Friday, 25 January 2013

Newsletter Issue 229, January 2013

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 229, January 2013
Hi guys,
To paraphrase an online 'commenter', the company outsources a job and its capitalism; you do it and you're fired. Check out Developer Bob below.
A bit of a surprise for researchers in discovering that Overweight People Appear to Live Longer
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Developer Bob - Outsourcing Your Job

Have you heard of Developer Bob?
He's the guy whose story Iain Thomson broke on 16 January 2013 in the UK's Register, reporting on the 2012 security audit of a US 'critical' infrastructure company. The audit found that the firm's top performing coder had "outsourced his own job to a Chinese subcontractor".
He was found out by a check of the company's VPN logs (Virtual Private Network), pinging up a "regular series of logins to the company's main server from Shenyang, China, using [Bob's] credentials". The IT gurus thought that Bob's PC had been co-opted by a hacker or was being set up for a 'zero day malware' attack, and were worried. They didn't suspect Bob, but got permission watch and monitor Bob's activity so as to catch the ghost in their system.
Boy, was everyone surprised! Thomson reported that the IT guys discovered that Bob had "hired a software consultancy in Shenyang to do his programming work for him, and had FedExed them his two-factor authentication token so they could log into his account. He was paying them a fifth of his six-figure salary to do the work and spent the rest of his time on other activities" (16 January 2013).
Some deeper digging turned up that Bob was not only doing this work for this employer: he had taken jobs with other companies, cranking out a very nice income for himself indeed. But what caught the public imagination was when the company eventually pieced together Bob's 'typical' day at work: "9:00 a.m. – Arrive and surf Reddit for a couple of hours. Watch cat videos 11:30 a.m. – Take lunch 1:00 p.m. – Ebay time 2:00-ish p.m – Facebook updates, LinkedIn 4:30 p.m. – End-of-day update e-mail to management 5:00 p.m. – Go home" (Thomson, 16 January 2013). The cat videos have sparked a lot of online me-too comments, articles and blog posts.
Nice work if you can get it, eh. Unfortunately Bob isn't getting it any more. He is no longer with the company.
Interestingly, many people seem to feel that Developer Bob is a Robin Hood character. David Futrelle reported for Time on 18 January 2013 that many people in the US were wishing they had done what Bob had; "fantasizing about outsourcing [their] own job". He went on to relate what Arden, a commenter on Gawker (an online media and blog site), had said: "So when a corporation outsources your job, it’s just Capitalism and sorry but that’s how things work, get used to it. But when YOU outsource your OWN job, well that’s wrong and bad and you’re fired now and you shouldn’t be lazy. Smell that? That’s the smell of good old fashioned American Hypocrisy" (Futrelle, 18 January 2013).
Futrelle went on to say that "every company who outsources jobs to foreign workers who are willing to work for less is doing" the same (18 January 2013). However, he also pointed out that the difference between a company outsourcing tasks and Bob's endeavours; that when companies outsource work, the shareholders - sometimes - get the benefit. Bob got the outsourcing benefits himself, not passing them on (18 January 2013).
But perhaps Bob's consistently high performance achievements (Thomson, 16 January 2013) gave others in the organisation something to strive for. At least he will have lots of time to update his LinkedIn profile now, and to catch up on all those cat videos.
Overweight People Appear to Live Longer

According to Melinda Beck of the Wall Street Journal, a US government study seems to indicate that overweight people (ie, those with a Body Mass Index - BMI - of 25-30) are apparently less likely to die in any 'given period' than people of normal weight (BMI between 18.5-25). People with a BMI of 25-30 have a 6% less chance of dying than those with a BMI between 18.5-25.
Beck (1 January 2012) reports "Even those who are moderately obese don't have a higher-than-normal risk of dying" (BMI 30-35) than those with a overweight BMI, having a 5% less chance of dying in a given period than those with a normal BMI.
However, having a BMI higher than 35 - being substantially obese - increases the risk of death by 29%.
The study was conducted by the US Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and analysed data from three million participants, looked at 270,000 deaths, and over 97 studies globally.
Senior CDC scientist and lead author, Katherine Flegal, said "The findings are very consistent across all different ages and continents", but hastens to add that this finding doesn't mean that being overweight is good for us long term. Obesity-associated illnesses - such as high blood pressure, heart disease, adult-onset diabetes, high cholesterol, joint failure, respiratory problems - get worse the heavier we get, and once we are substantially obese, our mortality risk increases by almost a third.
Beck states it is unclear "why people with heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease live longer if they are overweight or obese". It is possible that carrying a few extra pounds gives us a metabolic reserve when we are ill: 'something to go on' (as my mother used to say); or that a little fat gives us padding to better deal with traumatic injuries (1 January 2013).
But the results of this study are surprising. It will be interesting to read what other researchers uncover as the findings are further analysed.
Beck, Melinda (1 January 2013). A Few Extra Pounds Won't Kill You—Really. USA: The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 3 January 2013 from

Customising the Office Ribbon

Susan Harkins of TechRepublic posted a great "How To" on customising the Office Ribbon at the tail end of last year.
If the ribbon doesn't work for you, in Office 2010 you can either add icons to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT); customise a ribbon tab with a new group; or create new ribbon tabs (these instructions work for all Office 2010 apps using Ribbons, but not for Office 2007).
  1. Customise the QAT (in the top-left corner of header bar, just right click and, from the dropdown list, select "Choose More Commands" | Choose Commands From... | Commands Not In The Ribbon | highlight your chosen item | click Add (between the two lists) | click OK.
  2. Create a new group in a tab:
    • Click the ribbon tab you want a new group in (Susan uses the example of adding the Style function in Word to the Home tab)
    • Select Options
    • In the left pane, select Customize Ribbon. In the dialogue box, under the Home tab in the Main Tabs list, select Font
    • At the bottom of the list, click New Group. Rename the new group by right-clicking it, and selecting Rename.
    • Add Style to your new group by selecting Commands Not In The Ribbon | highlight Style | click Add | click OK.
    • Use the arrows to the right of the Main Tabs list to move the new group within the tab
  3. Create a new tab: same process as for 2, but instead of clicking "New Group" click "New Tab". Use the arrows to the right of the Main Tabs list to move the new tab to where you would like it on the ribbon.
If you are someone who likes to heavily customise their icons, macros and shortcuts, this will make your computing much easier again!
Reference: Harkins, Susan (26 December 2012). Two easy ways to customize the ribbon interface. USA: TechRepublic. Retrieved 26 December 2012 from

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) for you:
  • EMD, Exact-Match Domain. This is where your domain name is the same as your site keywords; eg your site is called and your keywords are rental and car. Google now penalise EMDs in their algorithms, so an EMD site will not rank highly in searches.
Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys
In this newsletter, we look at spelling commands in Office:
  • Access, Excel, FrontPage, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, Word "Display Spelling and Grammar dialog box" F7
  • PowerPoint, Word "Find next misspelling" Alt & F7

Hot Linx
Wow - so 'leadership role occupancy' is genetic, based on gene rs4950. Check out this article in the Irish Times at and the Leadership Quarterly paper abstract at
Check out the consumer predictions of Dutch marketing gurus, Trendwatching, for the coming year at
ZDNet has an interesting article about the Internet of Things and M2M computing at
On the light-hearted side, Henri, the existentialist moggy extraordinaire takes some beating with his terrible French angst. Check out and

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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