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    1. You may have missed part I which is, specifically, meant for those living in the United States. Most of us are aware of targeted advertisements in which companies (Facebook, Google, Amazon, and...

      You may have missed part I which is, specifically, meant for those living in the United States.

      Most of us are aware of targeted advertisements in which companies (Facebook, Google, Amazon, and countless others) use web cookies and other tracking mechanisms to collect information from your computer, network, and browsing activities in order to display relevant ads to you. In fact, there are hundreds of companies collecting, selling, and reselling your data. This data is stored in, potentially, thousands of databases throughout the world. Most of these companies are acting in ‘good faith’ and may not be involved in any illegal activities. Even so, there are many people who think this is creepy or borders on the edge of unethical practice. Read more.

      What happens when these databases are breached by hackers and end up on the dark web?

      Imagine that information in the hands of a boss who wants to lower your wages, a political opponent, a business competitor, a disgruntled neighbor, or a criminal.

      There are a growing number of people who are abandoning sites such as Facebook and Google because they are deeply concerned about their privacy. Journalist Kashmir Hill wrote an entertaining multi-part series, Goodbye Big Five, in which she chronicled her efforts to discontinue using Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple.

      9 votes
    2. After reading about and implementing simple privacy/security measures I thought it would be a good idea to share some of these things with others. Please, keep in mind that this is only meant as...

      After reading about and implementing simple privacy/security measures I thought it would be a good idea to share some of these things with others. Please, keep in mind that this is only meant as an introduction to the subject. Almost everything that will be covered can be carried out with no monetary cost.

      Part I is meant to serve those who reside in the United States.

      To put things in perspective, a 2016 study reported “total losses across all incidents of identity theft totaled $17.5 billion”. Furthermore, “More than a third (36%) of victims who spent 6 months or more resolving financial and credit problems as a result of the identity theft experienced severe emotional distress”.

      1. Place a freeze on your credit reports. Read more
      1. Stop unsolicited mail, phone calls, and email.
      2. Set up enhanced security features with my Social Security account.
      13 votes
    3. By “happiness” I don't mean “the place where happy people are happy all the time”, but rather “the absence of persisting suffering”. For some context, I've been suffering from clinical depression...

      By “happiness” I don't mean “the place where happy people are happy all the time”, but rather “the absence of persisting suffering”.

      For some context, I've been suffering from clinical depression for over nine years now. Maybe more. I've been hurt by other people many times in my life, especially in childhood and during school. I have almost never felt connected to another human being, and the older I get, the harder it gets to get any kind of intimacy. I feel like “I'm a creep and I'm a weirdo” regularly, as if my teen angst has never left me. On a good day I will merely be tired, and I think I don't need to describe a bad day.

      Recently I've been discovering interesting approaches to therapy and using awareness to “pull yourself by the boot straps”, but whenever the time comes to actually use them in practice, a very real question: “Why should I do it? Happiness is impossible, I will always be what I am, so why go through additional pain of trying to change anything when the result isn't guaranteed?”.

      So the question is: how do you answer this (loaded) question? How do you get back your faith in better future for yourself when you have so little experience actually being better? Can you actually do that?

      36 votes
    4. I hope this is the appropriate Tilde for this. If no one has any input it will still have helped me to type this out. TL;DR In over my head with marriage, foster care, family, and work. My wife...

      I hope this is the appropriate Tilde for this. If no one has any input it will still have helped me to type this out.

      TL;DR In over my head with marriage, foster care, family, and work.

      My wife and I became foster parents about 1.5 years ago with the intention to not adopt, but to care for children 3 and under while bio parents worked to regain custody or other permanent placements were arranged. Our first placement was two girls (7 mo and 2.5 yrs) despite wanting to do just one kid at a time (especially to start). We had them for 6 weeks and mom got them back. We had another placement (8 mo boy) for about another 6 weeks. There was a considerable lull and we were getting frustrated about not getting any new placements when the girls from our first placement were placed into custody again. So we were able to take them in again (now about 1.2 and 3.5 yrs). FF to now and we've had them for about 6 months.

      We never really intended to have more than one child and for quite this long and we're struggling. My wife has always had a little less ability to weather stressful situations like this and these last 2-3 weeks I'm carrying a lot of weight. In the meantime, bio mom has gotten pregnant and there's not another hearing regarding custody for another 9 months. We fully expect that she will not be able to take them back at that time (or really realistically ever). What should probably happen would be that the county could place the kids into permanent custody (basically getting them adopted). However, from what we've heard from other foster families, temporary custody could drag on for years.

      So, our main dilemma is this. We are not equipped (as a couple) to care for these kids for years. With the likely prospect of no change in custody in the near future, it feels like the best thing for these kids would be to get them into the care of someone looking to do this long-term, perhaps to eventually adopt. That being said, we absolutely love them and it feels like some kind of betrayal to force them to make yet another transition. On the other hand, with our limitations, it seems like that is inevitable anyway. Do we try to make that happen sooner?

      Some other data points:
      Our fostering license expires in October (about a month after the hearing is scheduled) and we don't intend to continue fostering (at least for a while, and definitely not with our current agency).
      We don't have many family members close by to give us a hand with the kids, making us feel isolated and making it hard to get breaks from the kids. Our agency has not been very helpful with lining up respite care, but we're trying to be more aggressive about that now.
      I've got things pretty well lined up to retire in about 5 years. My company is also just now kicking off a major project of a similar time frame and I'm in a good position to really make a mark before moving on. It will probably require some serious time commitments and effort to do it the way I want to.

      Thanks for listening.

      12 votes
    5. I think many of us are here because of our shared appreciation for community-building, right? So, I figure there's a good chance that you, dearest reader, have a not-so-common perspective with...

      I think many of us are here because of our shared appreciation for community-building, right? So, I figure there's a good chance that you, dearest reader, have a not-so-common perspective with regards to forming bonds over the net. (At least, relative to your average person.)

      I'm a fan of the wholesome, so here's a topic for sharing positive stories about the good the web can do. :)

      27 votes
    6. When I was in high school, I toured Boneyard Studios, a tiny house collective in the DC metro region. I met a man named Jay Austin, who built a tiny house by himself. He showed me his home, and I...

      When I was in high school, I toured Boneyard Studios, a tiny house collective in the DC metro region. I met a man named Jay Austin, who built a tiny house by himself. He showed me his home, and I thought it was damn near one of the coolest things. Jay, despite being a bit older than I, had some of the same sensibilities as I did, I think. He and his girlfriend Lauren started an awesome round the world cycling trip and documented it in their blog Simply Cycling. Reading his words, I really do see myself in Jay, although I only ever met him once and he likely didn't even remember me afterwards.

      One of the things Jay wrote was as follows:

      You read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil.

      I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own … By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind.

      This amazing perspective is something I wish I was able to write myself. Because I truly believe it. Jay Austin is a man who I would look forward to seeing where his life takes him. I wish I could buy him a coffee and discuss the adventures he has had. The adventures that inspire me to think about where I want my life to take me.

      Lauren, Jay, and several other cyclists were killed last Summer by several Tajikistani men who pledged allegiance to ISIS. I cried when I heard. And I didn't even know why. I felt as if Jay was a man not unlike myself. I find myself crying because, even though Jay comes from a totally different background than I, our shared values make me feel like we come from the same place. I feel like I lost someone closer to me than I really did. And even now, months later, I find myself, a grown adult man who really doesn't cry for any reason, crying again, as I write this post.

      I really wish I believed in an afterlife. I wish I could shake Jay Austin's hand and tell him he is one of my role models. But I never will be able to. And in all honesty, I don't even know if I should be allowed to mourn someone I have hardly met, let alone how to go about it. So I guess I wrote this post.

      I just wanted the world to know how much of a light, at least in my life, Jay Austin, a man I met only once, really was.

      30 votes
    7. I've recently accepted a new developer role for a small tech company where everyone works remotely. I've had experience of working from home as a freelancer in the past and slightly more recently...

      I've recently accepted a new developer role for a small tech company where everyone works remotely. I've had experience of working from home as a freelancer in the past and slightly more recently working for a distributed company, although there I was working in a small shared office with one other colleague.

      I wondered if anyone has any tips or advice on how best to remain productive as well as avoid distractions and try to keep a work/life balance?

      I do intend to eventually find a co-working space but immediately I plan to work from home for at least the first few months.

      Thanks!

      16 votes