Data, Check Fraud, Email times

Despite knowing that many private companies buy all sorts of data from the thousands of data brokers in the US, it is amazing to learn that the largest purchaser of private data is actually the United States government. Many of the agencies involved in this purchasing of data are part of the intelligence community but there is little oversight limiting what can be purchased.

Using an ad blocker helps block third- party ads, speeds up page loading speeds, and helps with security, as it can block “ads” that pop up. Now to make more money, YouTube will disable playback for those using ad blockers. Currently, they are experimenting with a small group of users and are likely to roll this out for all. Soon, you may have to unblock ads for YouTube or buy YouTube Premium.

Check fraud is increasing. Sending or receiving checks in the mail gives fraudsters an edge up—physically stealing checks provides routing numbers, signatures and paper to “wash” and reuse with changes to payee and amount. As much as you may have concerns about electronic fund transfers, they are safer than mailing checks. Monitor your accounts online to see when checks are cashed. Consider paying for services with a credit card, if that option is available to you.

DuckDuckGo has a beta for Windows users ( Their goal is to outdo other browsers’ tracking protections by automating cookie pop-ups, with the ability to hide many “I accept” options, and a built-in player for YouTube videos that disables many of the privacy-invading ads and keeps you out of YouTube’s recommendations algorithm.

Optimal email sending times and days keep changing. Now 10 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm are best. The trick is avoiding hungry/ rushed times, so different industries may have varied “happy” times. And, no surprise: Mondays and Fridays are busier, so emails should arrive Tuesday to Thursday. Much of this info comes via email marketers, who track when messages are actually opened. There is nothing wrong with emailing when you need to. Just remember you may have to send a follow-up—maybe aim for one of the better times.

Just as you learn to limit distractions from digital notifications, you need to create a signal for real people to recognize when you do not want to be disturbed. It could be a simple physical object or closing the door, or LED “busy lights” that plug into your computer and change color if you are busy—they can even be set to trigger at certain times. Make sure they integrate with software you use or have features you need. Otherwise, just use a red plush toy.

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