June 12, 2006 CLO/WH Newsletter.

 

First, a quick warning about a new computer privacy invasion and danger.

It seems someone has figured out a way to use photographs in emails, even if you don’t open attachments, to access your computer, your location, and who knows what else to attack you and or it (we just discovered it).

We were getting dissatisfied with our old anti virus company, which had been the best for us until now. We’ve started a lot of research with one of our volunteer experts who works for IBM, comparing all the programs out there. We will soon have it done and make a recommendation. For now, I’ll recommend a free trial of Avast, and not opening attachments or photos (using “text only” read feature of your email program). Then we’ll tell you the best anti virus maybe by next week.

Until then, stick to only reading emails in “text only” format. Also beware that one of the most famous anti virus software makers, was an employee for them. Now a supporter of ours, we found out that the well known brand actually makes viruses so they can take credit for finding and catching them.

Other than not opening attachments, which was once the most prominent way to spread viruses, we now only read emails in “text only” format for protection. Other email programs may or may not have this feature, and if so, may have a different way of accessing it. I use Outlook express, so I can only tell you how to turn on the “text only” method for reading emails, and turn off the html reading method, if you are using it. First, go to the “tools” menu. Then, click “options”. Look for the “read” tab and click that. There you will find an option to read your emails in html or only plain text. Choose plain text.

If you want, Outlook Exp allows you to do that, while still sending html emails. Sending them that way let’s you have the option to choose font, font colors, bold, italics, underlines, hilites, etc.. To enable this, clicking on the “send” tab and choosing “html” then pick the color and font you want to use. BUT REMEMBER, if you do that, what YOU see, is not going to be the same as someone like me who is only getting a plain text version.

One reason we do brief emails to our subscribers like we do, is so they know what topics will be covered in the newsletter/ezine. The other is that it gives you a link back to our site, and you get to enjoy the newsletter/Ezine with all the html features even if your email is set for “text only”, without the risk of getting a virus or taken over. Of course, the web gets more scammy daily, so I can’t guarantee that other companies, other than those we deal with or are supporters, GROers, etc., will have the same scruples or morals about this.

Another thing we have started to do now, is surf the web using browsers other than I.E. (Internet Explorer). There is a service called Secunia.com that reviews the security of about 10,000 different programs etc., including browsers. I.E. is always in a very dangerous high risk area when I check it out, meaning people can hack your computer just by viewing their site with it. The next best and most popular, is one by mozilla.org called “Firefox”. Firefox is not perfect, but more secure. They also have cool “extenstions” that let you do things like zoom web pages so you can read them easier (I use one called Zoom mouse), one called “tab mix plus” that let’s you do a lot of things, the most important being if you go to “file”, then “exit”, the next time you open it it will be as you left it, with all the files and pages open – it also does that if you have a crash. Another one I like, is called “scriptblocker”, and blocks pages with malicious Java script. With a right click of your mouse, you can temporarily let in java for that page only. But, be careful, there are so many extensions you may not really need, and none are guaranteed to be secure. Finally, only download extensions on the mozilla website, because those versions may be different and safer than one’s from people’s “homepages”. Last but not least, is the browser “Opera”, that has a perfect security record from Secunia. They have a bazillion features and extensions also. So many, you can get lost. Finally, both other browsers let you import your favorites/bookmarks from I.E.

Next, I view pages with “javascript” turned off. 10% of all users also do this, and growing. Javascript is NOT necessary, and can be used to plant viruses or spyware. So if you go to a site using it, or something doesn’t work, or a message comes up that tells you have javascript turned off or your browser doesn’t support it, and you must turn it on to use or view their page, my attitude is “who are they to tell me that, I’ll take my business elsewhere”. If it’s real important and you can easily turn it on like in Firefox or opera, you can risk it. It’s a judgment call. I’ve done it with nothing happening that I can see, but the other day I did it on a legal site, and minutes after, a secondary security program I use caught my computer being hacked. Javascript can do “cool” things, but “flash” can do the same, better, nicer and faster, and we haven’t heard of risks with it yet, so when we want to present something slick, we use flash. Most computers have it, if you don’t, usually the site you’re looking on will have a link to download it and it only takes a minute, and is well worth the beauty and speed it offers.  


FREE services that list the cheapest gas prices in your area or for planned trips. As gas prices continue to soar, we’ve found the best immediate and alternative solutions to save a lot of money, and even make trips you may have given up hopes on, new hope.

As gas prices rise with no end in site and nothing they can do according to administration experts, we have done some research and made comparisons, finding the real golden rule aided FREE services that list the cheapest prices in your area, or along a trip route. Also, we discuss some safe alternatives for the immediate to distant future (if there is one).

 

SO HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO, FROM THE OBVIOUS, MOST SIMPLE, TO THE MORE SOPHISTICATED:

First, buy gas for the best prices. We’ve done comparisons. These companies use volunteer “gas price spotters” to find the best deals, like golden ruler’s (GROers) working together to help everyone. We recommend the first one, since it’s been around longer and in our tests it turned up prices in areas where the second company didn’t have any volunteers yet (unless you’d like to start helping out and become a spotter). Secondly, they have a trip planning feature (I don’t know if that’s free or not, but you can just check the prices free as you go if necessary. http://www.gaspricewatch.com/new/ and http://www.gasbuddy.com .

Here’s the first of the low level quick fix things you can also do. Just using the above links, stations, and the tips below will save you tens to hundreds of dollars a month, even more if you must commute a good distance or are going on a trip.

1) Retrain yourself to drive “gas friendly”:

·      I.e., the faster you speed up/the harder you press the accelerator pedal, the more gas you’ll use.

·      The faster you drive, the worse your mileage will be.

·      Driving up hill, and keeping up with speed, uses more gas.

·      Braking more, then speeding back up, uses more than a style of thinking ahead, letting your foot off the gas to slow down, then gently catching back up as the traffic moves again.

·      Actually having a clean and/or waxed car helps a bit at high speeds.

2) Lose Weight and keep your tires inflated properly: The heavier your car, the worse your mileage. The more people, items and junk in your car, the more power it takes and more gas it guzzles. Many people don’t even think about the unnecessary junk or weight they just leave in the back or trunk. As far as tires, keep them inflated as high as is safe. Check with an expert at what you can keep it at. Also, often, when loaded down and going on trips, you’re supposed to inflate more. Again, check with a tire company expert, read them what it says on the side of you tires. Since many experts also don’t know what they’re talking about, I have a standard rule to get three opinions that are in agreement.

3) Keep your vehicle tuned up. It’s not just a matter of running better anymore. Again, with the new gas prices that are still climbing, it will pay for itself and then keep saving you.

4) Additives. Some companies claim they have additives that increase mileage. This may or may not be true. Sometimes doing a search online for forums discussing their experiences with a product will tell you, but you have to watch out for “plants” working for the company, or competition, putting down a company.

5) Synthetic oil helps just about everything, from engine wear, working in a wide range of heat and cold without changing “oil weight”, and if it reduces friction, it will increase mileage and power. Companies like Porsche don’t recommend only using it, for no reason. Keep it clean for the same reasons. Change the oil at it’s recommended mileage, along with oil filters – whatever your car manufacturers says.

6) DieselThis is even worth considering selling your vehicle and repurchasing one with a diesel engine, in more than one way. While diesel prices have oddly risen beyond gas prices in the last year or so, when it used to be less, I’ve heard vehicles actually get better mileage, outweighing the cost difference. Engines using it also last far longer. Think about it, there’s a reason the big rig truck drivers use diesel engines rather than gas – and they have to make a living, so fuel costs and engine wear/repair cut directly into their income bottom line.

So if you’re shopping around, and have an option, it’s probably the better bet. It’s also an extremely safe fuel. I’ve tried to light it directly, and it won’t even burn.

Keep in mind that the increase in diesel fuel costs, in particular, have hurt us all economically in a big way by making shipping more expensive (remember that before complaining about higher shipping costs or flights – fuel costs have really increased it).

Another reason to buy diesel, is that if there is a fuel crisis, keeping trucks moving (supplies, food, you name it), agricultural equipment, construction, etc. will be a priority, and thus may be the governments priority, and available when gas isn’t. It’s invaluable. It can be used for heating also, and you can buy diesel generators or “3 fuel” models.

Bio Diesel – Make your own diesel in your garage on a small scale, maybe 10 to 40 gallons per day, about or under a buck a gallon. We will let you know as soon as home units are available for those with diesel vehicles or generators, especially farmers. Save big money, plus, it’s always been considered to extend engine life, cut pollution, etc. You’ll also become part of taking a “green” ecological Earth friendly approach by recycling. There are new home/farm diesel making products available – but beware, some will damage engines. And once you make the initial investment of between 5 and 8 thousand dollars (seems like a lot at first, but if you can make it for about a buck a gallon, how long before the equipment pays for itself, and you are saving money like crazy). Plus, if fuel isn’t available, you could be making your own in an emergency, including electricity from diesel generators, doing construction and farming, etc, since most all such equipment is diesel. It can also use old frying oil from restaurants or new vegetable oils to make. Restaurants must pay to have old oil legally disposed of otherwise, and you can even make your own veggie oil if you know what to grow and can do it, but you need to beware when you get into that. For instance, one man in Europe makes a huge business making oil from sunflower seeds that is then used as bio-diesel. In a pinch, I’ve heard that you can even run a diesel engine on just other veggie oils too, but now alleged research has warnings that if you do it very long, you’ll get engine damage, but it’s possibly anti-bio-diesel propaganda.

One of our favorite and true charities we’ve donated much to (the other being thegoldenrule.net), you can also make contributions directly on the site, or if you are interested in making a equipment or vehicle contribution, buying equipment that has passed experimental programs, or perhaps becoming a dealer for some of the alternative or sustainable living companies through an affiliate or wholesale program of theirs (some also help them too), email them. Unfortunately, some of the companies that looked hopeful have gone out of business for one reason or another, and others are so busy because of world wide emergencies.

 

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