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Geek Throwback: Fountain Pens

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By: Steve Maass, senior application programmer / geek & creative @ wisnet

I’m a programmer. I type on a keyboard for a living. In fact, while the backspace key is my best friend, I type pretty fast, despite being self-taught. Typing is such a big part of my life that if I need to make a note of something at work, I type it into a text editing app. About the only time I grab a pen and paper is if I’m heading to a meeting, and that’s only because I find it too distracting to type while I’m listening.

Which brings me to the point of this post. About a year ago, my wife expressed an interest in getting a fountain pen. “Why?” I asked her. Why not use a ballpoint? They work well, they’re inexpensive, and they don’t leak (fountain pens leak, right?).

She gave her reasons, but I wasn’t convinced. Luckily, we have a great pen store not far away, so we paid them a visit to see what was what and to ask lots of questions. We did settle on a pen for her, but personally, I still didn’t get it. (She loved using the pen, so that first visit was far from our last, but I digress.)

Eventually, after picking up a couple of nice ballpoints for myself (hey, I knew what I liked), I started wondering what all the fuss was about, and I decided to get my first fountain pen. And then I got it. It really is a whole different world.

Fountain pens certainly aren’t for everyone. They need to be cleaned occasionally, they can run out of ink and require a refill, and they don’t always work well on cheap paper (think copy paper and the like). And depending on the ink you use and how much ink your pen lays down, it can take several seconds for your writing to completely dry.

As for leaking, it’s a joke in the pen world that a fountain pen is basically a controlled leak. And it’s true that if you take one on an airplane, the changes in air pressure can cause the pen to “burp” into the cap. But if your pens stay on the ground (or fly empty), you shouldn’t have a problem.

So, why fountain pens?

With a nice, fountain pen-friendly notebook, the writing experience can be almost magical. You barely need to apply any pressure when putting pen to paper. The nib (the part that touches the paper) glides across the page. And the ink colors! Unlike with ballpoints where you’re generally stuck with blue or black or red, there’s a literal rainbow of colors of ink to choose from: oranges, purples, turquoises, pinks, greens, every possible shade of blue or brown, and on and on.

All of that makes a fountain pen great for journaling, drawing, writing letters, adding a note to a birthday card, or even just jotting down a reminder.

Now granted, for the sake of convenience, you may find that a ballpoint is still the best option at work, and I won’t argue the “point.” But for de-stressing and just enjoying something the way it used to be, fountain pens can be a real delight. And an addiction. But I’m getting help. 😉

What does the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mean for you?

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We’re confident you’re received a number of privacy policy update emails, but do you know why and how this might impact your website and communications? Here’s our attempt at a synopsis and if GDPR impacts you.


Disclaimer: This post is not legal advice. We’re not lawyers.

What is the GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the European Union (EU) and also regulates the exportation of personal data outside the EU. This new set of rules is designed to give EU citizens more control over their personal data. But this law affects any organization doing business with or collecting information from an EU citizen.

What do you mean by “personal data”?

Your name, address, credit card number and more all collected, analyzed and, perhaps most importantly, stored by organizations. The types of data considered personal under the existing legislation include name, address, and photos. GDPR extends the definition of personal data to cover:
– Web data such as location, IP address, cookie data and RFID tags
– Health and genetic data
– Biometric data
– Racial or ethnic data
– Political opinions
– Sexual orientation

Does it affect my company or organization?

If you hold any EU citizen data via your website, app, or service you MUST act now (in fact you’re super late to the party). All organizations are expected to be compliant with GDPR as of May 25, 2018.

If you have international reach with your website, social, email – really any online media, you should probably still pay attention to GDPR and take some action.

What happens if I don’t comply?

There is a fine for not being compliant. The maximum fine for noncompliance with the GDPR is up to 4% of the annual global revenue generated by the company.

So, what do I need to do?

  1. Get permission of data collection.
    The GDPR requires companies to clearly state the purposes of data collection to the customer, when and how it will be used, and when it will be destroyed. It cannot be hidden in a privacy policy statement nor recorded by default. If you are collecting data from a form page then you must ask customers to give consent to use their personal information. (unless it is for compliance with a legal obligation). And the data cannot be kept indefinitely.
  2. Protect the data that is collected.
    Make sure your company has the proper security measures in place should be first on your task list. Contact your IT administrator, find out what you need to have in place to be compliant, and then create a protection plan.
  3. Inform all persons of a data breach.
    Your company must inform victims individually of any breach within 72 hours.
  4. Respond to data collection requests.
    Any customer can request what type of data is being collected and stored about them (Right to Portability), as well as the right to request that it be deleted (Right to Erasure).

Here’s what a lot of other companies and organizations have been doing:

  • Updating their privacy policy on their website.
  • Adding notices about personal data collection on all form pages.
  • Emailing their updated privacy policy to current customers, and providing opt out requests for email lists, etc.
  • Adding an opt in on websites addressing acknowledgement of data collection

If you are concerned that you may not be GDPR compliant, please contact your lawyer to help guide you.

Online Resources:
https://www.zdnet.com/article/gdpr-an-executive-guide-to-what-you-need-to-know/
https://www.csoonline.com/article/3202771/data-protection/general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr-requirements-deadlines-and-facts.html
https://www.cio.com/article/3256086/privacy/becoming-gdpr-compliant-quickly-effectively-and-risk-free.html
https://www.ogury-gdpr.com/