How Not to Get Sick

No one wants to get sick, so if you are a bit of a hypochondriac, listen up. My blog today is geared to you. The time is ripe for the onset of winter maladies. No matter where you go, you are exposed to other people carrying a cold or virus around. Some don’t even know they are a version of Typhoid Mary. She never knew she was the source of hundreds of fatal cases.

I enjoy working with a medical staff at a hospital in my area. I learn new things all the time, just by walking through the hallways. During certain seasons of the year, I get lessons in health by osmosis. I know the importance of reducing germs in one’s environment and the importance of frequent handwashing after reading about it on Facebook. It isn’t always best to use the antiseptic gel in a dispenser as these can wreak havoc with the natural immune system when applied several times a day—as in a hospital. I get paranoid during cold and flu season and am afraid of constant exposure. In actuality, I literally work in a “germ factory.”

Hospitals are notorious for spreading germs. You want to think twice before having an operation requiring a long stay. Most often, there is nothing you can do about it. As your doctor about preventative measures. Stay rested and well in advance so you can fight off any germ invasion in the operating or recovery room. For the rest of us—the workers and the visitors, it no less a matter of keeping germs at bay. You will find me several times a day bending over the pristine American Standard faucet from Kitchen Faucet Depot in the closest lavatory. The hospital installed new ones recently, so they could upgrade water delivery without waste. It is all about conservation these days. Remember when faucets would gush water? Now, they go on for only a short duration.

The chrome finish of the American Standard faucet is brand new and shines brightly. I imagine that more than a few thousand kinds of bacteria lived in the old ones. You can’t always kill them off easily when they hide in crevasses and crannies. They must die in their own time. Meanwhile, they like to multiply. The insides of the old faucets must have been coated with lime. Now, when I wash my hands, I can feel the purity of the water, or at least I imagine it this way.

You can walk around wearing a HEPA filter if you are serious about your health, especially when in public such as a bus, train or plane. Anywhere you breathe the air of others has potential risk. Fortunately, most people have an adequate immune system. If not, I advise you to stay at home during cold and flu season. Meanwhile, keep those hands washed, especially after shaking hands or touching something that has been exposed to germs. This means everything!

The Man Cave is Open!

Life has its odd twists and turns. Ironically, one day I am knee deep in data collection to make important contributions to a medical team; the next one I am celebrating the official completion of my best friend’s man cave. From one end of the trivia spectrum I roam. I prefer to stay on the serious end, but we all need some social recreation from time to time. I was anxious to see the new custom room constructed for just the guys. I couldn’t have imagined a better place. He spent some hard-earned bucks. There was a leather sofa, as comfy as could be, right in front of the big flat screen TV. My friend assured us that we could spill anything on this upholstered marvel and there would be no damage. “Get as rowdy as you want,” he beamed.

A couple other soft chairs were scattered about the spacious room, one with a matching ottoman. He had posted photos on Facebook but it looked even better in person. Everything was perfectly aligned with the giant screen. A glass table served as a receptacle, not for coffee, but for drinks. A bowl of nuts sat next to one loaded with pretzels. We gazed with amazement at the home entertainment center with the best Bose speakers money can buy. There was a batch of CDs on a wooden shelf waiting for us to make our individual selections. We would hear the benefits of surround sound.

At one end of the room, not far from the seating area, was a mini kitchen with an under counter refrigerator, wine cooler, and a fabulous stainless steel kegerator. Yes, he made homebrew for his privileged guests. We couldn’t think of one thing that was missing. “You want wine, soda, water, lemonade, or beer,” he asked. We all jumped on the home brew. This new man cave was about to rock.

It was so typical that at first I expected to see a sign that read “no women allowed.” Ha! His wife and daughter never made one appearance, even to bring food or just say hello. I guess they had gotten their instructions. After all, this was opening day to a very male event. The kegerator had three faucets so you can choose from three specialty homebrew beers that he has put in there. He was very quick to show off the web page that he got the idea from – https://www.crackacoldone.net/can-put-homebrew-kegerator/. I love the idea, but am not sure I would buy this huge size. How can we drink this much? “Over time,” he laughed.

We had our choice of just hanging out for the day, watching a movie (he also had a vast collection), listening to music, playing cards, or enjoying a football game. We chose eating and drinking first. Later, we could do all this other stuff to try his equipment out. We were having so much fun that we didn’t have time to be jealous. But then who has a spare room or basement this size to house a true man cave. He had a wall of sports memorabilia, including his college team, and a shelf of cool ceramic logo mugs. All I can say is wow!

A Hobby That Might Actually be Worth It

If you have to have a boring computer job, it had better be in an exciting and dynamic environment. I know this from personal experience. Therefore, I always recommend positions in the field to new grads who ask, just pick and choose. Data collection is important work that impacts so many fields. I know that it pays well if it provides enough information to help online retail commerce. As much as I tout my profession, I have to say that once in a while I can’t wait to step away from my laptop. When my eyes are crossing in front of the screen, I know it is time to go outdoors. This is known as a much-needed reprieve. It doesn’t have to be a big deal vacation, just an afternoon in the sun.

Right away when I first began to have computer overload, I looked into new hobbies. I never was one for daily sports and the gym only beckons once a week. Plus, it is all indoors. I felt a need to be in nature inhaling lots of fresh air. A regular walk is fine when I want to think, but I would rather participate in an activity. Some time ago, I was introduced to gold prospecting by a friend when they sent me a link to https://www.findingafortune.net/a-beginners-guide-to-prospecting-gold-for-fun-and-maybe-profit/. I thought it odd enough to find out what was involved. I did it once or twice but the friend moved away and I forgot all about it. Now the subject has come up again. My memory bank is recalling some unique fun and diversion. Can I do it alone and have just as good a time? Why not.

Gold prospecting in the right place can yield some profit, even though it is best not to go with this exclusive intent. It doesn’t always happen. You would have to go to some known and well-travelled areas like Alaska if you want to get rich quick. Better to see it as a hobby. You can go solo or with anyone you like. You need some basic equipment depending on your level of involvement. Most beginners start with panning in a creek using a simple receptacle that separates dirt and rocks from gold flakes or nuggets. If you want to get fancy, buy a gold sluice. They sell plenty online which is a testimonial to the level of worldwide interest.

This equipment is a plastic or metal box through which water in a stream passes. Just a different approach to prospecting and an alternative to panning. You put moss, rubber, or carpeting on the bottom to trap the gold. It arrives there after being filtered through riffles or purposeful obstructions that slow the movement of the precious metal. Boxes can be 24, 36, 48 or inches—larger than the ones used a century and a half ago when gold mania was rising. Imagine using the same basic technology today! This, or course, does not apply to big corporate mining. In the future, I will tell you how it goes.

Odd Data Request

Data collection is a specialty in the digital era. It is my job. Not everyone knows what it entails. They think it is someone going door to door conducting research for the census bureau. It could be that. Or they think it is about psychologists collecting test results on behavior. When I took Psych 1 in college, this is what we did. We queried students in person and amassed the “data.” We entered it by hand into a computer. My grandmother tells me she kept a log since there was no laptop then. Now that was a primitive definitive of the term.

Data collection can be studying and recording information of just about anything. For example, I can gather data regarding shopping habits and browsing preferences for a giant retail complex. I can also do data collection for medical associations and record it in electronic patient medical records.

I gather the data, analyze it, and put it to use. Sometimes you have to read between the lines so to speak. What is interesting to me is how you can control the flow of data and what is done with the information. There are endless possibilities and it has changed the face of many industries. For example, do you remember the manila folder that was in actuality a medical chart? They don’t look like that anymore. They are paperless which has helped save the trees in our depleting forests. The doctor sits in the checkup room and takes notes with his tablet, which he no doubt would use to check Facebook in his down time. No more issues with nurses unable to read the handwriting. Those days are long gone.

Because I work for a group of medical professionals, I was contacted to do data collection on the cleaning procedures in their offices. We know that they have to meet certain standards, unlike normal businesses, because of the use of dangerous chemicals and implements like scalpels and hypodermic needles. There are germs virtually everywhere, almost as bad as most hospitals. This is despite every effort to scour the counters and floors. If there are carpets in the waiting room, they demand a thorough vacuuming. I had to provide information on what is better – Shark or Dyson. You have to evaluate not just preferences for a brand based on reputation, but on actual usage by hundreds of cleaning crews working in the medical environment. I must be careful to keep this difference straight.

Apart from the procedures at the medical network, I started thinking about the cleanliness of my own place. What, indeed, is lurking in the rugs? Is my vacuum doing its job? Perhaps after my research and I find out the best brand, I will get a home model for my personal use. Don’t be surprised if I tell you soon that I am the proud owner of a Dyson. This brand resonates with me. As you can see, I let my work influence my life. This is as it should be.

Digging for Data on Depression

Depression is the plague of modern times. Who knows if it even existed centuries ago. Did Freud invent it? It comes suddenly or in waves and seems to alter brain chemistry. There are so many pressures to succeed and the business is more competitive than ever before. We hear about all the dot.com billionaires and feel we are left behind. We also have too much information at our disposal and often don’t know what to do with it. We feel we must be up to date but the task seems overwhelming. There is precious little time for travel or leisure with all our financial obligations. We want to be special and excel at our endeavors, but real life gets in the way. Our children have emotional problems, we get divorced, we lose a job, there is a death in the family, we have to move, and we are disappointed with our lives. We want more money and it seems that the world is getting richer all the time. So why are we not content?

Anyone who suffers from depression wants to know the root cause to get well, and fortunately researchers are looking into the problem. I am compiling data for a doctor who is studying cases to see if there are areas in the country where depression rates are high. I notice pockets of unemployment that most certainly can be a cause and I see places where housing and food costs are on the rise. This would put pressure on any bread winner. There is another entire side of the depression issue that has to do with lack of sunlight. Statistics show that certain countries like Finland, Norway, and Sweden, for example, have greater incidence of the malady, not to mention Iceland and Greenland. The days are shorter much of the year which affects mood and energy levels. A condition known as SAD (seasonal affective disorder) explains above average suicide rates in these countries.

People with SAD need to be treated with light therapy to reduce winter depression. They sit in front of a special lamp for at least thirty minutes to an hour a day. Apart from counseling, it is said to improve mood, lower levels of fatigue, boost energy, and ameliorate poor concentration. This has been an interesting job. The data speaks loud and clear. A change in seasons lifts one’s mood. It pays to live in a sunny climate if you are prone to symptoms.

I am a sucker for a good scientific study and this one has piqued my interest. I had never thought about a correlation between depression and the amount of sunlight to which one is exposed daily. So many people report a lack of success with conventional therapy because they don’t understand this connection. If you have chronic depression, it pays to look into SAD: it could be the answer you have been seeking. Then, it would be a simple matter of buying a lamp or two.

Score (or More Accurately, GOOOOAL!)

While people talk about the brave new digital world that has changed the face of global communication and information distribution, as a computer data specialist, it is now old hat. We are just improving the quality of Internet content and the challenge of better storage. There is a universal demand for statistics and data and we will never run out of projects. It is all about controlling the flow of data for me. But I have another life as well. I spend time browsing the web and love watching a soccer match now and then with my coworkers. I am not a hermit after all. As a bit of a rebel, I have started to watch soccer on TV at work. BUSTED! The boss has noticed our wasting time (or so it seems) on rather long breaks.

Soccer is such a dynamic and exciting game, despite low scoring, and we all have our preferred teams. The sport is insanely popular around the world and has been intriguing American fans more and more, with the launch of publications like Top Corner Magazine to help satisfy the demand for information on the sport. Goodbye football, basketball, and baseball or kids. It is all soccer after school and the young ones are getting quite skilled. They are our national team of tomorrow. Most guys I know enjoy coaching their children, and while I don’t have any, I join in the fun on weekends. The problem at the office is that I can’t resist taking in a match now and then, particularly during playoffs. You can’t keep me away from the screen. When it gets down to final matches, we are on pins and needles.

Since the boss discovered our obsession, he has made wry comments. After a while we succumbed and invited him to watch with us. Seeing our great enthusiasm, he accepted. Now we have regular TV sessions at strategic game times (this varies with the season), based on what I find on Twitter. You will find the boss comfortably ensconced in his big executive chair. We have a convert in our midst! He yells GOAL! with vigor. Including him has become of our best ideas. We were not surprised that he offered to pass around a memo with the week’s game schedule. Talk about participation! He was now the ringleader.

To make our breaks more fun, and to add to the camaraderie, the boss now provided snacks and beverages according to the time of day of the match in question. He says it is his treat. This is a true example of how soccer, a formerly unknown and ignored sport in the US, has taken over the country. I wonder if this sort of thing goes on in other offices and industries. We can attest to the fact that the computer nerds are all in. When the season is over, we resort to traditional coffee-drinking breaks and it is back to work. This makes up for the lost time when soccer is the topic of the moment. We could discuss the players and their stats forever.

How Can Linking Data Help Healthcare?

With electronic medical records, there are a lot of pieces of information about you—and everyone else—floating around on the internet and in cloud systems all over the place. Your bloodwork, treatments, allergies, imaging information, everything. Out there in cyberspace. I’m sure that this might create some concerns for you. You’re also probably trying to figure out what are we trying to accomplish by compiling all that information in the first place. The reason is a good one: we’re trying to improve medical care. By maintaining all this data, we are doing so on two different fronts.

On the one hand, electronic records are great because your doctors and specialists can share information about your health without you having to lug hard copy records around with you everywhere you go—nor do you have to pay out of pocket to have copies of your own records made to bring to your next appointment.That was unfair, wasn’t it?!? Before digital records, if your doctor ordered a test for you, the results would have to be mailed or faxed to your doctor. If there were images taken, you would have to pick up the images, then bring them to your doctor’s office and waste valuable time while he or she interpreted the results before formulating a treatment plan for you.Now, using electronic records, the images or test results are sent digitally from one place to another and you don’t have to do anything other than get better. For their part, doctors are able to search through your medical records much easier than before to provide you with better care, and the records themselves are more complete. Pharmacists can catch potentially fatal drug interactions and correct them before anyone is hurt. By sharing your health information through all the medical professionals you interact with, doctors can treat you as a whole person and not just the individual symptoms you present during visits in their specific office. The end result is that you receive better, more thorough, and safer care.

On the other hand, your digital health information can benefit more than just you. Data linkage can do more than keep one patient’s records together, it can allow for medical advancements, better diagnostic criteria, and more effective treatments. I know it sounds a little Big Brother, and that might be intimidating. But for medical professionals, it can do amazing things. Your personally identifying information isn’t there so it provides a full picture of larger populations, without bias because it is simply information. Imagine researchers looking for links in patients who develop a certain disease. If they have access to a huge database of subjects—instead of just a small sampling of people who participate in a study and probably only do so with the incentive of payment—they have much more information available to draw their conclusions from. Researchers can find patterns within symptoms, potentially providing earlier diagnosis for patients or making correlations with successful treatments.

That is incredibly exciting to me. There are whole lives’ worth of records out there waiting to be sifted through and discoveries made. There could be a cure for cancer lying dormant in the cloud, or maybe a more effective treatment for Alzheimer’s. The anonymous data you provide could be part of that miracle.

Data for Injury Prevention

There is date out there on every subject imaginable. Everything has been studied and analyzed to death. People are interested in stats and figures and how they impact business profits, customer habits (isn’t it always about sales these days?). Trends come from all this probing and who doesn’t want to be in the midst of the next big one? Data can also be of use in the field of sports like basketball for example. I was contacted recently by a school with a newly-formed team and they hired me to construct a report on injuries in different age groups. Armed with this knowledge, the coach could build a good training regimen and devise tactics for new basketball players to avoid harm to the them.

I broke my information down by age and type of injury, focusing on the back, sprained hands and ankles, and pulled tendons and muscles. Some are common and easy to remedy while others are unusual and no doubt caused by falls and mishaps on the court. If players do not warm up and stretch, they are subject to regular problems. It depends on one’s body type and weight. Sports that have some kind of contact are rife with injuries, like football. They are of a different nature, however, than those arising from basketball games. I love that those of us who ply our trades in the information age can even help kids in school with extra-curricular activities. It is never enough to react after the fact (such as is happening all the time with concussions. We treat them, but the game goes on). It is vital to predict what can happen when things go wrong. After all, no coach wants a team full of players wearing braces and walking on crutches.

We don’t like the idea that sports aren’t safe, especially for children. Of course, we are concerned about adult amateurs and professionals. Basketball players do not wear protective gear and prevention of injury has to come from the way the game is played. Adhering to the rules is fundamental. I believe that it would help for every coach to invite a sports medicine specialist to speak to the team from time to time about the problem. Why does one person turn an ankle easily, and another doesn’t. There are some people who just aren’t cut out for the game. Risk comes with any physical activity, even a casual gym workout. It is amplified with you are talking about competitive sports where the intensity of the game increases.

Injury prevention comes with knowledge and good playing practices. Bad habits must be stopped and better ones put in their place. Keeping healthy in general will help players with their stamina. When you are tired, you are likely to incur injury. Getting a good night’s sleep and eating right are key to successful athletic endeavors. Yes, eat that apple before you play basketball! Drink plenty of water and take breaks.

Data Breaches

Maybe it is because I am a computer guy but data breaches make me angry. Most of the time, it doesn’t happen in the way that you think, either. It isn’t some malicious, highly skilled hacker getting into the computer network at my jobwith the intent of stealing all your medical information. I’m not saying they won’t get your information, but it isn’t usually because of a cyber security failure on my end.

It’s usually people just being people.We can’t help it. We do stupid stuff sometimes.

Here aresome examples of what I’m talking about:

There was a guy who worked for the Veteran’s Affairs office. He had a laptop that he used for work and he had patient-sensitive information on it. This was back when the military still exclusively used servicemembers’ social security numbers as patient identifiers, so it was tied to everything from their healthcare info to their financial information for their injury compensation. And even though this particular man wasn’t supposed to, he took the laptop home for whatever reason (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he did it to catch up on some work). Then his house was robbed. Of course, that meant the laptop got stolen and thousands of veterans, through no fault of their own, had their personal data compromised.

I had my own healthcare data stolen a few years back, and again—it had nothing to do with me. Once again, it was human error and some lapses in judgment. Two guys in charge of driving a bunch of backup tapes to a data storage center broke protocol by leaving their vehicle unattended at a gas station and—surprise surprise—their truck was stolen.

I got five years of free identity theft monitoring for that one, even though I was repeatedly told that the car thieves were incredibly unlikely to also own a machine capable of reading the data tapes. That wasn’t even really the point.

Information doesn’t even need to be physically stolen. It gets accidentally introduced into systems all the time. We can have excellent network security but when some idiot goes on a sketchy website or clicks on a phishing link from the computer at his desk, he risks infecting everyone else’s machine. And while he might not have any client or personal information on his machine, HR does. Other departments might. And while they probably follow strict information handling protocols, they can’t protect themselves from a threat somebody else let into the house.

With the recent election, everybody’s heard all about unsecured private email servers and unsecured cellphones. Again, it’s a matter of human error. It’s just so much easier to have one device to check email instead of lugging around a personal device and another, secure device (or even being—gasp—unavailable sometimes).

All the strong passwords, data encryption, and network security is not going to help you if protocols aren’t followed. I mean, that’s why we have the protocols in the first place. That’s what makes me angry about them—people assume that it is the network guy’s fault. I promise it’s not me!

Kiss Your Privacy Goodbye?

The world is getting more and more connected. With all the cellphones, smart watches, cameras,  tracking and data sharing around you, it is a wonder you can do anything without it being recorded in some way.

In some regards, it can be a good thing. If you are the victim of identity theft, you might be relieved to know that the store the perpetrator spent your hard-earned money in had a security camera and allowed the police to ID and catch them. Then you realize that means the store catches you every time you go in as well. You start to wonder where else you’re being recorded. Chances are, you don’t even see the cameras. Partially because they are designed to be hidden or blend in with their surroundings, but also because of advancements in camera technology. Higher resolutions mean cameras can be farther away and still grab a good picture, and wireless capabilities along with microtechnology can make cameras so small they are barely noticeable.

Your internet browser is designed to make your life easy, but it also remembers information—like your address and even credit card numbers—when you fill in forms online. Stores track items you look at and then send you ads targeting the things you’ve been looking for. This is supposed to provide you with relevant content but it can be off-putting.

Even your cellphone is remembering what you do. If you have your location turned on, it remembers everywhere you go. This does not mean that your cell provider or anyone else is doing anything malicious with the information, but it is still being recorded. This also tends to be for ad purposes—companies want to target customers in an effective manner, so they might pay to find out who frequents their stores in order to target customers who will be most interested in a new product launch.

You can’t do much about security cameras when you are out and about, but for the most part, security cameras are there for your safety and for the store. Many stores don’t keep recorded video for long unless there is a crime committed, so there is no reason to think that there is a record of every single time you’ve walked into the neighborhood grocers. When you are using the internet, make sure you’re on a secure network. Use the private browser feature, install a tracking-blocker program like Ghostery, or you can opt-out of targeted ads on places like google and facebook. And as far as that omnipresent accessory goes, your cellphone, you have some options there as well. You can do things like turn off the location feature when you aren’t actively using it for GPS purposes, avoid ‘checking in’ to commercial locations or putting them in your social media status, and you can opt-out of targeted ad campaigns. Turning off the wireless will prevent you from being accidentally connected to unsecured wifi and prevents your phone from being “seen” by other networks.

Most people don’t realize how much they open themselves up to privacy invasions. They’re more concerned with the security cameras mentioned above out on the street than they are with the fact that they check in to their favorite eatery three times a week and post pictures online with the geolocation tags on. But if you are concerned, a few simple tweaks in your behavior and the settings on your electronics can go a long way.

What Can We Do With Linked Data?

Linked data might seem like a big and alien concept. There’s all this information out there and it is increasingly being compiled into useful subsets of searchable information that people are able to interact with. If that sounds a little too computer-speak, I’ll try it another way. Collecting data is not new. Different companies, agencies, and people, have been recording information for years. Recently, there has been more of an effort to bring all of that information together in order to use it for other purposes. I’ll give you a few examples. I’ll start with what I do, because I think it’s pretty cool.

Medical facilities can link data to improve patient care by allowing for more coordination between various specialists, primary care doctors, and pharmacies. Linked data can also assist researchers in making correlations between patients with diagnoses and patients with those same symptoms. This type of information can provide unbiased health information to medical professionals with an eye to facilitate healthcare advances. For example, researchers can more easily catch cancer clusters if the information is searchable by geographic region.

But what else can we do with linked data?

Libraries can use metadata to link themselves to other libraries and the internet as a whole. By using standard fields, libraries can give and receive catalog information from other locations, allowing users to find the book or resource they need from almost anywhere. As we grow more dependent on things like Google for information, some librarians are hoping that by inputting the metadata from their catalogs into searchable query format, people will be able to find reliable, accurate information however they look for it. You can’t find a book on the information you’re looking for if you don’t know it exists in the first place.

Cities are looking into data linking in order to improve quality of life and to be more efficient. If they can figure out, over the span of the different energy sources available, there are specific areas where people are using excessive energy, they can divert more power to those areas. Or they can create a targeted conservation effort, or give those people incentives for more alternative energy sources. If they have data linked regarding traffic patterns and accidents, they can determine if a road may need another traffic light, to be widened, or if other safety precautions are needed. Police across various agencies can look at areas that are extremely safe and compare them with areas that are not, and see what makes them different. Then they can try to correct some of the deficiencies.

There are a million more possibilities of what we can do when we all share the information we’ve gathered. Linked data is an exciting field and I am incredibly proud to be a part of it!

Protecting Your Online Data

When you’re online, whether on your phone or your computer, do you assume that your information is completely private and safe? Or are you paranoid about hacking, viruses, and data breaches, and take extra security measures?

Most probably feel like they are somewhere in the middle.

The easiest thing you can do to protect your information is to maintain you device. Keep your operating system up to date—those updates often include security patches to make your system safer and strengthen system vulnerabilities. The same goes for any antivirus and antimalware you may have on your device.

Once you’re confident that your system is secure, help it stay secure. Access the internet from behind a firewall. Don’t connect to public or unsecure internet access points. Use encryption software when you send information over the internet. Most browsers will have a lock icon to let you know that the site you are on is encrypted. Don’t fall for phishing scams—clicking on links in fraudulent emails and the like.

OK, so say your computer is virus- and malware- free. Your internet connection is secure. There is one other thing obvious piece to the security puzzle: your passwords. They often need to be long and you’re required to follow all kinds of rules involving numbers, letters, and special characters. Many sites require you to change them often or won’t allow words from the dictionary. All these things can make passwords challenging to create and even harder to remember. Your browser usually wants to make it easy for you—it offers to remember your login information, or it keeps you logged in to sites you visit frequently. But if you don’t have to log in, neither would someone else using your computer—with or without your permission. It’s also tempting to have the same password across multiple sites. But a strong password is your best defense. Using the same one for all your accounts would be like having a master key that opened everything in your life—all the doors in your house, your car, the lock to your bike, your gym locker, everything. Imagine how much things would suck if someone stole that key? Now imagine that key is the only thing standing between your social media page, your online shopping accounts, your banking information, your personal and work email accounts, and your computer log in. If your computer were ever to be hacked, everything is compromised with hardly any work necessary.

You can have an up to date computer running the best antivirus software ever created, have the most secure passwords on the most encrypted network, and still have your information stolen. People make tactical errors online all the time. We don’t read those long and boring privacy policies but they are worth the read. You’ll find out what the company does with your information and whether they share it with anyone else. If you don’t know what the policy is or you don’t agree with it, take your business elsewhere. Another thing people mistakenly do is put too much information online. They tag themselves in pictures and leave the geolocation on. Congratulations, now the creepy guy in the next town over knows where you live and where your kids go to school. People are so excited on vacation that they are uploading pictures or use status updates that tell everyone, “Hey, I’m not at home!” and then set themselves up for a home invasion. You never know who is going to see the information you put out there. If you don’t want the whole world knowing it, don’t put it on your computer. If it’s not there, it can’t get out.

I hope that these tips have given you a better idea of how you can keep your information safe online. Let me know if you have any questions!