Friday Funny 2

bestphotoever

First up, best photo ever used in an ad trying to sell something!

Secondly, let me see if I have this straight. This rust bucket will cost me $200, unless I choose to risk my life and try starting this car which has not been started in five years, and for risking my life I have to pay an extra $300? WTF?

If I try it and it does not work, is that still an extra $300? What if I buy it for $200, take it away on a trailer, and try it without you knowing, will you hunt me down for the extra $300?

I “recon” that the seller will be keeping this rust bucket for a while! ;)

Fail Whale, wrong world

Black Friday & Retailers

I was disappointed to be asked to spend money to celebrate International Women’s Day. No, Rockmans, first of all it is the Year Of Buying Nothing, second of all I’m not loving what you are selling lately, and thirdly, this is a bit tacky and tasteless.

I know your marketing department is desperate to find “themes” to email everyone each day, but L’Occitane did a better job by just wishing me a Happy International Women’s Day and inviting me to celebrate Melbourne Fashion Week with a special offer. And they aren’t selling clothes!

Definite side eye from me to retailers asking me to spend money for this reason, and if I remember correctly they are some of the same ones who asked me to celebrate Black Friday in much the same way, which two things, that has a very different bushfire related meaning in our country and secondly Aussie retailers STOP trying to make American retail things happen in our country pretty please?

Almost every retailer I subscribe to mentioned Black Friday and in one not so lovely moment one Australian retailer called it Black Fri-Yay. Nope, not buying anything from YOU for a while. I know you retailers think none of this is important and nobody is reading your emails but some of us are, and some of us are not loving what we see.

I’m not going to buy something to celebrate bushfires and though it was a very long time ago and probably these folks have forgotten all about it in their quest to get everyone spending money, Black Friday was arguably the worst bushfire disaster to happen in this country ever, and when you search for Black Friday now on google you mostly get sales related junk. From Wikipedia –

The Black Friday bushfires of 13 January 1939, in Victoria, Australia, were among the worst natural bushfires (wildfires) in the world. Almost 20,000 km² (4,942,000 acres, 2,000,000 ha) of land was burned, 71 people died, several towns were entirely destroyed and the Royal Commission that resulted from it led to major changes in forest management.

Over 1,300 homes and 69 sawmills were burned, and 3,700 buildings were destroyed. It was calculated that three-quarters of the State of Victoria was directly or indirectly affected by the disaster. The Royal Commission noted that “it appeared the whole State was alight on Friday, 13 January 1939”

Yes, that seems to be a great reason to get out my wallet and shop up a storm, the deaths of 71 people. What a brilliant idea, NOT!

customer feedback, what not to do

Woolworths : The Fail Whale People.

You may recall that I broke up with Woolworths in August 2015. Since then, I have been pretty consistent with my desire to not shop there. When I changed purses recently, I did not bother putting their rewards card in there.

It turns out there is only one thing we actually NEED to buy at Woolworths which we cannot get elsewhere. Don pepperoni. We tried the Aldi version and it was ok, but it was not awesome like the Don pepperoni. Coles do not sell pepperoni in sticks here, you can only get it in packets which does not work for us. So once in a blue moon, we trek to Woolworths and stock up on Don pepperoni.

Over the past year they opened a new Woolworths at Vincentia Marketplace. We visited the marketplace when it first opened and took a look at Woolworths. That store was new and therefore was laid out in the new style. Nothing we saw inspired us to reconsider our decision to break up.

Since I saw the dietitian and changed our eating habits to involve less processed foods and more fresh foods, 99% of our shop comes from Aldi now. We visit Coles for any brand name foods we cannot get at Aldi. Each shop, that list gets smaller and smaller. I do not like eggs from Aldi, so we pick up the Manning Valley eggs from Coles, and we usually get some Don ham there. Some weeks that is all we buy from Coles.

A couple of weeks ago, Woolworths put an ad on my Facebook. They told me that Fairy Platinum dishwasher tablets would be 50% off. Ever since Pinchme sent a sample of those, we have been faithful Fairy customers. At 50% off, the tablets are a mere .35 cents each. Usually even on special the best price I will find is .50 cents each.

So off we went to Woolworths, only to find NO Fairy Platinum dishwasher tablets on special. I was so annoyed! Clearly I was not the only one, because the next time Facebook showed me the ad, it had the dates that this would be on special.

Our next grocery shopping trip fell within those dates, so we went to Woolworths, only to find that particular store did not stock Fairy Platinum at all. FAIL WHALE.

By now, I was determined I was going to buy those darn dishwasher tablets. Having failed twice, we went to the largest Woolworths in our area and picked up 4 packets. They also had salami on special, and we had just run out. So this will be our last visit to Woolworths until we next run out of salami, which I am hoping will be in early 2017. That stuff lasts a fair while, we only use 12 slices a week on our pizzas.

I don’t care what you advertise to me on the Facebook in future, Woolworths.

I am NOT picking you.

Annoyed Snoskred, bitches, shopping

Election Fever

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Don’t you just LOVE it when the universe decides to have a joke at your expense?

At the last Federal Election, I worked at a holiday town election booth as a declaration votes officer. There were at least two of us, possibly three, I can’t remember. We were pretty busy all day helping people visiting from other electorates to cast their votes. During that day, I had TWO votes for our local electorate of Gilmore, both for people who had enrolled at the last minute and somehow got left off the electoral roll.

So, on Saturday the 2nd of July I unwrapped my votes for the many electorates and began counting them, 5 for each electorate. When I got to Gilmore, I laughed to myself and thought “I won’t need many of those today”.

And the universe laughed with me, or maybe at me, because unknown to me there had been some kind of error with the electoral roll. Some people who were on the roll at the last election suddenly found that they were missing. They had not changed address. They had not changed anything with the AEC. But they could not be found, and had to cast declaration votes.

I had to ask my manager for a pad of Gilmore votes. They are printed in books of 100. I had less than 10 left at the end of the day – add in the 5 I started with, it was almost 100 declaration votes for Gilmore. HA HA, laughed the universe!

There was only one of me this time. There were times where I was surrounded by people at my table. I only had one pen which would work on the envelopes and the polling place manager had to do some pen stealing to find me more. I ended up with four. Even with all four pens being used to fill in envelopes, there were long queues of people waiting for me. I was using one pen – the one that would not work on the envelopes – to write down the things I needed to add to the envelopes once they were filled in.

Handing out votes, saying all the things I needed to say, reminding everyone their votes HAD to come back to me to be placed into their envelopes.. I felt like an election robot.

Just after 5pm, I ran out of declaration vote envelopes. We did not have any more, nor did we have any way to get anymore. We had to send those people to other voting places.

The good news is, this meant I could close my station and begin reconciling. Thank the deities, the vote numbers worked out perfectly. Declaration votes are not counted on election day, they are sent to their various electorates to be counted. The envelopes remain closed until they arrive there. Not even the declaration votes cast within their own electorate are opened and counted.

I was done with my reconcillation by 6:30pm which meant I could join in the counting of regular votes. With one of the best teams of AEC staff I have ever been lucky enough to meet, and everyone pitching in and working hard, we had everything counted by 8:30pm. Another half hour to pack up, 15 minutes to bump out and clean up, and we were all out of there by 9:20pm or so. I was home with my beloved Antony Green on the teevee by 9:30pm. I was in bed not long after that – I recorded him to watch later.

As I type this on the 4th of July, there is no election result in Australia. There are currently 10 electorates too close to call and all the votes – postal, declaration, pre-poll – will have to be counted in order to get a result. By the time this post is scheduled I hope we might have a result, I will update it next Sunday.

One of those electorates is my own – Gilmore.

UPDATE – Supposedly the coalition has claimed victory, even though there is more counting to do.. :/

challenges, elections, work

Fitbit – Part One

fitbit1a

Remember earlier this year when I posted about my main goal for 2016? I said I would write about the Fitbit once I had it a little longer. Today it is exactly one month since I got this nifty device and I am loving it.

There are a lot of different aspects to the Fitbit, so I am not even going to try and cover them all in the one post. I’ll start off by telling you a little bit about what the Fitbit is, then I will talk about some of the ways that the Fitbit has inspired me to get moving again, and then tell you what I love and do not love about it.

What Is Fitbit?

Fitbit is an activity tracking device. You wear it on your wrist. Depending on which model you choose, it can track other things as well. I wanted to keep an eye on my heart rate especially when exercising, so I chose the Fitbit Charge HR. It cost $124 to purchase in the Boxing Day sales.

Fitbit reports the data it gathers back to your smartphone and/or your computer. You have a dashboard, which contains many different fields, and you can move the fields around to get it looking how you want.

The wrist device itself has a very small LED display which you can tap to switch between the time, steps so far, heart rate, KMs for the day, and calories burned. You can set it so that a flick of your wrist shows you the current time. I deeply love that feature!

Fitbit Makes Me –

Park that bit further away.

When you know you have a daily goal of 10,000 steps, you begin to find opportunities to add them in to your day. There is this local meat place which has a carpark of evilness, so now I park in a street away from the carpark and walk there instead. I discovered that I MUCH prefer this to driving in and trying to find a park and negotiating every other person in the tiny and badly designed carpark.

Get on the treadmill.

I’ve had this treadmill sitting here next to me for over a year now. There were times when I was very disciplined and would get on it every day, and there were times when I ignored it totally. Now I am on it most days, even if only for 15 minutes to get those last few missing steps.

Get out and about.

I’d much rather walk out at Huskisson and Vincentia than on the treadmill. Since the start of 2016, I have managed to get down there on average twice a week, sometimes 3-4 times.

Be Less Rigid

In 2015, I would only get on the treadmill first thing in the morning, before my shower. This meant if I did not feel like exercise then, it would get skipped. Now, with Fitbit, I have all day to get my steps in. If I do not feel like it first thing in the morning, I’ll take a shower, do what I feel like, and get on the treadmill in the afternoon, then take a second shower if I need it. I’ve even exercised as late as 9:30 or 10pm, if I needed more steps.

What I Love About Fitbit –

Convenience –

It is so simple! Wearing this one item on my wrist gives me SO much information about myself and my health, from heart rate at different times of the day right up to how well I slept.

Reminder –

Fitbit is there on my wrist 24/7 reminding me to make better choices – whether it be move more or eat less.

Tap To Know –

Three quick taps at any time of day gets me my current heart rate. This is useful mid-treadmill when I want to see if I am pushing too hard.

Great Workout Tracking

Look at all the info Fitbit collected on my walk today!

walk1

Above is heart rate and which zones you are in during your work out. The very low dips – the first one is where I stretch after doing my slow warm up 2 mins, then there are 2 drink breaks in there.

walk2

Above shows calorie burn, and the impact of his exercise on my day.

Resting Heart Rate

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Fitbit tracks my resting heart rate. You can see it has dropped significantly since I started my journey to fitness on 29 December. You can also see it went back up a little – I had a cold which I was fighting at that time.

What I Don’t Love About Fitbit –

Fitbit Can’t Go Swimming

I have always loved the pool – swimming and aqua aerobics are my first two choices of exercise, even above walking and kayaking. However Fitbit is unable to join me there – which means all the information I rely on when I exercise, like heart rate and calories burned is also unavailable to me.

Fitbit Needs Regular Cleaning

Not that cleaning is a problem for this germophobe, but whenever I do it clean it – usually once a day, twice if necessary – I worry that I might accidentally murder it. Fitbit is splash proof but not water proof.

Fitbit Needs To Be Placed Correctly

In order to measure your heart rate, Fitbit has to be in the right place. Sometimes I have had trouble putting it in the right place or I have bumped it slightly and there goes my heart rate measurements, sometimes for hours because I did not know it wasn’t measuring it. I wish it would beep or flash when it wasn’t picking up my heart rate so I could adjust it.

Fitbit Took Some Getting Used To

wsleepdata

I found sleeping with it on extremely weird to begin with. However, I stuck with it and I got used to it, and I consider the data gained VERY useful – I’ll talk more about the data in another post.

Overall –

I love my Fitbit, and I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to get moving. Just remember what I said about lessons learned in my Main Goal post.

exercise, Fitbit, health, Making Choices

My Main Goal For 2016

fitbithr

I have a few things I would like to achieve this year. There is one major goal, though – and it is –

Eat Less, Move More.

This is a pretty simple goal. It needs to happen. My weight has been quietly creeping up to a place I am not a fan of. At the start of January, I weighed in at 95.2kg – (209.88 pounds) – if I let things continue this way, I’d soon be over 100kgs.

The Other Half and I bought ourselves the Fitbit Charge HR for Christmas. We got them on special for $124 each. This little gadget has changed my life in a good way – I will do a post all about it later this month once I have been using it a little longer. Here is a quick look at the dashboard, which you will see in more detail in my upcoming post. :)

fbdashboard

As a part of the Fitbit thing, I’m also tracking my food intake. I was doing it with the inbuilt Fitbit food logging software, but I have now switched to MyFitnessPal. You can find me here – MyFitnessPal & Fitbit.

We bought the Fitbits on Tuesday, so I weigh in on Tuesday mornings and in the first week I lost 1.3kg (2.86 pounds).

stats1

Of course one of the very first things we did was go out for a long walk, during which I managed to pinch a nerve in my foot, making it difficult to get my 10,000 steps a day for that first week. In fact for two days I had to rest and limp about – then I injured it again and had to take another rest day. That has been quite frustrating. However even on a rest day I managed 6468 steps which is pretty decent.

I know I have a couple of readers who have set themselves the same goal and at least one thinking about buying themselves a Fitbit, so here are my lessons learned after one week.

Start Out Slow.

As soon as you get that Fitbit, you’ll want to get moving. However if you do that, you will not have a baseline to know how many steps you would usually do in a day. So my advice the first day is – do what you would do on a regular day.

Be Careful

An injury will hinder your progress and frustrate you, so rather than go all out, ramp up your exercise slowly. If you are not doing 10,000 steps to begin with, aim to add a thousand steps each day.

Work It Out

It is useful to figure out how many steps you get from things you do regularly. For example, if I need to run to the shops, it will be 2,000 steps or so. A shower is usually 200-300 steps – I keep mine on, you don’t have to, of course. Why is this important?

Step Budget

If you know that you have to do grocery shopping tomorrow, and you know that is going to be around 2,000 steps, you might want to cut back on your other activities.

stepswed

For example – I like to get on the treadmill and do a walk but I will always stop around 8,000 steps because I know the rest of my daily doings (dinner, cleaning, etc) will be around 2,000 steps. On the day you see pictured above, we discovered we did not have an essential dinner ingredient, so off to the shops we went – and I went way over on my steps for that day.

Not that going over 10,000 steps is a major problem, but at this stage with the injury I really want to try and stick to 10,000 -11,000 a day.

Sleep Is Interesting

sleepbest

Sleep stats, that is. Above you see one of my best nights of sleep since getting the Fitbit. Interestingly, I had stayed up late reading a truly great book. When I did go to sleep, I was out solidly for 4 hours. I woke up so refreshed the next morning.

sleepok

This sleep was less good but it seems like this is a more normal sleep for me.

Fitbit Thoughts

Why does it seem like this is going to work well for me? Putting this little tracking band on my wrist has inspired me to get moving and watch my food intake. Is it because, in a world where everything can be tracked, tracking the human body tells us more about ourselves? I haven’t logged food to this extent before and I am finding it to suit my Aspie, slightly OCD nature.

Saying It Out Loud

The major reason I am posting this here is to hold myself accountable. There is always the danger I could become complacent and fall off the eat less, move more wagon. I’ll update here once a month.

Over To You

Did you make any goals for 2016? Do you fitbit or myfitnesspal? :)

2016 Goal, exercise, health, Making Choices, moving forward

Happy New Year!

nypost

I would like to wish all my readers a fabulous, happy, productive, awesome and wonderful New Year. Thank you so much for reading, for commenting, for writing your own blogs which I greatly enjoy. I am so glad I met each and every one of you. :)

If you read this blog and you’re not sure if I read your blog, please leave a comment with a link – or contact me privately – because I want to read all the blogs of my readers

A Quick Apology

I usually reply to comments left here on the blog but the past couple of weeks I have been feeling Not Great. I think a combination of losing Red Comb, plus hay fever allergies have kicked in big time. I have also been absent from the comment sections of other blogs. It is not you, it is me.

I’m starting to get my go back and spent some time yesterday going back through the comments, leaving replies. I hope to get back to your comment sections more regularly in the new year. ;)

And now, a quick look back at 2015 here on my blog.

Top Ten 2015 Posts

1. How to – Schedule Posts In Blogger & WordPress

2. 10 New Reasons I Unsubscribed From Blogs

3. How To – Get Started With Inoreader

4. Depression Notes

5. The Chicken Mind

6. No Bake Cheesecake

7. And Already – AKA Why Does Snoskred Do This?

8. Chicken Merge

9. Trouble Brewing @ Lumosity

10. A Truly Great Day

Where Do People Come From?

Here is the top ten list of countries people who view my blog originate from –

where

Top 5 Scam Posts Of 2015

The scam posts got a lot of views this year, so I’ve put them in their own category. All together, over 50,000 people viewed those posts – thousands of people found out these jobs were scams thanks to these posts.

1. LCN Company Team Scam

2. LKT Company Job Scam

3. Platinum LLC Job Scam

4. Scam Advice

5. Three More Scam Jobs

nypost2

My Favourite Search Terms For 2015 –

millers old ladies cardigans – Leads you to this post – Millers Knits.

snoscred – Nope, you’re doing it wrong. And yet, you still end up here! Though I can’t seem to replicate this on search engines at all. Also found – snoksred – snoskret – sonskred – nosskred – onskreds.

females in thigh boots swordfighting with men videos – This will lead you to The Pirate Movie post.

oprah most comfortable shoes – This search leads you here – Shoe Sunday – Oprah Said So.

sheeps butt – sheep testicles – These searches will give you this post – Concrete Sheep

My Favourite Search Questions For 2015 –

can spiders live in your septic tank – Yes but why would they want to? There is not a lot of spider food to be found there. They prefer other kinds of environments, in general. Like my ceiling cornices!

what are the “regular movies” with the most graphic male frontal nudity in them? – And this search results in Abu Dhabi Doo – don’t worry, there are no nude images there. :)

what does morten harket really look like nude? – I’m going with almost identical to how he looks in his bathing suit, except with added dangly bits. Just a guess, but I think I’d be right..

how to entertain a lion – With great care, I would suggest.

how to bait and kill a red belly black snake – This search term always gets a lot of people arriving here on my blog. Don’t bait or kill a snake, read this instead. People get killed trying to kill snakes. If you value your life, don’t try it!

Top Ten Viewed Posts Not Written In 2015

To finish this post off, every year some of my old posts get almost as many views as the new posts. Here are the top 10 viewed posts which were not written in 2015.

1. Snoskred made 5 MILLION DOLLARS online this year!

2. The Much Awaited Miele Condenser Dryer Post

3. Lite N Easy – Some thoughts & wrap-up

4. Costco Food Court Australia

5. The Pirate Movie

6. Fake Lasagne

7. How to organise Lite N Easy in the fridge.

8. 14 Reasons Readers Unsubscribe From Blogs.

9. Blog Design – Open Your Eyes

10. How To – Add Contact Page on WordPress

blog housekeeping, looking back, things to remember

Recent PINCHme Samples

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In December of 2014 I wrote about PINCHme samples – I also wrote this post about how *not* to sample – AKA don’t be stingy. Today I am giving you an update on recent samples I have received.

pinchme1

Over winter 2015 things went very quiet at PINCHme with not many samples released at all. They picked back up again in late September. The first sample they sent me was by far the least stingy and most awesome sample ever – a full sized Mitchum Clinical Deodorant.. when I next visited the shops I made sure to look for it on the shelf and was quite taken aback when I saw this –

pinchmenotstingy

I’ve been using it every second day since I got it and I have to say, it is pretty amazing. It smells wonderful, too. How does one use a 48 hour antiperspirant when one showers every day, one thought? I tested it out, still having my daily shower as usual on the second day and then *not* putting anything on and fate made sure I tried this on the hottest day we’ve had thus far – 35 degrees, no sweat, no smells.

It feels weird, not putting anything on after a shower, but I have got used to it. You only need to use the tiniest amount of this stuff – one click of the dial at the bottom per armpit. I’ve been using it every second day for over a month now and I still have over half a container left. Normally I would go through one roll on per month.

I knew I’d heard things about aluminium in antiperspirants so when I checked the ingredients I was a little unsure, but I did some research into that and it is all urban myths as far as I can see. I will definitely be buying this one.

Good job on not being stingy, Mitchum! In fact you did such a good job of not being stingy you have won two customers, I bought a similar product for The Other Half when I saw them on special recently.

pinchme2

So here we have some Dynamo clothes washing liquid – I gave this a legit trial with some clothes which were stained that have been awaiting stain removal. It removed almost all the stains. I’m keeping the second packet for more stains, and will consider purchasing a small amount of this to keep on hand. One small negative – our front load washer does not have anything to stop the liquid running right into the machine, so the detergent went right in.

There is also a Schick Quattro razor. I’m not a user of razors very often – I prefer waxing – plus I am unlikely to use anything with 4 blades as a regular thing, but I’ll give it a try. Anything more than two blades reminds me of this little ad from The D Generation

pinchme2a

There is a Chux magic eraser – now I just have to find something to use that on! – and some Fancy Feast which the cats were big fans of. They would be even greater fans if only I would follow these feeding instructions –

pinchfeeding

Grumpy is 5kg, so that would be 7.5 pouches a day. This would be an increase of 7 pouches a day as the kitties get half a pouch/tin of wet food each morning. At 1.42 per pouch, this would cost me $10.65 a day in cat food! Unless I could find it on special somewhere..

If I followed these instructions, Grumpy would soon be 10kg, in which case I would have to feed her 15 pouches. Exponential growth! If I showed these feeding instructions to my vet, who recently told us our kitties need to watch their weight, she would probably fall on the floor laughing. It makes me wonder – is anyone out there actually reading and following those instructions? That would be very bad. :/

I find PINCHme free samples to be interesting, I always love receiving mail and sometimes the samples are a source of great products we end up loving and buying. We are still using Fairy Platinum dishwasher tablets and we love them, I am a big fan of the Mitchum deodorant..

Samples are usually released @PINCHme on Tuesdays at mid-day. They sell out very quickly, so you want to be logged in at 11:58am and ready to go. Sometimes they have surprise samples on other days, as well.

You can sign up for PINCHme here and I do not receive anything for sending you there, sadly. They ought to have a decent referral program. They do have one but it is linked to the samples which usually sell out within minutes, plus there is some blather about having to be logged in when you refer someone.

FYI the usual statements apply – nobody paid me to write this post, I do receive free samples from PINCHme but they are samples anyone can receive if they are a member and they sign in at the right time to claim a sample.

customer feedback, exercise, kitties, PINCHme

Hackers – How To Protect Yourself Online

hackers2

Rami Malek plays a hacker in Mr Robot

These days, you probably give out your personal information to websites on a regular basis and feel comfortable doing so. Anything you register for requires at minimum an email address and a password. Once you have given out that information to a website, you have zero control over it. If that website gets hacked, what information have you provided to the hackers simply by registering there?

Consider the users of that terrible website Ashley Madison. A lot of data was compromised. Some of the site members had used work email addresses, a lot of those email addresses had their full names clearly visible.. Now you might say – those people deserved what they got. I could argue both sides of that case.

Just recently a British phone provider was hacked, and British Gas customer login info was put online. Here in Australia recently, David Jones, Kmart and Patagonia were hacked. And these are only the companies we *know* about.

The Bigger Point Is –

What will happen if a website that you use regularly gets hacked? What information of yours will suddenly be available to the dark web?

In years gone by, I spent some time in email inboxes of the Nigerian Scammers. Law enforcement would hand over seized email accounts so that we could contact and warn the scam victims contained inside. I learned how to use the information provided inside those accounts to identify other email accounts the scammers were using so those accounts could also be seized. I learned to search the web for phone numbers, fax numbers, names, phrases used.

I can tell you how easy it is to follow the breadcrumbs that people leave online because I have done it many times myself. Sometimes it seemed to me to be like unpicking a thread sewn into the web – this email account leads to that email account which leads to that online dating profile which leads to this Facebook profile which gave me their mobile phone number and searching for that gave me 5 other email addresses that scammer is using.

Below you will find my top 10 tips for protecting yourself from hackers online.

You will absolutely be doing at least one of these things I mention below right now. I’m not saying quit doing that, or go and undo everything you have ever done. I’m saying going forward from now on- for your own safety – you might want to reconsider doing these things.

1. Do Not Use Your Real Last Name

Never. Not ever. Not on Facebook. Not on Linked In. Not on any website. Not on your blog. Keep your real life separated from your online life. There are a lot of great reasons to do this and they far outweigh any reasons you might want to use your real last name online.

You might pick a last name from a favourite character in a book or TV show. You might choose a colour, a word in another language, the name of an animal – but not a pet name! I recommend you avoid using your pets names online, not even for secret questions and especially not for passwords!

It is easy for people to ask you – what is the name of your pet – and if you have used it as your secret question they might have everything they need to get into your email account, depending on what email service you are using.

If you have used your real last name on Facebook, you can change it and I suggest you do so as a matter of urgency. Their “name standards” might say “The name you use should be your authentic identity” – that is all very well but not especially realistic given the world we now live in. You can add a hyphen and another word to the end of your name if you prefer. EG Sipowicz-Simone

Alternatively, if you do want to use your real last name on Facebook – let that be the ONLY place that you use it. Some people use their middle name as their last name – I frown on that concept a little but if it suits you, to each their own. :) How to change your name on Facebook.

2. Avoid Using Your Real First Name

This one I am a little more relaxed about – if you want to go by your first name online, on your blog, Facebook and Linked in, that is cool. But when you are signing up for mailing lists on websites, I usually do not recommend using your first name in that venue.

First up, the company is going to use your supplied first name mercilessly in their mailings to you. It is a lot more fun to go into your inbox and see “Hi Tiger, blah blah” “Hello Snake, blah blah” “Good Morning Bat, blah blah”

Secondly, if a hacker hacks in to the company, they can’t do a lot with Tiger Sipowicz or Snake Morgan or Bat Sorenson. Especially if you are not using that name on Facebook, Linked In, etc.

Thirdly, this is the chance you have been waiting for! You can give yourself that first name you always wanted, like Veronica, Natasha, or Beyonce. Using an Alias or a Pseudonym online is perfectly fine and sensible.

3. Do Not Use Your Real Address

Your first and last names, your home address and your birthdate are four key pieces of information that identity thieves need to steal your identity.

If you can, use a PO box for your mailing address. This means nobody can steal your mail, and you have a non-street address you can use for the web. Nobody is going to rock up at your PO Box as a surprise to yourself unless you have done something truly terrible to them. If you’ve given out your street address, people know where you *live*.

4. Do Not Use An Email With Identifying Info

Workplaces tend to use firstname.lastname for email addresses which if you think about it, that is a very stupid concept. They’ve given people more information than they need about you when you simply send them an email. If you have a Facebook account with that same name, you have a linked-in account or use your name on your blog, people can find out more about you just by searching.

For email online, you want to use a name that has nothing at all to do with you personally. I’m going to give you a new option for firstname.lastname which you can try if you like. Animal Name, Colour, Number. So you might have an email address like TigerBlue99 or SnakePink888.

NEVER use your work email address to register for a website. Some people found that out the hard way with the Ashley Madison hack. BE CAREFUL which email address you use on Facebook – do not use the same one you used for signing up on websites.

5. Choose Good Passwords

The better your password, the more protected you are. Never use pet names, birth dates, names of your family or partner, or any piece of personal information that someone could gather from your Facebook or other accounts online.

I recommend similar to the email name, you choose two different words and at least 3 numbers. Always make the first letter of each word a capital. But how will I remember that, Snoskred? Me personally I suggest a small paper notebook that you can keep somewhere safe and write them down, or use a spreadsheet or text file which you also password protect.

NEVER, EVER, NOT EVER, use the password for the email account you sign up with as the password on that website. Take for example the British Gas customers – if one of them used one password for every site on the web, the hackers can now get into their email account.

My advise is to use a two layer password system – use one password for your email account ONLY, and use another passwords for every other site. Whether that is one password for all the other sign ups you use, or a new password for every single site, that is up to you.

If you do use just one password for all other sites, I would suggest using different usernames, so that if a hacker got your password for Kmart, they can’t go to Woolworths and type in the same username and password. You could make the usernames different by just one number – eg TigerBlue87, TigerBlue88, TigerBlue89.

hackers3

Rami Malek plays a hacker in Mr Robot

6. Be Careful With Your Birthdate

I personally use a fake birth date online. Your birth date is one of the key pieces of information identity thieves need to pretend to be you. Change at least one of the details – whether it be year, month, or day.

7. Be Careful With Your Bank Info

All that a scammer needs to create a fake cheque – also known as check or bank draft – is your name, BSB and account number. If you have the funds in your account, the payment WILL clear. It won’t be until you notice the money missing that you will know your details are being used in this way.

All that a scammer needs to deposit stolen or fraudulent funds into your bank account is your BSB and account number.

8. Remove Or Falsify Facebook Info

Just because Facebook asks for information from you does not mean you should provide it. Information I would not want to list on my Facebook would include – my phone number – my real full name – my real address – my postcode – which school I went to – where I am originally from – my current relationship status – where I was born.

Go and take a look at your profile and think – does this need to be here, or does it make it easy for people to know TOO much about me? Also consider this – do you have any of these things set as answers to secret questions somewhere on the web? EG the name of your primary school, your postcode, pet names, etc. Then do the same thing for other “profiles” you have on the web.

9. Search Yourself

Search engines can show you exactly what other people could find out about you online. I suggest you regularly search for your real name, address, email address and phone numbers. In fact you might want to set up google alerts for these things.

10. Use Prepaid Credit Cards Online

cardy
Screenshot from the Australia Post Load & Go Prepaid Visa

There are a lot of very good reasons to use prepaid credit cards online, but here are just a few –

– they do not require you to provide your name or address in most situations – thus making it easier to use a fake name and PO Box with websites.

– you control how much money is on them, so if your card number is stolen the damage will be limited to the amount you have prepaid onto it

– If the website is hacked, all the hackers will have is “Valued Cardholder” and a card number, plus the fake details you may have provided. This means only limited damage can be done. If you have given a website your name and your visa card with a $10,000 limit – and that website is hacked – criminals could run up a huge sum on your card before you can blink an eyelid. Plus you’ll have to cancel that credit card and get a new one.

There are plenty of different prepaid cards available in Australia now, you can likely pick one up when you do your grocery shopping. The Australia Post Load and Go one is pretty decent if you have any travel plans coming up. All of them will have some kind of costs involved but those costs are worth it when you consider the risks of using your own personal card online.

Guidelines

As I said at the start of this post, these are just some general guidelines I would recommend for consideration. Everyone has to live their life their own way, to each their own. Nobody wants to have their identity stolen – you may not know this but identity theft can be an enormous problem for years upon years if that happens to you.

One thing is very clear – we can no longer trust companies and websites to protect our information, so our only option is to be more careful with it.

Over to you –

what steps do you take to protect your identity online? :)

anonymity, Internet Safety