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Leslie Thatcher Questions Summit County’s New Website

During Today’s Local News Hour on KPCW, host Leslie Thatcher told County Manager Bob Jasper about problems she experienced on the County’s new website.  Thatcher said, “the biggest thing I really noticed is there is definitely a delay, when you go from page to page… [also] the really valuable  real-estate is the [information] that is on the screen and it seems for everything you have to scroll down.

For full disclosure, I had the chance to be part of the committee that recommended which web site the County should choose.  The one chosen was unanimously in the top 2 choices among everyone on the committee.  However, Thatcher is correct.  The new site is slow and takes a lot of work to get to the content one desires.

One of the major concerns with the previous website was how it looked. It was dated and some might have even called it ugly.  The simplicity and speed of the old site has been traded for aesthetics.  The likely reason the site is slow for Thatcher and others is that the home page is over 3MB in size, about the size of a music download.  The larger the page size, the more time it takes to download and display content.  Compound that with the fact that Summit County residents seem to use their mobile phones for browsing web content (75% of Parkrag’s traffic is from mobile) and it is going to be slow.

Thatcher’s concern about scrolling is accurate as well.  You want to have your important content “above the fold”, a phrase borrowed from the newspaper business which wanted the best stories up near the headlines.  In the case of Summit County, menu items and a picture are generally the only things above the fold.  While it would be better if important content was above the fold everywhere, this may acceptable on the home page. However, it is definitely not acceptable on secondary pages with important content.  If the County would remove the pictures and drop the hexagonal menu items from secondary pages, this would allow real content to move up and become visible.  It would also speed up load times, because the pictures are so large in size.

The good news is that once you do get to the content, it’s much improved.  You don’t have to look past the Agenda Center to see how much more usable this site is than the previous incarnation.  Related documents are linked right next to their content and you don’t have to use external programs to views agendas.  It’s a marked improvement.

The other good news is that the website is only about a month old.  If the County is responsive to criticism, such as Thatcher’s, they will be able to gradually improve the site over the next few months.  Once a few tweaks are in place, hopefully we will have a website that is not only pretty but smart too.

 

The Park City Fire Department Will Chip Your Wood (for free)

Do you have overgrown trees? Are you worried about next summer and fire danger? Simply cut those trees down into smaller pieces, fill out a form, and within a few days Park City Fire Department will be at your house with a wood chipper. They chip the wood and can either leave it for you or haul it away. The first time is free, for a relatively decent size pile of wood.

We recently requested the service and it went off without a hitch. The only issue is that we expected a confirmation of the chipping date. We never received one, but on our requested chipping date they were at the house at about 11AM. It really couldn’t be easier (or less expensive).

If you are interested, act quickly, though. The program ends September 18, 2014.

Here is more information on the program.

Update: PCFD requests that you have your pile at the end of your driveway (near the street).

Bluebird Bailout — Should Park City and Summit County Pay for PCMR’s Bond?

Park City officials Diane Foster and Jack Thomas were interviewed Friday on KPCW about the latest in PCMR vs Talisker. There was tough talk, including statements about the City having to take another look at projects like Woodward if PCMR isn’t open this year. Yet, there was hopeful optimism by Thomas that a solution could be found. The Parkrag fears that this solution will ultimately include Park City and Summit County contributing to the bond that keeps PCMR open in 2014.
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Two Fairs — Two Potential Credit Card Breaches

On Wednesday, Summit County announced that a third-party vendor may have had a credit card breach that impacted up to 951 credit card and debit card purchases at the Summit County Fair. This impact has reportedly led to multiple County residents receiving unauthorized charges up to $5000. The County has sent a letter to each person effected and posted information online. While the County hasn’t confirmed the vendor’s name, the Deseret News stated, “[The County Spokesperson] said it is believed a third-party vendor offering online sales of tickets to the rodeo and derby was compromised.”

While the ticket vendor has been removed from the summitcountyfair.org website, the Internet Wayback Archive indicates it was:

EZTicketLive.com

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Are You Fired Up Over Accusations Against Claudia McMullin’s Coffee Business? Not Me.

I like to get fired up. Give me a juicy story about an elected official exploiting the very power they have been given, and it’s like Christmas morning. According to KPCW, Summit County resident Chris Hague recently made allegations that McMullin’s Hugo Coffee business wasn’t paying fair rent, that McMullin didn’t disclose her ownership of the business in a 2013 conflict of interest filing, that her signage is illegal, and she just overall abused her power. I should be giddy with excitement over this story — but I’m not.

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Summit County Should Provide a Year of Credit Monitoring to those Impacted by the Fair’s Credit Card Breach

According to Summit County officials,  “Summit County recently learned that a third party vendor may have experienced a credit and debit card breach affecting individuals and/or parties that purchased tickets to the Summit County Fair Rodeo and Demolition Derby. We can confirm that 951 transactions may have been affected and have knowledge that other counties utilizing this vendor are experiencing a similar breach.”

Summit County is experiencing what many retailers like Target, TJ Maxx, and Sears have experienced.  The world of credit cards is becoming harder and harder to secure.  In this case, it appears as if it was not Summit County’s fault directly, as it was a third-party vendor that was hacked.  However, it is the County’s problem.  In the County’s statement about the crime, they urge people who may have purchased fair or rodeo tickets to contact their bank and the sheriff.  That’s not good enough.

The County, instead of placing the burden solely on attendees, should offer a free year of credit card monitoring to these 954 individuals.  Also, as many of our residents attending the fair may not be as technically savvy as others, there should be a dedicated contact person at the County that can be reached via phone to assist persons in need of help or direction.

Unlike Target, there were not millions of people hacked, but 950+ people is a significant number for our County.