The SEC has a Porn Problem

One senior SEC attorney looked at porn eight hours a day, burning the files to CDs and DVDs when he ran out of hard drive space, said Tobin Harshaw in The New York Times. “You can’t make this shit up!” It turns out that while Wall Street was in “full panic” in the fall of 2008, senior officials of the Securities and Exchange Commission weren’t watching the markets. They were watching porn.


According to the SEC’s inspector general, 17 “senior-level employees,” some earning as much as $222,418 a year, were caught up in the porn sweep and disciplined. One senior SEC attorney looked at porn eight hours a day, burning the files to CDs and DVDs when he ran out of hard drive space. Another employee used Google to bypass the SEC’s Internet filter and gaze at “very graphic” images.

The revelations—which have been documented on the inspector general’s website since 2008 but drew little notice—are complicating President Obama’s push to strengthen regulation of Wall Street. How can he slap down the bankers knowing that “while they were busy leveraging our entire society,” the SEC’s “A-number-one enforcement team was surfing for smut”?

- As seen in The Week
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It's Summertime: Keep your tech in check!

How many hours a week do you work? Chances are, about 7 more than you think. According to a new study by Good Technology, Americans are working a full extra day per week—by answering phone calls and emails from home, and (shudder) vacation.


With precious holidays coming up in the summer time, it may be unrealistic to encourage everyone to go cold turkey on work correspondence. But according to Cathy Vandewater at Vault.com, there are three simple ways you can get control over your iphone—and even use it to your advantage for optimal downtime.

1. Taper your usage

There's a theory about the one week vacation: that the first three days of vacation are spent desperately trying to unwind, the middle two are relaxing, and the final two are spent dreading the return to work.

That's sort of a raw deal, especially if your time off is only one day.

Know thyself. If you're used to constant connectivity, immediately shutting off your device is probably going to be more stressful than it's worth: you'll just obsess over what you're missing, and squander time with family and friends by fretting over Something Important That You're Not Reading (!!!).

Is that you? Take the two seconds to check your work emails, and put your device back in the car. Just be disciplined about it: limit the number of checks per day, or do it in time intervals (checking every three hours, for instance). That should keep your worry brain in check, without driving everyone nuts.

2. Flag it—and forget it

Get an email that demands an answer? If you have one off the top of your head, shoot off a quick reply, but politely remind your contact that you're away from the office. They should get the message.

If task isn't urgent, but it is important, flag it for follow up when you're back on the clock. If you're the type to worry a lot about how you'll handle something, just knowing that you've designated it for later will give you permission to forget it. And a physical reminder will assure that you actually will get to it, which of course is important too.

3. Know your real reasons for checking

Sometimes it's not really concern for work matters that drives us, but that little shot of dopamine we get from seeing a new message in our inbox. Ah, we are indispensible. Knew it!

It's a great feeling to be needed, but if you're going to be at your best for those that rely on you, you need to recharge. Set aside your work self, and the needs of the office. Those can wait until after the barbeque. Instead, soak up sun, fun, and family for your personal self. Your relaxed, tanned, and well-fed work persona will thank you.

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Tasty Tidbits of Tech News

In our latest installment of Tasty Tidbits from the Tech Front, here are some recent news stories in case you missed them.

Tech: Apple ditches Google Maps
Apple is replacing Google Maps with its own mapping software, said Brad Stone in Bloomberg.com. The company announced that iPhones and iPads will soon run Apple’s new map app, with 3-D overhead visualizations of major cities, in order to ward off concerns that “it was becoming too dependent on its chief rival.” Apple also unveiled a new version of its mobile operating system, a revamped line of laptops, upgrades to the voice-recognition app Siri, and new agreements with Twitter and Facebook that make it easier for users to share updates.
- As seen in The Week

Apps that Verge on the Absurd
Last fall, digital designer Alex Cornell pitched a spoof app, but his boss loved the idea. “In Silicon Valley, it is getting tough to tell the difference between a joke and the next big thing,” said Geoffrey A. Fowler and Amir Efrati in The Wall Street Journal. Last fall, digital designer Alex Cornell pitched a spoof app that would let people grade anything, such as tree leaves or ice cubes. The idea was to “think of the most ridiculous possible app that no one would ever consider a real thing,” said Cornell. But his boss loved it, and now Jotly has tens of thousands of users and two competitors. Another app balanced between the absurd and the creative is Cloo, short for “community loo,” which helps urbanites “market their bathrooms to nearby smartphone users in need.” And there’s iPoo, the social network for people sitting on toilets. More than 200,000 people have paid $1 for the app, enough to put one of its designers through Harvard Business School.
- As seen in The Week

Hackers target LinkedIn and eHarmony
Hackers stole 6.5 million passwords from LinkedIn, the career-oriented social network, and 1.5 million passwords from dating site eHarmony last week. Cyber-security experts say the breaches should prompt users to create harder-to-crack logins, especially if the same passwords are used across a number of accounts.
- As seen in the Los Angeles Times

Dwindling Phone Time
Since the iPhone was launched in 2007, the amount of time Americans spend making old-fashioned voice calls on their mobile phones keeps falling. Wireless customers used an average of 826 minutes per month making calls in 2007, but just 681 minutes on average in 2011. The average call lasted 3.03 minutes in 2006, but just 1.78 minutes last year.
- As seen in The Wall Street Journal

Twitter-Guided Trading

Twitter and Facebook are revolutionizing stock trading, said Ariana Eunjung Cha in The Washington Post. Wall Street analysts are increasingly incorporating data from social media and Internet search trends into their investment strategies. Five years ago, 2 percent of investment firms used “unstructured” data in trading decisions, such as scanning comments on Amazon to predict sales or tallying job listings on Monster.com to discern hiring trends. Today, “that number is closer to 50 percent.” Digital data is so valuable, according to the World Economic Forum, that it qualifies as a new class of economic asset, like oil. London hedge-fund manager Paul Hawtin monitors millions of Twitter postings each day. When tweets trend happy, he buys; when they trend anxious, he sells. His fund was up more than 7 percent in the first quarter. “Big data is fundamentally changing how we trade,” said financial services consultant Adam Honore.
- As seen in The Week

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