Internet Safety Tips for Everyone

Safety in information Highway – the Internet is critical for safe passage while you are there. The information you provide willingly or otherwise can and may be used against you. The following is part of the series on ‘Internet Safety Tips for Everyone’ articles in TargetWoman.

Privacy Issues: GDPR – the General Data Protection Regulation is a global data protection law passed by the European Union that shifts the ownership of customer data from the entities that use it to the individual customer.
What this means is any data that can be used to identify an individual – be it genetic, psychological, cultural, religious or socio – economic – they all now come under the GDPR umbrella. Every site will now need to set clearly in their privacy page – how the information is collected and how the data will be used – to how long this set of data will be stored. As per this regulation, the customer has the right to withdraw the consent whereupon within a reasonable time frame, the company has to remove all traces of the data collected from the particular customer from their records.

Internet Safety Tips for Everyone

Google as the single largest online entity tracks quite a bit of information about the sites you visited through their searches, places you visited and Videos you have seen over a long time frame. Google’s location History can pinpoint where you have been through your Android Mobile phone’s GPS receiver and cell tower triangulation. This is not all. Your Mobile Phone may run background location services can use wifi positioning in its quest to accurately locate your position.

Remember the cardinal rule in computers – unless you absolutely need it, don’t run it. This rule applies to all software, services and apps. Unless you absolutely need the location services, turn it off. If you need the location services occasionally, you can decide which app needs that. Many apps require GPS receiver to provide the location data or source it from Cell towers wifi Access Points. For example, your IPhone’s built in Compass will not work without the location services. In IPhones, go to Settings – > Privacy -> Location Services and scroll through the list of apps which require the location services. Find IPhone, Google Maps, Maps, Uber and Weather are some of the apps which require your location to work. You can allow them by selecting the option :’while using’.

In Android Phones – the drill is similar. Go to Settings – the gearwheel icon – > Scroll down to the Location Settings -> Location History On and toggle the switch off. Whilst at it you can purge all your history by selecting ‘Delete all Location History’ .

Remember many services in apps may require your location services to work properly. You can’t call Uber cab unless the app knows where you are. But at the same time, there is no need for the app to constantly ping your location to their servers. Most apps will happily work with location services made available when they are open. There may be exceptions like Zus Smart Car Locator which requires that the location services are enabled all the time for it. If you turn off the location services for most apps, your Phone battery will retain its charge for longer duration. GPS receivers are power hogs.

Privacy Settings:

We start with Google – probably the most dominant Online player in the World. Go to Google’s Privacy Page here:

Google Privacy Settings
You will find lots of options with slide buttons to enable/disable. At the moment they show the following:

Under Activity Controls:
Privacy Options

Web & App Activity – Slide Button : Saves your activity on Google sites and apps to give you faster searches, better recommendations, and more personalized experiences in Maps, Search, and other Google services.

Location History – Slide Button: Saves where you go with your devices to give you personalized maps, recommendations based on places you’ve visited, and more.

Device Information – Slide Button:
Stores info about your contacts, calendars, apps, and other device data to improve your experience across Google services.

Voice & Audio Activity – Slide Button: Records your voice and audio on Google services to improve speech recognition, like when you say “Ok Google” to do a voice search.

YouTube Search History – Slide Button: Saves your searches on YouTube to make your future searches faster and improve your recommendations.

YouTube Watch History – Slide Button:
Makes it easier to find YouTube videos you’ve watched and improve your recommendations in YouTube and other Google services.

Check all entries and delete entries you don’t want there. If you ask me, purge all of them and block them in the first place.

If you are one of those with high risk online behavior, your personal data can easily be compromised. What is worse, your computer can end up running backdoor processes that can ‘call home’ – sending sensitive information to any hacker. As part of my job of securing computers, I had to format the drives and install Operating System (OS) afresh in compromised computers. We managed to save time and effort by creating System images after installing all the software required for the staff and saving it elsewhere. Every month, we formatted the hard disk and restored the system from the saved system image.

If you have a high risk online behavior, you should try Sandboxie – a software that runs browsers like Firefox Portable version within its Sandboxed environment – thus protecting you from malicious software, some viruses, ramsomware and zero day threats. Purge the version of portable browsers often as a precaution.

Never – Ever use public Wifi to log on to sensitive sites – your bank accounts, official emails and your social Networking sites. The man-in-the-middle attack is lesser with most sites opting for the HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure from the common HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol). The communication between your browser and the target Server is encrypted using TLS (Transport Layer Security) or the earlier SSL ( Secure Sockets Layer). Check the Green Lock icon in the address bar of your browser. If you want to be doubly sure that your site is what it really claims – click on the Green lock and the digital certificate authority will have identified the domain name of the site. Banks and sites collecting financial information will have extended SSL certificates – identifying the site in the address bar itself next to the Green Lock. Always check for the Green Lock before you type any sensitive information.

Remember the adage of the Latin Poet Phaedrus – ‘Things are not always what they seem‘ in all things online. Do Not click on links from mails and messages from any one. Type the site address directly on the browser. It is just too easy to cook up a link purportedly targeted at a genuine site but in reality pointing to a nefarious site.

 

 

Skin Wrinkles and Bone Health

The vertical line on the forehead is getting more pronounced and visible. Looking into the mirror has become anxiety-inducing. Your eyes constantly look for fresh skin wrinkles.

Skin facial wrinkles through ages

Skin Wrinkles and Bone Health

Looking back, I muse over the ‘pregnancy glow’ and perfect facial skin. Increase in blood flow, the growing fetus, increase in oil secretion, healthy hormone production of estrogen and progesterone gave the skin a dewy healthy glow. The obvious rosy-mom-to- be glow didn’t deter even strangers from showering compliments. Unlike some who shy away or feel awkward with special attention, I enjoyed the unsolicited generous compliments. Each day felt brighter and added a dash of happiness. After all it makes you feel good and look good.

Women in their 40s and 50s who have extensive skin wrinkling are much
more likely than their peers to have a low bone mass

Post-delivery where did that healthy luminous glow go? Why hasn’t the skin retained the glow, shine and beauty? Yes, the extra demands of motherhood take a toll on the health of facial skin. Postpartum acne, overwhelming maternal feelings, thanks to fluctuation in hormones plus sleep deprivation, stress and zero time for skin care obviously show up. Dark splotches on the forehead, upper lip and cheeks are the inescapable additions.

So, why does facial skin wrinkle with age? Let’s nail it. Things begin to change around mid-20s. Collagen and elastin regarded as the ‘darlings of the cosmeceutical world’, ‘the skin’s youth protein’ begin to get lazy and slow down production around this time.

A plus in age marks a minus 1% of collagen every year. Elastin production which supplies skin elasticity and rebound also slows down. Also, GAGs or glycosaminoglycans production which keep the skin hydrated diminishes. The primary factor is collagen loss and the underlying structure, the bones.

I understand that the degeneration of elements of the skin that keep it plump and supple lead to creasing of the facial skin. I am realistic and willing to embrace the beauty of wrinkles. Unless I learn to like, accept and respect the process of evolving with aging I cannot appreciate the more precious aspects of life or feel equipped to face the challenges of life. The anxiety is about the supposed relation between skin wrinkles and bone health.

Facial skin wrinkles and bone health

It is almost proven that facial skin wrinkles are an accurate predictor of bone density in women. Let me share few key research details on the subject – facial skin wrinkles and bone health linked.

University of Rochester Medical Center

  • Facial bones of patients who were 20 to 40 years old and 65 and more were scanned.

  • Several areas of facial bone structure change overtime.

  • Wrinkles and sagging skin may be a result of aging facial bones and even osteoporosis.

Yale School of Medicine

  • Findings in early menopausal women only.

  • Wrinkles on the face were indicators of bone health

  • At every skeletal site that was examined, wrinkling was translated to lower bone density.

Yale School of Medicine

  • Facial wrinkles of 114 postmenopausal women assessed

  • Bone mineral density at the lower spine, hips and full body examined.

  • Significant link between higher levels of skin wrinkling and lower levels of bone density established.

Implication of the link

It is definitely better to be safe than sorry when dealing with one’s health. To me, at this point this research finding is an everyday reminder.

This implies that facial wrinkles are more than skin deep. It signals an underlying health condition or a disease. But what can be the unifying element?

Dr. Pal, a reproductive endocrinologist at Yale University who led the research on the subject explains that both share common building blocks – a group of proteins known as collagens. Going by Dr. Pal’s research findings it is clear that as we celebrate every birthday there is a change in collagen.

Dr. Pal’s explanation kindled my curiosity to know more about collagen and its biological role in the human body.

  • Collagen is referred to as the ‘youth protein’.

  • Collagen is the most abundant, naturally produced protein in the human body.

  • Protein makes up around 20% of the body’s mass, and collagen makes up around 30% of the protein in the human body.

  • Collagen holds the whole body together.

  • Collagen is found in the connective tissues of the body.

  • Collagen is found in the bones, muscles, skin and tendons

  • More than 16 kinds of collagens are found in the tissues of the body.

  • Collagen has two functions:

  • One – together with elastin and glycoproteins, it is responsible for the cohesion of tissues and organs. Provides supportive structure for various body tissues such as muscles, bones and ligaments and prevents them from falling apart.

  • Secondly collagen gives the tissues and organs hydration, resistance, elasticity and flexibility properties.

This is the overall biological role of collagen. To understand the link between facial skin wrinkles and bone health, I decided to delve deeper to know more specifically about the role of collagen in skin and bones.

Collagen in skin: The middle layer of the skin is called dermis. On this, collagen helps form a fibrous network, upon which new cells can grow. Collagen provides support to the skin. Collagen gives the skin its vitality and structure and plays a role in the replacement of dead skin cells. Together with another protein, Elastin, collagen allows for skin flexibility.

There are close to 16 types of collagen. Each type of collagen has different features. For example, a child’s skin with collagen III contributes to fast growing tissues. This makes the skin soft. As the child grows, the skin content of type III declines and type I collagen increases up to the age 35.

Collagen in bone: Imagine a human body sans skeleton! And only a mass of soft flesh! We know that it is the skeleton that provides the framework to the human body. Other functions of the skeleton include providing shape, support, protecting the inner organs and making movement possible. To carry on its work, the skeleton is made up of close to 200 bones. And, collagen makes up 30% of the bones.

Talking about bones how can I overlook the importance of calcium? The mineral is stored in our bones. Calcium is necessary for building bones and keeping them healthy. The mineral helps muscles, nerves, and cells work normally.

Perhaps calcium disempowered collagen. As much as calcium, collagen too is important for bones. In fact, there is a strong contention that collagen is more important than calcium. Why? Collagen being the structural protein provides the framework upon which mineralization occurs. Without enough collagen, calcium will not be bound within the bone. Furthermore, collagen gives bones pliability (flexibility). The combination of collagen and calcium makes bone strong and flexible.

Collagen through the timeline

In life nothing ceases till the end. The production of collagen isn’t an exception. Research results indicate that only the amount of collagen produced reduces with age. The extent of decline is 1% to 1.5% every year. The decline begins around 25 years of age!

Now, I feel the need to revisit Dr. Pal’s observation that the acceleration is evident in women nearing menopause. I decided to take photos of 20s and compare with 40s and 50s. Proof enough! Sagging of skin literally takes hold in 40s and 50s and beyond, the period when hormonal aging is on. Lower levels of estrogen ‘the feel good hormone’ production by the ovaries cast its inevitable impact. Dip in estrogen means less collagen and elastin production. It is established that as much as 30% of skin collagen is lost in the first five years after menopause.

The effect of the decline causes wrinkles or fine lines, stretch marks, dryness of skin, loss of tonicity and lack of flexibility of the skin. By age thirty, the eye contours start to droop and the appearance of fine lines and small bags is clearly visible.

Now let me move over to bone health in women nearing menopause. The depleting estrogen levels lead to significant reduction of collagen in bones. The reduction weakens the bones. Soon, bones become porous, weak and can fracture more easily. This explains why menopausal women are at high risk for osteoporosis.

Thus, a look into the mirror and staring at facial skin wrinkles would remind me that the body is producing less collagen which in turn suggests that the bone health is decreasing as well.

My question now is – Besides the biological change that is part of aging, is there any extrinsic factor that affect collagen levels? Not just one; there are many.

  • A diet high in process foods and sweets

  • Consuming hydrogenated oils

  • Nutritional deficiency

  • Drinking alcohol

  • High levels of sunlight exposure

  • Dehydration

  • Health related trauma

  • Depression.

Finally, the depletion of the nucleus of the link, ‘Collagen’ is established. The body is not producing as much as it used to. The link has only convinced me that collagen deserves a bigger role in my life.

What can I do?

Being aware that there is no absolute method to reverse aging, I choose to look at things I can do to age well and feel well. Take care the natural way. !

Eat right: Food is a good way to naturally boost collagen. I can eat a nutritious diet. When I eat a nutritious diet I feel good. When I feel good, my spirit is high. Feeling happy makes you feel good and look good.

Beans, cabbage, garlic and onion are collagen friendly. These are sulfur-rich which contribute to forming collagen. Broccoli, spinach, goji berries and kiwi fruits are skin-friendly. Planning a meal including these is a definite way to eating right. Here are few more that I need to include in meal preparation.

  • Dark leafy greens (spinach, Kale and Swiss chard) that is rich in Vitamin C and A helps in collagen production.

  • Eggs rich in amino-acids and mango rich in Vitamin C boost collagen production.

  • Avocado oil

  • Carrots are rich in Vitamin A. Damaged collagen can be repaired and restored with sufficient Vitamin A.

  • White tea: Anti-aging properties, antibacterial properties, and rich in antioxidants, white tea is believed to prevent enzyme activity that breaks down collagen. The breaking down contributes to lines and wrinkles.

  • Include foods with plant estrogens (phytoestrogens) that can help replace the effects of lost estrogen. Hummus, nuts, soy and pinto beans are must-haves.

Water and more water: Let me keep my body hydrated by drinking plenty of water. The toxins when flushed out keep the body in good form. It is the easiest way to boost collagen.

No lame excuse to skip exercises: Bones lasts longer when put to work. It could be an early morning walk or jogging with a group of friends or hitting the gym, no more lame excuses for not exercising.

I don’t smoke : Smoking kills collagen. The effect of sugar too is the same. Sugar isn’t good for the skin. It makes the skin age faster. I should control, limit and gradually find a substitute for sugar. If not, the result is dull, dry and wrinkled skin.

Sun safe: Outer protection in the form of applying a good sun protection lotion and including tomatoes, peppers and beets that contain the antioxidant lycopene (acts as a natural Sunblock) is a two-way safe approach to feeling sun safe and protected.

Windows 10 Edge Browser

Windows 10 now has the new Edge Browser, named after the EdgeHTML layout Engine which appears to outperform all other current browsers – albeit with its own limitations. Microsoft says that the new browser is developed from scratch and complies with the web standards. Before the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Edge has many ‘new’ features:

1. Make Web Notes : You can highlight, add comments, create box in the color of the available choice and save the notes. Whilst at it, you may also share your Web Notes in – OneNote, Mail or Messaging.

 

2. Reading View: You can check out only the content with out the trappings of Ads, Images and other normal paraphernalia of a typical website – a feature borrowed from Apple Safari. In this mode, you get to see a bare bones text only version without any clutter – probably a useful feature for a lengthy article.

 

3. Using the digital Assistant Cortana: Now the Edge Browser is hardwired with Microsoft’s personal digital assistant which can tell you something about the highlighted text. Cortana can make connections with available text resources in your connected devices and with information supplanted from its Bing Search Engine can help you plan your itinerary if you are traveling, or help you source the ingredient for the recipe you are searching.

Edge Browser Options

Edge comes with other surprises as well – it can read PDF without any plugin. I wanted to check out the resource usage of the browsers running in my Windows 10 Pro Computer. As expected Edge has the lowest usage of resources : from memory footprint to CPU usage.

 

Resource usage for Edge, IE 11 and Firefox

Edge used only 26.4 MB when compared with its sibling Internet Explorer 11 which took 49.4 MB, this is probably the lowest memory footprint. On the other hand, the regular FireFox 41.0.1 took upwards of 680 MB. It doesn’t stop there – the stability of the browser when the open window has a page which keeps loading additional components is an important factor. Firefox appears to be the most prone to crashing in this list of browsers. Internet Explorer 11, we have noticed from the Windows 7 days, has been stable in the face of many problematic pages. Edge carries this trend forward and remained robust when I loaded pages which caused issues with Firefox.

Normal legacy IE 11 still does duty in Windows 10. You can start Internet Explorer 11 many ways. Type into ‘Search the web and Windows’ the word – Internet and you will see the Internet Explorer as a Desktop app. Or fire your default Edge Browser and navigate to the site you want and from there click on the Ellipsis (three dots) on the top right and select ‘Open with Internet explorer’.
Internet Explorer 11 - starting

When you see their application status if you ALT + TAB you could make out the difference – the old IE 11 is in a lighter blue compared with the new Edge which appears in a dark blue ‘e’.

Edge Browser identifies itself like this:

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/46.0.2486.0 Safari/537.36 Edge/13.10586

Internet Explorer identifies itself as :

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; WOW64; Trident/7.0; rv:11.0) like Gecko

in my version of Windows 10.

The bottom line is in Windows 10, Edge has the edge over other browsers – in terms of stability, speed and lower resource foot print.

 

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