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Hackerbay: The legit website that pays you to embrace the dark side

(BUSINESS NEWS) Experienced hacker? There’s a legit site that will pay you for your skills. Seriously.

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“Criminals of curiosity”

The word “hacker” conjures many mental images in the marketplace, and very, very few of them are good. Seriously, it’s pretty much Snowden and Angelina Jolie with a pixie cut, and plenty of people don’t like Snowden.

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Past that, it’s black fedoras in basements, or Russian intelligence screwing with elections, or scumbags pulling ransomware nonsense on minor, no-consequences concerns like the National Health Service of the United Kingdom and banks and railways in Russia. Not a good look.

But let us speak of the white hat.

Hacker culture

In the grim darkness of the 1980s and 1990s, “hacker” referred less to a job description than a subculture. If your touchstones for that subculture are masterworks like the aforementioned Jolie opus, you may be surprised to learn that “hacker culture” was a real thing, albeit involving less hairspray and more breakfast cereal than is conventionally portrayed.

It goes all the way back to a culture of DIY phone enthusiasts, “phreakers,” who messed with network infrastructure in the days of Ma Bell.

I’d do a “kids, ask your parents” joke here, but seriously, it might have to be your grandparents.

The Internet hit that subculture like Southern sun on kudzu. It grew on BBSes and Usenet, through the Jargon File and the Hacker Koans and the Mentor, until it became a permanent undercurrent in the digital world: people who, for their own reasons, really like messing with data that is, and often as far as its owners know isn’t, available online.

Influential masterminds

The influence of hacker culture on the evolution of technology is incalculable. Jobs and Wozniak were both phreakers. A successful and well publicized hacker named Kevin Mitnick is basically why there is data security now.

Hackers used to be so far ahead of law enforcement that, no fooling, right in the beloved hometown of The American Genius, the US Secret Service gave a masterclass on keeping Austin weird by raiding a roleplaying game publisher because they made a game about hacking, and the Feds couldn’t tell the difference. The game company promptly sued their socks off.

For decades the gold standard for information security wasn’t corporate cryptography, and it certainly wasn’t the government, US or otherwise.

It was individuals or small groups who worked out exploits big institutions lacked the expertise to fix, and as often as not, they were doing it for fun.

What changed?

Good guys and bad guys

Institutions started paying the hackers. IBM famously coined the term “ethical hacker” and provides a nice explainer on how it works but it’s universal in the tech world. That’s the white hat.

Black hat hackers hack things in ways you wish they wouldn’t. White hat hackers hack in ways you ask them to.

It’s a fundamental part of data security to get the smartest people you can find to try and hack holes in it, because if they can, it’s not very good, is it?

Enter HackerBay. Given the usual media narrative of “hacker” basically being Internet for “terrorist,” a job board that straight up says that’s what it’s looking for might seem nuts.

To professional nerds like your humble narrator, it takes two looks to figure out why anyone would have a problem with it.

Hackerbay

It goes like this: nerds are universal. You’re probably one yourself, though if you’re a nerd about football or makeup as opposed to SQL or Star Trek, you may not use the word. If you’re fascinated by the ins and outs of something, if there’s a subject you get into so deeply it makes other people bored, guess what: you’re one of us.

Hacking is a unique subset, not a different thing.

It’s the usual nerd ethos of, “this is fascinating and I want to understand everything about it,” applied to publicly available systems.

That has rather more socioeconomic impact than fantasy football or D&D (shh, don’t tell anyone, but those are basically the same thing), but is in the end the same impulse: the desire to understand, optimize, and play.

You can’t stop that; short of rewiring the human brain, and if you’re doing that, stop.

Instead, as with everything in the human firmware, the trick is to make it work for you. We’re talking about people so enamored of your code they futz with it for free. Pay them for it. Have them write it.

The HackerBay offer is how the market has been correcting for the hacking phenomenon since the hacking phenomenon involved 2600 hertz tones and 2400 baud modems.

In an era of malicious hacking on a large scale, HackerBay is not part of the problem. It’s an implementation of a proven solution.

#hackerbay

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

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Business News

So you were asked an illegal question in an interview, now what?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Interviews are nerve racking enough without having to wonder if your potential employer is playing by the rules. Be aware of these tips in case you find they aren’t.

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Interviews are universally nerve-wracking. You’ve got the resume, the references, the outfit – but you never know what your interviewer(s) are going to throw at you.

You expect questions relating to your skills and your ability to do the job, but sometimes a question comes out of left field and you’ve got to scramble for a coherent answer.

“If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors,” asks Apple. And Gallup wants to know, “What was the last gift you gave someone?”

Well, when I ordered a pizza last night, I tipped the delivery person with scissors . . .

Unfortunately, some questions that seem just wacky, or harmless and friendly, are not just inappropriate to ask in an interview, but are actually illegal.

Illegal questions are generally those that request information irrelevant to the job description. Here are the most common categories of illegal questions, shared across all states:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Sex/Gender/Orientation
  • Military discharge
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Birthplace
  • Age
  • Disability/Health status
  • Marital/family status

Any of this personal information could be used, intentionally or not, to discriminate against them. A direct inquiry regarding any of these topics is obviously off-limits, but sometimes the question might come from a tricky angle.

“When did you graduate college?” = “How old are you?”

With this information, employers could decide you’re too young or old for the role, no matter how qualified you may be.

“Orizaga is an interesting surname – is it Spanish?” = “Are you Hispanic?” A biased interviewer could use this information to determine that you are or aren’t a “good fit.” Similarly, “Is English your native language?” = “Are you from an English-speaking country or not?”

“Is that your maiden name?” = “Are you married?” And so on.

These questions are often asked innocently, by untrained interviewers looking to make conversation. Nonetheless, you don’t have to answer them, and your best bet is to tactfully avoid the question without demanding your constitutional rights in the middle of the interview.

Tone is everything, but if you respond to an illegal question with something along the lines of, “Is that relevant to this role?” in a calm, mild voice, most interviewers will take the hint and move on.

If the situation allows for it, you can keep your answer nice and vague without avoiding the question.

For example, if you’re asked about your college graduation date, you could say, “It’s been a while, but I still view college as one of the best experiences of my life.”

It’s important to note that asking an illegal question is not equivalent to committing a crime. The information must be used in a discriminatory manner, as determined by a court.

If you believe that an act of discrimination has been committed, you should contact a labor attorney, or file a charge with your local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office. Then, order yourself a pizza and ask the delivery person about their scissors.

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Business News

10 time tracking tools for productive freelancers, entrepreneurs

(PRODUCTIVITY) We’re all obsessed with squeezing more out of each day, but what if we used one of these time tracking tools to inject more chill time into our lives?

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Part of today’s culture is seeing how much one can get done in a day. We’re always so “go, go, go” and we treasure productivity.

This is incredibly true for freelancers, and, as such, it makes total sense that app and software technology would capitalize on this need. The following apps and programs are designed to help you save time and/or increase productivity.

1. Timeular: This app is designed to visually show you how you spend your time and, as a result, become more productive. Instead of wondering where your time goes every day, you’ll see it visually. This is done through a physical time tracker, where you can define what you want to track and customize your Tracker. You then connect via Bluetooth and place the Tracker face up with the task that you are working on (if you’re taking a phone call, the symbol facing up would be a phone). It then tracks all of your tasks into a color-coded visualization of the day’s activities. Dangerous for people like me who waste a lot of time on Instagram…

2. Bonsai: This bad boy is time tracking for freelancers. You can break down each project and track time individually in order to see where your time is going and how much is being spent on each entity. You then are able to automate invoices based on the time spent. Genius!

3. Tasks Time Tracker: Say that three times fast. This is a phone app that has multiple timers so you can track more than one thing at a time. This app gives you the option to input billing rates to easily track your earning. You can then export all of the info in a CSV format.

4. Azendoo: Everything in one place. This is a time-tracking service that assists your team’s needs and workflow. It puts project organization, team collaboration, and time reporting all in one place. A cool feature on this is you can input how much time you anticipate spending on a project, and then Azendoo compares that to how much time you actually spent.

5. Continuo: Similar to Timeular, you get to see all of your activities in a color-coded format on a calendar. This lets you easily breakdown how much time is spent on each activity and allows you to plan for the future. You are able to see your progress over time, and see how you’ve gotten faster and more productive.

6. PadStats: Described as “a simple app will help you to learn more about yourself”, PadStats will help you track and analyze your daily activities or daily routine. This app includes more quanity-based tracking, allowing data to be more user-oriented and stats to be more accurate.

7. Pomo Timer: This productivity boosting app is a “Simple and convenient pomodoro timer based on the technique proposed by Francesco Cirillo in the distant 1980s made in a simple and clear design,” according to iTunes. For those who like visually simplicity, this app is for you.

8. Blue Cocoa: This program overturns the stigma of a smartphone being a distraction, by turning it into a productivity tool. You start by creating a timer and working on something, and, if you get distracted, the timer senses this and tries to help. This is all in an effort to keep you on track of your task, while tracking the time spent.

9. Timely: A fully automatic time app. This features automatic time tracking, project time management, and team time management. It works to improve timesheet accuracy, increase project profitability, and optimize team performance.

10. Toggl: This is a simple time tracker that offers flexible and powerful reporting. It works to crunch numbers that you’ll need for reporting, all while syncing between all of your devices.

Pick one or two of the above ten, and reclaim your time. No need to “go, go, go,” if you’re a more productive person – this way you can “chill, chill, chill.”

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Business News

This fake company weeds out crappy clients

(BUSINESS) The former CEO of Highrise used a fake website to weed out toxic clients. How can you keep problematic customers out of your business?

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Sorting through your client list to weed out potentially toxic customers isn’t a process which garners the same attention as a company removing problematic employees, but it’s every bit as important — and, in many cases, twice as tricky to accomplish. One innovative journalist’s solution to this problem was to set up a fake website to act as a buffer between unwanted clients and his inbox.

If you’re anything like Nathan Kontny, your inbox is probably brimming with unread emails, product pitches, and pleas from people with whom you’ve never met in person or collaborated; unfortunately, many of these “people” are simply automated bots geared toward generating more press for their services.

Nathan’s response to this phenomenon was to create a website called “Trick a Journalist” in order to see which potential clients would sign up for the service.

Hilariously enough, the trap worked exactly as planned. Anyone signing up for Trick a Journalist was blacklisted and prevented from signing up for Nathan’s CRM software, with Nathan’s justification being that the CRM software in question should never be used for something so egregiously predatory as Trick a Journalist.

By creating a product which sets apart unwanted clients from the rest of the pack, Nathan succeeded in both attracting and quarantining present and future threats to the integrity of his business.

While this model may not be practicable at face value, there’s an important lesson here: determining the lengths to which your clients will go to gain the upper hand BEFORE working for them is an important task, as your clients’ actions will reflect upon your product or services either way.

Ruthlessness in business isn’t unheard of, but you should be aware of your customers’ tendencies well in advance of signing off on their behavior.

Of course, one minor issue with Nathan’s model of operation is that, invariably, someone will connect Trick a Journalist to his brand and miss the joke entirely.

There are less risky routes to weeding out potentially problematic clients than blacklisting them via a satirical website — though one might argue such routes are less fun — but the end result is essentially the same: keeping unsavory clients out of your inbox and off of your product list.

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