Category: ljysbtura

Telecoms firms let best staff slip through fingers

first_imgTelecomsfirms are poor at recruiting and retaining high standard employees, accordingto a report.Thestudy by HR consultancy Watson Wyatt reveals that most telecoms companies havehuman resources practices that provide good value to shareholders, but are notgood at attracting and keeping the best employees.DougRoss, Watson Wyatt partner and co-author of the firm’s European Human CapitalIndex, said, “It shows that many telecoms companies do not have clear policiesfor retaining their better performing employees. “Theytend to have HR policies which encourage the retention of both good and lessgood performers within the organisation. Our research suggests that this willhave a negative impact on their financial performance.”VirginMobile’s HR director agreed. Lily Lu said, “The telecoms industry has been poorin the past in keeping good employees happy, but I do believe that the industryis improving.”Thestudy also shows that a significant improvement in key HR practices hascontributed to an increase of more than a quarter in telecoms companies’ stockmarket values.Lusaid, “Staff incentives and reward schemes are now commonplace within theindustry. At Virgin we have a bonus system that every employee is part of.Individual bonuses depend on the companies performance as well as theindividuals.”Mobilephone giant Orange dismissed the report’s findings and claims that it does notsuffer from the retention and promotional problems highlighted by the survey.Aspokesperson said, “We employ a number of strategies designed to attract andretain good staff. The company has a commitment to providing careerdevelopment, exciting and varied opportunities and good rewards. This hasensured that Orange has not experienced problems in retaining staff.”TheHR policies in telecoms companies that help recruit and retain good staffinclude sharing information, well-integrated leadership practices andconsistent pan-European HR practices, claims the report.TheWatson Wyatt European Human Capital Index is based on a study of 200 companiesacross Europe. www.watsonwyatt.comByPaul Nelson Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Telecoms firms let best staff slip through fingersOn 20 Mar 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Clean up your act

first_imgAreyou getting the most out of your IT systems and software packages?  A spring clean will help clear out thedebris and is also a good time to revisit forgotten capabilities thatoriginally drew you too choose that system, writes Rob McLuhanAn IT system does not normally need an engineer coming round with an oil canto keep it going. Although in many respects it is self-maintaining, a goodspring clean once in a while can help keep it in peak condition. Some of the work will involve the IT support team or vendor carrying outtechnical checks. However, there is much that HR can do itself to optimise thesystem’s performance by overhauling its content and applications. “A regular clear-out can have some amazing benefits in terms of use andefficiency,” says Paul Beaumont, production director HR Payroll atMicrosoft Great Plains Business Solutions. As a starting point he recommendslooking to see how quickly the system operates. Now that the cost of storage has plummeted, hard drives are capable ofstoring huge amounts of data. But they are still finite, and eventually therewill come a time when the system slows from the accumulated weight of years ofinput. That will leave staff tapping their fingers while information is beingretrieved. “When the database is clean it might take less than half a second toretrieve a file, but within six months it could slow to two seconds,”Beaumont says. “After a year it could be more than five seconds – slowenough to be an irritation.” The problem here is disk fragmentation. Lack of space means parcels of dataare distributed increasingly widely in the system instead of being stored in asingle location. Where insertions, updates and deletions are constantly beingmade, it takes time to gather the information and reassemble it as a singlerecord. A first step is to back up all data on magnetic tapes or digital storagewhile IT “defrags” the entire database – the equivalent of emptying aroom of furniture to give it a good clean. Once the data is reimported the system should be much more responsive. However, speed is affected by the working of the network as a whole, and thenext stage should be to check how many users are connected. “Try tofine-tune the system to peak periods,” suggests Beaumont. “There maybe times when access is higher than on a day-to-day basis, such as end-of-monthprocessing. Monitoring the uses of the system could uncover bottlenecks whereIT could do some beefing up.” One problem here could develop as a result of the increasing popularity ofemployee self-service. “You can anticipate an abnormally large number ofpeople applying for leave at Christmas and Easter, and there will also be ahigh level of traffic just after the year end as individuals are accessingtheir P60 forms online,” says Mark O’Dowd, head of HR solutions at SAP UK.”It is a good idea to sit down every so often with the IT department tofind ways of balancing the peaks and troughs.” Similarly, each time the HR department is about to make a new serviceavailable to employees or managers they need to think about whether theperformance will be satisfactory, he adds. If users find it hard to use thesystem they will be put off. The start of a new year, whether calendar or financial, is an excellent timeto look at the data held within it, and this should be the next major area tolook at, says Jim Nugent, head of strategic development for service delivery atRebusHR. Hard decisions need to be made about what to keep and what to throw away.Much data may have outlived its usefulness: absence records more than threeyears old, leavers and unsuccessful candidates, vacancies, old course bookings– all can all be reviewed and where necessary deleted. “When we implement a new system companies often want to transfer datathey previously held,” Nugent says. “But we ask them if they actuallyneed to. What purpose does it have and what is its value? In many cases itturns out there is none – if it doesn’t drive the business it is just taking updisk space.” Statutory regulations mean that employee and other business data has to beheld for several years. But if the necessary period of time has elapsed thereis no reason why the data cannot be archived in an offline storage facility. Legislative changes are frequent and affect HR more than most departments.Payroll will need to be updated with new tax rates, increases in nationalinsurance, or changes to reporting procedures on company cars, for example. “This can be a nightmare for HR,” says Mark O’Dowd, head of HRsolutions at SAP UK. The company offers its customers legal change packages,notifying them ahead of time of what to expect. That is an opportunity for HRto liaise with IT, providing the necessary information about its internalprocesses and ensuring updates are assimilated onto the system. O’Dowd also stresses the need to store information with appropriate datestamps, ensuring material can be efficiently retrieved from the archives. Forinstance, if an employee’s address changes, the system will record the exact datefrom which the new one is valid and the old one defunct, ensuring it cancross-reference accurately in the future if the need arises. Michael Richards, managing director of Snowdrop Systems, also suggestsreviewing content such as holiday and sickness codes. His company providessupport to define those at the implementation stage, but over a period somewill become redundant. “You can mess up your data if you have two codesthat mean the same thing, but it’s a fairly easy process to go through and updatethem. It is important to do this if the system has been in place for a fewyears.” Then take a look at the standard letters, he suggests. Do they adhere tocorporate standards and are they applicable in terms of HR legislation? Reviewthose aspects which have the most value and make any necessary adjustments. Another area that needs checking is the accuracy of employee details. Wherestaff are using intranet self-service these records are less likely to be outof date, but it is still useful to overhaul the system from time to time.”About 50 per cent of all our new customers since last summer have somesort of intranet, but anyone who has had a system in place for more than twoyears should carry out a review,” Richards says. Moving on to the next stage, HR should ensure it is getting the most out ofits system. Often, an organisation may intend to fully use it, but because ofstaff changes or other reasons some facilities are forgotten or ignored. “As time goes by facilities become increasingly hidden, and you end upnot using them,” says Richards. Snowdrop offers one- or two-day systemhealth checks, going back to the client and running through all its features toidentify those that are not being used. Typically, it might find that only three or four out of five key facilitiesare being used properly, often those that are less obvious but might still havea bearing on HR strategy. One neglected feature enables Word documents to beattached to an individual job record rather than being stored elsewhere on theHR server. That means the document can be read from directly within the systeminstead of having to be searched out. Spring is as good a time as ever to remember why you bought the IT system orsoftware package and review what difference it has made to your performance,says Ian Murison, sales director at Wealden Computing Services.”Invariably, people buy systems based on what they have been shown by thevendor,” he says. “They are attracted by all the sophisticated thingsit can do, but end up using it as an electronic filing cabinet.” One of Wealden’s features is diary task management, which sets up schedulesfor reminders and the creation of documents. “People say this is exactlywhat they want, and then we come back a year later and find no-one is using it.They have got bogged down in administration – the very reason they bought thesystem in the first place.” So a yearly maintenance session could include a further demonstration fromthe vendor plus training, reminding staff of what the system can do andensuring that they take full advantage of it. This can have a positive bearingon the overall HR performance, Murison points out. For example, the diary can be used to alert managers to the end of aprobationary period and offer to generate a questionnaire asking what action totake, a routine process that often gets overlooked or tackled at the lastminute. Or it could remind HR about the progress of a disciplinary reviewperiod, which might affect the outcome of an industrial tribunal. “Morecompanies lose cases because they didn’t follow their own disciplinaryprocedures than for any other single reason,” Murison says. Another feature might be document generation. Check to see whether you haveset up the templates as you planned at the implementation stage, or whetherthey need amending. Look at the generation of organisational charts – are theybeing produced as easily as it looked in the original demonstration? Andquestion whether the information is getting beyond the HR management as intended,benefiting the whole organisation. Many problems occur with systems because of lax security. About 60 per centof companies have suffered a security breach, costing an average of £16,000each, according to research last year by the DTI. A spring clean needs to take account of how seriously users are taking this.If an informal audit of monitors reveals passwords scribbled on Post-it notes,file covers or blotters, it is time to take action. Finally, it can be useful to look beyond the system at the businessprocesses that surround it. “The software industry is criticised forforcing companies to do business in certain ways, but many organisations haveingrained processes that aren’t rooted in good strategy,” says LarryDonivan, vice-president of global development for Lawson. Lawson provides best practice performance indicators and external marketdata, enabling customers to discover attributes such as cost and time per hire.But from time to time the department needs to ensure it is carrying out thesemeasurements and is collecting the data it needs to analyse it over time. He says, “We can create sophisticated systems but they are only as goodas the data you put in,” Donivan says. “If you are going to carry outmeasurements, you need to ensure the business process is workingproperly.” For instance, he says, recruiters are notoriously poor at managing their CVintake, which they tend to keep in file folders instead of automating.”When the process is complete there are piles of candidates, hired or not, but no processes exist to collect that data efficiently.” How far you want to go with an annual overhaul will depend on the resourcesavailable and how well the system was functioning to begin with. Turning ahouse upside down for a spring clean will just cause disruption if order isn’trestored quickly. But even a little attention, judiciously and regularlyapplied, is certain to make a difference. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Clean up your actOn 1 May 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

LinkedIn policy changes – Good, Bad or Ugly?

first_imgLinkedIn policy changes – Good, Bad or Ugly?Shared from missc on 20 Jan 2015 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Read full article Comments are closed.center_img Previous Article Next Article So as most already know, this year Linkedin changed their InMail policy. Instead of getting back all the InMails that didn’t get a response, Linkedin now only credit back InMails that are replied to. They also implemented their new policy around a commercial search limit in which in any given month you can only run a limited amount of searches as beyond a certain number they deem that it is being used for commercial purposes. I’ve seen a number of posts for and against the changes and for what it’s worth, I say bring it on!Here’s why…Sometimes, just sometimes, I shudder when I see some of the activities that are being passed off as “recruiting”. In the last month I have received a number of batch messages that not only are not personalised to me, but have zero relevance to me at all. E.g. I’m an IT/software development sourcing specialist/recruiter and therefore, I have a few technologies listed on my profile. In the greater context of my profile, this is clearly in reference to positions I regularly find myself recruiting and not related to my personal IT experience, YET – I still get messages asking about my interest levels in an exciting and fantabulous open position as a Developer. I’m all for looking at ways to find efficiencies but sending a batch message to anyone with a specific technology(ies) listed on their profile (due to a standard keyword search) is just plain lazy and is certainly not what the vast majority of the recruitment world would identify as effective, solid recruitment/sourcing practice. To date, given the limited InMails available per month on different subscriptions, recruiters were almost incentivised to not be engaging in their InMails and just throw buzzwords in the hope of either a) Quickly engaging a professional who might be actively on the market; or b) being completely ignored, as opposed to opening up conversations with candidates who are not “active” but may be open to discussing other opportunities. If by LinkedIn changing its policies it encourages the careful  and more considered use of InMails as a tool of value and as the medium that could be used to open doors to new networks/candidates/business partners/leads, then I’m all for it and can only see it having a positive effect on the industry.Link to info on new InMail policy: http://sales.linkedin.com/blog/linkedin-changes-inmail-policy-to-improve-quality-of-messages-and-response-rates/On commercial search limits. I believe that the impact on this will be minimal to any recruiter who considers themselves to be somewhat social media savvy as most will be well versed in other online sourcing techniques and know e.g. know how to run x-ray searches via search engines, should they reach their search threshold. The knock-on effect of this is that recruiter who is perhaps not quite as used to other online search methods will have to begin to increase their knowledge of online sourcing methods which surely can only positively affect the recruitment industry?.Link to info on new “commercial use limit”: https://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/52950/~/commercial-use-limit-on-searchlast_img read more

The UN Anti-Racism Day protests in Oxford in photos

first_imgThe UN Anti-Racism day, which occurs annually on the 20th of March, was adopted in 1966 as a way to protest racial inequality and discrimination. This year, in line with COVID-19 restrictions, socially distanced protests took place across the country to spotlight the anti-racism movement which has been growing since last year, not only in the UK and US but globally. The protest aimed to spotlight structural racism and healthcare inequalities which have grown under the current government, particularly in the context of the pandemic. In Oxford, at 1 PM on Saturday, protesters and activists gathered outside Oriel College and lined up across the High Street. They were seen chanting slogans like “Rhodes Must Fall” and “Black Lives Matter” and placards and posters read “Oxford Benefits From White Supremacy”, “Defend the Right to Protest” and “No to Racism. No to Fascism”. At one point, the protesters knelt down with closed fists raised in a moment of solidarity. The goal of the protest was to “come together united against racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism and fascism [and] stand in solidarity with refugees and migrants to send a powerful message to those in power that racism will be defeated.” The in-person demonstration was followed by an International Zoom event which featured global speakers who highlighted their personal experiences with racism. center_img The following photos have been provided at the courtesy of the Rhodes Must Fall Oxford Campaign.last_img read more

Channel 44 News: Tickets on Sale for ‘A League of Their Own’ 25th Anniversary…

first_imgTickets on Sale for ‘A League of Their Own’ 25th Anniversary EventAUGUST 18TH, 2017  TYRONE MORRIS EVANSVILLE, INDIANA The Racine Belles will take over Bosse Field for a celebration of the film’s 25th anniversary. Parts of ‘A League of Their Own’ were filmed at Bosse Field where an announcement was made Thursday about the anniversary celebration.The signs are still in place where the filming of ‘A League of Their Own’ occurred. It is the 25th anniversary of the film, and the historic Bosse Field will be celebrating come September. While the film has ended, the message still remains the same: come and support the Racine Belles.A quarter century has passed since Hollywood transformed Bosse Field into a 1940s set to film ‘A League of Their Own’. Now, 25 years later, the film stands the test of time. “Little Evansville, Indiana got on the map with this blockbuster hit with Tom Hanks, Madonna…,” said Joe Notter, president and founder of Evansville Events.Evansville Events and Evansville Otters are teaming up to celebrate the film’s 25th anniversary on September 30th. “We’re already getting emails as far out as Alaska. People are asking about how can we get tickets. ‘We want to get tickets’, we want to fly in’. So we know that there is definitely going to be people traveling in from out of town who were part of this movie, from extras to actors,” said Notter.Notter is tapping into Twitter trying to get big names to drop in. “I’ve already tweeted Tom Hanks, actually, maybe he’ll show up, who knows, but we’re definitely going to source as much as we can,” said Notter.Seats are sure to go fast and tickets will increase in price as the event gets closer. One thing is for sure be ready to enjoy a night of family fun because we all know: there’s no crying in baseball.Event organizers are asking local extras or actors to contact them. If you were a part of a ‘A League of Their Own” filming, email [email protected] purchase tickets, go to here.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

Groupie Doll Attracts Deep Group Of Nominations

first_imgHonor Thy Father Heads Horses Eligible For Ellis Park JuvenileEllis Park’s showcase Aug. 6 racing program is shaping up to be a dandy, based on nominations for the $100,000, Grade 3 Groupie Doll Stakes and the reinstated $75,000 Ellis Park Juvenile.Nominations closed Saturday and were released Wednesday, with the mile Groupie Doll for fillies and mares attracting 24 nominations and the Ellis Park Juvenile getting 25. While making a horse eligible for a stakes comes with no obligation to actually enter the race, the Groupie Doll promises a very competitive cast, based on trainers who have said they are targeting Ellis’ marquee race.Likely contenders for the Groupie Doll include Ahh Chocolate (winner of Churchill Downs’ Grade 2 Falls City last fall), Brooklynsway (winner of Keeneland’s Grade 3 Doubledogdare this spring and Indiana Grand’s recent Mari Hulman George), Fioretti (second by a half-length in last year’s Groupie Doll at 20-1 before winning Keeneland’s Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America at 17-1), Iowa Distaff winner Innovative Idea, Grade 2 Fleur de Lis third-place finisher Engaginglee and Grade 3 Chicago Handicap runner-up Kathballu.The Groupie Doll, first run in 1982, has had various names over the years but was best known as the Gardenia. The stakes was renamed last year to honor Groupie Doll, the two-time Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner and Eclipse champion trained by Kentucky-based co-owner and breeder Buff Bradley. Groupie Doll herself ran twice in the stakes, winning as a 3-year-old and being upset when coming off a long layoff during her second championship year. Bradley plans to run in the Groupie Doll with Mandy Pope’s Churchill Downs allowance winner Crown D’ Oro making her stakes debut.Spelling Again, who captured Gulfstream Park’s Grade 2 Princess Rooney to earn an automatic bid to the Breeders’ Cup, is nominated but most likely heading to Saratoga for the Grade 1 Ballerina, said trainer Brad Cox.“As the heart of the breeding industry, Kentucky generally has a strong population of fillies and mares for whom the graded status can be more important than the purse,” said Ellis Park racing secretary Dan Bork. “We expect the Groupie Doll to be a very solid race between horses who are proven in graded-stakes company and up-and-comers. The unique configuration of a mile around 1 1/2 turns makes it a good fit for both sprinters and horses who might use it as a launching pad to races such as Keeneland’s Grade 1 Spinster.”The Ellis Park Juvenile was brought back after being dropped several years ago because of a shortage of entries. The seven-furlong stakes’ nominees include the Kenny McPeek-trained Honor Thy Father, the ultra-impressive 9 3/4-length winner of an off-the-turf mile maiden race July 8 at Ellis; a pair of good-looking winners from leading trainer Steve Asmussen’s barn in Lookin At Lee and Prados Way; the Jinks Fires-trained easy winner Sir Douglas and snappy off-the-turf winner Cardinal Sin for trainer Mike Maker.Seven fillies were nominated to the Juvenile, including the Churchill Downs’ Racing Club’s Dial Me, who won a maiden race last Saturday at Ellis.“There’s been a request for a 2-year-old stakes over the past few years, and we’re happy to have it back,” Bork said. “With a lack of 2-year-old dirt stakes in the summer in the Midwest, the Ellis Park Juvenile is well-positioned to send horses on to important 2-year-old races at Churchill Downs and Keeneland, and quite possibly the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.”Over the years, the Ellis Park Juvenile has produced horses such as multiple graded-stakes winner Judge T C, champion Boston Harbor and millionaire Grade I winner Request for Parole.The complete list of nominations and the horses’ past performances for both stakes can be found at this Equibase link http://bit.ly/2aKLAyOFacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

Record Field Finishes OCNJ Half Marathon: See Results

first_imgMore than 1,700 runners competed in the combined events of the OCNJ Half Marathon on Sunday.Stephen Hallman, 27, of Langhorne, Pa., wins the OCNJ Half Marathon with a cushion of more than four minutes over the next runner.The field shattered participation records from any of the previous five years of the event.The half marathon included 1,306 finishers. A 10-mile non-competitive walk/run had another 109, and 332 competed in a 5-kilometer run.The event has grown in popularity each year with race organizers creating a festive atmosphere that includes music at various points on the route, community groups manning water stops and even Santa Claus high-fiving runners at the midway point. The route includes sweeping views of the ocean and bay.Megan D’Arcangelo was the top female finisher in the Half Marathon.But this year, runners expecting an easy flat race got a taste of Ocean City running — with a steady northeast wind of 20 to 30 mph providing a special challenge, particularly in the last three miles of the half marathon.Runners got pushed by a strong tailwind for about 4.5 miles along the boardwalk and beach blocks, before making a final turn and retracing the final three miles into a stiff headwind.“It was the worst thing I’ve ever run in,” said Stephen Hallman, 27, of Langhorne, Pa.But Hallman still managed to win the race by more than four minutes.It was just Hallman’s second half-marathon — the first he raced about three weeks ago. He said he’s training for the Philadelphia Marathon in November.Hallman ran for Neshaminy High School, but he was injured and didn’t run for another eight years until he picked it up again a year and a half ago.“Overall, it was a great race,” Hallman said of the event.He completed the 13.1-mile race in 1:13.37, averaging 5:38 per mile.Megan D’Arcangelo, 34, was the top female finisher in 1:24.34.Tony Lawson, 34, won the 5-kilometer run in 19:06 with 12-year-old Emma Zwall not far behind in 20:21 as the top female.Chelsea Nehila, 25, was the top finisher in the 10-mile race.See complete results:Half Marathon10-Mile Walk/Run5K Run A record field of runners fills Ninth Street at the start of the OCNJ Half Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015.last_img read more

Beneficial insects

first_img“Lady beetles are one of our primary beneficial insects,” shesaid. “They feed on aphids, scale insects and mealybugs — thoseare some of the most important pests of ornamental plants — sowe should conserve these beneficial insects.” “Most of them are hunkered down in some kind of shelter now,”Braman said. “Insects are tough. They survive a lot better thanwe sometimes think they do.” The lady bugs can become a nuisance, though. “Some people reportthat the insects have bitten them. That is fairly unusual,”Braman said. “But most people don’t like the insects in theirhomes.”People see ladybugs more during warm spells. “As we see somefluctuation in the temperature, we’re going to see more activityfrom these insects,” she said. “They get out and move around,looking for shelter and trying to get warm.” Braman said Asian lady beetles are “especially interesting,” andparticularly valuable to homeowners, because they feed on aphidsthat attack woody plants. Getting them out Come spring, the beetles will move out on their own. If they’re lingering on porches, sweep them into a bag, she said,and release them far enough away from the house that they don’tcome right back in. “Better yet,” she said, “if you have woodytrees or a wood line, this would be a good place to release thebeetles safely.” “They attack the aphids eating your pecans and crepe myrtles,”she said. “They even attack aphids on roses. So many of the otherlady beetles don’t eat the aphids that attack woody plants.” Windowsills and ceiling vents are popular places for the beetlesto congregate. They’re sometimes also found in large numbers inattics or in light fixtures. By April ReeseUniversity of GeorgiaYou may consider lady beetles a nuisance as these orange invadersmove into your home, borrowing tiny spaces of your shelter fromwinter weather. But come spring and summer, you’ll be glad theysurvived to move into your yard and garden. If enough of them get into your house, Braman said the best wayto get them out is to suck them up in the vacuum cleaner.”We have to remember that they do have a yellow hemolymph,” shesaid. “That’s just insect blood, but it can stain the walls orfurniture if we’re not careful.”center_img Braman describes the insects as an “unwelcome winter guest thatstays too long to suit us.” But she urges people to remember thatthey do good things. “As weather warms up, the lady beetles will become active andbegin moving out, searching for aphids to feed on,” Braman said.”Because they don’t feed in the winter, they’re more than willingto exit your home and move on, protecting your ornamentalplants.” Also known as the Halloween beetleand just as a ladybug, Asian lady beetles would die if they were exposed to the kind of deep-freeze chill expected in Georgia this week. Fortunately, most won’t be exposed to it. “It’s tricky to try to keep them out,” Braman said. “They can fitthrough the smallest hole. Try to seal windows to keep them out.Seal around any holes you find in windows.” It’s hard to keep lady beetles from getting in at all. Getting warm Try to save them (April Reese is a student writer with the University of GeorgiaCollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.) Kris Braman, an entomologist with the University of GeorgiaCollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, says theAsian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) is a beneficial bug.last_img read more

Court approves Vermont attorney general’s $55,000 HIPAA settlement with Health Net

first_imgJudge William K Sessions has approved Attorney General William Sorrell’s proposed settlement with Health Net, Inc., and Health Net of the Northeast, Inc., regarding the health insurance company’s loss of an unencrypted portable hard drive containing protected health information. The State’s complaint alleged violations of HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), Vermont’s Security Breach Notice Act, and Consumer Fraud Act. The settlement approved by the court on Friday requires the defendants to pay $55,000 to the State, submit to a data-security audit, and file reports with the State regarding the company’s information security programs for the next two years.The lawsuit is Vermont’s first enforcement action under the Security Breach Notice Act and the second HIPAA enforcement action of its kind since state attorneys general were given HIPAA enforcement authority in 2009. The case arises from a portable hard drive that contained protected health information, social security numbers, and financial information of approximately 1.5 million people, including 525 Vermonters. Health Net discovered that the drive was missing on May 14, 2009 and did not start notifying affected Vermont residents until more than six month later. When it did notify Vermont residents, Health Net told them that it believed their risk of harm was ‘low’ because ‘the files on the missing drive were not saved in a format that can be easily accessible.’ The files on the unencrypted drive were in TIF (Tagged Image File) format, which can be viewed using a variety of freely available software.Health Net, Inc., and Health Net of the Northeast, Inc., cooperated with the Vermont Attorney General’s investigation of this matter and have settled similar actions in Connecticut and New York. January 26, 2011last_img read more

Yosemite of the East

first_imgFor an excellent tale of hiking and reviving ones sense of adventure, click here! It’s not as easy to get lost in Panthertown Valley as it used to be. At one time, the 6,300-acre tract of land inside the Nantahala National Forest was renowned for stupefying hikers and mountain bikers hell bent on exploring the 50-plus miles of user-created backcountry trails that criss-cross the high-elevation valley and its surrounding 4,000-foot high mountains. But as more hikers and bikers have discovered Panthertown, an exhaustively researched map has been published, and trail signs have been implemented. Panthertown’s evolution from local’s secret to backcountry hot spot was inevitable, particularly when you consider the sheer drama of the landscape. High elevation bogs and skyscraper-tall pine forests dominate the valley floor while 400-foot granite cliffs act as boundary markers. And waterfalls are everywhere. It’s a suite of characteristics that has led the valley to be dubbed “the Yosemite of the East.”“Some people consider it a national park all on its own,” says Jason kimenker, executive director of the Friends of Panthertown, the volunteer organization that maintains the popular destination. “The sheer rock faces dropping into a bowl with waterfalls falling down the sides of mountains… it’s a unique place, but it’s not a national park. even with the increased popularity, it’s still very much a backcountry destination.”Below is a suggested three-day itinerary that takes in a handful of the valley’s highlights. This is an all-inclusive backpacking getaway with sandy beaches, natural water slides, and big views from bare knobs.Day OnePark at the Cold Mountain Gap Trailhead on the east side of the valley. Pick up Panthertown Valley Trail (actually a gravel road) from the trailhead and head straight for your base camp, a sweet campsite at the junction of Powerline Road Trail, roughly 1.5 miles from your car. Here, you’re just a couple of hundred yards away from the Sandbar Pool, a unique sandbar in the middle of Panthertown Creek that makes for primo swimming and sunning. Set up camp and switch to a day pack with lunch and swim gear. Choose your route to Carlton’s Way, an unofficial piece of singletrack that twists through mountain laurel as it climbs the side of Blackrock Mountain. Top out at the sloping, granite overlook (4,200 feet) and soak in the all-encompassing view of Panthertown valley flanked by Big and Little Green Mountains in the distance.After enjoying the view, take Powerline Road Trail to five spectacular waterfalls along the Tuckaseegee River. The sliding and swimming potential at waterfalls like Riding Ford and Red Butt is stellar, so block out a chunk of the afternoon for swimming shenanigans, then retrace your steps to the Powerline Road Trail, which you’ll take south back to your campsite.Day TwoHike east on Panthertown Valley Trail for a mile, then head south on Mac’s Gap Trail to Granny Burrell Falls. Next, climb steadily through a rhodo tunnel before summiting 4,200-foot Big Green Mountain. The summit is shrouded in hardwoods, but take the second man way on your right to a killer view from the top of “The Great Wall of Panthertown,” a 300-foot high granite face that stretches for nearly a mile. Carry on the Big Green Trail as you drop off the mountain, then go north on Mac’s Gap Trail for less than a mile to Little Green Trail.The trail hugs the edge of the mountain, moving along gray granite with veins of green moss and tiny potholes that hold water after a rain. Continue to follow the trail (faint white arrows painted on the rock) to your camp for the night, a flat spot inside a sheltered pine forest.Day ThreePack up and drop off the east side of Little Green Mountain on Little Green Trail, which ends at the base of Schoolhouse Falls.The swimming and photo potential at the bottom of this 25-foot waterfall is some of the best in the valley. If you have time and brought a fly rod, cross the river at the base of Schoolhouse Falls and take the man way upstream for great casting options and more solitude. Even if you don’t fish, this is a great side trip that will take you to Pothole Falls and Mac’s Falls. From Mac’s Falls, connect with Greenland Creek Trail for a quick jaunt back to the Cold Mountain Gap Trailhead and your car.last_img read more