Twitter – Something is technically wrong.

Rant ahead, leave if offended.

First let me say I ❤ Twitter, and would pay for the service assuming below is fixed.

Twitter must be the most unreliable web service ever, there I said it! I help organise the Melbourne Twitter meet ups so normally I am very biased but reliability is something Twitter does not have.

Last week we had a schedule maintenance, that was moved without telling their users. Then after the real maintenance the stability was worse than after SXSW in 2007! Not as bad as the meltdown during Steve Job’s address earlier this month, but not a lot could be. 🙂

5 days ago there was a call out from Shel Israel for the guys at Twitter to get their shit together, Biz even replied saying they were working to fix things. It’s not the first time someone has asked for a little stability. Today we again had scheduled maintenance, 7pm – 9pm PST (I’m fairly sure but with the site down and no blog post about the outage I can’t be 100% sure). Twitter went down on schedule but seem to not come back. At about 10pm PST a little note was posted on the Twitter web page:-

“Update: We’re just warming up around here. You may experience some slowness. Thanks for your patience!”

As of 12:30am PST the service is still unreliable. The blog is down, Mobile web interface is down, IM updates intermittent, and general performance is terrible.

On top of this for the last few days in Australia SMS update have been dead, a fairly common occurrence.

Guys you hired some hot shot operations dude, posted you could handle the Super Bowl (the link doesn’t work at the moment cause the blog is still down), but still nothing seems to change. Please sort your operations out, if you worked as part of an internal IT department some of you would be without a job now.

I also know the service is free, but if it can’t cope free go for advertising to tied you over until the real business model appears.

Update: Well a new day has dawned and Twitter is still down (in 10 mins this will have been for 15 hours), but this time the blog is up and there is a small explanation.

End Rant!

Top companies to work for

Just a quick follow up post, on my higher ESAT = profitable companies post last week.  The 2008 Fortune Top 100 Places to Work for in America has been released, and the winners are:-

1. Google
2. Quicken Loans
3. Wegmans Food Markets
4. Edward Jones
5. Genentech
6. Cisco Systems
7. Starbucks
8. Qualcomm
9. Goldman Sachs
10. Methodist Hospital Syste

Now my question is given there is now research to back up the fact of higher ESAT = profitable companies, will we see the stock prices of these companies increasing in anticipation of higher profits?

When your social graph breaks

There is a lot of talk these days about social graphs, a newish term used to describe our online social relationships across the myriad of web sites these days. If you are unsure what a social graph is read this description from Jeremiah Owyang.

Another common discussion at the moment is the cross over of all these different social networks and pain they cause. USA Today had a story last week about this with several examples of where people’s different networks collided and too much information was shared across the boundaries.

If you are online you need to manage your social graph and decide up front how you want to manage your different identities. Will you let them merge, do they have to kept separate and what happens if they do merge? Are you concerned about what your online identity will do for your personal brand?

These are all question the think about. Especially given that it is fairly common practice for potential employers to use the internet for background searching on candidates.

Today I read a report that the Australian Industrial Relations Commission “upheld Telstra’s appeal against an earlier ruling that Carlie Streeter be reinstated and paid compensation for being unjustly sacked following the romp last February”. What happened after a Christmas party a few employees stayed in a hotel and she had sex with another male employee while other employees were in the same room. The other employees claimed sexual harassment. It’s more complex than that but I hope you get the picture. This got me thinking where do the boundaries lie online?

It is fairly common for executives to be sacked if they do something that not in the best interests of the company, mainly because they are the public face of an organisation and should be a role model.

But with everyone possibly having a public identity and if public identity is associated with their employers could they also be will also be sacked. We all know of bloggers who have lost their jobs for posting confidential information or lying this is not what I am talking about. I’m talking about the person who posts, clearly outside of work hours, on their Facebook, MySpace or other account that they might of “hooked up” with someone, got drunk on the weekend, or discussed religion or sexuality and loses their jobs. I know that an investigation would be held and it might be found that they were using company time to interact online or some other “excuse” to justify the sacking.

But where will the boundaries lie? Will we all have to become politically correct just to stay employed? Who decides what is appropriate? Will what’s appropriate for a 25 year old entry level employee be the same as a 45 year old mid-level manager?

I don’t have any examples of this so if they are out there I would really like to read them.

Tips on being laid off

Amazing what happens during a week of stock market turmoil. I have seen a number of posts over the last few days about losing jobs, getting new jobs, companies going broke etc, etc.

Today I read a post from one Robert Scoble, you might know him :-), who provides 17 tips for job seekers. Read his full post to get the real details, I have pulled a summary together below.

1. Don’t get lazy.
2. Make sure you spend at least 30% of every day trying to find a job.
3. Start a blog on the field you want to work in.
4. Do things that will get you to be recognized as a world leader in the field you want to be in.
5. Learn from Loic Le Meur. How did he get thousands of videos uploaded on Seesmic everyday? He networked.
6. Do a video everyday on YouTube that demonstrates something you know.
7. Show your friends your resume and cover letter.
8. Do the basics…I got the interview just by having a great cover letter and an interesting resume.
9. Don’t feel bad about taking government assistance.
10. Go to any job networking session you learn about.
11. Go where the money is.
12. Take a little bit of time to work on family and health.
13. Volunteer.
14. Make sure you take advantage of any help your former employer is offering.
15. See if you can keep coming into the office. This isn’t open to everyone…
16. Go to every business event you can attend.
17. Always have your suit ready.

While focused on find a job in the technology industry, many of the tips apply to generic job hunting.

For me the key is to stay focused on the end goal, a new job, ensure you network, promote yourself, have a resume always available and be prepared to interview at a moments notice.

Satisfaction does equal higher returns

A fairly common statement heard these days in organisations is “high employee satisfaction translates to higher earnings”. Gautam Gosh pointed me to a recent paper by Alex Edmans, a Finance Professor at Wharton which compares;

stock returns of companies with high employee satisfaction and compares them to various benchmarks — the broader market, peer firms in the same industry, and companies with similar characteristics. His research indicates that firms cited as good places to work earn returns that are more than double those of the overall market.

What I found interesting is the investment market seems to ignore public available report, such as the Fortune “Best Places to Work” when there is statistical evidence of companies with higher employee satisfaction have higher returns, 14%. This just seems so obvious to me, or am I missing something?

The abstract is below:-

This paper analyzes the relationship between employee satisfaction and long-run stock performance. An annually rebalanced portfolio of Fortune magazine’s “Best Companies to Work For in America” earned 14% per year from 1998-2005, over double the market return. The portfolio also outperformed industry- and characteristics-matched benchmarks; controlling for risk, it yielded a four-factor alpha of 0.64%. These findings have three main implications. First, employee satisfaction may improve corporate performance rather than representing inefficiently excessive non-pecuniary compensation. Second, the stock market does not fully value intangibles, even when independently verified by a publicly available survey. This suggests that intangible investment generally may not be incorporated into short-term prices, providing support for managerial myopia theories. Third, socially responsible investing (“SRI”) screens need not reduce investment returns.

The paper is heavy reading but there is a good summary available on Knowledge @Whartons, How Investing in Intangibles — Like Employee Satisfaction — Translates into Financial Returns.

Quiting your job?

Here is a bit of humour.

When most people quit they hand in a resignation letter and tend to speak with their boss. Try this for an approach, link.

Maybe not :-),

It is not real, but it is real funny.

If you did get a resignation letter like this you would certainly wonder about the satisfaction of your workforce. Which sets the stage for tomorrow’s post on employee satisfaction.

Too busy for balance?

Work life balance seems to be one of those things everyone is always searching for but no one really has, ok except for Markus Frind. There are never enough hours in my day to do everything I want or need to.

Today I read a great post from Kenny Moore, who got me hooked with a great first line:

Work-Life balance is, at best, a fabrication. At worst, a cruel hoax.

Even though I personally don’t agree with some of the points but I do agree with one of his main points, you can’t have it all and expect work life balance, instead you will have stress.

  • Want a high-flying business career? Go for it.
  • Might you desire to get married, raise a family and live in conjugal bliss? Good for you.
  • Maybe you’d prefer to use your artistic talents and create a world of new possibilities? God bless.
  • Perhaps you’d want to be independent and care free? I’m envious.

But if you expect to have it all, get ready to play center stage in your own exciting Greek Tragedy.

Another interesting point that really resonated with me was around making choices and requiring a focus on “being” rather than “doing.”

A final though Kenny mentions “The Good Samaritan Experiment” from Princeton Theological Seminary, where even “men of the cloth” were not a good Samaritan when they were in a rush.

In the Princeton experiment, when the seminarians had their homily prepared, they were asked to walk to another part of the campus and deliver their sermon to waiting students. Half were told to hurry, because they were running late. The others were informed there was no rush, they had plenty of time.

As they journeyed across campus, the experimenters arranged to have an actor slumped as a “victim” strategically positioned along their route so that the seminarians were forced to step over or around the man.

So, who stopped to help … and who didn’t? They were all budding “men of the cloth” on their way to deliver a sermon on just such a situation.

What the experiment revealed was that those who were in a hurry passed the “victim” by. Those with time to spare, stopped and helped. It seems altruism and our commitment to our fellow man is less connected to our religious beliefs and more closely aligned with having some free time.

Enterprise Search

For me one of the keys to being a productive knowledge worker is having access to the right information at the right time. This gets even more important as workers begin to self-publish, basically share their knowledge, behind the firewall using blogs, wikis, forums etc. A organisation needs to leverage this data to turn it into information and subsequently knowledge, this can only be done if others can find the data.

Enter enterprise search, which finally is becoming a hot topic. Sadly many organisations lack decent enterprise search tools, which is very concerning and limits their ability to compete.

Google announced an interesting addition to their search offering on Friday, the ability to integrate both internal and external search result.

Related Web Results allows users to see public search results from a Custom Search Business Edition right next to their Google Search Appliance or Google Mini search results. This could be useful when searching for information that would also exist in public discussion groups, forums, or external blogs as shown in the picture below:

This new feature is available to Google Mini or Google Search Appliance owners and downloadable from Google Enterprise Labs.

Useless facts about Twitter

I was reading Twitter Facts during lunch and thought, “how many of us are in Australia?” so I spent a few minutes to find out. I used 2 different tools, first TwitDir and then Twitter’s in built search.

Just to note both search tools have limits. TwitDir only searches public timelines, while both search Usernames, Locations and Biographical information as such they can generate weird results.

From TwitDir:-

  • Sydney – 1,002
  • Melbourne – 840
  • Brisbane – 282
  • Perth – 246
  • Adelaide – 136
  • Canberra – 88
  • Darwin – 67
  • Total – 2,661 they have 2,228 Twits who are listed in Australia, probably the location does not include Australia

From Twitter directly:-

  • Sydney – 1,353
  • Melbourne – 1,136
  • Brisbane – 407
  • Perth – 346
  • Adelaide -183
  • Canberra – 134
  • Darwin – 49
  • Total – 3,608 they have 3,017 Twits who are listed in Australia again, probably the location does not include Australia