Broadband Connectivity on the Regional Level

By Guest Contributor Sarah Thompson, MPA


Sarah Thompson is the Executive Director of the Southwestern Commission, and Administrator of the Mountain West Partnership.

-What is Region A and the Southwestern Commission?

The Southwestern Planning and Economic Development Commission was formed in 1965 by concurrent, joint resolution of the counties and municipalities within the seven westernmost counties of North Carolina (Cherokee, Graham, Clay, Swain, Macon, Jackson, and Haywood) [Swain, Macon, and Jackson are the 3 counties served by Fontana Regional Library]. It was within this same time period that COGs all across the state and U.S. were formed. Initially, the driving factor behind this movement was money.  Between 1965 and 1975, state legislatures and the US Congress created thousands of grant-in-aid programs totaling billions of dollars in funds available to local governments. Funds were appropriated for water and sewer systems, housing, solid waste, emergency medicine, juvenile delinquency, recreation, health care, law enforcement, economic development, job training, senior citizens services and a plethora of other purposes.

The Commission has three primary departments: Workforce Development, Area Agency on Aging, and Community and Economic Development. We are one of 16 Councils of Government in North Carolina. We are governed by the local governments in the region, and our board is comprised of county commissioners and town mayors and aldermen in our 7 county region.

[link to a library resource about the Southwestern Commission (aka Region A)]

-How and when did the Southwestern Commission become involved with broadband?

Through our work in economic development and community planning, it has become increasingly apparent that lack of high speed broadband is the number one deterrent to economic growth that our region now faces. Whereas in the mid-to-late 20th century, basic infrastructure such as roads and water/sewer were our primary needs for economic competiveness, in today’s information era, it is broadband. As we have historically been a regionally focused agency that works with local governments on infrastructure needs, we felt that we should be doing all that we can to improve and expand broadband service to the region.

-Why do you feel Broadband and Connectivity are important for our region?

The economic reality is changing for rural America. We’ve had three major industrial employers leave our region in the past five years alone. Although we still focus on attracting large employers, the majority of economic growth is trending in small businesses and entrepreneurs. Nearly all sectors of the economy rely on the internet- private business, education, health care, etc. Without adequate access to today’s technology, we will fall behind.


-What is happening in Region A regarding Broadband issues?

The Mountain West Partnership ( is a new economic development partnership for the seven western counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The Southwestern Commission administers the partnership. The Mountain West Partnership Board of Directors directed Southwestern Commission staff to find a way to address the lack of broadband access in the region. Due to legislative barriers in our state laws that do not allow local governments to compete with private sector providers, increased access cannot be achieved fully by the public sector. The solution will have to be some form of public/private partnership model, in which the public sector is able to put some infrastructure funds on the table to incent private providers to provide service. Infrastructure is expensive, and because of our low population density, a private provider cannot see a reasonable return on investment if they pay for all of the infrastructure. Our local governments have fairly limited budgets, and many services to provide. Our hope is that in the near future, some state and federal subsidies will become available to rural areas such as ours, as was the case in the past with issues such as electrification and telephone service.

-What specifically is the Southwestern Commission doing, especially with regards to a consultant?

The Commission has contracted with ECC Technologies to conduct a broadband assessment of our region this fall. In this Phase I of our efforts, we hope to achieve a high response rate on the survey so as to aggregate the actual demand for service. Phase I also includes training for each county’s broadband committee on laws, policies, and solutions. Phase II, next year, will involve using the data collected in Phase I to begin negotiating with private providers for increased or improved service in the communities within our region. We realize that many communities have already surveyed the public on this issue, and all of the data from those surveys will be used in our study. However we encourage everyone to please take and share the survey under way now, as it is a very important step in this process.

Link to survey:

For more information and resources on broadband in general and in our area, please see Fontana Regional Library’s Local Broadband webpage: 

{Fontana Regional Library is concerned about Connectivity as part of our Long Range Plan}

#Selfie: Because Sometimes the Most Interesting Thing in My Life is Me

#Selfie – The kitty does not approve.

A “selfie,” for the uninitiated, is a “self-portrait photograph.” This seemingly innocuous, yet somehow  ire-inspiring, social phenomenon/trend shows no signs of reversing: estimates range from over one million selfies a day to 93 million selfies taken everyday worldwide.

While selfies are generally held as an indicator of “millennial narcissism,” it’s always fun and interesting to see the “purpose-driven selfie” or how people use this particular format for self-expression as a tool for a larger purpose.

Selfies for Science:

Selfies for Art:

Selfies for… uh… Simian Rights?

Support your Library with a Shelfie:

A “shelfie” is a picture of your bookshelf or a picture of yourself with a bookshelf, say… at your public library, for example!

(find Fontana Regional Library on Facebook and Twitter)

And sometimes sad to see the consequences of selfies-gone wrong, as in the case of an Instagram (IG) Model whose selfie-obsessed lifestyle was making her miserable. Essena didn’t just delete her social media accounts and shrink from the internet (at least not initially – Essena O’Neill Quits the Internet Once & For All); she  was inspired to take a stand and reveal the truth— seeing shouldn’t be believing. Those people who always take perfect selfies of their perfect lives? They probably spend tons of time (and storage space on their phones) getting that one, perfect picture. And that quest for perfection takes its toll.

Selfies Gone Wrong:

I don’t think the whole selfie-situation is an indictment on millennials. While technically a millennial myself, I wasn’t born with a smartphone in my tiny, toddler hands. But I do remember a fascination with photo booths and tables/kiosks where you could get t-shirts and hanging wall calendars with your photo printed on them. Those little photo-strips (multiple pictures of yourself in slightly varied poses) could even be found in my dad’s,  who is firmly in baby boomer territory, photo album. “Selfies” are a cheaper, easier extension of that, so it seems unsurprising that selfies have exploded. We’ve always been self-obsessed— now it’s just easier than ever!

Even the potential 2016 presidential candidates are selfie-ing: Bernie Sanders’ campaign invites you to “Support Bernie with your Selfie“—


Advice for selfies? Like anything else: think twice, do once— once a day, tops!

What are your thoughts on selfies? Is it an exercise in narcissism? Have you seen or undertaken any cool or inspiring projects using selfies?




Oh, A Doxxing We Will Go!

Actually, let’s not.  Doxxing is rude.  Oh, what’s that?  You have a question?  Ah, of course!  I need to explain what doxxing is. While I’m at it I may as well talk about some other Internet terminology.  It helps to be prepared, because you never know when some sockpuppet’s viral meme will make you fall for clickbait.

Cat in a box
No post about the Internet is complete without a picture of a cat. Here is Beavis in a box.


Simply put, clickbait is when a website attempts to lure you into clicking on a link by giving it an incomplete or tantalizing headline.  This is done by many sites, and for differing reasons.  Sometimes a news site does so do to limited space for the headline.  Often entertainment sites do it because getting you to click on their links helps them generate advertising revenue.  And sometimes it is done just to catch your eye and try to get your attention.

Let’s make up some examples:

“Tom Cruise in trouble again”.  Why is he in trouble? You’ll have to click the link to find out (and to possibly discover he isn’t really in trouble at all).

“15 foods you won’t believe are bad for you!” These sort of lists are everywhere, and about everything.  And believe it or not, you probably will believe some of those foods are bad for you.  Assuming you make it through the list, which probably requires multiple clicks and seeing tons of advertising.

“Oh, a doxxing we will go”.  Seems familiar…our blog titles are often done so as to pique your interest.  Did it work?

Clickbait is always going to be there, and like many things some is good, some is bad, and much is meaningless. If you are entertained by those endless lists of things, go ahead and click away. Experience will be your main method of determining if it is worth it.  And keep in mind, many of the sites that do those lists are designed for mobile device use.

One more thing.  You can hover your mouse over a link before clicking on it to (usually) see where the link leads.  This can help you decide if you want to click on it or not.


To dox someone is to publish their personal information online, such as their home address, phone number, real name (if they are online anonymously), where they work, their social security number, or other things.  It is generally done maliciously, often it retaliation for the victim posting something that the doxxer disagreed with.

If you dox someone these ladies will take your computer apart.
If you dox these ladies will take apart your computer.

An example is when actress Felicia Day was doxxed after she publicly commented about GamergateRecently there have been examples of doxxing done, allegedly, for good, such as Anonymous doxxing members of the KKK.


Most of us think of a meme as an image with a humorous caption on it.  But technically not only does a meme not require a caption but it doesn’t have to be an image at all.  Videos and hashtags can also be considered memes.

Clickbait meme, FTW!
Clickbait meme, FTW!


A hashtag, denoted by the # sign, is way to label or tag something on the Internet to enable others to find it.  For example if you wanted to talk about the show Downton Abbey online you might put #downtonabbey in your post, which would help other fans of the show find it.  A hashtag that I like is #SupportYourLibrary.  You can also rent Downton Abbey DVDs from the library, of course.


When some type of meme, usually a video clip, gains popularity on the Internet without any commercial backing or advertising, it is said to have gone viral. Sometimes these are just personal videos done for fun, and others may become newsworthy. Maybe we can make this one go viral. It was taken in my kitchen.


One dark and stormy night, as you crawl through the scary Internet, it happens! A box pops up telling you that your computer is at risk, and if you don’t purchase and download this particular security software then your surfing days might be over!

Spoiler alert: it will always find an infection.
Spoiler alert: it will always find an infection.

Scareware comes in two general varieties.  One is advertising done is such a way as to “scare” you into purchasing a product.  The product might be legitimate and effective, but the selling technique is distasteful.  The other variety is an actual computer virus, aimed at getting your money by forcing you to buy the software (or else your computer does not work properly), or by using the virus to steal your information.  In either case, my advice is to stay well away from them.  Anytime you see any message like this do a search about it on the Internet and see what it is really about.


A shill is someone who is paid to spread certain information on the Internet.  Since “being paid to talk to people on the Internet” isn’t usually a real job, shill is often used as a pejorative against those of differing opinions.  For instance, if I were to say that there is no evidence linking autism to vaccines, someone might accuse me of being a shill for Big Pharma.


On Facebook you have to use your real name.  But most websites allow you to use any name you wish. Hence the sockpuppet, a second account (or third, or fourth…) that someone uses to bolster their position or to avoid being identified.  For instance a poster who has been banned from a site may try create a new account with a different name.



Now, I wish I could point you towards a book that has this information in it, but we don’t have one.  Truth be told, Internet terminology changes so frequently that it doesn’t lend itself well to book format.  So if you come across a term you are not familiar with, do a search for it and you should find plenty of good examples and explanations.

And don’t forget that many of the Fontana Regional libraries offer computer classes which can help you with not only terminology but many other things as well.  Visit our website for class dates and times.

Do you use library computers and internet?

Click here to take our survey

Do you use the computers and internet at the library? We would love to hear from you!

From May 5th to May 24th the library will be running an online survey to understand how patrons use the library’s technology so we can provide resources and services that are valuable to the community. The Impact Survey is anonymous, available in English and Spanish, and takes 10-15 minutes to complete.

Please support the library and help us improve our services. Click the button below to fill out the survey or you can access it from one of the library’s public access computers. We appreciate your time and support.

Why should I participate?

ComputerAssistanceThe Impact Survey will help us better understand how our community benefits from free access to computers and the Internet at the library. This information will help the library improve its technology services and communicate the value of providing these services.

People from all walks of life use library computers to perform routine and life-changing tasks, from emailing friends to finding jobs. A 2009 study conducted by the University of Washington reported that use of library technology had significant impact in four critical areas: employment, education, health, and making community connections. The study revealed that

  • 40 percent of library computer users (an estimated 30 million people) received help with employment needs. Among these users, 75 percent reported they searched for a job online. Half filled out an online application or submitted a resume.
  • 37 percent focused on health issues. 82 percent of these users used the computers to learn about a disease, illness, or medical condition. One-third sought out doctors or health care providers and about half followed up by making appointments for care.
  • 42 percent received help with educational needs. Among these users, 37 percent (an estimated 12 million students) used their local library computer to do homework.
  • Library computers link patrons to their government, communities, and civic organizations. Sixty-percent of users – 43.3 million people – used a library’s computer resources to connect with others.

These are the national numbers. But in order for the library to meet our community’s technology needs and to demonstrate how providing these services make a difference, it’s important that we have this information at a local level.

How long does it take?

The survey will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. If you are using a library computer to complete the survey, we have added additional time to your computer reservation to compensate for time needed to participate.

Click here to take our surveyWhat will I be asked?

Impact Survey will ask you how you use the library’s public access computers and Internet connection, and how this resource has helped you. The questions cover general use, as well as use in the following areas:

  • Employment
  • Education
  • eBusiness
  • eCommerce
  • eGovernment
  • Civic engagement
  • Health and wellness
  • Social inclusion

The survey also collects information about use of specific library resources, help and training at the library, overall satisfaction, and your perceptions of the importance of offering public access technology.

How will my data/privacy be protected?

Your submission is completely anonymous and confidential.  No personally identifiable information will be collected in the survey.

From Impact Survey:

The survey does not collect any personally identifiable information from patrons. When a patron clicks on the link from your website to take the survey, your library’s unique survey URL … is attached to the response. This code allows us to identify the responses that come from your library, but will not record any other information related to the patron, even if she/he is logged into their library account.

About Impact Survey

The Impact Survey is the result of a partnership between the University of Washington and  the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2009, the University of Washington Information School conducted Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries, which was the first large-scale investigation of the ways U.S. library patrons use computers and the Internet at public libraries, why they use it, and how it impacts their lives. Because the patron survey was such a success, it is now available as a tool for use by all U.S. public libraries.

For more information about the Impact Survey, inquire at the library information desk or visit


Just because you’re paranoid…

… doesn’t mean they aren’t watching you! This blog post may get me added to a list somewhere, but it is chock full of information everyone should know (quick shout out to my buddies at the NSA!).  Recent events have spurred a renewed interest in privacy: Government data mining from U.S. Internet CompaniesArrest Caught on Google Glass Reignites Privacy Debate. And those aren’t even the most interesting stories!

While some believe that privacy is a trade off for security or that it’s nothing to freak out about, others are concerned about what this privacy invasion may mean for the future: is this a sign of eroding freedom? Not that we’re paranoid or anything, but the NSA has ears everywhere:  in your google searches,  in your android devices (maybe!), all over the internet (reports say Facebook, AOL, Apple, and more are subject to NSA data collecting), and even overseas.7a5

But it’s not just the big government agencies you have to hide from; Nordstrom, Facebook, Google, AT&T, and even your local grocery or retail stores are all in on the act, too. And that list doesn’t even begin to account for all the nameless entities out there buying and selling your personal data or the hoards of people who might someday be recording their every waking moment (and possibly yours) with Google glass or their smart phones .

Regardless of which side of the debate you’re on, your privacy is more or less in your hands. The two biggest steps you can take to ensure your privacy and data security are to secure your personal devices and don’t hand over your data (even unknowingly!). One of my coworkers often quotes,

“The only secure computer is one that is turned off, locked in a safe, and buried twenty feet down in a secret location –and I’m not completely confident of that one, either.”

So what can you do to protect your privacy? While it’s simply not feasible for most people to unplug completely and go “off the grid,” here are 20 tips to make your personal information more secure:

Securing your device (Computer, Smart Phone, Tablet, etc)

  1. Lock your device with a passcode.
  2. Set an idle timeout to automatically lock your device.
  3. Keep all software and apps up to date.
  4. Install an anti-theft app/software for mobile devices and laptops.
  5. Get an antivirus for your device. Avast! has a free anti-virus for Windows, Mac, and Android (the Android app also come with anti-theft protection), but there any many options out there to fit your needs.
  6. Beware of unknown software and apps and don’t click on unfamiliar links. Installing untrusted apps or software on your device can enable others to access your personal information, your location, or your contacts.
  7. Check your permissions to see what data your apps are accessing. Revoke permissions for apps that don’t need access to your data. Your devices wi-fi and GPS can also be used by some apps to “check-in,” broadcasting your location to potential thieves.
  8. Turn off your wi-fi, GPS, and Bluetooth when not in use and turn off file sharing when on public networks and disable automatic connections to wi-fi networks. These are all avenues that others can use to snoop on your data or manipulate your device. It will also save precious battery life on your mobile device.
  9. If your phone goes missing, utilize any anti-theft measures you have on your device and/or report it to your wireless provider so they can disable your device. When you’re ready to upgrade to a new device, make sure you wipe your old device before you discard it or give it away.
  10. Treat your mobile devices like your wallet: don’t leave it laying around, don’t let others access it, only keep in it what you need to minimize losses if your device does get stolen, and don’t save your PIN/password in them!

Securing your personal information

  1. Don’t transmit sensitive data over open/public networks. Avoid using unsecured wi-fi for important data exchange.
  2. Don’t save your log on information and always sign out of your accounts when you’re done. Don’t sign in to important accounts on public computers. Even taking steps to clear your tracks can’t protect you against keyloggers.
  3. Change your passwords regularly and make them complex and difficult to guess. Your important accounts (including your email accounts) should all have different passwords.  For your important accounts, you may want to consider making your username more complex than your real name as well, and don’t use the same username for all of your accounts.
  4. Have multiple email accounts: one secret-ish email address that you only use for important accounts you want to keep secure (banking, utility accounts, World of Warcraft or Steam account… you know, the important stuff!), one public email address for people/accounts you trust but aren’t tied to you financially (Facebook, Twitter, your mom/kids), and another for junk (signing up for social forums, sweepstakes, etc. ). Don’t use the same username/password for these accounts. (For a good tale-of-caution, check out Mat Honan’s account of how his entire digital life was destroyed- within an hour- partially due to his online accounts all being linked to each other.)
  5. When signing up for websites, don’t supply your real identifying information. If the information is not required for an account, skip it. If it is required, give a fake name, fake birthday, fake mother’s maiden name, fake high school, etc or choose security questions that don’t divulge important personal details.You really think someone would do that, just go on the internet and tell lies?
  6. Check your privacy settings for your social media accounts. Make sure access to your profile is limited to only people you add as friends. Don’t add your cell phone number, super secret email address (you already made one of these right?), address or birthday. Check out 10 ways Facebook can ruin your life.
  7. Use incognito mode in your browser (incognito in Google Chrome, also called “in-private browsing” in Internet Explorer, and “private browsing” in Firefox.) While it doesn’t make your traffic anonymous or protect you from keyloggers or spyware, it allows you to browse the internet without saving any information about which sites and pages you’ve visited including visited pages, searches, passwords, downloads, cookies or cached web content.
  8. Use browser plugins to stop trackers.
  9. Use https:// (HTTP Secure) (Why you should always use HTTPS) so your traffic is encrypted and use a VPN (virtual private network) or proxy server to protect your identity and your information.
  10. Delete all old or unused accounts. Those accounts may become compromised and provide your personal information to someone who can use it to access your other accounts — yet another reason why it’s important to vary your usernames, use different passwords for each account, and never provide more personal details than you need to.

By Amy


We’re not in Kansas anymore

The most interesting man in the world- Jedi Mind Tricks

My daughter has a Facebook account. She’s 4 years old. (If you are Facebook, *Jedi Mind trick* this is not the ToS violation you’re looking for…)

You might wonder, “But, why?! Why does a 4 year old need a Facebook account?” She doesn’t. No one needs Facebook, though seemingly more and more our lives revolve around updating and uploading every minutiae of our lives. Could you imagine what people would think if we didn’t tweet our lunch menu?

The fact is, however, that Facebook is here. Facebook, Twitter, or something like it will always be part of… well, life. So will the internet for that matter. A 2011 Pew Internet and American Life study found that 95% of teens 12-17 are internet users. When I was 17, that number was about 70%. I couldn’t find any numbers for teen use for the internet when I was 12 (about 1995), but adult usage of the internet was only 14% of the population and the world wide web as we know it didn’t even exist when I was 4.

It’s also not just computers that kids are using; about 75% of teens 12-17 own a cell phone. That’s still not accounting for the number of other devices that connect kids with the internet: gaming consoles (Playstation, Xbox),  handheld game consoles, mp3 players, tablets, e-readers, televisions. Our “online lives” are no longer limited to the hour or two (or three   or four) spent in front of our desktop computers at home; now you carry your “online world” with you everywhere you go, 24/7.

1. Never expose it to bright light 2. Never get it wet (which will make it multiply) 3. Most importantly: never, ever feed it after midnight!
Hmm, wrong manual…

I’d like to imagine that had I gotten a manual with my child when she was born,  it would come with automatic updates to keep me apprised of all the new-fangled things kids have to deal with. As I get older, it’s more and more difficult to tell what’s cool (do they even say “cool” anymore?). It seems clear to me, though, that being online will be an integral part of my daughter’s life, whether I like it or not. So, she has a Facebook account. I help her type messages to her “Pawpaw,” who lives a few hours away. She shares pictures with her grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. Most importantly, we talk. We talk about people she adds as friends. We discuss how pictures she uploads, even though she only shares them with her family, can be shared by others and could possibly be seen by anyone. She may not grasp the full implications of these discussions, but I like to think that I’m planting a seed. Hopefully years down the road, she will remember these little talks about the ramifications of the things she shares in her online world.

Counter to my point-of-view are those who would prefer to block children’s online access (Perils of Online Parenting in the Digital Age). As a parent I can definitely understand the need to protect your child, this sort of ache that spurs you into action when you think of a child in danger. Ultimately, I think that maintaining an open dialogue with children about their internet use, teaching them about the internet and how it works, is much more safe for them in the long run. There is absolutely nothing stopping my daughter from making her own Facebook account when she’s under 13 and posting personal information, pictures, or adding strangers as friends. By becoming involved in her online life, I can at least teach her. She will at least have some inkling of what safe computing is.   And when the time comes, hopefully I’ve given her enough knowledge to make an informed decisions; she will make her own choices. But for now she’ll let me hold her hand (in so many ways), and I’ll try to prepare her for whatever I can.

Here are some tips on helping your child learn about the internet:

  • Learn everything you can about the internet. Being familiar with the internet will not only help you understand the risks; it will also help you talk to your kids.

  • Set standards for what your kids can and cannot do online. It’s important to make rules for your kids so they know what’s expected of them. Don’t wait until something bad happens to start creating guidelines.

  • Teach your kids to keep personal information private. It’s usually a bad idea to post personal information online such as phone numbers, addresses, or credit cards. If a criminal gains access to this information, they can use it to harm you or your family.

  • Teach your kids to use social networking sites safely. Sites like Facebook allow kids (and adults) to share photos and videos of themselves, have conversations with friends and strangers, and more. If your kids share something with their friends, it’s still possible for it to get into the wrong hands. Generally, they should only post something online if they’re comfortable with everyone in the world seeing it.

  • Encourage your kids to come to you if they encounter a problem. If your child gets into trouble online, you’ll want them to come to you instead of hiding it. Keep in mind that your kids could accidentally encounter a bad site, even if they’re doing everything right.

  • Talk to your kids about internet use. Talk to your kids regularly about how they use the internet. If they’re in the habit of talking to you about the internet, they’ll be more willing to come to you if there is a problem.

For more information: and – a program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Webonauts Internet Academy – a PBS kids web game that helps teach kids basic web concepts (recommended for 8-10 year olds)

Basic Internet Safety for Kids– a free online course for parents

And an informative video about teaching children and how to handle a bad situation if one arises:

By Amy

Oh, What a Tangled Web….


By Amy

Imagine that you meet someone online. You get a Facebook message from someone who’s a friend of a friend. Maybe you glance through their profile: went to the same high school your cousin went to, has a nice job, and good looking to boot! You chat with them, get to know them. Every day you look forward to “talking” to them; telling them about your day, hearing about theirs. Your heart flutters when you see them sign online. You share private information and intimate details; maybe you decide to be in an exclusive relationship with them. Sure, you’ve never met them… but you feel like you know them better than anyone you’ve ever met before, and well… they do live across the country.  Maybe you even have plans to meet each other in person!

What happens when you find out this person isn’t real? Perhaps their profile is a fake, designed to trick you into giving them money or gifts, hurt you emotionally, or lure you into meeting them in person. This sort of online relationship deception is also known as catfishing (inspired by the 2010 film Catfish) or catphishing.

To some an online relationship may seem silly and naïve, but it’s becoming increasingly more common the more interconnected “real life” becomes with the internet. However, some people forget that (just like in real life) there are “bad people” on the internet; and on the internet, it’s easier to be bad.

Recent news (such as this article from CNN) has detailed this situation with football player Manti Te’o, linebacker for University of Notre Dame. There’s been a media storm over the issue. Was Manti using his “dead girlfriend” to garner sympathy and improve his chances of winning the Heisman trophy? Or is he really just stupid enough to fall for, what seems to most, an obvious hoax? Recent interviews with the perpetrators of the hoax shed some light on the situation and the internet continues to make light of the fiasco, as evidenced by the photo below.


While the investigation into whether Manti was duped or took part in the hoax himself continues, there are plenty of other examples of people being deceived about the identities of others online. Most cases involving fake profiles may be harmless, but there are many examples proving how dangerous and harmful these incidents can be- including a couple of high profile cases of cyber bullying: Amanda Todd and Megan Meier.

Parry Aftab, the executive director of states in this USA Today interview, “Sixty percent to 70% of cyber bullying or cyber harassment cases occur anonymously or with fake impersonated accounts.” The article goes on to say, “A number of the bullying cases that ended in suicide involved impersonations in which someone pretended to like the victim, [Aftab] adds.” This sort of cyber bullying isn’t relegated to children or just a case of “kids being kids.” Politicians, teachers, and celebrities have also been targets of and affected by fake online profiles. Even government entities have been impersonated online.

It’s easy to assuage your own doubts about others online. The anonymity of the internet can make you feel safe. The flip-side to this is that it makes some feel safe in their efforts to harm others- emotionally, socially, financially, and even physically.

You don’t have to disconnect from the internet, however. There are several ways to stay safe on the web. Here are some tips from :

  • Never send or wire money to a stranger you meet online. Once the money has been wired, it is highly unlikely you will ever get it back.
  • Never give out your personal information to someone you meet online, no matter what the circumstance or why they say they need it.
  • Beware if someone you meet online begins asking you for money, even a small amount.
  • Be suspicious of anyone who posts pictures purporting to look like a model out of a magazine, especially if you’re on a site where most members are seniors.
  • Stick to well known dating and social networking websites where you have some protections and can report users who violate terms and conditions. Be cautious when someone you don’t know asks you to leave the site to chat or talk.
  • And remember: people aren’t always who they say they are online.

For more information, visit:

NCDOJ: Use Caution When Meeting People Online

NCDOJ: Online Scammers Want to Win Your Love and Take Your Money

NCDOJ: Consumer Fraud and Scam Alerts

US State Department: Don’t be a Victim of Internet Dating Scams


By John

We lead Web-based, digital lives. From personal computers, smartphones, and tablets, e-book readers, to working, shopping, and social networking, virtually every aspect of our lives touches the digital world. Even when we are not directly connected to the Internet, this vast worldwide connection of computers, data, and websites supports our everyday lives through financial transactions, transportation systems, healthcare records, emergency response systems, personal communications, and more.

This reliance increases as digital technology advances and high speed Internet access becomes more widespread. Yet, if we are to maximize the convenience, speed, and future potential of a digital society, we must protect the resource that makes it possible.

The Internet is a shared resource and securing it is Our Shared Responsibility, the theme for 2012 National Cyber Security Awareness Month observed this October. Each and every one of us needs to do our part to make sure that our online lives are kept safe and secure. That’s what National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) is all about!

To promote NCSAM and let others know that all of us have a role in protecting our digital lives, here are a few tips on how you can create a more cyber-secure environment at home

At home, determine:

  • A central location for your computer so you can monitor your children’s activities online.
  • Whether you allow access to certain sites.  You may choose to use parental control settings to block access to inappropriate sites.
  • Acceptable online behavior and expectations.  Clearly explain the rules and expectations regarding online behavior.  Include issues such as cyber bullying, keeping personal information private (not posting it online), and treating people met online as the strangers that they are.
  • Your monitoring strategy.  How will you assure your family complies with your “Acceptable Use Policy?”  You may choose to monitor your family’s online activities, and let them know their activity is being monitored.

To create a more cyber-secure environment at home, implement and maintain the following processes:

  • Develop strong passwords and change them every 60 to 90 days. Passwords should be changed periodically to reduce the risk of disclosure.  The more critical the account, such as banking or e-mail, the more frequently the password should be changed.  Use a minimum of eight characters with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.  Have different passwords for each account for which you provide personal information.  Do not re-use work passwords for any personal accounts.
  • Backup your information.  Determine what needs to be saved, how frequently it needs to be saved, how to perform the backups, how to save the backups so you can restore information when needed, and to test the backups to make sure they work properly.
  • Get support.  Before your computer crashes or gets infected with a computer virus, determine who is going to provide your support.
  • Erase your hard drive.  When it’s time to dispose of your computer or Mobile device, make sure you have the tools and process to completely erase your information from it or physically destroy the hard drive.  Properly erasing your hard drive thwarts efforts to steal your identity.  There are many resources for the process of that disposal.


Use the following technologies and tools to help keep your family and computers, tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices secure.  To help select the right tools, check product ratings and reviews from well-known PC and consumer magazines at your local library

  • Parental control software.  As mentioned previously, you may choose to use parental control software.  These programs can prevent access to inappropriate websites, limit the amount of time spent online, set a schedule for what time of day Internet use is permitted, limit access to games based on Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings, and monitor instant messaging conversations.  And most programs are hardened to prevent them from being disabled.
  • Keep track of system updates.  Setting your computer to automatically update the latest security patches for operating systems and application software could inadvertently crash your computer. Not all updates apply to every computer system. Searching online about the update will reveal if other computer users are experiencing problems with or what is being reported about the update.  Stay abreast of system updates and applying the proper updates will help minimize the risk from hackers taking advantage of software vulnerabilities or bugs.
  • Security software.  Ensure all computers have up-to-date security software on them.  At a minimum, the security software should include anti-virus, anti-spyware, and a firewall.  Newer products include functions to block downloads and access to and from malicious websites.  Some browsers have safeguards built in, such as Internet Explorer’s SmartScreen Filter that detects phishing websites and protects against downloading malicious software.  For mobile devices — like tablets and smartphones — look for security software that allows you to locate a lost or stolen device, and remotely erase it.
  • Wireless Network.  Configure your wireless network for security.  Change the default password to a secure password for your router to prevent anyone from gaining access to it and disabling your security settings.  You should also use a minimum of 128bit encryption to make your network more secure.  Choose WPA2 encryption over older encryption, like WEP or WPA.  Lastly, change the Service Set Identifier (SSID) from its default to something unique.  Use a name you can remember to identify your network, but choose a name that doesn’t identify you or your family.  For example, don’t make your SSID “Smith’s home network.”  Check your router vendor and Internet service provider (ISP) for secure configuration instructions.

Here’s some related links on Cyber Security Awareness Tips for Protecting Children Online:

The “New” NC LIVE eBooks Portal Page

NC LIVE is pleased to announce a new eBooks Portal webpage available now from the NC LIVE website.

The portal replaces a previous eBooks page that simply linked to each of NC LIVE’s eBook Collections. This new eBooks Portal makes it easier for users of the NC LIVE website to browse and search all of NC LIVE’s eBook content.

The “New” NC LIVE eBooks Portal Page

The new eBooks Portal page can be accessed by clicking on this link : or by copying and pasting it into your browser’s address bar.

With over 20,000 eBooks spread across six different vendor collections, it can sometimes be difficult for users to explore all of the eBooks NC LIVE has to offer. The new NC LIVE eBooks Portal makes it easier for users to search across the eBook collections, and to explore individual collections that might interest them.

The eBooks Portal gives users easy access to:

  • eBooks on EBSCOhost (24,600 titles): includes titles in Literature, Technology, Career & Self Help, how-to books, and more.
  • ABC-CLIO (200 titles): includes titles in History, Literature, and more.
  • MyiLibrary eBooks (370 titles, approximately 100 are downloadable): includes titles in History, the Social Sciences, Criminal Justice, and more.
  • Learning Express Library (194 titles): eBooks on career development topics, test prep, and personal development.
  • Open Library: NC LIVE has partnered with the Open Library to offer access to over 200,000 books published between 1924 and 1999. These eBooks cover many subjuects and include fiction, young adult, and children’s titles.

There’s also a new FAQ information that explains how to download eBooks from the collections that contain downloadable content and answers questions such as:

  • What kind of eBooks are available through NC LIVE?
  • Can I see a list of all of the titles that are downloadable to ePub-compatible devices?
  • Are there any other downloadable eBook providers that offer content for free?

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact NC LIVE support.

Stream movies here (and the price didn’t just go up – it’s still free)

You may know of a certain company that charges its customers to stream movies onto their computers or electronic devices.  You may also know that this company (it rhymes with flet-nicks) just raised its monthly subscription fees for most of its customers.  This same company not only raised its prices, but is now delivering less content.

But did you know that here at Fontana Regional Library, we also offer streamed videos through NCLive?  Moreover, not only did we not raise our prices (it’s still free), but more titles have been added!

Recently, to announce the new videos, the folks at NCLive posted this to their blog:

North Carolina libraries aim to educate and entertain parents, teachers, history buffs, and PBS fans of all ages with an array of new online educational videos now available for free in streaming format.

North Carolina libraries purchased the new video content from PBS, including the complete 14-part award-winning Civil Rights Era history documentary, Eyes on the Prize.

The new videos also include the popular Ken Burns’ series The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, and Masterpiece Theater titles including Wuthering Heights, Turn of the Screw, Wind in the Willows, Anna Karenina, and many more. Patrons can watch these videos at, or via local library websites.

So, how do you get access to all this content?  Well, the good news is that it’s easier than ever to log in at NCLive.  As John informed us in this recent post, users no longer need to know a password.  You will only need your Fontana Regional Library card to log in.  Go to the NCLive media pagewhere you’ll be asked to log in.  First, you’ll need to choose Fontana Regional Library from the drop-down menu, then you’ll be asked to enter your library card number.  Voilà, you’re ready to start viewing streamed videos –  for free!