Nov 29, 2010
Oct 18, 2010
By Cameron Huddleston, Kiplinger.com
There was a big outcry recently when it was revealed that personal data of Facebook users had been posted to a database open to everyone. (See Congress to Crack Down on Facebook.) Facebook users, naturally, were concerned about their privacy.
Yet, every day Facebook and other social network users publish personal information that could put them at risk without thinking twice. "An awful lot of people think when they get online and communicate with their friends that they are invincible," says Adam Levin, chairman of Identity Theft 911. A seemingly benign post or piece of information could make you a target of identity thieves and traditional crooks. To protect yourself, here are five things you should avoid posting online.
1. Date of birth. Almost 60% of social networkers post their date of birth, according to a survey by Identity Theft 911. After all, most of us like to be wished a happy birthday. But resist the urge to post your complete birth date -- including the year -- on your Facebook profile just to get a lot of messages on your big day. This is valuable information for identity thieves. I know you're thinking only your friends see what you post. But if someone does a search for your name, that person will see your birth date if it's listed in your profile.
2. Child's date of birth. When you post "Happy Birthday to my sweet Susie, who turns 5 today," you're giving identity thieves valuable information about your child. When it comes to your kids, resist the urge to post any information about them (see Protect Your Kids From ID Theft).
3. Travel plans. Surely you've seen Facebook posts like this: "We're going to the beach next week. Can't wait." In fact, you may be guilty of it yourself -- 18% of social network users post travel times, according to the Identity Theft 911 survey. Guess what? You've just extended an invitation for people to burglarize your home. Three men in New Hampshire burglarized more than 18 homes by checking Facebook status updates to see when people wouldn't be home (see Burglars Said to Have Picked Houses Based on Facebook Updates).
4. Address. If your address is on your profile AND you let people know when you're going out of town, well, you know where I'm going with this. Nonetheless, 21% of social network users post their address, according to the Identity Theft 911 Survey.
5. Mother's maiden name. It may seem like common sense not to post your mother's maiden name on a social networking site, but about 11% of the people who responded to the Identity Theft 911 survey said they did. Identity thieves will hit the jackpot if you reveal this bit of information online.
Not only should you avoid posting any of this information, but also you should fix your Facebook settings to control who sees what on your page. Use different passwords for social media sites than you use for financial sites, such as your bank or credit card site. Be careful about clicking on links on Facebook or similar sites because they could contain viruses that will secretly track your passwords, account numbers and other things.
Reprinted with permission. All Contents ©2010 The Kiplinger Washington Editors. www.kiplinger.com.
Aug 10, 2010
May 30, 2010
- Want to be a Master Gardener?
Who are Texas Master Gardeners?
Master Gardeners are members of the local community who take an active interest in their lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers and gardens. They are enthusiastic, willing to learn and to help others, and able to communicate with diverse groups of people.
What really sets Master Gardeners apart from other home gardeners is their special training in horticulture. In exchange for their training, persons who become Master Gardeners contribute time as volunteers, working through their cooperative Extension office to provide horticultural-related information to their communities.
Is the Master Gardener Program for Me?
To help you decide if you should apply to be a Master Gardener, ask yourself these questions:
Do I want to learn more about the culture and maintenance of many types of plants?
Am I eager to participate in a practical and intense training program?
Do I look forward to sharing my knowledge with people in my community?
Do I have enough time to attend training and to complete the volunteer service?
If you answered yes to these questions, the Master Gardener program could be for you. Contact the Rockwall County Extension Office to obtain an application from the Master Gardener Coordinator at the office.
If accepted into the Master Gardener program, you will attend a Master Gardener training course. Classes are taught by Texas Cooperative Extension specialists, agents, and local experts.
The program offers 50 hours of instruction that covers topics including lawn care, ornamental trees and shrubs, insect, disease, and weed management; soils and plant nutrition, vegetable gardening; home fruit production; garden flowers; and water conservation. The training for Rockwall County is held in cooperation with four other nearby counties from August to October every year. Applications for next year's class are being accepted now.
In exchange for training, participants are asked to volunteer time to their County Extension program. At least 72 hours of volunteer service within one year following the training is required to earn the title of "Texas Master Gardener."
The type of service done by Master Gardeners varies according to community needs, and the abilities and interests of the Master Gardeners. Some Master Gardeners answer telephone requests for information related to gardening. Others staff plant clinics or displays in shopping malls or community centers. Master Gardeners may speak to local groups and conduct workshops. They may help establish community garden projects, work with 4-H youth, or assist their agent with news or radio releases related to gardening. The Master Gardener Coordinator in the County Extension office decides how volunteer time can be best utilized.
Master Gardeners are representatives of Texas Cooperative Extension, The Texas A&M University System. In all volunteer work related to the program, Master Gardeners follow the research-based recommendations of Texas Cooperative Extension. The title "Texas Master Gardener" can be used by volunteers only when engaged in Extension-sponsored activities.
Participants become certified Master Gardeners after they have completed the training course and fulfilled their volunteer commitment.
For More Information
Application forms and additional information are available from the Rockwall County Extension Office.
Contact: Todd Williams
County Extension Agent-Agriculture
1350 Washington St
Rockwall, TX 75087
Apr 20, 2010
When you think of a ladybug, you probably have a picture in your mind of a little beetle that is bright red with several black spots on it. That is how most people picture ladybugs and these are the most well known of all of the ladybug species.
Not all ladybugs have black spots on them, though, and not all ladybugs are red, either. There are many different species of ladybugs and they all look a little different in their colors and patterns. But since you, and most people, think of a ladybug as the red, spotted variety, you might wonder why ladybugs have their spots and what they mean.
The reason that entomologists think that ladybugs have such brilliant red coloring and black spots is to warn their predators that they taste really bad and that they are a little bit poisonous, too.
Think about other colorful, uniquely marked insects. Bumble bees are bright yellow and black striped and can be seen coming from a mile away it seems. Not very many animals want to eat bumble bees because of their poisonous and hurtful stinger. Bumble bees can’t tell predators that they will hurt them if they are eaten, but their bright colors let predators know to stay away from them.
This ladybug is BLACK with RED spots!
Frogs are usually green and brown and they can blend in with their surroundings. That is their defense from predators because they can’t fight back with poison or stingers. These frogs have to hide from their predators instead. But some frogs are very poisonous to predators. They have poison in their skin that is enough to kill a large bird that might otherwise eat them. These poisonous frogs don’t have to hide, but nature lets the birds know not to eat them anyway by giving these frogs bright yellow, red, orange, and black patterns.
This is the same concept for the bright colors of a ladybug. A ladybug’s body has a substance in it that tastes really bad to birds and other predators, and it is a little bit poisonous. Probably not poisonous enough to kill a bird, but enough to make it pretty sick for a while. Once a bird eats the first ladybug it will get so sick that it won’t ever want to eat another one, and it will remember the unique colors and spots of the ladybug and stay far away from them.
These ladybugs have different
patterns of spots.
There are lots of myths around the world about ladybugs and their spots. If a ladybug lands on you in Brussels, the spots on that ladybug tells you how many children you will have. Many farmers around the world have believed that the spots on a ladybug tells the fortune of the next harvest, if there are less than seven spots, the harvest will be good. Some people believe that if a ladybug lands on you, you can count the spots and you will soon receive dollars in the same amount as the spots. Believe what you want about ladybug spots, but the fact is they just make ladybugs the cutest beetle in the world.
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