RFID Jackets Offer Protection From Skimmers

September 7, 2014 at 4:12 pm (gadgets, Products, security, Shopping, Travel) (, , , , )

Almost every time we turn on the news or look online these days, there is word of yet another security breach.  Some involve bank account and ID numbers.  Some involve large amounts of money while others involve information about everything from recipes to matters of national security.  

 

One way that data is being stolen on a smaller, yet very effective, level is when people hijack data such as credit card numbers from passersby in crowded public areas such as the subway, food court, or concert venues. This can be done because the information is on a small chip, called an RFID chip.  The chip is then embedded into a card, such as credit or debit cards, work ID and swipe cards, door passkeys, and more.   RFID, or Radio Frequency IDentification, is used to communicate and transmit information over short-distances.  People can use RFID scanners to look for, capture, and read the information on these cards. Those with criminal aspirations can take this information and cause quite a lot of trouble with it. 

 

SEV RFID

There are ways you can protect yourself from having your information captured. Generally, water and metal are the best ways to prevent radio signals from getting to or from your data. There is a rumor that wrapping cards in aluminum foil or lining your wallet with aluminum foil will protect your data.  This will possibly help, but will not prevent the data from being scanned or retrieved.  One of the most effective solutions available to consumers are wallets, pouches, and sleeves using a Faraday Cage inside a leather exterior. Searching for protection tagged “electromagnetically opaque” should point you in the right direction. However, another viable solution is an improved version of one of my long-term favorite products:  the ScotteVest Travel Vest, now with an RFID pocket. 

 

The RFID pocket was created as an extra pocket inside a pickpocket-proof travel document pocket to add an extra layer of security.  It’s made of a special fabric, and it protects credit cards, passports, and other documents with RFID tags from being scanned.  It doesn’t block signals from magnetic card readers or door swipe cards, but it does cover the most common wavelengths that people are generally concerned about. 

 

Their slogan that “you can never have enough pockets” certainly rings true for this long-time fan of ScotteVest products. The new travel vest features 26 total pockets, including the RFID blocking pocket, to protect the user from high-tech skimmers who are trying to steal identities and sensitive information.  The comfortable and roomy vest can easily hold things like a cellphone, flashlight, knife, iPhone, ID, pen, earbuds, iPad or iPad mini, concealed carry weapon, extra ammo, travel sewing kit, travel first aid kit, sunglasses, and lots more.  It has a couple of see-thru pockets so you can actually use your devices without taking them out of their pockets. There are small pockets for flash memory cards, earbuds, pens, and spare change, along with water bottle loops and an extendable key holder.  The weight management system ensures that the vest stays balanced and comfortable without bulging.  The advanced two-way zipper allows access to all the pockets with ease.  The CollarConnect system has also been updated for improved comfort and quicker installation. As they say, there’s more there than meets the eye and even more that doesn’t.   

 

The RFID Travel Vest is available in black, navy, khaki, and olive.  It retails for $135.

 

 They also sell a separate RFID pouch, called the Blackout Pocket, separately for $40.  It holds an iPhone and completely blocks RFID, cellphone, and GPS signals. Once you drop your device into the pouch and close it, you will be “off the grid” in a few seconds and are then untrackable by satellite according to ScotteVest.  This standalone pouch, which is approximately 6.5” x 5” when closed,  is meant to be carried in a vest or jacket pocket, or can attach with hook/loop tabs to some current ScotteVest clothing. 

 

For more information on these and other products, check out their website at ScotteVest.com.  What’s your favorite ScotteVest product?  Do you have a favorite pocket? I love the see thru pockets in my travel jacket, hoodie, and windbreaker. They are so easy to use and I can just swipe right thru the material without having to remove my iPhone. The included chamois in the eyeglasses pocket is also a nice touch.   Is there a pocket you’d like to see that they haven’t implemented yet?  Let me know in the comments. 

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Lay/N/Go Bag is Great Travel Companion

April 27, 2013 at 6:40 am (Personal, Products, Travel) (, , , , , )

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Ok, folks, for all of you who have cosmetics spread all over the bathroom counter, or you have lots of stuff in several little bags, or you’re on a business trip and you realize your favorite concealer didn’t make the trip with you….there is a new product for you. It’s called the Lay N’ Go Bag and it is beyond awesome!

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not big into makeup anymore, but I do wear it for special events, church, and things like that. I started using Cat Cosmetics makeup developed by actress, entertainer, and entrepreneur, Catherine Hickland, a few years ago. My face and I were unhappy with the expensive high end products I was using and, while looking for an alternative, I came across Cat’s product line. I liked that they were natural, not tested on animals, good for sensitive skin, and worked with all skin types. Best of all, they were affordable, and the customer service was top-notch. She had put together a small kit that contained six products: a concealer, blush, eye shadows, and liner, plus applicators. I tried it and loved it. I got a couple other products and was hooked. There was no going back.

Fast forward a few years. I had been looking for a bag in which to keep cosmetics while traveling. A couple of trips last month showed us that we were woefully underprepared. I happened to see Cat post about a new bag she found, and it looked interesting. It didn’t do anything for the part of me that wanted some organizational aid, but there was something liberating about just dumping everything in a pile on the counter then scooping it all up together. We decided to take the plunge and order our own Lay N’ Go Bag.

It arrived today, and (I’m slightly embarrassed to say) I had to watch the short video to figure out how to close it. LOL. I kept trying to “open” it…It was so easy that I was making it difficult. I must admit, I felt pretty dumb once I saw how simple it was 😉 You just lay the bag flat, put all your stuff on it, then pull the drawstring. It scoops everything up like a bowl, then you slide the cord lock down and it’s secure.

It is just amazing! It truly holds a ton of stuff, plus it has a large inner zipper pocket and a small outer velcro pocket. It’s also water repellant and washable, thanks to the nylon and poly fabric. Another little bonus is that it comes inside its own little drawstring bag, so you actually get a cute little bonus bag. This may be one of the coolest things I’ve ever bought…it is just so practical.

You don’t even have to use it just for cosmetics. Obviously, it’s great for that, but I’ve already been thinking about other uses for this bag. It would work equally well for guys and gals, and would be just as good for a business trip as a weekend getaway. An artist could toss a handful of paint tubes in a bag and head out to a specific location. Toss a handful of toys on it and scoop them up for a quick and easy rescue pack for kids (or the babysitter, ha). It is available in black for $29.95, or silver or gold for $34.95.

Above is a snapshot of the bag with most of my Cat Cosmetics inside…I was skeptical, but you can see how much it holds. Fantastic! Order yours from Cat Cosmetics, and let me know what you think. Cheers!

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GeoWoodstock X: 10th Anniversary back where it all began

May 30, 2012 at 5:46 am (Geocaching) (, , , )

Us with Signal

I began geocaching on August 6, 2010. My misadventure started in a wooded area just a few blocks from our house. We were looking for the ubiquitous “ammo can in the woods”.  Little did I know at the time how difficult that would prove to be to a total newcomer to the game.  I won’t bore you with all the details, except to say that I chose badly for my first attempt.  I spent about an hour in a dense wooded area, trees so thick it seemed to be nearing sunset by mid-afternoon. Also, if you know anything about the South, you’ll know that August in the woods is not exactly a pleasant walk in the park. There were several contributing factors: actual temperature greater than 100ºF, humidity greater than 65%, no trails, mosquitoes so thick, they looked like dark, hovering clouds, a few sightings of slithery things, and too many spiders to mention.  Then, there were the souvenirs: the ticks. There were dozens of ticks. Even three days later, I was still finding a wayward tick that had climbed from my hiking shoes or my cap or somewhere. Oh, and I didn’t find the cache. Yet.

I deepened my resolve, did a little bit of reading about searching for ones first cache, then set my sights on more realistic beginning caches. My first find was at the site of a small electrical transformer. There was a fence around the transformer, and the corners of the fence had those silver dome-shaped caps like you see on playgrounds and athletic fields. I lifted one of the caps, looked under it, and found my first cache: a film canister had been attached to the cap with velcro. Inside the canister was the cache log. I signed it, then logged my find online when I got home.  I was hooked.  Incidentally, ten days after my initial attempt, I went back to the woods and found the ammo can.

For a bit of background, geocaching began on May 3, 2000, when a cache was hidden in the hills outside Portland, Oregon.  This occurred the day after selective availability was turned off, which allowed civilians to make use of satellites that had previously only been used by the military, NASA, and others with specific needs. In one day, GPS devices were suddenly ten times more accurate.  A paint bucket filled with rewards was hidden and those finding it signed the log.  Within a few days, several people had found it, and geocaching was born. Fast-forward a decade, and after hearing about the sport for some time, decided to give it a go myself. 

I’m happy to report that, after my first minor misstep, the rest of my caching attempts were much more successful. I’ve found some incredibly creative caches over the past couple of years.  Some of the more memorable ones include a tiny tube glued to a penny and buried into the ground (so unless you picked up the penny, you would miss the cache), a tiny canister the size of an acorn, stuffed into one of a bunch of grapes and hidden in wisteria covering an arbor, and a large rectangular box that appeared to be a university study of a bat house — it was pure genius!

After going to an Earth Day event at a local park, we found out about an upcoming event, GeoWoodstock X.  It was to be a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the sport of geocaching. The event was to be held in Louisville, Kentucky, where the first GeoWoodstock event was held ten years prior. This day-long event cache, with workshops, music, and other caching-related activities, has become the world’s largest geocaching-related event.  We decided to go, and, in spite of the over-100ºF temperatures while we were there, we had a great time.  We saw a large number of creative caches, learned a lot about the sport, and met some great folks.

If you’ve never gone geocaching, try it.  The really great thing about it is that it can be done anywhere, city or country, urban or rural. All you need is a GPS unit, either a standalone version or a smartphone with a GPS using a geocaching app. I generally use my iPhone 4S running the official Geocaching app, but I also have a Magellan Explorist GC that I’m learning to use.  We came home energized, ready to put into practice all we had learned at the event. I have even started making some creative caches of my own that I plan to hide soon, but that is another story. To learn more about geocaching, go to www.geocaching.com

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Twits, or Rudest Group of High School Girls, EVER

May 27, 2012 at 10:25 am (Geocaching, Personal) (, , , )

Nothing like staggering half-asleep to the hotel breakfast buffet, only to be tripped up and blocked from the entire huge room by stacks and piles of duffels, pillows, luggage, etc. belonging to a bunch of high school girls who play field hockey at AIM in St. Louis. It took ten minutes for them to get off their surly butts and clear a path. One said, “why can’t they just climb over?” I wanted to say, “See this thing I use to help with mobility, little girl? It’s called a ‘cane’. It makes it more difficult to climb over stacks of clothing left by rude little twits like you”…but I refrained.

By now, my senses were assaulted and I was fully awake. They couldn’t be bothered to be considerate of other guests as they spread out and overtook take up every single table in the smallish dining room, forcing everyone else to struggle getting past them to the *group* room where they were supposed to have been. I got so angry, watching the elderly, moms with toddlers and babies, and just regular people trying to navigate this room carrying their breakfast.

Some of these girls grabbed food from the buffet with their hands, and one even had the nerve to take the last biscuit that I’d just tried to pick up with tongs and dropped because I was juggling my cane with other things and got klutzy. I looked at her, speechless (yep, I was *that* stunned) and she gave me a little grin. “Oh, did you want that? I’m sure they’ll bring more. Hee hee”. I said, “Your parents must be so proud of you, raising you to take food right from the crippled chick’s tongs”. She rolled her eyes and walked off. I quickly breathed a prayer that I wouldn’t assault this budding menace to society, and walked to the waffle maker, where I encountered another of tomorrow’s leaders. When the waffle finished, this girl looked around, picked up the huge nearby stainless ladle rest, and tried, unsuccessfully, to use it to extract the waffle. I thought I’d be helpful, since the comic relief was neither relieving me nor getting me any closer to my goal of getting a waffle. I said, “Excuse me. You might have better luck with the tongs there” (gestured to tongs hanging next to handle of waffle iron). “The what?”, she asked, looking around blankly. I said, “Those things that look like big tweezers”. (lightbulb slowly coming on in her head) and I’m thinking “3…2…1…” and she says, “OHhhhhh”. Gets tweezers, removes waffle, leaves. Wow. They must have been having a contest to see who could rack up the most “rudeness points” because most of them were like that to everyone they encountered. Don’t get me wrong, a couple of them were nice, polite even (shhh, don’t tell their mean girl teammates) but the rest, well, we’d be here all day.

After jockeying with position with them for two days, most of us stood and applauded when they left to board their bus. Yes, I know, not one of my finest moments. They were, without a doubt, the rudest, most self-absorbed, group of teenage girls I’ve ever seen. Maybe that’s the definition of a teenager these days, but if I’d ever acted in public (or in private!) like some of these girls, I would not have made it to college because my parents would have killed me. One of the saddest things about all this is that the school and theses girls will be remembered for their self-serving actions and rude behavior.

I’m happy to report that we finished breakfast, chatted with another group of fellow geocachers, and successfully averted a stroke based on my then-rising blood pressure. Hoping for a nice, relaxing morning, going to grab a few more geocaches that are close to here, then gradually make our way on over to Knoxville for a family visit. Cheers!

Sent from my iPhone

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