There is no denying that we have all been through an incredibly hard year so far. Who would have thought 2020 would have meant a lockdown, staying at home, and basically being scared of catching a virus? Nobody saw it coming, but as we are starting to have things eased off and we can go about our business once more, we are faced with a new normal. So what does that look like? Here are some of the things we need to think about that can help us embrace the new normal world we find ourselves in.
Booking and virtual appointments
One of the things to think about is that appointments, we would normally take for granted, are going to look a lot different now. This means that you might have to embrace virtual appointments. Be sure that you check with the store or the service first before going there. i’m sure a lot of stores have deployed new processes. Doing this avoids people coming into contact unnecessarily with each other, and can even mean faster fulfillment of the service. The more we become comfortable with this, the easier it will be moving forward.
Buying things online
Another thing to think about in embracing the new normal would be that more online shopping will become apparent and will be the “norm”. More stores are embracing this and offering online facilities. From getting your prescription glasses on a website to thinking about ordering essentials online, we are definitely going to be doing a lot more of this. Many delivery companies are also offering contactless delivery methods; this can give you extra peace of mind.
Having a collection of face masks
Nobody would have thought that a face mask will become the new normal, but here we are embracing it and having to wear one when we go on public transport or in shops. It isn’t the ideal situation, but it could help you to stop spreading the virus. It is a good idea for you to get a collection of face masks and try and keep one with you. Have them in the car and your bag so you know there is always one to hand.
Becoming more aware of social distancing
Social distancing is a new term that we have all become familiar with. It means remaining a certain length away from others to avoid catching or spreading the virus. However, it is also a good idea to make this part of your normal now. Many shops will have icons in place to help with distancing, and being outside when you meet with people will help you to do it better than you can indoors.
Keeping to your own bubble
Finally, it may be tempting to see everyone the minute you can, but this can also cause issues for you in terms of spreading the virus. Keep your family protected and only see people within your family and your bubble. As well as ensuring that the people you do see you do it in the safety of outside.
Let’s hope these tips help you to brace this new normal we find ourselves in safely and confidently.
I have a lot of friends who are pregnant during these times. And, a lot of them have questions on how to get set up for a new baby.
When you find out that you’re pregnant, you usually have a fair amount of time to get ready for the arrival for your baby. However, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes you’re already far into your pregnancy before you realize that you have an impending arrival. There are several reasons this might happen especially during these times when there are a lot of things to think about and do. The most important thing is what you’re going to do after receiving the news. If you only have a limited amount of time to get ready, maybe only a couple of months or even weeks, you might be panicking about getting everything that you need. You might be short on time, but you can still take the steps that you need to get set up for a new baby.
Make a List of Essentials
One of the secrets of having a newborn is that they actually don’t need a lot of stuff. Of course, there are plenty of different gadgets and products that can come in handy when you have a baby. However, there are very few things that are really vital to have. The items that should be on your list of essentials include diapers, clothes, somewhere for your baby to sleep and things for keeping your baby clean. I made a list of the things that you need to bring to the hospital so you’re prepared. Check it out here: https://mommyginger.com/packing-things-for-the-hospital.html
I actually exclusively breastfed and used the bottle that I bought for storage. You can also result to bottle-feeding when you feel stressed out (do try to breastfeed though if possible). Either way is fine.
For the next step up, you might be thinking about items like a stroller, car seat or baby carrier/sling. My personal advice for this is only get it when the baby’s there. Some babies are choosy (like my daughter! LOL!). Decide what you really need – and consider asking for help from friends and family to stock up on essentials.
Decorate the Nursery
In truth, getting a nursery ready for a newborn doesn’t have to be a priority. Your baby could sleep in a Moses basket or crib by your bed for the first few months. They can also co-sleep with you. Some parents also believe that putting your baby to sleep in their own room can be a good idea too. You won’t have to worry about waking up your baby when you go to bed yourself. If you only have a small room to use as a nursery, take a look at some nursery ideas for small spaces. By keeping things small, you can also save money, and it could take you less time to get set up. If you want to paint the room and have the baby sleep in it, do it ASAP. You’ll need to let the paint dry and air it out to ensure it’s safe.
Check out my article on when we created Zeeka’s Nursery room.
Arrange Time Off (and Childcare)
Sorting out your maternity leave needs to be a priority if you’ve found out that you’re pregnant a little later than usual. How much time are you able to take off work? How much time do you want to take off work? Your first time at home with your baby is precious, and you will also need time to recover after your baby is born. If you need to get back to work fairly quickly, you will also need to look into childcare options. Even if most of us work from home, an extra set of hands will go a long way.
Take a Look at Your Finances
It’s normal to wonder if you can afford to have a baby, especially if your pregnancy might not have been planned. It might be a good idea to take a look at your finances and work out what you can afford. A newborn baby doesn’t have to be too expensive, although children do tend to get more expensive as they get older.
Here is a video on Managing Personal Finances.
Set Up Some Workstations
When you’re getting your home ready for a baby, consider the different tasks you will be doing day-to-day. Set up some different stations for doing various tasks, such as feeding, changing, preparing bottles, and more. You can organize everything so that it’s easy to reach for what you need when you need it. It might not always be easy to keep things neat and tidy, but you can create some order.
Think About Safety
Safety is also an important thing to think about when you’re getting ready for a baby. If you want to prioritize safety, don’t worry too much about “babyproofing” the house just yet. Your newborn won’t be moving around for a while, so you don’t have to worry about bumping heads of table corners or anything like that. However, you will probably want to focus on things like getting a safe car seat, choosing the right bedding, and buying a safe stroller.
Here is a safe detergent that you can use, as well.
Even if you don’t have a lot of time, you can still get set up for a new baby. It might seem like you have a lot to do, but there might not be as much as you think.
In the Philippines, as a woman in business, I don’t feel much of the gender bias that we often talk about. In my travels in the past though and through my interaction with women from all over the world (especially during Network Leader calls for Lean In), there is still a lot of judgement and discrimination going around in other parts of the world. As a Filipina, we are actually quite lucky that we are given equal opportunities as men in the Philippines when it comes to business. In our country, there are actually more women (based in data from DTI) who are opening businesses.
Well, I can’t say the same is true with the other aspects such as politics, etc. We still need to see more improvement in that area. We don’t have much female leaders (based on the 2020 PSA Fact Sheet on Men and Women).
But even if we are “all good” in the aspect of business, this does not mean that we don’t need support and we don’t need to talk about it. We still do.
This is the reason why Frances and I started a Lean In Network in the Philippines. It’s called Lean In PH (https://leanin.org/circles-network/lean-in-ph). Just to backtrack a little, Lean In is an organization started by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. She started this organization to encourage women all over the globe to start “circles”.
What are circles? Circles are get togethers or calls online where women can talk “life REALNESS” with other women who will lend a listening ear and who will support you. Lean In Circle sessions are safe spaces. Anything you say inside the circle is kept within the circle. We value trust.
In the Philippines, we ran two Circle Sessions so far since we started two months ago. For those who’d like to join us for a Circle Session, we’d love to meet you. You can sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/113194888960
For ladies who have your own groups and communities, we are looking for circle leaders, too. If you want to start your own circle, feel free to reach out to Frances and yours truly via the Lean In PH group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/leaninph
Now, how do I feel about women in business? In my vlog and as COO of Taxumo, I’ve talked to a lot of women CEOs, women Sole Proprietorships, women founders, etc. and I am always amazed when I see what they have accomplished. And I see a lot of aspiring women entrepreneurs who I really have great potential and ideas.
Just this morning, I talked to a single Filipina mom who is based in Australia. She raised 4 kids on her own and owns this amazing virtual assistance / outsourcing company. After the call, I was so astounded and kept repeating to my husband how I was so inspired and amazed by her.
Just like what I mentioned in this video…
When I wanted to start my business, the question that I had in my mind was “Could I do it?” And this was something that really stopped me from starting right away. I imagine that some women may feel the same way, too.
And looking back, what I realized is that what helped me decide was my support system. EJ (my husband) was very supportive. He encouraged me to just try it out… and I did.
So to you reading this, you can do it! Even if I don’t know you or even if you’re miles away, I truly believe that you have what it takes. You are reading this for a reason. I really do believe in you!
The anti-terror bill introduced language that authorizes surveillance of individuals, and not just members of organizations declared by the courts as terrorist. This surveillance includes a way for law enforcement to compel ISPs to provide all the data and metadata they collect that can be attributed to you. We’ve seen how this plays out in dystopian science fiction novels, although I would argue it’s more Brave New World versus Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Given that context about the anti-terror bill, it is important that you know this: the data you send over the internet can be read by anyone. It doesn’t even have to be someone with criminal intent. If you’re working from the office, your office IT probably logs which sites you visit. If you’re working from home, your ISP has access to your data because you’re sending it over their servers.
Some people would argue that the anti-terror bill is okay “because they have nothing to hide.” I believe though that this argument stems from a mix of a lack of understanding on how information can be used and hopeful naivete.
How can information be misused: let’s say that you are bothered by the truly horrifying fact that sex crimes exist. With the intention to help, you search for known sex traffickers on the internet. You eventually stumble on to a site that purveys said illicit materials. Congratulations! Your ISP (or whoever is listening in, cue anti-terror bill) now has you on a list of people with searching behaviors consistent with sex criminals.
I also said hopeful naivete because the “I have nothing to hide” argument is based on the fact that you trust EVERYONE around you implicitly. As I said, your data can be read by anyone. If you believe that everyone on Earth has everyone else’s best interests at heart, then let me greet you a belated happy birthday – seems you were just born yesterday.
As I have said in the previous article, if you hand over all your information, you are simply enabling a power imbalance with you on the losing end. Why participate in creating such a power imbalance at all?
Anyone can see my data?
The internet is insecure by default. When the internet was starting out, only universities, the US military, and giant conglomerates had access to it. You needed room sized computers to communicate with other room sized computers.
Eventually, the prices and sizes of the components needed for computers shrank. Computers eventually became personal computers. Everyone and their (geeky) uncle had access to one. The internet grew not only in size, but also in functionality — new ideas were introduced that expanded on its original functionality. Instead of just sending someone a random greeting, I could now send instructions to my bank to transfer money from my account to another account. This lead to unscrupulous individuals who saw how they can make money off of that insecurity.
The simple design of how the internet worked led to its rapid growth but it also has innate vulnerabilities that you would now need to compensate for if you wanted to make sure you were secure.
In the previous article, Privacy Level 1: Know What You’re Sharing, I wanted to educate you on the data you inadvertently shared to social media companies and friends. In this article, I will now show you how to make sure your traffic is secure.
SSL encrypts the traffic between your computer and the website, server, or computer you are talking to. Sites that have “https” automatically does this encryption for you so you can be fairly certain that your data is only visible to you and whoever your computer is talking to.
“https everywhere” is an extension that you install that changes the URL of the site you’re visiting to its “https” version (if supported).
Note that though your messages/data are encrypted, your ISP, your office, or whoever is watching your traffic still knows the website you visited. They just can’t read what you talked about.
When you visit websites, they usually include some code that helps them understand you more. An unfortunate side effect of this is that you are likely sending your data through big companies such as Google and Facebook.
uBlock Origin is a content blocker. It not only blocks ads, but it also disables any tracking software that may be on the websites. It also removes any content that comes from known malware domains — sometimes websites do get hacked and, because of that, they inadvertently serve malware sometimes.
Privacy Badger is usually described as “where uBlock Origin ends, Privacy Badger starts.”
So how the usual content blockers work (uBlock origin included) is that they have a list of blacklisted content providers/IPs. They would then block from content/traffic from these providers on the list. How about for ones not on those lists? Privacy Badger basically monitors your traffic and watches if there’s any source that provides content across different websites (think ads that follow you around after you added something to your shopping cart). If it sees anything like that, it automatically blocks that content for you.
Hmm… not a lot of options for iOS?
Noticed that too, huh? The app store’s walled garden has meant that a lot of innovative applications and extensions such as the above don’t get approved. Fortunately, there is still a recourse: install a new browser!
Step 2: Try a different browser
In this step, I’m going to list a couple of browsers. You don’t need to install all of them though, just choose one and you’re good to go.
Brave is an interesting new experiment. It’s built on top of the Chromium Engine, the same engine that Chrome uses. It’s developed completely in the open so anyone can inspect their code. Here’s Brave browser’s github repo (i.e. where they store their source code) if you want to inspect it. It also introduces a completely new way for publishers to earn. Publishers earn via BAT tokens – yup, cryptocurrency. You can read more about what BAT Tokens are here and you can see how much 1 BAT token is worth here.
So everytime you visit MommyGinger.com, for example, Brave browser (on your local device, not sent anywhere else) will tally how many times you visited her. The people at Brave don’t see this user-specific data, what they get instead is the total visits from all Brave browser users to MommyGinger.com. Ginger is then rewarded BAT tokens based on that number.
As a user, instead of being served ads without a choice, you OPT-IN to their rewards program. When you see the ads, you accumulate BAT tokens as well. From being just an eyeball looking at ads, you are now also earning from your views. Users receive 70% of the ad revenue share as a “reward for their attention.” The ads served are personalized BUT all the data lives on your local device only, your device “calls” for relevant ads but the server doesn’t see your individual data profile.
Aside from that you can also give tips to your favorite content creators. Similar to how it works on Twitch.
Personally, I’m excited about this truly innovative use of blockchain and crypto.
Disclosure: Brave browser was involved in some controversy a while back. If you visited binance.com, they would add their affiliate link. You can read more about it here. They’ve since said sorry and have removed this auto-affiliate thing.
The TOR Browser forces all your traffic over The Onion Router. Basically, it’s a series of servers that bounce your traffic around, each adding a layer of encryption. The main intent here is anonymity. You are bounced around with millions of other users on TOR so traffic that reaches a server can’t be traced back to your location. I’ll talk more about TOR in my next article.
Note that the TOR Browser for iOS, named Onion Browser, will show that it’s published by a guy named Mike Tigas. As per his bio: Mike Tigas is a software engineer and journalist. He works at ProPublica and is a core contributor to the Tor Project. Regardless, however, the browser is free and open-source. You can see Onion Browser’s source code here. The other main contributors are Benajmin Erhart and the Guardian Project, the latter known for creating apps used by, to quote their website “any person looking to protect their data from unjust intrusion, interception, and monitoring.” I would personally trust these developers but, of course, the ultimate decision is up to you.
The Anti-Terror Bill
The anti-terror bill was probably created with the best of intentions at heart. Best intentions, however, can’t stop unintended consequences from rearing its ugly head. For example – one can argue that Metro Manila traffic worsened BECAUSE of the color coding scheme. How? Let’s take my family as an anecdote. Before, we only had 1 car, my dad would bring us to school then drive my mom to work, then go to work himself. When the color coding scheme was implemented, my dad wanted another car for that one day because he wasn’t about to let his family take the woefully bad public transport system here. So now we have a car that was being used 4 workdays out of 5, and 1 for that 1 day. Now looking at that car — what a waste. A car used just once a week? So my mom learned how to drive. Now there were 2 of them on the road instead of just 1 car.
Now, I’m not saying that the anti-terror bill will actually cause terrorism, but I’m wary of the new behaviors particularly from law enforcement because of this. For this bill to work properly, we need to have an impartial watchdog that keeps track to see whether the anti-terror bill is truly being used for its intended purpose. Impartiality, unfortunately, seems to be in short supply nowadays, with dissenting opinion being characterized as either stupid or downright seditious.
MommyGinger.com and Privacy
Ginger earns mainly from the ads that she has on her blog — some of these ads are served by Google and Facebook. However, Ginger believes in your right to privacy and she respects your choice to turn on your content blocker. Understandably, it does leave her in a bit of a pickle. So instead, Ginger would like to request 3 things:
Download a free copy of her book, Building a Business in the Philippines, by signing up when the pop up appears,
Actively engage with her blog by leaving comments when you read her articles,
Please do tell her what you think, what you like, what you don’t like, and what you’d want to see – she would love to hear from you as a person versus as an anonymous data point on her analytics platforms.
This is the second article in my series about Privacy. With the rise of social media and authoritarian governments, privacy has slowly changed from becoming a right to a privilege. This series aims to help people understand how to keep a more private profile online.
EJ Arboleda is a guest writer for MommyGinger.com. He is the CEO of Taxumo Inc, an avid fan of technology, a paranoid android user, an influencer’s chubby hubby, and proud dad to a whip-smart little girl. The opinions he shared in this article are not shared by Ginger Arboleda, MommyGinger.com, nor by Taxumo Inc.
Metadata is data about data. And understanding the flow of data — where it comes from and to whom it’s shared is important when we talk about privacy. Think of it as the tags you add on to each tweet. It’s not really part of the tweet itself but it helps identify the tweet as part of a trend. Metadata isn’t as innocuous as you’d think though as sometimes they reveal much more than what you intended to reveal.
Did you know that the pictures you take with your smartphone also store your geolocation?
You can see the GPS coordinates of where this photo was taken. A quick Google Maps lookup shows that this was taken at this location.
Yup, this was a photo taken in Dusit. Sharing this photo also meant that I was sharing my location.
Removing EXIF data
Fortunately, removing this data is pretty simple.
Check your phone’s settings to see which apps are using your GPS or Location Services.
In this screenshot from an iPhone, choose “Never” for the Camera app.
For Android, it’s a little bit trickier since different models, have different Android flavors and apps. But in my phone, I found it in my camera app’s settings:
You can turn if off in this screen or in a similar screen.
Second, Strip before sharing
The second way of removing metadata is by stripping it off after you take the picture (or at least before you share).
Stripping data on the mobile device itself
On an iPhone:
Open the photo in the ‘Photos’ app
Before you share, at the top of the screen, tap ‘Options’
Turn off ‘Location’ and ‘All Photos Data’
Share the photo as you would normally
On an Android, again the process changes depending on your OS/manufacturer.
I would recommend doing it via an app – ObscuraCam by the Guardian Project. The app itself is open-source and the organization that made it, the Guardian Project, is known for creating free open-source apps that are made specially for journalists, activists, or privacy-conscious citizens.
Stripping data on your desktop machine
In Windows, just right-click the file and choose Properties. You’ll see the information on the photo and click on the link that says “Remove Properties and Personal Information:”
On OSX, you can follow these instructions:
Open the photo using ‘Preview’
Go to ‘Tools’ in your menu
Select ‘Show Inspector’
Select the (i) tab
Click the ‘Exif’ tab and remove the data
So why is the data there in the first place
Now, having all that data there isn’t all bad. From a functionality point of view, there’s some potentially cool applications with seeing data. For example, the iPhone has a COVID-19 tracking functionality in their latest OS update — it can notify you if you may have been exposed to the virus.
Aside from that, the metadata also attests to the veracity of the photo. Let’s say I was trying to prove that I wasn’t in a rally defending human rights because I was eating in Dusit, the metadata can help prove that that is indeed the case.
It’s okay. I have nothing to hide.
Knowledge is power. You have seen how the media (social and traditional) can manipulate you simply because they know what makes you tick. If you hand over all your information, you are simply enabling a power imbalance with you on the losing end.
Privacy is a right. Protect it.
This is the first article in my series about Privacy. With the rise of social media and authoritarian governments, privacy has slowly changed from becoming a right to a privilege. This series aims to help people understand how to keep a more private profile online.
EJ Arboleda is a guest writer for MommyGinger.com. He is the CEO of Taxumo Inc, an avid fan of technology, a paranoid android user, an influencer’s chubby hubby, and proud dad to a whipsmart little girl.