Cyber Surveillance: Is it Worth it?

online surveillance and cyber surveillanceIt’s no secret that the DOD is in endless discussions as to how they might better increase the cyber defense technology. The Pentagon is rightly concerned with he devastating consequences that a weak cyber system would mean to our country. The Department of Defense is also looking to increase it’s communication with online giants like Google and Microsoft in it’s relentless efforts to strengthen security.

Our countries leaders realize the importance that expanding their tentacles into corporate America holds. It’s an integral part of their long term plan to prevent global terrorism. The trick is though, to increase our nations security without infringe on our civil liberties.

This is the reason why many, including myself, are vigilante in watching the watchers. I have no doubt that their intentions are ultimately good but worry about the ramifications that their all encompassing methods will have. The government already has access to way too much personal information if you ask me. They can track your phone calls, online activity, hotel and flight reservations and a host of other things. They can do all this without the need for a warrant or, in some cases, even having to show probable cause. Continue Reading →

Protect Yourself From Prying Eyes

Recent reports in the media make it abundantly clear that we are indeed in the age of ‘big brother’. The prying eyes of the government are everywhere and no more so than online. Email accounts, Skype calls, search patterns and social media interaction are all begin unveiled, ‘for your protection’. This collective invasion of our privacy comes under the ultra-cool handle of PRISM. A government initiative that aids in spying on it’s own citizens.

Most of the popular social media and email providers are participating in the program. Companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, AOL and on and on. The list is virtually endless and all the big players are on it.  Continue Reading →

Look Who’s Talking

Surveillance by the US government of it’s own citizens has been on the rise for many years. In 2012 the statistics returned by mobile phone companies in  the United States of America reported that requests by law enforcement agencies experienced a huge increase from previous years. Items such as text messages, locations and actual logs of calls made.

With the advancements in online computer technology it’s even easier than ever before for official entities to track your mobile activity. You have absolutely no rights and no say in the matter. The days when it was possible to expect a modicum of privacy are a long distant thing of the past. All these invasions on your privacy are being committed on your behalf allegedly and are in the name of the ‘War on Terrorism’. Continue Reading →

All Seeing Eye of the Goverment

all seeing eye of the goverment

It’s no exaggeration to say that the United States has one of the largest lists of what constitutes a federal crime. At the last count it was over 4,500 and it’s growing rapidly. With each real or perceived threat the nations freedom and liberty it seem the government seeks to restrict and interfere with it’s citizens same freedoms and liberties.

If you also include the number of regulations that carry a criminal penalty, the number grows even large. Depending on which study you look at it could be anywhere from 30,000 all the way up to 300,000. Continue Reading →

What Can an Investment Management Calgary Firm Do For Me?

Investment management CalgaryWhat does an investment management Calgary firm do? What services do Canadian investment management firms offer?

Managing Your Personal Nest Egg

When you put money in a 401K, IRA, Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) or simply contributed to the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP), part of the fund’s expenses pay for a professional manager. A professional investment manager or team of managers handles the investments for your retirement account unless you are leaving it in cash or buying individual stocks on your own in the retirement account. When you have built up your own personal nest egg, it is wise to hire a Canadian investment management firm to help you get similarly high rates of return.

Small Business Retirement Plans

If you own a small business, you can set up a retirement plan for yourself as a business owner as well as your employees. The paperwork to do this has been simplified over the years. However, managing the small business retirement plan is often far more complex – especially since the business owner’s priorities are the business that supports everyone today and not the retirement plan that will support them in retirement. Contact a Calgary investment firm for advice on managing a small business retirement plan. If you are considering setting up a small business retirement account, seek professional advice to make sure it is done right.

Expatriates

Expatriates face a complex network of tax regulations. Americans retiring in Canada are still required to pay U.S. taxes despite living in Canada, in addition to applicable Canadian tax bills. Canadians retiring in Florida or other warm, southern locales may have to pay local, state and federal income taxes depending on how long they live in that jurisdiction. A Canadian investment firm can assist you with filing the proper annual tax forms on your retirement income or direct you to a reputable accounting firm if the case is complex.

Building Your Endowment

You’ve set aside money to give to charity upon your death. The value of the charitable gift may not be much now, but with proper management and wise investing decisions, that seed money can grow to a sizable endowment. Conversely, if you have a significant amount in trust for a charitable cause, seek Calgary investment management expertise to maximize its returns year after year. With good rates of return, your endowment could generate a reliable and sizable cash flow to fund various charitable activities without even having to touch the principal.

Ensuring Your Legacy to Future Generations

Whether setting aside an educational savings account for grandchildren or creating a trust to pay for the living expenses and medical bills for a disabled child, investment management advice ensures that the money will grow over time to pay the intended expenses and won’t run out before the recipient finishes requiring it.

Immediate Consultations

While investment management firms readily partner with you to meet long term investment goals, they are also available for immediate consultations on individual investing decisions. Should you invest the proceeds of the sale of a family home in a retirement account? Can you use funds in a personal retirement account to buy rental properties to generate passive income? What are the tax consequences of pulling money out of a retirement account to pay medical bills? What are your options to improve cash flow from an existing retirement account with minimal risk to the principal? Consult with an investment management firm in Calgary, like the one here, before making a costly mistake.

Shopping Gets a Lot Easier

RFID enabled credit cards certainly make shopping for goods or services a heck of a lot easier. But with that ease of use comes a plethora of security concerns. Many consumers are worried that their data might be hacked remotely by nefarious types looking to steal identities. The good news though is that with a few simple precautions you can protect yourself pretty easily.

What are RFID Credit Cards?

rfid enabled credit cardVirtually every one of the major credit card companies these days offers RFID credit cards. Visa, Mastercard and Discover all have their own patented brand of card that has been enabled to use RFID technology. RFID stands for ‘Radio Frequency Identification’ and they will revolutionize the way people shop.

By using them customers are no longer required to conform to the antiquated methods of checking out their goods. They no longer have to stand inline and run their credit card through a terminal. With an RFID enabled card all you have to do is place your card close to the scanner and the sale is conducted. The distance at which you’ll need to stand will vary from card provider to card provider. Usually the distance is somewhere between 1 and 4 inches. Another convenience is that you no longer even have to remove the card from you wallet. Now how good does that sound?

Security Concerns With RFID Cards

Just as RFID makes it easier for the stores to scan your card, so to can would be identity thieves. It’s possible that a criminal could purchase a cheap scanner and simply stand close to you to grab your details.

The basics of RFID are open source which means that anybody can copy the technology. This is a double edged sword though as now the criminal elements can easily read the code too. Thankfully most reputable credit card providers build on top of the open source code and add in proprietary encryption routines that make it much harder for thieves. As with anything though, it’s never going to be 100% secure.

Special Cases to Protect RFID Cards

Even with the added security tactics the providers have in place it’s still technically possible to have your data compromised. Because of this many people are still worried about how they can protect themselves and their cards. There are special RFID anti-theft credit card holders that add another layer of protection and are often used.

The best place to purchase such a case is via the Internet and their are a number of sites that offer them. You will essentially be looking for a thin aluminum carrying case for your cards to help make them more secure. Be sure to choose a reputable and trusted dealer and don’t just go for the cheapest one. While they may offer a cheaper deal you are not as assured of a quality item.

Purchasing an RFID anti-theft credit card case will make it next to impossible for a criminal to steal your data remotely.

Trim the Fat on US Government

Summer 2013 saw the US government yet again fail it’s people. They failed because they could not reach an agreement to either come up with a budget or to live within their means. They had previously promised to conduct all their financial activities within the confines of the spending limit… they lied! Consequently we saw rampant spending and threats of a shutdown. Threats that were later carried out and for the first time in recent history, the US government was closed for business.

Slow Decline of the US

this is how the world sees americaThe main protagonists in the shutdown were the Tea Party. Those areas of the government that were happy to keep on spending called their actions reckless and dangerous. While that is certainly one way to look at it there are those who share a different opinion. Spending in Washington D.C. has gotten out of hand it certainly needs to be reined in. Far too many people are waiting in line with their hands out because they know that the current government is only too happy to oblige. It’s totally understandable that our elected body should take care of it’s citizens with genuine needs and concerns. Far too many people however, see the cash giveaways as a free ticket and an excuse not to actually work and to contribute.

Previously the deficit has been addressed by simply printing more money, but this obviously can’t go on forever. It must end and soon, because our so-called ‘trading partners’ are taking advantage of our desperate situation. It’s true we are letting this happen but that shouldn’t decrease the gravity of the problem.

US #1… But Not Really

We continue to rattle our sabers and to declare ourselves as ‘Super Power’. The truth is the days of the US being taken seriously as a World leader were over a long time ago. We were just to proud, stupid or arrogant to recognize it. How can we seriously expect the other countries of the globe to take us seriously when we have a government that lets it’s petty squabbles shut the country down? We are fast becoming the Worlds’ joke… and it needs to stop!

The problem that we are currently facing is that we are trying to put a Band-Aid over a wound that is way too big. We are taking temporary fixes to issues that deserve more drastic changes.

Unfortunately we have politicians who are making completely crazy statements and even crazier promises. They are driven by selfish motives of greed and fear. Far too eager to protect their own shaky positions and to line their already bloated pockets. Maybe it’s time for a super computer to be brought online to take over the decision making. Something that will transcend the human emotions and take decisions based purely on the good of the nation. God knows it couldn’t do a worse job than the current regime.

Tracking and Monitoring Your Every Move

student attendance is tracked by RFIDRFID uses radio waves to exchange data between a reader and an electronic tag. The tag can be attached to an item, device or even a human being. By attaching such a tag the asset can be tracked and monitored wherever it goes and whatever it does.

The technology bethink Radio Frequency Identification has come a long way over the last ten years and is now a very common part of our society. You may recall a time not too far back when a credit card or other ‘smart card’ would have a small gold square on the back. This small gold square housed the identification for the card and it would need to be scanned by a device to retrieve it. The act of swiping a card in to a machine has been common place for years so simply removing that ‘hindrance’ would not really signify a huge leap forward. This type of RFID was what was known as ‘Contact RFID’ and it has been replaced.  Continue Reading →

RF and RFID Explained

rfid is often used in mobile phonesYou may have seen terms such as RF and RFID in the news, on TV or even heard them used in conversation. Even though they’re used so often though, some people still aren’t clear exactly what they mean. In this article I’ll dive into their meanings in simple terms so that anybody will be able to understand.

When people talk about RF they are referring to ‘Radio Frequency’. It’s as clear and as simple as that, nothing too complicated at all. Radio Frequency refers to the specific type of radio waves that are created by our phones, for example, to transfer data without the need for wires. When an operator or other individual uses an antenna and a receiver they are able to capture these radio waves. Radio waves have specific frequencies that they are transmitted on and these will vary depending on a number of factors.

If you think about how often you sit in your car and move through the various channels, looking for your favorite type of music. That is a perfect example of using radio waves. The various stations are transmitted to your vehicle and received by your car radio.

Another acronym that you may have heard from people talking about RF, is SAR. SAR stands for Specific Absorption Rate and is the rate at which a human body will absorb radio waves. That’s right! The human body actually absorbs the numerous radio waves that are being pumped into the air, every second of every day.

Many articles have been written about the health issues related to radio waves and it would definitely be in your interest to track some down. While most radio waves are harmless to humans there are a few that are potentially hazardous so caution is advised. The merits of RF’s and the impact they have on humans has been a hot topic for many years. It’s not one that is likely to be resolved any time soon.

RFID Active and Passive

Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID for short, build and extends upon radio waves. It is a technology that has many great advantages to our society but there are also some nefarious uses for it. The technology allows an item or individual to be tagged and tracked by using radio waves. A common usage of RFID are credit cards and mobile phones. An RFID enabled credit card transmits data and allows for rapid check out in stores and supermarkets. On the surface it sounds like a great thing that will ultimately make our lives easier. But if you expand it’s potential usage it can soon become a much scarier proposition.

There are two types of RFID tags. These are ‘active’ and ‘passive’ and their usage is self explanatory. Passive tags are those that will not transmit their data until they are asked for it. In our store example above, the data from your credit card is not transmitted until you get to the check out and it’s automatically requested. This all happens seamlessly and requires no action from you.

Active RFID Tags Are Scary

The other type of RFID tag is what’s known as ‘active’. This type of tag usually has it’s own power source and can transmit it’s data over a much larger distance. The thing that makes them active is that they can be triggered and data downloaded remotely and without your knowledge. Mobile phones are a common use of ‘active’ RFID tags.  Because active tags can be accessed remotely and without your knowledge it’s important to use blocking app’s on your phone. These app’s will stop the data from being extracted from your phone without your knowledge. This is increasingly important in today’s society considering the recent news that the US government has been ramping up surveillance of it’s citizens for the past few years.

The Roof Is On Fire

People tend to lose their minds a little bit each and every time we approach the deadline for the debt ceiling. Right now is exactly the same and those folks should try to remain calm. They need to remember that this situation is perfectly ‘normal’ and is what we have come to expect from the current political situation.

One of the major culprits for causing this hysteria has to be the media, in all it’s form. Journalists love hyperbole and tend to over exaggerate. Often times writing the simple truth will not sell newspapers or make viewers stay on a particular news channel. The truth is the headlines could read ‘Business as Usual in Washington D.C.’, but as I stated, this won’t sell many papers.

the debt ceiling in the US is rising

The current situation is actually a small piece of a much bigger puzzle. It’s  a single step in a longer journey that is ultimately leading this country to the brink of disaster. That disaster will not come in the shape of a tsunami or a huge earthquake. The disaster will be that the vast majority of the worlds financial markets will lose confidence even more in the US. As a result they will stop seeing American treasury bonds as a safe and viable investment opportunity, and will put their funds elsewhere.

This will have shocking ramifications for the United States and it’s citizens.

If you turn on the news right now you’ll see report after report of the blazing fires in many Australian townships. Transfer that visual to the current state of the US financial system and you are starting to get a good picture. It’s no exaggeration at all to say that we are heading for a complete and utter meltdown, and something needs to change.

The ‘line in the sand’ for the debt ceiling is $17 trillion, and we are rapidly approaching that figure. The markets have been manipulated by the Federal Reserve which tends to inflate the interest rates in an non-realistic manner. This was done under the guise of what they called ‘Qualitative Easing’ or QE for short.

History Repeats Itself

What we should have learned from previous attempts to solve the issue is that markets will always try to correct themselves. If we extrapolate this further it’s easy to see that we are just delaying the inevitable. Washington pundits have a number of expressions to illustrate this point but one of the most often heard is that we are just ‘kicking the can down the road’.

QE was mentioned as a possibility by the Federal Reserve back in May of 2013 and the market reaction was palpable. In a short space of just sixty days, the rates for ten year US bonds increased by almost 70%. This is a perfect example of how financial markets react quickly to speculation and rumor.

The only possible upside to what’s happening right now is that it’s forcing the US citizens to sit up and take notice. There are far more people than ever before that for the first time ever have a notion of exactly what drives our financial system. When we as a society start to actually take account of our collective spending we might be better able to start creating a more long term solution.

How Radio Frequency Identification Technology Works?

Do you ever get frustrated waiting in line? In this world, the unknown is inevitable. Sometimes, in the most stressful day, you’ll be caught trapped in a situation you can’t get it out from. Sounds scary? But, even in simple events, a normal day can lead to exasperation and annoyance. Just like in a grocery store where you usually wait in line to pay. It actually consumes all your time.If there is only one device that can make everything faster and convenient then, everything will go on smoothly.

With the technology nowadays, everything is possible. There is even a device that uses a scanning machine to evaluate the data being transcribed. It is actually considered as an alternative system for bar code – the Radio Frequency Identification. It is a device that transmits the identity of a person, item or an animal. You might have used this kind of system as it is utilized all around us. Like for example an ID tag for your pet, EZPass in toll booth or the SpeedPass for paying gas. RFID can easily detect the unique serial number in one’s body. You don’t need to actually locate the device and directly show it on the machine as it automatically detects the number even if it is located at the bottom part of your purse.

It is composed of three components: the antenna, a transceiver and a transponder. With the use of sound waves, a signal is transmitted to activate the transponder. Once activated, it will then take the data back to the antenna then a specific action transpires.

It is truly amazing how technology works. With just a simple tag, a specific application will take effect. At this point, you don’t need to wait in queue in order to pay for your purchases. RFID has been used by a wide variety of companies as it is an effective way to monitor transactions and people as well. This kind of invention is remarkable and worthy for everyone’s admiration.