Are You Safe From Cyber Crime?  0

hacking deadlock

At Watches Super Store we watch for what’s trending. Unfortunately, cyber crime on every scale is trending. From the old lady shopping for a fresh melon at the grocery store to the mega executive trading on the NYSE. Everyone is considered a target. There is no discrimination. Identity thieves do not necessarily care who they steal from.

Faceless, identity thieves are lurking in familiar corners of our everyday lives and we won’t know it until it’s too late. Everyday, a story pops up about a place we all frequent or at least know, that has been hacked. Yesterday the Safeway stores around the Denver area discovered that their credit card processing machines – the ones we all use to check out were being skimmed. What do I mean by skimmed?

Crooks profit from being clever.
For those of you who don’t know skimming has been done for the past several years at the gas pumps, retail stores and restaurants. When an identity crook wants to capture a credit or debit card number they place a small electronic device in the credit card processing machine. The device reads the card number from the magnetic strip when a patron swipes his card. Thieves don’t always want just to steal your money, they also get a good price for personal identity information on the black market. They can sell information to a foreign entity who lies in wait until it profits them to use it.

It’s a crazy reality. Most folks feel more comfortable shopping at the local brick and motor merchant and avoid on-line purchasing. However studies show that on-line is safer than the local tavern, grocery mart or shoe store. Electronics and technology have been a God sent, but in the hands of the wrong people – and the world is filled with “wrong” people they are only used for personal gain.

How to avoid being skimmed
It seems that skimmers are not going to go away, so the general public has to be made more aware of how to avoid falling into their snare. The device itself sometimes is more obvious than we would guess. It can be about the size of a deck of cards and fit right over the existing card reader. So look. If the card reader looks different – pass and go to another processor. Report your findings to the proprietor and get him to call the police to come have a look. If the processor looks tampered with in any way – scratches, or arrows not lined up, or you notice different materials are used from structure of the original machine, then walk away.

If using an ATM machine, cover the information you are in putting since often a camera – that may look very official belongs to an attacker. If they are sneakier, they’ll place a hidden camera somewhere within view of the key pad and easily pick up information that way. Another approach the crooks take is placing another keypad over the actual keypad and capturing information directly. Look for any and all things suspicious. If you think that your neighborhood wouldn’t be targeted, think again.
Another safety measure is to note if there are any shaky or wiggly parts on the card processor. ATM machines and card processors are sturdily built. If they have been tampered with it’s usually in a hurry and often a sloppy job gives the scam up. Tug at things, push and pull at parts, and don’t hesitate to be sure the keyboard is original.

Wiggle your card slightly as you swipe it. Since the skimmers are designed to read the magnetic strip, a slight jiggle can disrupt their capture.

Follow these tips and use common sense. Look for more tips in my upcoming articles. Staying ahead of cyber criminals and technology hijackers is part of modern day life. We don’t want to accept it, but we can’t afford to ignore it either.

Why Green Roofs?  0

I just read that France is requiring, by law, that any new commercial construction must incorporate into the building plans green roofs. This is radical. . . Well, maybe no so radical since Germany, Switzerland and Canada have been towing a similar policy for several years. Thinking on their feet if you ask this author. If a roof has a certain degree pitch then Frances’ new legislation requires partial coverage with green or solar panels. Either one or the other or a combination of both, but a law nonetheless building tops are going green.

 

rooftop-garden-soho-grand-hotel

With awareness of trends it’s hard to miss the fact that some of the latest and what might be considered innovative ideas have their roots in antiquity. This all may sound like a new concept emerging from the last decade or so, but rooftop greenery has been around since ancient Mesopotamia – 4th millennium BC, 600 BC.

There may be some obvious reasons to the layperson for this applaudable move by the French, and then there are others that don’t come to mind right away. The consequences to this kind of new architecture are wide ranging. They start with cleaner air quality and go from there.

Insulation

Roof top gardens insulate the building due to their thermal mass. This reduces the amount of energy needed to heat and cool the structure.

Water
Another advantage is how they retain water. Less run off and more natural rainwater recycling.

Head Island Effect
By having more green rooftops the rest of the city is kept cooler. Typically cities range a few degrees warmer than rural areas, this is known as“head island” effect.

There are some beautiful and innovative designs. One of the leading designers is California Academy of Science. Others are Guz Architects and KWK Promes Architects. They merge aesthetics and practicality that results in energy savings, and . . .well, simply a great way to live.

Some commercial buildings, like grocery stores are growing their own produce. Fresh herbs in the winter and summer vegetables 9 months of the year. Consumers are getting spoiled fast and this writer thinks that’s a good thing. Fresh food right from the garden without the shipping or off vine ripening process has brought the small corner market advantage to larger grocer chains. Many proprietors are choosing organic yields since the gardens are new and can be managed from the beginning to supply this fastest growing segment in consumer desires.

Local rooftop gardens also put an additional twist on a community lifestyle. Many programs are employing the homeless in exchange for food and other compensations. Working a few hours a week on the garden can reap it’s rewards for anyone who wants to exchange a little garden time for discounts on produce. It serves as a community project in many ways bringing people together in a very active venue. It’s not just an environmentally healthy prospect its also good for mental health. The gardens grow soul food.

Rooftop gardens are often hydroponic in nature expanding the usage of small spaces that are subject to more intense weather. Also container gardening is a practical approach to incorporate flexibility and sustainability.

This whole concept, old or new, makes this writer want to start from scratch with a home designed to hold a rooftop paradise. It is not only beautiful and practical it’s a place to chill and feel closer to nature that could be completely private or shared with the community. It gives a whole new meaning to knowing the lay of the land. It simply feels right!

So much to do and too little time. Leave a comment below and tell me what you think about green roofs. Would you have one, if you could?

Politics As Not So Usual  0

Politics

 

What’s going on with this crazy early US Presidential campaign? As an ordinary, but concerned citizen it feels like a surreal circus. I try not to get overly involved and I don’t bury my head in the sand either. I look for a balance, a happy medium until much closer to the actual election date. This run at the Presidency however, is more bizarre than I have witnessed . . . ever! With candidates entering from varied backgrounds and persuasions, the process is better than any reality show the networks could have dreamed up.

 

The American people are aware that they have been rooked, screwed then told they are stupid for thinking such things. (in so many words) It’s OK for some to just let the debris fall where it may, but for the majority we are fed up with it all. We protest in person and through social media and we make valid cases, but essentially we have been ignored. Nothing seems to change unless it’s promoted by the lobbyist and lines the pockets of special interest groups. Our representatives are only looking to get re-elected more for the status and profitable retirement. Book and speaking deals are included in the benefits if they are strategic in their personal planning.

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Effective Micro-Organism Farming  0

What is EM Farming? I was reading an article on organic sustainable farming and came across the term EM farming, yet I had never heard of this technology before. EM stands for Effective Micro-Organisms and when used in farming this technique can bring harvest to a new level.

EM farming has been used in countries that don’t have access to fertilizers and pesticides to aid in crop production. And while it’s been in practice for a number of years it was mostly used in developing countries.

So what is it exactly and how is it of beneficial use? You won’t find a comprehensive definition on Wikipedia – which was a bit disappointing, but there is a plethora of other sites that have taken up the slack.

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Would You Become an Ex-Pat?  0

Would You Become an Ex-Pat?

 

What’s going on? With the world always fast tracking anything new and interesting, what should we be on the look-out for?

 

A surprising report came across my desk that indicated that more and more North Americans are leaving their home country.  Here in the US more than ever are giving up their citizenship.  To those of you who are reading this some might be thinking then let them go . . . we are better off without them.  In fact, tow them out of here! That may be true and one way to think about those who want to leave, but why are so many leaving this so called land of opportunity to have a life somewhere else?

 

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Cool and Quirky Inventions  0


Cool and Quirky Inventions

 

One of my favorite shows is on Saturday morning called The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation with – The Mo You Know, Mo Rocca. He talks about the great inventions of the past and how they have made our society what it is today. He also introduces new inventions that are springing up daily and promise to shape the future.  There are so many cool things happening right now, and it promises to make for a very interesting world.  New minds are creating and developing ideas that solve problems and add enjoyment to our lives everyday.

 

Here are a few of the fun, quirky inventions that I found surfing the web:

 

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Be On the Watch for These Trends  0

Be On the Watch for These Trends

Watching trends appear and disappear has been a sport for centuries.  They can come and go like ice cream on a hot summer day.  Does anyone remember the pet rock mania from several from years ago?  It was a quick in and out brought on by a bit of clever advertising.  That trend though short lived probably made the entrepreneur behind the stunt a lot of quick – one-time money.

 

Then on the other end of the scale some trends become part of our culture. They evolve from quirk to how did we live without, in a blink of an evolutionary eye.  Some trends have a tendency to recycle.  An example of this would be the photo booth. All the rage before the digital age, photo booths fell out of fashion for awhile.  Those usually found tucked in the corner of the State Fair grounds, or of the carnival passing through town are making a comeback. They are a perfect example of being people pleasers, and most always fun things find a way to reinvent themselves. They tend to trend more than once. They may come back as a shadow of their former selves but, better, brighter and more user friendly to the times.

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Watch Out Monsanto Here Comes Hemp  0

The house was in need of a new roof and I wasn’t interested in spending a lot of time or money on this must-do project. I had too many things going on so I Googled roofers in my area. It wasn’t as big of a hassle as I thought it would be and I was happy with the company I chose. In fact I never gave it another thought until one morning I heard footsteps on the roof and by afternoon the nail guns started popping. The noise convinced me to go to the local coffee shop and write the following article on a subject that I think is very important.

Hemp vs Monsanto

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Do You Watch What’s Going on With Crop Circles?  0

This may sound like an airy fairy topic. According to Wikipedia, “The scientific consensus is that most or all crop circles are man-made, with a few exceptions due to meteorological or other natural phenomena.” The use of the words ‘most or all’ leaves a lot of room for speculation. Even if they are man-made they are beautiful, mysterious and full of wonder. I have a good friend who is so enamored with these mysterious enigmas that he had his den walls painted to show some of the most beautiful renditions of circles all the way from England to Australia and many, many points in between. He is running out of wall space since new and even more intricate circles show up monthly and even weekly.

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What this Blog is About  0

This blog is dedicated to keeping a watch on pertinent health and wellness information that continually streams over the internet. It’s impossible to catch it all and this blog will help you watch for new revelations that may have gotten by you. Together, my wife and I watch for the gems that you might be hearing about for the first time or for that matter worth repeating. If we have found something to be of value, I’ll put up a watch – check-this-out blog It’s all about living better and perhaps even becoming more aware of life in general. The goal with imparting any information on this site is simply for readers to take what they can and use it towards thriving in our overly complex world.

 

Whether it’s a blog on nutrition, personal empowerment, safety of ourselves, family and companion animals, you’ll eventually find it here. The basis is relationships. Relationships with ourselves, our bodies, minds and spritula selves to the relationships we share with others and things.

 

The subjects might be off-the-wall on some days and tight and conservative at other times. Just know if you want to contact us leave a comment below an article or blog that you’ve read and let’s talk. We get my inspiration from inter-species relationship as well as outer-space relationships, so don’t let anything hold you back. If you would like to share an event that you’ve lived through, or are even just aware of, and you think it’s worth a re-write let us know. We’ll give you credit if you like or you can stay completely anonymous.

 

Whatever We post, please enjoy – Oh and if we get a “fact” wrong – which we never do intentionally – give us a head’s up. My wife and I are hardcore believers in keeping it real.