Thursday, September 15, 2016

Your Phone Can Be Easily Hacked

Many people argue over which phone is best: Iphone or Android. According to a report repeated on the September 4th episode of 60 Minutes, that argument is moot when it comes to hacking, as both types are just as vulnerable.

Since some of the world’s best hackers are in Germany, Sharyn Alfonsi, a 60 Minutes correspondent, went to Berlin to interview Dr. Karsten Nohl, the head of Security Research Labs. During the day, the lab advises Fortune 500 companies on computer security. At night, the team looks for vulnerabilities in the devices we use every day—smart phones USB sticks, and SIM cards—so they can warn the public about the risks. Right now, they are concentrating on mobile phone networks.

With just a phone number, Nohl claimed he could get into Alfonsi’s phone and retrieve all her transactions (including credit card numbers), track her location, see where she went, which people she met and when, see who she calls and what they say, and read her texts.

To test this claim, 60 Minutes sent an off-the-shelf iPhone to Representative Ted Lieu of California along with the telephone number registered to it. Lieu agreed to use the phone knowing it would be hacked. Alfonsi called from Berlin and Nohl hacked in.

How did he do it? By exploiting a security flaw in the Signaling System Seven (SS7), the global network that connects phone carriers, though he admitted that some were easier to hack than others. He recorded the congressman’s calls and tracked his movements in Washington and back in California. Lieu admitted that this was "immensely troubling."

John Hering, who cofounded the mobile security company, Lookout, when he was 23, has developed a free app that scans mobile phones for malware and alerts users when the phones are attacked. According to Hering, there are only two types of companies and people: those who have been hacked and realize it and those who have been hacked and don’t.

He claims that most phone hacks are not via SS7 but via spoofing, explaining that people install malicious applications and willingly give up their passwords every day.

60 Minutes contacted the cellular phone trade association, which claimed that SS7 attacks could not happen on a U.S. network but are only a problem on foreign ones. The hacking of Lieu’s 60 Minutes phone, however, proved exactly the opposite.

The problem is that the world’s intelligence agencies don’t want this flaw fixed. Leiu stated that the people who know about it and aren't doing anything to rectify it should be fired. Adds Hering, "We live in a world where we cannot trust the technology that we use."

To read the full transcript of this story, please go to

Friday, August 19, 2016

If You Want to Sell Your Book Traditionally, Don’t Brand Yourself an Amateur

Are you considering publishing your book traditionally? If so, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the correct process before even attempting to contact anyone. Assuming your manuscript is of publishable quality, that means beginning with learning to write a query letter. Before we talk about how to write one, let’s talk about what not to do.

An editor friend of mine received the following email query from an aspiring author:

Dear Editors,
    Please consider publishing my book, part of which is in the attachment below.

Warm regards, Bob
What’s wrong here? First of all, it was sent to many editors at once, and all names appeared in the TO: field, 101 in total. In addition, there are several things the writer needs to know before contacting a publisher:

1.      Does the publisher accept query letters that are not submitted by an agent? If not, he/she should stop here.

2.      Does the publisher accept books from first-time authors?

3.      Does the publisher accept the type of book the author is pitching?

4.      Has the publisher published a book like this already? If so, your chances are slim.

5.      What does the publisher want to see? Query letter? Synopsis? Sample chapters? All of the above? Some of the above?

6.      What is the name of the specific editor handling that type of book?
A query letter is equivalent to the cover letter accompanying a resume when applying for a job. A well-written one will get the editor to request more material or read what was submitted. The query letter above that Bob sent tells the editor one thing: He is an amateur who doesn’t know what he’s doing, so the manuscript is no doubt just as poorly written. Since Bob doesn’t know how to write a query, he has probably also not researched the company to see what the requirements are for submission.

Editors are busy people. They read hundreds of queries per week. They can’t waste time on those that aren’t properly submitted. Bob’s query was so amateurish that it wouldn’t have mattered if he’d written the great American novel, since it wouldn’t have been read. The conclusion would have been drawn that the manuscript was just as amateurish.
They would have been right. Bob’s attached fiction manuscript was certainly neither submitted properly nor of publishable quality. For starters, it was in 26-point font rather than the required 12-point font and contained not one sentence of dialogue. There is no point elaborating on the numerous other problems.

My editor friend took the time to write Bob and let him know that he needed to learn to write a proper query letter, that he needed to research Writer’s Market for the proper way to submit to the publishers he had in mind, and that he also needed to learn proper manuscript format.
Did Bob heed this advice? Apparently not, for six weeks later, this editor received the identical query from him once again!

Writing a proper query letter is an art. It takes study and practice. A normal query is one page (not one sentence) and consists of four main paragraphs:

Paragraph 1 – Usually one sentence and provides a hook into the main point of the book.  
Paragaph 2 – Mini-synopsis: Write a short overview of the plot if the book is fiction or the overall concepts if the book is non-fiction. This could be broken into two paragraphs, if necessary.

Paragraph 3 – Your writing credits (if you have some)
Paragraph 4 – A pleasant closing

To learn to write a query letter, check out these websites:

Also, go to for great sample query letters for both fiction and nonfiction.
As with any field, showing yourself as a professional is the first step to accomplishing your goals. Don’t be like Bob and brand yourself an amateur before you even get out of the gate. Make sure your manuscript is the best possible and then learn to write a query letter that will get the editor to read your submission.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Barnes & Noble Makes Stunning Announcement

In a move that amazed the writing/publishing industry, Barnes & Noble has announced that it will offer self-publishers with Nook e-books the chance to get their work into the chain’s bookshelves and to hold signings in their stores. But is this opportunity all that it seems to be?
Traditional publishers and professional writers understand B&N’s hesitation to consider such an action in the past. There have been too many self-published books lacking proper structure and editing uploaded onto Amazon and other platforms. In addition, the number of titles from reputable publishers overflowed their shelves, so B&N didn’t need to spend time reviewing self-published books to find the gems that were essentially needles in a haystack.
Anyone who has visited one of their stores lately, however, will notice that the reading inventory is drastically down. In the past, books were always spine out to allow the maximum to be crowded onto each shelf. Now, many are face out to take up the empty space. In addition, much of the store is filled with other merchandise, such as toys, games, puzzles, and music.
Why has the book inventory dropped? Because most people are buying their reading material—both e-book and print book—from Amazon and other discount online bookstores. Trying to win back a share of the market is the motivation for B&N’s new program, and most writers and readers don’t want to see them go out of business.
There are some additional qualifications for Nook self-publishers for B&N’s new program.
1.      The bookshelf plan is available only for those print-book authors who have published e-book versions for the Nook and whose sales of a single e-book title have totaled 1000 units in the past year.
2.      The in-store events are for those print-book authors whose sales of a single e-book title have totaled 500 units in the past year.
While this is definitely a step in the right direction, Nook indie authors shouldn’t get overexcited. While small-press publishers have been able to get their books into B&N’s catalog by sending them to the Small Press Department for review, there is no guarantee that any book will be accepted. This is also true with the new program. Books must be submitted to this same department for review, and submission does not promise a positive result.
In a story in Book Business Insight, Thad McIlroy raised the following questions: How many copies will be ordered? How long will they stay on the shelves? Where will they be displayed? What about returns? In his view, these unanswered questions are cause for concern.
He has a valid point. Most books from major publishers are on the shelves for only 90 days before being returned. This’s why most wholesalers and bookstores pay after 90 days. This allows them the time to return the books without having laid out any money. The financial burden is on the publisher. The exceptions to the 90-day practice are bestsellers and longtime sellers. Major publishers and many small presses have warehouses in which returns can be stored. Self-publishers usually don’t.
Self-publishers have to keep their eyes wide open if they get a deal with any major retailer, whether bookstore or box store. Consider the following scenario: Let’s say B&N—or any other retailer, for that matter—orders 1,000 copies for stores around the country. The author, no doubt thrilled, puts up the money to print that many copies and gleefully ships them off, no doubt at his or her own expense.
But what if only 50 copies sell? What will happen to the other 950? The store will want to return them. What will the author do then? The money for printing has been spent and no money has been received from the buyer. The author is faced with storing those copies in his/her garage. And who pays the return shipping?
How will the books be sold now? This is equivalent to vanity publishing before Print on Demand, when the copies ended up in the garage and stayed there, since most self-publishers had no knowledge of how to market their work. The same is true today. Authors without this knowledge will end up paying a fortune to have someone else do it.
When an opportunity arises that seems really good, do your homework before taking action. A sale like this can be dangerous for the author’s financial stability. Research the more traditional ways of independent publishing, such as Print on Demand. Wait and see how the B&N program works out before jumping in.
As stated, this could very well be a step in the right direction by B&N, but caveat emptor. What might sound like a good opportunity for self-publishers may not be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, after all.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Oh, no! ABC Cancels Castle

ABC has canceled Castle. I am so totally bummed! The show was supposed to return next season without Stana Katic (Kate Beckett) and under a revised format, but, alas, that is not to be.

I’m sure most writers loved this program, not only because the main character, Richard Castle, played by Nathan Fillion, pens murder mysteries, but because of the comedic nature of the very well-written scripts. Richard Castle consults with the NYPD, where he met his wife, Captain Beckett.  When investigating the scenes of crimes, his bullet-proof vest doesn’t say “Police”; it says, “Writer.” These little touches and Fillion’s campy portrayal of Richard Castle make for a very entertaining show.

On the other hand, Fillion tweeted that he hoped casting agents wouldn’t think that’s the only way he can act and that they would realize how versatile he is. Let’s hope they do. I know that as much as I will miss his portrayal of Richard Castle, I am looking forward to what he is going to do next.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How I Overcame Lack of Support and Became a Writer Anyway

Whenever I do school visits to talk about my middle-grade paranormal mystery series, The Phantom Hunters, educators often ask me if I had a grade-school teacher who encouraged me.

The unfortunate answer is no.

Perhaps it was because I went to a Catholic grade school where the emphasis was on recruiting priests and nuns.

I decided I wanted to be a writer as early as the 4th grade. Granted my early “novels” consisted mainly of first chapters about a stallion watching over a herd of mares and foals—typical adolescent subject matter for the time.

In 5th grade, however, a freelance writer (let’s call him “Mr. Smith”) visited our class to help us with fiction. I had high hopes of producing a quality tale worthy of praise, but rather than nurturing our imaginations, he told us to compose a story about a chair and, in the next session, one about an angel. Neither of these topics inspired me. I wanted to write about cowboys and horses and the Old West.  

In 7th grade, we lucked out with a lay teacher instead of a nun. Maybe since he wasn’t in the religious life, my fortune might change! I tried to get Mr. Elmer to read my chapters, but he really didn’t want to. Was it because he later followed this school’s wishes for vocational callings and became a priest?

Because of Mr. Smith, however, I felt discouraged about “creative writing” classes and didn’t take any in high school or college because I thought I’d be told what to produce. In addition, I avoided working on the school newspapers and yearbooks for the same reason. I later realized this was a severe mistake on my part and very shortsighted.

Unfortunately, I let the one negative experience from grade school influence my thinking and limit my avenues of creative opportunity throughout my remaining educational years. To this day, I regret it.

My senior year of high school, I was in an advanced placement English class. The teacher (let’s call him Mr. Jones), hated my writing, and despite being up until 2 AM every night doing his assigned homework, I never seemed to manage an A. I got my satisfaction, however, when I won the All-City Theme Contest. I’ll never forget how he sputtered announcing the results to the students.

Motivated by this win and undeterred by Mr. Jones, after I graduated from college, my thoughts returned to becoming an author. I wrote my first book—a western, of course—while I was living on a Norwegian-turned-British oil tanker (another whole story that is the subject of my next book). The western remains unpublished, since, in it, I made every error listed in “Common Mistakes Beginning Authors Make.” 

When I returned to the United States, I was thrilled to discover a “Writing for Publication” class through Adult Education. Surely, this class would encourage students in pursuing their own ideas. The instructor, Anne Ewing, a well-known writer, loved my work, and I was exhilarated when, after hearing one of my chapters of my second novel, a sci-fi, she said with enthusiasm, “This girl is going to sell!”

At last, I had found a teacher who supported me.

She invited me and one other student to apply for membership in the prestigious Writers’ Club of Whittier, a critique group that started in 1953 and of which she was a founding member. Through that group, I refined my skills, and I finally started selling articles and short stories. (The WCW is still going this day and celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2013.)

I finished the novel I had started prior to Ms. Ewing’s class, but several years passed before I sold my first book-length work, a non-fiction hardcover called Inside Out: The Wonders of Modern Technology. A four-book contract quickly followed for a series called Breakthroughs in Science. In addition, I sold articles to national trade magazines and a few short stories to consumer magazines. Since that time, altogether, I have published 26 books and about 200 articles.

The moral of the story is that I made it despite negative experiences and a lack of encouragement from grade- and high-school teachers. My advice to everyone who wants to be a writer is to ignore naysayers. Don’t let them discourage you. Listen to your own inspiration, to people who offer constructive critique and help you develop your own voice and your craft.  

Write on!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

In Memoriam - Dan Poynter

Last November 3, 2015, the writing/publishing world lost guru and visionary Dan Poynter from cancer at age 77. As the author of some 130 books, including The Self-Publishing Manual, now in its 16th edition, and the sequel, The Self-Publishing Manual, Volume 2, Dan was the go-to person for authors who wanted to produce a quality book without navigating the time-consuming process of traditional publishing. Both books are considered “bibles” for independent writers and those running small presses.

Through the workshops at his home and the countless seminars he conducted, Dan did a superb job of educating writers on the realities of the publishing industry and keeping them up-to-date with its constantly changing trends. His high energy and affable personality motivated his many followers.

A founding member of the Independent Book Publishers’ Association (IBPA) (formerly the Publishers’ Marketing Association (PMA)) and of the IBPA chapter, the Publishers’ Association of Los Angeles (PALA), Dan was a frequent speaker at publishing events all over the country.

Many of us are lucky enough to have known Dan personally and to have attended one of his terrific weekend workshops at his Santa Barbara home.

His loss was a heavy blow to all of us and others who relied on his work, knowledge, and wisdom. Coming to terms with it has not been easy. Now the shock has begun to wear off and the reality is only just beginning to sink in.

His Publishing Poynters newsletter no longer arrives in our email inboxes. There will be no more updates to his books. His shoes will be very hard to fill and he will be forever missed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Why are E-book Sales Really Stagnate?

Why have e-book sales dropped since 2014? Two issues emerge to answer this question. One concerns e-books from major publishers and the other those from independent authors and publishers.

E-books from Major Publishers
In a recent article in the Seattle Times, business reporter Angel Gonzalez discussed the decline in e-book sales from major publishers and the fact that purchasers seem to prefer print books over e-books.

She cites the reason as the contracts the Big 5 publishers have with Amazon, which allow them to retain price control while Amazon receives a bigger cut. This results in a sales price that rivals, if not surpasses, that of the hardcover or paperback versions.

Who wouldn’t prefer the print edition if it is the same price or less than the e-book version?

E-books from Independent Authors
According to Codex’s Hildick-Smith, says Gonzalez, Indie authors and publishers published one million e-books on Amazon in 2015. They currently have 45% of the e-book market, largely, no doubt, because their prices have stayed low.

There is a caveat, however. “Most of those [books] sold only a few copies,” Gonzalez quotes Hildick-Smith as saying, “though a few sellers are doing well.”

While many small publishers produce work that looks as professional as books coming from the major publishers, why do the majority of indie authors have low sales? Two reasons may be to blame. The first is that many self-published books have not been professionally edited. Once a buyer downloads a book full of grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors or advertised as a “book” when it is only 30 pages long, that buyer probably will never order any more of the writer’s other work.

Could it be that buyers perceive print books as having the quality they expect?

This is a good lesson for indie authors. If you want to make a good impression and have a real career as a writer, your work must be as professional as a book coming from a major publisher. Taking shortcuts will only shortcut your career. Spend the money to have your manuscript thoroughly critiqued and edited before you upload it to Amazon. Don’t rely on your English teacher aunt or a good friend. Hire a professional editor. Your future sales rely on it.

The second reason that most indie authors sell only a few copies is that they don’t market their work because they either don’t know how or don’t want to. A comment often heard from writers is, “I want to write, not market.” What good is having your work for sale on the Internet if no one buys it?

For authors who publish traditionally, the days of hiding in their garrets while the publishers do all the marketing ended decades ago. Unless they are in the league of Stephen King or John Grisham with a long list of blockbusters to their credit, authors have to do their own marketing. Their next books will not be picked up unless they do.

Indie authors have no choice but to market their work themselves if they hope to make sales. While marketing is definitely a learned skill, the beauty of it is that most of it can be done for low to no cost.

There are plenty of free webinars to attend that deal with the how-to’s of selling books online. Kathleen Gage ( and Tom Antion (www.greatinternetmarketing .com) are two gurus whose advice is invaluable. Social media, which costs nothing at this point, great copywriting, and building relationships with your potential buyers are the ways to selling success. The key is to divide your time between writing and marketing so that you don’t have to sacrifice either.

The Bottom Line
The future of e-book sales is in the hands of independent writers and publishers. If they keep their prices lower than those of print books, e-books should continue to flourish even if the major publishers lose out on this lucrative market share.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Logo Design Tips and Advice for New Businesses

NOTE: I am pleased to have Harry Goldberg as my guest blogger for this post. Many thanks to Harry for the wonderful article.
                                                                                                                - Carol J. Amato

You've gotten your online store all set up. But the thing is, you haven't had the time to put together a cool logo design to brand yourself. Don't sweat it out. Here are a few tips and advice for new merchants to consider.

Time Versus Money
If you happen to be strapped for cash, you could choose to come up with your own business logo by yourself. But the thing is, many new merchants do not really know how to design a logo and they do not want to pay an expensive rate to have one designed for them by professional designers. So the question is, do you have plenty of time to create one or are you pressing for time and need to get your store up and running as soon as possible? If time is not an issue for you, you keep create your own logo by yourself or ask friends to help you out with it; however, if you have some budget allocated for it, then my advice would be to have it professionally created by logo designers.

What To Watch Out For?
These days, getting a logo design created by professional designers is a fairly simple process. But bear these tips in mind when looking for a reputable one. Always choose designers that are able to offer you unlimited revisions. Because you're gong to pay them upfront first, you need to be certain that they will comply with your decisions on how you want your logo to look like and to make the necessary changes until you are satisfied. You wouldn't want to end up with a half-baked logo that you don't like, right? And reputable designers will have a money back guarantee since they are committed to delivering quality designs. It could cover website, templates, business cards, letterheads and envelope designs. Choose what you require for your business. This range of logo design services are usually offered by professional logo design companies.

Have A Practical Time Frame
Of course don't expect everything to be finalized in a day or two. Give yourself a week or two time frame as you need to be practical in allowing the designers to tweak your designs till you are satisfied. If you want a more customized website look, you could ask them to create special buttons or a customized template for your store. Remember to do some price comparison around and also have a look at the company's client portfolio to get an idea on what they could do for their previous clients.

You will be able to see what a difference a professionally designed logo or template will look for your site. Remember to have your logos trademarked to protect it from being copied by others. All the best.

Harry Goldberg is a retired ecommerce entrepreneur who has built and sold over 100 online stores. He now shares his ideas and tips about logo design for new businesses. New merchants could check out the range of logo design services offered by professional logo design companies that will help make their site better in a shorter span of time.

Article Source:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Trends in Publishing for 2016

More changes have occurred in the publishing industry in the last ten years than in the previous hundred. Keeping up with current trends is critical for all writers whether pursuing a large press, a small press, or a service like CreateSpace.

What are the trends for 2016?

On January 25th, the Independent Writers of Southern California (IWOSC) presented a panel discussion on this topic. You may not like the shocking answers. Moderated by Telly Davidson, a TV and film consultant and author of Culture War (due out in 2017), the panel consisted of David Gonzalez, events manager at Skylight Books and author of several short stories; Gerald Everett Jones, author of Bonfire of the Vanderbilts, his sixth novel; Monica Faulkner, editing and publishing consultant; Tom Benton, sales representative for Penguin/ Random House; and Megan Close, associate agent for Keller Media.

Most writers are aware that, these days, to sell a book through an agent, they must have a platform: expertise, a website, social media connections, and a blog, newsletter, or video channel. What they may not know is that the number of followers is also critical. Authors must demonstrate, said Megan Close, how they will make money for the publisher. In addition, they must be among the “beautiful people” (look like movie stars), a bias most attendees found disconcerting.

When pressed, Close admitted that the major publishers won’t consider taking on authors who aren’t famous outside their own circles. A preference for non-fiction authors is for them to have TV shows on news channels like FOX, CNN, MSNBC, etc., so that they can bring in large audiences. The large audience issue applies to fiction writers, also, however. This factor, in essence, eliminates most unknown or new writers from ever getting published by a major house. Davidson stated that the rejection rate of new authors is ninety percent. For this reason, he advised unknown writers to seek out a smaller or small press.

Regardless of the mode of publishing or whether the book is fiction or non-fiction, Monica Faulkner stressed the need for writers to act like “CEOs” of their own “companies” when it comes to marketing. All writers must have a marketing plan, she said. Gerald Everett Jones stressed the need for a self-published author to be cross-platform: audio, print, and e-book.

Jones also discussed a new free service: Pronoun. This company publishes video e-books, and he predicted that it will either compete with Smashwords or buy it out. It offers an author dashboard that will show sales on all e-book platforms. A requirement is that the author must use Pronoun’s ISBN.

The trends are definitely not encouraging. While new authors can have expertise and a platform, their audiences may not be large, and having a TV news show or movie star looks isn’t possible for most.

What can they do? Considering everything that these professionals discussed, one can conclude that perhaps the best approach is to build a platform and publish through a smaller or small press, or self-publish the book then approach a major publisher or agent once a sales track record has been established. The marketing plan must play a central role, however, no matter which route the author follows.

So, writers, what are your plans?


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Protecting Your Home Computer System From Hackers and Identity Thieves

Anyone who has had his or her email address hijacked or has received a scam message via email knows how easily someone can hack into a home computer system. At the January IEEE CyberSecurity SIG general meeting in Tustin, California, Mark Wich, a senior-level systems/software engineer with more than 30 years of experience in systems and network engineering and member of the SIG, presented “Protecting Your Home Environment from Hackers and Identity Thieves.” His talk covered several areas: wi-fi, anti-viruses, operating system security, email, web surfing, cookies, and password security. Here are the highlights.

Wich advised changing the default wi-fi router SSID and passwords and adding MAC filtering, which lets specific devices only talk to your home network. Since the latter is difficult to set up, contact your provider for instructions.

Anti-virus Protection
Wich emphasized installing only one virus protection program. He suggested Avast, which is free, and that you scan weekly.

Operating System Security
Every computer should ask for a password when powered up. Change passwords every so often.

Email Do’s and Don’ts

1.   Inform your email provider of any phishing scams you receive. Keep your anti-virus program running.

2.   Don’t open attachments from people you don’t know.

3.   Don’t click on links inside emails even if you think you know where you’re going. If it appears like a legitimate link from your bank, for instance, hover your mouse over it to see who the sender is. Banks (and government institutions) do not ask for personal information via email, so if you have any doubt that it could be the bank, click out and go to the bank website via your browser or call their customer service.

Surfing 101
Don’t click on ads or any pop-ups. Just displaying them can infect your computer, so Wich advises installing ad-blocking software and webmail ad-blocking software. Make sure your browser’s pop-up blocker is enabled.

Beware of any pop-up that says your computer is infected. Don’t click on it to make it go away as that will launch the virus. Instead, unplug the computer from the wall right away.

Ransomeware is a specific type of virus. When you click on the popup to get rid of it, it immediately hijacks your computer and encrypts your data. You will have to pay a ransom to get your data back. Again, don’t click on the popup. Unplug your computer instead.

"Don’t let websites, even ones such as Paypal and Amazon, store your personal information, as you are dependent upon their level of security," says Wich.. “If you don’t give it to them, they can’t lose it. And never use your phone for online banking, as it, too, is easily hacked.”

He also warned against using cloud services because of the hacking danger.

Cookies are bits of data that websites store on your computer. Turn off cookies in your browser.

Password Security

Wich’s most detailed suggestions concern instant password security. Here are the steps:

1.  Get a notebook.

2.  Pick a phrase to use as your password (e.g., tomato4soup).

3.  In your notebook, write three things:

a.  Site name

b.  Username

c.  Password nickname (e.g., tword)

4.   Repeat Step 3 for all your sites/
usernames/passwords, but use different versions for each one.  

 .   Here’s an example:

Citibank   - milominderbender, tword4

Yahoo – milominder2, Tword7

Gmail – milo123, Tword35

5.  Take a picture of your notebook on your phone.

These may seem like many tasks to perform, but take Wich’s suggestions one-by-one to reduce overwhelm and keep your computer safe from hackers.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Our Urgent Need for Cybersecurity

As Andy Greenberg drove his Jeep Cherokee down the highway, he watched in surprise as his air conditioning, radio, and windshield wipers went on and off by themselves. Then his transmission shut down. Greenberg panicked as he rolled to a stop on an upslope, with a 16-wheeler bearing down on him. Relief swept over him as he noticed an off-ramp just ahead, and he managed to roll the Jeep down it, then stop and restart the engine. The car was once again under his control.
This wasn’t what I expected when I agreed to volunteer for this experiment, Greenberg thought. My life wasn’t supposed to be threatened.

Yes, this was an experiment, set up by two researchers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, From 10 miles away, they hacked into the Jeep’s entertainment system as Greenberg drove and manipulated the vehicle’s electronic systems. Luckily, Greenberg wasn’t injured, but if this situation had been under the command of a nefarious killer, that killer could have ensured the truck hit him. In a second experiment with Greenberg, Miller and Valasek killed the engine, disabled the brakes, then sent.the Jeep crashing into a ditch.

These experiments show that our technology makes us vulnerable to attack. The need for cybersecurity is real.

But what is cybersecurity?

While countries and organizations have different definitions for this new field, cybersecurity can generally be defined as the technology and methodology designed to protect computers, programs, and data from attack, damage, or unauthorized access. The field is growing, and more and more companies are specializing in providing these services. Robert Herjavec of Shark Tank fame owns such a company.

Most people will remember the well-publicized cyber attacks on Target Stores and Sony Pictures, but these major corporations are not the only victims. Criminals are going after medical as well as financial data, costing the healthcare industry $6 billion annually.

Furthermore, what most people don’t know is that networks, computers, and data aren’t the only areas subject to cyber attack. A new term is “The Internet of Things,” which is the network of computer chips embedded in all electronic devices. Everything these days has a chip in it, from your car to the coffeemaker sitting on your kitchen counter. Tech thieves don’t have to kill people with hit men or guns. Instead, they can hack into a car as it is driven and cause it to crash or access a house’s electrical system and electrocute people as, for example, they use their appliances or toggle a light switch.

To be sure, these are frightening thoughts, but legitimate ones nonetheless. The most vulnerable items are newer cars and appliances with Internet connections, such as refrigerators that allow you to browse the web or with a camera that allows you remote access from your cell phone. After Miller’s and Valasek’s experiment, Chrysler took steps to block digital attacks in their vehicles and recalled 1.4 million of them.

A threat of even more concern, cyber espionage, was recently featured on a recent segment of 60 Minutes. It discussed, in this case, the Chinese government’s spies no longer stealing just classified information from our military but trade secrets and intellectual property from American companies. Said John Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, “Instead of doing their own research and development, the Chinese are stealing the information they need…. A private company can’t compete against the resources of the second-largest economy in the world.” This theft has cost U.S. companies hundreds of billions of dollars and more than two million jobs and is considered a major threat to national security.

Many universities now offer classes in cybersecurity and most medium-to-large companies have departments set up to keep their data safe.

So, what can the average citizen do?

You can join the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers’ (IEEE’s) new CyberSecurity Special Interest Group (CyberSecurity SIG). Go to CyberSecuritySIG. Made up of experts and novices alike, its purpose is to educate the members on all aspects of cybersecurity and how to deal with them. Go to the group’s website at to download information on this topic and copies of the newsletter.

The group holds a general meeting on the fourth Wednesday of the month, excluding November and December, so if you are in Southern California, plan to attend. The address is ATEP, 15445 Lansdowne Road, Room D106, Tustin, California. Networking is at 6:30 PM and the meeting is at 7 PM. Admission is free. Dinner is available for $5.

Watch for follow-up articles on this blog.

Also check out the list of links below, which will take you to posts about this topic.!Overview medium=cpc&utm_term=keyword&utm_campaign=SWCCS

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Harry Potter Story!

Harry Potter fans will be thrilled to hear that a new story is set for publication on July 31, 2016. Titled Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts I and II, the story is actually a play written by John Thorne and based on a J. K. Rowling short story. It takes place 19 years after the end of Book 7’s epilogue.

Now a father of three and an unhappy employee of the Ministry of Magic, Harry discovers that his youngest son, Albus, is having a hard time dealing with his family legacy.

The play version will begin a run in London this summer, so if you’re in England during that time, stop in to see Harry and his family in person!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Great Bookstore!

When you think of Las Vegas, images of glitz, glam, neon lights, fabulous hotels, and smoke-filled casinos usually come to mind. That was certainly my image—of the Strip, at any rate.  That is, until I discovered the hidden gem in between the Palazzo and Venetian hotels that I would never have expected to find.

That hidden gem is Bauman Rare Books, a book lovers’ dream! Inside this manor house library-style store is  a feast for any writer’s  or reader’s eyes—original  works by people whose names jump from the pages of history: Shakespeare, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, Zebulon Pike, and Edward Curtis—the list goes on.  

I stood before the glass-fronted, dark wood cabinets, drooling over the ancient leather-bound texts, wishing I could reach through the glass and take that book by George Washington carefully from the shelf. I pictured myself sitting in one of the comfortable couches and reading for the afternoon, lovingly turning each fragile page. Alas, I had to be satisfied staring through the glass doors.

Owners David and Natalie Bauman began their company in 1973 with a box of 18th-century imprints. They loved literature and history and believed that starting a rare bookstore would be an interesting way to earn a living.

Nearly thirty-five years later, Bauman Rare Books has evolved into one of the finest and most respected antiquarian book firms. It has two other locations: New York City on Madison Avenue, between 54th and 55th Streets, and Philadelphia at the historic Sun-Oil Building on Walnut Street  (the main hub).  

“When we try to pinpoint what really distinguishes our company, we come up with one factor over and over again: dedication to our clients,” says David Bauman.” Our relationships don’t last for a month or two; many of our clients are with us for years, as we build their collections book by book together.”

He adds, “Whatever your interests—literary classics, landmarks in the history of ideas, monumental accounts of travel and exploration, revolutionary scientific and medical works, exquisite decorative bindings and sets, beloved children’s books, inscribed and association copies—we have much to offer from our extensive and constantly changing inventory.”

I agree with him wholeheartedly. On your next trip to Las Vegas, Philadelphia, or New York, treat yourself to this must-see store. You’ll be glad you did!

Click here to see a video of the store.