• Categories

  • Pages

  • Archives

Is My DMV Record Public? How About My Voting History?? Public Records Checklist.

public-info

With the ease of information gathering these days, we are finding that many people are worried about their relevant data availability to the general public.  Many information brokering sites aggregate personal information from public records and it’s important to realize that most information is gathered through voluntary release from the individual (e.g., your date of birth from a subscription). Below we provide a checklist of common information that is public and that which requires additional permissions.

Personal public records may include some or all of the following information:

  • Name
  • Address.
  • Birth date/age
  • Names and contact information of family members
  • Names and contact information of neighbors
  • Political party affiliation
  • Past arrests, (and current) warrants and wants
  • Businesses or websites owned
  • Listed telephone numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Recorded real property records (developed/undeveloped)
  • Recorded motor vehicle records (vehicles, aircraft, boats registration)*
  • Hunting and fishing licenses
  • Credit header (includes name, dob and address, possibly employment)
  • Litigation history
*Check your state for publicly available vehicle registration and ownership records release. 

Personal information that requires additional permissions:

  • Bank records (require a judgment in hand before processing)
  • Medical records (require signed HIPAA releases from the individual)
    • Doctor’s records
    • Hospital records (including ambulance call sheets)
    • Urgent care facilities
    • Dental records
    • Drug and alcohol treatment centers
  • Credit score and history (require individual’s signed authorization for release)
  • Social Security Number (requires release by the individual)
  • Marriage and divorce records (require authorization from one of the parties involved)
  • Birth certificates (require the party’s authorization)
  • DMV driver’s history (requires the driver’s authorization)

Business/Government Public Records

Business and government public records generally come from information recorded within the business or agency itself. They are often more statistical in nature.

Some information that may be available on a business or government public record include:

  • Revenue
  • Number of employees
  • Fictitious business names
  • Collection items
  • Business credit score
  • Payment history
  • Business ownership

Just a point of information with our presidential election drawing near; currently, only your party affiliation is a public record.  Several states, including Florida and California, however, are fighting legal battles to have these public records include your choice in each election in which you voted.  Aside from marketing purposes by the major parties (and many of those practices are questionable), I see no real necessary purpose for these very personal records to become public fodder.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, be safe.

 

 

Pros and Cons of Conducting A Pre-Employment Social Media Background Check

social-media-bgc

It is safe to assume that a review of a prospective employee’s social media content will be conducted as part of the new hiring norm as it relates to pre-employment background checks.

It’s also true that, often now, corporate counsel is advising HR managers to be careful with the information they glean from these social media site checks with regard to the manner in which it is used.   Using negative content to reject the candidate may backfire if it appears to be, for example,  racist or misogynistic in nature.  Conversely, one of the first things under the investigation microscope in a workplace violence case is the thoroughness of the background check of the alleged victimizer, to include social media content review.

From my collegaues at “the Background Investigator“:  Research from the Society For Human Resource Management, (SHRM) revealed that 76 percent of employers that don’t use social media when conducting background checks said they avoid this practice mostly because of the legal concerns.
Jonathan Segal, a partner at Duane Morris LLP in the employment, labor, benefits and immigration practice group, said that while there are risks in checking out social media when screening candidates, there are also risks in not looking at it.
“Sometimes, lawyers think [businesses] are taking a risk [by looking at social media], but they could be taking a bigger risk [by not looking], because then they hire the person that is dangerous or unproductive,” Segal said.

In May, the FTC gave a company called Social Intelligence the green light to run background checks of your  Internet and social media history. The Federal Trade Commission now allows companies to run social media background checks and to compile your information. Companies such as Social Intelligence. 

Contrary to initial reports, Social Intelligence doesn’t store seven years worth of your social data. Rather it looks at up to seven years of your history, and stores nothing.

It screens for aggressive or violent acts or assertions, unlawful activity, discriminatory activity (for example, making racist statements), and sexually explicit activity. And it doesn’t pass on identifiable photos of you at all. In other words, your drunken kegs stand photos are probably fine as long as you’re not wearing a T-shirt with a swastika or naked from the waist down.

Basically, it just wants to know if you’re the kind of misfit who will cause legal hassles for an employer.

If you do review social media in your employment process, make sure you preserve the items that you considered in your research.  (Don’t assume that the content you considered will remain available.  Many people remove objectionable material from their online profiles once they realize that it could reflect poorly during their employment search or simply, the content can drop off the site during updates.)

We advise all of our clients – when considering a prospective new hire – to have the candidate sign an attestation that all of the information that they have provided is accurate and true to the best of their knowledge and evidence of falsifying any information will be grounds for dismissal.   Also, it wouldn’t hurt to have him sign off on permission to review his social media content.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

 

 

Not Liking Your Online Profile? Clean It Up & Track Yourself.

online-profile

Cleaning up your online profile―and creating the one you want―is becoming easier for the layperson as we understand how information flows and accumulates on the internet.

First, find out about yourself.

Facts:

1. 85% of search-engine users do not venture beyond the first page when researching someone.

2. Nearly 90% of recruiters conduct some sort of online investigation into recruits, and of these,

3. Almost 45% dropped someone from consideration based on information they found online.

Solutions:

1. Enter your name in the search bar of Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, three of the most widely used search engines.

2. If you have a common name, like Susan Smith, do a few different searches, adding your current or past employers or your hometown to your name.

3. Search images as well for any potentially embarrassing sorority pillow fight pics.

If nothing appears about you, that’s great if privacy is your only concern. But if you want to create a good impression for clients, employers, or potential new acquaintances, it helps if results return with positive entries (a blurb about a promotion,  civic association membership announcement, a listing of volunteers at a charity events, etc.)  and these results will be at or near the top of page one if you have few other online notices.

If you see negative results (an embarrassing photo on a friend’s website, an inglorious, angry rant on FB or a really odd purchase you made), chances are others, including prospective employers, will see them, too.  The beer keg handstand that was funny back in the day isn’t so amusing to an HR manager considering you for a company position who may believe it depicts poor judgment.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been brought on to research and then polish up someone’s online profile (or, increasingly, from parents of intern or college-age children).   You can remove the items yourself, ask your friend on whose timeline these goofy pics show up to take them down, push down these unwanted results until they appear way further down in the Google search engine return by running a strong paid social media campaign or pay professional reputation companies or investigation firms that perform this task. But from your desk, at the very least, please keep an eye on your internet self by:

Setting up alerts. To get an e-mail when your name is mentioned in news stories, blogs, or videos, go to google.com/alerts and enter your name, your e-mail address, and how often you would like to receive updates (daily, weekly, as they happen). Again, if you have a common name, add your company, hometown, profession, or job title. This service won’t alert you to everything (Facebook entries, for example), but it will help you keep track of new information that might come up on search engines.

For a service that tracks your mentions on major social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, try the aptly-named Mention. The platform can also alert you whenever someone includes your keyword in a post.

The most important advice we can give people is: do not post anything that you yourself cannot wholly control, including the ability to retract the post entirely from the internet.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

 

Top 5 Spy Tools for Fall 2016, Including an Unshredder!

unshredder

1. Unshredder

Just because you’ve spent an hour shredding important documents doesn’t mean that those shredded pieces of paper can’t be put back together again. Unshredder, dubbed the first commercial document reconstruction tool in the world, is a computer program capable of reconstructing documents that have been strip-shred and cross-shred, and documents with torn pages. Instead of aligning each little shredded piece by hand, this Windows-based application automates the reassembly of documents through four simple steps: collate, segmentation, reconstruction, and report. The finished results can then be printed, e-mailed, or copied. Used by government agencies, police departments, lawyers, private investigators, and security agents, Unshredder is available with a monthly license for $90 or a yearly license starting at $950.

2. Motokata Bionic Ear Hearing Amplifier

Wish you could hear the conversation between your boss and the CEO? The Motokata Bionic Ear-Hearing Amplifier uses sound-magnification technology that lets you hear any conversation clearly and distinctly up to 20 feet away. Weighing around an ounce, it amplifies sounds up to 50 decibels and can be easily attached to your shirt pocket or belt. Attach the amplifier to the included stereo earphones to hear spoken words and control the volume. Approx. $49.95.

3. Jakks Pacific EyeClops Night Vision

For the nocturnal spy, Jakks Pacific’s EyeClops Night Vision goggles ($79.99) will let you see objects in total darkness. Gearlog’s Brian Bennett tested the device in a dark room, and he was able to see people and objects pretty clearly. A knob on the right side activates an LED light, letting you see further into the dark. If the green-colored night vision starts giving you a headache, there’s even a switch on the bottom of the right eye piece that toggles your view from green to black and white.
4. Computer Mouse Transmitter
Be careful what you say around this computer mouse. The Computer Mouse Transmitterhouses an ultra-mini microphone and transmitter circuit, which can pick up sounds from up to approximately 32 feet away. For the rich spy, this sneaky mouse sells for upwards of $1,200.o0.
5. Vehicle Safeguard Video Recording Camera
How many times have you been driving on the road, only to witness someone running a red light or pulling right out in front of you? Catch bad drivers red-handed with the Vehicle Safeguard Video Recording Camera ($49.95). Attach the cradle to your vehicle’s dashboard and place the recording unit inside the cradle. Set the recording angle in any direction you’d like, and insert an SD card up to 2GB of capacity to store the recordings. The camera measures 18.25 by 6.12 by 2.25 inches, weighs one pound, and operates on four AAA batteries.
Well, summer is almost over so it’s time to get serious about our spy tools again! (Just make sure you are familira with local governing laws and then, have at it!
BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.
As always, stay safe.

Back To School; Back To Bullying

bullying

While many children look forward to going back to school this week, a significant number of kids dread what is to them, an ordeal.  They are the ones who fear being bullied.  According to stopbullying.gov :

What is Bullying?

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

Where and When Bullying Happens

Bullying can occur during or after school hours. While most reported bullying happens in the school building, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen travelling to or from school, in the youth’s neighborhood, or, more frequently now, on the Internet.

Frequency of Bullying (There are two sources of federally collected data on youth bullying:)

  • The 2012–2013 School Crime Supplement(National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that, nationwide, about 22% of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying.
  • The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that, nationwide, 20% of students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.

 What Can Be Done About Bullying?

While there are no federal laws pertaining to bullying, state and local lawmakers have taken action to prevent bullying and protect children.  Each state has laws on the books about bullying: Look here for your state’s regulations: http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/

If you notice changes in your child’s behavior, and can eliminate drugs and or alcohol as the cause, look into whether they are being bullied.  Many children who are bullied are ashamed and feel insecure.  As a parent or guardian, you have the ability to help change this daily hell for these kids who are singled out for this type aggressive behavior.  No child should ever have to fear going to school or anywhere else for that matter.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

From The Mouths Of Babes; Interviewing Child Witnesses.

child interview

(This article is from an investigator’s perspective. Trial attorneys bear a different obligation to prepare the child for testifying in court.)

From time to time we’ve had to interview children.  For this article, we are referring to minors under 16 years of age as witnesses in civil or criminal matters.  The most important thing to do when questioning children is to establish trust.  Most children are painfully shy when talking to strangers – moreso in situations that are fraught with tension such as giving testimony.  Put the child at ease by showing an interest in her by asking open-ended questions about her everyday life.  Due to their agile brains, children can multitask quite well so to divert her attention somewhat from the intensity of what she may have witnessed, distract her during the questioning by providing a fun and engaging activity.

We go into each interview with a child thinking this will be the only shot we will get to question her.    You really don’t want to interview a child multiple times.  If a child is re-interviewed often and then has to live testify, the final product in court may come out sounding rehearsed.

Given the unsettling event that the child has witnessed, each recall may induce stress trauma so we prefer to have a parent or guardian present during interviews.

As to the actual questioning itself, make the questions are open-ended and simple to avoid being leading.   If you call a child as a witness and she misstates or fails to state a significant fact, the best tactic is to avoid confronting her with prior statements or intricate evidence. Asking the same question in a slightly different way may be all you need do to obtain the accurate response. Generally, you should confront a child with a prior inconsistent statement only if she is recanting her entire account of an event.  When confronting a child with inconsistencies, do so in a delicate and respectful way.

Also consider the role of “syndrome evidence.” There is a large body of medical literature addressing  the various syndromes that can affect child witness recall (e.g., child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, repressed memory syndrome, etc.).

Finally, be aware of your own preconceptions. Many people expect sexually abused children to cry and exhibit negative emotion when testifying about alleged abuse, and many adults tend to disbelieve child witnesses who do not emote in this way.  But research indicates that children commonly do not cry or express negative emotions when describing sexual abuse and there are a number logical of reasons for their unanimated testimony in general. For instance, children are often interviewed multiple times regarding the incident or they may simply not have perceived the event as negative. What’s more, the emotion expressed by testifying children could be a reaction to being interviewed by you – a perfect stranger –  and have little to do with the alleged incident itself.

Remember to give yourself plenty of time for the interview as children can take a while to get out their story but they will tell it and tell it truthfully.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, be safe.

Operation Mickey Mouse? Facial Recognition & Disneyland

There is an internet story of a software engineer who, while visiting Disneyland,  went on a ride and was then offered – by a theme park employee –  a photo of himself and his girlfriend to buy – with his credit card information already linked to it.  The engineer emphatically stated that he had not entered any of his personal or credit card information on any of the theme park’s registers.  So, he determined, based on his professional experience, the system had to be using facial recognition technology to access and activate his personal facial and credit card information. He had never signed an agreement allowing the Mouse & Co. to do so, and believed that this use was illegal. He also stated that he believed Disney was sharing information related to facial recognition technology with the military.

As it turn out, he may not be wrong or very far off from the truth.

To understand how his claim of passive facial recognition might work let’s first define facial recognition technology: Facial recognition software (FRS) can pick someone’s face out of a crowd, extract the face from the rest of the scene and compare it to a database of stored images. In order for this software to work, it has to know how to differentiate between a basic face and the rest of the background. Facial recognition software is based on the ability to recognize a face and then measure the various features of the face.

Every face has numerous, distinguishable landmarks, the different peaks and valleys that make up facial features. FRS defines these landmarks as nodal points. Each human face has approximately 80 nodal points. Some of these measured by the software are:

•Distance between the eyes

•Width of the nose

•Depth of the eye sockets

•The shape of the cheekbones

•The length of the jaw line

These nodal points are measured creating a numerical code, called a faceprint, representing the face in the database.

Next, let’s review how facial recognition occurs.  (In the past, FRS use was limited to 2D facial images, and subject to many environmental factors, such as lighting or blurring, that restricted its use to primary law enforcement agencies for comparative analysis v. existing pictures of the subjects of interest. We are now well past that stage and into comparing live 3D images to networked databases worldwide.)

3D Facial Recognition   Facial recognition software uses a 3D model, which provides more accuracy than its 2D predecessor. Capturing a real-time 3D image of a person’s facial surface, 3D facial recognition uses distinctive features of the face — as outlined above — to identify the subject. These areas are all unique and don’t change over time.

Using depth and an axis of measurement that is not affected by lighting, 3D facial recognition can even be used in darkness and has the ability to recognize a subject at different view angles with the potential to recognize up to 90 degrees (a face in profile).

Using the 3D software, the system goes through a series of steps to verify the identity of an individual.

Detection

Acquiring an image can be accomplished by digitally scanning an existing photograph (2D) or by using a video image to acquire a live picture of a subject (3D).

Alignment

Once it detects a face, the system determines the head’s position, size and pose. As stated earlier, the subject has the potential to be recognized up to 90 degrees.

Measurement

The system then measures the curves of the face on a sub-millimeter (or microwave) scale and creates a template.

The system translates the template into a unique code. This coding gives each template a set of numbers to represent the features on a subject’s face.

Matching

If the image is 3D and the database contains 3D images, then matching will take place without any changes being made to the image. However, there is a challenge currently facing databases that are still in 2D images. 3D provides a live, moving variable subject being compared to a flat, stable image. New technology is addressing this challenge. When a 3D image is taken, different points (usually three) are identified. For example, the outside of the eye, the inside of the eye and the tip of the nose will be pulled out and measured. Once those measurements are in place, an algorithm (a step-by-step procedure) will be applied to the image to convert it to a 2D image. After conversion, the software will then compare the image with the 2D images in the database to find a potential match.

Verification or Identification

In verification, an image is matched to only one image in the database (1:1). For example, an image taken of a subject may be matched to an image in the Department of Motor Vehicles database to verify the subject is who he says he is. If identification is the goal, then the image is compared to all images in the database resulting in a score for each potential match (1:N). In this instance, you may take an image and compare it to a database of mug shots to identify who the subject is.

Facial Recognition Systems Uses

Law enforcement:  Aside from the obvious background identification and history of arrested suspects, l.e. uses the system to capture random faces in crowds to match to their terrorist databases. .

Government agencies: Some government agencies have also been using the systems for

– security

– monitor voter fraud

– eliminate “buddy punching” (The practice of a coworker signing for a friend or displaying that friend’s id for UPC processing. )

– tracking foreign visitors and frequent flyers  (The Department of Homeland Security has implemented a program called US-VISIT, United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, aimed at foreign travelers gaining entry to the United States. When a foreign traveler receives his visa, he will submit fingerprints and have his photograph taken. The fingerprints and photograph are checked against a database of known criminals and suspected terrorists.  Likewise,  the TSA is runs its Registered Traveler program through FRS.

Other potential applications currently in use include ATM and check-cashing security and access to your own lap/desk top via the monitor’s FR program.

To get back to our irate software engineer, he is correct in identifying Disneyland’s use of facial recognition software and sharing it with the United States Department of Defense.  This collusion is referred to as Operation Mickey Mouse (not joking) and has been in effect for decades. Who would suspect the family friendly theme park of being a de facto arm of the government?

Now the vast majority of us will never really notice how much facial recognition has creeped into our lives — but if there is a foul-up, you can expect it to be a big deal.  ALL government FR dbases will have to be updated if a modification (e.g., surgically enhanced faces) occurs.

Our operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

New Audio Technology Registers Gunshots – And Conversations.

UPDATE:  We’ve  been keeping an eye on the Shot Spotter audio gun shot detection system that is now being installed in many cities nationwide, specifically to determine if its ability to record conversations has been used in the courtroom.  Below are excerpts from the latest DNAinfo article covering these very questions.

To find out how exactly the technology works, who has access to the data and where ShotSpotter hopes to deploy in the future, DNAinfo spoke with Ralph A. Clark about the company, founded in the mid-1990s with its first gunshot detection system installed in Redwood City, Calif. in 1997.

There are at least two instances — one in Oakland, Calif. and another in New Bedford, Mass. — of ShotSpotter recordings used as evidence in trials. How often does that happen?

Clark: Those are very rare. In those two particular cases, there was someone literally shouting over or just before or just after they got shot. The system clips [the audio recordings] off in the front, so we’ll cue it up and I think it’s one or two seconds before the gunshot event — boom, boom, boom, boom — the gunshot, and then it will play another two or three seconds after. You need that in order for our reviewers to do their work.

In the case of the Oakland situation, because the person, right after he got shot, he said ‘So and so, why’d you do me like that?’ and he yelled it out, so that was heard and picked up by our sensors. There’s nothing we can do about that. There’s no privacy issue at that point because it’s a public setting. If you’re shouting out when you get shot, that’s not presumed to be a private conversation. But I can tell you, that’s extremely rare. We’re essentially publishing 60,000 gunshots a year … and I think there’s been about four times where there’s been someone yelling over or on top of a gunshot clip.

One Brooklyn reader of DNAinfo who lives in an area included in the ShotSpotter pilot program told us he is worried that the technology is a “dragnet” that will increase monitoring of high-crime areas, without necessarily reducing gun violence. What can you say to that person who is worried about mass surveillance of his neighborhood?

Clark: We are a surveillance technology. There’s no getting around that. But it’s a surveillance technology that’s completely passive and we’re only detecting when a felony is in commission. So the NYPD — and us, for that matter — is only getting alerts when a gun is fired or when a possible gun is fired. And when we figure out that it’s not a gun that’s being fired, from a human point of view, we dismiss that and that doesn’t even get sent to the NYPD. And that just allows a level of precision for policing that’s a game changer.

I think the way Mayor de Blasio puts this technology — I think it’s perfect. I think he stepped into the breach, which I’m personally happy about being an African-American male, and said, hey, we are going to eliminate broad stop-and-frisk, but what we’re going to do in replacement of that, we’re going to be much more precise in our response and only respond when we know something is going awry. And that’s where ShotSpotter plays a very significant role. We are interested in being deployed where, unfortunately, urban gun crime exists. There’s no value in us being deployed in a place where people don’t shoot guns and so, that’s where we go.

 

End of August 1, 2016 update.

shotspotter04.12.2015    Last month, cops in New York City started testing a system that alerts them almost instantly to the location of where a gun was fired to within an accuracy of 25 meters (82 feet).   The ‘ShotSpotter’ technology utilizes strategically placed audio sensors that relay gunshot location information to nearby cops, enabling a rapid response.  ShotSpotter is used in major cities including Washington, Boston, Oakland, San Francisco and Minneapolis, as well as smaller cities like East Chicago, Ind.

The system is also smart enough to predict where subsequent shots may take place, providing officers with additional caution and backup to a “shots fired” situation.

The system was activated in the Bronx on March 18, 2015 and Shotspotter picked up gunshots in just an hour of going live.

Brooklyn Shotspotter went live several days after the Bronx, with the remaining boroughs following later if  the system proves effective.

The results thus far in these two NYC boroughs are disturbing; of the 55 gunshot incidents detected from March 16, 2015 – April 2, 2015, only 12 were called in to 911 – a poor 22% of the time someone called the emergency number to report the gunfire. Comments on the woeful reporting rate,  from the NY Daily News:

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said he knew from other cities that up to 80% of all gunplay never gets reported, but he thought New York City’s density would mean more people would report gunshots.

“I’ll be quite frank — I’m surprised that we’ve had so few calls to 911 for those shots that have been identified,” Bratton said.

Going forward, cops will make more arrests based on evidence gathered through the technology, he predicted. Police expect to expand ShotSpotter citywide after it analyzes the results of its $1.5 million pilot program.

 

What the Shotspotter technology does (according to the eponymously named company’s website):

ShotSpotter (SST) instantly notifies officers of gunshot crimes in progress with real-time data delivered to dispatch centers, patrol cars and even smart phones. This affordable, subscription-based service enhances officer safety and effectiveness through:

  • Real-time access to maps of shooting locations and gunshot audio,
  • Actionable intelligence detailing the number of shooters and the number of shots fired,
  • Pinpointing precise locations for first responders aiding victims, searching for evidence and interviewing witnesses.

How the Shotspotter technology works: 

Best explained: Unlike counter-sniper sensors which can only measure a limited range of sounds—the supersonic signature of a sniper’s round with a known ballistic coefficient—SST’s wide area protection system measures the full range of impulsive sounds (sounds which are explosive in nature) found in urban weaponry, from sub and supersonic impulses to explosions.

So basically, the SST technology – given that it is subsonic – can admittedly (by the company) pick up on anything – including conversations – that it is calibrated to monitor.

I was good with the range of Shotspotter functions until the last item.  That of audio recording of the general public’s conversations.  How long before “exceptions” allowing speech monitoring are employed in sensitive places like surrounding courthouse areas, prison courtyards, college campuses??, etc.  The incident scenes themselves.  The argument that could be made in favor of open-air audio recordings would probably be along the lines of expectation of privacy – that presumably, there is none in public areas.

The application of technology and relevant law will be interesting to follow in the coming years.

Pass notes.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

 

Convert Your Airplane Seat To A Workstation

Air travel has become common these days with technology trying to maintain pace.  So for those who wish to be more productive during their next flight, we recommend the below apps and tools that can help you convert plane time into valuable work time.

1. Connectify(Under $100)  A great way to connect all your devices to in-flight Wi-Fi — since most in-flight services make you pay for each device separately — is to get Connectify, which turns your Windows PC into a Wi-Fi hotspot.  You can even share your password with your seat mate – making for a much friendlier flight!

 

2. Jott Messenger(free). Jott Messenger is a networking app that uses Bluetooth and allows you to sent texts to people on your flight, even when there’s no Wi-Fi connection. This is perfect for business travelers who may not be seated right next to their co-workers or clients. Best of all, using the app doesn’t use any of your monthly data.

 

3. The Airhook(Under $25). This small, simple tray table mount offers two solutions in one. First, you can securely attach any electronic device that’s up to 8.5 inches tall, such as an iPad or smartphone, to the seat in front of you (the angle is adjustable if the person reclines). Second, there’s a cup holder that sits beneath the screen.

4. Solar Phone Charger(Under $45). Designed by GreenLighting, a Solar Phone Charger is great for business travelers needing to charge gadgets at 30,000 feet. The gadget works with your smartphone or iPad’s normal charger, adhering to the plane window and making use of the sun’s rays for a power boost. Keep in mind the Solar Phone Charger also needs its own juice, which takes about four hours when plugged into a laptop.

5. NeatReceipts(Under $150 for the scanner and one year of software). This portable 10-ounce scanner and software bundle helps road warriors streamline the process of expensing, invoicing and organizing business documents. Simply insert receipts, invoices and other paperwork into the scanner for their information to be analyzed, extracted and arranged within the NeatCloud (accessible via a paired app). For instance, receipts can be combined to instantly create expense reports to email or print. Like with Gmail, you can sort information into folder structures, and can also search keywords later on to find what you need (say, when you only remember the first name of someone whose business card you need to locate). NeatReceipts works with QuickBooks, Excel, MailChimp, TurboTax, LinkedIn and Constant Contact.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Behavior That Can Endanger You and Your Family.

We’re all guilty of it.  “It” being –  intentionally or not – exposing our private information in public.  Below are examples of this behavior that unnecessarily puts you and your family at risk.

1. Family graphics on a vehicle.

family car vinyl graphics

The criminal’s view of your adorable family stick-on:  If you have this family graphic on your vehicle, the burglar knows you have a baby in the family and therefore less inclined to fight back. Dad carrying a briefcase implies he’s the worker in the family, i.e., away during the day and or for work trips.  Given the number of children, perhaps Daddy’s wife is a soccer Mom (busy with errands), in and out on a routine (taking kids to school,  to play dates, practice, picking up kids…).  And if the dog is the same size as the cat, I’d put my money on the cat being the family protector.  This graphic is  way  TMI.

2. Responding with your date of birth, insurance carrier and or SSN in a pharmacy.

pharmacy

Discretely hand the pharmacist or pharmacy assistant your driver’s license or other form of valid government I.D. Ensure that you are fully blocking the view of the person behind you.  A bit of paranoia is preferred, especially if your medication is a desired prescription drug (e.g., Xanax, Valium, painkiller of any kind…).  If the employee behind the counter begins to comment, cut them off and ask them to respect your privacy.  Hey, it’s your info and these personal identifiers (especially DOBs and SSNs)  are extremely valuable to your local unauthorized pharmaceutical retailer.

3.  Posting photos of the family in front of the house, even if the address is not evident in the pic.

family ifo house

Most cameras and smartphones add location information to each picture taken, exposing the exact longitude and latitude of the image to anyone who wishes to view this geotagging data.  (On a positive note, social sites such as FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter automatically remove these geotags before posting. Common photo sharing sites such as Flickr, however, allow the embedded geographical information to remain.)  The pic taker/poster is often unaware of this invisible, embedded data.

How to locate and erase geotagging data:

a. Determine if your camera is geotagging your pictures. Any camera you use must have GPS enabled in order for geotagging to occur. This is very common in smartphones but many digital cameras have this capability as well. This data, called EXIF data, is invisible unless you know how to look for it.

b. To view EXIF data, go to Jeffrey’s EXIF Viewer (JEV), a very easy to use information locator that supports a wide variety of file types. JEV also  provides two different options for viewing geotagged images. The first allows you to view information from images already online. The second allows you to check images before they are posted online.  Follow the site directions. (For images stored on your computer, press Browse beside the Local Image File box. Choose the file in question and press View Image From File. You’ll receive the same geotagging info as you would for posted and on-camera photos.)

Now you know exactly what details you are providing to friends, family and potentially, strangers.  If you don’t want your location available, erase all EXIF data before posting or turn off GPS functionality when taking pictures with GPS enabled devices.

These starter tips can be helpful this summer in preserving your safety and that of your family but in all cases, just exercise common sense in unintentionally exposing your personal identifier information.

BNI Operatives; Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

%d bloggers like this: