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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Facebook, Inc.

Preparedness for the Information Age

We are knee deep in information now. Fully at least 10 years into the information age and we still are just learning to paddle the canoe in the stream of electrons.

You may do your banking online, store family photos on yourhard drive, or have scanned copies of important documents on your computer. We've somehow been programmed to think that this is completely safe and the best way to do things. Well, it's a good way for certain, however nothing is completely safe.

This is where the preparedness mindset comes to bear. Yet, it seems to me, many preparedness folks aren't quite sure what to make of all this electronic storage and communications. There are some who are extremely competent and conversant in information technology - far so than yours truly, the High-Tech Redneck.

This isn't for those folks. This is for you.

Safety of Documents and Images

The safest and best way to store vital documents and sentimental photographs is still on paper. Paper isn't sensitive to power surges and a spilled coffee might make it messy, but it can still be read.

You might have a few thousand pictures now that digital cameras are so prevalent. Might have to thin the herd, before you start doing your printing. If possible, have them printed professionally for the higher quality paper and imaging.

Now, store them safely like you would have done with important papers. If the documents are very important, like insurance, long-form birth certificates and such, store them in a safe-deposit box at your bank. The cost for one is a tax-deduction, last time I checked.

"But Guy," you say, "why don't I just back them up onto a memory stick or DVD and put that in the safety deposit box?" Yes, you should do that too. Or in a firesafe at home, at the very least. However, how useful is that copy to you in a power outage? That's a rhetorical question.

Safety of Internet Communications

Some people, like myself, put a lot of themselves on the World Wide Web. I do that to try to help other people discover Preparedness and am willing to take that risk. You don't have to, if you don't want to. Don't be paranoid though. The chances of someone going to the great lengths it would take to collect info about you, are pretty slim. But why help out?

Use different usernames for every forum or service that you use. This makes it hard to piece together a history on someone. I use the username CdnGuy a LOT. If someone did searches on that term alone, they could build a pretty good profile of me. I sincerely hope that doesn't happen since I'm mostly just trying to help people.

Keep private information private. Do you really need to post your address and phone number on Facebook? The people are supposed to be your friends. They should already know that information. If they don't, they'll ask. It's up to you how to respond.

Your computer is your computer. If no one else needs to use your computer, then don't let them. If other people do need to use your computer, then use User Profiles. Only you should be the Administrator. You might be surprised how often immediate family may take advantage of your credit card or banking information. It's the new take-10-dollars-out-of-Mom's-purse.

That's a lot of gloom and doom, I know. But now for some good news!!! Have you ever thought that online banking wasn't safe? That somehow some 14 year old punk could steal your electronic digits, all $3 worth? You have a better chance of winning the lottery. Yet, you'll do banking at an ATM or even the local branch. All of their communications happen over the exact same telephone, cable and satellite systems that your Internet banking does. So, online banking is at least as safe as going to local branch and having Martha help you. Nonetheless, I do recommend going right into the bank, because they are nice people and getting to know them is a good idea.

Did this article help you out? Did it get you thinking about your Information Preparedness? Are you asking yourself questions about other things related to this topic. If that's the case, I'm glad. Think, be positive, and live well.

Guy McDowell
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