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3/18/2005
06:20 PM
John Soat
John Soat
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IT Confidential: Productivity, E-Mail Jokes, Cell-Phone P*rn

In terms of head-shaking amazement, it's hard to top what went on last week in mainstream American culture: the lurid spectacle of the Michael Jackson trial, the jaw-dropping surprise of actor Robert Blake's acquittal on charges of murdering his wife, or a group of noticeably slimmed-down baseball players endlessly parsing the phrase "illegal substance" before a group of star-struck congressmen. But here goes.

POT, KETTLE, YOU KNOW. A Microsoft survey released last week says workers fritter away two days out of every workweek. According to the survey of nearly 40,000 people in 200 countries, workers worldwide clock an average of 45 hours per week but consider about 17 hours of that unproductive. U.S. workers are a little kinder on themselves, saying only 16 hours are wasted. The biggest productivity pitfalls: procrastination (42% of respondents), lack of team communication (39%), and ineffective meetings (34%). Apparently there was no mention of system crashes, security problems, or endless patch updates. Microsoft took that as a good thing. "With so many people saying they aren't as productive as they could be and that they rely on technology to achieve their productivity goals, Microsoft has a great opportunity to provide the tools to help them quickly and effectively meet their needs," said Chris Capossela, VP for Microsoft's information worker product group.

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES. More than half of employees--including many IT workers--admit they misuse company E-mail systems for activities such as swapping lewd jokes, downloading pirated software, responding to spam, or forwarding confidential company information, according to a survey released this week by content-security software vendor Clearswift Ltd. Approximately 4,500 workers from Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States participated in the online survey, "E-Mail Use At Work," conducted in December. Of those, half of all the respondents admit to receiving and forwarding jokes and other inappropriate material via their employers' E-mail systems.

CELL-PHONE PORN. Did you know that people download nudie pictures to their cell phones and PDAs? Well, they do, to the tune of $400 million last year, according to Strategy Analytics, a Web market-research firm. And despite "serious challenges to the mobile pornography market," that's expected to to grow to $5 billion by 2010, the firm says.

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES, PART 2. More than a third of the Internal Revenue Service employees and managers contacted by Treasury Department inspectors masquerading as help-desk technicians provided their computer logons and changed their passwords on request, according to an Inspector General's report released last week.

I, ROBOT. A sharp-eyed observer by the name of David Schaal wrote in about last week's column to point out that the title for ChoicePoint's new privacy exec, Carol DiBattiste--Chief Credentialing, Compliance, and Privacy Officer--translates to C3PO.

And Bill Gates can play Luke Skywalker and Larry Ellison can be Darth Vader. ("Bill, you are my son.") But what about Princess Leia? And what about an industry tip? Send it to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about software as a productivity tool, E-mail pranks, and data security problems, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.

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