Neutralizing the Threat of Malware

Cyber warfare is already in full swing, and you can bet that experts are on their toes in an effort to sustain as much safety in the web as can be maintained. Numerous governments and organizations have shifted their focus to this growing concern and have determined methods to eliminate the danger that the cyber world has posed against them.

Nonetheless, you cannot rely on the actions of these groups for your own security. Each individual involved with the internet shoulders his own weight in this battle. While you can rely on high-tech means of defending yourself, you cannot transfer this burden to another person. You have to be active in establishing and sustaining your own security. Otherwise, you’ll be faced irreversible consequences.

Take refuge in the sliver of positive light that still exists in the web. In it, you’ll find thousands of communities that dedicate time and energy in educating other internet users on the ways that they can protect themselves and their computers. It will never be enough that you have all the latest security software; at the end of the day, the machines can do very little without your wise participation. Here are a couple of tips you can start with to neutralize the threat of malware in your life:

Change your Computer Habits

Others would claim that antivirus software and firewalls are the ultimate solution to this problem; we disagree. To eliminate the suffering, one must first identify its root cause. Begin by reflecting on the abundance of malware in the web and the increasing number of cyber crime victims. How do these criminals penetrate a stranger’s computer? How do these victims get themselves targeted?

The answer lies in computer habits.

Unless you’ve allowed your computer to be vulnerable to assault, cyber criminals and malware alike will have difficulty penetrating your system. If you’ve ever suffered from an attack, take the time to assess your internet activities, particularly the media files you download. Jot them down if you have to. One, two, or maybe all the activities in that list may have been the key used by the enemy to attack you. Beware of these common mistakes that get you in big trouble:

  • Clicking that Link. Let’s specify this to your approach to the emails that land in your mailbox. Do you open even the suspicious looking ones? Is your interest piqued by that link? Are you curious as to the intentions of that childhood friend who hasn’t messaged you for five years for emailing you? The slightest hint that the link and the email altogether are harmful should be enough to stop you from opening it. Call that friend to confirm the authenticity of the email.
  • Forgetting to Log out. Everyone gets struck by laziness whenever they have to remember their lengthy username and lengthy password just to access their account. Many of us assumed that by not logging out, we’re sparing ourselves that trouble. Beware of the hazard you’ve imposed on yourself; hackers take advantage of neglected account and use them as zombies for their cyber crimes. Log in and out of your online accounts to remove one of the many threats you face.
  • Downloading everything. All forms of media files can be infected with malware. Before you click that download button, think twice about the authenticity of the website you’re downloading the file from. In case you are unsure, retreat and find a website that you can put your confidence in. Malware protection software cannot compete with your careless computer usage.

Get to Know Your Antivirus

Installing cloud antivirus protection and resorting to similar security measures are already a given; we need not discuss its importance further. A major point that has to be discussed, however, is your knowledge in navigating this software. Virus protection can only be as efficient as you will it to be; overlook its limitations and it will begin to lose its value.

Make it your obligation to check its status every time you use your computer. Having an updated PC virus protection is required. Is its security patches updated? Moreover, is your antivirus software still capable of defending you? Learn the difference between updating and upgrading it; your ability to weigh your antivirus’ performance will have an impact in your computer’s overall proficiency.

Scan on a Regular Basis

Disregard the automatic features of your antivirus and be responsible enough to initiate a full scan. Do the same to each flash drive and removable hard disk that is connected to your computer, especially if they are not yours and you do not know where they’ve been attached to beforehand. Bear in mind that these gadgets are prone to carrying malware from computer to computer. Perform a custom scan on them before running any file or program in that disk, or else risk transferring the malware to you system.

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School Recess Without the Rules – Is It Better for Our Children?

With the helicopter parent, a mother or father swoops in when they see the first sign of danger or disquiet in their child. Is that how our children’s recess periods are being managed? In this parent’s mind, absolutely. I am a firm believer that children should play outside, use their imagination, and have fun, especially at school. I look around at the “playground” at my son’s school and even I get bored. If anything, children should show a zeal for life.

I grew up in the 80s and they had rules on the playground back then, but nothing compared to the restrictions of today. We could still play tackle football if we promised to play nice, and for the most part nobody really got hurt. Mind you, a bloody nose back then wasn’t a big deal, especially in my home state of Montana, as long as it wasn’t broken. No real harm, no foul. These days a bloody nose might be accompanied by a visit from local law enforcement, or worse, a lawyer.

Are we all wrapping our children in fluffy cotton? How did Generations X and Y come to coddle their children to the point that they have very little in the way of life skills at age 18? I know it might sound a tad cliché, but it was the lawyers. Too many frivolous lawsuits in past years has put school administrators on edge, afraid of the consequences should anything happen to a child while playing. Some lawsuits have been beneficial in helping raise safety standards for all things child related, while others have led to inherently poor policy making, stifling normal child development.

Because of my own personal beliefs, I was eager to learn more when I read about public schools in New Zealand removing the rules on recess. Four schools in West Auckland and four schools in Dunedin have been taking part in a study conducted by Auckland University of Technology and Otago University for the past two years, aiming to promote active play.

Children now play games previously banned such as Bullrush, basically rugby without the ball. Sticks were used to simulate guns, trees were climbed and scooter ramps were installed. Children have the option of wearing a helmet while on the scooter and tackling is the only way to stop a runner playing Bullrush. This wasn’t some kind of playground revolution, it was returning play to a different era. The study’s goal was to see how children behaved during a less restricted recess period. Swanson Primary School took it a step further and eliminated the playground rules altogether. With surprising results.

Not only does the playground look like absolute bedlam during recess but students are happier. Grade point averages have increased significantly and the Swanson School isn’t using the time out room anymore. Let’s face it, packing 30 kids in to a room for 6 to 8 hours a day, five days a week is a recipe for discord. Personalities will clash and kids will get out of hand; including the development of alpha and beta personalities, which can lead to bullying.

Seems none of this is relevant at the Swanson School. Bullying is near non-existent and students are alert and attentive during class. In general, the children seem to get along just fine; better than most families at reunions at least.

According to Grant Schofield, the AUT professor of public health heading the project, there are too many rules in modern playgrounds.

“The great paradox of cotton-woolling children is it’s more dangerous in the long-run.”

He went on to note risk-taking had many benefits and society’s child protection obsession ignores those benefits.

“Children are more likely to get into trouble when they are not motivated and engaged. Parents were happy too because their children were happy”, he said.

Should We Try This in Our Schools?

In this parent’s opinion, absolutely. I have always wanted my son grow up without the superfluous umbrella of safety-zealous policy makers. If my son takes a digger playing and ends up with a boo-boo it’s really of no consequence to me. I have been there and done that, he hasn’t and that is the problem.

Children need to learn consequences early on and learn from them. It’s part of our natural development and without it our chances of leading a full and productive life are slim. Imagine being 30 years old and being unaware of dangers, and real-life penalties. Heck, imagine being 18 and getting behind the wheel for the first, not knowing what risk really is and deciding to find out, using 2,000 pounds of metal moving at 60 mph. Scary thought.

Play, real play without software and flat screens, teaches us skills we will use for the rest of our life. Boys who like to roughhouse, wrestle or just be in physical competition with another kid, develops much needed combat skills. Aside from the physical ability to hold our own, we learn how to hold our own mentally. Imagine growing up not knowing what a challenge really was and your boss gets in your face. Running to the bathroom to cry about it because he was a meanie isn’t going to cut it.

Start the Recess without Rules program today and fast forward 20 years. Your children are all grown up, finishing high school or going to college. They got straight A grades, taken college coursework while still in high school and engaged in extra-curricular activities. They stand tall, speak clearly, treat others with respect and didn’t have behavior problems in school.

They have never been bullied in earnest and certainly aren’t going to start now. Your daughter played varsity football because she runs a 4.4 and has good hands and because there aren’t any rules saying she can’t play with the boys. She isn’t the only female player. She doesn’t wear makeup, doesn’t need it or even think about it, she’s too busy pursuing her dream of working in space for anything so frivolous as makeup or the latest fashion.

Well adjusted, educated, happy people.

What will it take to get schools to at least consider dropping many of the current restrictions? I’m not totally sure, but I plan on bringing it up with the other parents in my son’s school. We might have a small school and small classes here in Saquache, CO, which might make things a little easier. With any luck, we can become a model for other schools, and to society at large. Let’s let our kids grow up, not just grow.

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How Much Is Real Out There?

Humans are good at plenty of stuff. Whatever anybody has been able to imagine over the centuries, somebody, somewhere has come up with it.

Painting, music, scientific discoveries, incredible inventions, the list goes on and on and on.

However, there’s on thing that we are ALL good at, but most of us don’t even know it.

Self Deception.

What do I mean?

Consider this. If you talk to a person who has the opposite political beliefs you do, it’s easy to see how they can “cherry pick” the data to support their views. They only watch those “news” shows that support their pre-conceived beliefs.

Guess what?

You do the same. So do I. So does that kindly old lady whom you think can’t hurt a fly.

Protection of the ego is one thing that all humans are very, very good at, and rarely take any time to consider the ramifications.

There’s a huge paradox here.

By protecting your ego, you’re actually limiting yourself to a great deal.

Significantly limiting your potential. Truth is there’s a whole range of skills that you have that you haven’t even discovered yet.

No matter who you are, what your education is, or what kind of success you’ve had in the past, you have a potentially HUGE future.

If only you’d reach out and grab it.

Here’s another paradox:

You don’t really have to reach “out” and grab anything.

Because it’s all an inside game.

Meaning that our conscious minds can only perceive a small sliver of a sliver of what’s really going on out there. Things like the “law of attraction” are really a metaphor. When we “attract” things into our lives, we really aren’t attracting things in the physical sense.

It’s not like we’re sitting in our rooms visualizing red sports cars, and all the red sports cars are being magnetically and physically pulled closer and closer to us. That would cause quite a commotion.

But what’s REALLY going on is by visualizing red cars (or wealth opportunities or ice cream stores) we’re simply reprogramming our subconscious minds.

We’re telling our subconscious minds that red cars are important to us. Before, it didn’t think they were, so we didn’t notice them. But when we program our minds that they ARE important, we’ll start seeing them.

Of course, they were there all along. We just didn’t see them.

But so is everything else we could possibly want in our lives. That’s why what you achieve in the outer world ALWAYS stars with what you can conceive in your inner world.

Sure, some of it won’t be automatic. Meaning if you visualize a huge pile of gold, you won’t start seeing piles of gold everywhere.

But you WILL see plenty of opportunities to help you get it.

What do YOU want?

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Sustainable Neighbourhoods

What is a sustainable neighbourhood? Basically, it is a neighbourhood that represents all aspects of a community (i.e. schools, shopping, education, and work) such that inhabitants experience a sense of community while also protecting the environment. These neighbourhoods are lauded because they not only improve our relationship with and protection of the environment, but they also provide a wide range of social and economic benefits for their citizens. Indeed, affordability, accessibility, community, and environment are all factors that are critical to creating a sustainable neighbourhood, so let’s take some time to delve deeper and truly get a picture of a sustainable neighbourhood.

Affordability

One of the main characteristics of a sustainable neighbourhood is its affordability. All too often, the most liveable cities become increasingly more expensive to live in, until eventually housing prices are only affordable to the very rich. The most sustainable neighbourhoods allow inhabitants to save money (thus making housing more affordable) through reduced expenses related to transportation, heating, cooling, and maintenance. For example, multi-family residential homes can help reducing energy costs as even a semi-detached home will lose 20% less heat than a detached house.

These neighbourhoods also provide localized amenities so that home owners are less reliant on a car to reach these facilities. Some estimates put the cost of car ownership upwards of $9000/year, and sustainable neighbourhoods help reduce these costs simply by proximity to the amenities we frequent most.

Accessibility

Ideally, sustainable neighbourhoods are developed with infrastructure that connects residences, schools, and work places as well as other amenities including shops, restaurants, health facilities, and daycares. In other words, these neighbourhoods are walkable and encourage residents to utilize public transit, bicycles, or other environmentally conscious methods of transportation rather than a car.

Health and Community

As you may be starting to realize, these neighbourhoods are mixed-purpose neighbourhoods. They feature commercial, social, and residential buildings so that we spend more time in our community and less time travelling to and from home. Walkability makes the residents in these neighbourhoods healthier, but because all our amenities are located close to each other, we also have more time to develop a sense of community.

Environment

The final factor that benefits from sustainable neighbourhoods is the environment. These neighbourhoods feature green space, and the buildings within these neighbourhoods should be built with the latest green-building technologies. This means less energy and water consumption, improved recycling, and the use of more natural materials in the building process. In the end, this creates a neighbourhood that is clean and environmentally-conscious.

While sustainable neighbourhoods are a new concept, it stands to reason that as our societies become more and more concerned with environmentalism as well as work/life balance, they will become the norm.

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