Millennials On The Job

by Rhode

This Slide Shows Bosses Totally Don’t Understand Millennials

We all love graphs and figures… what do you think about these? Do you have the same priorities as the Millennials? If you have kids near or in the Millennial generation, have you discussed with them their work priorities or preferences?

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94 thoughts on “Millennials On The Job

  1. Is the term Gen Y no longer used? Someone at work referred to me as a millennial, I always considered millennials to be younger than me (teens- maybe 25 or so). I’m 32

  2. This does not mesh completely with my experience, but that maybe in part because the charts do not include definitions.

    Regarding pay – MLE is that millenials expect to be paid the same as someone who has more experience than they do, but hold what appear to them to be similar positions. They have been “blind” to the higher level of productivity and/or judgment allowed a more experienced person.

    Regarding flexible work hours vs. vacation – Some of millenials I have worked with do not see these as distinct categories. Being given deliverables and the ability (without checking in with anyone) to work when, where and the amount needed to complete those deliverables has been the goal. With this view point, vacation and flexible hours are somewhat interchangeable.

    Many of us have talked about being evaluated on work product not in the seat or face time. But, many jobs need you to be accessible to others on a predictable schedule or at least one that is known.

    My question about the chart is about the GenX percentage of the workforce? The Boomers and Millenials fit the expected pattern of percentage as you age, but GenX has been basically the same percentage over time. Any ideas?

  3. Gen Y = millennials. I am one of the elders in Gen X, and I have a lot of the same priorities as the millennials. I am even learning to use more and more technology, but I do admit that I’m learning about 75% of my new skills from my child.

  4. Priortizing meaningful work over high pay is pretty typical of fresh college graduates, especially those from more privileged backgrounds. I knew tons of kids who thought they were going to save the world in their jobs after graduation, even back in the 80’s. I think the desire for high pay becomes more acute a few years post graduation, when suddenly people want to get a nicer apartment or buy a home or even, gasp, have kids.

  5. I think that millenials are supposed to be people who graduated from high school after 2000.

  6. I was just talking about this with my son. I wrote a thank you note to one of his English teachers who I think is a first year teacher, telling him some specific things I appreciated about him and things my son had mentioned really appreciating. He wrote me a very nice note in return, saying, among other things, that he did not get into teaching due to an overwhelming desire to fill teens’ heads with grammar trivia, but rather that he has a real desire to make an impact on people’s lives, so he appreciated the positive feedback. We had a discussion about valuing the work you do vs valuing salary and how difficult it can be to find a balance that makes you happy. It becomes more complicated when you have a family and start really caring about school districts and stuff. Interesting topic, Rhode.

  7. Back when I was a young’un, there were plenty of articles discussing how GenX’s had different priorities from their elders. I believe an alternative name for GenX was “the slacker generation”

  8. Most definitions of Millenials that I’ve seen will bring birth year all the way back to 1980. So at the upper end of the spectrum, no longer fresh and idealistic college grads, but the reporting always treats them this way.

  9. Mooshi, now that you mention it, when I was working for a Big 6 accounting firm a partner took me to lunch and was telling me the articles he was reading said “my generation” was not as willing to sacrifice everything to have a shot at partner in 10 years, and he wanted to know my take. That would have been early 1990’s.

  10. I am right between Gen X and millennials/Gen Y, depending on when the cutoff is. I remember the same hand-wringing as MBT among law firm partners when I came out of law school in the early 2000s.

  11. “Regarding pay – MLE is that millenials expect to be paid the same as someone who has more experience than they do, but hold what appear to them to be similar positions. They have been “blind” to the higher level of productivity and/or judgment allowed a more experienced person.”

    This has been my experience too. I have hired/managed quite a few millennials, and they are certainly worried about pay – especially “fairness”. Aren’t we all?

    I haven’t noticed really much difference between “Millennials” and the way that my GenX peers and I acted in the workplace in the 90’s when I was starting out. I really think a lot more of it has to do with age than any generational shifts. Some idealism, some naivety, some misplaced sense of entitlement (wanting to be promoted while not really being ready), the energy of a recent grad, etc. But that was all the same when I was 15 years younger too, and probably was when my parents were my age.

    GenX is the smallest group demographically, so that somehow mathematically works out to us holding steady while overwhelmed in number by the Boomers in our early career days and then by the Millennials now.

  12. “We had a discussion about valuing the work you do vs valuing salary and how difficult it can be to find a balance that makes you happy.”

    Very true. A discussion to have going into college and picking a major/career path.

    One other comment about the survey – Some people choose a job as a means to fund their life outside of work and what they do for those 40 hours is less important than that it pays enough and does not infringe on the lifestyle. A few jobs ago, I had a coworker that was passionate about cycling. Every job discussion revolved around the hours not interfering with his riding schedule and training for races or about hoping he would get a raise/bonus to cover the newes bike or travel/cost of a race.

    Others choose their job/career because that type of work is fulfilling (intellectually stimulating, changing the world, discovering new things, etc), but also pays enough to fund their life outside of work. These are usually those people who say things like “I love my job”.

    Where your outlook is on this spectrum would affect your responses to those questions IMO.

  13. Off topic:

    Are there any securities lawyers here as I have a question about insider trading:

    Let us say I was at the hotel and happened to see Tim Cook meeting with someone in a furtive manner and I asked the hotel who he was meeting with and that said, “Oh, that’s Mr. Jones the CEO of (likely Apple takeover target) XYX Inc. If I went and bought say 1000 June 2017 calls on XYZ, is that insider trading?

  14. So if we’re in general agreement that many of the differences have to do with age rather than a shift over generations, are there any differences that are specific to millennials?

    “34 percent of millennials prefer to collaborate online, rather than in person or over the phone”

    I believe the push to resist face time may be stronger among younger people. The millennial I know best definitely feels this way, especially since he has a long commute. I find myself trying to explain how it may be particularly important for an inexperienced employee to be in the office more to benefit from training and collaboration that is best accomplished onsite. Of course, there are other fields where this may not matter as much.

  15. I do think there is an overall trend away from putting the job first and foremost. I am early GenX, and I remember the hand-wringing of the Boomers at my slacker generation. And yet the Millennials are doing a much better job at questioning the value of the grind in a way my generation never did. For ex., for most of my gen, partnership was still the goal at a law firm, even though we were cynical about the likelihood of getting there; but for the current gen, I am seeing a lot more people of both genders really questioning if it’s worth it, and saying no thanks.

    The other difference I see is a genuineness that is refreshing. It seems like my gen was very cynical very early; I mean, no matter what I tried to do, I was constantly reminded that it paled in comparison to what my parents’ generation did (you opposed apartheid? Good for you – we stopped a war; we had the Beatles and the Stones and Hendrix and Dylan; you had Wham; etc. etc. etc.). And I grew up listening to “Morning in America” while all the steel mills were shutting down and it seemed like all the jobs were going overseas. So it was easy to say, in the immortal words of Eric Cartman, “screw you guys, I’m going home.”

    But now I see younger kids determined to remake the world as they want it to be, and it is awesome. Will they become disillusioned? Probably. But they are far more optimistic and powerful than I or my friends ever felt at their age — it just hasn’t yet occurred to them that the world *wouldn’t* be X or Y or Z, if that is kinder/fairer/happier, and that blithe assumption gives them a tremendous amount of power. And it makes the irony/cynicism/snarky that embodies my gen look really sort of sad and weak. I think it’s awesome.

  16. Only 34 % prefer to collaborate online? Wow. That explains why I have so much trouble getting my students to collaborate online. When I teach software engineering, they have to do a big group project (and before I get lots of flak about group projects, the software engineering course has always entailed a group project, even when I was in college, and yes, it is what employers expect and request). My students largely live off campus and have serious trouble meeting face to face. I have set up several platforms for them to collaborate online, but they JUST WON’T. So of course, semester after semester, the project fails because most of the students have never managed to cooperate or coordinate in any way. For a generation that supposedly was educated via group projects from kindergarten on, they sure have terrible collaboration skills.

    And does ANYONE prefer to collaborate by phone instead of face to face or online? That seems to be the worst mode of all.

  17. “It seems like my gen was very cynical very early; I mean, no matter what I tried to do, I was constantly reminded that it paled in comparison to what my parents’ generation did (you opposed apartheid? Good for you – we stopped a war”

    That is so, so, so true!!!

  18. I find today’s millennials very cynical, but it may just be the ones I run into.

  19. Re: the phone–I am an elderly millennial, and was traveling with two younger millennial colleagues. As we were all meeting for drinks, one apologized profusely to the other for calling her…apparently, the apologizer considered calling somewhat rude (vs texting). I myself am not a lover of business phone calls (and I HATE leaving VMs), but would never have thought it rude. Texting is certainly less disruptive, but IMO it can still be very distracting and equally intrude on face to face interactions.

  20. For a generation that supposedly was educated via group projects from kindergarten on, they sure have terrible collaboration skills.

    Just because something was repeated many times does not mean it was practiced well.

  21. One job I had in cube land, I sat next to a guy who had a job that was the lynchpin to several of our major processes. I cannot tell you how much I learned just hearing him talking on the phone or to someone else in his cube. He was open to explaining anything to anyone, but if you don’t know what you need to know it is hard to ask questions.

    My boss, a bit younger than me, is very much prefers people in the office. I am a remote worker because (1) there is currently no physical space to put me, (2) she knew it would be a way to get me to say yes to this job, and (3) she doesn’t need to interact with me very much in my current role and I usually go in when we do need to. It is likely that there will be a big space acquisition and shift in the next 9 months as a new division is being added. I do not doubt that I may end up with a work space in the process and be asked to come in a couple days a week. It is not a deal breaker for me as I do feel somewhat isolated working from home 99% of the time.

  22. I actually consider business phone calls to be a tad rude if not expected. For example, I had to phonescreen some candidates for a position, and in each case, I emailed first to warn the candidate and set up a time. To me, it would be rude to just call. Even with my colleagues, I email most of the time, and only call if specifically requested. My colleagues are pretty much the same.

  23. Rhett, I’m not a practicing securities lawyer, but there’s always a chance that the SEC will review the list of investors with calls on XYZ.

    I have no idea whether they would try to argue the misappropriation theory under Rule 10b-5 against someone who simply drew his own conclusion after seeing two CEOs together. The cases I am familiar with involved people who were either working for a corporation involved in one of the merger or one of the advisers to the merger (e.g., the printer for a law firm drawing up the contracts in Chiarella), or alleged direct tippees a la Martha Stewart – people who had solid information.

    It’s an interesting final exam hypothetical, though.

  24. Anon,

    From a quick googleing if it was just me seeing it then I’d be fine. The example they gave is you’re at a restaurant and overhear the CEO and CFO of Acme, Inc saying the numbers for this quarter are phenomenal. That you can totally trade on.

    My problem would be I relied on the hotel staff to tell me know the other party was, and that would seem to be problematic. As the hotel staff telling me who was meeting is somewhat akin to someone working at a printing company giving me information.

  25. “Being given deliverables and the ability (without checking in with anyone) to work when, where and the amount needed to complete those deliverables has been the goal.”

    Simple solution: work for yourself. The list of potential occupations is pretty much endless: plumber, electrician, landscaper, mechanic and other maintenance jobs, tutor, management consultant, attorney, solo financial advisor, many medical pursuits, masseur/masseuse, prostitute, some world-class professional athletes (golfer, bowler, pole vaulter), hot dog cart operator, taxi driver, actor/actress to name only a few.

    But please be consistent when you hire your first employee/assistant. They deserve the same ability to work to the job vs e.g. 8-5 M-F.

  26. As an introvert, I would always prefer to text or email rather than talk on the phone or meet. One big drawback to doing so much volunteer crap with my denomination is that all pastors everywhere seem to think you have to meet face-to-face to discuss any little thing. Colorado’s a big state! Some people have to drive a long way to some stupid committee meeting to discuss the budget. Really, couldn’t we just review the spreadsheet and email our comments? It’s particularly irritating to me because some of our volunteers are quite elderly and driving a long way is onerous for them. But no, pastors always want to look you in the eye when they’re talking to you.

    And when I was 23, meaningful work and flexibility were way more important than money, and I’m technically a Boomer. So this is another vote that it’s largely about your age, not your gen.

  27. One thing that is different for millenials is the rise of the online sharing economy – think Uber, TaskRabbit, etc. I was listening to a show on this the other day on WNYC. The person being interviewed called it the “digital sharecropping” economy. Your boss is now an algorithm rather than a person, and nothing is guaranteed.

  28. Printers absolutely have an obligation not to tip. I have never seen the same argument made for hotels. Doesn’t mean the SEC wouldn’t try it.

    As an aside – going to the printer was my favorite billable work ever. So fun!

  29. Your boss is now an algorithm rather than a person, and nothing is guaranteed.

    The ‘nothing is guaranteed’ part sucks, but I would gladly have swapped out most of my human bosses for an algorithm.

  30. Rhett, do you think the SEC would go after you if you’re buying, say, a thousand shares or less?

  31. When I saw this I thought the number of kids who don’t care as much about pay was probably similar to the number of kids who aren’t paying their own bills. Now get off my lawn you ne’er do wells!

  32. “nothing is guaranteed”

    How guaranteed are jobs, generally? There may be some situations (some but not all union workers, tenured college/university instructors, federal judges come to mind) where unless you really f*** up, situationally defined, + some sole practitioners, though they can be fired by clients/patients anytime, you have a job until you don’t want it.

    For pretty much the rest of us, aren’t we at-will employees who can be fired just cuz if our employer really wanted to? Many jobs might look and feel like they are guaranteed, thinking of non-union government office type work, simply because no one ever gets fired from them and there are rarely layoffs, but in fact they are not guaranteed.

  33. “As an introvert, I would always prefer to text or email rather than talk on the phone or meet. ”

    I’ve long preferred using email because I can always go back to the email to see exactly what was discussed and decided.

    I was fortunate in my previous job that many interactions were with groups that included people from other countries and time zones, making face to face meetings impractical, so email interactions were accepted out of necessity.

  34. For pretty much the rest of us, aren’t we at-will employees who can be fired just cuz if our employer really wanted to?

    That’s true. But, I think much of the economy relies on the fiction that employment is secure. Look at someone with 2 kids, one on the way, looking to a buy a home. Well, with daycare, mortgage, the minivan, etc… We are going to have just enough to squeeze by until Timmy hits kindergarten. If they viewed their income as unstable they would make choices.

  35. Rhett, do you think the SEC would go after you if you’re buying, say, a thousand shares or less?

    If I’m looking at it right the calls (the right but not the obligation to buy 100 shares anytime between now and June 2017) are $5 each. So, for $5000, I can buy the right to buy 100,000 shares at $30. The typical takeover premium is 40% or $12. So, $5,000 becomes $1.2 million.

  36. Fred – In my general area – flexible hours means you still work a fixed schedule each day/week – such as a compressed week, such as 4 10 hour days and one day off or working hours other than 8-5. Others take flexible hours to mean get 8 hours in sometime in the 24 hours that makes up June 8th.

    Most jobs I’ve had require you to overlap the bulk of your day with your bosses schedule.

  37. I think the app based sharing gigs are more insecure. For one thing, there are no benefits of any kind. And evidently, even your pay rate is not guaranteed. On that show, lots of Uber drivers were calling in to complain that as more drivers sign up, the per mile rate offered actually drops. And insurance is really dicy. They are covered by Uber insurance while a passenger is in the car, but by personal insurance otherwise, even if driving to pick someone up, and some of the drivers said that personal insurance can be dropped if the insurance compay finds out they are driving for Uber.

  38. On that show, they also cited a study that found that 60 to 70% of airbnb hosts are not paying taxes on the income. The whole thing weirdly reminds me of when I spent time in Naples (Italy). Everything there was done under the table. The entire economy was underground. Are we moving in that direction perhaps?

  39. “For pretty much the rest of us, aren’t we at-will employees who can be fired just cuz if our employer really wanted to? ”

    Fred, in my experience in the private sector (which was awhile ago I admit) and in talking with my husband, it seems it is harder to fire folks than one might think. I always worked like I could be fired at the drop of a hat, but really there are so many hoops employers must go through. Unless the gal moons the CEO, you need to note that you talked with them about their failing, make a corrective action plan, have a follow up… yadda yadda yadda – it seemed to go on forever. I also think employers are more leery about firing women or employees of color than white men, but I could be wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time.

  40. Mooshi,

    AirBnB takes payments by credit card and PayPal. How hard would it be to code something that would compare the AirBnB payment data to the IRS data? I also assume AirBnB is sending out 1099s?

  41. But seriously, Rhett, don’t do it. The SEC does not mess around. You will spend all of your money in legal fees. Your wife will become one of those examples that you hate.

  42. Rhett, the question is, who is going to write this application? I doubt airBnB is going to give up that data, and why would credit card companies or PayPal want to cooperate? Who is going to pay for this application?

  43. Here, a lot of vacation rentals are illegal, and that’s been the case going back long before AirBnB existed. But I think websites like AirBnB and vrbo are making such illegal rentals more lucrative, exacerbating the problems they cause.

  44. who is going to write this application?

    The IRS. Like what that did with international credit cards.

    After months of haggling, the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department are close to an agreement with American Express Co. to turn over records from customers who pay their bills through banks in the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands and other tax havens, people familiar with the matter said. A second company, MasterCard International Ltd., also is in negotiations, MasterCard spokeswoman Sharon Gamsin said.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB1015541621992041360

  45. “If I’m looking at it right the calls (the right but not the obligation to buy 100 shares anytime between now and June 2017) are $5 each. So, for $5000, I can buy the right to buy 100,000 shares at $30.”

    No, you’re off by a multiple of 100. A call is the right to buy 100 shares, so if the price of the call is $1, your out of pocket is $100 for each. To achieve the right to buy 100,000 shares you need to pay $100k.

    e.g. Microsoft is at about 46, their June 12th calls at 45 are $1. If you think there’s going to be a big positive announcement from MSFT between now and Friday at 4pm EDT that’ll move the price 40%, you’ll buy 1000 calls @$1 = $100,000. The price rises to $64, your calls are now worth ~$19 each * 100 = $1900 * 1000 (how many you own) = $1.9M.

    $100k becomes $1.9M (before commissions). Still nice money, but “only” 19x, not 240x.

  46. No, you’re off by a multiple of 100.

    Yet another hint that maybe I shouldn’t be doing it.

  47. Another way of reading the data, “58% of bosses and 59% of millenniels agree that the two most important job criteria are high pay and job satisfaction.”

  48. Austin – I get what you’re saying and agree. I was going off the comment “Being given deliverables and the ability (without checking in with anyone) to work when, where and the amount needed to complete those deliverables has been the goal.”

    IOW, you’re paid piece-meal rather than salary?

  49. Speaking of investment strategies, I just got a new Windows 8.1 laptop and it makes me want to short MSFT. Really? It’s almost impossible to “buy” MS Office? You need to subscribe for $9.99/month?

  50. No you can subscribe annually, too. I think it’s $100, but it’s good for 5(?) computers.

  51. Fred, in my experience in the private sector (which was awhile ago I admit) and in talking with my husband, it seems it is harder to fire folks than one might think.

    I think we’re all thinking more about layoffs and reorgs vs. being fired for cause.

  52. No you can subscribe annually, too.

    I saw that. But, I just want to buy it. I also noticed that you can’t not auto-renew.. Or, if you can, how you can is buried deep in some menu.

  53. “Another way of reading the data, “58% of bosses and 59% of millenniels agree that the two most important job criteria are high pay and job satisfaction.””

    YES!

    COC – as for what I see that IS different. It’s definitely use of different tech – texting/IM’ing/Skype in a business context rather than email or phone. Use of online collab tools is definitely up too. But I see the rest of us going that way too. And not just in my industry – in DH’s stodgy government office, they are using text a lot these days & using some online tools. I also think that the Millennials that I work with are plenty cynical too – or at least I don’t really notice a big difference from when me & my peers were that age.

  54. I actually consider business phone calls to be a tad rude if not expected. For example, I had to phonescreen some candidates for a position, and in each case, I emailed first to warn the candidate and set up a time. To me, it would be rude to just call. Even with my colleagues, I email most of the time, and only call if specifically requested. My colleagues are pretty much the same.

    I think it totally depends on the nature of the call. If it’s a quick question, then a call out of the blue is fine. If it’s something that requires a little time, then it should be scheduled.

    I once got a call about a job I applied for and they had three people in a conference room on speaker phone asking if I could do a phone interview right then with no prior arrangements. I thought that was totally ridiculous. On the other hand, it still seems pretty common to get a call from someone asking to set up a time to do an interview, and that’s perfectly fine, IMO.

  55. I much prefer to email rather than anything else (face to face or phone or text). DH and his young tech pals like to use Slack.

    Rhett – the next computer I get is going to be a macbook. I am looking forward to getting rid of my @($*# Windows machine.

  56. You can go for annual renew…and I know this because I got a text from one of my kids telling me I had to renew because he couldn’t access word. I was the one that had the F****** 25 character alpha numeric product key that’s required to renew, so I had to do it. Apparently you can’t just log in and pay the $100 on your credit card or else he would have done that. Now I’m on auto renew.

  57. Interesting about phone calls being considered rude. My millennial son and his baby boomer dad have constant disagreements about how to network, including following up emails with phone calls. Son says “no one calls anymore”. I never considered that phone calls were rude, although I do understand that texts, emails, and other methods are sometimes preferable. But I have thought that always using emails instead of phone calls could be a sign of laziness or shyness. Now I don’t know what to think!

  58. I agree with Temp Handle – there is a “live to work” “work to live” spectrum.

    Relatedly, I’m an eat to live, not live to eat person so I am reviewing Friday’s suggestions now.

  59. I am Gen X but as far as business communication is concerned I preferred emailing and IM to phone calls. This used to be a hassle earlier in my career because managers would want you to call instead of email. They would issue laptops and then frown upon working from home during snow storms and bad weather. I am glad that things have changed and luckily for me, this happened at a time when I need flexibility and don’t have to go into the office if I have to take care of something at home.

  60. I am looking forward to getting rid of my @($*# Windows machine.

    I can just tell that at MSFT the customer is never more than #10 on anyone’s priority list.

    1. What’s easiest for me
    2. Can this be used against my rival director.
    3. Can this be used to brown nose the VP
    ….
    10. What will the customer think?

  61. Rhett, MS has gone to the subscription model because people don’t upgrade nearly as often as they used to. I still use Office 2007. My wife just got a Surface Pro 3 and installed it on there for her. There’s just no need to get a new version every couple of years. It’s the same for PCs and operating systems as a whole now. You don’t need to upgrade every 2-3 years like you did 15 years ago. I’ve had my laptop for 5 years now and I have no plans to get a new one anytime soon. My wife’s old PC was about 10 years old before she updgraded to the surface.

  62. Denver,

    Right, they should put more effort into making something so insanely great that people feel compelled to buy it vs. spending time and effort trying to scam a few extra bucks out of their customers.

  63. Costco has Microsoft® office personal 365 1 year subscription for “$69.99 Before Member Discount.”

    You can buy non-subscription MS Office from a lot of places too.

    Do you need MS Office if you use google docs?

  64. Rhett, I’m old enough to remember what you referred to being called the “killer app.”

  65. I agree on hating on Microsoft and the PC. Ours is like a what not to do trainer around the house, ie, this is what to do when windows lock up, this is what to do when you get a virus, this is how to reboot you machine so the blue tooth will pair again, this is how to use a windows product on another machine, this is the ad blocker program you need to make browsing on a PC bearable, etc.. To actually do anything, we use a Google product on the Mac.

    I thought of Finn this weekend, when 2 of 10 graduating seniors at church were National Merit Finalists. They are going to Vanderbuilt and Rhodes College respectively.

  66. As I’ve written before, this is the problem Xerox had. When copier technology was new, stuff broke. So Xerox created a service force (note: Xerox only rented/leased copiers initially, you could not buy them, and service was included in the lease price). Then equipment sales became a thing, but the quality was no better, so the service force was a necessity as was buying a service contract. This worked fine until Japanese competitors, chiefly Canon, came along with machines that didn’t break and actually cost about the same as the Xerox products. The rest is history.

    I kinda like the subscription model. At least 1x/yr I get the latest and greatest and the price is the same as my Netflix subscription. I get at least the same utility. Not much more, though.

  67. OK, Rhett and L, you have me thinking.

    I’m thinking of buying a laptop. My kids just finishes school last week and had to hand in their school-provided laptops (apples), and right now the only devices they have for going online are DD’s phone and DS’ iPod. It’s a problem for DW and me when we want them to look up stuff themselves, e.g., we wanted them to look up the bus schedule to get them to their upcoming volunteer gig.

    So I was looking at either a Kindle Fire (HD 7 currently on sale, $40 off) or a Windows 8.1 laptop (HP Stream 11, $188). I haven’t really looked at Chromebooks; would that be a good alternative? Any thoughts on pros/cons of these choices, or other choices I should consider?

  68. We bought a convertible tablet with a keyboard most recently. It runs Windows and plays the PC version of Minecraft. I would have preferred a chromebook. The price is good and speed for web browsing is good. I use chrome as a browser and gmail for email.

  69. We are a multi platform family. I do all of the IT and network support, and have had Macs since the earliest little box on the desk (and broadband since they first wired my street in the early1990s), but DH refuses to get a mac. And he has to have a tower, not a laptop. We had been nursing along his old Dell Windows 7 PC but if finally bit the dust. Windows 8 will never darken a screen in my house. So we went to Staples and found a dirt cheap tower with Windows 7 on it (new, but old stock). I carefully went through the three years of monthly upgrades, a few at a time, to prevent lock up. We will upgrade to Windows 10 when we they finally issue it. We purchased standalone single machine Office suite and Norton anti virus – with a product key and a rebate – from Staples at the same time as the tower. My Mac already has office suite. For our limited daily use, there is no reason to pay every year. We also have kindle tablets and I have an Android phone. Couldn’t use AT&T when it was the only carrier for Iphones, and never saw a reason to make the switch – I like samsung galaxy phones very much.

  70. We are a multiplatform family – the main family computer is an iMac, the boys also have a Raspberry Pi which runs Linux, I have a machine for research work which runs Ubuntu Linux (and my university is acquiring a Ubuntu laptop for me to use on a specific project), and my husband and I both have Windows7 laptops. The purpose of mine is to duplicate the student environment when I am testing stuff for teaching.

  71. As for phones at work, I think I have gotten exactly two phone calls on my work phone this year.

  72. Finn (or anyone) – is one of your kids going to college in the fall? if so and they have a school email (usually one ending in .edu) sign up for a student discount at Best Buy. We got $100 of my kid’s MacBook air last year.

  73. One of the funniest things I saw this year was my DS1 trying to collaborate with 3 other kids on a presentation for French class. My kid wanted to use Google Drive but none of the other kids knew how to use it, or Dropbox for that matter. They wanted to use text messages. So DS1 ended up, during their group writing session, with a printout of the presentation in front of him, and as the other kids texted in changes, he hand edited the printout, and then sent his changes out by text message, line by line. It was like going back to collaboration in 1980, when we used those teletype printers to send each other messages. Amazing how supposed advances in technology can make things worse rather than better. Anyway, the next time they had to do a project, they did migrate to Google Drive, and now the entire school district has adopted Google as its platform.

  74. Finn – I have both the Kindle Fire HD 7 and Dell Chromebook 11 – both acquired within the past couple of months. I like them both. Which one would best meet your kids’ needs depends on how they need to use the device. I like the Chromebook because it has a bigger screen and a keyboard, is quick and works easily with Google Docs (which my kids use in school). However, I would not want to carry it around daily. And it’s probably not good for gaming because it’s not touch screen. Though I think there are chromebooks that are touch screen. I haven’t used the Fire much, except for netflix, email and web surfing, all of which it does well. I think there are a lot of apps available and other functions for the Fire, I just haven’t sought them out.

  75. I’m confused that MS would go that route for office. Nearly all of the Mac OS upgrades are pushed as updates. In the last 5 years I think I paid for one upgrade before they switched to this model, and even that was under $40. We have all Mac computers right now. I’ve thought about a chromebook, especially as my oldest gets ready to learn typing. Then again, I might just upgrade my five year old laptop & let them use it. It still works perfectly well and would do everything she’d want to do on it.

  76. “MS has gone to the subscription model because people don’t upgrade nearly as often as they used to. I still use Office 2007. My wife just got a Surface Pro 3 and installed it on there for her. There’s just no need to get a new version every couple of years.”

    THIS. “Hmm, people aren’t finding our upgrades as useful any more. So my choices are:

    1. Refocus my efforts on finding valuable, useful things to include in the upgrades, instead of just reorganizing everything into a “ribbon”; or

    2. Keep my useless updates but change my pricing model so my customers *have* to pay more for the same thing I’m providing now.

    Clearly, option 2 is the no-brainer.”

    This is why I hate MS.

    PS — Finn, my Inner Grammar Twit thanks you for saying “DW and me.” :-)

  77. Our school district provides free MS office to families of students (up to five installs). My youngest is in K so I’m hoping they keep this up for a while.

  78. Rhett – that is great news about Top Gear (or whatever they will call it). Netflix was smart to jump on this show.

  79. This is why I hate MS.

    But it’s not just MS, it’s the nature of software. When you have a very mature product like Office, you can’t come up with enough new features to make upgrading worthwhile, and they know it. So you either need to do something to force people to upgrade, or try the subscription model.

    Quicken forces you to upgrade every couple of years by killing the online functionality of older versions. Even if you manually download the files from your bank rather than through quicken, it still goes online when you import them, so Intuit is able to kill the old versions. They know most people probably wouldn’t upgrade otherwise. There’s a computer baseball game I play, and every year they add in some minor tweaks and features, but most people would have no reason to buy it. But they force you to upgrade by requiring the latest version to use the new season.

    I’d be fine with the subscription model for Office if they priced it reasonably, like $20-25 a year. When there is a free alternative in OpenOffice that does 99% of what I use Word for (and now that I’m done with writing papers for school, I probably won’t use that other 1% anymore), it doesn’t make sense to pay $70-$100 a year for office.

  80. My kid did the SAT subject test (bio) on Saturday but it doesn’t look like it was affected.

  81. “Use LinkedIn as your Rolodex,”

    This seems like basic advice.  Except that some members of your network may not be very active on LinkedIn or may not even have a presence.

    In you were advising a young reporter, would you suggest he routinely request LinkedIn connections with sources he uses in stories?  Or is that too bold?  Most of his sources will be employees of financial firms.

    Avoid these career-killing social media mistakes

  82. So I just did a search on myself, and though I found one link I was startled about, it was still pretty benign. Mostly I’m swamped by some actress/comedian with my name, and a bioethicist with my name (and if people want to attribute her resume to me, that’s swell).

    I checked my daughter-in-law’s rather unusual name, and though some decent head-shot type pics came up, she has all her social media stuff locked down enough that no pictures of her in bars or at parties came through. So sometimes I wonder how much danger we’re all really in.

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