Your voice is power – Shopify attacks the Peter Principle, and “Buddy can you spare a drop of oil?”


Welcome to Hashtag Trending for Monday, March 6th.

I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and TechNewsDay in the US – here’s today’s top tech news stories.

Your voice is power is a unique program that teaches high school students the basics of coding and helpa them understand the experiences of First Nations, Inuit and Metis in Canada. Discussions include Residential Schools, the Sixties Scoop and the Reconciliation Commissions 94 recommendations.

Students, both indigenous an non-indigenous, can compete with their own remix of music from Indigenous artists such as Jayli Wolf, Dakota Bear and Samian using EarSketch, a free online code editor which is available in English, French, Ojibewe and Inuktitut.

Two winners, one indigenous and one identifying as an ally – could win $5,000 dollar scholarships, donated by Amazon Music.

The program, in partnership with youth empowerment charity TakingITGlobal is designed to close the opportunity gap for underrepresented students in technology. A 2020 report by the Conference Board of Canada estimates that less than two per cent of people working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the so-called STEM occupations – are indigenous.

While this program is specific to a particular Canadian experience, it offers a model for addressing a North American wide issue as companies struggle to bring youth into STEM studies and occupations.

Ever heard of the Peter principle?  Being a manager has zero impact on compensation at Shopify

A book, popular in the 1980’s called the Peter Principle bemoaned the fact that in all too many companies, the only way to get ahead was to pursue promotion to higher and higher levels of management, which they claimed led to us all eventually reaching “our level of incompetence.”

A new program at Shopify has changed their compensation scheme so that employees will no longer have to become managers to reach higher levels of compensation. Under the program, employees will have two tracks – manager or “crafter” and will be evaluated on management of direct reports OR delivery on products and projects.

Shopify hopes that this will lead to “unlimited growth potential” for the so-called “crafters” and offer career growth incentives for more than one group of employees.

“Management shouldn’t be a thing you have to do just to get ahead,” a Shopify spokesperson told website BetaKit, adding “our new talent approach flips this antiquated management thinking on its head.”

This is one of a series of changes that Shopify is implementing, hoping put the company back on the high growth track that it enjoyed during the COVID crisis. Earlier this year Shopify put in a new meetings policy which eliminated thousands of meetings across the company by barring any meetings of three or more people. COO Kas Nejatian referred to meetings as a a bug that destroys a maker’s schedule.

The BetaKit article acknowledges the validity of Shopify’s program but goes to say that Shopify is “late to the game” and that other hi-tech companies have long since adopted this model where there is both a management and a “tech track” for staff who want career growth without management responsibilities.

Nora Jenkins Townson, from HR consultancy Bright + Early, was far more kind, commenting, “Pushing folks who aren’t interested (or suited) to people management into the role is a common HR mistake, so I’m glad Shopify has joined the ranks of companies who recognize this.”

Three quarters of CISOs expect a sever email based cyber-attack in the next year

That’s according to Mimecast’s “State of Email Security 2023” report.

According to the study, 82 per cent of organizations reported increases in email usage in the last twelve months. With that increase has come an increase in email-based threats and attacks, according to nearly three out of four IT security leaders that were surveyed.

While the volume of attacks was troubling, the increasing sophistication of the attacks was the biggest concern of almost 60 per cent of respondents.

Over 8 out of 10 of those surveyed said they had seen an increase in these attacks within the last 12 months, with phishing being the most prevalent. More than half (59 per cent) said their organizations witnessed more phishing attacks last year than in previous years. Large corporations with more than 10,000 employees reported being the most affected.

Phishing is, of course, where threat actors send a convincing, but fraudulent email designed to lure staff into giving away their credentials or downloading malicious software. These attacks can be general in nature or well researched and very precise social engineering, known as “spear-phishing.”

But another, not as well known, but increasingly popular attack vector is “domain spoofing” where a company’s email domain is spoofed as part of a phishing or other campaign. But the survey identified that only a third of organizations had any plans to address the illegal use of their domains. While almost 90 per cent of organizations intend to use DMARC, Domain-based Message Authentications, Reporting and Comformance, only 27 per cent have deployed it.

Google and Facebook – witness for the prosecution

We are used to law enforcement using social media postings in prosecutions, as many of the January 6th defendants have found, to their chagrin.  But there’s a darker side to social media as Google and Facebook are willing to go a step further in helping law enforcement identify women who are seeking abortions.

As abortion bans across the US are implemented, law enforcement is turning to social media platforms to build cases and prosecute women seeking abortions and even abortion-inducing medication.

According to an article in Tech Crunch, a woman named Jessica Burgess and her daughter will stand trial for performing an illegal abortion with a key piece of evidence being provided by Facebook. Tech Crunch reported that internal chat logs were provided to law enforcement where the mother and daughter had discussed their plan to find the medication using the social media app.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook said in a statement that it responded to “valid legal warrants from local law enforcement.” The warrants Meta responded to in this case, “did not mention abortion” – law enforcement had requested the chat logs under other auspices, but the conversations released to law enforcement revealed the use of the abortion pills.

This points out that conversations on social media are not private. Law enforcement may request access and even if you are supposedly being investigated for other reasons, your conversations can be used against you for other legal proceedings.

Will a robot replace you on the unemployment line?

Alphabet, the parent of Google, has apparently ‘laid off” about one hundred robots as part of its cost cutting measures. These “single armed” automated creatures, called “everyday robots” were used to clean and maintain Google’s cafeterias. They were part of a project being developed by Google for consumer applications. The robots were used to clean, recycle and even to open doors for Google employees and visitors on the campus.

The robots were part of many “non-profit” venture at Google, according to a report in Mashable over the weekend. According to that report, after Google lost 6.1 billion in 2022, it put in place a strict performance rating-based layoff program where six per cent of its work force was let go.

While we have no concrete reports on the performance ratings of the robots that were shut down were bad, that same report does claim that, in the rush to extreme layoffs, even top performers were let go. So don’t feel bad robot.

That’s the top tech news stories for today

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I’m your host Jim Love – Have a marvelous Monday!

The post Hashtag Trending Mar.6th- Program teaches coding though Indigenous music, Shopify employees no longer have to be managers to obtain higher compensation, woman faces trial for abortion after key evidence from Facebook first appeared on IT World Canada.

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