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Friday, May 07, 2004

Career-Op: Training your replacement
by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

Outsourcing has been much in the news lately. Along with this trend another, more disturbing, one has emerged…companies asking employees to train their own replacements. In the professional equivalent of “digging your own grave,” companies are threatening to withhold severance pay or eligibility for unemployment unless their current (soon to be former) employees transfer their knowledge. I find this to be one of the most repugnant policies I have ever seen. Any company that will do this to their employees deserves to go as bankrupt financially as they are morally. If you are ever faced with such a choice, here are some guidelines to help you through the ugliness.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

What I'm Reading...

God's Secretaries : The Making of the King James Bible

I finally heard a term used to describe books such as this and the Michelangelo book I mentioned a few weeks ago -- a micro-history. This books use a particular historical figure or event to illuminate the period. This book was mentioned in some publication, I can't remember which, and I added it to my growing collection of books to get from the library.

The reign of King James I was tumultuous and filled with political and religious fighting. James sought to use a new translation of the Bible to help bridge the growing gap between the traditional Chruch of England and the growing number of Puritan's who sought a simpler, purer and less Roman Catholic religion. Instead, the disclusion of many, more radical Puritan leaders seems to have only pushed the country close to the Civil War that would occur a few decades later.

Thime time period is important for American's, as the persecution of Purtains in England led directly to their arrival in America. Already, at the very beginning of its history, America was filled with radicals not content with the status quo in England. Given a choice of surrender to the traditional dogma, imprisonment or exile, they chose to leave their home and create a new life based on their own beliefs. Even in America, though, the thought of religious freedom was a moot point. Just like James and his bishops in England, they demanded strict adherence to their religious beliefs.

God's Secretaries is an illuminating story of an often-ignored period of history and the creation of one of the most well-known translations of the Bible in the world today. In time, even the Puritans began to use the translation as their own official text, despite their exclusion during its development.

The Sound of Paper: Starting from Scratch

This book of essays follows the familiar path of Cameron's non-fiction writing, teaching writers how to deal with themselves and their work. Roughly following the cycle of a year, first living in New York and then retiring to her summer retreat in Taos, New Mexico, Cameron covers the ins and outs of a writer's life.

Unlike The Artist's Way and others, this is not a workbook, divided into a series of weekly exercises. While each essay has a quick "Try this" section, they are gentle proddings to think further about the essay you have just read. This is not a book to be swallowed whole in one sitting. I found myself reading 1 or 2 essays and then spending a bit of time absorbing what I just read. It was a fine companion for 3-4 weeks as I dipped into it again and again.

I have enjoyed Cameron's other books, so I was pre-disposed to read her latest. There is a highly spiritual element to these essay if not specifically religious. Here idea of "The Great Creator" might put off some readers, but if they supply their own verison of the "creator" that they relate to, this helps to put the essays into perspective.

Cameron takes a gentle hand with writers, not giving them full rein to be obnoxious parodies of how they think writers should act, but giving them and understanding on how they are different from those around them. Understanding, even from a distant writer of books, can be a well-spring of relief to an isolated writer wondering if they are crazy.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Mac OS X Security Update Info from MacDailyNews

Apple releases Security Update 2004-05-03 for Mac OS X 10.2.8 Client and Server
Apple has released Security Update 2004-05-03 for Mac OS X 10.2.8 Client and Server.

Security Update 2004-05-03 (Mac OS X 10.2.8 Client) delivers a number of security enhancements and is recommended for all Macintosh users.

This update includes the following components:
- AFP Server
- CoreFoundation
- IPSec

Additionally, Security Update 2004-04-05 (Mac OS X 10.2.8 Client) has been incorporated into this security update. Those components are: - Apache 1.3
- cd9660.util... [MacDailyNews]

Monday, May 03, 2004

Great, Free Botanical Fonts

Check out A Gardener's Notebook for great info on 3 free fonts designed using natural materials.

Here is one example:

Book Signing

Dawn Comer Jefferson and Rosanne Welch discuss "Three-Ring Circus: How Real Couples Balance Marriage, Work, and Family,"

Aroma Cafe/Portrait of a Bookstore, 4360 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, 1:00pm, (818) 508-6505

More info/future signings on the Three Ring Circus blog.

Wi-Fi at Fashion Square Sherman Oaks

Walking through the Fashion Square Mall today, I noticed several signs announcing that the mall was now a Wi-Fi Hotspot. I didn't have my computer with me, so I was unable to test it out, but the WestField Web Site, has a small announcement.

With the obnoxious heat hitting the Valley right now, this could be one place to get out of the house for a while and still catch up on your email. Westfield recently built an indoor play area for younger children at the West end of the first floor, so this could give the kids a chance to play without melting.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss

I had been seeing this odd title scattered throughout my Internet travels, but had no idea what it was. When I had a chance to get a free copy of the book, I jumped on it, wanting to know what it was all about.

My friends have many reasons to think me odd and my choice of books is one of them. Only Douglas, they might think, could get excited about a book on punctuation. While I wholeheartedly agree that I am odd in many ways, many other people in Britain and America have found this book interesting as well. It is reassuring to know, sometimes, that I am not alone in my madness.

While the subject matter, the use (and abuse) of punctuation such as apostrophes, commas, semicolons and the like, may seem dry to most people, Truss' (oh, goodness, I hope I placed that apostrophe correctly) writing style is light, humorous and dry as a Los Angeles summer. I regularly found myself laughing out loud at some of her examples of horrible punctuation, and then quietly wondering to myself if I had committed similar faux pas in my own writing over the years.

The title of book comes from this punctuation parable, cited on the back flyleaf of the book:

A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots into the air.

Why?" asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

"I'm a panda," he says, at the door, "Look it up."

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

"Panda. Large black-and-white bear-link mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."

So, there you have it. Misplaced commas and apostrophes, abused or forgotten semicolons and colons not only make us look a bit foolish, but hamper the very communication we are desperately trying to achieve.

A few years ago, Lynne Truss presented a show on BBC Radio 4, Cutting a Dash, where she developed many of the ideas and examples for this book. Only in the UK could you have support for a regular show about punctuation. You have to love the British sometimes.

This edition for American audiences is exactly the same as the British version and might throw some American readers for a loop. Fear not, though. Even if you don't know what a "high street" is, or stumble over the concept of a "green grocer", the lessons, humor and fun of this book come through.

If I ever had to study punctuation as a class again, I certainly hope this would be my textbook. In fact, this book might just help students find the fun, and usefulness, of the English language better than dry dissertations on the use of the semicolon.

While Eats, Shoots & Leaves has left me a bit self-conscious about my own writing, the refresher course in punctuation will serve me well for years to come.

More information is available at the Eats, Shoots and Leaves Web Site.