Monthly Archives: December 2014

Lizard Squad Delivers Cyber War for Christmas

canstockphoto19749384It seems that at least two hacker groups have gone to war over the Christmas outage of PlayStation and Xbox online gaming network. How bad it will get is unknown but it seems that the mysterious hacker  group Anonymous  is not pleased with Lizard Squad for their attacks and has declared war. The group has released two ominous video messages aimed directly at Lizard Squad

Lizard Squad began its attacks on Christmas day when hackers shut down not only Sony’s PlayStation online gaming but also Microsoft’s Xbox. The problem lasted well into Friday and as of Saturday Sony’s network was still down. It’s still unclear why Sony is taking so long to restore its service. According to reports Sony was hit the same style of attack that took down Microsoft’s Xbox Live network. Microsoft is slowly recovering. Sony has not said much about why they are still down.

UPDATE: Reports on Sunday indicate that service is slowly returning to Sony Playstation network.

Sony’s official PlayStation support tweeted at 2:30AM ET Saturday, “Our engineers are continuing to work hard to resolve the network issues users have experienced today. Thanks for your continued patience.” Sony has not said much more.

So what happened? It seems that Sony may have been hacked by the group calling itself the Lizard Squad. Neither Sony or Microsoft has admitted to being hacked or said anything beyond it was working to fix the problem. Microsoft Xbox spokesman Sean McCarthy stated “we don’t share info on the root cause of specific issues.” But Lizard Squad claimed full responsibility with these tweets.

Lizard Squad also claimed to have attacked Sony earlier this month and promised additional “Christmas presents” would soon be coming. “Unlike Santa, we don’t like giving all of our Christmas presents out on one day. This entire month will be entertaining,” Lizard Squad tweeted.

Lizard Squad claimed it took down the PlayStation Network in August by flooding it with illegitimate traffic. This type of attack is known as a denial-of-service attack (DDoS). The result was that millions of gamers being unable to play together online.

It has become apparent these hackers are a serious danger even threatening aircraft in flight. When John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, tweeted a response to the August outage he became a target himself while traveling at 30,000 feet. “We have been receiving reports that @j_smedley’s plane #362 from DFW to SAN has explosives on-board, please look into this,” the group tweeted to American Airlines. The ominous tweet resulted in the flight being diverted.

But this is not just a war between Anonymous and Lizard Squad. The group was attacked by another group calling itself Finest Squad and revealed to law enforcement. It was thought that Lizard Squad was finished. As we see this was not so.

Lizard Squad re-emerged  with a new Twitter account and again took down Sony. But  Lizard Squad was appeased by yet another controversial Internet figure; Kim Dotcom, Founder of MegaUpload.com. Kim and MegaUpload have quite a history of legal trouble himself.

According to tweets from Lizard Squad the group stopped the attack after Kim Dotcom contacted Lizard Squad directly and promised them 3,000 Lifetime accounts on Mega’s encrypted upload service.

Lizard Squad accepted and ceased the attack.

Lizard Squad gave full credit to Dotcom with being the peacemaker and saving Christmas.

The question to be answered is; if the attacks have stopped why was Sony offline so much longer than Xbox? The possible answers include; serious damage was done to Sony’s network and they are in repair mode. Or Sony maybe making sure they are secure against a future attack and will remain offline until they feel safe. Or someone else is carrying out an extended attack and remaining silent about it. No one really knows.

As for Kim Dotcom Anonymous has a different opinion of him and wrote on their website; “Kim Dotcom is wanted by the U.S. government for copyright infringement related to his former file-sharing website Megashare which has been taken by the U.S. Government. He took the time to take a dig at the United States with his example of diplomatic outreach.”

Kim Dotcom responded;

But the most disturbing factor is that we see hackers holding someone’s property hostage and actually getting what they wanted. Although I have some serious doubts that Lizard Squad did all this just get some free services from Kim Dotcom. That makes no sense.

Breaking It Down

Anyone black person who reads this blog entry and thinks its just about some gamers and hackers going at each other is either sadly mistaken or cyber stupid. This is a demonstration of the power of Internet technology in the hands of motivated and hidden cyber villains. The real problem is that this same battle is really part of a more dangerous and potentially deadly war and I warn black people to wake up to it. Replace Playstation and Xbox with a name like Vogtle and Palo Verde, America’s largest nuclear power plants. Now what if a malicious hackers decided that they was going to hold that reactor hostage until America pays them or does something else the hacker wants. Can we expect someone like Kim Dotcom to save the world then? That level of cyber terrorism is quite possible. What if a hacker decided to take down the stock exchange leading to a economic catastrophe? The simple fact is all this is possible and more. So when you hear about Sony Pictures being hacked or other hacks you need to think long and hard about what is happening. Consider the fact that soon one of these hacks will set a new record for its impact on people including you and your family. It will be deliberate, it will be terrifying, it will change your life and it could be tomorrow.

Prepare Yourself for Cyber War

canstockphoto22219067Cyber warfare is real and it’s happening everyday. How long do you think it will be before you become a victim of a cyber attack? Answer; not long. Next question; are you ready?

If you have not heard about the Sony hack then you are not paying attention. If you think it won’t ever affect you you’re in trouble. Its really just a matter of time.

Black people can’t afford to remain ignorant of what’s happening in cyber space and how to respond to it. In order to avoid becoming  a casualty you need to understand what a cyber war can do to your life in an instant.

The cyber war battlefield is everywhere. This includes personal computers, smart phones, bank accounts, 401(k)s and other money management accounts, ATMs, drinking water, gasoline pipelines and stations, electrical plants and yes, nuclear plants, dams, point of sale systems in stores, traffic lights and anything connected to the Internet .

The likelihood increases everyday that the next war this nation fights will be waged on computers aimed at crippling the systems that keep the government and daily life functioning normally. In the worst-case scenario the nation could suffer a catastrophe such as the loss of major sections of the power grid perhaps an entire region of the country. We could see the erasure of millions of bank accounts, manipulating or hijacking tens of millions of identities, or disruption of air traffic control and transportation systems throughout the nation. Or all of the above at the same time

That war is here. Most recently someone, allegedly the North Koreans, hacked Sony Pictures. This was followed by someone shutting down the entire North Korean Internet. Now a group known as Lizard Squad has attacked both Sony and Microsoft. The war is upon us…now! You better get ready.

“There’s a strong likelihood that the next Pearl Harbor that we confront could very well be a cyber attack.”  – Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense and former director of the CIA.

What can you do to make sure you survive the next attack?

A) Don’t get caught without cash. ATM machines may be shut down and store computers  may not work. You may not be able to use credit or ATM cards. You should keep at least $500 dollars cash in a secure place in your home. When the financial system is attacked cash will be king. If you have a family you may need more. Don’t keep all your money in one account, spread it around. Keep your savings account in a different bank than your checking. With a little luck one of them may be working.

B) Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times. You may not be able to buy gas for few days or have to drive some distance to find it. And when you do find it could be very expensive.

C) Keep emergency supplies at home. Basics like non-perishable foods, a few cases of water, blankets, simple medicines, extra prescriptions, flashlights, batteries and battery powered radios, maybe charcoal or extra fuel for the barbecue grill. If you live in a cold climate at least one source of heat that does not require electricity with fuel to last a week. Also keep an emergency supply kit in your car with enough food and water for at least 24 hours.

D) Make sure you have basic tools for emergency purposes. Matches, a sewing kit, a fire extinguisher, shovel, a can opener, plastic bags, disinfectants and sanitizers.

F) Pay attention to the needs of babies, children and pets and the elderly. Something like a child’s favorite toy in time of stress and insecurity can be a big help. Prepare a back pack with some treats they like, books, games or even some school work to keep them busy. This can help re-assure a child.  Keep this back pack ready with the rest of your supplies

If you have an infant be ready with extra diapers, medicines, proper clothing and food.

For the elderly make sure you have extra medicines they may need, hygiene products such as adult diapers, special foods, clothing, glasses, hearing aids, medical supplies. You can also prepare a back pack with these items as well.

Pets need to eat and drink too. Make sure you have a way to secure your animal to keep it from roaming. And keep treats for them as well. You may need to transport a pet so keep that box handy.

Pay attention to personal hygiene. Make sure you have soapy wipes, toothpaste, deodorant, toilet paper, etc. Another nice luxury to have is a camping toilet.

G) Entertainment This is no trivial matter. There could be some long boring hours ahead. Have a way to fill these hours helps to avoid frustration, tension and boredom if the grid is down for more than a day or two.  Card games, board games and other forms of entertainment can make enduring a crisis much easier.

H) Community and Communicate. Work with your neighbors set up a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program. Divide responsibilities for things like a neighborhood watch for suspicious individuals, first aid and sharing of resources and information.

When it comes to communication you may be out of touch with family members in the affected areas or you may be the one out of touch. This is normal. The Internet, landline phones and cell phones maybe out of service for days. Don’t panic.

I) If you have to move Sometimes there are circumstances where you or you and your family will have to move from your home for safety and security. This is where you will need a full tank of gas in the family car. You will need blankets or sleeping bags and food and water and most importantly a place to go. Know where there are emergency shelters. Pay attention to any traffic information that is being broadcast and have a GPS device available. You might actually be able to use it.

Hopefully the situation will not become so bad you have to arm yourself but you never know. Act as you see fit. In many emergencies there are people who take advantage of the situation to commit crimes such a looting or burglary and even violence. Be prepared and act with restraint but protect you and yours.

J) Have A Back-Up Plan And Be Flexible –There is a saying in the military; no plan survives an encounter with the enemy. When your plan is disrupted, what will you do? It is imperative for you to have a back-up plan and to be flexible. The worst thing you can do is believe your plan is infallible.

You may have seen some or all of this information before. If so then you know it is very similar to what you need to do to prepare for a major storm or other natural disaster. You need to pay attention because I can almost guarantee that this will happen and it will be a very uncomfortable situation until it gets straightened out. You should be prepared to survive for at least three days without outside help and possibly longer.

Now you know.

 

 

 

App of the Week – Sickweather

Sickweater-logoNo one enjoys being sick. And if we can avoid any situation where we might pick up something up we will. Sickweather helps you do just that. This app alerts you to illnesses in your area or areas where you maybe traveling to.  Sickweather scans social networks such as Twitter and Facebook for indicators or patterns of illness outbreaks. It permits the user to check for the potential of sickness as easily as you can check for the chance of rain.

The nation is entering the winter cold and flu season and you can believe that someone around you is going to get it. Now this app will not identify that person directly but if you can find the flu hotspot before you get to it you stand a chance to avoid it by taking precautions. To give you an example you maybe able to see that your workplace is in the middle of flu outbreak with this app. Or you could report your workplace has a flu outbreak. Sickweather can alert you that your child’s school is having an outbreak. This app lets you find the germs and viruses before they find you.

Sickweather takes advantage of people who sometimes over share. You know the ones who will tell all their Facebook friends the French fries are cold at the burger place they frequent.  They will also tweet they have the flu or post to Facebook they are down with bronchitis. Whenever those posts and tweets are made publicly available by the user with geographic location information the app is able to track and map the information using a patent-pending algorithm.

People who become a member of Sickweather can report their illness anonymously directly to the map and forecast via the mobile app and website. Any illness that is reported will be matched to the sicknesses the app has already collected and is tracking. If you report symptoms or illnesses the site is not tracking that information will be processed by the algorithm to automatically make suggestions for expanding Sickweather’s tracking capabilities. The app allows you to connect with Facebook and Twitter to share the post with your friends if you haven’t already.

When sickness reports appear to aggregate close to one another at approximately the same time they are grouped as potential “storm” activity. Users of Sickweather can look at the live maps and see these storms illustrated by the ‘sick” balloon. You can also zoom in on the map and see the individual sick reports down to the street level.

Sickweather alerts are extracted from Facebook and Twitter by a patent-pending process. This real-time data allows the app to spot sickness outbreaks far in advance of traditional disease surveillance tools. Don’t be the last to know the flu is hitting your city, neighborhood or workplace hard. The user can sign up for Sickweather Alerts and get the word via email.

Sickweather is available on Apple and Android.

 

Study: Internet-based Job Hunting Effective for African-Americans

Diverse Logo-Quark.qxd

Originally published November 7, 2013 at DiverseEducation.com

A new study has found that, with the Internet emerging as a credible resource for searching and applying for jobs, African-Americans have come to rely on online job search information sources more than any U.S. racial or ethnic group. In addition, African-Americans are more likely than average “to say the Internet was very important to landing a job,” even while their measures of digital skills and literacy are reported to be “modestly lower than the average.”

In the study, “Broadband and Jobs: African-Americans Rely Heavily on Mobile Access and Social Networking in Job Search,” these results and others lead the study’s publisher, the Washington-based Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies think tank, to conclude that “efforts to improve people’s digital literacy and skills are likely to improve their capacity to use the Internet effectively for job search.”

The study goes on to say that improving digital literacy and skills would generally benefit low-income individuals, those with lower levels of educational attainment, and those in social groups that have significantly lower than average digital skills and literacy scores.

“Broadband and Jobs” contends that, if policymakers and other stakeholders “do in fact help people increase their level of digital skills, [Americans] are going to get payoffs in terms of people’s engagement with those tools to solve important problems whether it’s job search, education, or health care,” said Dr. John Horrigan, the study author and senior research fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

“We’re looking at how people, who do have an urgent need or an urgent problem to solve in their lives, go about solving it,” continued Horrigan. “In this case, it’s looking for work. And we find that people generally use the Internet and think it’s an important pathway to finding a job.”

The study reports that 50 percent of African-Americans said the Internet was very important to them in finding a job, a figure that significantly outpaces the 36 percent average for the entire sample. Smartphones proved an important part of the job search process for minorities with 47 percent of African-Americans and 36 percent of Latinos reporting that they had used their devices for job searches. Twenty-four percent of Whites indicated that they had used their smartphones for job searches.

“Broadband and Jobs” also notes that libraries have an important “role to play in providing access points for the Internet as well as digital skills and literacy training.”

The study found that, while 15 percent of all American adults had used the Internet at a public library within the previous year, 21 percent of African-Americans and 23 percent of Latinos had done so. Among poor Americans, or those with annual household income less than $15,000, 24 percent had used the Internet at a public library in the previous year.

“We found in the report that African-Americans and Latinos, especially African-Americans, over index on the activities we asked about when it comes to looking for a job using the Internet,” Horrigan explained, “which is to say they did those job search activities more often than other segments of the population.”

The study is based on an extensive survey of 1,600 Americans, including an oversample of African-Americans, conducted last May by the Joint Center Media and Technology Institute. The survey indicates that, although personal contacts remain the most important job search factor for Americans, nearly one-third of those who had recently been without work cited the Internet as the most important component in a fruitful job search.

“Digital literacy is the key issue to achieving equity in the future of the digital economy,” said Jason Llorenz, the director of innovation policy for the Latino Information Network at Rutgers University.

Along with Horrigan and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn of the Federal Communications Commission, Llorenz participated Wednesday in a Joint Center public forum that examined the “Broadband and Jobs” study. Llorenz told Diverse that the “Broadband and Jobs” study represents a critical inquiry into why digital literacy matters as a priority for participating in the nation’s evolving economy.

“The Internet really provides an opportunity to level the [economic] playing field,” he said.

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Written By Ronald Roach

Senior Contributing Editor at Diverse Issues in Higher Education

@RonaldRoach

App of The Week: Mint Financial Management App

MintcomPaying bills is not the most exciting of chores. But it has to be done. And of course keeping track of your money and managing your budget is even less exciting. But as I always say; black people don’t play when it comes to money. You better be on top of it.  The Mint app can help you do both.

The Mint app connects to any U.S. bank or financial institution that is online.  But that is not the end of the Mint’s abilities. Mint can link all of your accounts including investments, retirement funds, credit cards, and other financial accounts. The app quickly gives you a complete picture of your financial health. Mint is free and capable of supporting more banks in more places  but only in the U.S. and Canada.

The app also helps you create a household budget and warns you if you if you stray away from it. Mint allows you to see how much you’re spending  and on what. It helps you manage all types of household purchases or utilities, set up savings goals, and help you to stick to them. The Mint app doesn’t actually touch your money. What it does is use read-only access to show you everything you are doing with your money in real time. It suggests financial products to you that could help you save money over time like showing lower-interest credit cards or higher-interest savings accounts. Some might call that advertising. Mint was named one of the Five Best Personal Financial Tools by LifeHacker.com

But in all honesty there are some issues with the Mint app. The user has to share a significant amount of his or her financial information with the service. As you can well imagine this leaves them vulnerable to a potential hacker or data breach. Especially if you are using an Android phone which are prone to malware. It is, no doubt, a serious risk to place your financial life in the hands of the app.  An article in the New York Times asks; “Should You Trust Mint.com?”

Mint.com  understands that consumers are leery of entering all of their bank information into its site. As a result of this concern, and to gain more customers, Mint.com has introduced a new service that does not require the user to reveal their financial information but still help them reach long term financial goals.

After examining the app I have still decided to award it the App of the Week. Why? Because although you can you don’t have to use it as a total financial management tool.  A smart person would never put all their eggs in one basket. Using the app to manage your household budget and pay bills is enough.  Leave managing your 401k and other investment accounts to the pros.

Mint is available on AppleAndroid and Windows phones.

Black Celebrities Get Caught Up In Sony Hack

It seems  that the biggest news besides cheap gas has been the hacking of Sony Pictures. To give you a little background Sony Studios computer systems were hacked on November 24th followed by an ominous warning that read;  “Hacked by #GOP. Warning: We’ve already warned you, and this is just the beginning. We have obtained all your internal data including secrets and top secrets.”  It is believed that the motivation for the hack was the planned release of the filmThe Interview.” The film is a fictional comedy about a plot to assassinate the leader of North Korea. The North Koreans have called the film an act of war. But it has not been proven they were involved in the sabotage and the North Koreans have denied any involvement.

A cascade of events followed the hacking including the release of un-released Sony movies and scripts, threats to Sony employees, terrorist threats to theaters and eventually the cancellation of the movie’s release.

According to recent report there is evidence that North Korea was responsible for the hack and the U.S. government is about to announce they have evidence of North Korean involvement.

As result of the hack many internal emails of Sony executives have become public. What these emails reveal is how nasty things are behind the scenes of a major Hollywood movie maker especially when it come to black celebrities.

Among the black celebrities caught up in the Sony hacking is none other than Kevin Hart. One of the emails released by the hackers is from Sony executive Clint Culpepper who refers to Hart as a “whore.”  Culpepper expressed his opinion of Hart when the comedic actor refused to promote his movie on social media without additional pay. Culpepper’s email read; “I’m not saying he’s a whore, but he’s a whore.” Culpeper wrote the email in an exchange with Sony co-chair Amy Pascal and CEO Michael Lynton.

Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart

Hart responded via Instagram by writing “Knowing your self worth is extremely important people…I worked very hard to get where I am today,” I look at myself as a brand and because of that I will never allow myself to be taken advantage of. I OWN MY BRAND…I MAKE SMART DECISIONS FOR MY BRAND… which is why I’m able to brush ignorance off of my shoulder and continue to move forward. I refuse to be broken people…with that being said it’s now time for me to get back to building this empire that I’ve always dreamed of!!!”

Kevin Hart was not the only African-American disparaged by Sony executives. President Obama was also mentioned in emails between Sony execs.

Sony co-chairperson Amy Pascal, a donor and Obama supporter exchanged racist tinged emails with movie producer Scott Rudin ahead of a fundraiser. Pascal, referring to “…this stupid Jeffrey (Katzenberg) breakfast,” asked what she should ask the President ” Rudin replied “would he like to finance some movies.”

Pascal continued, “I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” Pascal responded, Rudin then retorted: “12 Years.” The exchange went on, “Or the butler, or think like a man?” To which Rudin wrote: “Ride-along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart.”

Other leaked emails revealed that Matthew Knowles, the father of Beyoncé  approached Sony about a movie project. In the email Culpepper wrote to Pascal and other Sony executives, “Beyonce’s father wants to make the film of Destiny’s Child and came to me first.” He went on, “‘He’s going to Universal next. Do we think it would be a successful film? They’re on the Sony label. I’m just not sure that it’s not too soon.”

Rapper Kanye West’s name was also found among the leaked emails. The messages revealed a discussion of  a feature film starring the rapper.

Jaden and Willow Smith

Tom Rothman head of Sony sub-division Tri-Star Pictures, criticized Jaden and Willow Smith, son and daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, for a New York Times interview .

Rothman sent an email to Pascal with a link to the interview. In the interview the Smith siblings claim they can control time and discuss ‘Prana energy’. In the email, dated November 18th, 2014, Rothman wrote  “1. Read this. 2. they r home schooled: don’t let this family date your movies!!!”

Denzel Washington, one of America’s most beloved black actors, was also the target of a racist emails inside Sony Pictures. According to the leaked emails Washington’s color was seen as a liability with executives saying he should not get lead roles in international films because he is black.

Denzel washington

Denzel washington

The actual email was sent by a single unidentified producer emailing Sony chairman Michael Lynton. The email read in part “I believe that the international motion picture audience is racist – in general pictures with an African American lead don’t play well overseas,” the producer continued.

The anonymous producer who sent the e-mail said he or she hoped the incredible statement wasn’t “inappropriate or provocative.” But it is clear from the email that the producer is suggesting Sony should avoid casting black actors to appeal to an international market that the producer saw as “racist.”

Sony executives  Lynton, Pascal and Rudin and other’s email reveal the nasty side of the entertainment industry and spared few celebrities. In their exchanges the executives reffered to Angelina Jolie as a “spoiled brat,” and additional caustic comments were made about Tom Cruise, David Fincher, Aaron Sorkin, and Adam Sandler.

 

 

Online Holiday Shopping Series #6 – Shipping

The big day is less that ten days away and the shipping deadline is even closer. If you want those holiday gifts to get there before Christmas you better get on the ball.  Shipping companies are working at maximum capacity so you better get on board while you can.

The United States Postal Service  offers its Holiday Planner and advises all you late shippers of the following dates; for standard postal shipping you already missed the date. It was December 15th. So you have to go with First Class and Priority Mail no later than December 20th. For Priority Mail Express the last date is December 23rd. With the USPS you can print you own shipping label as well as take advantage of other conviences. These include seeing what packages are coming your way even without a tracking number by signing up for Manage My Packages. This is probably the coolest of the holiday shipping tools since you can see what is on its way to your house. This is an extremely valuable tool when you think about the delivery confirmation scams currently sweeping the Internet. This service allows you to hold, forward and even intercept packages that are addressed to you. You can also track the packages you send out and schedule a package pick up at your door.

The USPS also has shipping links for both International and Military shipping. For International shipping you simply select the country you want to ship to and the the website will display the dates you need to ship by. You can also see all the APO/FPO AE zip codes for military shipping and the dates for Christmas delivery.

FedEx has reminders of its shipping dates  posted on its website. There are a variety of services that you can choose from to get the goods there by Christmas. But of course the later you wait the less options you have and the more it will cost you. You can click on the link provided to see the shipping choices FedEx also offers International destinations. You can also download their holiday schedule in PDF format. FedEx offers a money back guarantee for all its package deliveries. FedEx also offers various ways to track your packages including tracking and reference numbers.

United Parcel Service provides a handy chart so you can see exactly when you need to ship for Christmas delivery. You can also download their shipping calendar in PDF format. UPS even guarantees delivery if you ship on Christmas Eve if you use their Express Critical Service. But be prepared to pay.

The big day is soon and all the information you need is available to help you get your gifts to their desired locations on time. Good Luck and Happy Holidays!

Now you know

 

App of the Week: Doctor on Demand

doctor-on-demand-logo-largeMedical attention is is one of the most needed and costly services in the African-American community. It can take as much as three weeks to get a doctors appointment and even longer using public medical assistance programs. Not to mention the fact that some black people, especially black men, are just too damn stubborn to go to a doctor. This week’s app may help solve this problem.

Doctor on Demand is an app that allows the user to have a video visit with a board certified doctor anytime they wish using video chat technology. The app allows you to consult with a doctor from anywhere. This is not an emergency medical service and is not a substitute for a trip to the emergency room.

We all know how a doctor visit can take a chunk of time out of our day. Doctor on Demand can make that trip completely unnecessary for common complaints such as cold and flu, sore throats, skin rashes, stomach illnesses, sports injuries and even traveler’s sicknesses. You can consult with a physician from anywhere in the world but they will not be able to write a prescription for outside the U.S.  And keep in mind that the doctor can see you so he or she may be able to examine those strange bumps or mysterious rashes. However there are some illnesses that are not treatable through the app and these are cancer and other complex illnesses and chronic conditions.

The website offers short profiles of the doctors you will find there along with images of their smiling faces.  This allows the patient to at least have some background knowledge of the doctor’s qualifications. I am sure it can be comforting for some people.

I examined some of the profiles and would have to say that Doctor on Demand has done an admirable job of bringing qualified professionals on board.

For parents there is a pediatric triage service available for your child’s minor illnesses including coughs and colds. Doctor On Demand offers trained pediatricians who can evaluate your child’s condition immediately.  The physician can determine whether their injury or illness requires in-person medical attention or not. In many cases, the doctor maybe able to treat your child in your home with a prescription or non-prescription therapy and answer any specific medical questions a concerned parent may have. Doctor on Demand can also prevent keep your child from exchanging those nasty germs and viruses with other kids in the doctor’s waiting room.

The Doctor on Demand app has recently undergone a  transformation and added some additional features for mothers. Now the app offers consulting services for lactating mothers. Doctor on Demand has partnered with Upspring Baby to provide board certified lactation consultants.  Another new feature of the app is psychology services. Using the video chat you can talk with professional psychologists from the privacy of your home or anywhere you may be using your smart phone, tablet or laptop. Some of the issues the psychologists can address include depression, relationship issues, stress and anxiety, addictions and eating disorders. You can see the complete list here.

The Doctor on Demand charges $40 for a regular video visit. A visit with a psychologist is $50 for a 25 minute session and $95 for a 50 minute session. The cost of a lactation consultation with Doctor On Demand/UpSpring Baby  is $40 for a 25 minute and $70 for 50 minutes. None of this is currently covered by insurance.

Doctor on Demand is available on Apple and Android as well as through their website.

 

 

Don’t get Doxxed!

The sad truth about the Internet is that it is the greatest tool for good … and evil. Let’s face it; the Internet has put everybody’s business in the street. And for black people that is simply not a game we play.

canstockphoto20663283The word “doxx” is one of those techno-words that actually means something. Its means “dropping documents”. The word entered the modern lexicon first as a verb about ten years ago. It refers to a malicious hacker’s act of collecting personal and private information, including home addresses, email, phone numbers, social security numbers and other personal financial information and sometimes even personal medical information. The data is released publicly often on some social media site where as many eyes as possible can see it. It is the digital equivalent of being dropped off naked in the street. Sometimes before the doxxing the victim is extorted by the hacker.  This activity is obviously frowned upon by users of the Internet, social media and most decent people. But the act is not solely that of a skilled hacker. People have been doxxed by ex-lovers, former friends and even angry co-workers.

Doxxing could be considered a form of bullying but is closer to terrorism. It is far more dangerous since the victims total identity is being thrown out on the Internet. Doxxing frequently goes hand-in-hand with threats of violence, sexual assault or murder. Those animals that do the doxxing want their victims to know; we know all about you,where you live and we’re out to get you. Some women in the technology industry have left their chosen profession rather than deal with continued threats. This is especially so in the gaming industry where a major problem has exploded into a scandal known as Gamersgate that is targeting female game developers.

For a person who is married with a family the danger increases tenfold as they now have to be concerned about the safety of their family.

Women have especially been targeted by hackers and others who have doxxed them. Often times it is the result of a failed relationship. A spurned lover or spouse may decide the best way to get even is to tell everything they know about the person online. Sometimes the scorned lover will post compromising images and even reveal details about the woman’s sexuality and sexual activity. This is known as revenge porn and is a common threat to women online. Needless to say this can be extremely humiliating.

Not only are ordinary women being victimized by doxxing but you can find plenty of celebrities being doxxed as well including JayZ and Beyonce. A skilled hacker will invade a victim’s email or hack personal devices. We have seen the results of those hackers who stole images of Gabrielle Union and Jill Scott.

Few people understand just how much information can be found about them online. Not just public information but plenty of private and personal information as well. And a really good hacker can find even more information about a person. African-Americans are as sensitive about our personal information as any one else. But we display a bit more anger when we believe our private affairs have been compromised. In other words we don’t like anyone in our business. So displaying personal information online is a reason to really flip. But for people who want to make sure their business stays their business there is something you can do.

Computerworld.com has released an extensive list of data brokers who allow you to remove your personal info. It includes instructions how to do it and how long it takes. It may take some time and work but you can reduce the amount of information about you on the Internet. You may not be able to remove it all but with these sites you can get a good start and possibly avoid being doxxed.

You can take further steps to preserve your privacy by deleting and disabling your Google map history. And those images of your home can also be blocked by following the instructions on BlogHer.com.

Now you know.

 

 

App of the Week: Driving While Black

driving-while-black-landing-pagejpg-fabb6a73b66f9508Incidents in recent weeks have reminded all people of the horrible relationship between black people and law enforcement. Again and again black men have ended up dead as a result of an encounter with a police officer.

Driving while black is not a crime but a situation that is far more dangerous than just avoiding accidents. African-American parents have the added fear of wondering if their child will ever return when they leave home in the family car.

A 2013 U.S. Justice Department report revealed that a black driver is 30 times more likely to be pulled over than a white driver.  It is an insane situation to deal with but we have to. But now there is an app for that.

An African-Amercan lawyer in Portland, OR  has created the “Driving While Black” app. Mariann Hyland made a vow 10 years ago, after Portland Police fatally shot 21-year-old Kendra James during a routine traffic stop, to do something about these tragic incidents. She teamed up with another lawyer, Melvin Olden-Orr and software developer James Pritchett to create the app. It is intended to teach young black people how to survive being pulled over by police. As the level of tension between police and people of color continues to escalate after the Mike Brown and Eric Garner decisions, Hyland says this type of education is crucial.

“Being a police officer is a tough job,” said Hyland. “They deal with the most horrific experiences in society. They’re first responders. And traffic stops tend to be where they get hurt the most. So they’re on high alert when they pull you over. We want to educate people about how to put them at ease so they don’t feel threatened.”

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Melvin Oden-Orr, Mariann Hyland and James Pritchett

The “Driving While Black” app teaches young African-Americans how not to get pulled over in the first place. The app points out factors that can put a police officer on alert such as tinted windows. It urges people of color to perform as responsible drivers by using turn signals early. The app also offers a checklist to remind drivers to keep their license plate tags up-to-date and their headlights in working order.

The app also instructs young drivers on what to do if they do get pulled over. Alert functions in the app allows users to program in three numbers such as their mother, a friend or a lawyer if needed. When stopped by the police the driver can hit the “alert” button to immediately send a message to those three people.

“People feel so alone in these vulnerable situations,” Hyland said.

The “Driving While Black” app offers a record function so the user can tape and log interactions with police. It also provides video tutorials that demonstrate good and bad behavior during traffic stops and forms for submitting commendations or complaints against officers. It also includes a how-to-guide for parents talking with their kids about police. There is a checklist for ways to keep officers at ease. During research before the app was created Hyland and her team discovered that police see a car full of empty Red Bull cans as a danger sign.

But Hyland still had concerns about the app and the potential for danger. For example; could a driver reaching for his or her phone to use the app be mistaken for reaching for a weapon; a gun? We know it happens.

Oden-Orr considered if they should include video recording. Secretly recording police is illegal in Oregon. Other similar apps, including the ACLU’s Mobile Justice app for Android devices and the New York City-based Stop and Frisk Watch app for iPhone, allows it. They decided to include the record function with a reminder for the user to tell officers they are being filmed. They  also suggest using a hands-free device.

“Driving While Black” focuses specifically on traffic stops. But many police encounters happen outside traffic situations. Pedestrian situations have proven to be just as dangerous  as the Ferguson interaction between Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown clearly indicate.

Hyland pointed that “Driving While Black” consolidates resources from dozens of sources but reminds users that each case is different. The app teaches mothers how to talk to their sons about police. Eventually, it also will include a directory of lawyers for the user’s area, programmed using location-based technology.

“Driving While Black” is available for Android and iPhone.