On this side (Western) of the Atlantic Ocean, personal information is monitized and sold/rented with little regard for the privacy of the real owner of that information. Data brokers, banks, insurance companies, mortgage companies, universities, web sites, social networks, and merchants — to name a few — provide your personal information to their “affiliates” and customers, for money or other consideration, without your knowledge or permission. In some instances, you can opt-out, but it’s your responsibility to figure out how to do this. If a particular organization allows you to opt-out, you are on your own to contact each and every one of the “affiliates” to whom they have provided your information, to opt-out from them as well — if the “affiliates” allow you to do so at all. If you think that the playing field is tilted in favor of those who profit by selling your personal information, you are correct. It’s all about the money.
If you believe that your privacy should be yours, and not a commodity to be bought and sold, contact your elected officials. Tell them that you demand a national opt-in policy, where you are in control of how and when your personal information is used. It needs to be all about your privacy, not about the money.
After six month of hard wear, my BlackBerry Storm developed bubbles on the screen. Before heading to the friendly Verizon store, I synchronized it and did a complete backup with the BlackBerry Desktop Manager. Within thirty minutes of my arrival at the Verizon store, I was on my way out the door with a newly-activated Storm, which was replaced under the warranty. It took about a minute to reestablish a bluetooth connection with my GPS. So far, so good. Next, using the BlackBerry Desktop Manager, it took several minutes to restore everything from my old BlackBerry to the new one. Everything appeared to be the same as my old BlackBerry, except the web browser was missing. That’s easy enough to fix. Just go into Advanced Options, and register the Host Routing Table. After several minutes passed without receiving a registration notice from BlackBerry (FYI, I am using BIS — BlackBerry Internet Service, not the enterprise service), I did the Windows equivalent of a reboot — pulled the battery. A minute later, I replaced the battery, and when the device restarted, registered the host routing table. Just like magic, the web browser and activation notice appeared!
A few minutes later, I noticed that no new email had come in on the BlackBerry, even though a lot had come into my desktop computer. Next I went into setup, and selected email settings. My email accounts were both there, and I selected each to check the settings. Each complained the the device PIN (unique identifier for a specific phone) had changed. So, I accepted the new PIN, typed my email password, and my new email started arriving again. All’s well that ends well!
One of the complaints I frequently hear about Vista involves the message “Windows has blocked some startup programs.”
Unfortunately, clicking to view the blocked programs just leads to more frustration. Vista does show a list of startup programs, but does not tell which ones are blocked from starting! What to do? Well, you can at least make this annoying and uninformative message go away. Here’s how. Right-click on the Blocked Startup Program icon in the System Tray.
Next, scroll to “Run blocked Program,” and
click on “System Configuration Utility.”
Lastly, check the box labeled, “Don’t show this message or start System Configuration when Windows starts,” and click “OK.” Voila! At last, you should not have to see that annoying message again. And. . . if it ever does rear it’s ugly head again, you know how to fix it.
Now may be a good time to look into a good spam filter or another email address.
An article, in the Wall Street Journal, titled Firm Mines Offline Data To Target Online Ads details how a database marketing firm mates public records, survey information, and tracking cookies secretly placed on people’s computers, to sell this tracking information to web marketers wishing to display targeted ads on your computer. If you think this sounds a bit like a toilet paper company putting a hidden camera in your bathroom, so they can offer to sell their product when you run low, you are not far off the mark. Should you be concerned? Absolutely! Is there anything you can do about it? Yes!
In Internet Explorer, click on Tools — Internet Options — Privacy. You can either set the privacy level to Medium or higher — up to Block All Cookies, or you could click on Advanced, and check Override automatic cookie handling, and Block first party cookies and third party cookies, then check Always allow session cookies. This last option should allow you to login to your bank or brokerage. You may want to experiment a bit. While you are at it, under the General tab of Internet Options, (assuming Internet Explorer 7) you can click on Delete — Delete all. Please be aware that doing so will delete all cookies, form data and passwords that Internet Explorer has stored on your computer. This may cause you some inconvenience, but will help protect your online privacy.
Taking these precautions will make it impractical for marketers to monetize your online privacy. While you’re still outraged, why don’t you write to your congressperson and request legislation to protect your privacy?