Wednesday, May 23, 2018


(image courtesy of Pixabay)

The clock is ticking. I have only 2 more days to figure out how the European Union’s new GDPR policy will impact my little blog beginning May 25, 2018. I vacillate between thinking, “Don’t get your pants in a bunch” and “Get your head out of the sand!”

GDPR stands for “General Data Protection Regulation.” Its purpose is to protect the personal data of citizens in EU countries, but the regulation has a far reach. Regardless of where they are based, businesses and blogs that attract EU users must comply or face heavy fines. Up to two-million euro has been a number bounced around quite a bit causing one of my blogging friends to block readers from EU member countries and another to shut down her blog altogether.

Both of those responses seem drastic to me. I’m just a little hobby blogger, not a business. However, I do not want to be the one to test whether the EU will come after a small blog either. In a recent thread on Facebook, one blogger said she thinks the EU will be watching big companies that unscrupulously use visitor information and that the real threat - if any - will be the unscrupulous EU citizen suing the heck out of us claiming we violated his privacy by not being GDPR compliant.

My blog does not have international appeal, but I do occasionally have readers from Spain and Luxembourg. Most of my foreign visitors are from Canada, Australia, and the UK. How the recent “Brexit” affects GDPR is unclear but the UK is committed to comply. So I am too.

What makes complying fairly easy for me is that
  • I do not sell anything nor make money with this blog in any way
  • I do not accept advertising
  • I do not sponsor give-aways
  • I do not ask readers to subscribe to a newsletter
  • I do not ask readers to join a mailing list
  • I do not collect or store reader information from comments
  • I do not write about the living except for an occasional reference to my immediate family and cousins who are not named or personally identifiable

A few issues of concern are cookies, those bits of text strings sent from a website and stored on the user’s computer. Most cookies are good. They are harmless. They make traveling through the Internet easier. However, cookies are now getting a second look as the culprits that help Big Bad Businesses and Big Bad Blogs monitor visitors’ behavior in order to manipulate them.

Just to be safe - or at least I hope so - I have removed social media buttons, Pinterest and Twitter. I also removed “Follow by Email,” a gadget provided by Feedburner and available through Blogger. Feedburner is known to be non-compliant and has not been updated in years. Unfortunately I do not know what removing the gadget will do to current subscribers.

There are some cookies that are out of my control. Because my blog is hosted on Blogger which is owned by Google, information about your use of this site will be shared with Google. I can’t stop that. Google uses cookies to deliver its services, personalize ads, and to analyze traffic. Readers who are now wondering what information Google collects and stores can read the updated policy HERE.

The good news is that Google has taken care of the cookies issue for bloggers. Visitors entering Jollett Etc. from outside the United States will see this message:

I suppose clicking the “Got it” button implies acceptance of Google’s policy. The other option to “Learn More” takes the reader to an explanation of what Google does with its cookies.

As GDPR gets closer to becoming our new normal, I am remembering the big Y2K scare. Remember that? It was the “Year 2000 Bug” or “Millennium Bug” that everyone thought would wreak havoc on computers and computer networks worldwide. It had to do with a problem in the coding of dates after December 31, 1999. Would computers be able to roll over to 2000? I distinctly recall that on January 1, 2000, the world kept turning. We did not die. Very few computer failures were reported. 

I hope that come Friday, GDPR will be much ado about nothing for most of us.

© 2018, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Book Review: The Wicked Trade by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

Disclosure: While I was given this book for free in exchange for a review, I was under no obligation to like it. The opinions expressed are my honest views. I will not receive any commission on sales of books by this author. There are no affiliate links in this post.

I was honored when Nathan Dylan Goodwin contacted me several weeks ago offering a copy of his latest genealogical crime mystery The Wicked Trade, number 7 in the Morton Farrier series. Heck yeah! I love everything about these books. There is a crime and there is genealogy, two of my favorite topics. The books are a “series” in that each one is a story of the latest research project undertaken by Morton Farrier, a professional genealogist, but they can stand alone, so if you haven’t read any of the others, you will not miss a beat starting with the latest one.

Just like the other novels, it is a story within a story with chapters alternating between the past and present. Always in the “present” chapters is the story of Morton researching the question he has been hired to answer along with the backstory of his journey tracing his own family history as an adoptee. In the “past” chapters is THE MAIN MYSTERY unfolding just as Morton learns it by following clues to cemeteries, archives, museums, libraries, historical societies, and significant sites.

In The Wicked Trade Morton is hired by the great-grandson of Ann Fothergill to learn more of her life, how she went from being a drunk and a vagrant with a criminal record to an educated business woman in seven years. A secondary request was to learn if the family legend about barrels of gold guineas being hidden were true, and if the barrels might still be there, wherever “there” was in the 1820s.

Morton’s challenge would be finding genealogical records as the 1820s pre-dated census records and civil registration. If you have done any family research, you can feel his pain. But Morton is truly the man for the job, and he gives us amateur genealogists hope that we can solve our difficult puzzles too. With only a letter, a newspaper clipping dated 1820, and names gathered from later census records, Morton sets about following the bread crumbs that lead him to suspect Ann Fothergill had been involved with the Aldington Gang, a notorious band of smugglers along the Kent and Sussex borders of England. Possibly she was involved in a murder as well.

The social history that Nathan weaves into this story makes heroes of “the bad guys” and villains of the ones upholding the law. Those of us who have a horse thief, a bootlegger, or some other “black sheep” in the family can appreciate how the legal system of the times could make a man feel so defeated that resorting to a life of crime might be the only way to keep food on the table and his family out of the workhouse.

I am always sad when the story ends, but at the same time I look forward to the historical notes that Nathan includes at the back of the book. As he so often does, he inserts his fictional characters into real events and allows them to interact with real people documented in the very sorts of records that Morton Farrier uses in his research. Like a magician revealing his secrets, Nathan takes the reader behind the scenes to show how the book came together.

Now the wait is on for another Morton Farrier mystery to solve. And I want to know how he will get on with his half-brother.

Related Review: The Spyglass File

© 2018, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.