Thursday, December 11, 2008

Click your way to destruction

I have written before and warned my customers as well as friends to be careful where you click.  I would like to believe I've been pretty helpful but I also feel I should  let everyone know about more.

Many of us are getting on social networks, a big one that many of my friends are on is facebook (one friend of mine joked that he was trying to find everyone on assbook before he realized where we were, we looked it up and it's a real site).  Facebook (FB) is a great place to connect with friends.  It is a safe contained environment in which you interact primarily with friends you have in the real world, maybe a few extras.  So your friends wouldn't do anything to harm you  would they?

Well back in the days of cool viruses such as *Melissa* and *I Love You* your friends would send you an email with the virus attached.  They didn't mean to but that's how viruses are.  Now we have junk folders and Microsoft is basically blocking all attachments by default.  If you get in and make the changes to allow attachments then the message is clear, "it's your fault if you get hosed". 

Well, a few days ago I had my facebook page open and  it has this cool Chat feature.  One of my friends sent me a chat, curiously as soon as she did the little circle by her name was red indicating she was offline.  The chat claimed she had gone to a website, filled out info and received a free iPhone--- I could also the link was right there.  I didn't click because I'm always suspicious, I also wasn't curious to find out what it was.  A few months back another friend was posting things on people's wall saying something about somebody having a crush on them, I think it was that it's been a while.

The point here is that people have figured out a way to use your facebook account to do things as you.  According to what I read on the facebook security page it appears this most likely happens as a result of phishing.  Phishing is a method of tricking you into giving up information about yourself such as your account name and password.  They do this to get into your bank account but also to do damage to your computer.  To become a victim of phishing you probably have to also click on something so always, always... ALWAYS be careful where you click.  Be careful of opening email attachments, and be careful of hyperlinks.  Make sure they go where they say they go (you can usually rest the mouse on the link and the real link will display).  Sometimes I don't even believe that so I have to check a lot of things first.  Often I still won't click on the link, there are a lot of things that aren't critical and those I just ignore.  If I think it is something I may need to see I may go to the site on my own not by clicking on the link.

So it's bad when you can't even trust your FB friends, but that's all part of being safe.  I have provided a link to some info about facebook security items and information.  Click it if you dare!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Great Depression is Depressing

Just been reading a book called "The Great Depression: Opposing Viewpoints".  I started reading it because of the problems our economy is in and talk has sometimes come around to the Depression.  Joe Bidden mentioned the Stock Market crash of 1929 during the Presidential election.  He made some errors about the facts but the issue is on some minds.  I wanted to see if there were similarities between then and now.  I have often heard that we learned a lot from those times and we now have safeguards in place so we keep it from happening again.

My reason for reading the book was to see if I could determine what people did who avoided much of the problems of the Depression, after all not everybody was hungry and destitute.  The best answer I can come up with is that it is better to be the person who has money and is lending it out rather than the person who is borrowing money.  I believe you are probably better off to have a few thousand dollars but don't owe anything on your car or house than to be a person with millions in debt flying around in a leased Jet.  Many of us would rather be the second guy but that may change.

So now I finished the book and I'm worried.  The book makes use of speeches and newspaper articles, etc written at the time of the Depression and written on both sides of a topic.  Both sides sometimes did not mean Liberal or Conservative but sometimes meant Liberal and Radically Liberal.  As I read these viewpoints I hear a lot of familiar statements.  In many ways it sounds much like today's news. 

There are two really big questions I still have about the Great Depression, Why did it start? What happened to bring it to an end?

I don't believe anybody has the "real" answer to those two questions.  There are many theories and most of those come from whether you believe Government should regulate businesses as well as the people or not.  Both sides made really good points.  I personally tend to think that the Government should stay out of our business for the most part and that if it did problems would correct themselves.  Of course I have no way of knowing if that would really work because it's not been tried under pressure.  On the other hand a person who believes in Government regulations may also say their methods haven't been tried either as many believed FDR did not go far enough with his resolutions and that is why it took about 10 years to come out of the problems. 

Maybe the answer as in much of life is *balance*.  Most of the time the Government should stay out of the way but in times of crisis the Governments (Federal, State, Local) are in unique positions to  devote money and resources to correct.  As with the Depression many programs were begun but are no longer with us.  Only a few survived once the economy recovered. 

Any way causes or solutions I don't have an answer-- but unfortunately I am of the belief that we have not yet learned enough to avoid the problem again.  I hope I'm wrong.  We have difficult financial times which much of the current news blames on lack of management by the outgoing Republican Administration.  We now have an incoming Democrat Administration determined to "fix" the problems by Government regulation. Maybe they can fix the problem in 10 years or maybe their regulation will drag us through difficulty for 10 years.  I personally hope neither is true, mainly because I don't want to go through 10 years of difficulty no matter what the reason.  But I do think it's beginning to sound a lot like 1932.