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I am joining PwC Consulting

Today I have had my last day at EVRY. The picture shows a glimpse of my farewell gathering, where I presented the history of chocolate-hazelnut spreads. Because sometimes, you have to have fun at work!

Me presenting the history of chocolate-hazelnut spreads at EVRY
Me presenting the history of chocolate-hazelnut spreads at EVRY

It has been great getting to know my colleagues during my time with the company. While I am excited about the new opportunity ahead of me, leaving excellent working relationships is bittersweet.

In two weeks I will start as a Senior Manager in the Business Technology group at PwC Consulting in Oslo. I look forward to learning more about new domains, about management, and about myself.

Online friendship—Quality over quantity

The Oxford English Dictionary defines friendship as “the emotions or conduct of friends; the state of being friends.”

I have always taken friendship seriously, and I believe I have to work on friendship as I work on everything else. A couple of years ago, I started to wonder if I applied these criteria to online friendship.

I understand that online relationships are less restrained and encompass an entire spectrum from acquaintance to friendship. Nevertheless, I forced myself to treat friendship in the digital world as in the real world, so I run a sort of experiment throughout the last two years.

I chose a simple excuse to privately contact each friend on Facebook at least once a year: the birthday. Something along the lines of “Happy birthday! 🙂 How are you?”—I kept it simple.

Unfortunately, I could not do this with everyone every time for obvious reasons: some people do not record their birthdate on Facebook, and sometimes I was not able to access Facebook for one or more days; e.g., due to work or travelling. Yet, I got in touch with people I had not heard from in a while, especially those living outside Norway. Here is what I discovered:

  • Few people have a Facebook profile but do not use it. They have never received my message.
  • Some people are less polite than others. They received and read my message but have never replied. At most, they wrote a generic acknowledgement to all friends on their profile.
  • Several people are less keen than others on keeping in touch. They replied to my message with a politically correct “Thanks!”
  • Surprisingly many people are in fact keen on keeping in touch. Even those I had not heard from in ages, replied to my message enthusiastically and we updated each other about our lives.

Lesson learned: concentrate on quality over quantity, even with your friends online. You may be positively surprised as well!

Double standards in Norwegian environmental culture?

Norway: Environmental hero or hypocrite?” was the question the Financial Times asked a year ago. As a resident in Norway for the last decade and with a background of research and innovation, I have long been concerned with the same question.

Norway has implemented a number of measures for a green shift. For example, power generation is mainly based on renewable sources, and the number of electric cars per capita is the largest in the world. Nevertheless, the waste volume in Norway increased by 7% while recycling decreased 1% from 2013 to 2014.

I was a research scientist at SINTEF between November 2012 and February this year. During these years, I have been concerned that there are no trash cans for sorting food waste, plastic, bottles, glass and metal, while there are plastic cups in each kitchen at the SINTEF offices in Oslo.

I believe that an organisation researching technology to fight global warming should “eat its own dog food”. A year ago, I suggested that the SINTEF administration in Oslo should reduce waste volume and increase recycling. Despite multiple reminders, they have never returned to me.

SINTEF is probably not the only organisation that does not sort its waste, but if not even a research organisation takes responsibility for the environment, then Norway has a problem with environmental culture.

While we wait for the authorities to force businesses to tackle the problem, tonnes of recyclable trash are thrown away as mixed waste every day. Is it not time to quit the double standards and actually start implementing a comprehensive green shift? The alternative is to get a reputation that is hard to get rid of: being an environmental hypocrite.

The original version of this article was published in Norwegian in Aftenposten on June 2017.

Anti-updaters are the IT equivalent of anti-vaxxers

Unless you have been on Point Nemo for the weekend, you are probably aware of the biggest ransomware outbreak in history: WannaCry. Like any other ransomware, WannaCry could have been avoided by adopting two simple best practices:

  1. Keep your operating systems up-to-date
  2. Take backups regularly

IT professionals have always recommended these best practices. However, there is an increasing number of people who justify disabling automatic updates. I call these people anti-updaters.

Anti-updaters are particularly active among Windows users. They usually claim that Windows Update’s interruptions are impairing their productivity.

We’ve got an update for you

While I understand that Windows Update can be annoying, its interruptions do not justify turning it off. For instance, Microsoft released the critical MS-17-010 patch that addresses the vulnerabilities exploited by WannaCry two months ago. This means that the PCs infected by the ransomware were at least two months behind with patches. Automatic updates would have prevented many of these infections.

I tried to argue with an anti-updater. I suggested that her tutorial for turning automatic updates off on Windows 10 fosters an irresponsible behaviour. The following is an extract from the conversation:

Anti-updaters such as @geeklil at @CNET are no different from anti-vaxxers—they should be banned from the IT industry. #WannaCry

— Alessandro Rossini (@alerossini) 13 May 2017

@alerossini @CNET LOL. You guys, um, know that you can update software manually, right?

— Sarah (@geeklil) 13 May 2017

@geeklil @CNET IT professionals do, but most people either don’t know or don’t care.

— Alessandro Rossini (@alerossini) 13 May 2017

@geeklil @CNET Disabling automatic updates is among the primary causes of the spread of ransomware. That’s why your article is dangerous.

— Alessandro Rossini (@alerossini) 13 May 2017

@alerossini @CNET This is a how-to piece. I don’t know what to tell you aside from “don’t read how-to articles as advice.”

— Sarah (@geeklil) 13 May 2017

@geeklil @CNET That’s a flawed argument. Your article does foster irresponsible behaviour among the non-techies.

— Alessandro Rossini (@alerossini) 13 May 2017

@alerossini @CNET Nope. CNET is for both techies and non-techies.

— Sarah (@geeklil) 14 May 2017

@geeklil @CNET The fact that CNET is also for techies does not respond to the argument that your article fosters irresponsible behaviour among non-techies.

— Alessandro Rossini (@alerossini) 14 May 2017

@geeklil @CNET That’s a logical fallacy of avoiding the issue: when an arguer responds to an argument by not addressing the points of the argument.

— Alessandro Rossini (@alerossini) 14 May 2017

@alerossini @CNET Every article written isn’t for every person. I’m not really sure what you want me to do about that.

— Sarah (@geeklil) 14 May 2017

@alerossini @CNET Now, if it were a piece *advising* people to turn off auto-updates, you’d have a point. But it’s not.

— Sarah (@geeklil) 14 May 2017

To me, this way of arguing is problematic, as it spreads misinformation about automatic updates. Like scientists are fighting against anti-vaxxers, I believe it is time for IT professionals to fight against anti-updaters.

We may not have seen the full extent of the WannaCry attack, as the ransomware may spread again when people go back to work on Monday morning and turn their PCs on. Perhaps individuals and organisations will learn the lesson this time. Nevertheless, I hope you will join me in this campaign to stop people from disabling automatic updates, regardless if they are techies or not.