If you still aren’t sure about what to get the people on your gift list, a Road ID is a great option.

Road ID Bands

I’ve written about the importance of having identification and medical information on you at all times.  Road ID makes several different products that meet this critical need and help keep you safe.  Here are some ones to consider giving this year:

  • Wrist ID Bands
  • Ankle ID Bands
  • Shoe ID
  • Dogtags
  • Scout pet tags
  • Supernova flashing lights
  • Reflective bands
  • Reflective shoelaces

You can also purchase gift cards for the Road ID Store.

Take the time to read some of the testimonials from satisfied customers and you’ll see how important having one of these products is.  It could save your life while training, shopping, working, hiking, camping, swimming, or around the house.  Having a Road ID is an important part of being prepared for the unexpected, both for you and your loved ones.  If you buy anything during this holiday season, get some identification products from Road ID.

A while back I wrote about the importance of hardening door jambs and hinges against break-in attempts.  Since we’re on the topic of holiday gift ideas, why not give EZ Armor to homeowners on your list?

Armor Concepts EZ Armor

Why give EZ Armor?

  • It reinforces all the weak points of your door;  the jamb, the hinges, and locks
  • All pieces are made from powder-coated galvanized steel, making it resistant to corrosion
  • Police departments have tested it and recommend it
  • EZ Armor is Made in the USA

I have these installed on both my front door and garage door.  Its a quality product that I believe in and recommend to everybody who has a house with wood door frames.  EZ Armor provides a robust layer of security that you can add to your home protection plan.  For less than $80 per door its affordable too.

You can learn more about the full range of Armor Concepts products by going here.  Once you have determined the right products, click here to order them.  Give the gift of better security this holiday season, you will be glad you did.

Need another gift idea for the holidays?  Consider Smart Cap TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensors) by Ride-On.

Ride-On SmartCaps

These are a great accessory for any vehicle that uses pneumatic tires since they flash when air pressure drops by 4 PSI.  The tire(s) can then be inflated to their correct pressure.

Why is this important?

  • Underinflated tires have higher rolling resistance which can result in a loss of fuel economy of 1-3%
  • Proper tire pressure extends tire life, improves handling, and reduces tires failures
  • Low tire pressure can cause blowouts which leads to vehicle damage

Smart Caps have some great attributes including:

  • They install in seconds and provide years of service
  • Self-calibrating, no false alerts during high or low ambient temperatures
  • Metal construction means long life and durability
  • Integrated anti-theft protection

I’ve had Smart Caps installed on my car for just over a year and they are great.  My vehicle doesn’t have a built-in Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensors installed so these allow me to quickly check my tires to ensure they are properly inflated.  This gives me peace of mind knowing that my vehicle is safe and that I am saving money at the pump.  For around $20 per wheel position, they are a great investment.

You can order LED Smart Caps by clicking here, they make great stocking stuffers.

The holidays are upon us and that means figuring out what to give people on your list.  It can be a daunting challenge, especially for those who seem to have everything they need.  If somebody on your list has a wheeled vehicle with pneumatic tires though, consider giving them Ride-On Tire Protection System.

Ride-On has been around since the mid-90’s and has been popular in the powersports market, especially with motorcycle riders.  However, Ride-On has formulas for automobiles, trucks, SUVs, construction equipment, tractors, quads, ATV/UTVs, trailers, RVs, armored vehicles, and even bicycles.  While the different versions of Ride-On are formulated for specific applications, they all share common benefits and attributes.

Benefits include:

  • Increase tire life by up to 25% or more through air pressure maintenance and balancing
  • Maintain set-point tire pressures 3 to 4 times longer by reducing porosity loss
  • Make tires virtually impervious to flats by reducing tire-related road failures by 85-95%
  • Balance tire/wheel assemblies
  • Improve fuel economy 1-3%

All Ride-On Formulas are:

  • Biodegradable
  • Non-hazardous
  • Non-flammable
  • Non-toxic
  • Free of VOCs and heavy metals
  • Chemically inert
  • Ozone-safe
  • Made in the USA

I’ve used Ride-On on the last two sets of tires I’ve had on my car and I can vouch for its effectiveness.  I initially installed it in a set of Michelin LX4s that had over 50,000 miles on them.  They lasted another 13 months and over 15,000 miles before I had to replace them.  During that time, I had to put air in my tires ONCE.  All four survived a hot Arizona summer without any problems and ran smoother due to the balancing effects of the Ride-On.  When I went to get a new set in May, I discovered that I had a nail in my left rear.  There was no air loss due to that wound!  Needless to say, I installed Ride-On immediately after getting a new set of LX4s.

To order, click here or go to the link on the right-hand side of the page.  Select the correct formulation along with the correct quantity.  To calculate the correct dosage, go to this page and enter the tire information.

After all, this is a site nobody wants to see.

Credit: Tire Rack

Ride-On!

If you see this window appear on your computer, you’re going to have a bad day.

CryptoLocker is a malicious program that surreptitiously encrypts files on computers that use Microsoft Windows operating systems (ex. XP, Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8).  The software will also encrypt any shared drives connected to the infected computer including network drives, USB drives, external hard drives, and even cloud storage shares.  After these files are encrypted, the a pop-up will appear and state the the victim has a certain number of days or hours to pay a ransom to unlock the files.  The ransom will be payable with Bitcoin or other internet payment mechanisms.  Beware though, there is no guarantee that the decryption key will be sent after the ransom is paid…

In short, this is serious stuff!

The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have reported a spike in the number of CryptoLocker infections on both personal and business computers over the last week.  It appears to spread through official-looking UPS and FedEx tracking number emails.  Here is what they recommend to prevent and mitigate an infection:

How to prevent it:

The US-CERT recommends users and administrators take the following preventative measures to protect their computer networks from a CryptoLocker infection:

  • Do not follow unsolicited web links in email messages or submit any information to webpages in links
  • Use caution when opening email attachments
  • Maintain up-to-date anti-virus software
  • Perform regular backups of all systems to limit the impact of data and/or system loss
  • Apply changes to your Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems and Firewalls to detect any known malicious activity
  • Secure open-share drives by only allowing connections from authorized users
  • Keep your operating system and software up-to-date with the latest patches
  • Refer to the Recognizing and Avoiding Email Scams document for more information on avoiding email scams
  • Refer to the Security Tip Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks for more information on social engineering attacks
  • Follow safe practices when browsing the web. For further reading on Safe Browsing habits, see Good Security Habits and Safeguarding Your Data.

How to Mitigate it:

US-CERT suggests the following possible mitigation steps that users and administrators can implement, if you believe your computer has been infected with CryptoLocker malware:

  • Immediately disconnect the infected system from wireless or wired networks. This may prevent the malware from further encrypting any more files on the network.
  • Users who are infected with the malware should consult with a reputable security expert to assist in removing the malware.
  • If possible, change all online account passwords and network passwords after removing the system from the network. Change all system passwords once the malware is removed from the system.

The US CERT and DHS encourage anyone who has been infected to not pay the ransom.  Instead report it to the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center

Be careful when you are on the internet and reading email.  Cybercrime is a big problem and more attacks like this are going to happen in the future.  Being prepared to handle a technological crisis is an important part of your overall plan.  Take some time to click on the links in this post to learn more about how you can become more aware and informed.  More than any other tool, your mind is the one you need to use the most when danger lurks.

A while back I mentioned that you need to keep certain items on-hand in case certain systems (ex. Banking) become unavailable.  Having cash and coin will allow prepared people to make purchases when the cards and online payments are unavailable.  But where to keep it?

HPC Wall Safe

I decided to purchase an HPC wall safe to store valuables.  I keep cash, transit cards, credit cards, and other valuables in it both for security and availability.  Having a wall safe makes it more secure because it is mounted to the frame of my house.  Its also small enough to be installed in a difficult to find place where it can remain hidden from view.

My important documents are stored in my safe deposit box because I don’t need them immediately.  However, I do plan on scanning and saving them on an encrypted, secure USB memory device that I can keep on-site.  My wall safe is designed to contain only certain high-value items, the rest are stored in other places.

As with most important items, I recommend spending the extra money to get a high-quality safe.  My preference is on American-made products, which I was able to realize this this particular unit.  Instead of looking for an inexpensive, consumer-grade safe at your local big box store, go for the commercial-level that is sold through industrial supply companies.  The extra money you spend will be worth it and be a small price to pay compared to the robust security that a quality wall safe offers.  Give it some thought and see if this makes sense for your house.

Click here to order an HPC WS-100 Wall Safe, Key Lock

Being able to find the right key in a timely manner is a small yet important step in becoming better prepared.

HPC KeKab

I know this from personal experience.  Like most adults, I have keys for many different locks and its hard to keep track of all of them.  There were keys on my dresser, keys in my office, keys in the garage, the darn things were all over the place!  Figuring out which key went to which lock could also be a bit of a problem because many of them looked similar.  This is the reality I struggled with for years decades.

But my learning curve was not entirely flat.  No, I learned from my non-existent key management practices that there had to be a better way.  The solution was to install a cabinet (in my case an HPC KeKab 65) that could store the various keys I had in an organized fashion.  Here’s how I did it:

  • Estimated the number of keys I had (over three dozen!) and allowed for future growth
  • Searched for a commercial-grade, Made in the USA steel key cabinet that could accommodate 50-70 keys
  • Purchased the HPC KeKab 65 from Grainger
  • Gathered all my keys
  • Identified which keys were associated with a given lock
  • Wrote down the key information and entered it into a spreadsheet
  • Tagged each key with the plastic tabs that came with the cabinet
  • Installed the key cabinet (actually my handyman did while I was at work)
  • Put all the keys in the cabinet
  • Set the combination lock
  • Hid the key to the cabinet in a safe place

Now all my keys are in one, safe location where only I can get to them.  That means when I take one out, there is a missing slot and a number associated with it.  If a key is missing, now I know which one it is.  This is actually a good security measure to implement since anybody who has a key can duplicate it and use it without your knowledge.

It may take a few hours and a few hundred dollars but managing your keys can save you a lot of headaches.  I strongly suggest you do this if you have not already.

Click here to buy an HPC 65-Key Cabinet with Combo Lock

What do burglaries, assaults, murders, rapes, kidnappings, armed robberies, road rage, domestic disputes, angry confrontation, harassment, stalking, and other crimes have in common?  It can be summed up with three words:

Somebody Else’s Problem (SEP)

Let’s face it, that’s what most of us think.  Bad things happen to other people because “it couldn’t happen here” or “we live in a safe neighborhood” or some other rationalization.  That is, until it happens to us or somebody we know, then the problem quickly becomes real.

If you’re not prepared, when SEP suddenly becomes YOUR problem, it could end badly.

The first step in dealing with this mindset is to change it.  Don’t think that somebody else isn’t going to help you, prepare to help yourself instead.  This can take many forms but the most important action is to become more observant and develop situational awareness.  More than any other tool, the human mind is the most valuable one for dealing with a wide range of scenarios.  Train your mind and you will go a long way towards becoming your own first responder.

If you live in a small town and think that your local government is immune from the threat of bankruptcy, you may want to rethink that assumption.  Municipal debt is a pervasive problem, not just in big cities.

Credit: America The Beautiful

Desert Hot Springs, CA is the latest municipality facing Chapter 9 Bankruptcy due to salary and pension costs. In what is becoming a familiar refrain, the city discovered that it had underestimated its expenditures while overestimating its revenues.  The result is a $3 million shortfall that will have to be met early next year.  No matter what ends up happening, there will be adjustments that the municipal bond holders, city workers and retirees, and residents will have to make.

The likely outcome is less services at a higher cost.  This will mean less police protection, degraded infrastructure, and lower quality of service.  Citizens will be compelled to do more as essential services are cut or simply wait longer for things to get done.  Hopefully the citizens of Desert Hot Springs are prepared…

By the way, this wouldn’t be the first time the town of 25,000 went into bankruptcy (the first time was in 2001).  Expect more small towns like Desert Hot Springs to join Stockton, San Bernardino, and Detroit in bankrupty court in the coming months.