Sunday, December 04, 2005

A Bit of Wisdom

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This may seem to be a bit off subject and will seem to be out of place on a blog relating to computing, but here goes anyway.

I want to pass on to you a bit of wisdom and advice to consider. I will get to the application of it in a moment. I got this from my third grade teacher, Miss Maag. Where she got it, I will never know, but I have never forgotten it and I hope you will take it for what it is really worth.

“Love many,
Trust few,
But always paddle your own canoe!”

Good advice for almost anything in life isn’t it? I got to thinking about Malware (Adware and Spyware), Spam, and eMail Virus attacks today as I was scanning and clearing my system of the stuff. It struck me that I was applying that little rhyme to my Internet activities as well as other areas of my life.

Consider this; you spend a lot of time on your system cruising around on the Internet looking for information and entertainment. We all enjoy finding things that open our eyes and minds and so we ‘bookmark’ web sites. When we find something of interest and want to stay informed of additional information and changes on a site, we subscribe to their newsletter. We also communicate with our friends and neighbors on various subjects ranging from sharing a joke or two to passing on the latest news. We also have business contacts we pass information to and get information from on a regular basis.

So, ‘Who do you trust?’ becomes a question that gets lost in all the noise. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind as we poke about, peering into our screens. Whom should we trust and of whom should we be wary? It is a hard question to answer.

We all know there are some sites that ask you to ‘subscribe’ to their newsletter and others want you to ‘sign up’ for one reason or another. Be careful. You would not believe how valuable your eMail address and personal information happens to be to some people. A company can realize a goodly sum of cash for a copy of their ‘mailing’ list. Spammers buy these lists and then make money by sending Spam to the addresses on that list. Your address! Remember, if you sign up, you might wind up with a few Spam messages. Most of the time, the use of your information is legitimate, but not always! Personal information can be purchased as well and in the wrong hands can cause serious problems for you. It is your information, so it is up to you.

I have been noticing quite a few Web Sites popping up that offer repositories (off site storage) for things like documents, bookmarks, and eMail address books. Is it wise to subscribe to them? It is your call! As far as I am concerned, some things are fine in such a storage facility. Things like Web Site URL’s (addresses) would be fine since they are publicly available anyway and anybody could have them bookmarked. Sharing bookmarks is a common thing. You share with your friends and family and they share with you. But eMail addresses are different. In my address book, I have friends, family, and quite a few business contacts of various sorts. I am extremely careful when it comes to ‘sharing’ that information. Why? Most of my eMails are private or of a sensitive nature because of pbusiness critical information contained in them. Also, a lot of virus’s use your address book to spread themselves, like the flu spreads from person to person. I do not want to be responsible for infecting my friends and family with whatever I have caught, so everything I receive is checked for virus infection. If it fails the scan, I throw it away. Attachments are scanned and tossed if suspect.

When Miss Maag wrote that little poem in my autograph book back in the early ‘50s, computers were huge, expensive things that were operated by research groups and the government and were not able to do what our desktop systems can today. There was no World Wide Web, no Internet, and no Spam or viruses. It was intended to be for personal relationships but it has withstood the times and has remained relevant even in today’s world. Therefore, I offer it to you. Love many (sites), trust few (subscribe sites), but always paddle you own canoe (it is your system and your Internet, take good care of it).

In closing, I want to say “Thanks, Miss Maag! You had no idea, I’m sure, how far reaching that tiny bit of wisdom would go!”