Is Skype a threat?
Q: I have a tablet computer that uses the Android operating system. I’ve noticed that when applications such as Skype are updated, they ask for permission to do things that seem increasingly invasive, which is worrisome. These apps ask for permission to write data to or delete data from the tablet’s SD (Secure Digital) memory card, to make calls without my permission in ways that can expose my tablet to malicious software and to access my contacts without my knowledge or permission. What exposure to harm do these updates pose, and why would any user agree?
A: While malicious software is always a threat, Skype’s lawyers certainly believe in full disclosure. The company warns that the application could allow malware to run up your phone bill, steal your information or erase your data. That doesn’t mean it’s likely. The truth is, the access Skype wants to your tablet is essential for the application to work as a smart video phone. For example, Skype can disable the keylock and password security on your phone, but that’s what any smartphone does to answer an incoming call. Skype also has access to your tablet’s SD memory card, but it has to store data somewhere. In addition, Skype has the ability to call phone numbers, via the Internet, without your intervention, which is the same thing that happens on a smartphone when you click a contact’s name and then phone number. I’d be more worried about the U.S. government monitoring Skype calls.
— By Steve Alexander, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Apologize for remarks
Q: I recently made a huge mistake at work. After an extremely stressful day, I expressed some very negative opinions about the company in general and my manager in particular. Because several people overheard these comments, my boss eventually found out about them. Since then, my manager has made frequent cutting remarks about my attitude and performance, sometimes in the presence of other staff members. Is there any way to repair this disaster, or should I just look for another job?
A: If the relationship was reasonably good before this unfortunate occurrence, and if your disparaging comments weren’t too personal, you may be able to recover. Offer an honest, heartfelt apology. For example: “Mary, you may have heard about some remarks I made when I was feeling very stressed. I was dealing with a difficult project and said some things I truly did not mean. I want you to know that I really respect and appreciate you, so I hope you will accept my apology and disregard those stupid comments.” Your boss’ reaction might be that all is forgiven, but if she’s still upset, you may have to reiterate your remorse. After that, become the most pleasant, supportive employee your manager has ever met.
— By Marie G. McIntyre, McClatchy-Tribune
Work time is paid for
Q: My wife works for a large company. She and her co-workers must clock in and out on their computers every day. In order to clock in, they must first log into a myriad of programs. That takes about 15 to 20 minutes. And they aren’t paid for that time. The company had someone observe my wife because none of the managers believed it took so long to clock in. Yet the company has done nothing to cut down on that time or to pay workers for it. Shouldn’t they get paid for that time, and if so, what could be done?
A: If your wife is an hourly worker, or nonexempt, she has to be paid for all the time she works, including the 15 to 20 minutes it takes her to open all those computer programs before she can clock in. Some employees have sued major companies over this issue and won.
— By Carrie Mason-Draffen, Newsday