Christina Hollis, Internet, Online security

Three Warnings For Writers

I’m a bit uneasy about the amount of information available online. There’s something to be found on just about anyone, and it can be accessed by  nearly everyone. Social networking is great fun, but there are three things to keep in mind –

One – Post as though your words were going to be printed in words a foot high and stuck on your front door. Don’t write anything you wouldn’t want your next-door-neighbour to read – in case they do. They probably will.
Two – It’s safest to assume that, like diamonds,  online words are forever.  Yes, some information has been made to vanish from the net like snow in summer, but that was only because some very big players were involved. Even if your tweet, text or mail can be erased, the saying that a lie can be round the world seven times before the truth is out of bed is as true today as it’s always been. Libel is serious – and expensive.
Three – Not so much a warning as a reminder – if things get too heavy, you can always step away from the computer. Cyber bullying is an ugly concept. It’s a nightmare once you’ve been drawn in, so try and stay well away. At the first sign of trouble, remember what Eleanor Roosevelt said: no one can make you feel inferior without your consent, so do the internet equivalent of picking up your ball, and taking it home.
Internet, Online security

Who Can You Trust?

Growth in Internet Usage, By Ke4roh

I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately from Facebook and LinkedIn (allegedly) but some of them have turned out to be extremely clever phishing scams. You have to check very carefully to spot the signs. I suspect these messages are automatically generated in response to requests for access to on-line address books, so the system can trawl for other ‘friends’ to contact. Writing is a solitary business, so keeping in contact online is popular. In my early days of social networking, I would merrily click on friend requests received via email. After the accounts of several friends were hacked, I NEVER do this now. Instead, I accept these requests by logging in directly to the social network sites. Incidentally, apologies to anyone who has ever asked for my birthdate. I never give this out if I can avoid it, as the security measures behind things such as internet banking rely on details like that. 

Social networking has revolutionised life for millions of people. When used for good, it’s great fun and a vital link between people who would otherwise never meet, but it has its downside. Spam, fraud and bullying are common. Have you come across any problems like this? Do you find the benefits of Facebook, Twitter etc outweigh the possible disadvantages?
emails, Internet, Susan Maushart

The Internet – Pain and Pleasure

I had what I thought was a bright idea for a New Year’s Resolution. From January 1st, I’d cut down on the time I spend online. I love surfing the net and chatting via Twitter and Facebook, but it’s so easy to lose track while you’re staring at a screen.  If I radically reduced the time I spent online, my theory went, I’d get much more work done, see more of my family and there’d be more opportunity for gardening, cooking and beekeeping (yay!) and housework (boo!)
It worked. I rediscovered life away from my keyboard. In between wrangling my WIP, I became engrossed in my beekeeping studies once more, managed to perfect my home-made pasta and started thinking about what vegetables I’d grow in 2013. The neighbours and I can now recognise each other again – though this is of doubtful use at the moment as we’re all snowed in, and can communicate only by way of smoke signals and Aldis lamps.
There had to be a downside, of course. Without the lure of browsing Thorne BeekeepingLakeland Limited or Bakerybits, I got a bit lax when it came to checking my emails. I have three accounts, two for business and one personal. I normally check them all at least three times a day, as computer genius OH is a stern taskmaster. His work PDA is hardly ever turned off because as he says, “If I don’t deal with each query as it comes in, I’ll have a hundred mails to sort out by the end of the day and a thousand by the end of the week.” 
The first couple of weeks of January were uneventful, so I went on “digest” wherever I could, and let my checking schedule slip. Last weekend was chock-full of family business so that meant tons of cooking and taxi runs, so for the first time in years I never switched my computer on at all.
Imagine my surprise (she blushed, shuffling and avoiding OH’s eyes) on the following Monday morning to discover a total of 400 messages lying in wait for me, spread over my three separate inboxes. FOUR HUNDRED MESSAGES – and that’s NOT including the junk mail folder! 
It was very tempting to delete all but the most recent day’s mails, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bear to ignore anyone or miss out on anything but it took me nearly five hours to reduce the backlog, and new mails were coming in all the time.
By the time I’d finished, I could see what drove Susan Maushart to the desperate measures of The Winter of Our Disconnect.That’s five hours of my life I’ll never see again, but what else can I do? I love being connected, but it’s like holding a tiger by the ears. I don’t want to do it, but I can’t stop. The internet is a brilliant invention and there are worse problems than mine, as a study by ICMPA revealed. At least I can make a positive decision to reduce the burden on other people by adding an amendment to my initial New Year’s resolution. From now on I’m going to think before I mail, and make sure every message I send is a wanted message. 
Who else is going to make it their resolution, too?