Naughty Workers, Spam Pollutes, Skype Spin off

A whole lot of employees keep "inappropriate" photos, videos and browser cache links on their work laptops, a survey found. (Honestly, how difficult is it to at least clean out the cache?) As if that's not enough, the spam that clogs our computers is spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to McAfee. And eBay plans to spin off Skype after figuring out what many observers said a while ago, which is that they just do not seem to have much in common.

1. Survey: 7 of 10 IT pros have found sexual, other inappropriate material on employees' laptops: Almost three quarters of 3,100 U.S. corporate security and IT professionals surveyed by the Ponemon Institute said that they had discovered "inappropriate" pictures, videos or browser cache links on work-issued laptops. Two-thirds have found "evidence of inappropriate interactions with other employees." Naughty behavior aside, we're not so sure that keeping a copy of a resume on a work-issued laptop is evidence that an employee is looking for a new job (63 percent of the IT pros had found resumes on work laptops along with what was described as other evidence of job searches). Some of us occasionally are asked to provide a resume for other reasons, you know? Any event, the apparently tawdry computer activity makes companies more susceptible to security breaches and that's no good at all.

2. EBay to spin off Skype by mid-2010 and How the Skype spin off could change the market: EBay wants to spin off Skype by the middle of next year, affirming the opinion expressed by many when eBay bought Skype in 2005 for US$2.6 billion that the two just did not make a good fit.

3. Spam e-mails killing the environment, McAfee report says: Spam e-mail is choking the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, McAfee said in a report. The estimated 62 trillion spam messages sent each year spew as much carbon dioxide into the air as 3.1 million cars using 2 billion gallons of gas, according to McAfee. The fact that the report failed to estimate the daily energy usage of, say, PCs and servers, or the energy used by other applications made it difficult to put the report's numbers into context, which drew a lot of snarky comments at various news sites that ran stories about the findings.

4. DOJ asks for extension of Microsoft antitrust judgment: The U.S. Department of Justice wants the federal judge overseeing the Microsoft antitrust case to extend her oversight by 18 months so that the company can fix problems with technical documentation.

5. Update: The Pirate Bay 4 found guilty: The four men who ran The Pirate Bay BitTorrent tracker were found guilty in a Swedish court of being accessories to crimes violating copyright law. The defendants were sentenced to a year in prison each and ordered to pay damages, though somewhat less than what movie, music and gaming companies thought they should pay. The guilty verdict was widely expected, just as it's widely expected that it won't stop the site because it has been moved abroad.

6. Privacy rules hamper adoption of electronic medical records, study says: Efforts to protect data privacy will slow adoption of electronic medical records, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Virginia. The states with the most stringent regulations regarding medical-records privacy tend to move more slowly toward electronic medical records, the research found.

7. DOJ: US government exceeded surveillance authority: Perhaps the paranoia some U.S. residents have felt about the surveillance authority of the National Security Agency has been on target after all. The DOJ found in routine oversight of the NSA's surveillance program that the agency exceeded its authority with "significant and systemic" spying on phone calls and e-mails, The New York Times reported, quoting anonymous government officials. The report seems to have prompted a DOJ statement confirming that issues that "raised concerns" were found in the oversight process. The DOJ said it "took comprehensive steps to correct the situation and bring the program into compliance" as part of its oversight responsibilities.

8. Wall Street Beat: Earnings season so far shows signs of hope: Quarterly earnings reports are upon us yet again (my, how recession time flies) and although the first quarter was about as dismal as expected, the flurry of reports out thus far also has provided some encouraging signs that at least in some sectors the bottom has been hit.

9. Palm's webOS lives up to hype, early developers say: Some of the developers who are working on applications for Palm's webOS say that so far it is living up to the hype. That could be good news for those of us who are all about being mobile in the enterprise.

10. Spinal Tap makes new album with Logic: Arguably, there were more important IT stories this week, but there is an IT link to the news that Spinal Tap is, at long last, releasing a new album and that's enough for us to round out the top 10. The double album, appropriately called "Back from the Dead," includes a reworking of Spinal Tap's first album and some new tunes. Oh, and here's the IT angle -- it was created using Macs and Apple's Logic Studio digital audio workstation software.

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