Is privacy in America dead? With all the camera phones, online tracking software and social media sites, you can pretty much bet on it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself. For starters, go to Google Maps and search on your name to see if they have a picture of your home mapped out. If so, you can request to be removed. Next, set up a Google alert for your name (and company name if you’re a business owner). Google will e-mail you any time something is posted about you with a link so you can keep an eye on reviews, photos, etc. Next, go to www.Spokeo.com and search on yourself – you might be shocked at how much information is posted about you, your home, your income and personal life. You can request to be removed from this site by going to www.spokeo.com/privacy .
Cloud computing refers to the “next evolution” of the Internet and how users (you and me) access, store and work with applications, files, e-mail, data and more. Instead of having all your files and applications stored on a PC or laptop, cloud computing puts this workload onto a high-speed, high security server that you access via any Internet connection or device. Why do this? Several reasons: You can connect to your files and applications from anywhere on (practically) any device. You’ll save a lot of money on IT support, maintenance and software since those responsibilities are assumed by your cloud provider. You only pay for the applications, storage and software you use. A good comparison for this system is the way you access the electricity that runs into your home or office. To use it, you just plug the appliance of choice into any outlet. Like electricity, which is metered, with cloud computing you just pay for the services you use. Most cloud solutions offer instant backup and the ability to be back up and running again fast. Since your files and applications are hosted online, a failed server or PC won’t put you out of business, and the chances of a data center going down (the place where your files and apps are stored) is very, very slim. Chances are you’re already using cloud computing without even knowing it. If you bank online, access an e-mail service like Yahoo! Mail or Gmail, or use an e-mail broadcasting service like ConstantContact, you’re using cloud-based apps (also called SaaS or “software as a service”). Many businesses are moving to cloud computing because it frees them from having to install, maintain and upgrade expensive, overblown PCs that cost a lot to maintain. It also makes adding and removing users (or employees) quick and easy since you simply pay for what you use each month and nothing more. Other advantages include unlimited storage, automatic backups, higher-level security and the ability to access your information from any device anywhere. Plus, cloud-based networks don’t require the ongoing maintenance that traditional server-workstation networks require. However, not every application or situation is suited for the cloud. While many line-of-business applications still can’t be hosted in the cloud and require a commercial-grade Internet connection with a backup such as DSL or cable, there’s no doubt that cloud computing is here to stay. Advances are being made rapidly to make it the better solution for most businesses. Of course, we’re here to help you understand your options and the pros and cons.
Don’t leave it lying around Although this is common sense, you’ve probably violated this rule more than once. iPads are easy targets for thieves, so don’t let it out of your sight when in a public place – and don’t leave it in plain view in your car or you might end up with a broken window in addition to a stolen iPad. Use a passcode Although it’s not 100% hacker-proof, it will block unauthorized users from accessing your information. Consider enabling automatic data erasing You can configure your iPad to erase your data after 10 failed passcode attempts. Clearly this is not a good solution for anyone who constantly forgets a password or those who have kids who might try to endlessly log in to use your iPad. Sign up for MobileMe As mentioned opposite, this software will allow you to locate a lost iPad and, if it’s not recoverable, you can remotely wipe the device of your private information. Limit its capabilities You can set your iPad to restrict certain functions such as access to Safari, YouTube, installing applications and explicit media content using a passcode. In the corporate world, an IT administrator could set these restrictions for company owned devices. At home, you can use this to restrict what your children can do with your iPad. Install software updates As with all software, make sure you have the latest security updates and patches installed to protect against hackers and viruses. Only connect to trusted WiFi networks Public WiFis are open territory for hackers and identity thieves. Whenever you connect, make sure it’s a legitimate, secure connection.
When you dial 9-1-1, you expect to get help – but not so in the case of Curtis Mitchell from Pittsburg, PA. Mitchell dialed 9-1-1 and reported severe abdominal pains, but no one came. So he called again. Still, no one came. This went on for the entire weekend. He called a total of 10 times and eventually died in his home. So what happened? Apparently the paramedics could only get the ambulance within 4 blocks of his home due to heavy snowfall. But instead of walking to his home, they told him he would have to come to them. The city is facing a civil lawsuit from Mitchell’s family.
California welfare recipients have found that state-issued debit cards make accessing cash easy…in fact, a little too easy. These debit cards are meant to help poor families feed their families; however, an investigation conducted by the Los Angeles Times revealed that more than $12,000 in welfare funds were dispensed at strip clubs, and $1.8 million of the funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families were dispensed at casino and poker-room ATMs. Luckily, the state has put an end to this practice.
Here are some interesting facts about Social Security and saving for retirement that we thought you would find interesting as you file your taxes this year. “By 2037, all the social security reserves will have been drained and the income flowing into the program will be only enough to pay 75% of the schedule benefits. If that sounds tolerable, consider that two-thirds of seniors rely on Social Security as their main source of income. The average annual benefit is $14,000.” – Washington Post “Nearly eight in ten small business owners prior to the recession in 2007 thought they would have enough money to live comfortably when they retire. By 2010, fewer than two in three felt this way.” – Dennis Jacobe, gallup.com “The average life expectancy was only 63 years when Social Security was first created, and there were 40 workers supporting each retiree. We now have about 3.1 workers for each retiree. And by the time I reach my mid-60s, there will be about two workers supporting me – and I don’t think they’re going to want to do that.” – Ken Dychtwald, New York Times “56% of retirees had outstanding debt when they left the workforce, and 96% refused to delay retirement because of the outstanding debt. In addition, 59% had saved less than $50,000 towards retirement.” – Survey, nonprofit CESI Debt Solutions
Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a mechanic. If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you’ve never tried before. My idea of housework: Sweep the room with a glance. Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity. No husband has ever been shot while doing the dishes. Junk is something you keep for years then throw away 3 weeks before you need it. By the time you can make ends meet, they’ve moved the ends. Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused. Don’t forget Daylight Saving Time Begins Sunday, March 13 th . Spring forward! Be sure to set your clocks an hour ahead when you go to bed.
The Story: A couple of weeks ago a friend told me that someone she knew had their car broken into while they were at a football game. Their car was parked on the green which was adjacent to the football stadium and specially allotted to football fans. Things stolen from the car included a garage door remote control, some money and a GPS which had been prominently mounted on the dashboard. When the victims got home, they found that their house had been ransacked and just about everything worth anything had been stolen. The thieves had used the GPS to guide them to the house. They then used the garage remote control to open the garage door and gain entry to the house. The thieves knew the owners were at the football game, and they knew when the game was scheduled to finish, so they knew how much time they had to clean out the house. It seems they even brought a truck to empty the house of its contents. True Or False? While there are cases in which GPS devices have been used in crimes against their owners, this particular story is a “friend of a friend” e-mail legend according to www.Snopes.com . That said, there is a valuable lesson here: Don’t leave valuables in the car! GPS devices, like cell phones and laptops, are expensive electronic devices that are attractive to thieves. Plus, you should always make it a habit to lock your electronic devices using a strong password (one that contains upper and lowercase letters and numbers).
“To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.” – Farmer’s Almanac “Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded when you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers and nobody thinks of complaining.” – Jef Raskin “Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.” – Rick Cook, The Wizardry Compiled “To err is human – and to blame it on a computer is even more so.” – Robert Orben “If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would cost $100, get a million miles to the gallon and explode once a year, killing everyone inside.” – Robert X. Cringely “Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1.5 tons” – Popular Mechanics Magazine, 1949
This month’s “Gadget” is not an electronic device. It’s an online tool I’m sure you’ll be interested in checking out. RescueTime is a web application that tracks where you spend your time while working on your PC and then reports how productive you are based on what you consider productive time. Want to know how much time you REALLY spend checking e-mail, watching YouTube videos or on Facebook? RescueTime will tell you. After you’ve let it collect some data, you can go back to the site and tag various activities such as “work” or “fun time” to better track where your time is going every day. You can also set goals for yourself on how much productive versus unproductive time you should be spending every day and get notifications when you aren’t hitting your goals. They offer a free version you can download or a paid version that will track the productivity of your employees or a team of people.