Screening out the bad seeds. Okay, pop quiz: "Any trouble you have is your own fault." Do you disagree, strongly disagree, agree, or strongly agree? If you found the unauthorized key to this personality test from Unicru online, you'd know the "right" answer was strongly agree. As the Wall Street Journal reports, retailers who have automated the hiring process (16 percent of major retail hiring in the U.S. starts with the Unicru test), are facing the potential of inaccurate test results thanks to online cheat sheets. Mark Scott, an employee who failed the test at Circuit City only to ace it at Blockbuster after getting coached by a friend, tells the Journal that the test "weeds out people who are honest and selects those who lie."
Obama borrows a page from Bush. The ever-spiraling recession has breathed new life into nonstarters like business tax cuts, reports Business Week. Obama has embraced a Bush administration proposal from last spring that was originally viewed as a giveaway for banks and homebuilders. Companies that are losing money would be able to write off net operating losses against profits for four to five years instead of just two years, as it stands now.
Today's theme is: unemployment. With 4.5 million Americans now collecting benefits, unemployment is the highest it's been in 26 years. Forbes, which is facing its own layoffs this week, notes that small and medium-sized firms posted the lion's share of jobs losses in December. The sudden surge, coupled with some serious technical glitches, recently crashed electronic unemployment filing systems in New York, North Carolina, and Ohio. Several other states are experiencing delays. New York's phone and internet systems were out yesterday morning while as many as 10,000 people per hour tried to collect benefits, says ABC News. Slate was nice enough to cull together some sites that will help you scrimp through the recession, while you're waiting for that check. Including one blogger's take on getting by without a job.
Does your congressmen have your back? The Wall Street Journal notes that 24 of 61 incoming congressional members have small business backgrounds. Notables include: former Virginia governor Mark Warner (an entrepreneur and an early investor in Nextel); and Jared Polis, a Colorado Internet entrepreneur and investor.
Metallica is so not going to be happy about this. At Macworld yesterday, Apple announced that it would dispense with anticopying restrictions for all the songs sold in its iTunes store. This means a song bought on iTunes could be easily transferred from your iPod to a non-Apple device or among friends. In exchange, record companies are now allowed to set their own range of prices. Most songs will drop to 69 cents in April, while bigger, newer hits will go for $1.29. Industry analysts have often criticized D.R.M. as alienating customers and ineffective in slowing piracy, says the New York Times. But Om Malick points out that Amazon has offered cheaper, D.R.M.-fee music for the past year without taking away any real market share from iTunes. In the long-run, he speculates, the record companies' decision may actually just condition the market to expect lower prices.
Blogs that are (gasp) worth reading. Over at ZDnet, Rick Burnes, the former editor of NYTimes.com, discusses what makes a corporate blog worthwhile. Burnes' take is that most corporate blogs do little more than pimp company news. The corporate blog par excellance, says Burns, is Google's.
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