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Today my laptop decided to take the day off.  I didn’t know that’s what it had in mind.  I was working along thinking I’d do a few more things and then take a short break and up pops a low battery warning.  Now, I’ve got the ‘ol laptop plugged into the UPS which is plugged into the house circuit so no worries.  I keep on working.

I enter a stack of books into the database and between books this low battery warning keeps popping up.  So, I stop and check all the connections and everything is plugged in solid.  Sometimes you see my feet and those dangling cords sort of have their own battle.  But all is as it should be.  Keep on working.

Up pops a notice that the laptop is going into some sort of mode to help me conserve power.  What the?  I check the cords again.  Everything is fine.  This time I’m on my hands and knees under the desk checking the entire length of each cord — from laptop to the power brick and the  brick to the UPS.  Yup all the cords in and plugged in solid not wobbly.  I even checked to make sure the UPS was plugged in but knew it was because the printer and the lamp was working fine.

Okay, weird but not critical but I’m thinking I’ll start a backup just in case.  Close all the programs and start the backup.  Grab a book to read while it’s running and I get a Skype just as I get a message from the laptop telling me it’s shutting down soon.  Send word I’m going to be offline and hit send.  Black screen and a beep.

Try to turn it back on.  Dead. Nothing.  Nada. Okay.  What’s there to do but make tea and grab a book and pretend it’s my break.  I tried several times throughout the day to push the power button hoping it would some up.  Nothing.  Finally, Hyperion gets home from work and I tell him about the problem and ask if we should buy a new brick — last time this happened it was a bad power brick.  He says maybe I missed something and he follows the cords all fine and dandy and then pulls out the cords to pull them out in the light to see that they look fine and not broken or scuffed, plugs them back in and powers up.

Everything is fine.  My laptop sits here with this smug look of satisfaction.  I think it just wanted a day off.  I don’t know why it couldn’t just send me a memo requesting the day off.  I think it might be developing sentience and if not that it’s at least developing an attitude.

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Question MarkToday I ran across an article on IT World by Jennifer Kavur called “How much are you worth on the black market?” Kavur highlights some of the problems that are involved with Identity Theft and highlights Norton’s 2010 site where you can get your risk evaluated and a dollar amount for how much your identity would be worth and how much someone might pay to buy your identity.

The Norton Online Risk Calculator, unveiled within a microsite to coincide with the launch of Norton 2010, calculates your net worth on the black market by asking a few questions about your personal Internet use.

I decided to check out the risk calculator and went to the site and answered the questions. I’d be for sale for about $31 and my risk is very low. The reasons my risk is low include:

  • I’m not famous or infamous
  • I’ve got a collection of software that protects my machine from viruses, spyware, and other “bad” stuff.
  • I turn off my javascript and only turn it on when I trust the site I go to — if I don’t trust it I live with only having partial access to the material on the site.
  • If I think the site might be one set up for phishing, I don’t click on the link.
  • I’ve got my browser and email programs to show me the link prior to clicking on it. If the link doesn’t match what I think a link to that site should look like I don’t click it — ever — no matter who sent the link to me.

I try to use safe computing/internet practices, but I’m not perfect. Someday, I’ll goof and get caught and I can only hope that I’ll manage to save my identity from being used maliciously and getting me, my finances, or my reputation in a mess.

While people may not read a paper on Identity Theft, they just might be willing to answer a few questions to see just how much at risk they may be. Then hopefully, they’ll act on that information to protect their data and their computer access. Keep yourself safe. Know the risks.

How do you protect your identity? Do you think you’re safe? What more could be done?

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