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With the recent Target store  security info breach from credit/debit card use during last year’s Black Friday sales week in the U.S. and the discovery of an alleged Russian mob responsible for such a cybercrime, it’s perhaps time for the U.S. companies to adopt the European method of enforcing credit/debit card security, even if it’ll be a little costly to implement.

Here in Canada, the adoption of embedded microchip in both credit/debit cards is also used in Europe. It involves slipping the microchip side of the card to a slot in the card reader upon cashier checkout and typing in one’s PIN after which the transaction is finalized.

No more need for magnetic swiping nor written signatures. In case, you lose your card and someone picks it up, that person if he’s dishonest will not be able to use it unless the PIN was written on the card. Believe me,there are  some folks who are too lazy to use even 1% of their brain cells to memorize their PIN. If they make it a habit to memorize it,it’ll be like doing it automatically,like brushing teeth for example.

Of course,if I happen to be in the U.S.,using my Canadian credit card would involve using the magnetic strip since the U.S. card readers are only programmed for magnetic strips being swiped upon  cashier checkout.

It’s something to seriously consider to thwarting all those sophisticated card hackers. That magnetic strip behind our cards contains all our personal info.

If all security precautions are uniformly implemented worldwide,there’ll be much less security breaches.

Josie

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Edward Snowden, a contract employee with the NSA(National Security Agency) is currently on the run from the US federal government for leaking highly sensitive and classified information which pertains to the ongoing domestic surveillance of both phone and internet records of the general citizenry by the US federal government. I had mentioned about this  topic on my last blog–6-8-13–regarding Domestic Surveillance/Data Mining.

After Mr. Snowden’s face came up yesterday in all TV sets around the world, the way his life events had occurred looks like it came out from the pages of a spy thriller. Friend or traitor? Patriot or Spy?

He used to live in a nice condo apt in Hawaii with a gorgeous girlfriend who’s also on the run herself. He earns a good salary from the NSA. Giving up all of these so as to pursue a cause of exposing alleged violations of communication privacy takes a lot of guts and fortitude and not just on impulse/knee-jerk reaction.

Eventually,we’ll learn more about him especially if he’s given sanctuary elsewhere or gets caught by US federal agents.

I smell the makings of a movie here. The one actor who could play him is Ryan Gosling in my opinion and I’m not saying that just because Mr. Gosling is Canadian like me. With a little makeup and a haircut and some spectacles, the resemblance can be striking.

It can’t be denied that the saga of Edward Snowden–the man of the hour– the NSA whistleblower is intriguing.

Josie

US President Barack Obama yesterday addressed the media regarding the hulabaloo of ongoing domestic surveillance/data mining by the NSA(National Security Agency) on the general public.’s phone and internet records/data. I personally call it spying on a great,wide scale,mon ami.

President Obama said that this is a ‘modest’ encroachment of privacy in the name of national security. He insisted that “nobody is listening to phone calls” and for that to happen, it would require a federal judge to sign off on it for approval. He wants such limits to be implemented because he’s fully aware that he too will become vulnerable to such data scrutiny once he leaves office as a private citizen.

He said that Internet surveillance doesn’t apply to US citizens nor people living in the U.S. Wait a minute! Does that mean that even me a Canuck will be  subjected to such scrutiny? And I thought that the World Wide Web is available worldwide( barring censorship ) and doesn’t discriminate on citizenship nor ethnicity. Does this mean that the US gov’t. can have access with all international phone and internet records in the name of national security?

President Obama said that such domestic surveillance was already in place during George W. Bush’s administration eversince the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Upon entering office,President Obama had evaluated the Bush scrutiny program,and to paraphrase his words, had scrubbed it thoroughly and expanded some of the oversight,even increasing some of its safeguards.

Understandably, with the reality of the threat of terror over us now ever since 9/11, there’s no longer a 100% given  right to  privacy nor 100% safety.

Yet I can’t help but think that constant discussion,surveillance and soundboarding should continue so that nothing crosses the line in terms of civil liberties,in this case for ex.,the right to privacy.

Giving the government such blanket approval and free reign in such case could lead to abuse if not monitored.

Josie

Time and time again,folks, we have been told that tampering with another person’s mail is considered a felony. This usually involves paper mail but nowadays, if someone had sent you erroneously  an email message( meant for someone else), there’s usually a disclaimer at the bottom of the page on your computer screen advising you how to deal with it whether by forwarding it, contacting the sender but definitely, to keep a vow of silence and not tattle about someone else’ email message. Therefore, tampering with other’s email would be considered a felony too, I think.

Whether you open another person’s paper mail  or destroy it and not forward it properly, it deprives the rightful recipient of the importance of such mail. Now if the recipient has already moved out, it’s best to just slash the person’s name, write something like “moved’,”no  longer here”, whatever and it’ll be returned to the sender. Our paid postage already covers the cost for both forwarding and returning mail as the case may be.

Bear in mind the golden rule”Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you”.

If you want people to respect your mail, respect theirs too.

However if there are still people who don’t follow mail etiquette, then they’re really stupid as well as inconsiderate. As the saying goes, you can’t fix stupid.

You’ll just hope that mail  karma will creep up on them and then they’ll really learn to respect the sanctity of mail.Same goes with those tampering other people’s emails.

That’s my 2 cents’ on this matter!

Josie

In spite of the advent of electronic telecommunications like e-mail,chatting on line, texting by smartphone, etc., we still have paper mail (aka snail mail) since they’re still the cheapest means to send a letter or an advertisement flyer from a business organization.

The post office has had its days and is now  in stiff competition with private couriers like UPS,Fedex,DHL,Purolator,etc. in offering parcel services especially in light of this new era of online shopping. Considering that the volume of paper mail has diminished nowadays, definitely, it’s important for the post office to get diverse in their business strategies.

I heard about the United States Postal Service  for example ,even planning to release USPS inspired clothing line to help boost their revenue.

I wonder what  Benjamin Franklin, the 1st U.S. postmaster general would say about this?

Whatever happens, paper mail will still stay because it still has its relevancy even in modern times. There are certain things that paper mail can offer versus electronic mail(e-mail as we know it) like delivering documents containing sensitive/private information for example.

Another  thing is that we get to actually touch and see what we receive in the mail. An added bonus would be meeting your friendly postman if you do get the chance to see him bring your mail to you. That’s the personal touch for you,courtesy of  your local post office.( Even the courier drivers provide the same service with a smile if you happen to be at home when they deliver that parcel to you.)

Josie

Using computers is a way of life nowadays. We use them to surf the Internet, search for anything that we can think of under the sun, do online shopping and banking and even chat by Skype for example. Some could even  be like couch potatoes wherein they’re on the computer all day and all night.

However, one has to inquire from their internet provider if there are any usage costs involved at all. If there are such costs, it’s important to avoid them as possible.

They usually will either provide you with a link to check on your internet usage or will give you instant messaging if for ex., you already incurred 50%-75% usage and will inform you if 100% usage had already occurred. Once you go beyond 100% usage, they’ll start charging you for the excess %.

Check it out!

Josie

I’m very aware that it already happened in the U.S. when all TV sets must go digital in their cable channels from the analog versions. Things take a while in Canada for that to happen but it finally did.

After initial announcements 2 years ago regarding this, my subscribing cable company is finally going to do it on Feb. 18,2013 as the ultimate deadline.  By that time, all those subscribers with tube TVs, LCD and plasma TVs have to have a digital adapter attached to it so as to continue getting streamlined cable channels but in digital form. Also, in addition to that, all those TVs aforementioned have no attached cable box , meaning no subscription to extra fancy cable package,just basic cable.

I got my  digital adapter and remote control set last month but only started to do it just now especially with the looming deadline ahead. They have already started in the Toronto area with regards to the digital switching  and it’s only a matter of time before they get to my city here. It can happen anytime this month or next month so it’s best to be prepared and not get caught off-guard in  case some of my cable TV channels suddenly disappear or get switched to other channels altogether.

I was so proud of myself(being somewhat mechanically challenged) that I was able to set up the digital adapter to my old tube-TV but the tricky part was deciphering its TV code so as to coordinate with the adapter and the TV set. Luckily, I didn’t have to go through it fully since it was clear that I needed to retain my old remote just to turn off and on my TV and use the new remote for all other cable TV functions. Reason was that my TV model was considered very old (12 yr model is considered old already?)

One thing for sure. If my old tube one day is no longer in service, the next TV will be one that I don’t have to put an adapter on. It’s similar to a pacemaker that you implant so as to regulate the heart rate. In this case, the adapter now controls the TV’s overall function.

With so many TV models out there(all flat TVs), nowadays, getting one at a good price should be an adventure unlike before when a few models were initially out and pricier too!

Just my 2 cents on this matter. Check with your local cable company regarding this if it’ll affect you too very soon.

Josie