was happy to re-initialize the iPhone in Mexico while they sold me a new on in Texas. (Oh, and buyer beware, if they talk you into the insurance on your phone at the carrier, know that you’re still going to pay a $150 deductible. Nice chump change for your carrier.)

So yesterday’s record release of iPhone 6 units into the world, also signals a new market for stolen iPhone 6s. And it doesn’t have to be this way, but the manufacturers are making a killing selling handsets and selling them again to people who lose them to the black market.

About 1.6 million Americans had their phones stolen last year, according to Consumer Reports. About 40 percent of robberies in major U.S. cities involve mobile devices, the Federal Communications Commission has noted. *Huffpo

The system will only work if everyone is on-board. If the “kill” switch is voluntary, or an opt-in approach, the thefts will continue. But the carriers should be forced to kill stolen phones at the request of the previous owner. “My phone was stolen, disable this phone from reactivation on ATT,” should be all it takes to brick a shiny new iPhone 6. Of course, that’s not the way it’s going to play out. The carriers and manufactures have a lot to lose by killing all those stolen phones. If they implemented a real fix they would dry up that market that sold an additional 1.6 million phones last year. That’s a lot of revenue and a lot of deductibles if you happen to have paid for theft insurance.

As consumers we should demand a better method of killing our stolen phones. Apple’s approach is okay, but not a hard kill. My phone in Mexico was certainly reset to factory new and reinitialized on ATT’s network. And I shelled out the money for a new one on my upgradeable line. Two years later I would’ve hoped the iPhone 6 would’ve been a less attractive target for theft, but it’s only a bigger and more lucrative target.

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)
permalink: http://uber.la/2014/09/iphone-6-ripoff/


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