When my husband and I first got married fifty years ago, I knew that we were going to have a great life ahead of us. We got married after college and I knew from the beginning that he was going to be the right one for me. I was so happy when he wanted to take me to Europe for our anniversary. When we were in Sweden we had to look for Sildenafil in Sweden because I knew that I wanted to make sure that he was ready for me when it was time to get intimate. (more…)
My husband and I have made a pact to be as frugal as we can. We watched for years as many friends repeatedly got themselves into debt and struggled to get out. We knew there was a better way. So, when we got married, many people in our family had grandiose ideas of the luxury wedding we would have, but we wanted no part of that. Of course, we did do things like get Toronto limo rental for ourselves and our parents, but that is relatively cheap for the nice luxury that it provides.
Anyone can be frugal by simply not buying a lot of things. But there are a lot of us who take it further with the help of tips. We know how to make things like groceries, toiletries, toilet paper and so much more last longer than the average person does. No, we don’t all have all the answers on our own, we spend time meeting in different online communities to share tips that we have each come up with. Once everyone puts their heads together to share tips they have, it helps the entire group as a whole. It may seem like a lot of work, but it’s not. (more…)
Of course I could see them putting this place up while I was going to and from the office for the past couple of years. The condo developer New Futura in Singapore has been working on the place and it is finally ready. The other day I got my work finished a little early and I decided to test out how long it would take to walk over there. It came out under ten minutes by a little and of course the traffic was just terrible when I did it and it took a long time to get through some of the chokepoints in the route. You know that there is a real problem though and I found out what it was when I went inside and started to inquire about the costs. (more…)
Sometimes you just want to get the words down without seeing a lot of distractions that can be part of a regular word processing program. Years ago when I used to use a typewriter, my eyes were fixed on a single line of type or a single word. Sometimes a single letter. This visual focus in reality made it easy for my imagination to explore. Screen real estate for computers and word processing programs can have a lot of distractions. Sometimes I just want to write so I use Write! It makes it easy to get a draft of the words down. Then I can go back and edit.
The flow of the words for a first draft is important. (more…)
They say no good deed goes unpunished and sadly that is the truth in the world of the whistleblower. The theory on ‘whistle blowing’ is that the individual is helping the community, and following their ethics, by reporting the offending person or company. The risk of recrimination is very high and usually results in a long and difficult fight for the whistleblower. This battle will likely including legal threats and character assassination.
So what can you do to protect yourself when you do blow the whistle? Having been through this process I have gain some insight on how best to handle the situation.
1. Documentation :: Once you suspect that something is wrong you should begin documenting. Start by taking notes in a log book or note pad. This information will be helpful when you need to tell your story and will provide the detail needed to track down further evidence of wrong doing. Next, start collecting pertinent documents. The best way is to copy documents (photocopy, computers docs, etc.). When you think you have enough, double it. Pictures, phone recordings, documents, conversations, e-mails are all important and should be noted when possible. There can never be enough documentation. Once the authorities begin investigation documents had a tendency to disappear.
Many people who don’t know the laws will try to tell you that these methods are illegal. The fact is they are not. In Canada it is legal to record a conversation or phone call as long as one of the parties is participating in the conversation. The removal of documents from the workplace is a gray area. Under normal circumstances removing company information is illegal, however when it is evidence it can be collected. In a Canadian court all evidence will be considered. Check with your governments laws or speak with a lawyer before taking any risks.
2. Minimize Your Exposure :: When you draw up the courage, and support, to finally report the issues there are a few things you need to do. First, it is best if you stay at your job while you report the issues. Sometimes the authorities will ask you questions, that will help them with their investigation, and being at the location is beneficial. Ask to be kept anonymous, if possible, but sometimes this can’t be done. Next, get your resume polished up and start sending it out. Then prepare financially by locating your employment insurance office. Tell them that you are blowing the whistle on your employer and you may be fired for it. Provide the person with the contact names of whichever authority you contacted. The idea is to build a repour, so if bad things happen, people will know the facts. Don’t loose that all important safety net.
3. Go with your Instincts :: Most people will tell you not to blow the whistle because there are no winners. They are partially right, but without your courage people will get hurt, the rich will get richer and abuse their powers. You can change that by doing what you feel it right. We often cloud our thinking with other peoples perceptions, but only you can determine what to do. Most of the time your instinct are right and you should trust them. If you listen to others and they convince not to go with your instincts, and then something bad happens, you have to live with the consequences, not them.
4. Be Patient :: Nothing happens quickly no matter how fast you want to be done with it. The reality is that things will go much slower than you ever expected them too. The best way to make sure things are moving is to do some research. For example, if you file a complaint against a medical professional, the regulatory College that receives the complaint will have a complaints process. However, this is usually regulated by a government agency that has legislation regarding complaints. In Ontario all complaints must be handled in 120 days. If not, you can contact the Health Professions Appeal & Review Board and they will contact the College and accelerate the process.
Some other tips to accelerate the process include contacting your local politician, begin a letter writing campaign to media outlets and compiling your story onto an internet site. Be persistent when dealing with each agency, don’t accept their statements at face value and always follow up.
5. The Media is Not a Solution :: They can help but you have to convince them to write the story. Many times it may take months for them to move. Remember they don’t want any liability, they are a profit motivated company and will only publish story’s that make them a dollar. If your former employer is litigious, they will probably be too scared to publish. The media has no problem reporting history, so once a final verdict is reached, by the authorities, they will write a story. Unfortunately it will be to late to help you.
Some of the smaller media outlets may be more willing to help you. Take a look at freelance writers, who may spend more time working on your story and getting the facts. They also have the contacts you need to get it published.
6. Prepare for an Attack on your Character and Legal Threats :: The person or company you are dealing with will not let things go easily. The first response will be to discredit you. If you look like an disgruntled employee or someone with a vendetta then your story will be less believable. It’s easy for the person or company to do this. If they were unethical to start with, it’s not a huge leap for them start lying about you after you report them. There isn’t much you can do except try to disprove they’re statements. Use the document you gathered to clearly show that they are the guilty party and you were just being ethical. In the end your efforts will be recognized. You will probably receive a cease and desist letter, don’t be overly concerned as this is most likely posturing. If you are worried, speak with a lawyer.
7. Use Lawyers Sparingly :: Nobody can fight with the passion you have and no lawyer will ever put the amount of effort you already have into your fight. Replying to a cease and desist letter is easy, just stick with the facts, provide the evidence and take the high road. Most lawyers will act like an 600 lb gorilla, your job is to be bigger. In all likelihood they won’t want to take this issue to a public forum, like a court room, especially if you have documented the case very well. That would give you a perfect opportunity to invite the media and lay your case out. Examples of cease and desist responses can be found in the legal documents section of the Snake Oil website.
If you need legal advice, get it, but don’t let the lawyer bleed you dry. Have your questions prepared on paper and sit down with the lawyer and discuss the issue. If they charge a minimum of one hour time, use it all. One good thing to do is prepare a short summary of the facts in your case, and fax it in to the law office. Don’t ask question in the letter. Blowing the whistle is stressful enough without having thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Some people will tell you not to let the event consume you. If it does consume you, it will affect other parts of your life. But sometimes focussing your energy can be better if it will resolve the issue quicker. It’s better to throw your whole heart into the matter, rather than fight with yourself. It is difficult to not be consumed. My advice is to simply go with it. The harder you work the quicker the issue will be resolved and the sooner you can get on with your life.
The is no reward for doing a good deed, that’s only in movies. In the end however you should have the satisfaction that you made your community or country a better place. People will respect you for your efforts and hopefully inspire then to do something good and that is a reward in itself.
My experience has been one of honest return for honesty when dealing with customers. Maybe it’s not a quick buck, but I can look at myself in the mirror in the morning and know I did the right thing. I would rather have a customer for life than a fly by night sale to a customer that I tricked into buying my product. It isn’t always about the bottom line of making cash. It should be about service and product value. Over the past couple of years I have had more business cleaning up computers that have been completely overran with viruses, trojans, and spam than I’ve done computer builds. The number one complaint is ‘I just want to be able to use my computer, not worry about viruses and trojans and updates!!!’ Do I profit from unethical business practices? Yes I do when I spend an hour cleaning up a computer. Do I take the time to teach the user? You bet I do! I spend an hour to two hours with a client after I do a cleanup or a computer build. Do I lose money with this practice? Yes I do, but I gain respect from the customer and that customer will always come back.
The one major challenge with doing business online is that we don’t always get to be face to face with our customers. Even so, there are ways around this that will bring value to your customer and value in repeat business. It doesn’t cost that much to call and thank someone for their business. It doesn’t cost much to send out a thank you card. I think at times we forget that email isn’t the only way to communicate. With the prevalence of spam it isn’t always the best way to communicate either. The internet can be a very impersonal place. It is ethically challenging to all of us who try to sale a product or business online. Is there a chance of giving away too much with little return? That is always a chance we take when we offer advice or tips to a customer. I can guarantee that over time, the word gets around, and your business will develop a core group of customers who value your service and will tell others.
Being a small business is a challenge in the fast paced retail world of chain stores. We can’t offer the huge discounts the major chain stores can, but we can offer service value for the product. I challenge anyone in the IT industry to take that little bit of extra time to teach users the do’s and don’ts of surfing the web. It will benefit your business and benefit the customer as well.
In 2004, IDC estimated that each day there are more than 30 billion E-Mail messages crossing the Internet. The Radicati Group estimated that in 2004 there were nearly 900 million active mailboxes on the Internet with approximately half of these being used for business purposes.
Bearing in mind that these statistics were taken 2 years ago, it is certain that the numbers are much higher today. Clearly, E-Mail communication has become extremely pervasive in Internet business environments as a result of the ease with which information can quickly and easily be delivered to one or many people anywhere in the world. 74 percent of business people surveyed recently believed that losing E-Mail service presents more of a hardship than losing telephone service.
Unfortunately, the standard method of E-Mail communication over the Internet uses the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP). This protocol was designed to transmit 7-bit ASCII character data between two IP hosts using the simplest and most efficient method possible. Security was an afterthought and security systems are almost never implemented by default in an SMTP-based mail system. Threats against an E-Mail system and its users have emerged just as quickly as the growth of the number of mailboxes. That brings us to a well-known E-Mail topic called “Phishing”.
Phishing schemes have emerged as one of the biggest threats to users personally. Phishing comes from the idea that you toss out a line and see who will grab it. The messages usually look reasonably legitimate and may actually appear to come from an organization from which you do business.
Often, phishing schemes can be exposed because you will receive a message from a bank or organization with which you do not do business with, or there could be typographical errors in the message. Depending on circumstances, one could believe that such a message is legitimate. However, since we know that no bank or payment processor will ask you for personal account data via an E-Mail, that is the final clue that the message is a fraud.
One good way to tell is that several good E-Mail programs will allow you to view the HTML code in the E-Mail. If it does not point to the intended URL, simply don’t use it. Another way is that some E-Mail programs reveal the URL by just placing your mouse cursor over the link. When you do this in Outlook, the true link will appear in a yellow balloon. One look at the URL will tell you if it is legitimate.
In any event, the general rule of thumb is this. If you receive an E-Mail from ANY bank or payment processor asking you to log in and validate your account information, you must assume it is a fraud…period! If your situation leads you to believe that there may be some legitimacy to the message, do not log in using the URL provided in the E-Mail. Go directly to the bank or payment processors website using your bookmark or their known URL. Practicing this rule may save you from falling victim to a phishing scheme.
So you got a Speeding Ticket so now what?
Speeding tickets are no fun. If you are pulled over for speeding and issued a citation legally, you do not need a lawyer unless you were also driving recklessly and are also cited for reckless driving. Speeding tickets are fairly straight forward, for the most part. However, depending on how much over the speed limit you were driving and which state you live in, your vehicle could be impounded (typically 40 mph over the speed limit). Additionally in some states, if you are under 18, your license may become suspended. But, if none of these conditions apply to you, you have the right to do two things: either pay the ticket, usually through mail, or else dispute the charge against you. After becoming aware of the law, I learned that anyone who pleads guilty on speeding tickets where they were cited for not speeding at all or cited for not going too much over the speed limit, subjects himself to unnecessary punishment from the law, since most speeding tickets of this type can be dismissed. I had a friend who was once cited for speeding when he was not and decided to fight the ticket.
So how do I fight a speeding ticket if I don’t think I was speeding?
Courts do not like to waste time and taxpayer dollars on petty crimes. To dispute a speeding ticket, you must within 10 days in most instances either sign the portion of the ticket that says “not guilty” and mail it to the place where you would send the payment for the fine or write a letter of dispute with the ticket number included in the letter, as well as your reasons for disputing the charges. In the written dispute, you must include ticket numbers, the date the ticket was received, the “act and section of the defense,” and your personal information. Thus, it depends on the state, but for the most part, states have a writing address where the dispute can be mailed. Check with your local county clerk to learn where to mail the dispute form.
After you have completed the dispute form, you will then wait to hear from the proper authorities, which will mail you a letter stating the date that your hearing will start. Make sure you attend the hearing and try to be at the courtroom at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the court hearing.
When the judge or district magistrate in some cases asks you how you plea, make sure you plead not guilty. He will then ask you to tell your story. As in my friend’s case above, he simply told him what had happened. He told the judge that when he saw the cop he looked at his speedometer and he was only going 35 mph in a 35 mph zone. The cop had cited him for going over 45 mph in the 35 mph zone. The cop was there and he conceded. At this point the judge will decide if your case is worthy of continuance and may possibly throw out the case or in the case of a district magistrate will decide your case; otherwise, in the case of a judge, you may be summoned to appear at another hearing at which your case will be decided.