Tag Archives: safety

Who Controls Your Child on Facebook?

I hadn’t heard about the proposed SB 242 bill in California until reading about it on TechCrunch a few moments ago. As I quickly ran through the article, I prepared myself to see a whole lot of angry comments at the end. I wasn’t disappointed… people are angry. However, every single commenter is missing the bigger picture in my mind. How – exactly – is Facebook supposed to determine parental rights should they receive a takedown request?

As it is written, the bill would ensure that:

“A social networking Internet Web site shall remove the personal identifying information of a registered user in a timely manner upon his or her request. In the case of a registered user who identifies himself or herself as being under 18 years of age, the social networking Internet Web site shall also remove the information upon the request of a parent of the registered user.”

I understand where they are trying to go with this, really I do. The HUGE problem I see is that there is absolutely nothing written about ways in which “the social networking site” is supposed to figure out who the parents really are. Without exact guidelines, any person would be able to claim they are someone’s parent and demand that information be removed. Perhaps Johnny has divorced parents and the father isn’t allowed any rights at all. Should that father then be able to request Facebook remove something from the young man’s page? What about a teen who has no “parents,” and instead lives with grandma? Does that mean he can post whatever he likes, without the grandmother being able to do anything about it?

The bills as written begs for trouble. In order to make demands of this nature, there has to be clear-cut guidelines. There is simply far too much grey area here… too much room for abuse. I’ll go so far as to say it: there’s even potential there for stalking and harassment of minors. Katie could have a friend in high school who is out to “get” her for some reason. Said “friend” creates a new Facebook account and pretends to be Katie’s mom… do you see where I’m going? Where is the burden of PROOF? Do we even want to delve into the creepy factor here? I think not. You can figure that out for yourself.

I agree that there needs to be better ways to protect the privacy of teens on social networking sites. I disagree with all of the people screaming that parents need to parent their children better. If a parent cannot understand the complicated and convoluted privacy settings on Facebook, what hope do they have of keeping track of that of their child? Facebook – and sites like it – need to step up to the plate and make things much simpler on everyone involved.

Knife Safety

Knife Safety

Seconds after slicing my fingertip, I snapped this shot over the sink. Yeah, it hurt – a lot. I’m better now, though. It looks worse than it actually was, mind you.

  1. Always cut away from yourself. I forgot to follow this rule.
  2. Always make sure your blades are sharp. I remembered to follow this rule.
  3. Always have a firm grip on the handle. I remembered to follow this rule, too.

Moments after washing up, placing gauze over the wound, and applying pressure, I poised my hand above my head (heart) and paced a bit. I started to feel faint, went to lay down, and phoned 911. When the operator transferred me to the local respondents, she stated: “I have someone on the line who has cut off the tip of his finger.” I had to interject, laughing – “I just cut off the SKIN on the tip of my finger. I don’t want to pass out and start gushing blood all over the place.”

When the fire department crew arrived (four of ’em strong), I greeted them at the front door and offered beverages and snacks. They took one look at the finger in question and placed a band-aid over it. Of course, within seconds, the bandage was soaked (since I was still bleeding rather profusely). They bandaged it tighter with gauze and tape, and I pressed against the wound continuously for the next few hours.

It’s been a couple of days since the accident and I’m still oozing a little (which Imei says is normal – and she’s a nurse, so she’d know). The good news is that I haven’t been traumatized to the point where I’m avoiding sharp instruments – I’m just being hella more careful with them!

How to Keep Your Valuables Safe When You Travel


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How do you keep things safe when you are traveling? I’m sure you make use of the safe in the hotel room. However, things like your laptop just won’t fit inside there. You can pick up a cheap alarm for around ten dollars at any supermarket or convenience store. Let me tell you – these things are LOUD.

This little gadget I picked up only cost me a few bucks, and it’s awesome. It has these two flat little metal prongs. You just stick them underneath whatever it is you want kept secure. When someone lifts that item up – all hell breaks loose! Your ears will bleed from the loud chirping sound!

There’s really no excuse for not having something like this with you when you’re on the go. Isn’t a few bucks more than worth your sanity and peace of mind?

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Holiday Lighting Saftety Tips

Geek!This is Joe Hunter’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

You might ask: What is Geeky about holiday lighting? If you do, you haven’t been watching any of the numerous videos on the internet for the last few years. Holiday lighting can indeed be very much a geeks favorite pastime this time of year. The more complex setups are computer controlled and can be quite expensive.

A discussion of safety in holiday lighting needs to cover two aspects:

  • The materials being installed, and
  • How you actually go about installing them.

Although both are important, the latter becomes increasingly important as you age and have to be more careful about working on ladders on in high places.

Hopefully these ideas will help someone avoid injury and give them suggestions on how to simplify installation of outdoor holiday decorations. It may be too late to adopt any of these ideas for this season, but if you keep them in mind you can both simplify and speed up your work next year.

Codes – First and foremost, you must always obey any national or local codes. Failure to do so could well void your insurance if something unforeseen should happen. Remember to keep this in mind as you read further. Use only those devices bearing the appropriate approval seals, and follow proper procedures for installation of electrical devices. Many municipalities permit homeowners to perform a certain level of electrical work themselves. But check the codes, before you start, and use a licensed contractor if required or if there is anything with which you are not comfortable.

Reduce the need for extension cords – A network of extension cords quickly becomes unwieldy and often dangerous. Installation of permanent outlets as close as possible to each planned location can drastically reduce the need for extension cords; maybe even eliminate them entirely. Properly planned outlets can also eliminate the need for multiple three-way adapters. The placement of these outlets will vary depending on how important it is to keep them an unobtrusive as possible. Obviously you will want to keep them above any level at which snow might be expected. Whenever possible you should try to keep them low enough so they can be reached without the need for a ladder. A simple three-step work ladder with a front you can lean against is a lot safer.

For roof lights, you may be able to place your outlets under the eaves. In a single-story house of the lower part of a split level, these can usually be reached without the need for a normal ladder. Under or beside windows may be other good places to locate permanent outlets.

Plan ahead – When deciding on what type of outlets to install and how they should be wired, think ahead. You may decide at some future date to expand your system. When planning a more permanent installation, it’s always better to allow for this expansion even though you may not need it right away. It’s both easier and cheaper to include additional circuits for future expansion during an initial installation than to add them later.

Simple lighting vs. Special effects – When planning, now or for the future, you may want to consider whether or not you will be using any special effects. Here’s where careful planning comes into play again. If you are going to be using special effects, you will need to plan for separate distinct circuits for each lighting channel.

Note: I’m not going to identify any specific types of special effects devices. Any geek worth their salt can easily locate detailed descriptions of them on the internet. Prices vary widely, depending on where you actually purchase them. Warehouse stores tend to have the best prices on the more common devices, with home improvement stores next in line. If you opt for the more complex devices you will probably have to buy them from the manufacturer via the internet.

Until recently, special effects required fairly expensive computer-controlled setups that were not for the faint of heart. Now there are at least three variations of readily available special effect boxes at reasonable prices. One that has been around for a couple of years has separate outlets for each of six channels. This year that manufacturer has released a newer model that has only four channels; but they use a wireless controller that eliminates the need to wire everything back to the central controller.

Another relatively new unit from a different manufacturer comes with three devices. The main unit has six outlets. There is also a satellite unit with an additional six outlets that can be synced to the main controller by a long extension cord. I’m not sure if these additional six outlets match the first six or if they are energized in a different sequence. The third unit is an external speaker. This also has an extension cord so that it doesn’t have to be placed right next to the main control unit. Although this unit only comes with ten pre-programmed songs, it has one feature the other units do not: you can hook up your own music source.

Installation safety – The second aspect of safety mentioned originally relates to how you actually go about putting up exterior lighting. For years now there has been a line of accessories that let you install lights without the need for ladders. Just think of that! No Ladders! These accessories screw onto the end of a pole and let you lift light strings up to gutters, shingles, or even trees. Then you unscrew the pole and you’ve eliminated the safety hazard or trying to work up on a ladder, when cold weather or age might increase your risks.

Other installation notes:

  • I can’t repeat the first caution enough: pay attention to codes and other proper installation practices.
  • A GFI-controlled outlet is a must for any exterior lighting. This doesn’t necessarily mean that “every” outlet has to be a GFI outlet (check your local codes, though). As long as there is a GFI outlet or a GFI circuit breaker somewhere in each circuit, this should satisfy the codes.
  • If you are wiring a complex setup, remember that a duplex outlet can actually support two different circuits. They are manufactured with a jumper that connects each of the two outlets, but the jumper can be snapped off if you want separate circuits.
  • If you are wiring for special effects, remember to use separate wires for both the hot and cold sides of the circuit. Do “not” try and share the common or cold side; you could end up with a circuit that doesn’t work or one that could possibly damage your lighting control device.
  • The best choice for permanent outside wiring is some type of exterior rigid conduit with watertight fittings. Cast aluminum boxes with proper covers and gaskets should also be used. These can all be painted to match the exterior of the house.
  • If you are going for special effects, consider planning your wiring so that everything is terminated in your garage or someplace indoors. Some users have reported problems with these inexpensive devices if the temperature gets too low. Also, since they come with stakes to hold them in place (one model does have keyhole slots for wall mounting), they could easily be covered with snow.

    10 Tips to Keep Your Notebook Safe When Traveling

    These days, we geeks don’t travel anywhere without our laptops. It’s a given that we need to have them on us! How would we survive?! Thankfully, Seth sent in the following tips to help us keep them safe while we are on the road.

      • Pad The Laptop: Make sure the laptop bag or carrying case you transport your laptop in provides adequate padding. As you move about the airport or shove the laptop under the seat in front of you or into the overhead storage compartment, the laptop can be jarred and jostled quite a bit.
      • Keep It On You: It is not uncommon for someone to set their luggage down while standing in line for a muffin, or to sit down while waiting for a flight. With all luggage, it is important to keep an eye on it and ensure nobody tampers with it or steals it. Because of their size and value though, laptops make prime targets and a thief can snatch the laptop bag and keep walking while you are unaware with your back turned. You should keep the laptop bag on your shoulder or keep it in sight at all times.
      • Back Up Data: Perform a backup of all critical or sensitive data before departing. Just in case your laptop does become damaged or lost, you don’t want to also lose your important files and information. You can buy a new laptop, but it is much harder to replace lost data.
      • Encrypt Your Data: Just in case your laptop should fall into unauthorized hands, you should make sure your hard drive is encrypted. Laptops with Windows Vista Enterprise or Ultimate come equipped with BitLocker drive encryption. If you aren’t using one of these versions of Windows Vista, and your company has not implemented any other sort of enterprise-wide encryption solution, you can use an open source solution such as TrueCrypt to protect your data.
      • Document Identifying Information: In case your laptop does end up lost or stolen, you should be able to provide detailed information about the make, model, serial number and any other identifying information. You may need the information to file a claim with the airline or your insurance company, or to provide law enforcement.

    Use Strong Passwords: Follow the advice in Passwords and How to Make Them to make sure that your passwords can not be easily guessed or cracked if your laptop falls into the wrong hands. An excellent program for helping to secure and manage your passwords is Password Vault, which works for both Windows and Mac OS X.

    • Use a BIOS Password: Protecting your laptop with an operating system login and password is a good idea, but there are ways to circumvent that protection and gain access to the data still. For better protection, you should enable password protection at the BIOS level so that the laptop can not even be turned on without the correct password.
    • Implement Remote Data Protection: Another step you can take to make sure your data does not fall into the wrong hands is to look into products that will allow you to remotely destroy or erase the data on your laptop if it is lost or stolen. These products generally require that the unauthorized user connect to the Internet first in order for them to do their work though, so they are not a guarantee.
    • Use Portable Storage: To make sure you have the business critical PowerPoint presentation or Excel spreadsheet that you need to show your business partners in order to seal the multi-million dollar deal (or whatever other important files and documents might be on your laptp) you should carry a copy on a USB thumb drive or some other type of portable storage that you can carry separate from the laptop in case it becomes lost or stolen.
    • Just Leave The Laptop At Home: When it comes to all of the hassles and all of the issues that can arise from traveling with your laptop, you should also consider whether you really need to take it. You can carry your data or files on portable storage such as a CD, DVD or USB drive, or you can just email or FTP the data ahead of you. Then, you can borrow a desktop or laptop system once you are safely on the ground and at the office site you are visiting.

     

    Password Help

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    In this day and age, you can’t be too careful online. You have to keep your information safe, by choosing unique, impossible-to-guess passwords. Here are some tips sent in by Daniel to help you stay secure.

    • Don’t use familar names or dates as passwords. Take the time to create a password that is totally unique and yet is still rememberable for you, and only you.
    • Use all parts of the keyboard. For example, instead of using a word, use a series of characters on the keyboard such as two lower case, two upper case, two numbers, and two special characters like ! and @. Also, try to use the entire keyboard, not just one small area. This may help prevent a hacker from lucking into your password.
    • Don’t write down your password! The execption to this is in the event of emergencies. Create a list of passwords for use only in an emergency, such as the bank or possibly important websites that can help authorities find you in the case of and emergency ie: myspace or twitter. Do this with the greatest caution. Seal the list in a security envelope, and sign the seal. Place that into another larger envelope, and seal and sign. Only give this list to someone who you really trust like a spouse or parent.
    • Change your password often. I change my passwords every six months or sooner. The longer you stick with the same passwords the more vunerable they become. Also periodically delete your cookies on your computer. This will prevent someone accessing your info because the computer remembers your password. Never use the auto fill features of the internet browser. This is just plain unsafe and leaves you open for identiy theft.
    • Finally, don’t use the same password for everything. If a hacker figures out that password, he will gain access to all your password protected areas. Have a plethera of passwords to choose from that are not simualr to each other. Also be careful when using a password generator. Never give out personal info to generator sites, and make sure the generated password meets or exceeds all the other criteria.

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    Safety First

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    The other night when Ponzi’s plane came in extremely late, we were driving home and noticed a couple of cars. One was pulled over to the side of the road, and the other was upside-down. We were about the second car on the scene. Ponzi immediately grabbed her phone and dialed 911. Ponzi then got out of the car and walked up to the vehicle. By then, another vehicle had pulled over, as well. It was worrisome, because we had no idea if the occupants of the car were injured. However, the driver of this second car was a paramedic. I rummaged in my trunk for road flares, since we were on an Interstate… only to find I didn’t have any.

    Within minutes, it was apparent that the driver of the car was completely intoxicated. It was also apparent that the car was totaled. The driver was lucky, and walked away without a scratch. This was a disconcerting experience. I’m glad the driver was physically unharmed. I felt completely unprepared for such an emergency, as this is the first time I’ve encountered something like this. You can bet that the following day, I bought road flares, and put together a small emergency kit. You just never know when disaster could strike.

    A community member sent me an email right around this same time, describing a recent situation of his own. He was driving home from work during a major snowstorm. His vehicle ended up trapped in a snowbank (he was unharmed), halfway between the two places. He wanted to send me his top five tips to deal with emergency situations to share with all of you. These have been put together out of his personal experience.

    • Don’t make things worse, such as gunning your engine. It’s very easy in a situation like this to panic and do something that could make your situation harder.
    • Don’t automatically expect help. If no one is aware of your timetable, they won’t come looking for you. Someone WILL come along eventually, so just stay put.
    • Only act when you are rational. It isn’t easy to remain calm and rational when you are trapped in an emergency. Try to stay as calm as you can.
    • Enumerate your options. “What can I do?” “What will give me the best chance of success?” For instance, in the case of an earthquake, ask yourself if you can get yourself quickly to a safe place. In most emergency situations, you’ll be able to assess your situation quickly. Sometimes, the best option is to stay put.
    • Be prepared. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s just better to be prepared for the unexpected, because life happens to everyone. Have an emergency kit on hand, and keep it with you when traveling.

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    Protect Yourself from Getting Hacked

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    Have you ever been hacked? Are you sure you haven’t been? I was once, through my own stupidity. It’s easy to have it happen to you. Fortunately, it’s honestly easy to keep from getting hacked, as well.

    • Do not give out your IP address. This is one of the most important things to remember if you don’t want to get hacked. If you give out your IP to someone you don’t know, they can see files on your computer that you might not want to be seen by other people. Also, they could crash your computer. Just remember: don’t give it out to ANYONE.
    • Don’t download any program if you don’t know what it is. If it says “free computer virus scan” and it looks fake… it probably is. The reason is that some people put key loggers in those programs so they can store everything you type. If you type in your email address and password, they can see that data and use it to get in to your email. Remember, if you don’t want to get hacked… don’t download anything that you don’t know what it is or what it does.
    • Secure your Wifi network if you have one. Today, most houses have Wifi, and probably about half of them are unsecured. I went driving around in my neighborhood and found 32 wifi networks. Only ten of them had a secure network. If you have an unsecured network, people who have access to your network can hack in to your computer. They could gain control over your computer if they know what they’re doing. Use a hard-to-guess password that contains a mixture of numbers and letters, and change it frequently.
    • Make sure you log off of any account you have on your computer before walking away. This applies to shared computers. If you have company over and you let them use your computer, they could gain access to your passwords or personal information if you don’t log out of them. Also, if you are on a shared computer, never take advantage of websites that offer “saved login information”.
    • Keep a secure password for everything you have. Make a password that is long and hard-to-guess. Even people you know could hack in to any account you have, such as your Paypal. If they have your Email and they know you real well they might have a chance on guessing your password.

    I also wanted to point you towards the blog post Kat wrote recently with her take on staying safe from Hackers.

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    How to Deal with Winter and your Car

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    Winter not only brings Christmas, it also brings bad weather for much of the United States. Snow, sleet and ice are prevalent, and can wreak havoc on your car. Here are some excellent tips to help you deal more effectively with your car in bad weather.

    • Store your car (if it’s possible) always in a garage or in a “closed type” parking. It is very important to keep your car from the snow because it will be always clean and you will not waste your time to clean the snow from it. It is best to you to keep car in a warm place to help the snow to thaw after driving.
    • Keep your gas tank as full as you can. The temperature difference between cold conditions outside and warm conditons inside the gas tank causes the process of water condesation which can cause an “ice fuse” in fuel hoses. You then suddenly may not be able to power on your car engine, because fuel is not able to reach the engine. But, if your tank is always filled with gas, it will supersede all water drops and they simply will be burned in the engine with the fuel.
    • After washing your car, “blow” all locks of your`s car doors with a hair drier. Remember how many times you tried to open a frozen door of your car after washing? So, after washing your car, park it in a warm place (in a garage), then take a simple hair drier and blow car locks with it.You must blow warm airflow directly inside the lock for a minute ot two to make it totally dry. Then, take a dry cloth and wipe out water from the lock mechanism on the side of the door.
    • Keep an eye on your “window washer” liquid level. It`s dirty outside, isn`t it? So, to drive safely, it’s very important to have clean front windows. Go to your closest store and buy a good washer liquid for your car. Do not buy cheap products, because they can contain chemicals, which can be dangerous for you life.
      Do not buy liquid which contains methanol (CH3OH), because when in the air, it transforms into deadly Carbon Dioxide which can be very dangerous if inhaled
    • How to drive your car safely during winter? There is an ice on the road! So increase speed slowly! I said slowly!!! Give some time to your car`s wheels to hook on the ice. Remember, that the “stopping-distance” of your car varies from the weather conditions. In winter, it becomes much bigger than in summer because of the ice. So, brake in advance, to prevent collison!!! A good braking technique in winter is a “repeatedly braking technique”. Try to push on a brake pedal repeatedly, so your “brake lips” can clean the brake disk from dirt and snow and effectively stop your car.

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    Christmas Safety

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    I love this time of year: the music, the weather, the sights, sounds, and good shopping deals! I also find people tend to be in better moods, as well. However, there are extra hazards during the holiday season that you need to watch out for.

    No matter what holiday you may or may not celebrate, all of us here at live.pirillo.com certainly hope you have a safe and happy one. Over 60% of house fires during the winter are caused by decorations and/or Christmas trees. That is a scary statistic. Here are some tips to help keep you safe, sent in by cb14 from our chat room.

    • Unplug the lights and decorations when you are not home, or they are otherwise not in use. Heat + a pine tree = house fire. The trees are highly flammable. Also, be sure to check all cords and plugs prior to using them for the year, for wear and tear. Throw out and replace any that look as though they are starting to fray or show bare wires. The smallest spark can possibly result in a very large disaster.
    • Make sure all external electrical decorations are well protected. Keep them away from moisture, and especially keep them away from moisture and salt. Salt and water together can also cause a fire very quickly when they come in contact with something electrical. Again, turn them off when not in use. They look great at night, but turning them off at bedtime will keep you safer… and keep your electricity bill down.
    • If you don’t have any rock salt handy, you can use table salt to keep your walkway and driveway ice free. This can help keep a lawsuit from landing in your lap, due to someone falling and becoming hurt on the ice. Try it yourself: place an ice cube in a container, and cover it with table salt. It works wonders!
    • Santa comes down the chimney, not through the door or windows. Keep those locked, and your blinds drawn when you aren’t home or are sleeping/otherwise occupied. Most home burglaries happen this time of year, and it would be awful to have the presents stolen, along with your other treasured possessions.
    • Go ahead and indulge in EggNog, but stay away from fruitcake. Fruitcake is an evil that should be avoided at all costs.

    Have a wonderful holiday season, wherever you are.

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