Tag Archives: security

Travel | Top tips for keeping your home safe while you travel

imageWhether you’re heading off on that much anticipated two week holiday or you’re heading off on a huge backpacking trip, it’s important not to get so carried away you forget to safeguard your home. So often it is the last thing we think about when we’re going away, but it is actually the time when our homes and our possessions are most vulnerable. With thieves getting smarter and so much of our personal lives being available for the world to see on social media, it only takes one bad egg to take advantage of your trip to line their own pockets. But as ever with travelling, planning is key and can save you a lot of time, hassle and money. So when planning your next trip, why not put some of these suggestions in action and see how much of a difference they make. You can spend as much as you like on a luxurious resort, but if you don’t have peace of mind that your home is safe, there’s almost no point in being there. Treat yourself to full relaxation on your next holiday by making sure you’ve done everything in your power to give yourself a good homecoming.

What can you do to protect your home?

For city breaks/summer holidays:

  • Make friends with your neighbours – they’re the best security watch you can get and they’re totally free (well, perhaps get them a box of chocolates to say thanks for watching the house)
  • Stay off social media. As hard as it can be to not boast pics of you sipping on cocktails in the Maldives, there have been several homes targeted by thieves who knew people were on holiday from social media.
  • Get a house sitter – there are lots of websites where you can get house sitters for any length of time – in exchange for a place to stay people will watch the house and any pets you may have. Or ask a friend/family member to do it.
  • Install a security system – good quality systems are available for all budgets these days and will offer 24/7 monitoring of your home and possessions. Check out this Panasonic Smart Homes System.
  • Make sure the building is secure before you leave – all doors/windows should be locked and make sure expensive items are not on display, you don’t want to tempt any opportunist thieves.
  • Don’t close all curtains and make the building look abandoned – it is very clear when no-one is home and it is most vulnerable. Instead use net curtains/blinds to block views into the downstairs rooms, leaving the main curtains open and making the building appear active.

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For the long-term travellers:

  • See if you can find someone to rent or live in the property while you are away. If you can’t find a renter, consider Air BnB (which will also generate income) or house sitters to make sure there is always someone at the property and that it doesn’t sit abandoned.
  • Ensure the building is secure before you leave – check all exits and entrances, all windows and doors for vulnerable points or anywhere that could be a target for thieves. Replace any weak joints/hinges that could become a problem in six months.
  • Making friends with neighbours or having a friend/family member who can monitor and check up on the building is a good idea whether you have renters or not.
  • Installing a security system can be a good way to instantly alert authorities or family if there is a problem and the property is unattended.
  • Place any expensive items that will not be used (i.e. cars/TV/computer) in secure storage so they are not left in an unattended house.
  • Make sure your house insurance/contents insurance is up-to-date no matter where you are in the world or how far away it all seems. It only takes a burst pipe or an opportunist thief to cause serious damage at your home and you want to be covered for all forms of loss.

Don’t suffer from FOBA (Fear Of Being Away) – get out there and enjoy your travels by doing all you can to protect your home while you’re away. Just as you padlock up your suitcase and buy travel insurance as a back up in case anything goes wrong – make sure you look after what’s waiting for you at home. Also, stay safe abroad by checking out my safety tips for travelling solo.

Have you been a victim of theft while on holiday? What security do you put in place at your home while you travel?

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Facebook Experiment: Are we still entitled to privacy in a world where we share everything?

MKH MarketingHopefully you’ve all heard about the Facebook experiment by now, and are either suitably outraged or intrigued by the whole concept. Of course, as usual, the news stories have sparked a lot of backlash and criticism from those who feel their privacy has been invaded and their data used unfairly. Pretty standard really for anything like this, and as a journalist, I should know the angle we use on stories like this and how the whole things is played up to the audience they know will be the most vocal about the issue. It’s been interesting to read various posts on the topic, particularly because so many have been furious and angry to hear that their data and personal information might have been used in this way. This post by Be Young & Shut Up is an interesting read and I particularly love the part where Solomon describes Facebook as a game we are all pawns in.5684115572_55bc83414f_zI personally don’t understand the outrage over the experiment – I’m fascinated by psychology and love to watch the behaviours of people, even just walking down the street! So in this modern age of technology, where better to take a closer look at the emotional effects of social media than within social media itself? And how better to do it than by using the biggest social media site in the world where millions post their every move, feeling and thought directly online? It’s genius and those who thought Facebook workers would never do this are muppets. The man behind the experiment – Adam Kramer – explained his reasons for doing it and I think they are actually valid ones, except for the fact that he should have mentioned that Facebook is essentially a giant social experiment that we choose to be part of when we sign up.9386166498_db00d1357c_zAnd that’s the other big issue at play here, we “choose” to be part of this giant experiment. No-one forced us. Yes they might not have sent you a personal letter stating their intentions and asking you to sign a contract, but the fact is, we all signed a contract upon signing up to the site. Those terms and conditions boxes we are asked to tick in order to sign up, much like if you were signing up for a loan, to buy a house or anything like that, we are expected to read the small print and not just to sign up haphazardly. Of course, none of us really bother to read the small print, we just prefer to complain when it doesn’t go in our favour. At the end of the day, if we are to sign up to something that says they can use our data then we must expect it to be used and possibly in ways we are less keen on. This is a pretty interesting experiment and although I don’t like the idea that I could have been manipulated like this, I’m also completely of the view that we should have expected this a long time ago.MKH MarketingWe put it all out there on social media and yet still expect a level of privacy, and as a blogger, I’m particularly guilty of this. But we need to remember that once we offer up all our information like that, it is too late, it is all out there and there is no getting it back. In the same way we have to post responsibly with jobs/careers in mind, and remind ourselves of the likelihood of our bosses seeing those drunken pictures, we should also be wary that yes, people could perform psychological experiments on us without our say-so – if we put the information out there, people can use it and manipulate it. Not necessarily in a nasty way, although sometimes yes, but as a form of learning about society. And like the scientist says – this is the biggest and most fascinating live model of society – kind of like a micro-climate where everything is in one place and heightened – a perfect place for studying emotion and interaction. We always have the option to opt out and delete our information – but so many of us prefer to share!MKH MarketingWhether you love it or hate it, Facebook is a pretty powerful business and users need to remember that they are taking advantage of the website, but no matter what you post on your account, it remains in a public domain that is owned by Facebook. Essentially, it all comes back to Facebook having a certain level of authority and ownership over what you post – just because it is your own account, doesn’t mean you have complete control. I think Facebook are well within their rights to run an experiment like this – if I owned a site like this, I would do the same out of fascination with the human psyche. It’s not nice to be manipulated, mainly because it makes us feel foolish and serves as a reminder that we are not as in control as we believe. But if we sign away our material, we are limited on what we can actually protest about the matter. Perhaps the responsibility needs to come back to the individual a little more, rather than blaming it on the company who actually did ask permission.

Let’s be honest, it all comes down to advertising and the way that Facebook hopes to make more money. All the millions who sign up to use the service actually contribute nothing to the moneymaking side of the company, but advertisers want to know how they can use the service to manipulate users into buying their produce or signing up to use their services. It is fascinating really – how Facebook are using their control of posts to enforce different emotions on us – and just shows how serious money could be made through the use of this by advertisers. Not really that different to the use of billboards, TV and print advertising but provides a more whole effect which could open up a whole new era of advertising. Genius.

What do you think – are you mad that Facebook might have manipulated your newsfeed as part of the experiment? Or do you agree that the individual should take more responsibility for the breach of trust?

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PS. Like this topic? Why not check out this post I wrote previously on Gogglebox, government surveillance and 1984