Random Thoughts – Randocity!

Amazon Kindle: Buyer’s Security Warning

Posted in best practices, computers, family, security, shopping by commorancy on May 4, 2012

If you’re thinking of purchasing a Kindle or Kindle Fire, beware. Amazon ships the Kindle pre-registered to your account in advance while the item being shipped. What does that mean? It means that the device is ready to make purchases right from your account without being in your possession. Amazon does this to make it ‘easy’. Unfortunately, this is a huge security risk. You need to take some precautions before the Kindle arrives.

Why is this a risk?

If the package gets stolen, it becomes not only a hassle to get the device replaced, it means the thief can rack up purchases for that device from your Amazon account on your registered credit card without you being immediately aware. The bigger security problem, however, is that the Kindle does not require a login and password to purchase content. Once registered to your account, it means the device is already given consent to purchase without any further security. Because the Kindle does not require a password to purchase content, unlike the iPad which asks for a password to purchase, the Kindle can easily purchase content right on your credit card without any further prompts. You will only find out about the purchases after they have been made through email receipts. At this point, you will have to dispute the charges with Amazon and, likely, with your bank.

This is bad on many levels, but it’s especially bad while the item is in transit until you receive the device in the mail. If the device is stolen in transit, your account could end up being charged for content by the thief, as described above. Also, if you have a child that you would like to use the device, they can also make easy purchases because it’s registered and requires no additional passwords. They just click and you’ve bought.

What to do?

When you order a Kindle, you will want to find and de-register that Kindle (may take 24 hours before it appears) until it safely arrives into your possession and is working as you expect. You can find the Kindles registered to your account by clicking (from the front page while logged in) ‘Your Account->Manage Your Kindle‘  menu then click ‘Manage Your Devices‘ in the left side panel. From here, look for any Kindles you may have recently purchased and click ‘Deregister’. Follow through any prompts until they are unregistered. This will unregister that device. You can re-register the device when it arrives.

If you’re concerned that your child may make unauthorized purchases, either don’t let them use your Kindle or de-register the Kindle each time you give the device to your child. They can use the content that’s on the device, but they cannot make any further purchases unless you re-register the device.

Kindle as a Gift

Still a problem. Amazon doesn’t recognize gift purchases any differently. If you are buying a Kindle for a friend, co-worker or even as a giveaway for your company’s party, you will want to explicitly find the purchased Kindle in your account and de-register it. Otherwise, the person who receives the device could potentially rack up purchases on your account without you knowing.

Shame on Amazon

Amazon should stop this practice of pre-registering Kindles pronto. All Kindles should only register to the account after the device has arrived in the possession of the rightful owner. Then, and only then, should the device be registered to the consumer’s Amazon account as part of the setup process using an authorized Amazon login and password (or by doing it in the Manage devices section of the Amazon account). The consumer should be the sole responsible party to authorize all devices to their account. Amazon needs to stop pre-registering of devices before the item ships. This is a bad practice and a huge security risk to the holder of the Amazon account who purchased the Kindle. It also makes gifting Kindles extremely problematic. Amazon, it’s time to stop this bad security practice or place more security mechanisms on the Kindle before a purchase can be made.

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Parental Guidance Definitely Required

Posted in family, parenting by commorancy on April 25, 2011

While this article’s header may sound related to movie ratings, it isn’t. On the other hand, in a way, it kind of is. No, what this article is about is parents not properly guiding their children’s behaviors in public places. Let’s explore.

Lack of Guidance

In recent years, more and more children seem to misbehave in public places. Parents seem to lack the parental skills to manage their children properly (probably at home also). Although, managing your child properly in public is more important. With that said, there are many behaviors from children that are just not appropriate in public, yet parents simply seem to ignore these disrupting behaviors. In addition to bad behaviors from children, included are some equally bad behaviors from the parents.

Top 12 list of bad public parenting 

12. Strollers in crowded areas — When bringing children to very crowded venues, think twice about using anything more than an umbrella stroller. When pushing strollers along in crowded areas, you are likely to run the wheels over someone’s foot. It’s never pleasant to have a baby stroller scrape up your heel or run over your toes. If at all possible, leave the strollers at home and let the children walk. If the children are unable to walk and you can’t carry them, then perhaps that event is not the place for you and your family.

11. Newborns in public — While I know that mothers of newborns can get cabin fever, that’s the price you pay to take care of an infant. However, I regularly see mothers taking 1, 2 and 3 week old babies into malls, theme parks and various other venues. This is completely selfish behavior. The baby is far too small (and unprotected) to know where it is. Heading out to these places is solely for the mom and dad. For the baby, it’s not healthy. First, babies this small cannot regulate their body temperatures yet. Heading to an overly cold air-conditioned mall or to a theme park in sweltering heat is not what your baby needs. As the mother, you can’t (and shouldn’t) be riding anything (especially if you delivered by c-section).  You’ve wasted your money by going to a place that requires an entry fee. The baby won’t even know it was ever there. Second, the baby basically has no immune system. Exposing this small of an infant to crowds of people is likely to get it sick. Coupling the germs with the unregulated temperatures, and you’re just asking for your baby to get sick. Stay home until the baby is older.

10. Feeding your children from unpaid groceries — While shopping, do not grab a pack of Twinkies, loose grapes, a pack of chips, cookies or any other food item, open and hand it to your child. I’ve seen many parents do this to keep their children occupied. Not only does this teach your children the wrong food habits, it’s stealing when you don’t pay for the food. Not only is the parent contributing to the child’s unhealthy eating habits, this behavior is also teaching the child that it’s ok to grab food from a store and eat it unpaid. Only open and consume foods outside of the store and only after you’ve paid for it. This teaches your child the correct shopping behavior.

9. Screaming and yelling — When your children are in public, it is on you as a parent to keep them under control. This also means keeping them from screaming and yelling. While you may be used to this behavior from your child, the rest of the public doesn’t want to hear it. If your child begins to act up by screaming and yelling, stop and take them outside of wherever you are. This is especially true when in a movie theater or a restaurant. In a movie, silence is the key and if your child cannot sit for longer than a few minutes before acting up, then do not bring them to a movie. Instead, wait and rent the movie to watch at home. Still, it’s probably more important to figure out how to control this behavior from your child. In a restaurant, people go for a relaxing dinner, not to hear your child scream at the top of their lungs.

8.  Salad and hot food bars are not for children —  Children under adult height should never be allowed anywhere near salad bars or buffet tables.

First, buffet tables can be dangerously hot. Unless you enjoy taking your child to the emergency room scalded or electrocuted, children should remain safely away from hot food bars. Second, children generally have little self control over their hands and fingers. Not only are children notoriously bad for not washing their hands, they will easily stick their fingers into and play with food on food bars easily leading to a burn or contaminating food. Yuck! Combine this problem with their lack of height and their faces being just below the sneeze guard, you end up with a very unsanitary situation. Again, too many children will place their hands into the food to play and possibly sneeze and generally breathe all over the food with nothing to block this.  Again, very unsanitary. Third, by letting children serve themselves, you are not controlling what food or the amount of food they eat. It is important to control your child’s nutrition. Instead, you should choose their foods from the bars and bring their food to them plated. For all of these reasons, keep your children away from food bars. Although, if you really want to keep your child healthy, don’t eat off food bars and, instead, order directly from the menu. Salad bars and buffets are generally unsanitary and the foods are excessively high in calories, anyway.

7.  Grocery carts are not toys or rides — Grocery carts are intended to be used for shopping. If you want to place your child in a grocery cart, then place them into it as intended (in the front with their legs hanging out of the holes sitting down and strapped in). Do not let them play under or in the basket itself. Children should never stand up in the basket part of the cart.

6.  Children under foot — Keep your children with you at all times. Do not let them run around crowded events unattended. Not only is this a potential kidnapping situation, it’s simply dangerous as small children can be easily overlooked and tripped over or trampled. Children are not good at watching where they are going or what they are doing, so keeping hold of your child in crowded situations is very important. Remember, only you are watching out for your child. Other people aren’t watching your child. Although, other people may be judging you on your lack of parenting skills.

5. Restaurant booths, movie theater seats and airplane seats — Children should always be firmly seated. Do not let your child stand up in their seat. Your children also need to be occupied with something (coloring, reading, talking to them, etc). Otherwise, children will stand up, fidget and become a nuisance to the people sitting around them. For example, a child standing up in a restaurant booth can easily turn around and stare or otherwise disturb another table. When seated at the theater or on a plane, children can easily kick the back of the seat in front of them. Control your child. Keep them occupied so they don’t do this. If they stand up, sit them back down. If you can’t control them, leave. If you’re on a plane, find something for them to do. Also when traveling, plan ahead by packing enough activities, games, crayons, etc to occupy your child throughout the entire plane trip.

4.  Sit with your children — If you are a family of four, each parent should sit next to one of their children when possible. Don’t let young children sit together alone so the parents can sit together across the isle. If one of the children has an issue, you can’t easily manage it. Sitting next to the child, you can probably thwart the issue by catching it early. Of course, if you’re the Brady Bunch, that could make it harder. However, if you do have that many children, you’re probably in need of lots of help on long plane trips.. in which case, it might be better to take the train where you can have your own room.

3. Toy Stores — While the trip to the toy store may seem like a great idea, it really isn’t. To a child, a toy store is their dream-come-true. At the same time, it’s a parent’s worst nightmare come true. Don’t take your child to the toy store! Let me say that again. Do NOT take your child to a toy store. Instead, know what your child wants and go pick it up and bring it home or order it from Amazon. This way, there are no screaming fits, no “buy me this” chants and no unnecessary tantrums. The toy store should be used as only a good behavior treat. A once-in-a-blue-moon event. Some place you go only if your child has met some extremely high criteria and is extremely well behaved… and only when you’re intent on rewarding them with a toy.

2. Keeping your children out lateChildren need stable and consistent sleep patterns. Therefore, as much as child may want to see a movie, don’t take them to see a movie in the theater after their normal bedtime hours. I have seen so many children out shopping, at the movies and running around after 11PM on weekends. This is wrong and bad parenting. Without consistent sleep patterns for your child, your child will want to get up late and be sleepy all day. Don’t do this. Children, especially babies, need to have a regular sleep pattern. If it’s late and your child is fussy, then you need to leave and take the child home to bed.

1. Running around stores (literally) — Stores are not playgrounds for your children. Stores are not babysitters. Stores are not day care facilities. Do not bring your children to stores and let them run around in public without any control.  Stores are dangerous places for children to ‘play’. Simply because they sell bikes and skateboards doesn’t mean that’s where they are intended to be used. Remove your children from the bikes. Get them off of skateboards. Stop them from strapping on skates in stores. Don’t grab toys off of shelves to occupy them. Like foods mentioned above, giving your child a toy that you have no intention of buying teaches your child the wrong thing. If your child isn’t well behaved enough to visit a department store with you, then you probably don’t need to bring your child with you.

As a parent, it is up to you to teach your child correct behaviors in the early years. It is also up to you to make sure your child behaves correctly in public. If you are unable to control your children, then you probably haven’t enacted correct discipline in your home. If you are unable to implement proper discipline, you probably need the help of a nanny or someone who can help you improve your parenting skills. Simply because you have chosen to have children doesn’t mean that other people want to hear your child scream or run into them simply because they want to run around. As a parent, it is your sole responsibility and duty to keep control of your children. Discipline is important for a child. Yet, discipline does not mean using a belt or a paddle. Using other means, such as timeouts, can affect the same level of control without the need for physical interaction. Whatever you use to control your child, just remember… in public, we can all hear your child scream.

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