Posted on March 11, 2013
Recognize that you are not alone! From the Spamlaws.com site:
“Spam accounts for 14.5 billion messages globally per day.”
A major portion of spam is generated by hacked email accounts. Being aware of such statistics, we must be diligent.
But that’s not always easy.
Crafty spammers lure victims into opening the email by using intriguing subject lines or a scary warning message or raise curiosity by using an enticing subject.
Most of us have received an email at one point or another with the subject need help and something about being stuck in some foreign place and needing money.
Likely as not, the email is not from a friend. The logical thing to do is simply delete, but, if you have world traveling friends, you hesitate.
When my email account was hacked and starting sending out the I’m stranded emails, relatives and friends who knew we did a lot of travel oversea actually called to verify the email was not from me.
But it’s not just those I’m stranded emails that suck us into responding.
Official looking mails with subjects like “Yahoo or PayPal or your Bank or Credit Card Company is verifying your account information” are a favorite ploy of hackers.
No matter how legitimate those emails appear, NEVER respond or click on any links. Credible sources will NOT ask for your password.
All that’s good to know information, you say, but it comes too late.
What should I do now that my email acount’s been hacked?
Here are my suggestions:
· Check your computer’s security.
This is the very first step. Until you do this, any other steps are useless.
Make sure, no matter which operating system you use, your anti-virus and anti-malware programs are up-to-date. With most programs, you can set the software program to automatically update when new security fixes are available.
If you cannot afford security software, you can find quality free security software. Simply search ’best free security software reviews’ in your preferred search engine.
· Change your password and make it stronger.
For tips and suggestions on how to do this, read the first part of this series here.
Next, and equally important, develop the habit of changing your passwords often.
· Send an email to all your contacts saying you were hacked.
Be sure to include notifying any site boards or loops to which you belong.
No reason to be embarrassed. Remember the statistics. Being hacked will happen to all of us at some point.
· Smarten up about spam, phishing, and scams.
If the little voice in your head says an email looks suspicious, it probably is!
Do NOT click on any links unless you are sure of the source. If you’re unsure, you should copy and paste the link into your browser.
· Validate any program, game, app, video, or song before downloading.
Statistics show that one out of every fourteen downloads contains malware, and planting malware on your computer is how hackers hijacked your email in the first place. Hackers crack anti-malware and anti-virus software almost as fast as it is developed.
Know the source you are downloading from!
And always be on guard.
YOUR TURN: What measures do you take to protect your email accounts?
Posted on March 8, 2013
A Guest Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara
This morning, as I was filling the chicken waterer, I looked up and saw one of our black chickens in the neighbor’s yard.
I must confess I can’t blame her. The grass was definitely greener on the other side of the fence.
Unfortunately, her desire to be with her flock won over her desire for greener grass. She paced back and forth trying to figure out how to get back over the fence.
Since catching chickens is a frequent event at Miller Farm, my husband devised a “chicken getter” stick. It is a wire hanger with a hook at one end with which you can grab the chickens feet and lift them off the ground.
Chickens become quite calm when hanging upside down so you are then able to hold the chicken and take it wherever you need it to go.
If “chicken getting” were an Olympic event, our Rachel would be a gold medalist. The day before, she had grabbed three bantams from the yard to sell to another chicken lover.
I figured I could just reach over the fence with the “chicken grabber” and get the chicken back where she belonged. I wouldn’t have to walk all the way around and into the neighbor’s back yard.
I soon discovered I am not as adept at grabbing chickens as Rachel. I blame my inability to catch the hen on having to reach over the fence. After several attempts, I gave up and headed next door.
I may not be able to use a “chicken getter,” but my own two hands work quite well. I soon had an armful of chicken, which I promptly dumped back over the fence.
Everyone was where he or she belonged, and we all went on with our day.
Posted on March 1, 2013
Another Guest Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara
Watching the chickens through my kitchen window has become a hobby of mine. Actually watching anything through my kitchen window has always been interesting.
When we lived in Mexico City, my kitchen window looked out on a busy street. I could spend hours just watching the traffic. Now I spend hours watching the chickens and the bees – who are as busy as the traffic some days.
Last week, as I was watching out the window, a shadow passed over the yard.
I thought perhaps a plane was landing in our backyard. However, within seconds, a red tail hawk came into view, a new threat from the sky.
A magnificent creature soaring through the sky. But it preys on chickens and a chicken wrangler and chicken eater are mortal enemies forever.
I turned my gaze to the chicken yard where half the chickens were under the trees on the left of the yard and the other half were out of view on the right.
They may have birdbrains, but our chickens know a threat when they see one.
This hawk sighting confirmed our suspicions about the recent disappearance of a bantam chick. Most of the chickens are too heavy to carry off, but not the bantams.
The hawk flew away, and the chickens on the left quickly ran across the yard to join the chickens on the right. Once again, they were banding together against a common enemy – this time a bird of a different feather.
Freedom, one of our first roosters, once fought off a hawk, but alas, Freedom was very loud and so had to go live in the country. Now we only have small roosters who are no match for a hawk so all the birds must run for cover.
When I went to gather eggs this afternoon, all the chickens were either in the coop or under the trees. I heard a squealing like that of car brakes, and I knew the hawk was near.
I counted the chickens. None of the smaller bantam hens were missing.
It makes me glad I’m not a chicken.
Posted on February 27, 2013
I guess that’s why the Native Americans named it The Snow Moon. Read more about Native American full moon names here.
Edie Melson snapped another full moon picture and added a quote. She’s very generously allowed me to share here on One Word Wednesday.
Isn’t that a wonderful quote from Sandburg?
I wasn’t lonesome , but I did quote a poem I learned as a wee little girl, I See the Moon.
I see the moon, the moon sees me,
God bless the moon and God bless me:
There’s grace in the cottage and grace in the hall;
And the grace of God is over us all.
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the next full moon – called the Full Worm Moon or Lenten Moon – will be March 27th.
Don’t miss the opportunity to go out and chat with our friend the moon.
Posted on February 25, 2013
I celebrated my first blog-iversary yesterday. (Isn’t that the coolest word my fellow WANAmate, Liv Rancourt, made up?)
Today I want to talk about eight things I’ve learned about blogging over the last year.
1. You don’t have to be an expert on something to blog.
Write as if you’re sitting on the front porch talking to your best friend.
2. Blog often.
It’s a cliché, but blogging is like gardening. Think of your blog as a plant in that garden.
For a garden to thrive, you must tend to the plants daily. And water.
If you only water a plant once every two weeks, it will shrivel. Unless, of course, your garden is a cactus garden and then maybe water once a month will work.
It doesn’t work for blogging.
A blog needs lots of consistent attention to thrive and grow.
3. Change things up.
Unless your blog has a very specific target market, offer a smorgasbord of content.
But maintain consistency. If you normally blog on Mondays, don’t skip.
Your readers expect certain things on certain days.
For example, guest blogger posts from Chicken Wrangler Sara about life on the Miller Farm on Fridays.
4. Try your best to spell words correctly and use proper grammar.
I have misspelled words and posted typos over the course of the past year. Not on purpose, though. I happen to be my own worst copyeditor.
I’m never offended when someone catches a mistake. You shouldn’t be either.
I thank them profusely and sing praises for the day they were born.
That’s the beauty of electronic publishing. Mistakes are easily fixed.
WordPress provides a handy button called edit for fixing the mistakes when a reader emails alerting me to a typo.
5. When writer’s block happens, push through and blog anyway.
Sometimes the muse hides and no amount of pressure can coax her out of hiding. A what am I going to blog about? panic creeps in.
You can’t let it stop you from blogging.
Grab a chocolate bar or a handful of M&Ms. (It helps!)
Then head over to YouTube and do a topic or word search.
Or do a Google topic or word search for graphic images.
No words necessary when you post videos or graphic images.
That’s what I do and those posts prove to be some of my most popular blogs.
6. Let your topics set themselves naturally.
I’m talking about the writer’s pantster vs plotter argument for bloggers.
I started out with a plan for what topics to post on what day. (I tend to be a little on the OCD side that way.)
Instead I’ve discover I’m most comfortable rambling about the same things I’d talk to my friend about. (See #1 above)
7. Treasure every person who takes time out of his or her day to stop by your blog.
Respond to their comments.
Acknowledge their tweets or FB comment about your blog post.
Tell ‘em you love ‘em. Regularly.
8. Relax and have fun.
It isn’t only about vast numbers of readership.
Whether you have a small group of regular readers or zillions, I found that if you blog like nobody’s watchin’ (kinda like dancing like nobody’s watchin’) – you really can’t go wrong!
Now you go blog and join the fun.
Posted on February 24, 2013
WordPress.com dates my blog origin from its creation, but I count the first blog I published as the beginning.
That was February 24, 2012, which makes today, February 24 2013, my one year blog anniversary. HAPPY FIRST BLOGGING ANNIVERSARY to me.
It’s been a fun year.
Anniversaries mark accomplishments. Today I’m celebrating 4,200 views, 425 comments, twenty shares, and many blog friends.
My original plan was to blog every day. I managed less than one hundred. You can read that very first blog, here.
No procrastination for me next year, I plan to double the number of posts, which, I hope, will mean more comments and followers.
As a special thank you for sharing in my successes, I’m offering a FREE Kindle or Nook copy of THE PENDANT’S PROMISE to one lucky commenter today.
The book blurb:
For twenty years, Lily Johnson’s life, albeit a life of lies, is good. Then her daughter falls in love and her world is turned upside down.
Her daughter’s fiancé turns out to be the godson of her daughter’s biological father–the Green Beret Lily thought died in Vietnam.
When they meet face-to-face, the years melt away and old passion returns. Only he believes she betrayed her promise to wait for him. And, Lily’s convinced revealing the truth would mean losing her daughter and the only man she’s ever loved.
Can the smoldering flame of love be re-ignited, or have there been too many lies?
The winner will be drawn on Monday, February 25th and notified by email so be sure you include an email contact with your comment.
Thanks for visiting the front porch during the past year. I hope to see you again next year.
Posted on February 22, 2013
A guest blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara
I have previously mentioned how the adolescent roosters resemble adolescent boys, i.e. chest bumping.
Now that the roosters are no longer around, I have noticed how much the hens resemble adolescent girls.
Without the imminent danger of the roosters forcing them to band together in self-defense, the hens are now picking on each other. The “pecking order” phenomenon is especially observable at bedtime when each hen has her spot on the roost.
I keep telling them “Be nice to each other. You are all you have.”
They aren’t listening – any more than adolescent girls listen.
Last night the hens were making all kinds of racket. Rachel, who had shut the coop door, was concerned that something was posing a threat.
The sounds were reminiscent of the possum ordeal so I walked out with the flashlight.
The minute the chickens spotted me, they got quiet.
It reminded me of a girls’ slumber party. All manner of noise comes from the room, but as soon as mom enters – silence.
With the hens, I could at least go back inside knowing they were safe. You never know what girls at a slumber party are going to do.
Posted on February 19, 2013
A weak password is one way your computer can be compromised according to computer security experts at Webroot.
I taught computer literacy for nine years. Computer and internet security was one component of that class. I use what I considered strong passwords.
Yet my email account was recently hacked. It was embarrassing and annoying, but at least I was in good company.
Six e-mail accounts belonging to members of the Bush family were recently hacked with some of the contents posted online. For the full account, read here.
After the Bush episode, most computer users recognize that hacking could happen to ALL of us. After personally being hacked, I am more convinced than ever that no one is immune to a hacker.
If you have weak passwords, you are at even higher risk. I offer these tips to making your password stronger.
- AVOID dictionary words.
Password cracking programs contain a dictionary filled with commonly used dictionary words which means your Harriedme201 is crackable in mere seconds.
- AVOID names.
All of us like to use pet names, favorite book characters, actors or actresses names, or names of places we’ve been. Hackers always look for these. Again easily crackable.
- AVOID using any part of your email account as a password.
This is a hard one to follow because, as professional writers, we all want name recognition. What better way than using our name at our namewebsite.com as our email address. Experts tell us we are asking for trouble without a strong password.
Wt4e-79P-B13^qS is an example of a strong password. So how do you create a STRONG password?
- USE a minimum of 10 characters in your password. Best are passwords with more than 15 characters. Why? The more letters the harder to crack.
- USE uppercase, lower case letter, numbers, and special characters randomly throughout your password. Be creative. Don’t substitute obvious symbols for obvious letters, i.e. 1 or ! for the letter L, @ for A, etc.
Here’s a chart of useable special characters acceptable for password use.
You can also use emoticons smiley faces such as these to create a strong password:
For more ways to change your weak password, check out this site.
Once you have your strong password, follow these suggestions:
- USE a unique password for each site you visit. It’s a daunting task-creating and memorizing multiple passwords. However, it is the smartest way to avoid being hacked.
- CHANGE your password at least twice a year. Better: change it every 45 to 90 days.
- GUARD your passwords. You can use password programs or create your own method, but decide how you’re going to keep up with your passwords and begin keeping track.
Edie Melson has some excellent ideas for safeguarding your passwords. Check out her blog here.
Will using a strong passward prevent hacking of your accounts? Maybe, maybe not, but following these tips can’t hurt.
YOUR TURN: Are you using a weak password?
Posted on February 15, 2013
A guest blog from Chicken Wrangler Sara
There are advantages to raising chickens. They get food and water and sometimes grass, and they are happy.
Humans, on the other hand, need many things.
Last Wednesday proved the last. It’s my usual my day to clean the bathrooms and mop the kitchen floor, but that didn’t happen for three reasons.
Beekeeper Brian called at 8:30 to ask if I could bring him his ID, which he had left on the dresser. Not a problem – I had something to drop off near his school anyway.
Then Rachel texted and asked if I could meet her at the band hall at 10:50 with her jacket. OK, I could still get some things done at the house between taking the ID and taking the jacket.
Then Matthew texted – “Can you go by Thorn (music store) and pick up some drum sticks?” By this time, I was a little frustrated so I told him I would have to see.
After a bit of thougt, I decided taking care of family was more important than a clean bathroom.
As I left the house to make the deliveries, a woman was putting a flyer on my mailbox for a maid service. Rather ironic, it seemed to me considering I really wanted to be at home cleaning house myself.
Instead, I was off delivering things to my humans…
Beekeeper Brian his ID,
Rachel her jacket,
and drumsticks to Matt.
This morning as I fed the chickens I thought about how simple it was to take care of them.
Chickens don’t need IDs.
Chickens don’t need jackets.
Chickens don’t need drumsticks – they already have them.
However, not one of those chickens said “thanks, sweetheart” or ‘Mom, you’re the greatest.”
I realized while there are advantages to raising chickens, they do not outweigh the advantages of raising a family.