Article 43

 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Make The Most Of Being Jobless

By Rachel Zupek
CareerBuilder writer
December 17, 2008

When Martin P.* was laid off from his job as a marketing vice president, he embarked on a two-year job search and still came up short.

Brian Smith recently experienced a 51-week lapse between steady employments. Lisa Wetherby was out of work 17 long months before finding full-time work and Domenick DeMarco has been unemployed for 10 months to date.

That’s a long time to be out of work. So what exactly does one do during that time off?

“Do something, anything, especially something new or something [you’ve] not had time to do in the past,” urges Laura George, author of “Excuse Me, Your Job is Waiting.” “Doing something enjoyable gets brain cells firing, creates a new paradigm, brings in new people and improves morale and overall well-being.”

What you don’t do is treat your unemployment as a vacation.

“In the big picture, it’s critical that you don’t utilize your flexible time circumstances to procure a coach potato license,” says Nicholas Nigro, author of “No Job? No Prob!” “You’ve got to be active—both physically and mentally—to apply your ample free time to the best of your advantage.”

It’s hard, however, for job seekers to use anything to their advantage, especially when the bleak economy makes them feel like they’re up against the world—or at least millions of other people.

Competition in the work force is fiercer than ever before, with 9.5 million jobless people in the United States and only 3.3 million job openings at the end of August 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Despite these grim facts, there is light at the end of the proverbial unemployment tunnel.

“No one can dispute that the absence of a job and a corresponding income stream is a potentially alarming scenario,” Nigro says. “If you firmly believe that your current joblessness is merely a glitch in your abiding life expedition, your new outlook will noticeably brighten.”

So desolate job seekers, the good news is that even with these tough times, things will get better and you will survive. Here’s how you can make the most of your unemployment:

Step No. 1: Take care of logistics. When you’re laid off, there are several unpleasant—albeit necessary—issues to tackle. Before anything else, apply for unemployment benefits, resolve severance concerns, figure out your health-care coverage and assess your financial situation.

Step No. 2: Mourn. Job loss is devastating. In fact, after the death of someone close to you and divorce, it’s one of the biggest losses you suffer. Not only have you lost your job; you’ve lost routine, money, pride and perhaps most importantly, a sense of purpose.

Understandably, a little moping is allowed, says Jodi R. R. Smith, president of Mannersmith, an etiquette consulting firm. A week of bad daytime TV and junk food is about right; then it’s time to dust off and find some balance, she says.

Step No. 3: Make good use of your time. With eight extra hours in your day and not much coming up in your job search, there are countless things you can do to improve yourself, personally and professionally. Here are some ideas:

· Create your own jobs. Suddenly being jobless throws a lot of people into a schedule-free day, says Lynette Radio. As consultants who are sometimes between assignments, she and her husband tackle projects around the house like painting or putting in new floors.

“It keeps us busy and on a schedule,” she says. “Structure is what you need most at this point to not only feel professional, but not fall into a cycle of self-pity.”

· Don’t limit yourself. If you can’t get a job in the industry you want, find a creative way to be a provider—not just a worker—in the industry you’re interested in, says Vicki Kunkel, author of “Instant Appeal: The 8 Primal Factors That Create Blockbuster Success.”

“Don’t limit yourself to finding a job in the industry you’ve worked in for the past 15 or 20 years. A layoff is a good time to look at what really matters to you, what you love to do or what you’ve always wanted to try.”

· Reassess your life. Joblessness allows you to reconsider your work situation, as well as other aspects of your life.</i>

“Ironically, unemployment also provides time to truly get it right in terms of work/life balance,” says Paula Santonocito, a business journalist specializing in employment issues. “There are no more excuses for avoiding an exercise routine or getting enough sleep.”

Such positive lifestyle habits have a positive impact on your job search, she says.

· Learn a new language. Spend 30 minutes every day learning a foreign language, suggests Jill Keto, author of “Don’t Get Caught with Your Skirt Down: A Practical Girl’s Recession Guide.”

“Job skills of people with U.S. experience are in high demand in emerging economies around the world,” Keto says. With a foreign language under your belt, you’ll be in an excellent position to climb the ranks when the U.S. economy rebounds.

· Look for an internship. If you’re interested in a career transition, an internship allows you to learn from a company in a different industry.

“Make yourself available for a learning opportunity, at a cut rate to the employer,” says Lauren Milligan, founder of consulting firm ResuMAYDAY.com. “Seeking out this nontraditional type of situation will show initiative and confidence.” And, if you do a great job, you’ll be on the short list for a full-time position.

· Network, network, network. Always look for new ways to expand your network and utilize the one you already have. You can do so by getting involved with relevant professional associations, says Colette Ellis, a career and stress management coach for InStep Consulting.

“Find opportunities to take on leadership roles to increase your visibility within the industry,” she says. You can also join committees that are working on strategic projects for the association.

· Re-invent yourself. Reinvention is simply re-examining yourself, taking what you’ve learned over time and evaluating what makes you tick, says Sean Simpson, communications director for Express Employment Professionals.

“Reconnect with what gets you excited,” he says. “Once you have figured out what your passions are, match them to your skills and experience you have gained over the years. This will help you determine what jobs best utilize your strengths and which choices are most suitable for you.”

· Set up a buddy system. “Find a friend, former colleague or a neighbor-someone with a positive attitude that you can chat with regularly to keep you going,” says Cheri Paulson, senior vice president and director of operations with Keystone Associates, a career management company. “Set up small groups for support but make sure that it is an encouraging tone because you don’t need to be around negative people.”

· Take a class. Is there a skill that you lack or that might have previously held you back from advancement opportunities? In your free time, take a class that leads to professional credentials or technical proficiencies, Milligan says. It’s an easy way to beef up your rթsum and make yourself more marketable.

· Volunteer. Eighty-one percent of employers view volunteering as relevant work experience, according to a recent CareerBuilder.com survey. Roxanne Ravenel, a job-search coach, says volunteering gives people a sense of purpose and empowerment, which is critical to the self-esteem of job hunters who feel powerless after weeks or months of a fruitless job search.

“Volunteering gives job hunters the opportunity to meet decision-makers in their community to which they wouldn’t otherwise have access,” Ravenel says. Decision-makers get to see the job seeker in action, which helps them envision working with that person full time.

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Posted by Elvis on 12/17/08 •
Section Dealing with Layoff
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Privacy In The Cloud

Cloud computing is no different than running your web site through some web host, rather than in house.

Both put a third party in control of your sensitive information.

Web sites HOSTED BY OTHERS are COMMON, but may not get much SCRUTINY regarding SECURITY.

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‘Illegal, Unethical, Untrustworthy’ Clouds

By John Foley
Information Week
December 16, 2008

When word got out that medical researchers were contemplating ways to employ cloud computing, privacy rights watchdog Deborah Peel sounded an alarm. Is Peel right to be worried? Or does this potential storm cloud have a HIPAA-compliant lining?

The controversy was touched off when Harvard Medical School, along with Amazon.com and a few other sponsors, held an invitation-only symposium to discuss potential uses of computing in health care and biomedicine. As my colleague Marianne Kolbasuk McGee REPORTS, the forum was exploratory in nature, and speakers acknowledged that thorny questions over data security and patient privacy will have to be addressed.

But there also was optimism over this new way of doing things. “It’s like a virtual lab,” said Peter Tonellato, senior research scientist at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Biomedical Informatics, adding that cloud computing “fits the vision of ubiquitous access to the lab on the Web regardless of location.” Tonellato predicted that many research organizations will transition to private/public cloud infrastructures for elasticity and cost-efficiency. In fact, Harvard’s Laboratory for Personalized Medicine already is using Amazon Web Services to develop genetic testing models, as described here.

This news, however, didn’t sit well with Peel, who is the founder and chair of Patient Privacy Rights, a self-described “guardian” of health privacy rights. “Clouds by their nature do not have patient or consumer control over personal data built in. That makes such systems illegal and unethical,” Peel writes in response to our article. She argues in favor of consumer-led certification.

Peel’s not alone in sounding a note of caution. Many IT departments are evaluating the privacy, security, and governance issues of public compute clouds, and some will decide it’s a route they’re not willing to take. (See Bob Evans’ related post on InformationWeek’s Global CIO blog.)

What’s the answer? Clearly, there will be scenarios where those responsible will determine that sensitive health-related data needs to be stored behind the firewall and not in the cloud. However, there will be other situations where health data can be processed and stored in the cloud, and we’re beginning to see examples. On its Web site, Amazon offers case studies of HIPAA-compliant applications that have been deployed on AWS. On one example, TC3 Health minimizes the amount of “protected health information” that goes into Amazon’s cloud, while encrypting any data that does go there. In another, health records service provider MedCommons has architected its application to include identity management, activity logs, and other protective measures.

Health care is just one industry where the security, privacy, and governance implications of cloud computing have yet to be thoroughly tested or answered. Financial services companies, schools, and public agencies face many of the same issues. As more organizations experiment with and move applications in the cloud, they should be prepared to hear from the likes of Deborah Peel.

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Posted by Elvis on 12/17/08 •
Section Privacy And Rights
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Cable Competition Comes To Orlando

Oh Boy, AT&T is coming to town.

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AT&T’s U-verse stages duel with Bright House cable

By Etan Horowitz
Orlando Sentinel
December 15, 2008

Starting today, many Central Floridians have a new option for their TV and high-speed Internet called U-verse.

The AT&T service is the first real threat to Central Florida’s largest pay-TV provider, Bright House Networks, which has more than 800,000 cable customers. U-verse offers many of the same channels as cable, more HD channels, similar pricing and more flexibility in recording shows.

U-verse is delivered to the home in a different way: through AT&T’s existing phone lines.

That means it will be available only in parts of Central Florida where AT&T’s local phone service is offered, such as Orlando, Altamonte Springs and DeBary. And initially, the service will only be available in part of that territory.

Citing competitive reasons, George Sammet, an AT&T official in Florida, would not say which Central Florida communities are included in today’s launch. To find out whether U-verse is available in your area, log on HERE or call 1-800-ATT-2020.

“U-verse is all about enhancing the TV experience beyond what people are used to and making it interactive,” said Gretchen Schultz, an AT&T spokeswoman in Orlando.

Unlike cable, each TV set requires its own digital box to receive U-verse programming. But because all of the boxes in the home are networked together, it allows for more advanced features.

For example, customers who have a U-verse digital video recorder connected to their living-room TV and three other TVs connected to U-verse boxes can watch their recorded programs from any of those TVs.

They also can start a program on one TV and then finish it in another room, or watch the same recorded program from multiple TVs at the same time. The U-verse DVR can be programmed from the Internet, and it can record four programs at once and hold more hours of programming than the Bright House DVRs.

The U-verse DSL Internet service adds additional features on your TV, such as the ability to see traffic, weather, sports scores and stock quotes, play games and access photos on the image-sharing site Flickr.

In addition to the local network affiliates, U-verse has more HD channels than Bright House and both the NFL Network and Fox Sports Florida. Neither of those channels is available on Bright House because of disputes over channel placement and pricing.

Schultz said U-verse likely will have local-government programming, but she did not know which channels.

Starts at $44 a month

The most basic U-verse package costs $44 a month and includes up to 120 channels and one receiver. Additional receivers cost $5 a month. Adding HD service costs $10 a month.

By comparison, the basic Bright House digital-cable package costs $60 a month and includes more than 250 channels, with HD service included. There is no extra cost for having standard cable on other TVs.

U-verse bundles of Internet service and TV range from $77 a month to $164 a month, while similar Bright House bundles range from $99 to $125. Some of U-verse’s monthly packages and fees will increase in February.

U-verse’s arrival in Central Florida has been expected since the passage of the Consumer Choice Act of 2007, a state law that paved the way for telephone companies to offer TV services by removing the requirement that agreements be negotiated at the local level.

A few months after the law went into effect, AT&T announced it would spend $750 million during the next few years to roll out U-verse in Florida.

Earlier this year, U-verse debuted in South Florida and Jacksonville.

Jeff Kagan, a telecommunications analyst from Atlanta, said competition from U-verse might help bring lower prices for consumers, at least initially.

Price drop—or not?

But Sammet said that in the areas of the Southeast where U-verse competes with cable, there hasn’t been a drop in prices.

And Bright House spokeswoman Sara Brady said Bright House is not worried about customers switching to U-verse.

“We are proud of how we provide our services, and we have been competing for years. We are confident in our ability to continue to be the leader,” she said.

Bright House has faced a backlash from customers recently over new digital-cable software, and an eight-hour outage last week. The company credited affected customers for the service interruption and has also been rolling out more HD channels and advanced features this year.

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Posted by Elvis on 12/17/08 •
Section General Reading
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