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Tue, 18 Jan 2005

It's Coming!

Towel Day

This entry authored by Tyran at 07:56

Wed, 19 Jan 2005

The Lurking Menace

I use Blog to maintain my blog entries here and on Everyday Yoga.  The program icon is the familiar blue pen over a scroll of paper.  It sits there on my taskbar waiting, begging to be clicked.  Occasionally, I do click it and then it just stares back at me, blank and inviting; pleading with me to please just write something, anything.  More often than not, I heave a sigh and close Blog without having typed a single character.  Occasionally, I leave the page blank because the only thing I have to write about is what one of my co-workers has done to go from co-worker to annoying git at the speed of light.  Usually such annoyances fade into background noise quite quickly; so, why would I want to immortalize such things by writing about them here?  Besides, a number (small number true, but still) of my co-workers read the Whinery, or their spouses do, and the last thing I need is to drive a wedge between myself and the people with whom I work.  Writing about co-workers and the gormless things that they do:  Off limits here.  The same basic concept applies to my family, immediate and extended.  Of course, I've now made all the above mentioned sure that I think they are nothing but so much annoying noise; this is not the case.  I know that I annoy these people at times and, similarly, they annoy me at times; besides, I said that this happens only occasionally and not all the time.  Most of the time, there is simply nothing to write.  My mind is, at these times, just as blank as the page and try as I might, there is just nothing that moves my fingers to even say hello.

So, why then am I writing this now?  I'm not sure, I'm not sure at all.  Perhaps I just need to express my frustration over this, because it is frustrating.  I do want to write in this space, I do want to see the Whinery come back to life.  Maybe writing about my frustration and having nothing to write will break open the flood gates once again and I'll have not just the desire to write something but I'll actually have something to write.

This entry authored by Tyran at 05:51

Thu, 20 Jan 2005

A Killer on the Loose

It seems that there is a killer loose on the web, apparently he's a foxy thing.  Just thought you all should know.

Speaking of foxy things, have you tried Firefox?  It's a small, 4.5 MB download, web browser (click the Take back the web icon at the left) that is fast taking the place of Internet Explorer (also know as The Great and Broken Browser).  It's not a great surprise really.  IE, hereafter called TGaBB, hasn't seen a feature update in a long time, is constantly requiring security updates and even with security updates is so prone to malicious software that it's unuseable.  I was working on Amalthea Hendelprod's* computer today and had to use IE to access some information - Amalthea is one of the few people we allow to continue using TGaBB, it would be too difficult to try and explain why using Firefox to this person.  When I opened IE, what did I see but three new toolbars.  Obviously someone had been installing unapproved software and that software had attacked TGaBB and infected it with parasitic toolbars.  I have yet to see a regularly used copy of TGaBB that is used by an average joe kind of user that is not infected with at least one toolbar parasite.  Anyway, below are some of the great features offered by the plain default version of Firefox that TGaBB does not have or that TGaBB claims to have but allows suspicious exceptions to its rules:

  • High grade security
  • Anti-spoofing protection
  • Privacy controls
  • Tabbed browsing
  • Pop-up blocker
  • Live bookmarks
  • HTML 4.0, CSS 1 & 2, DOM 1 & 2 (Core and HTML), RDF, XML 1.0, XML Namespaces 1.0, SOAP 1.1, XSLT, XPath 1.0, XHTML 1.0, JavaScript 1.5, SSL, TLS 1.0, and more.
  • Graphics: JPEG, GIF, PNG, MNG, BMP, ICO, XBM

That's without any of the 178+ extensions that add features you may want or the many themes that can be downloaded all to truly customize your copy of Firefox.  It's as simple or as complex as you want or need it to be, that is something that IE has never and will never give you as a user.  You are stuck with what Microsoft feels is good for you.  If you're interested in trying Firefox, click the Take back the web icon at the left.

* See Kim's comment.

This entry authored by Tyran at 12:47

Signs Signs Everywhere a Sign

Except in Pleasant Grove, Utah.  My wife told me tonight that the local Stake Presidents had received a letter informing them that members who place small A-frame signs on their private property to advertise a monthly church meeting are violating the city sign ordinances.  Now these signs are only up for 24 hours or so each month and are quite attractive.  The problem is that they are A-frame signs.  Hearing this immediately angered me and I wrote a very vitriolic letter expressing my indignation over this.  After venting, I took the time to read through Title 14 and find out exactly what the sign ordinance was.  It looks like basically all signs other than house signs showing address and name, for sale/rent/lease signs or historical markers are illegal.  Here are the relevant sections:

14.10.150 OTHER REQUIREMENTS.

(1) Signs. Unless otherwise prohibited by law, signs of the type and description listed below, but no others, may be placed and maintained in the R-l zone.

(a) Signs or name plates not exceeding two square feet in area and displaying only the name and address of the occupant.

(b) Two temporary signs with a maximum area of six square feet each, pertaining to the sale, lease, or rent of the particular building, property, or premises upon which displayed, and no other.

(c) Signs or monuments identifying points of interest or sites of historic significance. The site of said signs or monuments shall be specifically approved by the Planning Commission.


14.27.040 SIGNS ON PREMISES.

Except as provided within the provisions of respective zoning districts, and unless otherwise expressly provided in this Chapter, no sign shall be permitted which is not used exclusively to advertise the ownership, sale, or lease of property upon which said sign is placed, or to advertise a business conducted, services rendered, goods produced or sold upon such premises, or to advertise or identify any other lawful activity conducted upon such premises.


14.27.070 SPECIAL PURPOSE SIGNS.

In addition to any other permitted sign(s), signs for special purposes set forth in this Section shall be permitted as provided herein.

(1) For Sale, Rent, or Lease Signs. In all zoning districts, signs may be erected to advertise the sale, rent, or lease of property upon which said signs are placed. Said signs shall be limited to one sign per street face, unless otherwise provided by the zoning provisions, and shall not exceed an area of six square feet in residential zones or twenty-five square feet in non- residential zoning districts. Said signs shall be exempt from project plan approval.

(2) Directory Signs. In all districts where group occupancies in office buildings, commercial buildings, or industrial buildings are permitted, directory signs may be erected displaying the names of occupants of a building who are engaged in a particular profession, business, or industrial pursuit. Said sign shall be situated at least fifteen feet inside the property line and shall not exceed twelve feet in height. Said sign shall not exceed an area of one hundred square feet and shall not be placed within a clear-vision area of a corner lot as set forth in Section 14.24.100.

(3) Construction Project Signs. Signs may be erected in conjunction with construction projects and used for the purpose of publicizing the future occupants of the building; architects, engineers, and construction organizations participating in the project; and such other information as may be approved by the Community Development Director. In residential districts no such sign shall exceed thirty-two square feet in area. In other districts, no such sign shall exceed an area of sixty-four square feet, and no freestanding sign shall exceed twelve feet in height. All such signs shall be removed before final inspection.

(4) On/Off-Site Directional Signs. Directional signs may be erected for the purpose of facilitating or controlling the efficient or safe movement of pedestrians or vehicles on or into private property, and shall be located on the properties to which they pertain. No such sign shall exceed six square feet.

(5) Open-House Signs. Open-house signs advertising real estate open for inspection for a prospective sale may be placed on private property in all districts with the consent of the owner, lessee, or occupant. Such signs may state the name of the person or firm sponsoring the open-house. Such signs shall not exceed six square feet.

(6) Church, Quasi-Public Organizations and Apartment House Identification Signs. In all districts, a church or quasi-public organization may erect one wall sign on the premises to identify the name of the organization and announce activities thereof. Apartment houses of five or more dwelling units may erect one sign on the premises to identify only the name of the apartment complex and to indicate a vacancy. Said wall sign shall not exceed an area of thirty-two square feet, and may be mounted upon a freestanding, ornamental masonry wall.

(7) Bus Bench Signs. In all zones bus bench signs are prohibited.

(8) Development Promotional and Directional Signs. One development promotional sign may be placed on the premises of each subdivision, planned development, or condominium project having five or more lots or approved dwelling units. Said promotional sign may have an area of thirty two square feet. A second development promotional sign may be placed on the premises of each subdivision, planned development, or condominium project having two or more separate, major points of access. All of the above signs shall be removed not later than thirty days following the sale, by the original developer, of all lots in said development, and before a final inspection is granted. This period shall not exceed twenty four months from date of development final approval.

(9) Yard/Garage Sale Signs. Such signs may be posted as provided in Section 14.27.040 only.

(10) Election Campaign Signs. All such signs erected in the city behalf of any candidate for any office must comply with the provisions of this Chapter and all signs must be removed within seventy two hours counted from 12:00 midnight of the polling (election) day.

After reading through the above, it's obvious that even if they weren't on A-frames, the signs would be violating the sign ordinances.  There are Ten Commandment signs everywhere in town, they don't fit within the ordinance either.  There are cutsy holiday signs (most made at the same meetings announced on the A-frame signs) everywhere, they also don't fit within the ordinance.  Imagine the furor if the city tried to force citizens to take down those signs.

The Naked, Ugly Truth . . . .
This entry authored by Tyran at 21:45

Mon, 24 Jan 2005

Lines in the Sand

There is an ever growing number of people who have lost their jobs because of their personal blogs (see Wagner's Weblog or this list of fired bloggers).  Naturally, being a blogger myself, I've watched news articles and blog entries dealing with this issue with no small amount of interest.  I'm glad I have because when I went into work this morning the HR director asked me what I knew about blogs.  He proceeded to tell me that we need a policy on blogs, the major concern being that he wanted to make sure employees don't end up on the latest dooced list.  Two red flags immediately went up for me:  Firstly, I don't want to police employees' actions when they are away from work.  Secondly, I don't want to define what employees may or may not write.  I was assured that the intent was to neither police personal blogs nor to define what employees may or may not write but rather to inform them of what could land them in hot water so they can knowingly avoid such circumstances.  Even that left me with an odd niggle in the back of my mind but I'll get to that in a minute.

I started researching and all I could find were policies relating to corporate blogs.  We don't have any corporate blogs so none of these really seemed to help me.  The sheer lack of policies on employees' personal, non-sanctioned blogs made that niggle in my mind a bit bigger.  Then a key point, indeed a vital point, hit me.  Blogs are not private communication.  In private I can tell you that Hengral Thorsondrilfar, our left side gate twirler, is a moronic buffoon and his supervisor, Theldin Norshank, is depriving a villiage somewhere of an idiot for allowing Hengral to continue working for us.  If I make such an outrageous statement publicly, I can expect to be in some very hot water.  Blogs don't fall into the realm of private communication because they are published for the world to see.  Even those protected by password or that have a secret URL for only the select few have to be considered as public because once that password or URL is given to even one person, the author no longer has control over who has access to that blog.

As soon as I realized that blogs are public expressions, I knew that we already had a policy in place and that I could stop researching.  Here's a summary of our policy for those interested in such things:

Public Relations
1. Always make it very clear whether you are stating company policy or personal viewpoint when making any public expression (written or oral).
2. If you are going to make any public expression specifically about work, it must first be vetted by the general manager.

Other companies would likely want to add that proprietary information is not to be publicized.  I work for a sewage treatment plant, we don't have any trade secrets.  We do, however, have facility security, network security, personnel issues, and a number of other types of confidential information just like any other place of employment.  Issues which, by the very fact that they are confidential, should not be made public.  All that being true and in place, can any company really stop an employee from making such information public?  No, just as the employee in such a situation could not prevent the company from taking punitive action against such an employee.  The following excerpt sums up this rather well I think:

"Okay, here's the first question. Is this page," and here he turned his monitor towards me, letting me see my "Even Microsoft wants G5s" post from last Thursday, "hosted on any Microsoft computer? Or is it on your own?"

"It's on mine. Well, it's on a hosted site that I pay for, but no, it's not on anything of Microsoft's."

"Good. That means that as it's your site on your own server, you have the right to say anything you want. Unfortunately, Microsoft has the right to decide that because of what you said, you're no longer welcome on the Microsoft campus."

http://www.michaelhanscom.com/eclecticism/2003/10/of_blogging_and.html

That brings me to that niggle in the back of my mind.  How far do employers need to go to protect their employees from themselves?  Indeed, how far should they go in telling their employees what is acceptable outside the workplace?  Constitutional Rights do not apply as the relationship is not between the government and a citizen (usually) but between two private entities:  Employer and employee.  How much of our freedom can employers require and how much should we be willing to give for a steady pay-check?

This entry authored by Tyran at 17:45

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