Conference Season

It’s the time of the year when I should be prepared for the up-coming Perl conference season. I think that I am going to be speaking at YAPC::Europe this year. I submitted a proposal for a talk and never heard another thing. However, Marty seems to have received an acceptance for my talk. Maybe they liked the idea but want Marty to give it instead of me…

Monitoring of Employees

Last week the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, published the third part of the Employment Practices Data Protection Code – Monitoring at Work. The aim of the Code is to help employers comply with the Data Protection Act.

There are some interesting things in this.

It will usually be intrusive to monitor your workers.

Workers have legitimate expectations that they can keep their personal lives private and that they are also entitled to a degree of privacy in the work environment.

If employers wish to monitor their workers, they should be clear about the purpose and satisfied that the particular monitoring arrangement is justified by real benefits that will be delivered.

These guidelines mean that employers could be in breach of the Act if they monitor staff email.

Spam, Spam, Spam

Like most of the other people I know I now receive more spam than ham. I was interested to read that in the state of Virginia they have raised the penalties for sending unsolicited e-mail. It is now possible to be given a prison term of one to five years and to be fined. It also permits seizure of ill-gotten profits and income from the sale of spam advertising, similar to antiracketeering laws.

I realise that this is old news now as this law was passed in March but Communications of the ACM printed an article called Ending Spam’s Free Ride in this month’s edition.

Spam is now a felony in the state of Virginia, as long as the unsolicited messages contain falsified information about the sender. With the harshest anti-spam law in the United States recently passed, Virginia

Understanding Branding

Tony has been trying to teach me about branding. This all came about because I have had to listen to quite a few people over the last couple of weeks talk about branding. Most of what I’ve heard seemed to be quite mad. So Tony tried to set me straight by lending me The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding.

I was told at one meeting that it would be a really good idea to get a brand name that everyone was already aware of and use it for a new product. The rationale behind this was that if I used a brand that stood for quality then people would think that my new product had quality also. This goes against the first of Al Ries’ laws of branding – The Law of Expansion – which states that the power of a brand is inversely proportional to its scope.

The emphasis in most companies is on the short term. Line extension, megabranding, variable pricing, and a host of other sophisticated marketing techniques are being use to milk brands rather than build them. While milking may bring in easy money in the short term, in the long term it wears down the brand until it no longer stands for anything.

– Al Ries & Laura Ries, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding.

Perl Conference Season

The Perl Whirl starts today. I have to admit reading Casey’s blog did make me wish that I was going. However, I’ve just looked at the program again to remind me why I decided not to. Having attended quite a few Perl conferences in the past I have been disappointed by the number of new talks that appear at these events. I understand that people will always pay to hear Dominus, Randal and Damian but when I’ve already seen some of these talks three times it’s not surprising that I’ve lost interest in them. At first I thought this happened because people give their Oscon tutorials and presenations at YAPC. However, it seems more likely that the conference organisers think that because people paid/came to hear Red Flags last year some others will probably pay to hear it again this year. (It is one of the best tutorials that I have heard).

Most of the new material at the Perl Whirl is on the topic of Perl 6. I don’t know how new this will be – I’ve heard Damian speak on Perl 6 at least three times by now! I must admit that Perl 6 doesn’t interest me enough to pay to go the other side of the world to hear someone speak on it. Actually I don’t think I would even fly to London to hear about it. I also couldn’t justify it commercially as Perl 6 isn’t available to use.

Hopefully, I will get to hear some new material at YAPC::Europe and Oscon.

Naming Fish

A while ago Marc introduced us to the concept of Sticky the Stick Insect. This weekend my little sister introduced me to her new goldfish – Splish, Splash and Splosh.