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The question that the courts are being asked to answer, in a suit brought by an employer against a former employee, is;

Does an employee who leaves a job that involves working with social media have the right to take his or her Twitter account and followers along?

 According to Ron Barnett, a writer for USA TODAY,

That’s the question at the heart of a case unfolding in U.S. District Court in Northern California. It pits Noah Kravitz, who worked as an editor and video blogger, against his former employer, PhoneDog, a Mount Pleasant, S.C.-based company that offers reviews, news and information about phones and related technology.

By the time Kravitz left PhoneDog in October 2010, he had amassed nearly 17,000 followers. PhoneDog says in the lawsuit those followers should be treated like a customer list, and therefore are its property. The company is asking that Kravitz pay $2.50 per follower per month for eight months, or a total of $340,000. In his answer filed last week, Kravitz argues that PhoneDog is overstating the account’s value and that Twitter is the legal owner of the account.

Eric Menhart, a Washington attorney specializing in cyberlaw says that, “unless there’s a written agreement, there’s no clear line that answers this question.”

This lawsuit has the potential to touch the lives of anyone who uses social media, especially if they use it not only to promote a a particular employer’s brand-name but to create valuable name recognition for themselves.

Rachael Horwitz of Twitter’s media relations office stated that “Twitter does not comment on individual users for privacy reasons.”

Note: It is generally accepted in employment practices that for any work performed for an employer that creates value for said employer while said employee is under an employment contract… that value is effectively owned by the employer.  


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There’s been a great hullabaloo about “the Battery Problem” with the new iPhone 4S. Lot’s of stink and griping about yet another lousy product from Apple.

Sadly, a lot of those making the noise are industry professionals who should know better, but don’t seem to care. Never mind the problems galore that devices using Google’s Android operating system, or Microsoft’s mobile device OS seem to routinely suffer.

It’s all about bashing one of the top technology companies in the world just because it’s Apple.

If anyone had really been paying attention to ‘the problem’ and not the symptom, it might have dawned on them that all devices currently running iOS 5.0 were being affected . Which means iPads, iPods and iPhones. Even those already owned and only recently upgraded to the new iOS version… were suddenly having the same problem!

Which means, folks, that the problem is not in the hardware. So can we stop griping about the battery… please?

Where the problem is… is in the power management routines in the Operating System… caused by the enabling of features in the hardware that until now had been purposely left  switched ‘off’… because the functions weren’t enabled in previous releases of iOS.

This is intelligent product life-cycle planning. Building in features and functions you know you want to include but not enabling functionality because you’re going to turn it and other features on in future releases of the operating system.

In my opinion, this is a nice bonus for the device owner as it certainly goes along way in proving the ROI on cost-of-ownership. It is not ‘ building a fat product full of useless technology’.

… unlike some products on the marketplace that obsolesce as soon as a ‘new and improved’ product is released because they don’t bother to think past now, or don’t give a damn about the cash-cow … I mean, the end-user.

As a systems engineer, I have first hand experience with just how touchy it can be to get it ‘just right’ … and it can go wrong so easily. With a major OS release there are thousands of potential problems that can come back to bite you.

Thankfully, the problem’s been found, the code’s been fixed and is being tested, and soon the symptom will go away. Apple does a fantastic job of it, thanks in part to it’s corporate culture, but also to the dedication of its engineers and designers to product quality.

And just a note to the whiners: I’ve run into power management issues on products from every manufacturer of laptop, notebook and mobile device manufactured over the past twenty plus years.

…and I expect to see more of them in the future.

I’ll tell you why later.

As I noted on my tumblr Blog is morning, it’s been a bad week for commercial cloud computing.

Portions of Amazon’s  EC2 (Elastic Cloud Compute)  service have been down  since yesterday, incapacitating a number of Web services. Among them, Publishers Weekly is down, as is The Office of Letters and Light NANOWRIMO site, which is why you’re seeing ‘image’ or ‘content’ unavailable messages on this Blog site.

Cloud computing and the technology behind it is still evolving. While some, notably commercial retailers and web-based media services, are early adopters, there are many who are still skeptical of the state of the technology.

There has been significant recent negative media coverage regarding the privacy and security, or lack thereof, of cloud-computing service providers and the data their users store with them. Whether that will translate to losses for eCommerce sites remains to be seen, but the obvious concerns over stability and security of provider-based systems is and will remain to haunt the industry for the foreseeable future.

 

So says Tim Wu, whose new book, The Master Switch, was released yesterday.

He poses the argument that the Internet now runs the risk of political censorship – as seen in Libya and Egypt, and in the American reaction to WikiLeaks – but also commercial censorship.

“The internet is about 15 years into its cycle as an open medium,” says Wu, “and at that moment in their cycle, most open media tend to turn to closed media.”

I would agree that to some extent this has been true for a very long time, yet not for the same reasons one might suppose.

We presume when we call it “The Internet”, because in truth it is closer to what Tim Berners-Lee called a World-Wide-Web.

“The” Internet is in-fact a series of independent intra-networks and extra-networks interconnected at their edges in order to allow communication and commerce to flow globally.

Some of those intranets are, and always have been private commercial and industrial networks, while others are government owned. Public and academic institutions own still others.

The glue that connects it all are the telecommunications companies extranets that provide the backbone those intranets connect to, in a web-like layered construct that has become more and more complex and inter-dependent over the years.

New services like teleconferencing, VOIP (Voice-Over-IP) and others have been shoehorned into the overall architecture, as have access methodologies like Wireless and WiFi, to the point where the entire model can be destabilised far more easily than had ever been anticipated.

We are rapidly approaching the necessity of a re-design of that infrastructure, and in-fact discussions and planning toward that re-design have been going on for a number of years… a cumbersome, complex process affected by the self-serving natures of the components of the whole great beast.

I think that what is more likely to be approaching in the shorter term is, if you will, a re-boot of the “Internet” back into it’s disparate network form… which his to say multiple backbones that handle different layers of services to different levels of consumers; government, commercial, industrial, scientific and public.

Where the new edges will be, what levels of access will still be free, and what services will become pay-to-play remain to be determined. How soon this will happen depends largely on the willingness and ability of agencies like the FCC and their International counterparts to stand-up to political interference like the recent Republican vote in the US House of Representatives to revoke the recent net-neutrality legislation.

So yes, change is coming, but what that change will be is up to us.

Tell the politicians and petty dictators to go stuff their self-serving ideology and greed up their pipe… and smoke it.

 

Rule Number Two: Redundancy in the data-centre is a necessity.

Rule Number Three: Redundancy in the home is a luxury.

We woke to no internet today. The router went down, taking our Internet and IPTV (television over internet) with it,  thanks to a flakey ‘made in china’ 19 vdc 700ma power supply dongle, which one cannot find a replacement for most days, and especially not on any given Sunday…

But of course it would have to be Superbowl Sunday !

… thereby forcing us to miss what was probably one of the best football games I’ll never see.

Go Packers !!!

Instead, I spent the better part of the afternoon rummaging through the spares bins for a replacement. I finally dug up a three year old ADSL router that I assumed …

Rule number one: Never Assume!

… Um, I meant thought might work.

I then proceeded to discover that the router configuration backs itself up to the hard drive inside the IPTV box, and without the ADSL channel connection I can’t access the drive, because the box won’t boot without it.

Thanks a heap.

With nothing but an old config file to work from, it took me the better part of the evening to guess-timate the equivalent settings for their back end to talk to my hardware.

Well, we’re up and limping, but I still don’t have IPTV service.

Reminder to self for tomorrow: Beg, borrow, steal or purchase another dongle or two and a couple of spare routers, get a hard-copy print of the configuration files and set up a redundant connection… and connect them to the UPS box.

… and delete rule number three.

The Outer Alliance is a group of SF/F writers who have come together as allies for the advocacy of LGBT issues in literature. Made up of individuals of all walks of life, our goal is to educate, support, and celebrate LGBT contributions in the science-fiction and fantasy genres.

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