Sunday, December 8, 2013
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Choosing an Android Experience Q. How different is the version of the Android system Google uses for its Nexus phones compared with what other companies use for their phones? Is there any advantage to one over the other? A. Because Google allows hardware manufacturers to modify its Android operating system software, the features and versions can vary widely among gadgets. While Google uses a fairly straightforward edition of Android on its own Nexus-branded devices, other smartphone makers can add their own apps and customize the interface to better suit their hardware; wireless carriers may add their own modifications as well. Google’s own “pure” version of Android may run a bit smoother and faster because there is less tinkering. However, it may not offer certain features offered by another phone maker or carrier, like a more advanced camera app. When shopping, be sure to check the software offerings as well as the hardware specifications for the models you are considering. Because there are no third-party alterations to the system, Android updates for Google’s Nexus line tend to roll out more quickly than updates from other hardware makers and wireless carriers, which need to update or enhance their own modifications on top of Google’s changes for the new version. These companies also handle technical support for their own Android-based devices, while Google supports the Nexus phones and tablets. If you do not care for the Nexus hardware choices, some companies like HTC and Samsung offer “Google Play Editions” of their popular phones that feature the stock edition of Android — and get system updates more quickly than other models. The Moto X and Moto G phones from Motorola Mobility (a company owned by Google) also feature a fairly unmodified version of Android with quicker access to system updates. Changing Default Programs in Windows 8 Q. How can I get pictures in Windows 8 desktop mode to open in Paint instead of that new Photos app thing on the Start screen? Every time I double-click on a picture, I get thrown out of desktop mode and into that other app. A. As with previous versions of Windows, you just need to set the file associations for .JPG photos (or other image types) to open in the program of your choice, instead of the default program Windows is set to use. If you have opened a picture and suddenly find yourself in the Photos app in the “Modern” user interface side of Windows 8, click the image to summon the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Click the “Open with” icon in the toolbar. Here, you can select Paint or another image-editing application from the list instead of Photos. Make sure the checkbox is turned on next to “Use this app for all .jpg files” so that pictures open in Paint from now on. If you are still in the desktop mode and have a folder of pictures open, right-click on an image, go to “Open with” on the drop-down menu and then select “Choose default program.” You can then select your preferred program for opening pictures. To change the associations for several types of files at once, press the Windows and the W keys to jump to the Search Settings box and type in “associations.” Click the option for “Change the file type associated with a file extension” to open the Set Associations box with the controls for choosing programs for all the various file types on your computer. (Microsoft’s site has more information in setting default apps in Windows 8 and later as well.) And if you find yourself in the Modern user interface by accident at other times, you can always return to the desktop mode quickly by pressing the Windows and D keys on the keyboard. Pressing the Windows key alone toggles back and forth between the Start screen and current screen.
Ordinary users asked Ms. Mayer why Yahoo was not doing more. Privacy activists were more blunt. “Even after today’s announcement, Yahoo still lags far behind Google on web security,” said Christopher Soghoian, a technology analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union. For big Internet outfits, it is no longer enough to have a fast-loading smartphone app or cool messaging service. In the era of Edward J. Snowden and his revelations of mass government surveillance, companies are competing to show users how well their data is protected from prying eyes, with billions of dollars in revenue hanging in the balance. On Thursday, Microsoft will be the latest technology company to announce plans to shield its services from outside surveillance. It is in the process of adding state-of-the-art encryption features to various consumer services and internally at its data centers. The announcement follows similar efforts by Google, Mozilla, Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo in what has effectively become a digital arms race with the National Security Agency as the companies react to what some have called the “Snowden Effect.” While security has long simmered as a concern for users, many companies were reluctant to employ modern protections, worried that upgrades would slow down connections and add complexity to their networks. But the issue boiled over six months ago, when documents leaked by Mr. Snowden described efforts by the N.S.A. and its intelligence partners to spy on millions of Internet users. More than half of Americans surveyed say N.S.A. surveillance has intruded on their personal privacy rights, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted in November. The revelations also shook Internet companies, which have been trying to reassure customers that they are doing what they can to protect their data from spying. They have long complied with legal orders to hand over information, but were alarmed by more recent news that the N.S.A. was also accessing their data without their knowledge. “We want to ensure that governments use legal process rather than technological brute force to obtain customer data — it’s as simple as that,” said Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, in an interview. Mr. Smith said his company would also open “transparency centers” where foreign governments can inspect the company’s code in an effort to assure them that it does not plant back doors for spy agencies in its products. Already, the Snowden revelations threaten to erode the market share of American technology companies abroad. In India, government officials are now barred from using email services that have servers located in the United States. In Brazil, lawmakers are pushing for laws that would force foreign companies to spend billions redesigning their systems — and possibly the entire Internet — to keep Brazilian data from leaving the country. Forrester Research projected the fallout could cost the so-called cloud computing industry as much as $180 billion — a quarter of its revenue — by 2016. “The world is quickly being divided into companies that are secure and companies that are not,” said Bhaskar Chakravorti, a dean of international business and finance at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. One by one, technology companies have been scrambling to plug security holes. The best defense, security experts say, is using Transport Layer Security, a type of encryption familiar to many through the “https” and padlock symbol at the beginning of Web addresses that use the technology. It uses a long sequence of numbers — a master key — that scrambles sensitive data like passwords, credit card details, intellectual property and personal information between a user and a website while in transit. Banks and other financial sites have used such security for years, and Google and Twitter along with Microsoft’s email service made it standard long ago. Facebook adopted https systemwide this year. And Ms. Mayer said Yahoo would finally allow consumers to encrypt all their Yahoo data in January.
Q. Were you in entrepreneurial roles when you were younger? A. I had a painting company during college, but nothing particularly interesting. Q. And after college? A. There was a guy in our neighborhood whose name was Richard Harrison, and he ended up in sales at a company called Parametric Technology in Boston. It was a really early start-up. He hired me out of college, and that turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. I joined when it was $3 million in revenue, and when I left 10 years later, it was $1 billion in revenue. It just took off, and that’s where a lot of my leadership lessons come from. After I was there for about a year and a half, they asked me out of the blue: “Would you move to Asia and start Asia for us?” Q. And you were how old? A. About 25. I remember flying into Hong Kong, looking down at the city and thinking, “I don’t know a single person here.” I had to figure it out, and I just started doing whatever I thought made sense. I built a big business for them over there —– about $100 million, with 300 or 400 people. It grew really fast. It was formative and influential for me in a couple ways. I have a lot of confidence in young people, and I have a lot of confidence in everyone’s ability to do more than they think they can do. I have very high expectations for people, and I push people to reach even higher. I take these young kids at HubSpot and I give them huge responsibility. Sometimes they mess it up, but more often than not they get it right. I think, at least in the tech world, gray hair and experience are really overrated. I think my gray hair is overrated. Q. What’s unusual about the culture of your company? A. I’m a “seam head,” which is like a baseball stats guy. I read “Moneyball” and got excited about it. One concept that I love from it is “VORP,” which stands for “value over replacement player,” or the value of a current player over somebody who might replace him. I apply that same concept inside my company. If I’m going to hire a developer in Boston, the supply and demand’s quite interesting. Developers have lots of options. They can start a company. They can go to work for Google. There are a million things they can do if they’re good. So the supply is really constrained, and the demand is massive. So there’s huge competition to hire rock-star developers. But let’s say we’re hiring a support person. A really good support person is hard to find, but we’ll get 100 résumés for one opening. So when we look at the dynamics of those two hiring funnels — and stock option grants, promotions, money and all that — we think about it in a very different way. Q. Anything else unusual about the culture? A. There are a bunch of little things. At noon three times a week, a bunch of people do push-ups in our lobby. It’s very odd. Sometimes there are three people; sometimes there are 50. Another unusual thing is that I’m a huge nap guy, and so we have a nap room at HubSpot. I have this new initiative in my life, and I’m trying to push my colleagues to do it, too, where I want to work less and think more. In a given month, I do a lot of very mediocre stuff, but once in a while I come up with a really good idea. Maybe I’ll come up with two in a month. Those two inevitably happen when I’m either falling into a nap, or coming out of a nap, or waking up slowly on a Saturday morning. I’m trying to engineer more of those in my life. I’m trying to encourage more people to have naps because, hopefully, more people will have these brilliant ideas. Q. Tell me more about your thoughts on managing young people. A. We’re trying to build a culture specifically to attract and retain Gen Y’ers. I just think cultures are stuck in the 1990s and don’t match the way Gen Y’ers work. So we set it up for them in a way that they really like. They want to work wherever they can work. They want a ton of freedom. They want to change jobs every six months, so we’re very aggressive about pushing people around to different jobs. They care less about money and more about learning. We want there to be a certain percentage of the company that moves every three months between departments and does new jobs. One of the things I track is what percentage of the company changed jobs in the last three months. If that’s flattening out, I get worried because I know these Gen Y’ers will leave if they’re not moving around. Q. Have you received feedback over the years about your leadership style that made you think, “Fair point?” A. A lot. I don’t think I’m a particularly good manager, running all the day-to-day details. I catch a lot of flak for that, and I hired a chief operating officer to keep the trains running on time. I’ve also heard feedback that I push too hard on rethinking things. That is a very fair criticism, because I tend to rethink everything. But sometimes the tried-and-true way is just fine. Q. How do you hire? A. I’ve interviewed tons of people and I’ve got a decent track record, but not great. I’m very self-aware about the fact that I’m not a perfect interviewer. Just because I interviewed you and I like you, and I think you’re capable, doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful. I rely about 20 percent on my interview and the interviews my colleagues do with the person, and 80 percent on references. I’ll find people we know in common and check what it was like to work with the person I’m interviewing. The truth comes out and that’s when you get the real story. I think people overestimate their ability to pick. It’s like the N.F.L. draft. People overestimate their ability to pick the right player. You look at Tom Brady, who was chosen in the sixth round of the draft, and he turns out to be one of the best football players ever.