Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Order your passport NOW, while you still can!


As I have been saying for the past 16 years, everyone should obtain a passport, if for no other reason than to use the passport for ID in place of a driver's license. (A passport does not include your address or SSN.)

 But now, with the proposed Form DS-5513, it's time to act fast. This is because in the future, thousands of citizens may not be able to get a passport at all.

For more information, check out http://papersplease.org/wp/2012/09/24/

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cash-and-carry only, when it comes to pizza!


According to an article in ComputerWorld, a pizza franchise in India was hacked.  The local franchisee, Jubilant FoodWorks, claims that “customers' information was not compromised” and paragraph four in the article says the same thing, But this makes no sense. To quote from the second paragraph in the article:

"Personal information including names, phone numbers, email addresses, passwords and city details from 37,000 accounts was leaked from Domino's website to some blogs and websites ..."

If it can happen in India, it can happen here, and not just to pizza places.  As I say on page 65 of How to be Invisible, "Remember, never receive anything at home--no mail, no packages, no courier deliveries, nada."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Are cell phone jammers and GPS jammers illegal?


Although cell phone jammers are sold all over the Internet, these jammers are illegal in most countries. When it comes to using a GPS jammer, or blocker,  in your own vehicle, to hide your location from anyone who tries to track you, that's more of a gray area.  True, there was a famous court case this year that said police needed a warrant to track your car, but that law had holes in it big enough to drive a truck through.  According to a police blog:

"If law enforcement officials can articulate a serious threat ... to the general public, and that the tracking of a vehicle is essential to guard against that threat, then it is not necessary to have a search warrant for the installation of a tracking device. Only reasonable suspicion, and not probable cause, is required under this exception."

Do my wife and I carry GPS jammers in our various vehicles? Should you and your mate carry jammers in your vehicles? (These are rhetorical questions.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Never buy a car from a private party who is actually a salesman at a dealership


Last week I finally tracked down the low-mileage Toyota Avalon XLS I’d been looking for. After many e-mails back and forth with the Alex, the owner, I arranged to rent a car from Enterprise yesterday morning, drive to Portland, buy the Avalon for cash, turn the rental car in at a nearby Enterprise office, and drive the Avalon back home today.

The night before I was to leave, I googled Alex’s phone number. Oh-oh—it was for a car dealership! I e-mailed him saying I did not buy from dealers but he insisted that although he did work at that dealership, he was selling the Avalon for a friend. “It will be a private sale.” I then agreed to meet with him after all.

However, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. yesterday with an uneasy feeling. In the Craigslist ad, and in earlier e-mails, Alex had represented himself as the owner, which was untrue. I thought about “unfaithful in little, unfaithful in much.” What else might he be hiding?

I sent him an email saying I had decided to postpone the trip. I also mentioned in passing that for any later purchase, I would be buying in the name of a New Mexico LLC, and I would of course not show any ID since it would be a private sale and I don’t pay with a check, I pay in cash. When Alex eventually read the e-mail, he went ballistic, telling me that any private seller with “half a brain” would demand to copy the buyer’s driver’s license.

“I wouldn’t even let you test drive my car without getting a copy of your ID and proof of insurance. Anyone who doesn’t ask for that is a fool and you are only taking advantage of their ignorance to protect only yourself. People need to watch out for people like you!”

Just imagine if I hadn’t googled his phone number! I’ve have rented a car, made the long drive to Portland, and because of this nut’s attitude the entire trip would have been in vain. Lessons I pass on to you readers:

1. If possible, get the seller’s phone number at work and google it. 

 2. If there is anything he’s been hiding, watch out! 

3. If he works for a dealer, run for cover! Salesmen like Alex are so oriented in demanding ID and then running the name through a government database, that it carries over into private sales. 

Never buy a car from a private party who is actually a salesman at a dealership


Last week I finally tracked down the low-mileage Toyota Avalon XLS I’d been looking for. After many e-mails back and forth with the Alex, the owner, I arranged to rent a car from Enterprise yesterday morning, drive to Portland, buy the Avalon for cash, turn the rental car in at a nearby Enterprise office, and drive the Avalon back home today. The night before I was to leave, I googled Alex’s phone number. Oh-oh—it was for a car dealership! I e-mailed him saying I did not buy from dealers but he insisted that although he did worked at that dealership, he was selling the Avalon for a friend. “It will be a private sale.” I then agreed to meet with him after all. However, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. yesterday with an uneasy feeling. In the Craigslist ad, and in earlier e-mails, Alex had represented himself as the owner, which was untrue. I thought about “unfaithful in little, unfaithful in much.” What else might he be hiding? I sent him an email saying I had decided to postpone the trip. I also mentioned in passing that for any later purchase, I would be buying in the name of a New Mexico LLC, and I would of course not show any ID since it would be a private sale and I don’t pay with a check, I pay in cash. When Alex eventually read the e-mail, he went ballistic, telling me that any private seller with “half a brain” would demand to copy the buyer’s driver’s license. “I wouldn’t even let you test drive my car without getting a copy of your ID and proof of insurance. Anyone who doesn’t ask for that is a fool and you are only taking advantage of their ignorance to protect only yourself. People need to watch out for people like you.....” Just imagine if I hadn’t googled his phone number. I’ve have rented a car, made the long drive to Portland, and because of this nut’s attitude the entire trip would have been in vain. Lessons I pass on to you readers: 1. If possible, get the seller’s phone number at work and google it. 2. If there is anything he’s been hiding, watch out! 3. If he works for a dealer, run for cover! Salesmen like Alex are so oriented in demanding ID and then running the name through a government database, that it carries over into private sales.