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Thread: Serious actions to consider for our generation and computers as we age.

  1. #1
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    Serious actions to consider for our generation and computers as we age.

    Hi all

    While the topic is still foremost of my mind I thought I might share some thoughts you all might consider seriously and make allowances for and plans for long in advance.

    Our generation and the ones that come after are the front edge of a new wave of issues that arise when one gets to the aged situation where you can no longer use the computer you have been using for the longest time.

    Not too long ago I posted about backups and we had a debate on passing on family data like images and videos especially since the new devices we all use are taking digital records.

    Well we have also talked some stage of having our pics scanned and made into jpegs for the same purpose and same goes for all those magnetic tapes of any types we have. Some of us may even have 16mm and 8mm film from the real old days. Anyhow we all are aware of that fact that we need to convert it and store it safely if we intend for it to get passed on.

    But what I want to bring up is the issue of making plans with "a trusted person" be it a family member or someone that you believe will be around to manage your affairs when you are no longer physically able to do so. You may be mentally up to it but not physically and then there is even the issue of perhaps not being even mentally up to it such as in the event of a serious illness that deprives you of your ability to interact.

    My concern here that I am asking you to consider and think on and make plans for lies not with the actual family record stuff. That in all likelihood you will have handed on by then or at least most likely have pans to deal with.

    What I am referring to is the issue of other more sensitive data such as banking/ and other private records perhaps wills/insurance details/ back up scans of government documents and records etc.

    We all know we are moving in a big way to paperless society. We are all on a daily basis using our electronic devices for more and more. Online banking for one thing. We have passwords by the dozen for all sorts or at least should have (more than one password that is).

    In our generations case add another 20 years or so (heck in my case I got to consider likelihood of 40 years based on the docs view of genetics and their implications in longevity) and what amount of data and how will we be using technology as a whole by then.

    The big issue is making sure that when your assets are disposed of even by you with all consciousness that there are no records on the devices that you dispense with that could be damaging either to yourself or your family that's behind.

    This only hit me this past weekend when news came that my Dad has gone downhill to the point where he is going to have to let the computer go and his newly acquired landline (which he was hoping would be getting him back his DSL connection) and move into a ward for permanent care. Now this is a 96 year man we talking about and for most of his generation the issue of a computer and its use is not even a issue. But not in his case. forget for a moment the personal side of the loss of connectivity etc that is causing all connected to him distress, because that alone is like a death sentence being handed down by a judge where you now have to go into solitary confinement essentially by virtue of being cut off from the outside.

    For a moment consider that he is about to sell his computer. What is on there I have no clue but I do know his banking records are on there at a min. Given his age etc its very plausible that banks particularly in his neck of the woods, could more easily be duped into providing access to his accounts etc than perhaps in our neck of the woods except one can wonder about that too what with identity theft being an issue.

    Then there is the matter of ones spouse and their knowledge and understanding which may or may not be up to yours with regards to what you have on your computer or how to deal with it. And add to that all the online data stores that we are collecting as we evolve our life in this techie age.

    I have always made sure to remove the Hard drive of past computers, but as yet I have not made sure to clear them of data or destroy them before taking them to our electronic equipment (hazardous waste) recycling depot.

    In my personal case I have made big strides in preparing for an event like this but I am nowhere near prepared. My case is even more serious since I am a one man band and consultant and therefore have client data to ensure does not get into the wrong hands. You may too if you have a small business and you are the owner. You would not want your spouse to face claims on your estate in the event of your passing and something untoward happening as a result of mishap related to your computer data getting into the wrong hands. there are numerous permutations of events that are possible here.

    Nothing really new since we had/have the same issue as far as paper records of any of this data and have been dealing with that since it came about. I think the huge difference is at least it was readable by the spouse or relatives and could be seen to be destroyed. One also needed to get access to a bunch to a bunch of paper to have impact(well maybe not quite) . But when we hand a hard drive full of data to someone via a computer being sold well that has everything in one place and its often not visible and everyone is looking at the computer as old and something that is of little value today.

    So please my friends take a moment to consider this topic and make appropriate preparation.

    The techies among us might devote some thoughts in this thread to some simple approaches that could be followed by guys where our spouse or ourselves are not that techie inclined and don't have access people they can trust to advise on the matter.

    My ultra simplistic thought here that does not help with access by the spouse to the data but helps with the aspect of destruction or preservation of the really important sensitive stuff ( and that we could do with defining) is use an external plug in hard drive and move to storing nothing on the computer itself apart from the programs. This way instructions are simple. "Whoever" just get hold of that box and either see to its total destruction or use it to get at the data but then instructions need to be left to be able to "get at the data and just what data is on there that needs to be got at".

    I think I have said enough on the matter and will leave others to add to this topic. I am confident we have techies on our forum way above my pay grade that can offer more thoughts on data destruction as well as preservation than I ever possibly can.

    I merely wanted to alert you all to a very important issue I have personally had to deal with and do so remotely to where the data is.

    The other issue of loss of connectivity is way too upsetting for me to even broach, I am trying hard to be an ostrich in this case and just bury my head in the ground.

    Hope this serves to alert some of you. My apologies for bringing up the unpleasant aspects to life, but hey in a family I believe one has to broach the pleasant and unpleasant especially if you believe it might help someone else.

    Cheers
    cheers

  2. #2
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    It's funny you bring this up. My wife and I have finally started doing our wills, advance directives, and estate planning. We've planned to do it for years now, but most recently it's been prompted due to a close friend that doesn't have the time that he once thought he did.

    As for some odd planning, I've had a co-worker that setup an automated email to go out if he didn't check in from time to time with the website. He was killed in a car wreck and about a month later the system sent out a bunch of emails to various friends and loved ones, which freaked some of those folks out, but some found comfort in getting it as he had thought of them. I have a cousin that still gets on my uncle's Facebook page and posts time to time. He passed away about a year ago but wanted someone in the family to post things so his contacts would be able to stay in touch.

    I got some habits from my first computer room job. We would save the old and crashed hard drives from computers and upgrades and when we got a box full, we'd take them out in the parking lot with a sledge hammer and blow off steam. I still do that today, pull the old hard drives before dumping a computer or donating the rest of it, do a wipe if it's still working and then smash it to pieces if I have no use for it anymore.

    I'll have to remember to put this into my directives though since it's on my plate right now.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  3. #3
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    My mother keeps all of their information on her computer and she is diligent in backing it up. I get the newest backup and written instructions on how to access things from my computer (in the event hers is ruined in a crash or fire). I keep that information in my fireproof safe. We do not use a bank vault as it doesn't allow 24/7 access and it was one of the considerations when we purchased the big gun safe. Good thoughts though Rob, nothing is as permanent any more. Maybe that helps me cut down the clutter!
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

    Host of the 2015 FAMILY WOODWORKING GATHERING

  4. #4
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    what does your mom use for her back up software jonathan? and how can you get connected to her computer? remote network?
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
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  5. #5
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    My parents are very up front with myself, brother and sister as to what, where, when and how things need to be handled. My mom had the unfortunate task of figuring out her aunt and uncle's mess when the aunt was suddenly dead from undetected lung cancer and the uncle was unable to take care of himself and needed to start living in assisted living...all of this happened the span of two weeks. They had no kids and no other family members where around nor stepped up to help. Suddenly becoming an executer of an estate that was finacially sound but a complete mess, my mom was hitting her head on the wall constanty. It's all figured out now, but the stress that was put (inscreased by some extended family members) on my mom and dad wasn't good at all. That experience made my parents change how they were doing things...they don't want us kids to go thru the same thing. They got us all together to have a meeting with their financial people to explain what would happen when they pass. It was a hard meeting to think about, what happens when my parents are gone, but I'm so glad it happened. Now we have a clear idea on what will happen, how it will happen, and who to contact when it happens. We each get an update quarterly if anything has changed, and each get a copy of the important papers to keep in our own bank deposit boxes. They have the original in a fireproof safe.

    All that said, the wife and I still need to do the same....
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
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  6. #6
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    Something that was just brought to my attention. A friend of my wife's parents had a fire in their home and it burned down, their fire safe content did not burn, but water that was used to put the fire out did damage, well all of the content of the safe was damaged by the water. I have now upgraded my fire safe to a water proof fire safe. Electronics don't like water and I store my backup hard drive in the safe.
    "Have no fear of perfection--you'll never reach it."
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by larry merlau View Post
    what does your mom use for her back up software jonathan? and how can you get connected to her computer? remote network?
    Actually a very simple disc/cd whatever they are called. On it is her passwords, where things are located, ie: files, bank name/location, necessary information to keep the lights on and bills paid if they are laid up in the hospital or worse.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Bower View Post
    My parents are very up front with myself, brother and sister as to what, where, when and how things need to be handled. Now we have a clear idea on what will happen, how it will happen, and who to contact when it happens. We each get an update quarterly if anything has changed, and each get a copy of the important papers to keep in our own bank deposit boxes. They have the original in a fireproof safe.
    All that said, the wife and I still need to do the same....
    It does require a tragedy sometimes to wake us up and get us in gear. My mom dealt with my paternal grandma's estate and her parent's estate and although they were in order, there were surprises and situations. So mom and dad have tried to eliminate that for my brother and I who are the executors of their estate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Krager View Post
    Something that was just brought to my attention. A friend of my wife's parents had a fire in their home and it burned down, their fire safe content did not burn, but water that was used to put the fire out did damage, well all of the content of the safe was damaged by the water. I have now upgraded my fire safe to a water proof fire safe. Electronics don't like water and I store my backup hard drive in the safe.
    Yep, burn time as well as waterproof as the water being sprayed is under high pressure and gets into areas. Mine is waterproof and on a heated floor so I don't need a golden rod to keep the humidity under control and don't have to worry about it falling into a basement and laying in water.


    Another thing in this day and age to consider Rob, a paper copy or a list of some kind with the families phone numbers. Using my cell and auto dialing (do they call it dialing yet?) I don't put to memory the specific set of numbers even for the most common numbers I call now.
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

    Host of the 2015 FAMILY WOODWORKING GATHERING

  8. #8
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    Re: clearing off computers:

    At work we use the free version of DBAN for nuking disks. Just boot the CD, hit return a few times, and it will wipe the system hard drive.
    (This is for PC's.)

    Of course I like to take things apart too, so sometimes I just take apart the hard drive. Put the torx bit in the driver and start prying things apart.
    Those platters make shiny little mirrors, and the magnets are useful also.
    There's usually more than one way to do it...
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  9. #9
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    No kids, and at the current rate, I'll be broke long before I'm dead, so no worries about what I leave behind. Stuff on my computer will be tossed...my wife has no apparent interest in any photos or paperwork I might have on there.

    Regarding clearing out hard drives, this is my current favorite: a .40 caliber FMJ bullet to the spindle.



    Next time we go out, my buddy has a few laptops that need to be decommissioned. Who says 30-round magazines are of no use?
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  10. #10
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    Backing up your computers is just part of owning them. You change the oil in your car, right? Important documents, photos, handwritten letters etc. can be stored in an inexpensive fireproof safe or better yet, in a bank box for very little per year. I would hate to rely on soft-copies of all my home movies or treasured pictures. Computers are tools and they make our lives easier. They are not a replacement for the physical world IMHO.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

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