Monday, March 31

How To Keep Your Debit Card Safe

Normally I would not do this, just use an article in it’s entirety, but I found this so interesting and valuable that I had to. I’m one of those people who uses PIN numbers that a skilled hacker/cracker could get with a little time and patience, so I’m always very interested in learning ways to protect myself. See, because I’m so forgetful, it has to be something that I can remember very easily, and if I can remember it easily, someone skilled with ulterior motives can guess it almost as easily. All those mnemonic devices don’t work for me for some reason; I forget the device just as quickly as I forget the PIN!

Anyway, here’s the article, hope someone finds it useful:


How to Keep Your Debit Card Number (PIN) Safe

The bank tells you to be careful about tearing up the PIN that they send you with a new card. But did you know that there are more things that you can do to protect your number and that you should be doing these things to ensure that nobody tries to use your account? Debit cards are very attractive to would-be thieves because immediate cash is always more desirable than goods on a credit card. Here are some additional, simple steps for you to take to protect your PIN (personal identification number).

Steps

  1. Never share the PIN with anyone. It might be tempting to trust a friend or a family member with your PIN but it is not a good idea. Circumstances can change and sometimes, people perceive a need more greatly than maintaining your trust or worst still, a person you do trust might be placed in a compromising position with a third party and be obliged to reveal your PIN under harassment or threat. It is better not to put this to the test, ever.
  2. Never give out your PIN in response to e-mail or telephone requests. Phishing scams are unsolicited e-mails asking for bank account details, passwords and PINs. Delete them without a second thought and never respond to them.[1] Also, never provide your PIN over the telephone; there is never a need to do this and it will always be a fraudulent request. [2]
  3. Shield your PIN when using it. Use your hand, a checkbook, a piece of paper etc. to shield the PIN as you enter it into a bank machine or a store machine. Be especially vigilant in store queues, where somebody may be paying more attention than you. Also, be wary of "card skimmers" at ATMs; they use scanners run over the card slot to lift debit card details and they find your PIN details via camera or looking. If you shield your PIN input well, they are hampered in their attempt.[3]
  4. Choose a PIN password that is not obvious. Your birth date, wedding anniversary, phone number and home address are obvious picks, so just do not use them. Instead, think of numbers unrelated to major events and addresses in your life to create your PIN.[4]
  5. Do not write your PIN down on the card, ever. Do not even write it in a diary. If you must write it down, disguise it in some way or put it somewhere totally unrelated to the card, such as in the middle of Shakespeare’s Complete Works.
  6. Vary your PIN on different cards. Don’t keep the same PIN for all your cards. Have a different PIN for each one, so that if you do happen to lose your wallet, it will be much harder for the PINs to be cracked.
  7. Contact your bank immediately if your card is stolen or lost. Tell them immediately if you think that there is anything that may compromise your PIN, such as an easy PIN, other ID in your wallet making it easy to work out or, horror of all horrors, the PIN being written down somewhere in the wallet or on the card. Get the bank to cancel the card immediately.
  8. Be proactive. If you suspect any fraudulent activity using a card still in your possession, apart from notifying the bank and the police, have your PIN changed immediately.
Tips

  • If you are a very forgetful person, try to memorize the PIN using memory techniques.
  • One technique that works for PINs is to divide them into two groups of two digits and treat each as a year - so that, say, 8367 becomes 1983 and 1967 - and then find some event that corresponds to each year. Each event should be something personal, known only to you, or something historical but relatively obscure. From these, divise an amusing and odd phrase linking the two events, from which the events themselves, and thus the dates, cannot be easily deduced. Note this phrase down rather than the PIN itself.
  • Respect the privacy of others using ATMs and card swipe machines; give them space and don’t stare at the keypad.
  • Be diligent about regularly checking your bank statements to make sure no unauthorised transactions have been made using your card.
  • Another way to disguise your PIN if you have to write it down is to write it as a telephone number with a fake name in your address book.
Warnings

  • Contact your bank immediately if an ATM eats your card. It might be used in skimming fraud.
  • Do not worry about keeping your debit or credit cards near magnets; the pull of the magnet will not demagnetize the cards or wipe any information from them.[5]
However, directly wiping them with a very strong magnet along the magnetic stripe will erase them or damage the data.
  • Never write your PIN on a postcard or outside of an envelope.[6]
Things You’ll Need

  • Debit card
Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

  1. USA Today, Thieves Love Debit Cards, So Keep Them Safe - Here’s How
  2. Devon & Cornwall Constabulary, Keep Your PIN Numbers Safe
  3. USA Today, Thieves Love Debit Cards, So Keep Them Safe - Here’s How
  4. Scotiabank, Protect Your PIN
  5. Mythbusters Discussion Forum
  6. Citi, Keep Your Credit Safe

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Keep Your Debit Card Number (PIN) Safe. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Sunday, March 30

On the subject of Education…


I had a conversation with my daughter yesterday that’s really got my head spinning. We were discussing my grandson’s book report. He came to spend the weekend with me; he’s on "spring break" and it was his 7th birthday on Friday, so of course Grandma had to get him for a few days.

When I picked him up on Friday, my daughter gave me his school bookbag, with instructions that he has a book report due on Tuesday, on Healthy Eating. (Why do they give something like that to a 7 yr old?) My grandson and I went out on Saturday to do some errands, and to go get a birthday present for him, and while we were out, I looked for a suitable book for him to do his report on. It was so strange, I couldn’t find any book in the children’s section that had food as a subject, (except Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham!) let alone one on Healthy Eating. I finally decided that we were going to do one on Dr. Suess; not on food itself, but on the moral of the story, which is you should always try new foods before you refuse to eat them. (I thought it was a good idea.)

We went home to get started on the book report. The first thing I did, (which I admit I should have done before we ever went to the store) was read the instructions the teacher had sent home with them. On the paper it says for them to read 3 books on Healthy Eating, and write the title and author of the books on the sheet provided. Then on the back, it says to draw a picture of their favorite food, and write a sentence describing what it looks like. Then they’re to write a sentence telling what it tastes like, and when they eat it and who makes it for them. That’s their book report.

Now, I can see the "read 3 books and write their names" part. The part that didn’t make sense is, describing your favorite food is not a ‘book report’, not the way I was taught to write them!

Well, I called my daughter to ask her about it, and we started talking about how his book report instructions are usually phrased, and what he usually does to complete them. Suddenly she says, "The part where it says for him to read 3 books? We usually cheat on that part; we just find 3 books and write the name of it and the author." Huh? You CHEAT on it? What kind of lesson does that give a 7 year old, to your SON? Now normally I let things go with my daughter; if I disagree with something she says about raising my grandson, I let it go because he’s her son, not mine, and she is entitled to raise him the way she thinks is right. This one I couldn’t let go though, because it’s definitely going to hurt him in the long run. First of all, he’s already having problems with reading in school, and my daughter has told me more than once that I need to have him spend time reading when he’s here. Second, teaching him to do just enough work to get by just isn’t right. When I said something to her about it, she suddenly backtracked and said "It’s not cheating, I’m teaching him that there are other, easier ways of doing things." Okay, showing him other methods is fine, but in this case, IMO, he should be doing what the teacher says to do, PERIOD. My daughter said "Well, they never ask them about the books they read, so why should he spend time reading books for nothing?" I couldn’t say a word. How do I get her to understand why she should teach him to follow instructions, and have him read the books he’s told to read, if she doesn’t see the value of reading herself?

I know my daughter enjoys reading, I’ve seen her buy books, and she’s recommended books to me that she really liked. (Unfortunately, our taste in books is not the same, she likes those African-American modern authors like Terry McMillan, and who’s the one who writes the almost-porn books? I like some African-American authors, like Walter Mosely, Eric Jerome Dickey, and James Baldwin, but I also like more mainstream authors like Stephen King, and Tim LaHaye and Frank Peretti.) Since she likes reading though, why would she not want to encourage her son to read? We had a conversation not long ago about the fact that he watches too much television, (and he does, WAAAAY too much!) and that he needed to be limited in how much he’s allowed to watch. It’s my opinion that he needs to spend at least some of that time reading, even though he looks like I killed his dog when I tell him no TV, no DVD, no video games, it’s time to pick up a book.

It just totally amazed me to hear my daughter say "We cheat a little bit"; I had never imagined that when it came to him, she would do something like that. I guess it gives me a clearer picture of why kids in elementary school are the way they are though, especially (and I’m not being racist here, it’s just a fact) black children. Kids from other cultures, like Indian and Asian kids, are usually pushed more when it comes to academia; in some cases they’re pushed too hard, but the importance of an education is constantly being impressed upon them. Unfortunately, the average American child is not brought up that way; to them, education is just something to be suffered through until they can officially quit, and it’s something to put on the resume when they’re job-hunting. They don’t understand the value of an education, that it’s something to be eagerly sought after, handled with care while you’re getting it, and treasured once you have it. It’s something that you can’t just get, and then forget about; you have to continually polish it to keep it sharp, and add to it so that it never becomes outdated or obsolete. The kids are never going to understand that though if the parents don’t teach it to them.

As for my grandson’s book report, well, we’re going to the library today, and we’re going to pick up a couple of books on Healthy Eating. Since I have to take him back to day, there isn’t time for him to read all of them completely, but he IS going to at least read a chapter in each one. If I thought my daughter would do it, I’d check the books out and send them home with him, because he still has the rest of today and all day tomorrow to read them, but I don’t think she’ll make him do it. I’m going to do what I can though to at least make sure that he knows what the books are about, instead of just knowing the title and author; he’s not going to do just enough to get by.

And that’s Live From Bikini Bottom…..

Friday, March 28

Get paid for reading emails-is it possible?

A few years ago, I never would have thought it, but the answer is yes! It is actually possible to make money reading emails! Of course, you won’t get rich and retire from your day-job, like all the ads promise, but if you have the time, energy, and patience to put into it, you can make a bit of spare change at it. Between reading emails and doing surveys, I’ve been making a bit here and there for the last 4 or 5 years.

At first it was just with one survey company; (and I get points for referring people,and points=money, so if you want an invite, send me your email address) everytime I do a survey, I get points, and the points can be traded for cash and merchandise. (You can donate them to different charities too, but who ever does that?) It’s slow going; they send you the surveys, it’s not like you have a list that you go down, choosing the surveys yourself. Eventually, if you stick with it, they’ll start sending longer and more intense surveys, which of course equal more points, and they’ll also have you doing product testing. For the product testing, you’ll either get a small check in the mail or points, and you of course get to keep the product. (I’ve done coffee, toothpaste, body wash, laundry detergent, and deoderant)

About a year ago I started branching out into the "get paid to read emails" sites; these I just knew were scams, I figured there had to be a catch. Well, there is and there isn’t: you’re not going to get rich, they’re going to push you to buy things because that’s how they get paid, and you have to remain an active participant to get your money. (You can’t just earn the money, request payment, and then sit back and relax, because they won’t pay you) You can make money though, surprisingly enough; they will actually pay you to click on a link in the emails they send, and then read whatever page opens up. When I first saw how much you get paid I almost quit; it’s a fraction of a cent per email. I think it’s like 4 or 5 emails will get you a penny! Most of them give you a $5.00 sign-up bonus, so it looks like you have something in your account, but those pennies for emails can be very discouraging. I thought at first that was all I was going to do was click on the links, but considering the fact that you can’t cash out until you make $30.00, if all I did was read emails I’d grow old trying to get paid! So, I started looking carefully at the offers; $.50 to join a survey site, $.25 to fill out personal profiles, (so they know what kind of offers to send you) and the really good ones, like $5.00 to join that "Print your postage from your computer" thing, or $6.00 to join Bidz.com and make a successful bid. (I bought a watch for $6.00 plus S&H, and got my $6.00 back; not bad!) Then they’ve got the "Cash for Games"; but they don’t tell you that you have to spend money to play the games! I leave that one alone. Sometimes I do the "Cash for Shopping" though; they’ll give you back a percentage of what you spend (usually only 3% or 4%), just to go to the site through their link. I shop online a LOT, and it doesn’t hurt anything to go there first and see if where I want to shop is on their list; if it is, why not get a little extra back for clicking on the link?

I think if someone wasn’t working, and was to sit on the computer for 6 or 8 hours everyday filling out surveys and reading emails, they could probably keep themselves in cigarette and soda money, but I can’t see anyone ever getting rich at it. I have to admit, it is nice to get the little checks in the mail though, and the products to try, and there’s always the extras like free downloads and free magazine subscriptions for a year.

And that’s Live from Bikini Bottom…

Thursday, March 27

Happened to be reading the news...

And I came across this article:

http://gay_blog.blogspot.com/2008/03/family-research-council-calls-for.html#links

Unbelievable, but then isn’t most of the stuff concerning gays these days? I am so flabbergasted, I just can’t believe that people in this day and age actually believe such things!

Take a read, and let me know what you think….

Live from Bikini Bottom...(and wish it wasn't)

New Penalty Hearing: Is it the Death Sentence for Mumia?

http://www.comcast.net/news/articles/national/2008/03/27/Mumia.Abu.Jamal/

I’m so not sure how I feel about this; at one time they were arguing over whether he even did it, now it appears that they’ve agreed he did it, but the argument is over whether or not he should die for it.

As a firm non-believer in the death sentence, I agree that he should not get it, but my reasons definitely are not because of some supposed "flaw in the jury instructions". (Which IMO, is another way of saying "loophole".)

Former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal (why do they always call him that, like ‘Former Black Panther’ is part of his name? But that’s another story, for another day!) has been granted a new penalty hearing because a federal appeals court has said that he cannot be executed; their reason is that the instructions given the jury during the penalty phase of his trial were not clear. Okay, this man was sentenced to the death penalty 25 years ago; he has spent a quarter of a century of his life in prison, fighting the sentence. You mean to tell me it took all this time for someone to realize that? Did the jurors never tell anyone "Well, we were told that we had to unanimously agree on mitigating circumstances, and we couldn’t." Did no one ever ASK if they thought of mitigating circumstances? Come on people! As much as I am against the death penalty, I am also against people finding loopholes and attempting to use them in a last ditch effort to circumvent whatever decision has been made, or penalty they’ve been given. It’s become almost the norm for people appealing convictions and/or sentences to look for loopholes in the law, rather than look for new evidence, or look for something that was actually wrong with the trial, the way they were treated, SOMETHING. Going through a warrant and looking for a wrong date, or checking juror’s backgrounds to see if one of them ever said anything to anyone against the defendant, these are the kinds of things lawyers base their client’s appeals on, rather than looking for evidence that wasn’t brought out at trial, or NEW evidence, or finding out if any of the jurors or the judge had been bribed, or the judge didn’t allow something crucial to the defense that he had no legal right to bar. What’s happened to our justice system, when instead of seeking true justice you’re busy seeking a way around the system?

How do we teach our children to be upright and honest, and tell them that our justice system is so great and how well it works, when you have people like Michael Vicks shortening the time he serves by going into a drug rehabilitation program that he doesn’t need, and taking a slot that someone with a REAL drug problem and a family at home he needs to get back to could use? (http://hamptonroads.com/2008/01/michael-vick-serve-his-time-leavenworth,-kan.) Or when you have drunk drivers getting away with driving drunk and admitting that they were driving drunk, just because the police officer didn’t see them behind the wheel of the car? (http://www.newsherald.com/headlines/article.display.php?id=1014) How can you tell your children they shouldn’t use drugs, and marijuana is illegal, when you’ve got people lying and taking advantage of a law which is supposed to benefit legitimately ill people? (http://cannabisnews.com/news/22/thread22569.shtml)

I am not against Mumia getting a new penalty hearing; if there was something that should have been done (or not done) or heard (or not heard) at the first one, then fine, give him another one. But to go through all this again because you think maybe the jury didn’t understand, and now after all these years you can’t think of any other reason? I just can’t see it. I think we’ve invested enough time and money into this and other cases, and unless they’ve got something better, his sentence should stand.


And that’s Live From Bikini Bottom...

Wednesday, March 26

When Are We Going to Learn?

Gay Opinion Blog: Some are still accepted targets for derisive chants

When’s it going to end? When are people going to realize that we can’t change the world overnight, and enforcing our views on others merely gives them something else to beef about?

As a black, Christian, Rastafari, lesbian, I think I am on the forefront of the ‘political correctness’ minefield. People I work with are always trying to watch what they say because they don’t want to ‘offend’ me; I feel like I’m wearing a huge sign on my forehead: BLACK LESBIAN RASTA; WATCH WHAT YOU SAY TO ME!! Sure, I get offended by things like anyone else, but come on, if you can tell the joke about the farmer’s daughters around me even though I’m a Christian, why can’t you tell a joke about how Rastas are famous for smoking ganja so they can do the 5 jobs they have? I’m a Rastafarian true, but I’m a person who knows that people are people; political correctness can go too far. I can’t force anyone to accept homosexuality if they don’t want to, but I can make whatever open-mindedness they may have been gaining slam narrower than Hilary Clinton’s lips if I am always crying "Foul!" over what people say. People calling me a dyke doesn’t affect me; being told I can’t marry my partner does. Those are the kinds of issues we should be fighting over, not what some drunk lunkhead at a hockey game in Madison Square Garden shouts out. The rights we should be fighting for are civil rights, like the right to have medical insurance for the children in same-sex relationships; the right to visit our loved one in the hospital and/or make their decisions for them when they’re incapacitated; the right to walk down the aisle anywhere we like, and say "I do" to the person we love, without some nitwit saying we’re degrading the institution of marriage. These are the kinds of rights I’m interested in having; although I would love to go to a sporting event or a concert, or even a movie without hearing some jerk derisively calling someone a ‘faggot’ or a ‘dyke’, I’m not going to sweat it, because in the grand scheme of things, that person and their comments really don’t have anything to do with me and mine.

And that’s Live From Bikini Bottom…..