Should You Share Your Password With Your Partner?

Relationships are about trust and sharing: sharing your feelings, sharing your responsibilities, and sharing your love. Increasingly, it is also about sharing your passwords. These could be for e-mail, social media, banking, etc. Giving your loved one access to all aspects of your life seems like the ultimate gesture, but it is also one that can backfire badly and lead to terrible consequences.

Relationships usually seem rock solid at the outset; you can often imagine spending the rest of your life with this person. However, not all of them do last and some become quite acrimonious. At that point, all bets are off: lawyers are called in, reputations are questioned, and things become quite ugly.

The internet has added a whole new wrinkle to this issue. Those who have had longtime access to their partner’s online activities often run across things that sour the relationship. It could be the partner having regular contact with a former lover or using the internet to hook up with other people, sans permission. Misuse of money can be another issue that drives couples apart, particularly when one is putting finances towards something that both parties have not agreed upon.

It also never hurts to have a measure of privacy, even in relationships where trust seems absolute. Even those with very stable partnerships might make an offhand comment in an e-mail to someone else that their loved one was never meant to see. This can cause wounded feelings and, potentially, a domino effect of constant snooping and suspicion.

The ideal compromise would seem to be finding a proper middle ground. For example, sharing the banking password, but allowing each party to have sole access to their own social media and e-mail accounts. No relationship is perfect and the majority do not last forever. It’s important to keep both of those factors in mind.

What to Do When You Have Writer’s Block

Whether you write for a living or just as a hobby, you have probably dealt with the dreaded writer’s block at one time or another. It can be especially frustrating when the words don’t flow, even more so if you write for a living. There are various things you can try to get back on track; here are a few suggestions:

Walk Away

Get up from your computer and leave the writing behind. Do other things you enjoy, run some errands, go for a walk…do anything other than write and don’t spend any time thinking about it. It might take a bit, but your inspiration will eventually return.

Try a New Space

Is your writing being compromised by distractions? If you are unable to concentrate, it can be difficult to get a flow going. Even if there are no external issues, sometimes you can get a creative boost from simply trying out a new spot.

Just Write…Anything

If you can’t concentrate on the desired subject, just start typing anything. Random thoughts, pointless rambles, anything that comes to mind…and then walk away from it. When you come back to this “mess,” chances are you will find some worthwhile content to extract and/or build upon.

Switch Up Your Writing Tool

Do you usually write on a computer? Switch to a yellow legal pad for a while. Do you usually write longhand? Switch to your computer for a bit. It seems like a very simple step, and it is, but this can actually make a difference.

Change Up Your Schedule

Many writers develop a set routine for their writing because that’s what works for them. When it stops working, you need to come up with a new one. For example: Do you usually write in the evening? Switch to first thing in the morning.

Home Security Code Tips

Home security systems have been a boon for all manner of dwellings during the past two decades. If someone should break in, the system will alert both you and the authorities with great speed, which is important when it comes to apprehending those breaking in. Today’s systems are so sophisticated, you can even program them using your smartphone while in another city.

Like your phone, you need to come up with a code. Here are some tips to think about when choosing your home security system code:

Don’t Pick a Code Already in Use

It can be very tempting to use the same code across all of our devices, but it’s a very bad idea. If a hacker figures out that one code, everything is vulnerable. When creating your security code, come up with something different from your usual method.

When choosing, try to avoid numbers that can be easily tied to your identity. For example, if you have your birthday year as the code and that information is already out there on social media, you might as well not even have a code. Take the time to come up with something unique that you can easily remember.

Periodically Change That Code

Never use the same code for too long. Change it up every six months at the most.

Give Everyone Their Own Code

Some families all use the same code, but it is actually a wiser idea for their to be several codes in use. This would not apply to young children, but having, for example, teenagers with their own code would allow you to check the system and make sure that they are remembering to re-arm it. You can also see whether they are adhering to your rules regarding how late they can stay out and when they should be at home.

Forget 1080p, Think 4K

Technology waits for no one and that is increasingly true right across the board. Let’s take television: Cathode Ray Tubes and a 1.33:1 display were the standard for over 50 years. In 1997, DVD arrived and sets soon became a bit wider at 1.78:1. A few years later, progressive scan replaced interlaced images and resolution began to march upward. From a standard of 480i, we soon reached Hi-Def 720p. Then that game way to 1080p. And now we have the next step: 4K, which offers 3840 pixels × 2160 lines.

All of those years where we were happy with standard def seems like another lifetime. TVs have gotten bigger and bigger and thinner and thinner. The images are now incredibly sharp and realistic, sometimes to the point where the program or movie you’re watching suffers under such intense scrutiny (many sets and types of make-up were designed a certain way because the makers knew there would be a certain lack of clarity to hide flaws – not anymore).

It can seem confusing for those of us out there who only think about TV specs every few years when we need a new one (I won’t even get into the current OLED vs QLED debate), but it always boils down to personal preference. How much space do you have for your set? How much money do you have to spend? What type of things do you watch?

Many people have money on their minds constantly and, as a result, are reluctant to splurge on big ticket electronics. However, as technology advances, prices come down. I paid over $1000 for my first DVD player back in 1997; now I can buy one for $30 that is just as good or better.

Large format TVs used to be the sole domain of the rich, but prices continue to drop. If you want an especially large 4K, that could set you back $10,000, but if you only need, say, 40″, you can grab one for less than a grand.

What do you need? Shop around for prices, size, and format. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Worried About Getting Malware on Your iPhone? Here are Some Tips That Can Help

Malware and viruses are a common annoyances for those with laptop and desktop computers. But did you realize that you can also get them on your smartphone? It actually makes sense as smartphones are really just tiny computers. Do you worry about such a thing infecting your Apple device? The iPhone just celebrated its tenth birthday, but you can still do your part in keeping your device safe.

Here are some steps that can help:

Avoid Jailbroken Phones

Jailbroken phones offer certain advantages, such as allowing the installation of apps not available from Apple. However, this can come at a price as the jailbreak process removes much of the device’s security protection, leaving it vulnerable to viruses and malware. On top of that, jailbreaking also makes your phone more likely to be hacked.

Stick With Apple-Approved Apps

It may sound like corporate control that is forcing you to stick with Apple products—and it is, really—but only using apps the company approves helps to maintain the integrity of your device. In doing so, you will only be downloading apps that have been vetted by Apple. The company also verifies all of the developers that produce them.

On the plus side, Malware is far more prevalent on Android devices than on iPhones (however, if you suspect there is a virus on your iPhone already, this handy guide can help you to remove it).

Hacks and other vulnerabilities are not unprecedented on iPhones, however. Wikileaks’ Vault 7 release included information on methods used by the CIA to break into iPhones and other iOS devices. Fortunately, although the information is now out there, Apple insists that it has since removed these security flaws.

So, rest assured that you are far more likely to get a virus on your laptop or desktop computer than on your phone. It never hurts to be vigilant, though.

 

 

Records are Back! Yes, I Don’t Get It Either

I’m all for nostalgia. We look back on certain periods of our life with fondness because everything seemed so much simpler before we were burdened with 100 responsibilities a week and the frailty of increasing old age.

I’m a child of the ’60s, so I certainly had my share of records. While I love music, I never loved the actual records. They damaged easily, they got scratched, they skipped. If you loved a particular song, you could wear them out after a few hundred plays (yes, I have listened to certain songs hundreds of times). I was quite happy when cassettes came along. Hell, I don’t even remember minding 8-Tracks all that much.

However, as you have probably seen, records are making a comeback. No, these are not new and improved records: they are still the same easily damaged and worn out vinyl Frisbees of olden times. Enthusiasts insist that the analog sound from records is richer and more involving. I’ll take their word for it because I don’t hear that much of a difference and whatever improvement there is gets tempered by all of those scratches, bumps, and hiss.

Fans also like to spend time with the record covers and the written inserts. Yes, these can be nice, but chances are I can also find them easily online.

People also like to have something tangible. A record definitely provides that and it is not something that can be taken away from you, like a digital file. However, if you don’t have a lot of space, you don’t really want a lot of tangible things making your life even more crowded.

There is also the thrill and distraction that comes from shopping for albums in record stores (yup, still around), flea markets, etc. I enjoy that, too, but as I age, I’m opting more for convenience. Records are a lot of things, but they are not convenient.

Do You Still Buy CDs?

Compact discs revolutionized the music industry when they were introduced in 1982. Scratchy, skipping records and easily erased audio cassettes, the standard for some time, now seemed terribly outdated. CDs provided cleaner, purer sound and the capacity to program playback and easily jump from one song to another.

Here we are 30+ years later and CDs now seem just as outdated themselves. Songs can now be downloaded in a matter of seconds. If you don’t want an entire album, no problem: just buy the songs you like! Streaming services like Spotify also provide playback capacity without the need for owning physical media.

So, CDs are dead then? Actually, no. People still buy them, though this does not get the media attention that the resurgence of vinyl regularly generates. Digital sales didn’t actually eclipse CDs until 2014, but the sales gap has increased dramatically since then.

That said, there is still a sizeable proportion of consumers who like to have that pressed disc and don’t want to deal with downloading. Over 100 million CDs are still sold every year in the United States and, while that is down from such highs as 730 million in 2000, it is still more than enough to justify the existence of the format.

Do you still collect CDs? I haven’t bought one in ages, but I do still regularly acquire new DVDs and Blu-rays. I like the convenience and permanence of physical media. Many people do not realize that when they download a song from a company like iTunes, they don’t actually own it permanently. The company can take that material back without letting you know in advance. When I buy something, it’s nice to know it is mine until I no longer want it. Then I can re-sell the material; you can’t do that with digital downloads.

Something to think about. There is no question that we are moving away from digital media, but it’s not dead yet.

 

Do You Still Have a Landline?

A few years ago, it would have been inconceivable to not have a home phone, but an increasing number of people are cutting their landlines. So many people have cellphones and use them for so many things nowadays that it often doesn’t make sense to have two phones (and two phone bills).

A poll taken earlier this year found that 52% of Americans had indeed given up on landlines and had their cellphone double as a home phone. That’s a 100% increase over the same number when a survey was conducted in 2010.

While it’s not surprising to hear that young people have no use for landlines, older folks are also getting into the habit. The GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer reported that now 23% of seniors only use a cell, up considerably from just a few years ago.

Cutting the cord can save quite a bit of money over the course of a year and you will also be subjected to fewer sales calls. However, there can also be a few potential downsides to only having a cellphone:

  • There are potential safety concerns if you don’t have a landline. If the cellphone dies or you cannot find it readily in an emergency, then it will take longer to call authorities, which can jeopardize your safety. If there’s a power outage, you can’t charge your cellphone, but a landline will still work.
  • Some rural areas have poor cellphone reception. If you fall into that category, you’re better off keeping a landline.
  • If you are elderly and have a medical emergency alert phone system, they will only work through a landline.

Where do you stand on this issue? Do you only have a cellphone? Only have a landline? Or both? Are you happy with the choice you made? Click the comment button and let us know!

Google Announces Plan to Fight Terrorism

Terrorism is a major concern for countries around the globe and authorities have presented a number of strategies to fight it. Google has now joined in and announced that they will be doing their part to prevent the proliferation of online terrorist videos.

Often the first point of contact, these videos are used to both spread propaganda and recruit new members to various terrorist groups. Unfortunately, they have been increasingly successful at both and have also helped to radicalize individuals unable to travel to countries where these groups flourish and openly train members. ISIS, in particular, has demonstrated a knowledge of how effective this form of recruitment can be, and have made it an increasingly large part of their propaganda plan.

One of the main aspects in Google’s plan is to use redirects. When someone clicks on an ad promoting terrorist groups or linking to a pro-terrorism video, the link will instead take them to an anti-terrorism video. The same thing will happen when people use search terms regularly associated with groups like ISIS.

The company also announced that it would be putting warnings on videos that included inflammatory content, but were not so over the line that they qualified for removal. While they can remain on the site, said videos cannot be recommended, commented upon, or monetized.

Google will also increase the number of employees involved in content examination. While programs can flag videos, human input is required to know whether what is depicted actually violates the terms of service and is not, say, a news broadcast about terrorism that contains excerpts of terrorist propaganda.

It will be difficult to measure in the coming months how effective this strategy will be. However, experts welcome Google’s announcement, stating that it is a step in the right direction and that other companies should consider following suit.

Facial Recognition Software Continues to Advance

You have probably seen one of the recent big-budget spy movies like the BOURNE series where people are watching a video feed in an airport and lock on to the face of a passerby. The computer then zooms in and starts to scan their face. Within seconds, it provides everything from their identity, date of birth, nationality, terrorist group affiliations…everything short of their shoe size and favourite colour.

However, governments are not only using this technology to catch potential terrorists and hi-tech spies. Sometimes, it is proving helpful in discouraging people from committing everyday misdemeanors.

Jaywalking is a major problem in China and the government has been frustrated in their efforts to get citizens obeying the law. The issue is especially problematic for motorists as pedestrians often illegally cross the street in packs, making it impossible for cars to continue, which contributes to traffic slowdowns on already congested streets.

Their solution was to use facial recognition software…not to “take out” perpetrators, but to shame them. Business Standard reports that the system takes the pictures of several jaywalkers and turns them into videos which are shown on big screens at major intersections. Those against the practice say that it violates privacy because the practice reveals some of the individuals’ personal information. Additionally, those caught must also pay a fine, spend time working as a crossing guard, and attend a traffic safety course.

Online commenters seems split on the issue. Some are fine with people being exposed in such a manner, but others feel that the system is flawed and that some of the people being photographed are not actually breaking the law. Such views mirror the debate in this part of the world over red light cameras.

What is your opinion? Do you think authorities over here should adopt such a measure? Click the comment button and let us know!

Jaywalkers in the Philippines. By JoRitchChT (Wikipedia Takes Manila participant) – Uploaded from Wikipedia Takes Manila, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14648160