Enough With The Retirement Talk!

Copyright: pinkomelet

Almost every time I look at my computer these days, I’ll see at least one featured article on Yahoo! which discusses retirement.  I’m not exaggerating when I say it happens almost daily, and it’s making me mental.  

I know the population is aging, and that baby boomers and GenX’ers are trying to prepare and plan for their golden years, but this is getting ridiculous.  The media and the internet have unabashedly latched onto the subject, and now there is a constant barrage of anxiety-provoking articles with headlines and titles such as: 

Do you have what you will need to retire?

Are you prepared for your golden years? 

Beware of the pitfalls of investing in an IRA

Watch out for these “retirement killers” 

I’ll read one article which sets me at ease, because I am on track with what it says I need to do.  Then the next day I’ll read an article which either contradicts what I read the previous day, or which has such a doomsday vibe that it basically states that almost everyone is in danger of not having enough money to ever retire.  Does this mean that we will all be living under freeway overpasses, eating dog food?  

Honestly, all these articles seem to do is to stir up worry which affects how I function throughout the day.  And though I can try to let it go, the next day another article will appear which will wash away my feelings of security and accomplishment regarding my retirement portfolio.   

Who else has noticed this trend?

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What If It All Shuts Down?

Ever since we hit the era of Google and the information superhighway, we have become as spoiled as fattened swine on the plethora of technology which swarms around us constantly. It’s been an interesting study in contrasts for me, because I spent my childhood without any of the fancy technological bells and whistles which earmark the new millennium. I remember making and receiving phone calls on a beige rotary dial phone, and if I didn’t want to talk to someone, I just left the receiver off the cradle. Now THAT was call blocking! We didn’t even have the luxury of answering machines back in those days. And tooling around on personal computers wasn’t part of our daily routine either.

Now we have personal computers which are so handy that we carry them around in the form of laptops, tablets, and cell phones. We navigate via global satellite, search for factoids via Google or Bing, and pretty much have the world quite literally in the palms of our hands.

Yet what happens when a phone runs out of battery power, or if a power outage threatens to shut us down? The thought honestly makes me shudder, and is part of the reason why I will never take the advice of my sister and digitize all of the photos from my photo albums (I have 39 photo albums, mostly from my mother’s photo collection), then destroy the original photos to save space in my home. Yes, a fire could destroy those photos, but I am not too keen on the idea of storing images on a disk or hard drive and relying on a computer whenever I want to view those images.

Today’s society is so image-driven, yet who is bothering to save these captures in a precious archive? Though I have a habit of printing out images from important events (like birthdays and holidays), I’m sure I am in the minority. I have also noticed that there are some online searches I have conducted which are later deleted or moved, so the information is forever lost. Maybe I’m old school, but there’s something to be said about holding onto an item, whether it be a printed photo, a printout of a Google search, or financial documents.

Get Creative To Stump Cyber Criminals

password_1

There has been a precipitous rise in cybercrime over the past several years, which has caused many companies and individuals to tighten up their security measures. According to information on the Norton website (http://us.norton.com/cybercrime-definition), cybercrime has surpassed drug trafficking as a criminal moneymaker. A person’s identity is stolen EVERY THREE SECONDS these days. Cybercrimes include identity theft, fraud, bullying, pornography, and cyberstalking. Though there are distinct advantages to having greater connectivity across massive sea of computers and other electronic communication devices, we are more at risk of cybercrime than ever before.

Though changing our passwords constantly can be a nuisance, doing so can confer a bit more security. Many of us are getting far more creative and cryptic with our passwords, but there are people who apparently still use common passwords which are easy to guess. I saw this article on Yahoo! today and want to share the list of most common passwords for 2015. Thank you, Daniel Bean, for posting this information!

Here’s the link: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/123456-tops-yearly-list-of-most-common-passwords-073731649.html

And here’s the list:

Splash Data's list of most common passwords for 2015

Splash Data’s list of most common passwords for 2015

Splash Data has some tips for password selection:

1. Use passwords of eight characters or more with mixed types of characters.
2. Avoid using the same username/password combination for multiple websites.
3. Use a password manager such as SplashID to organize and protect passwords, generate random passwords, and automatically log into websites.

Just think of it. You can get truly creative with numbers, letters, and special characters. How nice of all those cyber criminals to drum up all those creative juices in your noggin! The only real problem with coming up with unique and cryptic passwords for countless websites is that you may forget your password. There are password managers such as SplashID which keep your passwords nice and safe, and which also generate passwords for you, but what if someone hacks into the password manager? Yikes.

I’m not trying to be cynical, but it almost seems impossible to generate a password which stumps experienced hackers. A frightening article by Dan Goodin, entitled “Anatomy of a hack: even your ‘complicated’ password is easy to crack”, was posted on wired.co.uk (link is: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-05/28/password-cracking/viewall). The article reveals that even when we create long, complex passwords, most of them can be cracked.

If you think you’re being cute by typing patterns on the keyboard (qwertyuiop for example), just be aware that those types of passwords are embarrassingly easy to crack. If you make things personal, you are also setting yourself up for attack. So you might want to avoid using the name of your first dog when creating a crack-resistant password. Create something without rhyme or reason, try to remember it, and hope and pray that expert hackers don’t crack your code.

What Color IS THAT Dress? The Tumblr Dress That Created A Stir

Who would have thought that a global debate would ensue over the colors of a dress posted on Tumblr? Nevertheless, that is precisely what occurred last week. Whether you are in the white and gold camp (70% of people are), or in the blue and black camp, you are subject to variables such as the distribution of rods and cones in your eyes, the lighting in the room, and the screen you are viewing the dress from.

Some scientists have surmised that people who see the dress as white and gold are more light sensitive and have diminished vision in dimly lit rooms, while the blue and black group have more active cones in the retina. This may be true but hasn’t been completely proven. Lighting also plays a factor, and since darker eyes have more melanin pigment than lighter colored irises, less light enters the eye.

I first viewed THE DRESS after sitting in my living room for four hours, near my sliding glass door, staring at a computer screen. The environment I was in, combined with ocular fatigue, altered my perception of the dress, and I could only see it as white and gold. I kept reading about how others could make the colors flip from one combination to the other, but I wasn’t able to do it. Hell, I didn’t pick up anything more than a bluish hue to the white which I saw in the dress.

Then I encountered the image again a day later, after giving my eyes a break from staring at computer and phone screens, and lo and behold, the dress was blue and black. Just like that. I looked at it several more times over the course of an hour to be sure. Yes, it was still blue and black. The following morning, my brain switched over and saw the dress as white and gold. What the hell?

The bluish tint in the photo can be interpreted by some people as shadows, which the brain then compensates for by interpreting the blue of the dress as a bluish-tinged white and the black as gold. One way to correct this is to view the photo of the dress under artificial yellow-tinted lighting. What it all boils down to, though, is that it is all about perception, and that perception is always relative. Two people can look at the same thing and interpret it completely differently. Does it mean that one person is wrong and the other person is right?

One thing that is certain is that the manufacturer of the dress will make a fortune selling this particular design now that a global internet buzz has been created. I am willing to bet that a few people will actually wear Halloween costumes spoofing the color debate as well. Ah, if only I had stock in that company!

I enjoyed reading this description of color constancy which explains why most people see the dress as white and gold:

http://www.businessinsider.com/color-of-the-blue-and-black-dress-science-2015-2

The Dress

Our brains filter and compensate constantly to process an endless influx of sensory stimuli. Perhaps the world is more aware of that fact now that a dress has challenged our perceptions!

A Note To Cyber Creeps

Creep ModeThis is meant for all the men (and I use that term loosely) who seem to think nothing of hitting on women they see online. I am talking about guys who boldly send messages on social media commenting on how “hot” they think a woman is, and who are obviously looking for a casual hookup. I honestly believe that these creeps keep hitting on one woman after another in hopes that they will encounter someone with low self-esteem who is gullible enough to entertain the attention. Here are examples of recent communications I have received:

CREEP #1: 1. Hey, what kind of guys do u like? 2. Hey, why don’t u write back? Don’t have time for me? 3. U are a real tight ass, loosen your s*&% up babe

CREEP #2: 1. Hey u I saw your profile and u seem real nice and u are so f*&%^& sexy 2. Do u wanna be my online sex kitten? It will be fun and easy, u will love it!

Ladies know creeps
Hey creeps, here’s a news flash: NO female should have to put up with your come-ons. I am especially amazed that you have the balls to contact a career professional with a brain, an education, and a very full plate with a lame comment, and then get upset when the woman doesn’t fall all over you and spread her legs. You are DISGUSTING and clearly have too much time on your hands (actually, I know what is probably in your hands most of the time!). GET A LIFE. Quit preying on women, and shove your sociopathic behavior where the sun doesn’t shine. You are the kind of person that women need to protect themselves against.

LADIES, PLEASE don’t engage in conversations with these guys! BLOCK THEM. All they are looking for is a cheap thrill, and they have probably have burnt through all the women in their town and developed horrible reputations. What blows my mind is that there are celebrities who engage in this behavior, and will throw their celebrity status around like it is some kind of reward for the hapless female who is being preyed upon. These guys are downright dangerous and not worth your time. Don’t even bother trying to explain yourself if one of these douchebags tries to lay a guilt trip on you by insulting you when you don’t respond or if you tell them nicely to go away. There have been times when I have received messages which seemed benign, so I have responded with a “Thank you”, only to get blasted with manipulative, insulting comments which suddenly reveal the misogynistic personality of the guy who has tried to reel me in.

Ladies, RUN, don’t walk, away from these men!