Securing your Finances – Credit Reports, Freezing, Fraud, etc.

Here is what I recommend in light of the Equifax debacle:

Plan your passwords – all of these sites will expect that you create a login, with passwords – a well formatted password will have upper case, lower case, numbers and special characters. Use a phrase to help you remember them.

  • WRITE down the web page, company name, login and password and store in a SAFE PLACE.
  • DO NOT STORE ON A Computer – best to store on paper.
  • You could do a password protected XLS, but if you lose the pasword to that no one can recover it.
  •  Assume your house can be broken into – where would you store this to be safe?

Example:    LLL3301!!mylifeSSN    If you change the last 3 letters for each site then you are being very secure

DO NOT USE the same password for any website – this makes an easy path for hackers to attack you everywhere.

First off – pull a credit report now – so you have a baseline. Use any of the 3 and TRACK which one:
Every 4 months you can get a free credit report using this site – start tracking these now.

Close all unnecessary credit cards. Anything you are not using or really need should be closed now.

Setup a Social Security account NOW – read this from the Social Security Administration – and pull a work report .

This is a great two factor authentication – you login with a password and they will send you a pin to your phone or email to make sure this is you.

Pull a Social Security Statement and review your work history, payments, etc. this will give you a baseline as well.

If you are not doing a lot of things that require a credit report – moving around, buying a car, cell phone, apartment, etc.

Credit Freeze – you will have to white list with a PIN anyone checking your credit.

Depending on where you live you may have to pay $10 for this – KEEP your PIN SAFE like you would passwords. This is critical for administering a freeze.

Read more here:

This must be done with every credit reporting organization

If you are moving around a lot and you are young you probably don’t want to deal with the hassle of freezing:

Fraud Alert – last only 90 days – can be done with just one agency – you give them your phone number and they will call you to check on the credit request. If they don’t and they credit report is not for something you did – they are held liable for all costs.

FREE – but you have to remember to renew it every 90 days with one credit company.   Free, but you must renew it every 90 days – I recommend at least a couple of years of this now.

WATCH and REVIEW very carefully your credit card records, bank accounts, etc – even the smallest of charges can indicate that someone has access to your accounts. ALWAYS question anything you don’t recognize. Use one card for internet activity. Another card for gas stations (yes they get stolen frequently), and another card as a backup. Always validate your bank account activity as well.

WATCH LAWSUITS – there are many that are standing up lawsuits against Equifax to force them to support identity theft for free for life, right now the assholes at Equifax are offering 1 year for free, from a company they own. I don’t recommend using this at this time. There are many reports that this site is jammed.

NEWS REPORTS – when the lists that were stolen hit the dark web we should be hearing about this – you should be vigilant. They have your most personal information, things you can’t change. You are ultimately responsible for your finances.

Identity Theft: 
If you have one keep using it. I have MyIDCare from Office of Personnel Management – I am not overly impressed with their ability – the send me notifications when someone checks my credit. They give me a list – nothing fancy – a free Fraud Alert would be better, but I have to renew it every 90 days – see above. I get this for free for another year, then I have to decide if I will keep using them – again, not impressed.
If you don’t have one and feel you need it there are many available for many different costs. LifeLock I hear is one of the best, but wow they cost a lot of $$ – read the reviews here:
For additional insights listen or read through this podcast – SecurityNow ( – I love this site – they always discuss security for everything in your digital life. Worth the investment of time, you may not understand everything they discuss, but anything you learn will help you defend yourself from those that want to steal from you.
There is no question Equifax has screwed us all over. While the political BS and lawsuits work their way out you need to protect yourself.

CA Statewide Wildland Fire Maps – Cal OES

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) GIS team is providing daily maps for wildland fire situational awareness. Additional resources from CalOES:

Today’s map:

CA Statewide Fire map from CallOES
CA Statewide Fire map from CallOES

Data Visualization Pitfalls to Avoid

Data visualization is a challenge for all of us, done correctly can be very powerful, done incorrectly can undermine your communication efforts.

Tamara Munzer with the Department of Computer Science from the University of British Columbia assembled this document I found quite helpful. The information provided is quite dense so plan on spending an hour at least going over her presentation.

If you enjoy tracking this type of information follow these blogs as well:

A sample from Tamara’s paper:

Data Visualization Pitfalls to Avoid

CIA Declassifies its map collection – provided on flickr

Nice write up from Geoawesomeness:

“CIA realized that quite early and launched its Cartography Center back in October 1941. Since the beginning the mission of the unit was to provide a full range of maps, geographic analysis, and research in support of the Agency, the White House, and policy makers.

Over the years The Cartography Center produced thousands of maps. As you might imagine almost all of them were classified. Recently in honor of the unit’s 75th anniversary, the agency has released an amazing collection of declassified maps. These collection of 130 maps and over 200 images of old cartographic tools possibly played an important role in many significant events in the world’s history.”

From the CIA Flicker site:

This photo collection represents official photos archived by the Central Intelligence Agency. Information presented on this Web site is considered public information and may be distributed or copied freely unless identified as being subject to copyright protection. In return, we request only that the Central Intelligence Agency be cited as the source of any information, photos, and images copied from this site and that any photo credits or bylines be similarly credited to the photographer or author.

One of the maps I liked was on vegetable tannins – production and international trade:

CIA Vegetable Trade

Voyager Open Data Network (ODN) – single searchable geospatial catalog of global content – FREE

Voyager has pointed their geospatial search tool at free content on internet to create VoyagerODN (Open Data Network) and are now providing us a single searchable geospatial global catalog. Free, but you must enter your email address to access.

If you have issues finding your data – this may be a great solution, especially for geospatial data.

Other using Voyager include BLM Navigator:

About Voyager:   VoyagerODN (Open Data Network) is our public open data portal offering a single, searchable geospatial catalog of global content. Built upon VoyagerTM, the leading spatially enabled enterprise search solution, VoyagerODN provides an online search community to help individuals and organizations to find, share, use and collaborate on a variety of content. Leveraging the best of breed in open source technologies including Solr/Lucene, VoyagerODN allows users to do keyword-related and wildcard searches, easily and quickly discover data, download it, transform it, share it, and much, much more.

The VoyagerODN Community
VoyagerODN was developed to be an ever – evolving, interactive community search portal. Have feedback, questions or suggestions? Have content you would like to see added? Please visit Contribute to VoyagerODN.

Start searching here

Try out something like this:  Administrative boundaries in USA:

Search for Administrative boundaries USA results


Data Centre for Cosmological Simulations – Cosmowebportal

More on the Cosmowebportal from Excellence Cluster University:

“A group of astrophysicists led by Dr. Klaus Dolag from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich in close collaboration with the LRZ have now initiated “Cosmowebportal”. This unique data centre for cosmological simulations provides access to the results of the world’s most extensive set of cosmological hydrodynamic simulations, Magneticum Pathfinder, also developed by Klaus Dolag’s team and carried out at the LRZ.

The complete simulations are saved at the LRZ in Garching on a data store for large datasets, which is connected to the supercomputer SuperMUC. Using a web interface, interested scientists can, for example, select objects from the raw simulation data, process it, and even create virtual observations mimicing existing or future space telescopes.

“Large astronomical projects such as the space telescopes Euclid or eRosita, which are to be launched in the next few years, will observe large areas of the Universe, as well as provide further insight into the evolution of the first structures of the Universe so that the significance of cosmological hydrodynamic simulations will even increase in future,” says Klaus Dolag. “A data centre that pools and makes these simulations available therefore is an important facility for scientists working in the field.”

Besides Klaus Dolag and Antonio Ragagnin, scientists from the following institutions were involved in the project: C2PAP, the data center of the Excellence Cluster Universe, LRZ, University of Trieste, the INAF Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste and the Max Planck Computing and Data Facility.”

Public access portal link here:

CosmoWebPortal – public access using ICM

CosmoWebPortal – public access using ComptonY
CosmoWebPortal – public access using stars.


Eclipse watchers – join the Eclipse Megamovie – Citizen Science

The University of California at Berkley is leading an effort to coordinate scientists and citizen scientists in gathering images of the sune and its atmosphere, the corona. Volunteers armed with standard photography equipment—a camera, telephoto lens, and tripod—will capture photos of the eclipse as the moon’s shadow passes over their part of the country. Once this huge dataset is collected, it’s Google’s turn. We’ll use our technology to algorithmically align and process the images submitted by citizen scientists to create a continuous view of the eclipse: the Eclipse Megamovie. More on what this effort is:

Eclipse Megamovie 2017 site:

The final movies should be very cool! Add your pics!

Safely watch the eclipse – guidelines here (search “2017 eclipse viewing safety”):

Photographing the eclipse – guidelines here (search “2017 eclipse photographing”):

More Citizen Science sites to contribute to –


3D Mapping with NASA World Wind

This has become a very sophisticated system. Patrick has presented for those of us in California a few times. Google Maps Mania has a nice write up on this at:

NASA’s World Wind is a free, open source platform for creating interactive 3D globes. It can be used as a tool for visualizing global data on top of a fully interactive 3D globe or 2D map.

You can get a good idea of the capabilities of NASA World Wind by looking at some of the applications that have been built using its API. WorldWind Explorer is a basic demo which shows how different base maps can be used and how different overlays and datasets can then be visualized on top of these base maps. NASA World Weather uses World Wind to visualize and display climate and weather data around the world. SpaceBirds is an impressive visualization of all the satellites orbiting the Earth.

To get started with World Wind you will probably want to have a look at the web Developers Guide. You also might like to check out the WebWorldWind GitHub repository and the World Wind Forum to get help from other users of NASA’s interactive 3D globe platform.

Top 10 Sources of Free Remote Sensing Data

From our friends at Geoawesomeness ( they have compiled a nice list of ​what they consider the top 10 sources of free remote sensing data ( including:
◦NASA Earth Observation (NEO),
◦USGS Earth Explorer (also has de-collared 24K GeoTIFFs for the USA),
◦ESA’s Sentinel data (Europe),
◦NASA Earth Data,
◦NOAA Class,
◦NOAA Digital Coast, IPPMUS Terra (world population),
◦LANCE (NASA Near Real Time Atmospheric), and
◦VITO Vision (coarse vegetation).

Alan Turing – life and work

Spent some time reading through the document from Oxford University Press on Alan Turing – he was so far ahead of his time.  A code breaker, but did you know he laid the foundation for modern computer science? Or mechanical analogue computer? Or automatic computing engine? What about the electronic calculator? Maybe the debut of artificial intelligence?? And intelligent machinery? He is named the father of artificial intelligence and his last paper was “Solvable and Unsolvable Problems”…. died at 42…

TED Talks Binging…. again…

How to take a picture of a black hole – Katie  Bouman

3 ways to plan for the (very) long term – Ari Wallach

An intergalactic guide to using a defibrillator – Todd Scott – I want him for my next class!

How radio telescopes show us unseen galaxies – Natasha Hurley Walker

A doctor’s case for medical marijuana – David Casarett

How I learned to read — and trade stocks — in prison – Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll

Science in service to the public good – Siddhartha Roy

What you can do to prevent Alzheimer’s – Lisa Genova

This is what democracy looks like – Anthony D. Romero

A secret weapon against Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases – Nina Fedoroff

How pollution is changing the ocean’s chemistry – Triona McGrath

TED Talks 4/24/2017

Will automation take away all our jobs – David Autor

Are you a giver or taker? – Adam Grant

Meet the inventor of the electronic spreadsheet – Dan Bricklin

To solve old problems, study new species – Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado

How online abuse of women has spiraled out of control – Ashley Judd

Buildings that blend nature and city – Jeanne Gang

Where is cybercrime really coming from? – Caleb Barlow

What we don’t know about Europe’s Muslim kids – Deeyah Khan

A young scientist’s quest for clean water – Deepika Kurup

Help discover ancient ruins – before it’s too late – Sarah Parcak

Why you should love statistics – Alan Smith

How to get better at the things you care about – Eduardo Brinceno

My son was a Columbine shooter. This is my story – Sue Klebold

What time is it on Mars – Nagin Cox

The incredible inventions of intuitive Al – Maurice Conti

4 ways to make a city more walkable – Jeff Speck

Don’t fear superintelligent AI – Grady Booch

What I learned from 2,000 obituaries – Lux Narayan

To raise brave girls, encourage adventure – Caroline Paul

Why women should tell the stories of humanity – Jude Kelly

How I’m fighting bias in algorithms – Joy Buolamwini

A burial practice that nourishes the planet – Caitlin Doughty

A young inventor’s plan to recycle Styrofoam – Ashton Cofer


TED weekend – great talks to share!

Laura Vanderkam – How to gain control of your free time –

Todd Coleman – Temporary tattoo that brings hospital care to the home –

Danny Dorling – Maps that show us who we are (not just where we are) –

Manwar Ali – Inside the mind of a former radical jihadist –

Wanis Kabbaj – What a driverless world could look like –

Jonathan Haidt – Can a divided America heal? –

Steven Johnson – The playful wonderland behind great innovations –

Hector Garcia – We train soldiers for war. Let’s train them to come home, too –

Roger Antonsen – Math is the hidden secret to understating the world –

Sandi Toksvig – A political party for women’s equality –

Juan Enriquez – What will humans look like in 100 years? –

Natalie Panek – Let’s clean up the space junk orbiting Earth –

TED Favorites over the past few weeks….

Business & Computing:




just an odd ball collection of information – numerous and varied; greatly diverse; multifarious