Another Ransomware Cyber Attack

So, another global cyberattack has just hit. After the relative failure of the Wannacry virus back in March/April, this one, named Petya, is a more sophisticated attack. So as not to belabor the story, here's what you need to know:

Researchers say the ransomware virus is a worm that infects networks by moving from computer to computer.

It uses a hacking tool called EternalBlue, which takes advantage of a weakness in Microsoft Windows. Microsoft  released a patch for the flaw in March, but not all companies have used it. EternalBlue was in a batch of hacking tools leaked earlier this year that are believed to have belonged to the U.S. National Security Agency.

A lot of news outlets are telling people who the victims are. That's pretty much irrelevant to you. You're main concern is whether or not YOU will be affected. Here's the short answer:

If you or your business has up-to-date Windows computers, you should be safe from this attack, it appears. However, if there's one out-of-date machine on your company's network, or in your home,  it could infect other connected computers.

Please ensure the following:

* - Search and apply any important updates via Windows Update. While many people don't like to have updates applied automatically, our view is the pros outweigh the cons. We recommend that updates are applied automatically.

* - Do NOT use a computer that is still running Windows/XP. This operating system is obsolete so updates are not generally  being developed.

* - Make sure your antivirus/antispyware program is up-to-date and kept that way.

* - Here are links to download the Windows patch for the vulnerability:

Windows XP:

Windows Vista 32-bit:

Windows Vista 64-bit:

Windows 7 32-bit:

Windows 7 64-bit:

Windows 8 32-bit:

Windows 8 64-bit:

Windows 8.1 32-bit:

Windows 8.1 64-bit:

Windows 10 32-bit:

Windows 10 64-bit:

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about this or any other technically-related issue, please don't hesitate to contact us at 540-242-0347.

Suckered into the doTerra Essential Oils "Thing"

I was suckered into the doTerra essential oils "thing" about 8 months ago by a customer of mine. I don't think she "suckered" me on purpose, I think she was just passing on what she had been taught. I didn't become associated with doTerra to form a business of it, I wanted it for my own use. While at her office working on her computer I was suffering pretty badly with my once-a-year-for-45-days allergies. I was snorting, coughing and sneezing and she brought me a "cocktail" she had made with Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint essential oils (EOs). She sprayed it on a Kleenex and told me to hold it over my nose and breath deeply. Honestly, after about 5 minutes I was noticeably better. It's always better when you don't drip nasal fluid on a customer's keyboard. But I digress.

Back to my point: why do I feel that I was suckered into using doTerra if it works? Well, I recently had a reason to start looking for some more EOs that I didn't have here at home. While looking over the doTerra website ( I, for the first time, noticed the registered trademark symbol next to the phrase Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade that they prominently display on the site and all of their marketing. Hmmmmm.....

So I started digging a little deeper. Yep, right there on their website it says:

*CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® is a registered trademark of dōTERRA Holdings, LLC, and represent internal standards of quality assessment and material control. The CPTG testing protocols require the use of independent laboratories for CPTG standardization and quality testing. The CPTG protocol is not administered by government or industry regulatory agencies and does not imply regulatory approval of dōTERRA products.

What!? You mean that the CPTG moniker is nothing more than a marketing term thought up by the doTerra folks? Yep, again. It seems that there is no such thing as certified essential oils because there aren't any recognized organizations or agencies that certify essential oils. An interesting and very informational article about this topic is the "The ‘Therapeutic Grade’ Essential Oils Disinformation Campaign.” by Cropwatch Organization. Click here to read the entire article.

Well, that started my research and I found out quite a few other things, too. Things like doTerra consultants routinely recommend the internal use of EOs which contradicts the respected advice and scope of practice recommended by Aromatherapy and Herbal associations, organizations and health care providers (including both mainstream and alternative medicines).

There are other points that I found that are unsettling, but I'm sure you know how to use Google so I'll leave the rest of the points up to your research and ultimate decisions. But another point that I'll bring up for your enjoyment is pricing. I started looking at other outlets of pure essential oils. Two that I found are:


hat's when the blood pressure started rising (what EO should I take for that?). Here'a few examples of EOs that I have purchased at doTerra and that are also available at the other two sites listed above. I'll list the EO and the pricing (d for doTerra, m for mountainroseherbs and a for auracasia):

  • Peppermint (.5 oz.)
    • : $27.33
    • m: $7.50
    • a: $7.19
  • avender (.5 oz.)
    • : $28.00
    • m: $10.25
    • a: $9.83
  • emon (.5 oz.)
    • : $13.33
    • m: $5.50
    • a: $4.39

hese three EOs form the "Beginner's Trio" pack from doTerra. You can get the pack for $66.67 from them. While at mountainroseherbs and auracasia those three EOs together would cost you $23.25 and $21.41 respectively. 

Let's look at a couple more examples:

  • Myrrh (.5 oz.)
    • d: $69.33
    • m: $23.50
    • a: $18.00
  • Frankincence (.5 oz.)
    • d: $93.00
    • m: $20.25
    • a: $22.71

I think you're probably starting to see a trend here. The gouging, uh, I mean pricing differences between doTerra and the other two sites is what prompted this post. As a small business owner I get the whole "have to make a profit to stay in business" thing. But taking advantage of your customers and, quite frankly, ripping them off is inexcusable. 

If doTerra works for you, as it DID for me, I'm happy for you. I'm going to, hopefully, get the same results for much less money elsewhere. Remember: Google search is your friend. Except for when it saves your search history, location data, site data, provides targeted advertising, .....

Steve oh, Steve. Why did you have to leave so soon?

Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a huge Apple fan. I'm not an Apple fan just to follow the other Apple fans. I like their stuff because it works very, very well. Well, MOST of their stuff. I've been an iPhone owner since the first one in 2007. And I've been a very happy iPhone owner for the vast majority of that time. Unfortunately, I'm seeing a decline in the quality of some of the "stuff" that Apple is putting out.

On October 5, 2011, Steve Jobs succumbed to pancreatic cancer. Whether or not you're an Apple fan you can't deny the fact that Steve Jobs knew how to put out a great product. There are those that will argue that all he did was put out other people's products. That's not my point. Steve knew how to market. And he absolutely knew how to innovate, or take an innovation and have it make a huge impact on the technology/consumer market. I believe that on October 6, 2011, Apple started its slide. 

As of this writing I have an iPhone 4s. I decided to forgo the iPhone 5 and wait until the next device. I was very happy with my 4s and really didn't have a big driving mechanism to upgrade. Then came iOS 6.1.x. Since that software upgrade I'm seeing more and more problems with my iPhone. And, of course, nothing from Apple. Just google "can't find wireless network ios 6.1.3". Now just sit back, relax, grab a drink and read as much as you like. But this is just the latest in a bunch of issues that have raised their ugly heads since iOS 6.1 came out. 

Under Steve's watch, I really don't think that buggy software would have been released. If it was, I think a fix would be close behind. Don't get me wrong, Jobs wasn't perfect. And, of course, no company is perfect. And maybe, too, I was under that "reality distortion field" that Jobs was so great at putting us under. But I'm not under that spell any more. I'm very seriously thinking, for the first time, about moving away from my precious iPhone.

Bitcasa out of Beta. The day I stopped using Evernote.

I've been an Evernote user for quite some time. And I love the service. I've put a LOT of information in my Evernote account. Customer notes and information, recipes that look good (I can't cook. Don't know why I do that), personal information, etc. One thing has bothered me, though; it's very hard to actually get your information out of Evernote. Oh, sure, you can export an XML of your "stuff". But, really?

I've long hated the idea of locking myself into a specific vendor's proprietary environment. That's why I don't use Microsoft Office. Office formats aren't industry standard, just like Internet Exploder (not a typo, I meant that). So I would prefer, when possible, to use an industry standard product, or at least be able to get my "stuff" out when I want to. There has always been that issue in the back of my mind when using Evernote.

Enter Bitcasa ( From the Bitcasa site:

  • "Bitcasa allows you to store, access, and share everything you’ve ever owned – every picture, every movie, every document, every song – without limits and without the worry of running out of space. With the Bitcasa Infinite Drive, you are able to access all your files, photos, playlists, videos and docs anytime, anywhere."

I've been using Bitcasa in Beta since they started, better part of a year now. There was some rough spots during that time. But they were quick to fix any issues. They have now, as of February 6, 2013, come out of Beta. They have a Mac and Windows app, an Android and iPhone app and the website where you can get to all of your data all of the time. Sure, if you don't have Internet access and haven't "Favorited" any of your stuff, then you can't get to it. But, at least for me, Internet access is ubiquitous enough so that's not a problem, so far. And their pricing is fair, as far as I'm concerned. Up to 10GB of storage is free. After that, unlimited storage, and I mean truly unlimited storage, is $10 per month. 

I could go on and on about their service and what they can do for you. Are they for everyone? Of course not. There will be those that don't like it, those that complain about the service, etc. But for me, being able to store ANYTHING and EVERYTHING in Bitcasa, and, more importantly, being able to get it out in it's original format any time I want to, is huge. 

Security? Well, it's client-side encrypted. Which simply means that even their employees can't get to your data. So even if their site gets hacked, your data is safe. I'm in no way affiliated with Bitcasa, other than giving them my money so I can benefit from their service. So there's no payoff for writing a favorable post about them. I just like their service and think you will, too. 

Gun Control? Take more training.

It almost seems wrong to wish someone a "Merry Christmas" so soon after the tragic events in Connecticut. It's hard to even comprehend the pain and suffering that those family members are feeling. You're just not supposed to bury your kids. All it took was one wacko to unilaterally decide that those kids and adults weren't supposed to live anymore. He took his own life, too. But that was his own decision. Fine. 

Now, you see so many other people using this tragedy to help push forth their own agenda and beliefs. They start coming out of the woodwork to start chanting about how we need more gun control, or worse, no more guns at all. What's great about America is that you can have your own opinions and beliefs. Even if they are wrong.

There is no good argument that if we outlaw guns then the senseless killings like happened in Connecticut would cease. I've seen people from other countries even chime in. One from the UK said that gun control is so engrained over there that even some police don't carry firearms. Ummm, is it just me or is that plain ignorant? Closer to home, look at our "no-gun zones". Chicago, New York. More violent crime there because the criminals don't have to worry that a law-abiding citizen will be able to meet deadly force with deadly force. Why? Because headless authorities have taken the guns out of their hands.

There are those that say guns are dangerous. The simply answer is "no". They are only dangerous in the hands of an untrained or dangerous person. Heck, even in our little town we had a woman try to run over another woman with an automobile. But I didn't hear anyone talk about how automobiles are dangerous and we should have some kind of "car control".  It's also interesting that when people can't articulate their argument about guns, they resort to name calling. Obviously, they aren't in any position of authority, thank God.

You don't believe in the Second Amendment? You're certainly entitled to your opinion and belief. But it's irrational thinking to think that taking the guns out of law abiding citizens hands, like myself, will somehow curb violent crimes. Being able to not only protect yourself and your loved ones, but also your fellow man, is one of the most patriotic things you can do as a human being.

You want gun control, take more training. That way, God forbid, you are faced with the same wacko that those adults faced in Connecticut, you'll be better able to hold steady and stop any further carnage. 

Become an AMSOIL Dealer.

AMSOIL Dealership Opportunity

Whether you’re interested in simply purchasing AMSOIL products at wholesale prices or starting your own independent business, AMSOIL has an opportunity for you.

Whatever circumstances that attracted you to this opportunity, one thing is certain, there are many other people just like you. No matter what you do for a living – whether you are a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, a secretary, housewife or construction worker – do you find yourself thinking, “there must be a better way, a less complicated way, a smoother road” – the opportunity to run your own business can be the answer for you.

It wasn’t so long ago that owning a business was simply out of the question for most of us. And the reason was simple…it was the money. Let’s face it, starting a traditional business meant creating that business. It meant finding a location, signing a lease, purchasing equipment and inventory…and there’s more to it than that, much more. It meant having perfect credit and having tens of thousands of dollars at your disposal. But AMSOIL has changed everything!

You might be wondering…

  • How does it all work?
  • What exactly would I be doing?
  • Can I really start part-time?
  • How much extra income can I really earn?

If so, these are great questions…and you certainly deserve to get the answers. We are dedicated to helping you become a successful business owner. We have been an AMSOIL Dealer for since 2007 with personal use experience of about 3 years before that. We personally used the product quite a while in our main vehicles before deciding that it was a great addition to our business.

The First Step…

Deciding to make a change is the first step in making your dreams come true. And you’re already in the process of taking your first step right now because you are exploring your options. But before you take off running, you need to know where you’re headed. You need a strategy, a goal, and a step-by-plan to get there.

With all of the advances in communications and technology, working a Home Based Business from home has “come of age”. Working from home is now a viable option and a legitimate means to securing your future and enjoying a quality of life that most people only imagine.

The Mall of America is said to be the largest shopping mall in the world. It has thousands of stores and tens of thousands of customers flooding it’s corridors every single day. But with access of selling AMSOIL products on the Internet is a million times bigger. And our customers are shopping 24 hours a day – 365 days a year! Your customers come to your website, the orders are shipped from an AMSOIL Distribution Center, and the profits are deposited directly into your bank account…electronically…even while you sleep!

So what’s your next step? Contact us and let us help you in deciding whether or not this “self-employed thing” is for you. There’s no pressure, no deceit, just honest answers to your questions.


The AMSOIL Dealer Program

The outstanding products offered by AMSOIL comprise a rock-solid base upon which to build your business. An AMSOIL Dealership is the ideal start-up opportunity for those who want to own their own businesses. AMSOIL provides training materials, administrative assistance, technical support and everything needed to build successful Dealerships.

  • Minimal start-up fees
  • No inventory requirements
  • No administrative headaches
  • No capital investment in office or warehouse space
  • No employee expenses or requirements
  • You choose your own level of time investment

AMSOIL Dealer Application Form

If you prefer to mail your application instead of using the website, click on the AMSOIL Dealer Application Form link above to download an application to become an AMSOIL Dealer. After completing the application, it must be mailed in.

Mail one copy each  to AMSOIL, Inc. (AMSOIL Building, Superior, WI 54880) and A & S Technology Solutions (P.O. Box, 1641, Front Royal, VA 22630).

You will need Adobe Acobat on your computer to be able to view & download the PDF file application. If you have trouble for any reason, please contact us and we will mail an application to you.

However, if you prefer to simply fill out the Dealer Application online, please click here:

Internet Request Form to Become An AMSOIL Dealer

Being an AMSOIL Dealer gives you the Opportunity to Sell these great Name Brand Products and MORE!!!!

  • NGK Spark Plugs
  • Mothers Appearance Products
  • WIX Filters
  • Trico Wiper Blades
  • AGGRAND Fertilizer Products
  • Aqua Brite Water Filters
  • BriteSide Products
  • Donaldson Filters

Safer Social Networking.

The following is from the SANS Institute:

The number of Facebook users has surpassed 400,000,000, dwarfing its sibling MySpace, and making it No. 1 of the Top Ten social networking sites worldwide with a 55% market share. While the world has fallen in love with Facebook, its popularity is not without problematic consequences. For example, psychotherapists and Facebook users alike talk openly about being addicted to Facebook, and a recent study suggests that 21% of women ages 18-34 get up to check Facebook in the middle of the night.

Articles about Facebook tips and tricks are proliferating, as are lawsuits alleging, among other things, that Facebook’s operators misappropriate its users’ personal information for commercial purposes and change users’ security and privacy settings arbitrarily. German authorities are looking into Facebook’s practice of saving information about people who do not even use the site. Facebook is illegal in China, has been outlawed for blasphemy in Pakistan, taken Africa by storm along with Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, and Chile, and recently opened an office in Moscow.

Any online organization with nearly half a billion members worldwide is bound to be the subject of curiosity, controversy and mythology, as well as a too-good-to-pass-up target for hackers, crackers, spammers and scammers

Think about how you want to use social networking. Facebook is an all-purpose, come-as-you-are social medium. The community is gigantic, and anybody with an email address can join. It’s best to limit your use of Facebook to sharing news, photos, music, videos, etc. casually with friends and family. For business, consider using a service like LinkedIn that caters specifically to professionals.

Follow the Golden Rule. Assume that the personal information and photos you display are available to everyone and anyone, not just to your friends.

Do not display your full birth date. Listing a full birth date – month, day and year – makes you an easy target for identity thieves who can use it to obtain more of your personal information and potentially gain access to bank and credit card accounts. Choose to show only the month and day, or even better, no birthday at all.

To protect children from online predators, do not post a child’s name in a photo tag or caption. If someone else does, delete it if you can, or ask the member who owns the photo to remove the name.

Do not mention being away from home. Doing so is like putting a ”Nobody’s Home” sign on your front door. Be vague about the dates of your travel plans and vacations.

Restrict searches for your information. Find out what your options are for restricting public searches. At a minimum, you should be able to prevent your information from being searched for by anyone other than your designated online friends.

Do not permit youngsters to use social networks unsupervised. Most sites limit membership to ages 13 and older, but children younger than that find ways to use them anyway. If there’s a young child or teenager in your household using Facebook, an adult in your household should become one of their online friends and use their email as the contact for the account in order to monitor their activities.

Think about whom you are allowing to become your online friend. Once you have accepted someone as your online friend, they will be able to access a lot of information about you, including photographs and other material you have marked as viewable by your friends. Find out if and how you can remove a friend in case you change your mind about someone or discover they aren’t who they claim to be.

Make sure you have an up-to-date web browser and comprehensive security software on your computer. This includes anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing, and a software firewall.

Adjust your privacy settings to help protect your identity. Facebook and some other social networking sites provide options to protect you online, but it’s up to you to understand what they do and how to use them, and to be aware that they change over time.

Set and review your privacy settings regularly. Familiarize yourself with the site’s current privacy policies. For example, with the latest changes in May 2010, Facebook forces some of your information (e.g., your name, profile picture, gender and the networks to which you belong) to be publicly accessible.

Make only a cut-down version of your profile visible to everyone. Reveal the rest of the information in your profile only to people you choose to have as online friends.

Disable options, and then add them in one by one. If you are using a social network just to keep in touch with people, consider turning off the bells and whistles you don’t need or use. Disable unfamiliar options until you understand what they do and have decided that you do need and want them.

Join groups and networks cautiously. Assume that all members of a group will be able to see all of your information unless and until you restrict access to it deliberately.

Understand what happens when you quit the site. It’s usually easy to deactivate your account, but some sites, like Facebook, will retain all your information including pictures, friends, etc. even if you do. Find out how you can delete all of your information. You may have to request that the operators of the site delete it for you. When quitting Facebook, you must submit a deletion request, and that, too, comes with some gotcha’s.

  • There will be a delay of unspecified length between submitting your delete request and the actual deletion.
  • If you login to Facebook after submitting your request, your deletion request will be cancelled automatically.
  • There’s no easy way to confirm that your deletion request has been completed.
  • Even after deletion, copies of your photos may remain on Facebook servers for technical reasons.

Starbucks Says "NO" to Brady Campaign No-Gun Policy.

The following was posted on the Buckeye Firearms Association’s blog on 2/9/10:

The anti-gun Brady Campaign certainly put a shot of espresso into Starbucks sales this week when they called for the retailer to place a ban on handguns in their stores. Starbucks shot back with a double dolce of latte on upholding their pro-gun stance for the gun rights of law-abiding citizens.

On Feb. 4, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence sent out an email to their supporters asking them to sign a petition urging Starbucks to “adopt a gun-free policy.” This came about after Starbucks allowed the Bay Area Open Carry group to use one of their locations for their meetings. This group meets on a regular basis, and their mission is to make it legal to carry loaded guns in California. They gather often, with their guns openly carried – unloaded – at their sides.

The hysteria ensues after the Bay Area head of the Brady Campaign, Griffin Dix, stated, “I don’t want someone who carries a gun into a store to be making life-and-death decisions. I don’t think it’s safe for them to be there.”

Mr. Dix, you are absolutely right! Neither do I want someone who carries a gun into a store making a life-and-death decision either – for me! I don’t want Johnny Crackhead, who’s looking for easy money for his next fix, to make a life-and-death decision for me, by taking my life, because getting his next thirty minute buzz is more important to him than my life.

According to Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign, via email, “the practice of packing heat in places like Starbucks is intimidating and could be potentially dangerous to our families… It’s everyone’s right to sit in a restaurant or coffee shop with their families without intimidation or fear of guns, either concealed or openly carried.”

Pssst! – I hate to break it to you, Mr. Helmke, but if you’re in the same restaurant or coffee shop as I, I AM carrying a gun, but it’s concealed and you have no clue. Now tell me, Mr. Helmke, just how intimidated were you about something you had no clue about? How much danger did I put you in? And they call those of us who conceal-carry paranoid!

Coffee shops are notorious for being easy marks for the criminal element. Starbucks in German Village, a suburb of Columbus, was held up by the same armed serial robber twice in two days last summer. This bandit, armed with a pistol grip shotgun, threatened employees and patrons with his gun. This scene could have turned very ugly, very fast, if the robber had become agitated.

Yet, the Brady Campaign would rather there be dead employees and patrons, than allow law-abiding citizens the RIGHT to defend themselves.

Might I be so bold as to remind the Brady Campaign of the July 6, 1997 murders of three employees at the Georgetown, District of Columbia Starbucks! Perhaps had these three young employees been lucky enough to have had an armed citizen in their store that fateful day, they would be alive today and prospering.

According to Contra Costa Times reporter Janis Mara, Starbucks customer relations department shot holes in the Brady Campaign’s request, stating, “Starbucks does not have a corporate policy regarding customers and weapons; we defer to federal, state and local laws and regulations regarding this issue.”

Bravo for Starbucks for having the strength and backbone to slap back at the anti- gunners with a freshly brewed pot of upholding our Constitutional Rights!!!

The Brady Campaign seems to be pretty desperate these days, since they haven’t won any national battles for several years. Besides picking on the largest coffee shops in the world, they gave President Obama an “F” last month for “failed leadership” in squandering the opportunities to tighten gun control. Much to their dismay, Obama actually signed a good gun law into effect, when national park carry was inserted into his budget bill last year. Jim Irvine, chairman of Buckeye Firearms, recently said this about the Brady Campaign: “To illustrate just how nutty these people are, they give the most anti-gun President in our nation’s history an “F” because he’s not anti-gun enough.”

Could we be seeing the desperation of the Brady Campaign? Are they fighting to survive? Have they lost the steam in their coffee? My advice to them is…just give up! The law-abiding citizens have won. The SCOTUS win of the Heller case has beaten you down. And leave us law abiding citizens AND Starbucks alone. Together, we will uphold and cherish the Second Amendment!

I don’t generally patronize Starbucks, because I’ve already had my 2-3 cups of java before leaving the house. But on my next venture into town, I’m going to make a point of stopping by Starbucks and purchasing a nice big “Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino® blended coffee with Chocolate Whipped Cream” to show my appreciation to Starbucks for standing up for our Second Amendment rights. And I encourage all gun owners to do the same. And don’t forget to thank the store manager while you’re there!

I encourage all readers to drop a line to Starbucks and thank them for their support!

H1N1: a Hoax for the Ages?

Fox News recently interviewed Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, a leading European health authority as saying the swine flu was a result of Big Pharma’s “campaign of panic” that put pressure on the little old World Health Organization to declare a pandemic (outbreak of a disease over a large geographical area). Wodarg went on to call swine flu one of the “greatest medicine scandals of the century.”

To be fair, the century is only a decade old but does that discount the fact that the media got bored with the swine flu when thousands of deaths never materialized. Seemed like any other flu season except for the hysteria. And now comes news that countries around the world are dumping millions of doses of vaccine because no one wants the stuff injected into them.

Conspiracy theorists opt to believe it’s yet another example of the shadow government in action. Others see more evidence of magnificent incompetence. Regardless, doesn’t it make sense to take responsibility for the health and medical well being of you and your family into your own hands? Do you really want to rely on the government sticking a steel tube into your arm to keep diseases at bay?

All the more reason to eat a healthy diet and reduce the chances you’ll get sick in the first place.

Thanks to the Holistic Survival site for this information.

Things a Burglar Won't Tell You...

1.  Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.

2. Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.

3. Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste … and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.

4. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it.

5. If it snows while you’re out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway.

6. If decorative glas s is part of your front entrance, don’t let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it’s set. That makes it too easy.

7. A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom-and your jewelry. It’s not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.

8. It’s raining, you’re fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door-understandable. But understand this: I don’t take a day off because of bad weather..

9. I always knock first. If you answer, I’ll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters. (Don’t take me up on it.)

10. Do you really think I won’t look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.

11. Helpful hint: I almost never go into kids’ rooms.

12. You’re right: I won’t have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it’s not bolted down, I’ll take it with me.

13. A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you’re reluctant to leave your TV on while you’re out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television. (Find it at

14. Sometimes, I carry a clipboard. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook.

15. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors.

16.. I’ll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he’ll stop what he’s doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn’t hear it again, he’ll just go back to what he was doing. It’s human nature.

17. I’m not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it?

18. I love looking in your windows. I’m looking for signs that you’re home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I’d like. I’ll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets.

19. Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It’s easier than you think to look up your address.

20. To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air. To me, it’s an invitation.

21. If you don’t answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in.