Gunning Daily News

Staying Safe on the Web: Tips for Online Security

October 21, 2013 5:09 pm

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and the Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) wants consumers to know valuable tips and advice on how to be safe online. ICBA and the nation’s community banks encourage members of the public to stay informed and become educated on how to prevent their financial information from being stolen and misused.

“Cybercriminals are on the prowl looking for unsuspecting victims online to hijack sensitive financial information,” says Bill Loving, ICBA chairman. “The community banking industry as a whole needs to be aware of the increased risk of cybercrimes. It’s vital that we stay alert to protect our customers and financial institutions from these criminals.”

ICBA provides consumers valuable tips when it comes to taking proactive cybersecurity measures:

• Be sure to use unique passwords for all financial online accounts. Never share your password, account number, PIN or answers to security questions.

• Do not save credit or debit card, banking account or routing numbers, or other financial information, on your computer, phone or tablet.

• Be careful about using a password on mobile devices. Be sure to set your devices to automatically lock after a selected period of time to ensure no one can access your smartphone, tablet or laptop.

• Do not provide your secure financial information over the phone or Internet if you are unsure of who is asking for it. Contact your bank directly by using the phone number on the back of your debit or credit card, or stop in your bank to speak with someone in person. Remember, your bank will never contact or text you asking for personal or banking information. Assume any unsolicited text request is fraudulent.

• Be aware of the location of your mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) at all times. Only log on financial websites when you have a secure, safe and trusted Internet connection.

“Contact your community bank immediately if you think your online identity has been compromised,” Loving says. “The sooner you alert proper authorities about suspicious activity, the sooner it can be resolved.”

Source: www.icba.org.


The Best-for-You Halloween Candy

October 21, 2013 5:09 pm

The minute the calendar turns to October, it seems candy begins popping up all over – front and center on grocery and drug store shelves, and increasingly tough to resist.

While it will never do wonders for your teeth or your belly fat, if you’re tempted to indulge in a little something sweet, nutrition experts point to some traditional candy favorites that have at least some nutritional value:

  • Dark chocolate – Bars with at least 60 percent cocoa have proven antioxidant and anti- inflammatory properties. A small piece nibbled each day may actually provide a health boost.
  • Peanut butter cups – Made with real peanut butter, these chocolate treats contain five grams of protein, which helps balance the sugar content and keep you satisfied longer.
  • Nut bars – For the same reasons, any candy bar loaded with nuts provides some satisfying healthy fat and a few grams of protein.
  • Fruity treats – For a fruity munch, flavored candy bits like Skittles are fat-free and contain a bit of vitamin C to go with the sugar.
  • Chocolate bites – Minimize your sugar intake by choosing foil-wrapped chocolate kisses over a handful of the colorful, candy-covered kind. Kisses take a bit longer to eat, too, which may help to keep you from eating more than just a few.
  • Sweet and tart candies – If you must indulge, try a roll of Smarties for a minimal 25 calories in the roll.
  • Chocolate covered peppermints - Compared to a standard candy bar, a 140-calorie Peppermint Patty is a major calorie bargain, especially since it has only 2.5 grams of fat. It’s also on the lower end of the scale for saturated fats and sugar.
  • Lollipops and suckers – To minimize the sugar bombarding your teeth over a long period of time, choose a plain one rather than one with a sweet, chewy gum or candy center.

Selling Your Place? Tips for Negotiating

October 21, 2013 5:09 pm

In talking with real estate professionals across the country, I noticed that most of them are expressing concerns about dwindling or dismal inventory for sellers to consider.

Most are advising that if potential buyers learns about a property that appeals to them, they should run - not walk - to check it out. Even those who are the first to learn of a new listing should be prepared to negotiate against other aggressive and possibly well-financed contenders.

In the next few segments, we'll take a look at what prospects need to know when they are pursuing, or competing to get into a new home in a tight inventory market. We'll also provide some insight to sellers who want to get their price.

A blog at helpinghomesellers.com, has good advice for sellers who want to respond to low ball offers. The site suggests instead of getting into a debate about money, try sweetening the pot with a variety of counter-offers, including:

  • Paying for some of the buyers’ title insurance, closing costs and/or points.
  • Pay homeowner’s association fees for a year.
  • Look into buying down the buyers’ mortgage rate for the first year.
  • Cover a year's cost for a lawn-maintenance/snow removal service.
  • Pay or provide an allowance toward moving expenses.
  • Provide the buyers with a home warranty.
  • Pay for the lawn and pool services for a year.
  • Offer a golf club membership, pool membership, or cable subscription.
  • Offer an allowance to repaint, new carpeting or for window treatments.

Incentives, especially for first time homebuyers, can often do the trick, the site states.

Investopedia.com says even in declining markets it is extremely important to be cognizant of comparable properties, and to price one's home to entice potential buyers to view it and ultimately bid on it.

That site says sellers should reject the temptation to hold out for top dollar, or to price the home at the upper end of what the market will bear. To get a sense of what similar homes are selling for, Investopedia.com recommends:

  • Attending open houses
  • Perusing the newspaper for local listings
  • Ask a real estate agent to print up comparable listings on the multiple listing service (MLS)

Word of the Day

October 21, 2013 5:09 pm

Consideration. Something of value, usually money, given to induce another to enter into a contract.


Beyond Granite: New Looks for Countertops

October 18, 2013 6:27 pm

For most of the past decade, at least, according to The Marble Institute, more than 75 percent of homeowners remodeling their kitchens have chosen granite for their counter tops.

Given granite’s durability, longevity and good looks, that’s not surprising. But at $60 to $100 per square foot installed, it is expensive - and extraordinarily heavy, often requiring reinforcement of base cabinets.

If you are considering a remodel, the National Kitchen and Bath Association suggests considering one of these non-granite counter top solutions:

Carrara marble – Marble is softer than granite, and more apt to scratch. But it develops a warm and lovely patina over time that appeals to many people.

Wood – Wood counter tops are enjoying a popularity surge because of its warmth, style and durability. Butcher block is the most common type, but slabs can be crafted from a variety of woods. Maintenance requires only a little oil now and then to prevent drying.

Soapstone - A smooth, matte natural stone that comes in a hues ranging from soft grey to charcoal, sopastone is one of the only natural surfaces that is not affected by acids – so spilled coffee or orange juice won’t leave a stain. It is also heat resistant and requires no special cleaners are needed, but mineral oils can be used to enhance the stone’s natural beauty.

Engineered quartz – These engineered countertops are created by mixing 95 percent ground natural quartz with 5 percent polymer resins. The result is a super-hard, low-maintenance, natural looking countertop that’s available in a wide range of colors. It is scratch and heat resistant, though you may not want to set a hot frying pan on it.

Stainless steel – Complementing many of today’s appliances, stainless steel is stain- and heat-resistant but it can be scratched or dented.


Physician Shares Tips for Surviving “the ‘Easy Life

October 18, 2013 6:27 pm

Dr. James L. Hardeman has seen firsthand the consequences of unhealthy habits during his 30 years as a practicing physician, and he says they’re just not worth it.

“There are very clear, biological reasons why we are compelled to eat sugary, fatty foods; but if there was ever a case of ‘too much of a good thing,’ it’s a sedentary lifestyle coupled with delicious, readily available food,” says Dr. Hardeman, author of “Appears Younger than Stated Age,” a pragmatic guide to looking younger.

As we evolved, sugar, salt and fat were rare yet necessary commodities, and that’s why we enjoy them so much, he says. But there are devastating consequences associated with too much rest, sugar and fat – including heart disease, obesity, diabetes and sleep apnea, he says.

“The ‘easy life’ isn’t so easy in the long term,” he says.

Multiple studies indicate the multidimensional nature of healthy habits, including one recently published by the Lund University Diabetes Centre in Sweden. The study tracked significant improvements in men who changed their lifestyle from inactive to active, and the results were impressive.

Waist circumference and blood pressure drastically improved after six months. But the study also showed that health also improved at the microscopic level, such as the functioning of genes and how they express proteins. Other studies indicate that gene improvement can occur after just one workout.

“Our bodies want to be healthy, and it’s just a matter of getting and staying motivated,” says Dr. Hardeman, who offers tips:

• Don’t fall into the “I don’t have time” trap. Time is arguably the most precious commodity any individual has – and that means life span. Don’t have time to chop veggies before dinner or work out after work? Then make time! You will almost certainly live longer by following a healthier lifestyle. Need more incentive than a vague sense of health? How about avoiding the lifestyle restrictions imposed by diabetes, or the medical interventions necessitated by a heart attack?

• Keep in mind the intake/output principle. Miracle diets don’t exist. While some people can burn calories more easily than others, it ultimately comes down to what you put into your body and what you do with that energy. If you want to lose or maintain weight, think of a 360-calorie muffin as a loan you have to pay back with 35 to 40 minutes worth of jogging, or a 55-minute walk.

• Keep doing fun things! Remember what it was like to be a little kid? Back then, simply running around during a game of tag was a blast! It’s never too late to turn exercise into play. Try snowboarding, dancing at a club, hiking a beautiful landscape or taking a bicycle ride with the family.

• Find the motivator that works for you. Many people find a partner helps them stay motivated to exercise. If you’re not inclined to walk in the morning, but you don’t want to let down your walking partner, then you’re more likely to walk anyway. Same goes for a dog that needs to be walked. However, the most dependable person to keep you motivated is you. If your routine is getting a dull, mix it up with an mp3 player. Whether it’s Metallica, Manilow or Mozart, you can program a personal adrenalin soundtrack to keep yourself fully amped.

Dr. James L. Hardeman has been a physician for 30 years.  


5 Tips on Getting Control of Your Data

October 18, 2013 6:27 pm

The proliferation of information generated by businesses worldwide continues to be the source of some of the biggest organizational challenges, expenditures and risks faced by companies today. The solution many have adopted to overcome this data deluge has been to add increasing amounts of storage resources on an on-going basis.

However, the capital and operational expense, exponential complexity, and management headaches of this approach make it a no-win game. For those looking to gain active control of all aspects of their file data, NTP Software® offers these five tips:

  • Understand what is happening in your environment – Critical insights for more efficient storage use come from learning how your storage is being consumed, where your problem areas are, and what can be done to optimize storage usage. Examining your organization's use of storage resources through an in-depth file assessment will reveal critical details that will show you how to create a plan for better managing your data.
     
  • Implement automatic, system-enforced policies to ensure each file resides on its appropriate storage tier – Once you understand how your organization is using storage resources, you can categorize your data and ensure that it resides on the appropriate storage tier to reduce costs, address compliance issues, and enable you to properly perform e-discovery. Less-frequently used data will move automatically to a more appropriate storage tier, giving you better control of your file data while optimizing storage resources and reducing long-term costs.
     
  • Control how much primary disk space users consume and what they place on the network – Primary disk is your network's most valuable and probably most expensive resource. Industry analysts tell us that as much as 40 percent of it is routinely wasted. By establishing appropriate usage policies, you can control how expensive space is used and what can be put there to preserve system performance and availability across the board. Implementing quotas, blocking the storage of unwanted files and providing tools to users that help them understand and clean up unneeded information is a cost-effective and easy way to control file data costs across the entire enterprise.
     
  • Ensure secure access to vital files regardless of where they reside – Once you have aligned your storage resources and policies as to what users can and cannot store on the network, your employees need to be able to securely access their existing files regardless of where they reside. Implement technology that helps you connect and control how and when users access data on the most common storage hosts, cloud or object stores as allowed by their current permissions. This gives you more value from your file data while enabling the reduced storage costs of a tiered architecture.
     
  • Protect data from unauthorized use or access – In the increasingly mobile workplace, providing access to an organization's file data from any Internet-connected device or cell phone provides worker flexibility but also opens up the possibility that sensitive information is out of your control. Rather than turning to an external cloud file system or consumer-oriented "sync and share" product, control corporate data with an end-to-end enterprise solution that provides users with the ability to create and interact safely with your organization's file data without violating federal data regulations or having it reside on their own device. This ensures that any intellectual property generated by employees is fully secured and treated the same whether it originates in the office, at home or on the road.

    "Many organizations are so overwhelmed by the amount of file data they need to manage that they haven't been able to actually do anything with that data to benefit the company or their users," says Bruce Backa, CEO of NTP Software. "By developing a plan and utilizing available tools that help them control, manage and protect their business-critical information, these organizations can effectively change storage from a liability into the asset that it needs to be. Implementing the above five tips will ensure that organizations are well on their way to reducing cost and gaining control of their file data today, and well into the future."

Source: NTP Software

 


Word of the Day

October 18, 2013 6:27 pm

Inspection. The act of physically examining and testing a piece of property to ascertain certain information.


Q: What If My Contracting Job Is Botched?

October 18, 2013 6:27 pm

A: If you are displeased with the results for obvious reasons, keep after the contractor to make the needed repairs.  When that fails, contact your local consumer protection agency.  Make sure you have a copy of the contract, receipts showing payments, and photographs of the work.

Although it has no legal authority, you also may want to contact the Better Business Bureau, as well as your state’s Contractor License Board.  And you can take the contractor to Small Claims Court to recover amounts usually under $2,000.

 


Tips to Protect Your Sight during Home Eye Safety Month

October 18, 2013 6:27 pm

Every year during October, Home Eye Safety Month, it’s helpful to review a few reminders about protecting and preserving your sight, and the sight of your loved ones, especially around the house where so many eye injuries occur.

According to Prevent Blindness America ’s 2013 Cost of Vision report, more than $1 billion is spent annually in the U.S. eye injury related costs, most of which injuries are preventable by wearing proper eye protection in and around the home.

A 2011 report from the American Academy of Ophthalmology states that more than 2.5 million eye injuries occur in the U.S. each year with 50,000 of those leading to permanent or partial vision loss.

To prevent such injuries, PBA is urging the public to wear ANSI approved protective eyewear, which can be identified with a “Z-87” logo stamp, during household activities such as lawn mowing, cleaning with chemicals or painting.

Prescription glasses-wearers should wear safety glasses or goggles that fit over regular glasses, as regular eyeglasses do not always provide enough protection and may even cause further injury upon impact, the organization said.

When it comes to the little ones, PBA reminds you that there are many common objects in the home that can cause serious eye injuries to children. Teaching kids about eye safety is one way, and using eye protection for risky tasks is another.

Take a good look at these PBA home safety tips to help keep everyone safe in the:

Bathroom and Kitchen

  • Teach children not to run around with forks, knives, combs or toothbrushes.
  • Keep detergents, cleaning supplies, nail polish remover, mouthwash and makeup in locked cabinets or out of reach.
  • Set a good example by wearing eye protection when using ammonia-based cleaning supplies.

Bedroom

  • Keep clothes hangers in the closet.
  • Don’t allow children to play with small, pointed or sharp toys or objects in bed.
  • Don’t allow young children to use combs, brushes or hairspray unless you watch or help them.

Play Area

  • Teach children to put toys away.
  • Keep toys for older kids away from younger kids.