Archive for February 20th, 2009

Do you use Firefox?

If you only use the buggy Internet Explorer from Microsoft then I am afraid this article is not for you.

However if, like me, you are a Firefox Browser user, then I will tell you about a new add-on I have discovered called Scrapbook. This add-on is for anyone who uses the Internet for research. It allows you to copy anything from a few words to entire web pages into a folder of your choice under the scrapbook root folder, and adds the date you captured it, and the URL (website address) you captured it from.

I have a general folder for ideas for blogs, a specific folder for any project I am working on, a politics folder, a “Sayings” folder and so on.

I am only touching on its capabilities here to “whet your whistle” but suffice to say it can do so much more and comes with a 51 page (A4/American Quarto) PDF tutorial. Work through that and you will increase your productivity by 100%.

Other add-ons I find useful include “All-In-One Sidebar”, “Foxmarks Bookmark” and “Googlepedia.

The All-in-One Sidebar creates the sidebar to open your add-ons, history, sites you’ve visited and lots more. Extremely useful.

Foxmarks allows you to synchronise all your bookmarks with your area on their website each session. This will enable you to download them again if you have an accident with your browser and lose them all. It also enables you to synchronise your bookmarks between your home, work and notebook computer – worth its weight in gold.

Googlepedia is also very useful. When you search on Google, all your search info opens up on the left half of your screen and, if there is anything on Wikipedia that matches your search criteria, then a Wikipedia page opens up on the right hand side of the screen.

I use more add-ons but these are the four which I think may be useful to a greater number of people. The rest are particular to my own needs.

As most of you know, Firefox is open-source which means the raw code is available for anyone to look at and copy. Microsoft has copied the Firefox system of tabs along the top for its V.7.xx of Internet Explorer for example. Anyway, I digress. Because all the code is available, thousands of programmers have written add-ons to make Firefox work in a specific way that is of use to them. And these are all available on the Firefox site for anyone to copy. I use twenty, but have come across people who have used more than double that amount.

The following link takes you to the Scrapbook page. There is a button to take you to the Firefox official add-in page to download the add-on (you should only ever download add-ons from the Firefox add-on page) and underneath this is a link to open the PDF Tutorial.


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An employer who tells it like it is

To All My Valued Employees,

There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges including trying to renegotiate our loans with the bank. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn’t pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job, however, is the changing political landscape in this country.

However, let me tell you some little tidbits of fact which might help you decide what is in your best interests.

First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees, you have to understand that for every business owner there is a “back” story. This “back” story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my Mercedes outside. You’ve seen my big home at last years Christmas party. I’m sure, all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealised thoughts about my life.

Mind you, what you don’t see is the “back” story.

I started this company 28 years ago. At that time, I lived in a small one-bedroom studio flat for three years. My entire living area was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.

My diet consisted of Pot noodles because every penny I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty and defective Ford Cortina. I didn’t have time to go out with girls. I stayed home on most weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business – hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.

Meanwhile, my friends got jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest £40,000 a year and spent every penny they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes.

Instead of shopping in Bond Street for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the charity shops extracting any clothing item that didn’t look like it was birthed in the 70’s. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had.

So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9am, mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5pm, I don’t. There is no “off” button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have the freedom. I eat, and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to my hip like a one year old special-needs child. You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden – the nice house, the Mercedes, the vacations … you never realize the “back” story and the sacrifices I’ve made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the person that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail-out all the people who didn’t. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for.

Yes, business ownership has is benefits but the price I’ve paid is steep and not without wounds.

Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why:

I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don’t pay enough. I have income tax. Business taxes. Council taxes. VAT taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire an accountant manage all these taxes. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time. On April 6th, I wrote a cheque to the Inland Revenue for £288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my “stimulus” cheque was? Zero. Nada. Zilch.

The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the person who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next unemployment cheque? Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country.

The fact is, if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your pay you’d quit and you wouldn’t work here. I mean, why should you? That’s nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy.

Here is what many of you don’t understand … to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Had suddenly government mandated to me that I didn’t need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that £288,000 into Alastair Darling’s black-hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now.

When you have a comatose man on the verge of death, you don’t defibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to life, do you? Or, do you defibrillate his heart? Business is at the heart of Britain and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it. Suddenly, the power brokers in London believe the poor of Britain are the essential drivers of our economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change you can keep.

So where am I going with all this?

It’s quite simple.

If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I fire you. I fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your car, and your child’s future. Frankly, it isn’t my problem any more.

Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and retire. You see, I’m done. I’m done with a country that penalises the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, will be my citizenship.

So, if you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country, steamrolled the constitution, and will have changed its landscape forever. If that happens, you can find me sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about …


Henry Stevenson
Managing Director
Stevenson Co Ltd

I’m not a Lawyer, this is not legal advice. Nor am I a Brain Surgeon, Pastry Chef or Politician. This communication is private and privileged intended only to those individuals marked “To”, “CC” or “BCC”. To the snoopy government agencies such as MI5, MI6 or MI99, or anyone else this mail isn’t being specifically directed to; with all due respect; cordially invited and instructed to PISS OFF!


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