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So much for that jobs optimism, only 18000 jobs created in June, not enough to keep up with labor force growth. Unemployment edges up to 9.2%

There was talk that the economy might start getting a legit recovery underway, and that the slowdown in the first half could be shrugged off as earthquake related. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone is going to be saying that anymore. The labor department reported today that only 18,000 jobs were added in June, which may not sound like a bad thing, but generally more than 100,000 are needed just to keep up with the growth in the labor force (IE new graduates entering the job market, teens becoming working age). This was reflected in the unemployment rate, which increased to 9.2%.

Terrible news as many people are already in bad financial shape.

Some good news in the job market?

The WSJ has reported that ADP has reported an increase of 157,000 new jobs in the private sector, while new claims for unemployment dropped 14,000 to 418,000. These numbers are fair at best. 400,000 is considered to be the breakeven point for the US economy as far as whether as a whole employment is increasing or decreasing, though that number is rather arbitrary. If the unemployment rate was at 5%, this would be fine news, but with the unemployment rate at 9.1% (and other counts of unemployment, which I will discuss later even higher), this really is not good news.

I have seen signs of fatigue lately with the job market. Guys I know that are generally doing well, and are on the right side of the growing rich/poor gap are just tired of the specter of layoffs, tired of watching their coworkers get axed, and tired of four years of generally bad economic news. What happened to this just being a subprime problem?

The focus lately, as it should be, has been on jobs. If the job market does not recover soon, I don’t think Obama has a shot at being re-elected.

An interesting and fairly easy way to track (and reduce) spam

I was talking to a friend yesterday about the rise of “soft spam” that we are increasingly getting in our inboxes. I am not talking about the typical pill ads or emails from Nigerian princes. I am referring to the various daily news letters, deals of the day, sale offers, and just plain advertisements we get from sites and companies we have actually done business with, and gave our email address over to at some point.

We both agreed that there was a significant percentage of this soft-spam that we had never signed up for or gave consent to ourselves. My friend had a clever way of telling who is giving out his address. He has his own domain, through which he has email. He will sign up on different sites with different email addresses. IE if his domain is, and he is signing up for groupon, he will enter in as the email address, and then has all his domain’s emails go to a catch all address. So if he gets a random email from some company, and the “to” address is, he knows that groupon is selling his info. A novel and fairly easy to implement approach in the age where google will manage email for you.

Apparently, trade magazines in the tech world are the biggest offenders. Which matches my experience, I feel like I am always getting sent offers for free white papers, Information Week, and similar things.

Even when you buy an Android Phone, Microsoft wins.

So, apparently MS makes $15 on every phone Samsung sells running Android. That is a nice chunk of change considering they just hold some patents and aren’t providing anything tangible to Samsung. This has to be a lifesaver to Microsoft, as they have lost 1.9% of their market share as Apple and Android are eating their lunch.

Personally, I find it kind of shocking that MS has let themselves fall so far behind in the mobile market. They had a solid product about 3 years ago, possibly the best depending on whether you just wanted email, or a windows like feel on your phone. Clearly though, there is some kind of strange mindset in the smartphone world- Palm was a juggernaut for years and just kind of gave up after a few half hearted attempts to stay relevant. RIM has let its quality slide and its software stagnate- when it too was king for a day- and in the much more profitable corporate market!

The real winner here though? Users. The telco companies had everyone by the balls until Apple showed up, and Android took that to the next level. There is a smartphone out there for everyone now, well unless you want a real physical keyboard…

BoostCon 2011

Boris Kolpackov has a good write-up about BoostCon 2011 for you C++ heads out there. Well perhaps more specifically, for you C++ heads out there who use or at least admire Boost. For the uninitiated, Boost has become an extension of the standard library of sorts, a vital and incredibly useful toolkit for most C++ programmers. The Boost project sometimes goes off the deep end into highly abstract academic type work, but there is plenty of good stuff in there to be practically a requirement for most C++ devs. For some reason, I found it most exciting that Boost is apparently at least toying with the idea of using CMake and moving to Github. Bjam always seemed like yet another build tool that was unnecessary.

The best article about wifi networks I have ever seen

Toms Hardware has an article up about wifi networks, and why they sometimes suck, especially in crowded areas like apartment buildings. It is the best article I have seen on the subject, but unfortunately the formatting is horrific. 27 pages of something of a slideshow format, that you have to click essentially on an ad to see the whole page of text. UGH!

Toms Hardware has never failed to been a leader in obnoxious article formats, but this wins to the point that it really detracts from the article.

Happy post- 4th of July btw. Its unfortunately timet o go back to work…

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The Dow is up, the VIX is down.

Its a fairly quiet Friday, which is not too surprising as everyone is eagerly anticipating 4th of July weekend.  The major market indexes are up 1.3- 1.5% and perhaps more importantly, the VIX, aka the CBOE Volatility Index is way down, indicating that there should be some smooth sailing in the stock market. This doesn’t seem to be in line with actual conversations I have had with people- the world economy is a powder keg right now. Even from a political standpoint, we seem to be in precarious times. It kind of makes me wonder if the VIX, which had become popular during the meltdown of 2008, is still an accurate proxy for overall market volatility.

For the curious, here is CBOE’s white paper on how the VIX works.

Android poised to overtake IOS

Lots of interesting things going on today!

Maybe its Jobs’ poor health, but it appears the Reality Distortion Field is waning in the mobile world. According to a Google Insider Andy Rubin’s tweet, There are 500,000 Android activations happening every day. I have felt a shift in the media and even common opinion about Android. It has gone from a niche geeky thing, to mainstream. I remember hemming and hawing when I was upgrading my phone between the G1 or a 3GS two years ago. At that time, the iPhone was a clear winner, but with my aging phone needing replacement, its going to be another tough decision. Apple does things right, but fairly slowly, and sometimes despite screams of protest, not at all and Android seems to get better every day.

Amusing org charts

This brought a smile to my face this morning- Organizational charts for tech companies. I think my firm is more Amazon than anything else.


Google +

So Google unveiled their first social networking site, Google+ today. When I first heard about this news, I thought they were talking about the kind of lame +1 feature, but its a full blown social networking site. The first screen shots I have seen show that it looks exactly like Facebook. Somehow I doubt Google can outdo Facebook, considering they already had a social networking platform that never caught on, at least not in the US- Orkut. It seems to me that social networking has reached “good enough” and this area is no longer ripe to be taken over. Myspace was an unstable pit of godawful ugly pages when Facebook came in and somewhat ironically, saved users from themselves.

The hype machine is in motion- invites are apparently already for sale on Ebay.


Edit: I guess I should also mention that Myspace is about to be sold for $30 million, when News corp originally bought it for $580 million! Recall though that Myspace had a huge revenue deal with Google for around $900 million. Is True, that dating website that was ALL OVER Myspace, even around anymore?