The government of the United States has now been shut down for longer than any other time in the nation's history. What does this mean? For starters, many Federal workers--who often live paycheck to paycheck--don't have an income. A food pantry has been opened on the Boston US Coast Guard Base. Over 400 families came for food during the first 2 days it was open. Government workers and their families are facing hardship as unpaid bills mount. Across the country business are trying to ease the... Read Post
News You Can Use
In February I posted about the ways we can identify fake Amazon reviews, particularly the tool Fakespot.com. Earlier this week Buzzfeed published an article about the business of fake Amazon reviews, which includes these staggering statistics: 87% of Amazon shoppers surveyed said a positive Amazon review was critical in their decision to purchase a product, but fewer than 10% of Amazon customers write reviews of items they've bought. However, getting positive reviews is essential to... Read Post
"Fake news" is a phrase we've been hearing a lot over the past year. The barrage of half-truths and outright lies seems endless. At times it seems we live in a fog of rumors and fabrications. A conversation with a casual acquaintance can open a window into a world of alternative facts (A national fast-food chain serves burgers made of human flesh! There's an ebola outbreak in your hometown! A Muslim mayor has outlawed Christmas!).
Fortunately we've got an increasing number of tools... Read Post
As of March 26, when anyone goes to the RMV to get or renew a driver's license, state ID, or learner's permit they will need more documents than in the past. In a nutshell, they'll have to have documents that:
1) Prove they live in Massachusetts;
2) Prove they have a Social Security number, and...
3) Prove they're legal US residents.
What do these requirements mean in practice? Various kinds of documents are... Read Post
Have you ever bought a product online because of great reviews and customer ratings but ended up disappointed with it? You're not alone: the problem is common enough to warrant news coverage. Many of the rave reviews on retail websites are fakes: written by paid reviewers who've never used the product or service in question. In some cases the reviews aren't even written by actual people.
Fakespot.com can help you identify dishonest reveiws: simply paste the url of a product (for... Read Post
The Boston area's white Christmas has given way to bone-chilling cold. According to National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson, local temperatures are and will be 20-25 degrees colder than normal into the next week. Frostbite is possible after as few as 30 minutes outside. Tomorrow the wind chill will be -13.
Here's what you need to do to stay warm and safe:Make sure your heating system is working... Read Post
Recently the MBTA filed a Notice of Project Change for the Green Line Extension. You can find the document here. The original closing date for the comment period was Nov. 28, 2017. The comment period has been been extended to 5:00 pm on December 12.
Comments must be addressed to:
The Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Attn: Erin Flaherty, MEPA Analyst.... Read Post
Today (Nov. 28) was Giving Tuesday, a day designated by the United Nations and New York City's 92nd Street Y as a universal day of giving, as a way to establish a contrast to the consumerism of the holiday season. But despite that rampant consumerism, the month of December is when Americans are most likely to donate to charities. According to some sources, a third of all charitable gifts in any given year are made in December: partly due to cultural pressures and partly due to deadlines for... Read Post
The state Department of Transportation has just issued a Notice of Project Change for the Green Line Extension. The extension from College Avenue in Medford to the Mystic Valley Parkway has been delayed for fiscal reasons. The Notice of Project Change is intended to initiate further Massachusetts EPA review of the Mystic Valley Parkway Extension and give the public opportunity to comment on proposed design changes for Mystic Valley Parkway Station. You can find the complete text of the... Read Post
In a recent blog post I advised people to go to the website www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and input their name and part of their Social Security number to find out if their personal information was compromised. The current consensus is that the site itself is dysfunctional, returning conflicting reports to the same people at different times. In other words, Equifax itself is currently incapable of telling you if you've been put at risk.
So what can you do? First place a fraud alert... Read Post
The private information of as many as 143 million Americans (as well some Canadians and UK citizens) has been exposed in a cybertack on Equifax, a company that, ironically, sells protection against identity theft. To find out if you've been affected, go to https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, click on "potential impact" at the bottom of the page and input your last name and Social Security number.
If the resulting message says your personal information may have been compromised,... Read Post
We're past the late spring/early summer when many of us are beginning to think about what to plant on our back decks or in our window boxes. But there's no reason we can't start planning what to grow indoors. Plants are beautiful, they make us feel better, and they can even clean up our environment. Some plants are great for removing chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzine, carbon monoxide, and ammonia from the air. And even plants that aren't top of the line air-purifiers release oxygen,... Read Post
Decades ago, when people were looking for jobs, they answered ads in the jobs section of a newspaper or a trade magazine. Sometimes they walked down streets looking for businesses with "Help Wanted" signs in the windows.
Then the Web came along and upended all that. Soon job seekers were going to Craigslist, or web sites for businesses, schools, or governments. And then databases like Monster and LinkedIn appeared.
And now you can just Google.
Yes, Google. As a... Read Post
Many Somervillians (such as the members of our thriving community of artists and writers) have specialized interests and undertake projects that might benefit from access to an academic library. However, many of those same people are neither students nor employees of any of the local universities.
Fortunately, Harvard now offers adult researchers with no academic affiliation access to its special collections: Houghton Library, The Harvard Map Collection, The Harvard Yenching Library... Read Post
Read all about it here (or watch the news clip) at CNN.