Monday, June 29, 2009

Recruiters and Interviews are getting Tougher and very Personal

Be aware! Employers and executive recruiters are asking some very tough and personal questions during job interviews.

They're also putting prospective employees in social situations to test how well they interact with others. Par example, a hiring manager or recruiter might ask the candidate to talk about his or her parents.

The belief is that, having a candidate talk about their family can tell employers something about the candidate's value system and work ethic.

These personal questions can blindside candidates, particularly those at the mid-management level. Everything is fair game because they can reveal how a prospective employee will handle surprises and difficult situations, as well as her ability to think on her feet.

Employers and recruiters are also taking executive-level candidates and their spouses out to dinner. While this isn't new, employers are footing the dinner bill more often as a way to size up a candidate's character: how the candidate treats wait staff, interacts with his spouse, and handles a social situation. Employers want to see a candidate who treats people with respect, and to get a feel for his or her ability to work a room at a corporate event.

In most organisations, entertaining at all levels is a critical part of the job. If a recruiter or potential employer wants to see how a potential manager will conduct himself in a social setting, one of the best ways to do that is to invite him or her along and see what happens.

Spouses, too, will often need to accompany their executive husband or wife at fancy dinners and events. Employers want to see a happy, healthy relationship. This may be difficult for executives in bad marriages, in such circumstances you may consider warming up a 'substitute' partner.

Remember that a candidate's eating habits can reveal aspects of their personality and approach to problem solving. Salting your food before tasting it, can indicate impulsiveness or programmed mannerisms. A candidate will not get tossed out of contention simply because she seasons a meal before tasting it but if you start to accumulate a lot of negative points, it may cause concern.

Another technique recruiters are using to size up personality traits of candidates is the car ride to the restaurant, where the recruiter is the passenger and the candidate is the driver. A person's driving can shed light on how they react to stressful situations, as well as their level of patience and aggressiveness.

Turning the Tables: Evaluating a Company's Character
Just as dinners and car rides provide employers with opportunities to get to know candidates on a deeper level, the same goes for job seekers. They, too, can use these situations to learn about a company's values, says Bare.

Candidates are able to do much more due diligence, to ensure that they're identifying a company culture that will truly suit them. When a candidate looks at an organisation, they want to make sure they're dealing with people who are ethical, rational and fair-minded.

Candidates can use unconventional job interviews to their advantage by coming prepared with questions that will help them zero in on the company's long-term strategy, ethical standards and values.

The most important thing people can do these days to distinguish themselves from the rest of the candidates is to be better prepared. Know your audience and be prepared not only to talk about your own background and how it fits with the company but also to ask questions about the company.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Headhunters Sniff Positive Change in the Air

Headhunters Sniff a Positive Change in the Stagnant Corporate Air.

Are you Ready to Catch a Wave?

Recruiters show a spike in confidence for the job market over the next few months but a dramatic improvement may be a lot further down the rocky road to recovery.

To gauge a headhunter's mood, look no further than the economy's health. They are closely linked. With prospects for financial fortunes improving, recruiters are growing more confident that companies will soon resume hiring.

The surge in optimism is sudden. ExecuNet, a networking forum for executives that conducts a monthly poll of executive recruiters, found in its just-released May survey that 57% of 143 respondents were confident or very confident that the executive employment market will improve in the next six months.

That was 16 points higher than in the April survey, and the second-highest monthly gain since ExecuNet launched the survey in May 2003. The biggest increase? That came way back in the survey's second month, coinciding with the easing of the previous economic downturn, when the confidence index shot up 20 points.

"Responses are similar to what we saw coming out of the last recession in the second quarter of 2003," said Mark Anderson, ExecuNet's president and chief economist, in a statement.

Word of Caution: Although headhunters' confidence is increasing, hiring levels are not moving, yet.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Capitalsim v Socialism

In Capitalism, man exploits man. In Socialism, it's exactly the opposite!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Interview: Don't put them to sleep! Stand out!

So, you have finally landed that big interview with the company of your dreams. Now what? Are they as interested in you as you are in them?

This script walks you through the interview process, from preparation to follow-up; How to make a strong first impression and answer interview questions, and you'll learn to recognise the verbal and nonverbal communications you should employ and avoid, so you can ace the interview.

Prepare, prepare, prepare,...

Interviews are designed to assess whether you, the candidate, can do the job at hand, whether you'll spring into action once on the job, and whether you fit with the company's culture and management team. To prepare for your interview, you should anticipate what questions you may be asked and craft quality responses to them. You should be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • What are your strengths? You should highlight the strengths the company needs to address its current challenges.
  • How would you describe your management style? You could say something like, "I used to prefer a top-down management style, but I've found that when I involve people in a decision it's easier to get their commitment and almost always results in a better outcome."
  • Why should we hire you? Again, explain how your strengths align with the company's needs.
  • How much money are you looking for? Be careful of this trap. If you ask for too much, you knock yourself out of consideration. If you ask for too little, you sell yourself short. A good tip is to quote third-party research and answer with a range. An even better approach is to ask the interviewer about the company's compensation philosophy e.g., What are the components and how are they adjusted?

Weaknesses and Failed Projects

You're certain to be asked about failed projects, so don't get caught off guard when the hiring manager tosses that one your way. Be honest without being defensive and beware of giving phony-sounding answers, such as "It really wasn't my fault," or "I warned them it wouldn't work."

Corrective Action

When telling your interviewer about projects that went off track, be sure to describe the smart corrective action you took, the end result and the lessons you learned. For example, you might describe how you proactively involved others: "As soon as I saw that we weren't going to meet the customer's deadline, I immediately called a meeting with everyone on the project. We were able to renegotiate with the customer and minimize our losses. Ultimately the customer respected our honesty and was able to work with us on a solution."

Your interviewer will also ask you about your biggest flaw. Mention only one and describe the steps you've taken to correct it. For example, "I'm not good at speaking in front of groups, but I enrolled myself in an executive presentations program and have gotten much better."

Beware of mentioning flaws without realizing it. For example, if you say that you seek to avoid conflict at all costs, your interviewer might think you can't deal with conflict or that you have a "head in the sand" management style. Similarly, if the interviewer asks you if you've implemented a specific software package and if you haven't, don't say, "I haven't done it, but I can learn." That's the wrong answer.

Be Engaging

For any question, a factual response isn't enough. You have to engage the interviewer with stories that make the facts compelling. When you're interviewing for executive-level positions, the hiring manager is looking for someone who communicates well, who's not going to be an embarrassment at a board meeting, and who can lead and inspire his or her staff. Rather than describe the functions for which you were responsible, describe incidents that illustrate how you handled problems and opportunities—and the bottom-line results. Create scenes, characters and action, but stick to the OAR model to avoid too much detail and digression:

O: What was the Opportunity or challenge you faced?
A: What Action did you take?
R: What were the Results?

Practice makes....prizes?

Practice your responses with the aid of video, audio, a mirror or a trusted friend who'll give you honest feedback about how confident and knowledgeable you sound and look. You have to come across as spontaneous rather than rehearsed. Pat answers such as "I am a participative manager" or "I am a workaholic, working day and night until a project is done" can make you sound like an automaton. Don't go over the line that separates a polished answer from a slick one. In other words, don't try to sound like a superhero by beginning every sentence with "I", "Me" and "My" or by overstating your role.


Memorise key facts and dates—both about the company with which you're interviewing and your work history—so that you don't have to dive into your briefcase for the information.

Unique Solution

Finally, don't think of yourself as an applicant for the job for which you're interviewing. You're a unique solution to the company's business problems. Thinking of yourself as a solution will give you confidence in your ability to help the company meet its strategic goals, and your confidence will resonate with the hiring manager during the interview. Thinking of yourself as a solution will also help you define your role in the new company, negotiate the compensation package you deserve and gain acceptance as a peer when you start working with the management team.

The Big Day

The day of the interview, arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of time. While you wait, think of yourself as the solution the company needs and assure yourself that the interview is going to go well. You should also use your time to observe employees coming and going: Do they look happy to be there?

Smile, though your heart is breaking....

When you're brought into the office or conference room where the interviewer is waiting for you, walk in with a smile on your face, your head up and your shoulders back. Shake the interviewer's hand firmly. Repeat his or her name with a smile when you're introduced. Repeat the interviewer's name at appropriate opportunities throughout the conversation. Everyone responds to hearing hisown name. It makes the interviewer listen more intently.

Don't sit until you're asked. Given a choice of seats, avoid the sofa. You'll sink into it like quicksand. Choose a hardback chair. Sit upright with your hands on your knees. Don't cross your legs or your arms. Crossed limbs unconsciously signal defensiveness.

Active Listening

While the interviewer speaks, show you're listening carefully by nodding your head and thoughtfully rephrasing her sentences. Make certain you understand the questions she's asking. Don't assume they're the ones for which you rehearsed answers. Try to divine what's behind each question. For example, the interviewer may ask if you've handled an SAP conversion, but really she wants to know how smoothly the conversion went, if was on time and within budget.

If you're unsure how to answer a question, take time to reflect on it or ask a clarifying question to give yourself more time to form an answer. Tell them it's an interesting question and then restate what you believe they have asked you.

Be Attentive and Energetic.

As you interact with the interviewer, stay lively. Gesture often and naturally. Smile at the least provocation. Smiling helps you feel you're doing well. Look the interviewer in the eye. If you're being interviewed by a group, maintain eye contact with everyone, one at a time, changing with each point you make rather than scanning the audience.

The interview is going to go well and you're going to feel increasingly relaxed. But take care not to become too relaxed, which can lead you to make a careless comment or acting too familiar. You should remain deferential throughout the interview. Don't say anything negative about your present employer, even if invited. Discuss compensation only if asked.

What are Your Questions

By the end of the interview, you'll probably be asked if you have questions. Whether you're invited to ask questions or not, always ask a few:

  • What are you looking for in candidates for this position?
  • How would I be measured?
  • What challenges would I have to tackle first?

Don't ask for any information about the company that can be found with a simple Internet search.

Finish with a Song

Seriously, when the interview winds down, ask if the interviewer got the information he wanted. Offer to provide more information, especially if the interviewer hasn't asked you about something in your background that you believe is important to the position. Don't offer references until you're asked for them.

Do you want the job?

The end of the interview may be your last chance to make it clear you want the job. To do so without sounding desperate, make a positive statement of interest, such as, "I am vitally interested in this opportunity. Are there any concerns you have about my candidacy for the position?" Also ask about next steps. The first impression you make is the most important one of the meeting. The impression you leave at the end of the interview ranks second.

The Follow-Up

Take notes about the meeting as soon as it's over. Note areas where you feel you didn't answer adequately so that you can reinforce the subject matter in your follow-up correspondence. You'll also want to remember who said what as you plan the follow-up process.

Send a letter thanking the interviewer for seeing you, expressing once more why you're a good fit for the job and offering to provide any additional information the hiring manager may need.

Keep following up, methodically but without being a nuisance. Yes, it's a tricky balance but the job often goes to the person who wants it most.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) - Replace or Repair PCs and Laptop

We are all faced with the questions; when to re-invest in our computer equipment and how long should we continue to support obsolete models, given the high cost of support, out-of-warranty repairs and the acquisition /depreciation overheads.

It is especially relevant in these difficult times. The cost of finance is high, to sustain the finance industry and to claw back lost revenue. Whereas, the cost of computer power is dropping and negotiations and deal-making has never been so readily available, in an effort to stay competitive and afloat.

Consolidation versus Growth
The questions are equally relevant if you are trying to dig in and consolidate your resources to protect you from the growing storm or whether you are going for future growth and looking to launch your company with greater capabilities, when times improve or allow. We are all looking for and waiting on, that breakthrough moment.

Costs versus Benefits
Clearly everyone's company is unique and they have particular circumstances to take into consideration but the overall Cost v Benefit argument is similarly simple in most cases. Hopefully the illustrations here will give you some constants in a question of variables.

Tilting at Silos! Aim High!

Business Silos - Normally thought of as perpendicular columns formed from one particular business function, product group or demographic type and as such, they can easily become entrenched, insular and highly defensive.

They are currently discouraged but do have a tendency to self-repair and re-form.

Pack Mentality
If your silos are aggressively defended they can be described as having an almost predatorial 'pack' mentality. You will need to match that aggression in your efforts to depose and you will need to confront and overome the Alpha 'head'.

Herd Mentality
If they are more defensive and introspective then they will be more 'herd' like and easier to break up and disperse into smaller less threatening numbers.

Remember, both groups will have a cascading structure of leadership with normally one Alpha type at the head.

Taking the Power
In the parlance of ancient mythology, you need to remove the head of the Medusa or the many heads of the more resilient, Hydra, to remove th epower of the beast. Remember at this point you will have a rather large smelly body on your hands that is dead-weight and blocking your path. So, be sure you have considered the impact of your deeds and have strategic plans for disposal or re-structuring.

Supporting Structure
Consider the supporting structure. Some silos are better constructed than others. The 'assisting' heads will defend the 'head', by rhetoric if not by deads, because it feeds and protects them but there will be many among them that will replace the head with theirs, if it topples. Consider what incentives would encourage this behaviour.

This is the way of all things, business.

Cross-agency Silos
Although cross-agency silos do exist in large organisations, silos and silo-like mentality are not conducive to flexibility or cross enterprise co-operation and communications. They also inhibit change and diversity whilst at the same time as retaining bad practices and transparency. Both are an anathema in today's business worlds. Clearly there will be exceptions to this but many a good manager or CIO has fallen foul of tilting at these 'windmills'.

Government Silos
Both National and Local Government are excellent places to find entrenched silos, as are politically formed international organisations e.g. the UN, NATO, etc. These dinosaurs move slowly and carefully, arguably this is so they will not topple too many silos along the way but it does severely limit their capability and effectiveness.

There is much written about the persistance of silos, there ability to disband, form and re-form when broken up. The nature of silos is the nature of humanity and their ability to form cohesive bonds, support each other and form long chains of personal networks and how many of us have not been part of this and dependent on it, at some time in their career. The ease of communications that we enjoy today is beneficial and insistant in keeping this alive.

Open Government
We would all love to see more openess in government, with more information being made accessible to the public and the current upheaval in the UK about Political Expense account violations, is clear evidence of why we should continue to pursue transparency in government and civil services.

Silos stand still
Silos do exist and will persist, like poverty and criminality they should be openly opposed and discouraged in all their forms, except of course when they offer us a beneficial step up the fickle ladder of our business careers, allegedly.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

'New' H1N1 Brazilian flu strain! Don't panic - false alarm

Take a jumpy media, throw in a statement hastily translated from Portuguese, and what have you got? A "new" and potentially deadly strain of H1N1 influenza in Brazil, according to a rash of news stories that appeared earlier today.

"It was not yet known whether the new strain was more aggressive than the current A(H1N1) virus which has been declared pandemic by the World Health Organization," reported Agence France Presse, setting the mood for a new round of pandemic panic.

But this "new" strain is nothing of the sort. In fact, the sequence of its gene for the haemagglutinin surface protein, deposited in the GenBank database, is the same as isolates from several other countries.

"There is nothing new and surprising about it. It is identical to the others," said Richard Webby of St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

The scare seems to be based on a misunderstanding of a "technical note" posted on the website of the Adolfo Lutz Institute in Saõ Paulo. It states that researchers led by Terezinha Maria de Paiva sequenced the haemagglutinin and matrix protein genes from a virus isolated from a 26-year-old man who was hospitalized in Brazil in April after a trip to Mexico, finding subtle differences for the haemagglutinin gene from a single reference strain of H1N1 isolated in California.

The note doesn't mention that the sequence is the same as other isolates found elsewhere. Even so, subtle changes from a single reference strain are nothing to get terribly excited about, given the normal rates of mutation in influenza viruses. "It's what you'd expect for influenza," says Adolfo García-Sastre of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

2009 Terrorism Threat Map - AON

A shift in Islamist terrorist activity from the Middle East to South Asia is the primary feature of the Aon 2009 Terrorism Threat Map, launched by Aon Crisis Management. The map shows a trend towards fewer terrorist attacks in the Middle East but increased activity in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, with Thailand and Nepal also showing higher levels of activity.

The Aon 2009 Terrorism Threat Map, produced in coordination with security consultancy firm Janusian, is derived from data recorded on a new 'Terrorism Tracker' database, which tracks global levels of terrorist activity, including attacks, plots, communiqués and government countermeasures. It represents a snapshot of terrorist groups' intent and capability and provides an indication of the current threat of attack in each country.

Another key trend from this year's analysis is the re-emergence of terrorist groups with more traditional ideological leanings. Craig Preston, executive director at Aon, explained: "Our analysis shows the re-emergence of groups like the communist Shining Path in Peru and a revolutionary anarchist movement in Greece.

"In a global recession it is not inconceivable that a new generation of terrorists will emerge from disaffected communities in a re-emergence of class-based politics. This raises the prospect of new terrorist groups forming in the developed world on the far right and far left of the ideological spectrum. With the election of a more liberal President in the US, it is possible we may see an uplift in activity from domestic far right and militia groups."

Aon's 2009 Terrorism Threat Map also shows a more settled outlook for North America, Europe and Australia. Craig explained: "Although the prospect of a major terrorist attack in a Western country is ever present, and there are signs of more sophisticated plots, we have noted that in recent years such attacks have not come to pass.

While evidence of plots emerges from time to time, there is often a protracted timeframe between them, and we are unlikely to see the frequency of attacks in Western countries that we might have expected a few years ago. We attribute this to better counter-terrorism capability and some shift of focus among terrorist groups towards establishing new fronts in places like Pakistan and Somalia.

In general, operating conditions for terrorists have become more difficult in Western countries as well as in some Middle Eastern countries, such as Saudi Arabia."

The past year has highlighted the tenacity of leftist/Maoist activity in India and Nepal. Outside India little attention is paid to the activities of the rural conflict in the north east part of the country but Maoist terrorists have become amongst the most prolific in the world. The recent Indian elections led to a significant spike in attacks; in April 2009, 65 terrorist incidents were recorded there.

"Businesses can mitigate a terrorism threat by implementing a proportionate security risk management scheme to identify and reduce the vulnerabilities to personnel and business assets based on an expert risk assessment," Craig added. "Firms also can transfer their risk through an appropriate insurance policy to reduce the impact of any such attack."

Credit Crunch Drives Short term strategies

One of the most powerful and persistent arguments against spending money on risk management is the 'hope for the best' school of management that hide behind the casual observation that most companies survive from year to year even if they don’t do any formal business risk management.

Consider this against the current downturn caused by the banks taking enormous risks for a considerable period of time and fortunately getting away with it, until now. Indeed, both staff and shareholders of banks benefitted enormously from the increased short-term profits that were generated; but this was never a sensible or sustainable way to do business.

Given the catastrophic consequences of this criminal disregard for risk there is now much debate on how banks, and individual bankers, can be encouraged to take a longer-term view including:

  • Changes to remuneration packages, especially cash bonuses;
  • Ensuring that directors having a better understanding of the risks to which the bank is exposed; and
  • Institutional shareholders becoming more active.

Many of these debates will need to include and address the promotion of more effective risk management in all industry sectors.

Obviously incentivising employees appropriately and educating directors about business continuity management, resilience and risk, are important. Ultimately, most employees and directors will still have relatively short term or near horizon views (of the order of 3 – 5 years) compared to the longer time-frame of catastrophic events.

As has been graphically illustrated by the current crisis, it is the long-suffering investors and shareholders who sustain the big losses when risks are not managed effectively. So, improving the understanding of operational risk amongst institutional investors is paramount to the future success and stability of organisations.

Maintaining Morale

In these tough economic times, even workers at stable organisations might be finding it hard to stay motivated. This can make it difficult for managers to maintain a positive, productive work environment.

Strong staff morale is critical to ensuring that productivity and retention levels remain high. Focus on maintaining an upbeat work environment and sustaining employee morale.

Here are seven effective ways to keep your own employees motivated and ensure that your organisation remains a positive place to work.

1. Don't sugarcoat the truth. Open communication is better than silence and secrecy. Discuss the organisation's current situation and future viability with your staff. To the extent appropriate, share plans for riding out the recession. Invite workers to brainstorm about how lessons learned during past downturns could be applied now.

2. Listen to your staff. Sharing news with your workers is important, but so is listening to them. By giving them a chance to voice their concerns and ask questions, you'll be able to accurately gauge the overall attitude in the workplace. Because some employees may be reluctant to speak up, you'll need to tune in to subtle cues as well. Stroll through your workplace, do you hear laughter, or are people working in grim silence? Do employees seem enthusiastic or muted? Their behaviour will provide important clues about the prevailing mood.

3. Assign work strategically. Re-evaluate each staff member's responsibilities and do some fine-tuning so the team can work more efficiently. Make this a collaborative process. Ask your staff how best to distribute the workload. There may be duties or projects they would like to tackle, and giving them manageable new challenges can be motivating.

4. Protect staff from overload. Be realistic about your employees' limits. If you sense that your employees are overwhelmed, take action before they reach a state of burnout. Determine which projects are urgent and which can be put on hold or redistributed. Or consider bringing in freelancers to work on projects on an as-needed basis to provide additional support and relieve pressure.

5. Reward employees and show appreciation. Rewarding employees is less about offering material things than about showing respect and appreciation. Small gestures, such as saying thank you, asking their opinions on ideas and complimenting their efforts, can help show that you are grateful for their hard work and loyalty.

6. Talk about higher purpose. How do your organisation's products or services make your customers' lives safer, happier, healthier or easier? Is your organisation involved in philanthropy or community service initiatives? Remind your employees that they are making meaningful contributions not only to the organisation, but also to the community.

7. Focus on the future. Although you might not be able to make binding commitments or promises, now is a good time to talk with your employees about their career paths. Speak to them about how to make their jobs more satisfying, assist them in reaching their professional goals or provide opportunities for advancement.

By taking steps to boost morale and foster a positive culture, you'll see benefits beyond higher levels of employee motivation. A positive work environment is one of the most effective and powerful retention and recruitment tools you can have. When employees enjoy their work, they're more likely to stay, and the most talented job candidates will naturally be drawn to an organization with a reputation for having a great corporate culture.

LinkedIn; A Fast-Track Introduction to Business Contacts and Networking

LinkedIn Etiquette: Five Dos and Don'ts
Knowing how to interact with your connections on the professional social network isn't always as straightforward as it seems. Here are five cardinal rules that you should follow.

Social Networking Etiquette: How to Introduce Yourself and Others Politely
Improve your social networking etiquette IQ with our expert advice on some sticky situations you see on LinkedIn and other social networking sites. How can you politely decline friend or connection requests? Effectively introduce yourself to someone who doesn't know you well? Thoughtfully connect two contacts? We've got answers.

LinkedIn Profiles: Avoid the Six Most Common Mistakes
Are mistakes on your LinkedIn profile costing you possible job opportunities? Check out this expert advice on LinkedIn profile pitfalls.

How to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile: Stand Out to Employers, Recruiters
With so many people job hunting now, you've got more competition than ever on LinkedIn. So how do you make your LinkedIn profile work best for you? Here are some practical tips for standing out from the crowd and reaching potential employers.

On LinkedIn, Who Should You Connect With?
You've signed up for LinkedIn, because everyone says it's the primary business social network. But to whom should you connect? Your strategy should differ from your approach to Facebook.

LinkedIn Tips: How Many Connections Is Too Many?
When it comes to LinkedIn connections, some people believe more is better, creating huge networking circles. But that approach has prompted debate, with even some people inside LinkedIn saying that's a risky strategy. Here are three good reasons to beware of having too many LinkedIn connections.

How to Use LinkedIn Company Profiles For Job Hunt, Networking
Company profile pages on LinkedIn can help you tune into a company's comings and goings, executive relationships and key business facts. Here's how to search and use LinkedIn Company Profiles to your best advantage.

LinkedIn Recommendations: Five Ways to Make The Most of Them
As potential employers or recruiters peruse your work experience on LinkedIn, recommendations from past and present colleagues can be one of the most helpful features to help communicate your value. Here are five tips for doing the most good for yourself with LinkedIn recommendations.

New LinkedIn Apps Platform Overview
Since LinkedIn launched its application platform, the social network for professionals must carefully vet what technologies get added to the site, ensuring that they honor users' privacy while bolstering productivity.

LinkedIn's New Free Apps: Review, Part One
LinkedIn's getting down to business with a platform of free apps. Here's a hands-on look at what the first batch of those apps can do for you, from presentation help to travel tools.

LinkedIn's New Free Apps: Review, Part Two
Here's a look at the rest of LinkedIn's apps currently available on the new LinkedIn App Platform. They run the gamut, from presentations to file sharing to what you're reading.

LinkedIn's Most Unusual Members: Meet The Super-Connected
LinkedIn open networkers, or LIONs, accept almost all LinkedIn connection requests and introduce strangers out of good will. Here's a look at this controversial group and its approximately 16,000 members who'd like to be known as the saints of social networking, but are sometimes called spammers.

LinkedIn Clamps Down On Super-Connected Users
LinkedIn has imposed new restrictions on the number of connections any one person can have, say members of the LinkedIn open networkers, a controversial group that accepts almost all LinkedIn connection requests. The group appears to be walking an increasingly fine line with the social network.

LinkedIn vs. Facebook: Is the "Boring" Underdog Poised to Beat Its Flashy Competitor?
Despite the spotlight on Facebook and its massive user base, the social network's more professional competitor, LinkedIn, is poised for profitability and more immediate financial success. Analysts also say investors see revenue potential for LinkedIn that extends beyond advertising.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Unrest in Iran - Cyber-Attacks Begin in earnest

An apparently ad-hoc cyber protest against the results of recent Iranian elections has knocked out key Web sites in the country.

On Monday, sites belonging to Iranian news agencies, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, were knocked off-line after activists opposed to the Iranian government posted tools designed to barrage these Web sites with traffic.

This type of attack, known as a denial of service (DoS) attack, has become a standard political protest tool, and has been used by grassroots protesters in several cyber-incidents over the past few years, including cyber events in Estonia in 2007 and Georgia last year.

Activists had encouraged anti-government protesters to use automatic Web page refresh tools such as, to hit government run site. But they have also developed custom DoS tools. One such tool, called BWRaeper was posted to an Iranian sports discussion forum on Monday. Others are being promoted via Twitter and blogs, and hosted by activists in the U.S.

The "campaign is starting to target international users, compared to the original one aiming to recruit Iranians only," said Dancho Danchev, a security consultant who has blogged about the tools. "Judging by the effect this crowdsourcing is having, they've disrupted the sites set as targets."

Danchev counts 12 sites as being under attack, including other news agencies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, National Police, and the Ministry of the Interior.

In response to the attacks, state-sponsored Iranian News site Fars News added a small piece of Web code that redirected the attack to pro-opposition Web sites, Danchev said via instant message. "Apparently, they thought that the attackers wouldn't stop their attack since they were also indirectly loading the [attack code]," he added. "They, however, didn't stop the attack."

Web disruptions have occurred on both sides of the dispute. Last month, Iran blocked access to Facebook, apparently to prevent opposition voters from using the social networking service to promote their candidates in last week's elections. YouTube and the BBC's Web site have also reportedly been blocked. BBC satellite service to the country has also been jammed.

General Internet service in Iran was also disrupted, though that lasted for just a short period of time, according to network monitoring company Renesys.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Iran to protest the results of last week's presidential elections. Protesters claim that their candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, lost because the election was fixed by the government.

Although it has been reported as inaccessible by some Iranian users, Twitter has emerged as the major source of information on the protests, and is being credited with driving coverage of the event on U.S. television networks such as CNN.