Personal Data Security

Personal information is anything ranging from the files on your computer to banking information. Personal Information Security is just one of many terms that are used when discussing securing your personal data. Security is very important if you do not want your personal information or identity stolen. Securing your personal information is not a simple process. Not only do you need to protect your digital data, but you need to protect you physical items such as your computers, and credit cards.


The first step is to protect you computer. This means making sure you have antivirus that is unto date. There are many many antivirus products available for reasonable prices. Most Internet providers such as Spectrum, and AT&T will even provide it to their customers free of charge. I personally use Sophos home product on all my computers. Sophos offers a free version for up to three computers. Or you can purchase a premium version for $50/yr that will protect up to ten computers. This step is not just for those with Windows computers. Mac and Linux computer can be compromised as well and therefore should have a good antivirus program installed.

Online accounts

Online accounts are anything from banking websites you use to your Facebook account.

Social Media

First let’s talk a little bit about Social media accounts. People just love to post all kinds of personal information from checkins to pictures of their dogs on their social media pages. Now don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with this. That is what these sites are for after all. The thing that you have to understand is that the information you put on these sites is often an answer to a security question used to reset a password on say for example your banks website. There are people out there that specialize in identity theft. One of the trick they use is to review social media posts in order to gather personal information on a target. With this information they are a step closer to hacking into the targets bank accounts, email accounts, etc. To protect this information you should first set a good password for your log in. None of this password1234 crap. A good password is anything between eight and fifteen characters long that includes both upper case, lower case letters, numbers, and symbols such as the @ sign. Another good practice is to not use the same password for more than one site, and to change the password every thirty to ninety days. I know you’re probably thinking “that’s two many passwords to remember”, or “I can’t come up with that many passwords”. There are many password manager applications out there that you can use to both store passwords and generate new passwords. Apple has its KeyChain built into IOS and MacOS. Google Chrome will also ask to store passwords. I do not recommend storing your passwords in a browser, but it is an option. I use LastPass myself.

The next step is make your profile, and the things you post private. Each site has their own privacy settings. You’ll have to look up how to make your stuff private based on the site you use. On facebook for example I have set my privacy settings so only my friends can see my profile and the stuff I post. Another best practice is to never accept a friend request from someone you do not personally know.

Banking, Amazon, Email accounts, etc.

Again with these sites you should adhere to the password suggestions I gave in the social media section. Other than the password suggestions you should also use an updated browser that includes features like HTTPS everywhere. Google Chrome, and Firefox both support this. Another thing to consider is using a personal VPN. There are tons of company’s out there that sell personal VPN products. I personally use NordVPN when I do any online banking.

Data Files

Data files can be anything from a pdf of you tax return to pictures of your kids. Securing your data files depends on where you store them. Do you store them locally on your desktop/laptop computer? Do you store them on a flash drive or in the cloud? Do you have more than one copy?


The first and most important step to securing you data files is to make sure you are backing them up. There are several ways to achieve this. Windows and MacOS both have built in functions that you can use to backup the data. There are also third party products that can be used to backup the data either locally to a USB drive or to online storage. I personally use Carbonite to backup my data.

Use something other than the products I use? Did I miss something. Let me know in the comments below.

Meal Planning

A few years ago I read an article about meal planning. I have to be honest, when I first read the article my first thought was “why would anyone do that”. Well as the years went on, and my kids got older it started looking like a good idea. See I have three boys that play sports. So as you can imagine my life can be a bit busy. I have also put on weight mostly due to eating lots of fast food and pizza. Now I know you are probably asking what having kids and gaining weight have to do with meal planning. Between work, helping the kids with school work, and runing the kids too and from after school activities I was not eating until late if I cooked, or I was just grabbing fast food. Meal planning has helped me stick to a diet, make sure my kids eat healthy, and reduse stress by helping me manage my time better. It also fits in to my time management process. Now that you see where I am going with this article lets take a look at how I do it.

The Process

I have tried makeing lists using paper, and several note taking apps. I have downloaded templates for Microsoft OneNote but none of then work for me. The main issue was getting home to find out I did not have everything I needed to make the meal I was planning on making. Another issue was getting to the store to buy groceries and not remember my list or what I needed to buy to make the meals I want to make for the week. What is really needed to properly do meal planning is a goot app. The app needs to have more then a calendar that lists the meals you want to make on a day. The app should hold recipes, a shopping list, and have some kind of pantry function. I have tried several over the last year and finally settled on Paprika. This app meets all my requirements. It also has a Mac, IOS, and a Windows app. Parika has a decent pantry function that will keep track of what I have on hand so that I can add only what is needed to the grocery list portion of the app. I can download recipes from several websites and add a recipe directly on to meal calendar while adding the ingredients to the built in shopping list. Haveing a good meal planning app is a big part, but it is only one part of the process. You can plan meals all you want but when you have limited time you may find yourself resorting to old habits(I know I did at first). The key is to prep a head of time. I tipically plan out the weeks meals on Saturday mornings and then go shopping. On Sunday’s I prepare what I can a head of time. I cut vegetables and marinade any meat. If i am makeing a caserol or going to be using the crockpot I put it all together. Several meals (soups, some breakfast items)can be fully made and frozen, then heated up on the day you plan to serve it.

Have you tried meal planning? Do you use a different app, or do you implement it different? I would love to hear about it below in the comments.

Time Management for Busy Parents

The holidays have passed, the food coma has passed, and the New Year hangover has been cured. People are returning to work and kids are returning to school. That means dedlines for work projects, the return of homework for kids, and after school activities. After the busy season leading into the holidays and the lazy time between Christmas and the New Year; how do we get back on track? I usually take some extra time off around the holidays and use this time to reevaluate my life in general. I look at finances, short term goals, long term goals, and the systems I use to organise and manage my life. This is not a quick or easy task, but it is one I believe is necessary especially for busy parents.


Setting goals for yourself is one thing. With work, chores, projects at home, kids extra curricular activities, school work, and other personal commitments the question is how to you manage completeing those goals while meeting all the other responsibilities you have? You need to have some kind of method to organize and keep track of everything. There are many books on project management and time management out there. I have read many of the books and tried many of the time management methods out there over the years. I have settled on the Getting Things Done Methodology. I will not go into detail since this is not a post about GTD but about general time management.


Once you have decided on a method you need to setect how you will apply the method, keep track of your schedule, and tasks. There are mutiple tools out there that can help with this. No one tool will meet all your needs. Unless you are going to use only paper and pencil your choice is also dependent on which devices you will be using. Some apps like Todoist have apps for multiple devices and computer operating systems. Others such as Omnifocus will only work with one platform. I use an iPhone, iPad, HP laptop with Windows 10 (for work), and a MacBook Pro (for personal computing). For notes and refrence material I use Evernote. For storing other documents such as Word and Excel files I use Microsoft OneDrive. Both of these options have apps for Windows, Mac OS, and IOS. For scheduling appointment, tracking projects, and other tasks I use Informant (formally know as Pocket Informant). Informant has IOS and Mac apps. It also has an Outlook add-on that runs on Windows. This allows me to keep track of my schedule and task list no matter where I am or what machine I am using.

What method do you use and what tools do you use? Please feel free to leave a comment.

School Shootings

Every time I turn on the news there seems to be reports of another school shooting. There is always someone on talking about the need for more gun control and restrictions on what guns or magazines can be purchased. How about we look at actual measures we can take, instead looking for more ways to limit the rights of law abiding citizens.


Prevention should be the first consideration. The TSA uses metal detectors to check people and scanning machines to check bags. Why not install these in every school? Now I know there is a cost issue, but I am sure money could be raised to purchase the equipment. Each school could reduce costs by limiting the entrances people enter the building through. As for outside school activities such as football games handheld metal detectors can be used by security personnel or local police officers.

Arming Teachers

Several states have already passed measures to arm teachers. I do not see this as a bad thing. I do however think there should be some standard guidelines put in place.


As a CCW holder myself I think passing a CCW course is a good start. However I think most people would feel better if there was a more rigorous training regiment and qualification requirements that must be met before a teacher can carry a concealed gun on school grounds.

Armed Trained Professionals

An alternative to training and arming teachers would be to employ already trained people. This would include off duty police officers, trained security guards, and military veterans. On duty police officers would also be a great idea but not every city and town have the resources to deploy and officer to every school in their jurisdiction.

Cutting the Cord

Paying bills sucks. No one likes to pay bills.  It is even worse when you feel the bill is just too high for what you are getting..  Have you ever been sitting there watching tv and ask yourself why am I paying so much when there is never anything on?  I used to ask that at least once a month. There have always been ways to reduce your cable bill if you are willing to spend the time to do it.  Sometimes you could call and say you were canceling to see if you could get them to give you a deal.  I did this with U-Verse for a couple of years.  You could actually switch to another provider that was running a promotion for new customers only.  I did this every year for a while going between AT&T U-Verse and Time Warner Cable.  Doing this I could usually keep my bill below $200 a month, but it was always a pain to switch.


I have looked into cutting the cord several times over the years, but I just didn’t see a way to do it and still be able to watch the shows I like to watch.  A little over a year ago I had U-Verse again and my promotion ended taking my bill over $200 a month.   So I started looking into cutting the cord again.  I figured between Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix there are millions of shows and movies to watch, and I remembered that you could watch most shows on their networks website the next day or in some cases a week after they aired.   However when I went to verify it I found most networks started requiring you to log in with an account from a TV provider.    At that point I gave up again and called Time Warner to see what they could do for me.  I got a pretty good package that included 200 or so channels 100MBs internet, HBO, Showtime, and MAX for $130 a month.  I was happy with that so I gave  up on cutting the cord.


When my promotional period ended this time I did not want to deal with switching again.  I also did not want to start paying a $200+ cable bill.  Luckily I had been researching alternatives for a client that was building a new building.  Now I know that Direct TV is technically a TV provider, but their Direct TV Now is a streaming only service with no contract.  While I was researching them they ran a special that if you paid for 3 months in advance you would get a brand new Apple 4k TV.  I already had an Apple TV but I had just bought a brand new 4k TV for the living room, so I figured worse case I cancel the service after 3 months and still get a new Apple 4k TV out of it.   After only watching tv through the Direct TV NOW app for 2 weeks I called Spectrum and canceled my TV service.  I kept the internet obviously.  I still have Netflix but I now pay $70 for my internet service(I replaced the provided modem with one of my own.  Who wants to pay an extra $6 to rent a modem?) and $48 per month for the Direct TV Now service.  It would only be $35 per month but I added HBO for $5 per month and Stars/Encore for $8 per month.  It was cheaper to add it in to the Direct TV Now than it would be just subscribing to their respective streaming subscriptions.  I have to say that I am happy with the choice.

Have you cut the cord or are you considering it?  Let me know in the comments below.

The New Year New You Fallacy

Every year around January everyone starts talking about their New Years Resolution.  I always hear people spouting the “New Year New You” mantra.  While improving yourself is always a good thing the new years resolution is almost always an exercise in failure.  In 2013 Forbes published and article quoting University of Scranton research that states “just 8% of people actually keep their goals”.   Another article published by US News in 2016 states that 80% of people will fail at keeping to their resolution.  I believe most people do truly plan to keep their resolution, but changing habits is not easy to do.  There are many self help books out there that can point you in the right direction but if you lack the will to make the change you will fail.  So how does one succeed in keeping their new years resolution?

  1. Set many small goals not one over all resolution.
    1. Instead of I will get in shape this year,  You set goal one as i will go to the gym 5 days this week
    2. Next you set the goal I will go to the gym 5 days a week every week this month and so on.
  2. Stick to it.
    1. To stick to your resolutions you need to make the steps a habit.
    2. You can only make it a habit by doing the step when you are supposed to
  3. Don’t give up.

Number 3 is probably the most important.  It is difficult to make a new good habit, as well as change or stop a bad habit.  If you miss a gym day or cheat on your diet it is not the end of the world.  Everyone fails from time to time.  Just get back to it the next day.  Eventually you’ll reach your goal.  If your goal was like the example above going to the gym will become a habit.  Once that happens you can set your next goal and it should be easier to achieve.

We are now entering the second week of February if you have given up on your resolution give my steps a try to see if it helps.

Questions, suggestions, or just want to say hi drop a line in the comments below.