web analytics

Monthly Archives: January 2018

Three Things Every Parent should do to Protect Their Children in Cyber Space

Online activity is second nature to today’s kids, but most of us with children didn’t grow up with the Internet. So it may be difficult to know how to advise them and monitor their safety online, especially when a lot of their school work and social life is centered on being connected. There is a lot that’s great about the Internet and the educational and recreational opportunities out there, but there’s also a lot that’s dark, evil, and dangerous. As parents, we need to help our kids make the right decisions and stay safe online.

In his new book, Online Danger: Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones from the Evil Side of the Internet, cyber security expert, Dr. Eric Cole, devotes an entire chapter to the ways that parents can safeguard their kids’ online activities. Here are some of his top suggestions.

Know What Apps They Use

Kids are not going to be as careful when it comes to downloading and installing apps that they want – particularly games. But just because an app (for phone or PC) came from the Google or Apple store doesn’t make it safe. Many of today’s apps – by default – ask for access to the device’s camera, microphone, and location services. This means that your child’s phone might be spying on him or her or making it easy to abduct them based on knowing their location. Review the apps on your kids’ phones, and together determine whether they still use the app and how the permissions are set.

Follow Your Kids on Social Media

Children should have the expectation that you’ll follow them on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Make sure you all understand privacy settings, particularly who can see or share their posts and photos. You’ll want to check who has connected with your kids, and don’t be shy about asking about faces you may not recognize. You’d much rather hear, “oh that’s Joe from my karate class” than “oh, that’s just someone who asked me to be their online friend.” Remember that predators can be anyone they want online.

Talk Openly About Online Risks

Kids can’t be expected to always make smart decisions or foresee the consequences of their actions. That’s why, as parents, a big part of our job is to teach them these skills, encourage them to make the right decisions, and protect them – both from others and from themselves. Talking with your kids about online safety is an ongoing process that starts the minute they start swiping on your phone or tablet, and continues into young adulthood. Remember, monitoring your kids’ online activities isn’t “nosy” – it’s responsible parenting.

In addition to the chapter devoted to protecting our kids online, Dr. Cole’s book provides advice for anyone wanting to protect themselves from scammers, hackers, and predators. You’ll learn how these online villains operate and how you can safeguard your credit, identity, and personal information. Visit www.onlinedanger.com for more useful tips, videos, and purchase information. Now available on Kindle.

About Dr. Eric Cole

Eric Cole, PhD, is a recognized security expert with over 30 years of experience in consulting, training, public speaking, and expert witness testimony. A published author of seven books on cyber security, Dr. Cole is on the cutting edge of cyber security research and development. His career has spanned industry and government roles including CTO at McAfee, Chief Scientist for Lockheed Martin, and member of the Commission on Cyber Security for the 44th President

New book: The Sins of Maggie Black By Howard Petote

The following was written by a fellow author about his book:

Origins: An Irish Girl named Maggie

In 1968 the state of Missouri was blessed with the arrival of a baby girl, a one-year-old lifted from the arms of nuns in the west of Ireland. Her name was Maggie, and her adoptive parents— strict Catholics—wanted her to be perfect. But Maggie Black was not perfect, she was merely human—an earthy, feral child who one day realized she would never earn their love. Drifting into drugs, con artists and petty crime, she becomes a single mother stuck in the gritty world of door-to-door sales—dangerously tied to a bad man.

One muggy evening—while home in Saint Joe preparing for a sales jump—she endures an incident that changes her life. This incident opens my novel, The Sins of Maggie Black, the story of one young woman’s attempt to escape her past and dream of a better life. As she informs her little boy, “From now on it’s gonna be me and you—we’re gonna be a team.” Her journey will pit a fierce determination to succeed against a battered ego, a heart struggling to accept love and companionship, and a past that threatens everything.

I began this post with some backstory to introduce one theme of my novel—the mysterious and profound nature of origins. Starting with the fragile innocence of youth, we bear both the blessings and sins of the world throughout our lives. Origins can also refer to any turning point in a character’s life, such as the incident that opens my story. Maggie doesn’t dwell much on the circumstances of her birth or upbringing, but they have deeply affected her. Though she doesn’t seek her mother, she does possess a vestigial memory of her, expressed as an attraction to water. In a vision that turns prophetic, Maggie sinks deep into a river—a symbolic return to the womb.

The river also serves as metaphor for a fundamental aspect of nature—the surface and what lies below. The surface is what we can “see” with our basic senses, while what lies beneath is the nearly inexpressible, underlying reality—the murky depths from which everything originates.

I once read a book about men’s issues—more specifically, fathers and sons in modern and primitive societies. I didn’t particularly connect with all the metaphorical language (the author was a poet) but it was very intriguing. I was living in a boarding house the night I finished the book—alone in a room without a TV or phone. That night I had seven vivid dreams, nearly all about myself and my father. They were rich in symbolic meaning. What had happened? How had mere words triggered such startling dreams?

For me, writing is an exploration—an attempt to understand, to feel, to connect with others. That night in my room a connection was made—the personal stories and myths expressed by that author triggered things deep inside me, obviously important issues lurking in the unconscious mind. These issues flow powerfully below the surface in all of us, manifesting themselves in who we are and how we behave. Just as a river follows the truest way downstream, our souls seek a path toward harmony and peace. Though Maggie and the other characters in my novel are highly flawed, they share a fierce determination to heal themselves, to become whole.


I hope I’ve dramatized a compelling story, and if lucky, revealed a few things that lie below. In my next post I’ll discuss the inspiration for this novel from a brief occurrence in Deadwood, South Dakota—and why my heroine is a door-to-door saleswoman.

Find Howard Petote’s novel, The Sins of Maggie Black at Amazon. Paperback and ebook available by February 14. See his website/blog at www.howardpetote.com

Have you always wanted to write a book?

Senior woman using laptop in café

Do you feel you have a book in you? Have you been secretly harbouring the dream of writing it down one day?

The Dream

Many people feel, deep down, that they have ‘a book in them.’ They would love to write it down – pen to paper or, more likely these days, finger to computer key – and see it become a reality.

If you have no impulse in this direction whatsoever, then don’t bother to read further.

However, if you find yourself nodding and thinking, “Yes, how does she know about my secret dream? Yes, I would love to put my ideas down and get a book published,” then read on.

The Book

Perhaps you have always loved to create stories. Or you told stories to your kids and your partner said they were so good, you should write them down. Perhaps you love to read books about crime or romance or even zombies, and you feel you could write one, too.

Why not? This is a very reasonable idea.

It could be you have had a particularly interesting life. Or you experienced some drama in your life – a terrible disease, the unexpected death of a loved one, a hurricane that blew your house away – and you would like to tell others about it.

Or you might have been helped over some hurdle and you would like to share with others what helped you most. Why not? These are also reasonable ideas.

Getting Started

The hard part is sitting down to do it. You may think this is because you have never done it before, but I can assure you that even experienced authors often have the same problem.

Before you even sit down to write, there will be a lot of issues you need to resolve. If you are writing a story, do you know who is to be included and what happens from beginning to end? Do you know the personalities of your characters? It is not necessary to know all of this, but it helps.

If you are writing a memoir, where does it begin? What are the important points you want to emphasize?

Whatever the case with your story, you should know for whom you are writing it. Who is likely to read it and enjoy it? Regardless of the genre you choose, it is very important to know your audience.

Getting Help

There is a lot of helpful information available for aspiring authors. A simple search will reveal many books and websites about writing. There may even be a local writers group you can go to.

If you are one of those people who want to get started first and seek help later, that’s fine. Whatever works for you is the best approach. It’s okay if you prefer to seek help once you have got something down and have a ‘feel’ for whether it is what you were aiming for.


I could write a book about publishing. In short, let me say that it is not at all easy to get a traditional publisher. However, it is very easy to self-publish. Publishing independently has become trendy in recent years, and some self-published books are very successful.

Remember, there is loads of help along the way. It might feel a very long way off – and it probably is ­– but it is not an impossible goal.

Why Are You Writing?

I have left the most important question for last – why do you want to do this?

If it is to become famous, then yes, it is possible, but it’s also very unlikely. Many experienced authors write loads of books and do not become famous. That is just the nature of writing.

Do you want to make money? I will give the same answer. It is possible, but not very likely. Few writers do. Most have a ‘day job’ to keep them going. Even ones you think would be living off their writing.

But if it is because you want to challenge yourself and do something that is genuinely exciting, then this is the project for you. It is fun, you learn a lot – especially about yourself – and it is enormously rewarding.

It may even be good for your health! There is increasing attention to the role of such challenges in keeping us young and of good mind.

I would say, go for it – what do you have to lose?

This post was originally published by SixtyandMe.com and cannot be reblogged.

I disliked giving and receiving gifts…until I got this surprise

I think I’m a bit strange. I dislike almost all presents, whatever the time of year. I don’t much like giving them, and I certainly don’t like getting them. It has been ever thus.

Giving Presents

It is wonderful to give presents to children. You generally know from their parents what they are longing for – and there is such delight when they receive the gift. No problem there.

Once in a while, I realise I am looking at something in a market or shop that someone I know would really like to have and there is again great pleasure in buying it for them. They would treasure it; it would be a surprise. There will be happiness all around.

Nowadays, my family – and I suspect many others – all have an Amazon wish list telling me exactly what presents they would like to receive – which book, which pair of slippers, which annual calendar.

Buying these is rather like doing your weekly grocery shopping. Check the list, buy, wait for the post. No artistry in this. No surprise when the package is opened.

The one benefit is, the person will welcome the addition to their wardrobe or library or whatever and won’t feel the need to send it back.

Getting Presents

I never much liked getting presents either. As a child, there might have been a longed-for item – a special doll or a pretty dress – and when I happened to receive it, there was a moment of real pleasure.

But most of the time, I would receive the wrong thing. My grandmother had good intentions, of course, but was not very good at working out which age was appropriate for which toy. My parents, somewhat surprisingly, were not much better either.

Even when I was a fully grown adult, my mother could not resist buying some dress that she thought would ‘look cute’ on me, which was never to my taste.

Aversion to Waste

I have always known – but it grows stronger as I get older – that I have a strong aversion to waste in all its forms. The wrong present is a complete waste – a waste of money, a waste of someone’s time acquiring it and a waste of any effort I make to wear it or read it or use it however it was intended.

It’s a waste and an embarrassment. I say thank-you, of course, but it all makes me very uncomfortable.

The Surprise

So this brings me to the surprise. A few weeks ago, it was a grey afternoon and I was quietly working on my computer when the doorbell rang. We weren’t expecting anyone, so I surmised it was probably one of the charity workers who would come along at Christmas time. I let my husband handle it.

A moment later, he shouted up to me that we had a large parcel. I knew we hadn’t ordered anything, so I rushed down, hoping I could catch the delivery man before he disappeared. Too late for that. My immediate thought was that it was going to be a nuisance to get this thing taken back.

But the parcel had my name on it, so I began to investigate. Inside was a large basket. After removing coloured ribbons and layers of see-through plastic, I realised it was some kind of hamper full of fruit, a variety of chocolates and sparkling wine. What a nice thought on someone’s part, even if it was surely not intended for me.

Oh, and there was a note! I was shocked that it was actually addressed to me, from my lovely neighbours who were temporarily away, thanking me for looking after their house. It was for me, after all. A complete surprise on a grey day. A present I liked. Not a waste at all.


This post was originally published on sixtyandme.com (http://sixtyandme.com/i-hated-giving-and-receiving-gifts-until-i-got-this-surprise/) and should not be re-blogged

Wise Before their Time – Five star reviews keep pouring in…

“This book describes an unimaginable amount of ignorance, fear and pain. Men, women and children, small babies dying of a mysterious disease and no one knows what it is and no one has the cure for it.

     “A giant ‘Infection’ was written above her name. She was asked to use a separate toilet from the other women, which had a red ‘Control of infection’ notice on it. She was miserable, frightened and scared for her children.  I realised what was happening and complained. The attitude was ‘Oh, we know HIV isn’t contagious, but we must follow our old guidelines.’”― Ann Richardson, Wise Before Their Time

There are too few book like this. There’s a story of mother and her young daughter Daisy. She was just learning to speak. A little bit late in walking. Then when she is sixteen months old, she stops walking.

         “My doctor had to inform the funeral directors that she’d died of an infectious disease. So when they came, they came in these suits and gloved. They just wrapped her in a plastic bag and took her away. And, well, it just was too much for me. I couldn’t cope, I just had to run out of the room.” ― Ann Richardson, Wise Before Their Time”

A book full of incredibly brave people writing their heart-breaking stories on what it was like to live with HIV and AIDS. I warmly recommend this for everyone.

This book’s intrinsic historical and cultural value is invaluable…providing insights and historical accounts which would otherwise be lost to time. These historic interviews are not only rare but also remarkably candid for their era. At times, the stories were alarming. No matter your feelings and beliefs on this disease, you owe it to yourself to read this book!”


“Although the context in which Ann Richardson has reissued her book has changed considerably [since 1992], there is a freshness and an immediacy in many of the spoken and written interviews with people of both genders, of different ages and from different cultures. The stories are often moving, even tear-inducing, and also occasionally funny. Yes, HIV/AIDS before drug therapy was a terrible plague, which particularly hit Western gay men and heterosexual Africans and their children. But what comes over most strongly from many of the people who feature in this important book is their fortitude, in some cases their stoicism, and often intimations of real love.”


“I missed out on a majority the horrors of the pandemic, but as Ann Richardson states in the foreword, my generation and the ones that come after it, are the reason why this book needs to be republished – so that people do not forget the horrors and fears of the past and, in some places in the world, the present; that we remain educated and continue to stand in solidarity with people who are HIV-positive and those living with AIDS.”


“The voices in this book are powerful and sobering. They show the everyday realities of living with a disease that people, including doctors, knew virtually nothing about. They talk honestly and incredibly openly about all aspects of the experience of living with HIV/AIDS – from how they got their diagnosis, to confront their own mortality, to telling friends and family members, to their hopes for the future. Yet there is a definite sense of hope that, no matter how long the person had had the disease or what part of the world they lived in, they refused to give up, every single one of them. And that is surely, the true definition of inspiring.”


“It was a sad book, something I wouldn’t dare to re-read but glad that I have read it. I remember reading ‘We Need to Talk about Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver and having the same feelings; as a parent, the book was so hard for me to read and yet, I was awfully glad I had read it. Wise Before Their Time is totally different in context from Lionel Shriver’s. It is a difficult book to read not as a parent but as a sensitive person.

Difficult times brings out either the strength or the weakness in a person. The person never stays same. He either becomes bigger or smaller. And it was heartening to learn that most patients after being tested positive came out stronger, wiser, and more mature.

The author, through interviews with patients, has presented an honest, moving picture which touches a reader’s heart. Do read this book. If not for anything else then just to understand and appreciate the beauty of being healthy and being alive!”


“Wise Before Their Time is an enlightening compilation of individual stories and thoughts from those infected with HIV in the early era of AIDS. It saddened me to see how fellow humans treated one another. I was particularly disturbed by the story about a baby dying from the disease. Though there are also messages of love and hope throughout, I feel the book is a good educational tool about the stigma of the virus when not much was understood about it. An important read.”


I believe it’s so important to remember the people behind their diagnosis. This book takes you there. Dietmar was so passionate to spread the word. It was a privilege to know & work with him.”


“Wise Before Their Time” is both moving and informative. You are saddened by most of the tales. But at the same time, you learn that for the most part, after their diagnosis and treatment, the AIDS afflicted are grateful. Of course they are sorry to have AIDS. But they have all learned to love life more than ever before. This book is not only touching, it’s well crafted and will shed new light on AIDS for readers everywhere.”


Life in a Hospice – a surprise success

Life in a Hospice, my book which goes behind the scenes in two hospices to show readers how it feels to provide end-of-life care, was first published in 2007.  I re-launched it last March.  This is because the publishers were charging much too much for it and giving it no publicity – with the not surprising result that no one was buying it.  It was selling one or two copies a year.

I thought a few people might want to read it and decided to give it a new cover and a revised introduction and make it available to potential readers at a reasonable price.  I thought 50 or 60 people, at a completely rough guess, might be interested.  But I was so wrong.

No, I have been selling one or so copies a day on Amazon – indeed, well over 200 copies since its relaunch.  Mostly e-books, but some paperbacks as well.  This is not big numbers compared to Harry Potter or a few other things I could name, but it is surprisingly successful. A friend who is a writer said he wished he could see such sales.

Who is reading it?  I don’t actually know.  I would imagine many will be current hospice workers, who like to hear about others doing similar work. Or those who are interested in pursuing hospice care as a career (it’s a very good introduction to this, because it talks about not only what workers do but also how such work affects their lives). Some people who are considering hospice care for someone in their family may be reading it, too.

I personally think it makes inspirational reading, showing humanity at its best. Perhaps some readers are looking for that.

I am now making it available as an e-book in other outlets besides Amazon, such as Apple ibooks, Kobo and Barnes and Noble.

Have a look.  It might interest you, too: http://myBook.to/Hospice