Tag Archives: pattispathways

To Shred or Not to Shred

shredded paperWe’ve just started a new year. Now is a great time to sort and shred miscellaneous documents and bills you won’t need any longer.

The big question is what needs shredded versus what can be safely recycled?

Psst. Notice I said recycle and not pitch in the garbage bin. Learn from that. *wink* Recycling is easier than ever.

WHAT CAN SAFELY BE RECYCLE WITHOUT SHREDDING

There’s a lot of things that you can simply recycle without the need to shred. Some of the most common are:

  • Any, and all, junk mail that aren’t credit card solicitations.
  • Miscellaneous charity soliticitations.
  • Old utility bills.
  • Receipts from your credit card with all but the last four digits X’d out.
  • The body of a letter.
  • All envelopes.

I tear off and shred the top one-third of letters and bills envelopesif it contains my name and address, particularly if it’s a notice from a financial or investment institute. I don’t want people sifting through my papers knowing where I have accounts. If it’s a standard letter, anyone can get that information from the phone book so I feel it’s not as necessary.


TIP: I don’t have a shred box at my desk, but I do haveshred box a To Shred folder and a recycle paper box. When my To Shred folder gets too full, it goes to the shredder, then usually to the recycle bin where it awaits Recycle Day.


WHAT SHOULD BE SHREDDED:

  • Any portion of a financial statement containing your name, social security number, or account information.
  • Pre-filled credit card solicitations. You know the ones. You get these a couple of times a week.

FYI: Always write “Void” across any credit card application you’re mailing back to request removal from a mailing list.

  • Prescription receipts. Being the paranoid kind of person I am, I shred these. People don’t need to know what drugs my family or I have paid for or been prescribed. I’ve done this for years, and when HIPAA came out I felt vindicated.
  • Anything with your full credit card number.

When recycling shredded paper, check with your recycle center on how they’d like you to send it. Mine asks it be in a separate bag.


TIP: If you own a business, organize your own Recycle symbolRecycle Day. Have all department staff—essential staff can also pitch in until they’re required to answer the phone or help a customer—sort files. If you have too many documents for in-house shredding, there are reputable shredding services. Consult your Better Business Bureau and hire one.


WHEN TO SHRED:

I struggle with when to shred as much as what. The State of Washington’s Attorney General site has super info on why, what, and when to shred at What to Shred.


TIP: I have a printed copy of retention guidelines taped to the front of my To File folder, and another copy in the front of my filing cabinet.


Last Thoughts on Records:

If you’re interested in what to receive digitally in our paper-free computer society, here’s a great article at Kiplinger.com.

If you have questions about record retention for tax purposes, visit irs.gov and search recordkeeping.


I hope you’ve learned something new or gotten new ideas.

Have a great week, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.


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Food Additives and Preservatives

I’m straying far from my computer how-to genre this week. Bear with me. It’s for your own good. Yes, I do sound like your mother. But, it’s a new year, and a great time to think about your health.


1950's Family DinnerFifty years ago, there was no need to worry about what was in our food. Much of the food came from nearby farms or cities, plus not many  preservatives or additives were used.

Go into any grocery store today and find a package of your favorite food with less than three to five ingredients you can’t pronounce. Tough, isn’t it?

Never fear. Even though we’ve got a long way to go, things are getting better due to vigilant purchasers refusing to buy unhealthy foods for themselves and their families.

I’ve been researching food additives and preservatives for years. You’d be amazed at how food additives can affect our health. Sometimes in ways we can’t fathom. Check out my blog Tourette’s Syndrome and the Effect of Sweeteners.

TIP: If you or a family member has reactions that seem to be unexplainable (headaches, emotional and anger issues, attention problems, and more), research foods. Someone else has probably dealt with the same thing. If you can’t find anything helpful, it’s time to be your own detective by watching foods ingested two to six hours before the onset of symptoms.

I’ve been told my diligence in avoiding certain additives and preservatives is over-cautious, but I plan to live a long, productive life so over-cautious works for me.

In this blog, I’m only providing information. You’ll need to come to your own conclusions, and weigh how much effort you want to put into researching the food you buy.


food label readWhy do I care what’s in the foods I buy?

1) Many additives and preservatives used in the United States are  banned in Europe. Think about that one.

Why? I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me since they have social medicine, their governments don’t want to pay for treatments of cancers caused by foods.

2) It is proven certain additives and preservatives adversely affect behavior in children. If these make such a difference in how children act, can they be healthy for the general public?


I’ve come to the determination you can’t stay away from every additive and preservative. Because they’re in nearly every food around us—I do shop my organic grocers often—it makes the most sense for me to focus on those suspected of causing cancer.

Researchers code additives and preservatives as H = hyperactivity, A = asthma, and C = cancer. We’re going to worry about the C’s today.

Yes, I’ve heard laboratory tests use concentrated dosages of a substance to incite cancer growth. Do I care? No. Why? Studies show the effect of the H (hyperactivity) and the A (asthma) on people in normal dosages. Can the C (cancer) be far behind?

cellI’ve also heard everyone has cancer cells in their bodies, some people just don’t battle them effectively. That’s not true. We all have damaged cells, not cancer cells. Our cells police themselves. If a cell is too damaged it will either repair or kill itself.

Jennifer Loros, Ph.D, a professor of biochemistry and genetics at Dartmouth medical school says, “Everyone has cells that have mutant proteins from DNA damage, but to say that that’s cancer would be alarmist.” She also says, “Cancer can occur when the normal checkpoints in the cell cycle are misregulated somehow and the [damaged] cell starts dividing.”


Today’s Computer Tip:  Aren’t you happy there’s one in this blog?

You can easily search the internet for additives and preservatives that trigger H (hyperactivity) and A‘s (asthma). Copy and paste a table list into a database program like MS Excel. Then you can sort your data. I sorted mine by “C”.

FYI: European labels note their preservatives using numbers so don’t be confused with this in your web searches. Most lists are sorted by number.
Europe rating


I’ve included a printable list for your wallet at the end of this blog with my recommendations, but here’s what I’ve found on additives and preservatives.

  • All added colors, except caramel and greens, have caused cancers in the laboratories.

I know. It’s nearly impossible to stay away from colorings. Just be aware that food producers are starting to use natural colorings, like turmeric. And there are some products you can buy  now without colorings; I’m specifically thinking of Gatorade’s line of clear drinks.

  • Be aware of the below C causing additives and preservatives and try to avoid them.

Aluminum, BHT/BHA, benzoic acid, biphenol/diphenol, camauba wax, carrageenan, chlorine/chlorine dioxide, cyclamic acid/cyclamate, formic acid, magnesium sulphate, orthophenyl phenol, polysorbate, polyxyl/polyxyethylene stearate, potassium acesulphame, potassium bromate, propyl gallate, insoluble polyvinylpyrrolidone (wine, beer, pharmaceuticals), saccharine, and talc.

  • Stay away from all polysorbates, (other sorbates are not C’s), nitrites, and nitrates. They’re all C’s.

NOTE: I found after this article was published potassium sorbate and calcium sorbate are preservatives which are H’s and A’s, but not C’s. However, all polysorbates are C’s. I’ve updated the wallet cheat sheet below.

  • Be aware that chewing gums use petroleum jelly, white mineral oil, and paraffin, which are C’s.

Notice I haven’t list MSG? Why?

NO MSGResearch is divided on MSG. It’s definitely an H and an A, but researchers are split on the C.

What do I do? I steer clear of MSG. If I purchase a product with it by mistake, I don’t freak. No one in my family gets headaches or other immediately hazardous reactions.

In the USA, food manufacturers hide MSG on labels due to the bad press it received.

  • MSG is currently hidden in lists as natural flavors, yeast extracts, hydrolyzed proteins, glutamic acid and caseinate.

Another giveaway are the flavor enhancers disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate. In themselves, they aren’t dangerous, but they are almost always exclusively used with MSG since they themselves do nothing for flavor.

If a label says No MSG, it’s safe from MSG.


dairyOn a side note, I’m dairy intolerant so I carry a second list. Dairy intolerance is different from lactose intolerance. Lactose is specifically milk related; dairy is dairy related.

Hidden Food Label Dairy Ingredients:
*Casein/casinates * Hydrolysates *Lactalbumin/lactoglobulin/lactitol momhydrate *Nisin preparation * Nougat * Quark * Recaldent * Rennet * Simplesse * Whey *
May have milk: *Artificial flavorings * Caramel flavoring * High protein flour * rice cheese * soy cheese *

NOTE: If a label says Vegan or Dairy-free, it’s safe. If it says Non-dairy, it’s usually not. Non-dairy means no milk, but they frequently use dairy proteins as preservatives.

I’m blessed to not go into anaphylaxis. If I eat a bit of dairy, I get normal allergy symptoms: stuffy nose, watery eyes, headache, and itching of my nose plus other places people do not want to see me scratch. If I eat a lot of dairy, my muscles and joints ache as if I have a virus. Milk or dairy is poison to the body that can’t tolerate it.


I hope this post has given you information to make good food choices. Have a safe week, and thanks again for visiting Patti’s Pathways 😀


Wallet Cheat Sheet:
Note: If the back “Don’t cause cancer” says “other” in front, this means there’s at least one additive listed on the front with a similar name that does cause cancer.
additive cheat sheet

 

 

 

 


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own. On any health related blogs, I am merely giving advice that seems logical to me after research and investigation. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any medical degrees or certificates related to nutrition, psychological, pharmaceutical, or medical health.


New Year’s Computer Clean Up Resolution

happy New Year sunsetWelcome 2015 with a Faster, Cleaner, More Cooperative Computer


I don’t mean with a new computer, but if you got one for Christmas… Booya! to you. I’m talking about cleaning the crapware and extra programs from your good old ancient PC or laptop hard drive. It’ll run faster and better. Trust me. You’ll like it.


Between computer geeks I know and online gurus, I’ve got a few great suggestions for programs that take the work out of computer clean up.

Did I mention all of the programs use free software? If you’re impressed with the freebie, you can always upgrade to get more features. If you aren’t, it’s easy—and cheap—to remove and try something different.


tech money further cropDISCLAIMER: I have zero tech budget that isn’t from my own pocketbook. No software company has asked me to promote their programs.


CLEANING YOUR PC

First stop on our tour is our old friend Download.com. Remember it? No, Well, it’s your one-stop shopping headquarters for free and paid program downloads. Plus it offers editor and user reviews for all downloads. I find it super helpful to know what other people think of a product before I commit it to my hard drive, even free ones.

I’ll add direct links for most programs I’m suggesting, but download.com is a great place to find info about any program you want to check out.

Here’s a link to http://www.download.com, but for future reference when you search, it’ll look like this:Download (dot) com


NOTE ONE: the above link takes you to the Windows page. There are tabs across the top so you can search Mac, iOS, or Android applications as well.

NOTE TWO: It’s best to remove a program you don’t use or aren’t thrilled with rather than download a new one and leave them both on your harddrive. Some programs, like wayward children, don’t play well with others. I’ll tell you more about removing programs later in this blog.

ABOUT DOWNLOAD.COM: While it doesn’t covertly add extra programs you don’t want, it does have paid advertisers. Be aware of where your download is versus paid ad downloads.
Hijack This - Download

 


Beginner Computer Users and Beyond

Beginning computer users, this section is for you.

These programs do the work for you and you don’t have to worry that they’ll erase something they shouldn’t.

FYI: Some programs require a bit of software knowledge to use effectively (i.e. knowing which programs to keep thus not turning your computer into an expensive doorstop).

The “Beyond” in the title means these programs are equally useful for seasoned computer users, including programmers.

Must-Have Programs:

1) CCleanerCCleaner

CCleaner is a program by Piriform. It cleans unused and temporary files from your hard drive, cleans your browser history, and more. You can tweak it to clean, or not, any areas you wish.

I’ve used it for years and it’s never erased files necessary to run my computer. It’s not set to find those. Try it.

Download it here: CCleaner

Adv Sys care2) Advanced System Care

This is my current computer protection system. I say system because Advanced System Care does it all: anti-virus, system security, system optimization and clean up, even blocks malicious data stealing programs. It scans, repairs and optimizes. And that’s the free one. Upgrading to the Pro versions is very reasonable.

Get it here: Advanced System Care

malware bytes3) Malware Bytes

For removal of malicious and simply annoying programs infiltrating your computer, this is it. The free version won’t protect your computer from attack, but it’s great for removing Trojans and other hurtful viruses or adware.

Download it here: Malware Bytes


The above group of programs will clean and secure your computer causing it to run faster and safer. It’s well worth the effort.

NOTE: If you leave a cleaning program set to clear your browser cookies, it will most likely also remove your saved passwords and I.D.’s, unless a specific option is chosen to leave these alone.  But…i t’s not always a bad thing to clean I.D.’s out of your computer’s memory banks.

FYI: I never save passwords unless I don’t care if the site gets hacked.


fancy computer setupIntermediate Computer Users and Beyond

There are really good programs out there that take a bit of knowledge, patience (to research what to get rid of), or both to use. HiJack This is one of these.

1) Hijack This

This program is owned by Trend Micro, and can nose out viruses and Trojans with the best of them. Like Malware Bytes, it’s a removal tool.

With Hijack This, you’ll need to know your programs. It will remove indescriminantly… which is bad if it deletes programs needed to run your computer.

You can find it here: Hijack This

NOTE FOR BEGINNERS: You can use these types of programs, but don’t let them blanket delete anything. They’re set to scan everything, and don’t descriminate between harmful and helpful programs.

TIP: If you don’t know what something installed on your computer does, err on the side of caution and leave it alone. A google search will usually tell you about a program, file, registry entry, etc. you’re thinking of deleting, and if you should or not.

quarantined files copyMost removal tools allow you to quarantine files and this is super.

Why? Sometimes viruses disguise themselves as system files. When you quarantine a file, it’s not removed from your computer. Rather it’s stuck away in “file jail”. If you find your computer runs fine with it in jail, it was a virus and not a system file so it’s safe to permanently empty your quarantine folder.


Other Programs I’ve Used:

Windows Defender: Don’t forget about this one. It’s a nice little protective program that comes with your copy of Windows and is enabled by default.

Avast Anti-Virus: I really liked Avast when I used it. I’m not using it currently. It can be set to detect threats, but a few things sneak in anyway.

AVG Anti-Virus: For detection and removal it’s not as good as Malware Bytes, but it’s great at protecting against spyware.

Ad-Aware Anti-Virus: (by Lavasoft): I liked Ad-Aware. It didn’t find as many problems as Malware Bytes, but it did a good job.

Spybot Malware Remover:  I haven’t found anything with Spybot that Malware Bytes did’t detect, but it’s a great little program.

Comodo Anti-Virus: I wasn’t as psyched about Comodo as some techies because it evolves like artificial intelligence as it learns your computing habits. You tell it which sites and programs you want to allow each time you visit a site or install a program.

Part of my problem was when I tried Comodo I had Windows Vista as an OS. Each time I reinstalled Vista (which was often), I had to start over training Comodo. It got old fast. But you might like it. If you don’t, it’s easily removed.

Anvi Ad-Blocker: I’m currently using this. As far as I can tell, It works very well. If you wish to try it, you can find it here: Anvi Ad-Blocker


TIP: I love the notification area (that’s its name) at the bottom right of my Windows Desktop. I house all my mainentance and cleanup icons there plus a lot more.
Notification Area

BrrrrAnd yeah, that’s the actual temperature outside where I live… in Fahrenheit.

And no, I don’t live in Alaska, but sometimes the lower forty-eight are colder.


Now that we’ve talked about programs to add to your cleaning arsenal, let’s talk about removing programs you don’t want to free up memory.

Removing Unwanted Programs

Removing programs is done through your Control Panel. Remember how to access that? No? Here’s a refresher then.

 In Windows 7 and before, 1) open the start menu in the corner of your taskbar. 2) click Control Panel.
Windows 7 Control Panel

In Windows 8 and 8.1, 1) go to Settings at the bottom of your Charms Bar (hover over the top or bottom right corners of your screen to open it), and 2) Choose Control Panel.
Control Panel

In Windows 10, no clue. What? You didn’t know there was a Windows 10. Find out more about it at Welcome Windows 10!


3) In Control Panel, you have a plethora — yes, a plethora — of choices. Find the one labeled 4) Programs and Features and click on it.

Oops, don’t see it? You’re in Catagory View. Change the view to Large Icons so you have an alphabetical listing. So much easier.

Under Programs and Features, you’ll see all the individual programs you can or want to uninstall. Find any programs you currently aren’t using or don’t want, and uninstall.

TIP: If you aren’t sure what a program does, google it. I recently uninstalled my weather app — yep, the same one that says it’s 3 degrees Fahrenheit outside — by mistake. It was no biggy, but it’ll save time if you know what programs run your features.


RECAP OF COMPUTER CLEAN UP

These can be done in any order. Remember defrag and full scans take awhile, while cleaning old unused shortcuts, browser history and things with CCleaner takes less time.

1) Run CCleaner and remove the extra junk it finds.

2) Scan and enable protections with Advanced System Care.

3) Run Malware Bytes and remove extra malware it locates.

4) Uninstall from Programs and Features unused or unwanted programs.

5) Lastly, it’s time to defragment your hard drive memory.

Knowing how hard drives use memory will help you understand why defragging a hard drive speeds up your computer.


From Spotting Extra Annoying Programs:

How Hard Drive Memory is Used

Imagine your computer hard drive as a piece of graph paper. There are squares across plus up and down where we save data. The top left square gets the first item saved. We’ll pretend each square stores a byte of data.Mona Lisa

First, I save a word processing document worth ten squares (bytes). Now I’ve found a picture of the Mona Lisa I like so I’m saving it. Mona’s cost in space is five squares. So far I’ve saved fifteen squares of total data.

Oh, I forgot. I need to edit down my document; it’s too long. I erase two squares of data and re-save. I now have two open squares between my document and Mona on my hard drive.

Now I create a spreadsheet worth seven squares. Data saves in all open squares first. This means two squares of spreadsheet data are saved between my document and Mona while the last five of the seven squares save behind Mona.

This happens over and over as we save items to our hard drives. Computers slow down when we ask them to piece together an item spread out over many squares.


Defragging Your Hard Drive

In Windows 7 or before, open the Disk Defragmenter by choosing Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter.

In Windows 8, the name’s been changed to Optimize Drives.
defrag win 8

FYI: Obit (Advanced System Care) has a Smart Defrag program that does the same thing.


Happy New year snowAfter you’ve tried the things I’ve suggested above, you should be pleased with how well your computer works.

Have a Happy New Year’s and a very productive 2015. And thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.

Cell Phones for Teens and Tweens

presentsSince the holidays are gift giving at its best, I know a lot of teens and tweens will be receiving cell phones.

Parents, aunts, and uncles…listen up!

Here’s a few important things to consider before gifting a cell phone.


This post is going to make me quite unpopular with the younger crowd, but I’d rather that than have them in danger. As their parent, you should be in this mindset also. If you aren’t, get there…now!


cellphone iconKids think of their cell phone as personal property so it’s off-limits to moms and dads, right? Wrong.

Think of it more like a car. Here’s the keys. you can use it, but I check the gas and where you’ve taken it.

It’s okay to check what your child’s been texting or tweeting, but tell them upfront they’re subject to snap inspections.

If you want to institute this kind of rule later, after a teen’s had their phone a while, sit down and talk it over with them. You’d be surprised; they’ll probably understand.

Oh, you’ll still get the proverbial shock initially.

“Don’t you trust me?”

Your answer to this? “Honey, cell phones are a tremendous responsibility. I love you too much to put you in danger. I’d feel horrible if anything happened to you because of a gift I gave you.” Practice this sentence two to twenty times (or more) until you’re comfortable with it.

Instead, your child might act the part of the angry rebel. If so, your approach is different.

“Man, you’re such a _________ _________[insert inappropriate names here]!”

Here’s your answer, “Um. I’m sorry you think that. I’ll be keeping your cell phone until you apologize.”

I know. I’ve read the news, too. Being a teen or tween is an emotional rollercoaster. Teens have committed suicide because parents take away cell phones. These poor kids probably were never told no, or how much they were loved and needed. Don’t make this mistake.

If you’re not sure how your teen/tween will respond. hold off on snap inspections, spend more time with your child, and fix the communications problem first.


Alligator thumbs upIDEA: Instead of working an extra two hours every few weeks, take your kid (or kids) to a movie. You won’t need to talk much — the usher will shush you if you do — and you’ll toss a huge wrench into your kids’ work-is-more-important-than-me mentality.

Set it up like a date. “Hey, Sam. How about I pick you up from school, and we go out for pizza and a movie next Thursday?”

Schedule it just like you would a business meeting or you’ll be tempted to skip it. And don’t be shy about telling co-workers or your boss you have a date with your kid. Your idea might just rub off on them. If the boss is less than enthusiastic, tell them even though you can’t work late tonight, you’ll be in early tomorrow.

You won’t believe the awesome dividends time with your kid pays. FYI: the next installment of The Hobbit comes out December 17. You can get tickets in advance any time.  😀


When is a kid old enough for a cell phone?girl with package

It’s more about responsibility and maturity levels than an actual age number.

Lori Evans, MD, director of training in psychology at the NYU Child Study Center, says. “Look for the developmental signs. Does your child lose his belongings? Is he generally a responsible kid? Can you trust him? Will he understand how to use the phone safely? The rate at which kids mature varies — it will even be different among siblings.”


What kind of phone to buy?

Younger children need only the basics: no texts, internet access, games, etc.  For now, their phone is about safety, not socializing. If you’re handing down your old phone, turn off these features.

Older children (a.k.a. high schoolers) can be allowed more bells and whistles.


Tips for Parents with “Cell Phone Kids”

Follow me here. I have a lot of tips, but they are all important. Don’t be afraid.

Tip One: Cell Phone Station

Station a basket or a cell phone charging center in a public area of your home. If you set it up by the front door noone forgets the phones when they leave.

Everyone — e.v.e.r.y.o.n.e., you too Mom and Dad — puts their powered-down cell phones in the basket for the night. Or if it’s a charging station, plugs them in.

Why? Cell phones taken to the bedrooms encourage texting and talking when adults and children should be sleeping. Did you know sleep-deprived drivers are as dangerous or worse than drunk drivers? Now you do.

Tdoctorshe only exception is a parent who is a nurse, doctor, firefighter, policeman, or other life-saving career person. They can keep their phone near at night, but not too near. See Tip Six.

By the way, life-saving career parents, thanks. 🙂


Tip Two: No GPS Tracker

Skip the GPS tracker on the phone. Unless your kids have shown dangerous and untrustworthy behavior, you don’t need it.

If it were me, I’d let them know I trust them enough to not use phone GPS; you’d be surprised at the child’s self-esteem boost. The downside of this is a lot of stolen phones have been located due to GPS. Talk it over with your kid. Decide together.


Tip Three: Be a Role Model

Be your kids’ number one role model. If you don’t check your texts or messages during __________ [fill in the blank: dinner, theatre, store], they won’t either.


Tip Four: Define Acceptable ActionsHelp

Kids are all about rules. They need guidelines. Help them out and give them some.

  • No gossiping. Gossiping is anything meant to hurt someone else whether it’s true or not.
  • No cyberbullying.
  • No talking to strangers…even if they sound nice.
  • No sending inappropriate photos of themselves to anyone.
  • No sending or posting photos of others without their permission.

Why? Sometimes kids don’t have the loving family yours does. A non-custodial parent might steal a child if they knew where they were. With court approval, these children’s locations are kept secret. They’re in kind of a witness relocation program, only for kids.


Tip Five: Set Limits

Set texting limits, talking limits, any limits you see fit. If your teen goes over the agreed limits, let him or her pay the extra cost. Actually, standard — in my mind there are no normal people, only standard and non-standard — high schoolers should be able to pay for all or some of their phone bill unless you have a reward system worked out, like grades for phones.


radiation symbolTip Six: Limit Radiation Exposure

This tip goes in the “Better Safe Than Sorry” column. Even though the studies are controversial, cell phones do give off a certain amount of radiation, no matter how slight. It’s best to keep radiation exposure to heads and reproductive organs to a minimum.

  • Use headsets. There are wired or wireless/bluetooth.
  • Don’t let your kids sleep with their phones under their pillows. See Tip One.
  • Don’t carry phones in front pockets. Studies show radiation can affect reproductive organs.

Tip Seven: Cyberbullying

Social interaction can be a positive thing. It can also be incredibly destructive. Cyberbullying is a real threat to our children. Many beautiful and talented teens have taken their own lives because they were cyberbullied to the point of no return.

Make certain you tell your kids how much you love them often and how important they are to family and friends. And ask periodically if they’re being harassed or sent nasty text messages. Then do something about it. Don’t ignore it. Sometimes a child can think they’re being bullied when it’s not the case, but the impact on that child’s mental health is no less real. Take it seriously.

Tip Seven A:

Parents! Pay Attention! Watch for signs your children are cyberbullies. Even sweet little Suzy can bully someone else when she thinks nobody is looking. Unfortunately, sometimes anonymity turns even nice people into unrecognizable beings. And no, Suzy’s not a horrible person. She just needs some guidance. See Tip Four.

Check out my blog post on The True Faces of Cyberbullying.


Tip Eight: Texting Jargon

I’m not accusing your child of doing these, but the best prepared parent is a well-informed parent. Watch out for these acronyms and codes.

        • CD9 = Code 9 = Parents around
        • PIR = Parent in room
        • POS = Parent over shoulder
        • 9 = Parent watching
        • 99 = Parent(s) gone or not watching
        • KPC = Keeping parent(s) clueless
        • CID or 420 = codes for drugs
        • ADDY = address
        • N usually means ‘naked’. GNOC = Get naked on camera; NIFOC = Naked in front of camera; IPN = I’m posting naked.
        • PRON = porn (FYI: Don’t freak out about this. Read the sentence and take it in context. Kids benignly joke about things adults wouldn’t with each other a lot. Hey, they’re kids.)
        • (L)MIRL = Let’s meet in real life
        • TWD Texting while driving

I’ve left the most important — life and death — issue to last: texting while driving.

Tip Nine: Absolutely NO texting and driving…for a.n.y.o.n.e.

I’m simply going to ask you to watch this video, then you’ll understand. The video is promoted on Facebook by Kunhadi, a Lebanese non-profit organization concerned with road safety.

If the video isn’t cooperating, you can find it here: Texting While Driving


I hope this blog has prepared you a little bit better for cell phones in the life of your child. More than likely, your parents never had to contend with this issue. You’re breaking new and exciting ground. Do it responsibly.

Today’s assignment: When you  see your child next, tell them how important they are to you and others. Then say, “I love you.” It’s not that tough. Look at a picture of your kid and practice saying “I love you” to it five to twenty times until you are comfortable. Try it right now. 😉


CAUTION: If your child has disabilities, chill out and approach them as is best for their situation. If you haven’t been the parent addressing their needs, talk it over with that person first.

Do not…I repeat, do not ride in like Wyatt Earp thinking you’ll clean up Dodge City. Never has, and never will, work. You’ll just make matters worse. Been there, lived that.

If you want to make a difference in your child’s life, now is a great time to start. See the idea at the top of this blog. Psst. It’s by the alligator.


puppy presentHave a safe and happy holiday season, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own. Any health related advice is what seems logical to me after research and investigation. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any medical degrees or certificates related to nutrition, psychological, pharmaceutical, or medical health.


 

Giving Out Credit Card Numbers

Happy Holidays! It’s the season of giving, peace on earth, Untitled-1and goodwill to man.

Unfortunately, wrapped up with all the holiday cheer is an upsurgence in unscrupulous people.

After all the looting recently in St. Louis, I wondered how many kids got stolen merchandise as gifts. And how many knew it was stolen?  Envision the exchange at a looter holiday. “Here, Johnny, I got you this sparkling new bike.” “Wow, you’re the  best uncle in the world!” Yeah, right.

Hey, Looters! Ever think of setting a good example, you thugs? You’re not protesters; you’re criminals who steal and destroy your neighbors’ hard work by looting and burning their stores.

dog snow tongueThen there are those who steal delivered packages off the front porches of others. Last week a few got their comeuppance. A couple in Washington, D.C. — tired of having their packages stolen from their front porch — rewrapped a special gift for the porch package pilferers. They videotaped the gift exchange so they could enjoy it for years to come, and share it with local law enforcement. The box they left was filled with dog poo. Ah, pooetic justice at its best.


Now for the real point of today’s blog: telephone scammers who ask for your personal information and credit card number.

Recently a friend received two calls in as many weeks asking for his credit card number. Both of these calls could’ve been legit, but he’s very smart and didn’t give out any information. The first caller identified themselves as from his bank; the second said they were from his new cell phone service.

The “bank” caller asked him to verify his social security number. He didn’t. Then they asked for him to verify his address. He said, “Um, you’re my bank. Shouldn’t you already know my address?” Then they asked for a credit card number and that tore it. He had a few choice words for them at this point and hung up.

shopping cart iconThe cell phone caller went immediately for the throat. They said his calling limit had been reached, and if he wanted to continue he needed to give them a credit card number. He just bought the phone the week before so he knew that wasn’t the case.


By the way,  it’s legit in our age of technology to charge items to your cell phone account much like you do to your credit card account.

In fact, this past October, the FTC reached a $105 million settlement with AT&T for adding unauthorized charges — technically known as “cramming” — to their clients billings.

The FTC has some great tips on protecting yourself from cramming and what to watch for on your telephone bill. Click here.


Today’s Important Lesson Number One: Never ever give out a credit card number to someone who calls you. Only give it out if you initiate the call.

Today’s Important Lesson Number Two: Never call back a number given to you by a caller then give them your credit card number. Scammers  can intercept calls and/or set up phone numbers to look like legit businesses.


Now you’re armed a bit better for scam callers. Don’t feel bad if the calls are actually from a company you do business with. You just did them a favor by advising them their policies need to be brought into the 21st Century.

Have a very blessed holiday season, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


RELATED POSTS: Microsoft Won’t Call You…EVER!Scammers Posing as the IRS.


 

DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.

 

♪ Somebody’s Watchin’ Me ♫

Now that you have the 1984 Motown hit single by Rockwell and M.J. blaring in your head, I’ll explain why I’ve cursed you thus.

Webcams. Yep, webcams are the reason you’re humming hip-hop in your head.


Webcams are wonderful devices. They allow us to video chatWebcam with relatives living far off — if you haven’t tried this, you don’t know what you’re missing.  There’s facial recognition software that allows you to log on to your computer via your webcam. They help us monitor the interior and exterior of our homes and businesses for security purposes.

In this blog, I’m not going to tell you how to use your webcam. Rather, I’m going to tell how to keep others from using your webcam without your knowledge.


This year thousands of unsecured personal and business webcams were hijacked and livestreamed to whomever wished to view them. The site streaming these was closed down a few days later when the world’s major media outlets broke the story six months after the site went live.

It’s a harsh reminder to us with all the newfound wonders of the internet, and the freedoms it gives us, also comes responsibility.

While yoeyeballu might think this behavior is criminal, it’s really only unscrupulous. Why? The webcams chosen had no passwords or the original factory password hadn’t been changed.

Many of cams seized were surveillance cameras. These webcams weren’t only in homes, but offices around the world.

I know what you’re thinking, “Hackers can’t do that to personal laptop webcams, can they?” Um, yeah, unfortunately they can.

Norton, the anti-virus software people, has a good security article on webcam hijackings. In it they mention a lawsuit in Pennsylvania against a school for using webcams on school-issued laptops to spy on students and their families. You can read more from Norton at Are Hackers Using Your Webcam to Watch You?


So other than viewing you in your natural habitat, Baby Peeperwhy do you care if some peeper watches you? You’ve got a boring, lawful life, right?

  • The obvious one: perverts abound on the internet.
  • The site livestreaming hijacked cams listed each webcam’s country and the owner’s last name.
  • If the person viewing recognizes you and your last name, they know exactly when you’re not home. This is especially bad if it’s a business cam.
  • From the picture streaming, the viewer knows exactly where the camera is should they intend to break-in and disable it.
  • Believe it or not, there are websites teaching people how to secretly hack into and turn on webcams.

Secure Your Life

Post-it notes

  • The easiest way to put the kabosh on ill-intended webcam infiltration is incredibly low-tech. Cut a square from the sticky part of a Post-It note and plunk it over the camera hole. Too easy, huh? I have a piece over mine.
  • Have security software installed and enabled on your mobile devices.
  • For any cam device you use (baby monitors, security cameras, etc.), always change the default password. And for goodness sakes, don’t use “12345” or “password” or “11111” … or any other easily guessed pass. See my blog Creating the Safest Passwords for help.
  • Secure your internet router. How? 1) Change the administration password from the default. 2) Use WPA2 encryption, and 3) switch off SSID which broadcasts the name of your router, or change the name to something generic.

Your router users guide can help you. Tip: If you’ve misplaced your router user’s guide, the internet is a spectacular place to find guides. Simply search your router brand and model number and “user’s guide”.


Feel safer? You should. You’ve just taken steps toward securing your life.

Best of luck with your newfound security confidence. Enjoy the independence, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.

 

Scammers Posing as IRS

This quick post was necessitated by scam callers…again.phone handset

I wanted to make you, my faithful readers, aware of an ongoing telephone scam. This time the call was from people posing as the IRS.

Yesterday, a lovely recorded woman told me if I didn’t pay the money I owed, the IRS would come to my house, seize my property and sell off my assets to pay the bill. There were a few more sentences filled with aggressive and angry actions to be taken against me if I failed to comply immediately. Yada, yada, yada.

Then, being the super nice and helpful entity she was, she gave me a toll-free number — four or five times — to call to straighten this out. Because we all know, none of us wants to have our assets seized.


man coins falling outHOW SCAMMERS FAKE YOU OUT

From an article (IRS Reiterates Warning of Pervasive Telephone Scam) at www.irs.gov:

“Other characteristics of this scam include:

  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.
  • Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
  • After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.”

WHAT THE IRS SAYS TO DO

Tax docFrom the same IRS article:

“If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
  • You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.”

If you wish to report these types of scams, you can at www.irs.gov by typing “scam” in the search box.


I hope you feel empowered now to deal with those annoying, and just plain mean, scammer phone calls.

Holiday Blessings, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


RELATED POSTS: Microsoft Won’t Call You…EVER!; How To Spot A Hoax Email


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.