Monday, December 28, 2015


Everyone seems to want your location on the Internet. When you log into Facebook, open up Google, or join a new site and a prompt asks if you want to allow the site to use your location, what do you click?

Click no. Hell no.

Geotags are the geographical metadata attached to your device, that are telegraphed when you post from that device onto the Internet.

There may be times when using your location is unavoidable, such as if you want to use a weather app on your phone. It kind of needs to know what city you want the information for. That said, you still don't need to give the app your specific location, so disabling geotagging is not going to affect it.

If you open up Google maps on your mobile device, see where the arrow leads to before you open up the search bar. It leads right to the shingles on the roof of your house.

Check your settings right now on your phone or tablet. Make sure your exact geographical location is an empty box.

Here's why. When you take a photo of your kids in the back yard with your device, the geotag will publish your location right down to the shingles on your house. You might not think much about it, but what if you posted that picture on Twitter or Facebook? Then somewhere along the way, you mention a big trip you're going on. Vacation week in Hawaii. Thanks to your photos, now people know exactly what color your shingles are and that your house is going to be empty for a week.

Maybe people know you're single and live alone with a cat. That's all a sex offender needs to know after the geotags on your photographs can lead them straight to your house.

Perhaps I'm overreaching. The odds may be very slim, but why give crime a chance? Turn off your geotags. Strangers on the Internet do not need to know which house you live in. Heck, they don't even have to know the city, unless you post it.


Saturday, December 19, 2015


This is the online version of a female walking down the street past any group of men who hoot and holler, who decide to follow you, who try to pressure you to respond to their catcalls and then get mad when you don't. This online version is called catfishing. They tend to start like this:

Although to this one's credit, there is more wording than you would normally see. Usually it's just "hi" and they keep sending the same message, then they get mad when you don't respond. I usually delete or block them.

But textbook definition of catfishing online is someone hiding behind a false identity who tries to lure you into a relationship. We've seen numerous versions of the offline version of this: on Investigative Reports, Dateline, and 20/20. It never ends well. It doesn't always end in murder, but it likely always ends with a parting of the funds.

Dr. Phil has listed a few things to look out for when you decide to entertain the thought of online dating.

  • Fake photos.
  • Above average poor spelling and grammar.
  • They're ready to jump into marriage before you say hello.
  • They ask for money.
  • Too many questions.

If it seems creepy, it usually is a creep. Forget politeness. When you get continuous Google chat popups like the one above, or Facebook direct messages, just block and delete. No explanation or response is necessary.

Women ain't got time for catfish.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Hacking Is Life

It's happened to everyone at some point on the web. Even to those seasoned and technically-savvy veterans of the Internet.

It is guaranteed to happen to those who surf the Net without a parachute and in complete and total ignorance.

You've been hacked.

It's a good chance everyone who has ever owned a Twitter or Facebook account has been hacked at some point. How? When you don't pay attention to what you are clicking. Some of those too-good-to-be-true or sexy salacious stories come with a hacksaw. You usually know when one of your buddies tells you they've just received some weird message from your account.

How do you get out of a social hack? Change your password. Log out. Log back in with the new password. Use a complicated password, like: iReallywantTogoto1henew5tarwarsMovi7 or something half that long.

You really do need a unique password for every account. Don't use the same one across the board or something simple, like benandsandy if those are your kids' names.

Even if your computer is Fort Knoxed, you can still get hacked. Your information is as secure as the IT from the companies you deal with. If Amazon decides to save money on IT and put it into a new launch instead, unless they have a blackhacker on staff, all their information is put at risk if their IT is not as tip top as they can pay for.

Need an example, besides Sony (which isn't just about movies but also your Playstation)? Here are some biggies:

Go Daddy, Dropbox, Nissan, Mastercard, Visa, Reuters... in 2012
Facebook, Microsoft, NBC, Twitter... in 2013
Target, Michaels, AT&T, US and Canadian governments, Home Depot, Apple iCloud... in 2014
Anthem, IRS, JP Morgan Chase, British Airways... most recent

There is no getting around it. The Dark Web, where all of this information gets sold as hackers make money on your behalf, is bigger than the Internet you are currently using.

You can't hide. Even if you decide to put a moratorium on Internet travel, you can't control what other companies do when you shop in person, or how secure your cable company's records are. You can only use best practices and be diligent: strong and unique passwords (so what if you have to write them down in a book), don't do banking from a public wifi (coffee shops, airports), make sure your computer is fully upgraded and not too old for upgrades (I don't use my Windows XP laptop online anymore), have a really good and fully updated antivirus program.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Captivity Survival Techniques Can Improve Your Life


Loss of freedom can mean many things.

It can mean being held against your will by another person, domestic violence, and a whole assortment of criminal behaviors that are meant to dominate another person into submission.

Sometimes we hold ourselves hostage. If we are unhappy and frustrated with our circumstances and can't see a way out, we can easily fall into captive behavior.

The Hostage Survival Skills for CF (Canadian Forces) Personnel written by Major P J Murphy and Captain K M J Farley describes a form of captivity as being emotionally distraught from a personal crisis or domestic dispute. In other words, a life crisis or environment imprisons us mentally.

It can happen when someone close to us dies, like a parent losing a child, or when we are the target of a cyberbully. Poverty can make people grind through life. We might let the circumstance consume us and keep us from moving forward or seeing the light, so we let our dreams, our goals, die where we left them.

It doesn't have to be that way.

After watching the first interview with journalist Peter Greste on Al Jazeera English after he was freed from an Egyptian prison, he mentioned there were three keys to his survival after being locked up for over 400 days. Keeping fit physically, mentally, and spiritually. He also saw his experience as an awakening. It brought people together in ways he could never have fathomed, but it was also like a rebirth. He missed the little moments more than the big issues: seeing a sunset, the stars, feeling the sand on his feet.

Here are some tips on how to survive in captivity that can translate into helping you survive online and everyday life.