October 14, 2021

Google’s Free Security Checkup Tool

Doesn’t it seem like online security has gotten a little excessive lately? Our phones and computers are always under attack. Even people who think they are internet aware can be misled and be harmed by malicious hackers with increasingly sophisticated attacks. And how is anyone supposed to remember so many passwords, without writing them or storing them somehow?

Password combinations have to be unique, which makes creating and storing them challenging in this complex, hostile cybersecurity environment.

The answer to all of these concerns is effective cybersecurity practices. As we continue talking about Cybersecurity Security Month - many of you may be unsure how to continue increasing your digital environment defenses, without being mislead or breaking the bank.

Here is a cool tool for you to try out that’s also completely free. This tool will be especially helpful if you utilize a Google account, Gmail, or the Google chrome browser for your internet use. This cybersecurity checks the passwords saved to your Google account for data breaches and overall password strength; verifies the recovery email and phone number set is still current, checks for suspicious account activity, verifies all logged-in devices, and informs you of all third party apps with access to your account.

Google’s Free Security Checkup


You would be surprised to find out how many data breaches occur even at major companies (data breaches happen all the time!). Protecting your logins and your online identity is extremely important, and repairing damaged finances or an identity stolen is very costly. An entire business sector has been built around aiding people who’ve been attacked and need to rebuild.

Here are some of the major data breaches:

  • AOL
  • Ancestry.com
  • TD Ameritrade
  • Apple
  • Bank of America
  • Capital One
  • The Department of Homeland Security
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • Sega
  • eHarmony
  • LinkedIn
  • Orbitz

Some companies make the list multiple times, like Uber, Twitch, and Marriott International Hotels. Many of us have used these household-name companies without thinking that our privacy would ever be stolen and that our sensitive data would be handed over by insufficiently protected networks to hackers. You can read more about data breaches and the large amount of data stolen on Wikipedia.

These malicious parties are an increasing problem that we regular folks need safe, trusted and self-maintaining protections to help keep us safe. The free Google Security Checkup tool and the many great anti-virus solutions we recommend below are a great way to enhance your personal cybersecurity.

Webroot Internet Security Complete with Antivirus Software 2021 - 5 Device, Includes Android, IOS, Password Manager, System Optimizer and Cloud Backup, 2 Year (PC Download)

McAfee Total Protection 2021 Unlimited Devices, Antivirus Internet Security Software Password Manager, Parental Control, Privacy, 1 Year Subscription - Download Code

Norton 360 Platinum 2021 – Antivirus software for 20 Devices with Auto Renewal - 3 Months FREE - Includes VPN, PC Cloud Backup & Dark Web Monitoring [Download]

ESET Multi-Device Internet Security Premium | 2021 Edition | 3 Devices | 1 Year | Antivirus Software | Password Manager | Privacy Protection | Antispam | Anti-Theft | Digital Download [PC/Mac/Android/Linux Online Code]

Norton 360 Deluxe 2021 | Antivirus software for 5 Devices [Key Card] and Microsoft 365 Family | 3 Months Free, Plus 12-Month Subscription [PC/Mac Download] (Both renew to 12-Month Subscriptions)


AVG Internet Security 2021 | Antivirus Protection Software | 10 Devices, 2 Years [PC/Mac/Mobile Download]


Avast Premium Security 2021 | Antivirus Protection Software | 1 PC, 1 Year [Download]

#amberclee #Cybersecurity #CyberSecurityAwarenessMonth #CommissionsEarned #Ad

October 13, 2021

Blue Origin New Shepard Launch 10.13.2021

For all of my fellow Trekkies around the world - we no longer need to lurk in the shadows because as of today, William Shatner has become the oldest person to travel into space (for a few brief minutes) at the age of 90. The first spaceship captain portrayed in the long-running series Star Trek, watching the Blue Origin rocket carry Captain Kirk into space today was nothing short of inspiring.

Waiting for the launch to start, all I could think was “this is SO cool!” I remember that the Star Trek series and the many exploration possibilities it proposed always awakened the dreamer in me - and I think watching the Blue Origin New Shepard launch today may have done the same. For a few minutes waiting for and watching the launch, I could let my stressors go and just wonder at the joy of floating above Earth.

How small everything must seem from up above. Space exploration is a collective human dream that has the power to unite us beyond borders and differences. Think about all of the young people watching the launch and how it could inspire them to explore, to create, and to dream. Imagine how space travel will become exponentially easier for the younger generations and become a norm for the human species.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard booster rocket is beautiful itself with a feather painted across and many shaped panels on the booster. It’s amazing how it lands itself, and the sound that the booster makes while landing is loud yet interesting. The capsule peacefully floated down with the assistance of several parachutes. Each movement of the New Shepard rocket components seemed like a choreographed ballet to bring the crew safely home.

As the capsule came down from space and the radio communications came back in, you could hear the crew laughing, and then you hear William Shatner’s voice say with excitement: “it’s unlike anything else!” Seeing our Earth from above must be an experience like none other...

As a Trekkie himself, Jeff Bezos greeted the newly minted astronauts as they exited the capsule. You can tell that Bezos adores Shatner from the way the two interact on screen. But what Trekkie doesn’t. Shatner spent several minutes talking about piercing through the atmosphere and into the unknown of space, overtaken by the immense joy felt by viewing the Earth from above. Traveling to space is truly a life-changing experience that is hard to describe in words.

With all this excitement over a launch to space, it reminds me of how we need to care for our Earth home. While we may venture to other planets and out into space, we must preserve our planet and work to take sustainable steps. Sustainability starts with our own personal actions every day, and whether we choose to waste the precious resources that our Earth provides for us.

One way that Blue Origin makes space travel more sustainable is by using reusable rocket components - most of the booster, crew capsule, parachutes, and other launch parts will be used again for many future launches, while in the past, used rocket components essentially became space trash or crashed down to Earth in small enough pieces that most people ignored the problem.

Thank you, Blue Origin and crew, for being a beacon of hope for our world.

New Shepard NS-14 lifts off from Launch Site One in West Texas. (January 14, 2021)
 #amberclee #BlueOrigin #StarTrek #WilliamShatner #JeffBezos

October 11, 2021

Cyber Security Awareness Month (October)

October has been declared Cybersecurity Awareness month. Do you know your cybersecurity safety status, both on the computer and on your smartphone?

View the video presentation or read the transcript to learn basic tips for protecting your digital assets and online privacy. Check out the anti-virus software we’ve recommended below.

Enhance your cybersecurity protection with the antivirus softwares recommended below.

Webroot Internet Security Complete with Antivirus Software 2021 - 5 Device, Includes Android, IOS, Password Manager, System Optimizer and Cloud Backup, 2 Year (PC Download)

McAfee Total Protection 2021 Unlimited Devices, Antivirus Internet Security Software Password Manager, Parental Control, Privacy, 1 Year Subscription - Download Code

Norton 360 Platinum 2021 – Antivirus software for 20 Devices with Auto Renewal - 3 Months FREE - Includes VPN, PC Cloud Backup & Dark Web Monitoring [Download]

ESET Multi-Device Internet Security Premium | 2021 Edition | 3 Devices | 1 Year | Antivirus Software | Password Manager | Privacy Protection | Antispam | Anti-Theft | Digital Download [PC/Mac/Android/Linux Online Code]

Norton 360 Deluxe 2021 | Antivirus software for 5 Devices [Key Card] and Microsoft 365 Family | 3 Months Free, Plus 12-Month Subscription [PC/Mac Download] (Both renew to 12-Month Subscriptions)


AVG Internet Security 2021 | Antivirus Protection Software | 10 Devices, 2 Years [PC/Mac/Mobile Download]


Avast Premium Security 2021 | Antivirus Protection Software | 1 PC, 1 Year [Download]

#amberclee #Cybersecurity #CyberSecurityAwarenessMonth #CommissionsEarned #Ad

October 9, 2021

Chip Shortages, Surging Raw Material Prices, Transportation Bottlenecks... and Christmas Trees

You might have heard on the news recently about the global supply chain and production shortages occurring throughout many nations. Some industries are having difficultly finding workers while other industry's workers are retiring or opting out due to the risk of Covid illness. While the world struggles to cope with the pandemic recovery, these bottlenecks cause rippling effects in other industries that rely on the chain of products and supplies.

Even once a loaded container ship makes the journey into a congested port there are still issues with the offloading process due to the ongoing Covid pandemic: many transportation container ships and their crew are having to wait in port and are not allowed to disembark to unload their products. Some countries are requiring the crews to quarantine for a week or more on their ship, forcing these large vessels to anchor offshore while they await clearance to dock.

The world anxiously awaits computer chips from Malaysia and electronics, clothes, and toys from China. No computer semiconductor chips equals no new vehicles, new computers, or PS5s for the rest of the consuming world. Surely you have seen the jump in new vehicle prices and the low inventory being kept by many vehicle dealers.

There even continues to be a shortage of liquor and alcohol products right now. Some manufacturers pivoted during the Covid pandemic to begin producing hand sanitizer instead of alcohols, while other producers are simply experiencing extreme supply chain shortages for the materials they need to make their products: raw material precursors, bottling, and packaging supply lines are all squeezed right now.

America is recovering from the pandemic but the rest of the world is not recovering as fast. As we recover and open up again, the demand for many products is beginning to go up. Other countries that supply the US with their manufactured products are not having as great of success yet in fighting the Covid pandemic. Lock downs are still present in several parts of the world, with many countries closing commerce production and slowing global distribution as the virus surges locally.

On a related side note – did you see that the US Postal Service will intentionally be slowing their mail services to save money in addition to the regular holiday slow down experienced each winter? Covid has already slowed all regular mail in the last couple of years: The US Postal Service might be crafting its own demise.

For another year, expect Christmas to be quite different. I’ll be making many of my gifts this year by hand or ordering special gifts NOW. For my parents, I’m planning to make a farmers gift basket for their Christmas gift, including a hand-knit scarf, fresh eggs from my chickens, a fresh loaf of homemade bread, a small tray of live baby greens, a handmade card, and whatever else I can grow, craft, or find for free before December.

Amber's "Christmas Tree Farm"

Christmas trees are rumored to be the hot item of 2021 - so buy a tree now if you need a new one. Prices are already rising quickly on Amazon due to the shipping bottlenecks and the manufacturing slowdown.

Below are some recommended Christmas trees that won't break the bank and are highly rated on Amazon - but you'll have to move fast, since prices are quickly rising for the holiday rush and stores are expected to sell out.

7ft Artificial Colorful Rainbow Full Fir Christmas Tree

7.5ft Premium Spruce Artificial Holiday Christmas Tree


Buy 7.5ft Premium Spruce Artificial Holiday Christmas Tree

6ft Pre-Lit Snow Flocked Artificial Holiday Christmas Pine Tree

Pre-lit Artificial Mini Christmas Tree, Includes Small Lights and Cloth Bag Base, Burlap-4 ft

Check out my other sites for Christmas gifts if you’re looking for unique Viking jewelry treasures at Viking Merchant or value-priced outdoor/ survival prepping supplies at Gritty Duck Supply Shop.

#amberclee #CommissionsEarned #Ad

October 7, 2021

Hiking With the Cows at Orange Creek Restoration Area, North Tract (Gainesville)

Location: near Island Grove community, off of Highway 329, at 29.45881° N, 82.08476° W

Nestled about 15 minutes south of Gainesville and not far from Highway 301, Orange Creek Restoration Area is a lightly trafficked hiking and horseback trails system approximately 5 miles long. Trails wander through shady pine and Florida scrub, with several sections of trail that are underwater after rain accumulates in rainier months.
Orange creek is a great opportunity to see many kinds of Florida wildlife. On our hikes we’ve encountered snakes, lizards, wild hogs, lots of bird species, and many kinds of insects. Non native residents of the park that are fun to view include a herd of (female) grazing cows that sometimes have calves nursing with the group.

Remember to always give wildlife appropriate space so that they don’t become agitated or possibly attack. Do not try to approach the cows.

This wildlife restoration area is used for hunting during some times of the year. Hunting season dates and notices will be posted at the gates, so be sure to keep your eyes out for these notifications. Hunters search for turkey and deer here during the appropriate seasons.

The five mile trail passes easily with its easy grade and plenty of shade from the Florida heat. There is a huge parking lot if you’re in a horse trailer or bringing friends.

One interesting stop towards the center of the park, and also accessible by an old dirt road, is the Carlton Cemetery, also known as the Old Sykes Cemetery. This beautiful old cemetery holds graves from pre-1900 from the original settlers to the area, primarily the Sykes family. Many of the headstones are showing their age. It’s a peaceful resting place and a nice break on the hike.

Make sure you wear a good pair of hiking boots or supportive shoes when you attempt this hike to protect your feet properly. A good pair of hiking boots will also come in handy if you run into a snake or any swamped areas of the trail.

The Columbia Men's Vent Shoes are my favorite footwear for hiking Florida trails. They’re lightweight and breathable, so my feet keep cool and don’t get sweaty. I’m always getting compliments on the bright blue and lime colors. I’ve had my current pair for about a year of frequent hikes and bike rides, so they are holding up well to frequent wear. Columbia has also made these shoes with an antimicrobial fabric to keep foot germs at bay.

Check out my favorite trail shoes by Columbia at the links to Amazon below if you’re looking for a great pair.

Amazon also offers the Columbia Vent Shoes in Green, Sea Salt/Canvas Tan, Black/White, and Monument/Rocket colors.

October 4, 2021

What Happened to the Geese at Gainesville Duckpond?

One of our favorite stops on our daily Gainesville bike ride is to visit the Duckpond neighborhood to view the ducks and swans, and sit for a few minutes at the peaceful water. Duckpond is a historical neighborhood of Gainesville with the majority of homes built in the late 1800s to the early 1900s.

Many Duckpond homes have been preserved and carry plaques certifying their age: the neighborhood stands as a living history of the early settlers to the area. There are cottage, colonial, Victorian, Mediterranean, and farmhouse-styled homes lining the whimsical winding street. And if you’re into rock music - this is the childhood neighborhood of famed rocker Tom Petty.

A small river meanders through the middle of the street that splits the neighborhood. Towards the south end of the river there is a large pond with an island in the middle that for years has housed a pair of geese: a white older one and a younger black goose. The white goose always reminded me of the one from the children’s fairy tale stories of old mother Goose.

In 2019 the Gainesville neighborhood also added a pair of swimming black swans with beautiful ruffled black feathers on their back. These four large birds have been beautiful to watch on every bike ride we take. They are often very friendly and will squawk back to you as if they are saying hello. I can imagine that the people who live in Duckpond neighborhood are also very fond of their birds - they are such majestic animals!

Twin cypress trees grow over 100 feet tall from the island, which also provides a great habitat for critters. A number of fish and amphibians and reptiles live around the island. You can see the frogs where they have laid their eggs around the rim of the concrete island. Gainesville as a whole has quite a bit of biodiversity in flora and fauna, and this neighborhood has worked to protect this serene slice of land.

The river flows above ground for about half a mile through this beautiful neighborhood section of Gainesville. It’s a great place to sit and study, or to have a few minutes of quiet meditation. While enjoying the natural space, there is not a lot of sound from traffic or city noises. There’s also a couple of benches by the pond.


As you can see from the photos, Gainesville Duckpond is such a peaceful oasis right in the heart of the city. It’s easy to see why the homes hold such high real estate and social value in this area.

Unfortunately on our most recent bike ride, we noticed that all of the birds were missing from the pond.

A cleaning was conducted on the pond six months or more ago where they completely drained the water, cleaned out most of the brush and trash that had accumulated in the pond, and placed the birds in a temporary home. Since these birds had been at Duckpond for years I never imagined that they would not bring them back yet.

Where have the geese and swans from Duckpond neighborhood gone to? No one seems to have an answer online. Do you know where the geese and swans are now living? Leave us a comment to help us figure out this Gainesville mystery.


October 3, 2021

Digital Currency and Blockchain Explained: The Good and the Bad

Are you curious about how digital currencies and blockchain technologies work? These two technology giants are changing the face of many essential industries and won’t be leaving the digital frontier anytime soon.

Digital currency is a decentralized financial system that utilizes nodes to verify digital transaction requests and blockchain to permanently record verified transactions. A transaction can include cryptocurrency, contracts, records, or other information.

Here’s how a digital currency transaction and blockchain work together to create a permanent transaction:
  1. Someone requests a digital transaction.
  2. The requested transaction is broadcast to a P2P network of computers known as nodes.
  3. The transaction is verified when the 64 alphanumeric target is guessed by a node.
  4. Once verified, the transaction is combined with other transactions to create a chain of data to create a new block of data for the ledger.
  5. The new block is then added to a chain of verified data blocks, the blockchain, in a way that is permanent and unalterable.
And that’s it! Here’s an infographic on the digital transaction verification process:

The Good

Digital currency and Blockchain are truly revolutionary technologies touted as a democratic solution that unhinges financial and other transactions from any one government or one currency system. Blockchain records are unchangeable, permanent, and verifiable records that theoretically will exist forever as a part of the chain created.

Many different types of digital currency exist. You’ve probably heard of Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Ethereum, or the growing handful of other popular digital currencies currently taking over the market. They each make their claim that they are the best.

The same is true of blockchain verifiers - there are many permanent blockchain records already created. They also each claim to be the best in some way. Some blockchains allow you larger storage blocks and some are quite limited at 2MB of verified data block size. Some blockchains offer the person conducting the transaction complete privacy of who they are to others; while other blockchain records are completely public, showing who initiated the transaction, the type of transaction, and the blockchain sequence identifier.

These blockchain verifiers each have a number of minors independently working to verify their transactions. The verification process is a little bit like a guessing game. A random 64 digit alphanumeric code is generated and the winning miner has to essentially guess the 64 digit alphanumeric number that is closest to that target number, winning the digital currency value for that verified block of information. A 64 digit alphanumeric code allows for millions of possibilities to guess.

Blockchain is creating an ecosystem for projects in currencies, developer tools, sovereignty and security, financial technology, currency exchange, sharing data and amassing big data, and identity authentication. These named project types are just the start of the many possible technologies growing out of blockchain technology.

Image by Josh Nussbaum

The Bad

Even with all of the benefits that bitcoin Blockchain technologies bring, there are still some negatives that need to be solved. One of the primary negative aspects of all the mining activity is the generation of copious amounts of computer hardware waste and the large amounts of energy consumed to power these super-processing computers.

A regular everyday business or home computer is not capable of mining for bitcoin as the market currently stands. In order to even compete to win a blockchain validation, the miner needs a powerful gaming-type computer processor and most likely you will need many of these machines in a network together to generate the computing power necessary.

All of this computing power uses a lot of energy. And building all of the computer chips, which only lasts for a few years, creates a lot of additional waste. Digital currency miners are quite open about the cost to continually change out their computer processors for newer, faster chips; the power needed to run those machines, the power needed to cool the room that the computers are kept in, and the subsequent waste being generated by their quest to mine [to guess numbers and validate digital transactions] faster than the next miner, and ultimately win the digital currency bounty.

Digital currencies and blockchain technologies hold many opportunities for our future, if they can get over the hurdles of waste generation and energy consumption that they face today.

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#amberclee #blockchain #cryptocurrency

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