Top 10: Good IT salary news, career changes, and online scams

This week's roudup of the top tech news includes Google' Latitude -- and search bugs -- online spam and scams, good news for tech careers, and more

We're taking a break from (most) bad economic news this week. Oh, it's not that the week was without that sort of news, we just need a break and we figure our faithful readers do too. The only nod in that direction is toward China, where Lenovo had an executive shake up amid its falling fortunes. Keep reading, though, because a couple of new salary surveys struck encouraging notes. Rumors, scams, psychedelic drugs, and the transition to DTV -- we don't like when the government messes with our TV -- are in the mix, too.

1. Google offers tool to let you track your friends' movements and Privacy group calls Latitude a 'danger' to security: A Google location-based "feature" called Latitude has privacy-focused groups stirred up, with quick objections voiced to the search monolith making location data readily available. While it may be good for tracking where your children, or employees, are and using it requires opting in, privacy advocates raised all kinds of concerns, including the possibility that stalkers will find that Latitude is a handy tool and that hackers will have a field day with it. Google says that Latitude has sufficient safety features built in.

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2. Lenovo's Amelio resigns, Yang returns as CEO and Stung by losses, Lenovo turns focus back to China: Lenovo reported a $97 million quarterly loss and the resignation of President and CEO William Amelio, who will be replaced by company Chairman Yang Yuanqing. The executive shake up was something a surprise, but seemed to signal plans the company stated outright in a teleconference with reporters, that it will shift its focus back to China, as well as toward emerging markets. The Americas are not such a great place for doing business these days.

3. Ballmer: Enterprise XP holdouts will get hell from consumers: Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer says that if companies stick with Windows Vista or, gasp!, XP for too long after Windows 7 comes out employees who have the newer operating systems at home will wonder why their companies are not updating OSes. "If you deploy a 4- or 5-year-old operating system today, most people will ask their boss why the heck they don't have the stuff they have at home," Ballmer said. This leaves us wondering about those of us whose home computers run Linux, not to mention the Mac users out there, and what we should ask our bosses.

4. Psychedelic drugs just a click away online: Ever wondered about the Web sites that sell psychedelic drugs (or claim that is what they are selling) and if their goods are for real? Well, they have wondered over at PC World and decided to find out, buying 19 "supposedly" psychoactive substances online and then asking researchers to test the goods. Most of the substances, it turns out, really could give you a buzz, but some of them could make you sick or even kill you.

5. New IT salary survey strikes hopeful notes during recession and Surprise! Tech is a safe career choice today: Here's a little high for IT professionals that will not do any harm -- researcher Computer Economics predicts that IT salaries will go up this year! (We are not generally fond of exclamation points, but given the weeks of horrid financial news we could not resist.) The increase will not be huge, but at this point we will take what good money news we can get. A couple of other reports due out Monday say that IT security staffs and their salaries are holding steady.

6. Top 10 spam-friendly registrars named and shamed: Spam-figher KnujOn identified the 10 domain-name registrars it has most linked to spam and other bad behavior, and, surprisingly, Network Solutions and GoDaddy's sibling company Wild West made the list.

7. Congress approves U.S. digital TV transition delay to June and DTV delay receives mixed reactions: Congress approved a delay in the transition of U.S. TV stations, and households, to digital television, which prompted an assortment of reactions.

8. FBI warns of money mule scams: If you get an e-mail solicitation that you can work at home and not do too much and earn a lot of money, odds are it is a scam, the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned. Although at this juncture in Internet time some of us must wonder why such a warning would be necessary, the FBI has been receiving complaints from people who fell for the scams and became victims.

9. Microsoft smartphone rumors gain steam: Rumors are swirling again that Microsoft is going to announce a smartphone, possibly at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in a couple of weeks. Undoubtedly, there are not yet enough smartphones to choose from.

10. Human error caused Google search bug and Is Google too powerful for our own good?: This technically happened last week, but on Saturday after we had put last week's Top 10 to bed (to pull an old journalism phrase out of the dustbin). For about an hour Saturday morning Eastern Time, Google search users found every single search result labeled "this site may harm your computer." Google initially said "human error" by someone at caused the glitch, but it turned out it was a googler's human error. In fact, the error caused a denial of service attack on StopBadware's site when untold thousands (millions?) of would-be searchers clicked on the warning links and got redirected to the organization's site. Ouch.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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