A Discussion about Computer Security: Richard Lowe and Briar Lee Mitchell [Interview]

computer security is like safe sex prevent viruses

November 9, 2015

Holiday Scams
Click Here for Podcast: Dr. Briar Lee Mitchell Show.mp3

Richard Lowe talks about computer security and his new book “Safe Computing Is Like Safe Sex“.

Originally appeared on the Dr. Briar Lee Mitchell Show.

Artist First – Briar Lee Mitchell Interview Transcription

[Start: 00:00:00]


Male Voice:  Welcome to the Dr. Briar Lee Mitchell show on the Artist First network. Briar Lee Mitchell is the author of Big Ass Shark and Walking on Mars. Her books and bio can be found at briarmitchell.com. Dr. Mitchell is also a nationally, certified search and rescue volunteer, helping law enforcement find missing people with her canine, Thor. Ladies and gentlemen, Briar Lee can paint. Check out some examples on her archive page at artistfirst.com. Here she is, Dr. Briar Lee Mitchell.

Dr. Mitchell: Scott, thank you very much and welcome to all of my listeners being on the… tuning into my show tonight and we have a very interesting guest tonight. Our guest this evening is an author and a writer, along with being a ghost writer and doing quite a few different, very interesting things that we’re going to be talking about. Our guest this evening is Richard Lowe, and he has a very fun book that is…Richard, I’m going to let you say the title of the book.

Richard: It’s called “Safe Computing is like Safe Sex”.

Dr. Mitchell: That’s Fantastic.

Richard: Yea, and…

Dr. Mitchell: Go ahead.

Richard: And the subtitle is “You have to practice it to avoid infection”

Dr. Mitchell: I think that’s fantastic. Well, in this day and age, you know, being able to protect our systems because we’re online so much of the time. Most of us have our systems absolutely, you know, hooked into the internet all day long and most people are not aware that people can be watching them, they can track them, you can have key loggers, all kinds of situations that people can delve into your personal life through these interconnections and I even had a situation a few weeks ago with malware, where I had to go through all kinds of horrible things just try to get off my computer. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into this background of understanding and becoming an expert with computer security?

Richard: Well, I’ve been interested in computer cyber-security since I started back in 1980. I was on one of the computers that was the size of a room back when they were smaller and it just kind of became V.P. of a company of an then V.P. of a company again and finally wound up at Trader Joe’s and Trader Joe’s, there’s a pretty large retail chain. I think there are at 330 or 340 stores now but they have credit cards and credit cards need to be protected. So, every year we had to go through an audit. It’s the roughest audit. I mean, it makes the I.R.S. audit look like nothing at all because they check everything and there’s like 300 points or something like that you have to pass and you have to pass with a 100%. So we got pretty good, I got pretty good at security because of that and then also our desktop computer systems, we had about maybe 1500 all total, all in the corporate and they all have to be protected. Everything from a manager’s smartphone, all the way down to the secretary’s U.P.S. computer and from there, just learn how to do it and became very interested in it and pursued it more and more and more. It was necessity and then after I retired from Trader Joe’s two years ago, I took an early retirement, decided to become a writer and of course what I know best is computer security. So, that was the first book I wrote.

Dr. Mitchell: So, the first one you had was on computer security. Now you spent 33 years working with the information technology industry and you mention Trader Joe’s. I mean, were there other companies that you were working for or that you were ghost working for?

Richard: Well, I was V.P. of consulting for two different consulting companies, we used to the big mainframe computers. The one’s that took up half the room. We used to work on those and I worked on things like furniture systems and accounting systems and even the systems that control water systems for Las Vega. I was one of the people who designed that. So, wide variety of experience all through my career, different companies.

Dr. Mitchell: So, you have a lot of experience in interacting with different types of information technology. Now, there’s a couple of Web sites I’d like to give these to my listeners tonight that you use. One of them is thewritingking.com and the other website, to direct the listeners to, is, I like this one, coolauthor.dot com. You can go to these and learn a bit more about what Richard has to offer with his book. Now the book that you have, the one I want to talk with you about tonight, “Safe Computing is like Safe Sex”, is available through Amazon but where else could readers find this book?

Richard: It’s on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, you can get it for the nook, you can get it for your Kindle. I think it’s on Smashwords too and a couple other websites.

Dr. Mitchell: So, I’m looking at your website here. Now, you have quite a few services that you offer along with…now the security work that you’re doing, I’m saying work here, are you just writing about it, have you researched about it? You’ve worked in the industry for a long time. Are you still doing work like this in the industry with security for Information Technology?

Richard: Well, I may eventually go there but right now, I’m having too much of a blast writing about it. In fact, I just got contracted for another company to update their security manual. It’s a very large project and I’m having a blast doing it .It was written in 2010. It’s a little bit outdated.

Dr. Mitchell: And so the company, when you talk about the manual, how do you write a manual then on security technology? Is it things that people need to look out for, does it involve steps you need to go through, like when you’re logging in to different systems, how to protect yourself? What types of things do you write in a manual like that?

Richard: Well, this is a book that’s actually on their website. It’s called Cyber Heist and it’s meant to be downloaded by anybody who wants to find out more and it’s free and it tells all about how to protect mostly corporate computers and things like phishing. Phishing in a way, if you haven’t heard the word, it’s still P-H-I-S. instead of F-I-S, and phishing is where a con man or a computer hacker will send an email saying your Paypal account is going to close. You need to login right away. You click on the link, you go to the thing that looks just like Paypal, you put in your password, username, boom, you just got hacked.

Dr. Mitchell: I know people that have fallen for that and some of them are getting really tricky. I mean, the ones that I’ve known for a long time are like you just mentioned, they are the phishing with the PayPal account, click here but there’s one now where it was like, oh your paycheck is over here now and they really look like your company logo and things like that. I mean, they can be very scary. What kinds of advice can you give, not just to corporate listeners, but to people who have home PCs, you know, in terms of phishing, how can they protect themselves? What other things should they be looking for?

Richard: Well, first of all, 90% of these phishing messages are going to have misspellings because they are made in foreign countries, they are going to have bad grammar. There’s going to be some clu. They come from a weird email address, the website’s misspelled, instead of Bank of America it might be Bank F-O America. You can put it, most of the web browsers have phishing protections you can add to it and then instead of clicking on the link for Bank of America or for PayPal, don’t do that. Go up to your browser and type in the website yourself. That way you won’t be redirected to some hacker web site. You know, you go to PayPal, it’s not going to tell you your account’s being closed. PayPal never does that, never.

Dr. Mitchell: I mean, that’s excellent advice. Silly question but I have to ask it. Can you copy and paste?

Richard: You still have the risk that inside of that e-mail you’re going to copy and paste something that’s incorrect.

Dr. Mitchell: Ok, so I want to make sure I ask that because I sometimes I’ll copy and paste because I want to make sure I get the spelling done correctly but that’s a really excellent way for people to check on what you think might be potentially a bad or phishing e-mail, that they can check the website that it’s coming through on the e-mail that came through is type it directly into your browser and then look at it and what might they see that comes up? What might be there?

Richard: Well, I got a got an e-mail from one of my credit card that said your accounts has been hacked. So, I went to the website and then logged in. It didn’t say anything like that. So, then I called that website, the company on the phone. Now, when you call them on the phone, don’t use the phone number that’s in the email. You use the phone number on the back of your card because sometimes they’ll put in a fake phone number which then goes to some scammer who tells you it’s all fine. So, use the phone number on the back your card, call up your credit card company or whoever and they’ll tell you. But the thing is don’t depend on the information in the e-mail because you might be being conned.

Dr. Mitchell: So, phishing tends to be one of the biggest hazards, isn’t it, that involves corporate accounts also along with people who have home computer systems and I know phishing is one of the biggest ones and every time I go through security training for the school that I teach for or anything like that phishing tends to be the number one issue that comes up with people trying to hack your computer or to get access to your bank account. Now, let’s say, for example, I’ve clicked, I open an email and, “ooh, what is that? It’s cool. I’ll click on that”. So, I’ve done it. Now, what can I do after that? Is there a way that you can, once you realize oh my god I shouldn’t have clicked on that, is there anything that can be done?

Richard: Well, the focus of my book is on safe practices. That’s why it has the name it has. You have to practice. So, rather than saying install this…I mean, I do say install the software, install this, do this, but it’s more of, like, a lot of people make the mistake of having the same passwords for all their websites, for all of their accounts. Well, the problem with that is if like when a big company gets hacked and they lose their database, they get that password and that e-mail address and then they can log into every account you have on the internet. So, you’ve got to make sure you have a different password for every single one.

Dr. Mitchell: Oh, wow. I mean, I know some many people who are guilty of that, you know, one master password because you can remember it and there’s so many different sites that we have to have to remember all of these websites with. I mean, will there come a time when we’re going to be able to have a simpler way of logging in like a retinal scan or something where you can just touch the computer screen or look at it and you won’t have to carry around a huge book with all these different passwords on. Is that day ever going to come for us, do you think?

Richard: Well, in fact it’s already here and it’s in my book. You can have…you can get a program. One of them is called LastPass and there’s other ones that stores all of your passwords. So, you only have to remember one password, the password to that program. After that, it fills in the blanks for you. So, you go to your credit card website and it fills in the blanks and put in the username and the password. You don’t have to remember it at all, and it does it automatically.

Dr. Mitchell: I have seen these programs and my biggest fear is well, what if somebody hacks into that? If they’re all…

Richard: You know, there’s a point at which you have to trust somebody. You can only be so paranoid, you know.

Dt. Mitchell:  And so you’ve had good experience with this, obviously, because you’re recommending this and these are some very important tips to tell people about and you’re basing all this information on many decades of work that you’ve done within the information technology industry. Now have you yourself ever been hacked?

Richard: I haven’t personally been hacked but I’ve had neighbors that have been hacked. Of course at the corporation, we had everybody, up to, you know, high level managers get hacked, all the way down to the secretary and oh man, it can be…sometimes you just have to take the computer and throw in the trash. There are some of these viruses that you can’t, you literally cannot remove them.

Dr. Mitchell: I’ve heard of situations like that and if that happens, what do you do then regarding the data that’s on your computer? If the only course of action you have is actually to physically destroy the computer, are you able to retrieve any information from it or I mean like you got bank statements on there or you’ve got personal photos or all kinds of things you may want to retrieve. Is it possible to retrieve them without taking these viruses with it?

Richard: Well, actually the very first thing you should do when you buy my book, the very first thing it says is buy one of these products and there’s a couple products that lets you do online backups of your computer. So, what it does is every time you make a change, it backs that up to the cloud, to a website out on the internet. So, if your computers have to be thrown away, you don’t lose your data. You might have to rebuild your operating system, you might have to call geek squad to reinstall your applications but at least you have your ten years worth of photos of your family that you only have on the one place and your credit card statements and everything else and I mean, in my case, all my books. It’s sort safely somewhere in a state far away.

Dr. Mitchell:   In a kingdom somewhere in the cloud.

Richard: Literally, you don’t know where it is and you don’t care because it’s out there, it’s pretty safe. Now, the cloud have security issues too but these particular companies are very secure. There’s always a chance anybody can be hacked but they’re very secure and highly recommended and I mention them in my book.

Dr. Mitchell:   Well, I use Cobol, which is what I’ve used, and I’ve discovered a couple of times where I, you know, accidentally wipe out a folder or something and I just click on my little link and there it is, it’s all backed up.

Richard: Not familiar with that one. I use Carbonite and then there’s another one called Live Drive and there’s others.

Dr. Mitchell: I meant Carbonite.

Richard: Carbonite is trivial to use you. You download it, install it, you’re done. Unless you want to back up things like videos then you have to tell it to and a few other things.

Dr. Mitchell: And the one thing it doesn’t back up though, just to be clear that any of these backup systems, it doesn’t back up your native formats. It doesn’t back up Photoshop. It won’t backup software that you’re running. You have to reinstall that and so that’s the two big differences. Your software, somebody has to install that for you. That’s when you talked about the Geek Squad but all your folders, your files, that’s all protected, and I think that’s an outstanding way to run a system because I don’t feel safe with any computer. I think my computer, at any moment, could be [Inaudible 16:20] and so I have to be prepared and I think anybody who owns a computer today should be prepared, as you say, to possibly have to throw it away. You know, if somebody has to throw a computer away, how do they do that?

Richard: Well, one of the first things you want to do is understand that your disk drive can be hacked. For example, I bought…I used to buy disk drives off of eBay when I worked at various companies and getting back, boy oh boy, the stuff I found on the those. They didn’t erase it or even if they do erase, they just delete the files. The way operating systems work is they don’t delete, they don’t erase files, they just delete them. So you have like a list…say you have a list of things, well, say you have a list of books in your library and then you erase one line item from the list, you didn’t erase the book from the library. You just erase the name of the book from your list. Well, operating systems work the same way. So, when you delete a file, you don’t actually erase the file. You just delete the list to the file, if that made sense. So what that means is you can format your drive, you can delete all the files, you sell it to eBay. Hey, I get the drive. I can undo the format and boom, I got your data and that’s not hard at all.

Dr. Mitchell: That’s very scary. So, if I had to throw away my computer this week. How would I destroy my hard drive? Is there a command that you type in to the keyboard, you physically smash it with something? How do you actually do it?

Richard: Well, I actually just destroyed a disk drive and I took a sledgehammer and a chisel and just put a hole in it. I mean I’m sure the N.S.A. could get it back but I’m not too worried about that but no criminal, nobody, no hacker is going to get through it after that. There’s a big hole in it now.

Dr. Mitchell: So keep your sledgehammers handy.

Richard: There’s also programs that can erase disks but they take a long time because these disks are big now. I had one going for almost a month.

Dr. Mitchell: Oh my gosh.

Richard: Yeah, 3 or 4 terabytes. It’s huge but that’s what you got to do. You either got to destroy the disk or you got to erase it.

Dr. Mitchell: Ok. So, that’s good information to know. I mean you can digitally remove it but I think it would take ten seconds to smash a hole in with your chisel and your sledgehammer. I think I’d rather do that knowing it was completely destroyed. I don’t think I would actually, if I was hacked, I wouldn’t even trust another computer system to completely erase my hard drive. Now, I’m looking at your site here…

Richard: One last thing, you could also bring in Geek squad and they could demagnetize your disk drive for you or something like that.

Dr. Mitchell: Now, if I hand it over to Geek Squad, do they let me watch it? Do they let me…Will they let me see it?

Richard: I’m not actually sure that they do it but all I’m saying is that you could find somebody out there who could magnetically make the disk not functional anymore and that, you just have to look around and yea, you could watch them do it or you could also bring them to places that actually grind them up but they’re rather expensive.

Dr. Mitchell: Wow. That’s very hardcore.

Richard: We used to do that where I used to work. We used to…we literally had them ground up.

Dr. Mitchell: Well, I mean it but it’s a very important thing to…for people to know. I mean, if you really have hit the end of the road for anything that you’ve attempted to do to clean up whatsoever on the computer and it just isn’t going to happen there has to be a time when you just say, ok, I’m done. I have to get a new computer. Throw it away and these are ways that you can go about doing it. Now, I’m looking at your website. The one that you have for coolauthor.com and you’ve got quite an array of books that you’ve written, which is pretty remarkable. Now, one of the things that drew me to talking with you tonight was about safe computing because I think that that’s a very important thing for people to be able to understand a little bit more but you also do ghost writing. What kind of ghost writing do you do? Is it all technical?

Richard: No, actually I wrote a mem…the first ghost writing projects I did a couple years or a year ago, was I ghost wrote the memoirs of an Afghan person. Of course, because it goes written, I can’t get into much detail about it but it is his memoirs of his life in Afghanistan, and he was an Afghani man. Hard to understand. That was fun and then a compardriate20:57 of mine, somebody else ghost wrote a book on some lady from the holocaust, who lived through the holocaust. I’ve written business books. What else? Management books…

Dr. Mitchell: For your survival guide.

Richard: Yeah and ghost written is…the definition of ghost writing is where I would write a book for you but you would publish it under your name. I’m invisible. I’m a ghost. I don’t exist.

Dr. Mitchell: Oh, I see. I see what you’re talking about. You’re still referencing the ghost writing that you’ve done. So, you’ve done the Afghani book and then this woman from the holocaust.

Richard: Actually, I didn’t do that but I was involved in it less but interviewing and stuff.

Dr. Mitchell: Ok. Now, how many books offhand you think you’ve ghostwritten?

Richard: About a dozen.

Dr. Mitchell: About a dozen. That’s quite a bit though actually and stupid question again but how does somebody find a ghostwriter? How do you go about doing that?

Richard: Well, I’ve been giving little talks, pretty much like we’re having now at the local networking groups and down on the radio and say I’m a ghostwriter and, I actually got another interview in an hour, and from my website and I’m getting an amazing amount of business from LinkedIn. And by the way, I’m also a LinkedIn branding consultant that’s if you care.

Dr. Mitchell: Oh, for branding?

Richard: Yea, if you wanted to make your LinkedIn profile to be wonderful to brand you, you could just hire my company, the company I work for, LinkedIn makeover, and we would…they would assign me or one of the writers to rewrite your LinkedIn profile.

Dr. Mitchell: That’s good to know as well. If I was looking for your services as a ghost writer, how would you then be able to show somebody examples of something you’ve written?

Richard: Well, that’s one of the reasons why I have so many different subjects of books, and there’s going to be some novels pretty soon up on cool author, is so that I can point to that and say, see I’ve done stuff. I can send them P.D.F. copies, you know, for free. So, they can do that. I also got articles and short stories and I’ve got a couple references of the people who will talk to them.

Dr. Mitchell: So the novels that you have coming out down the road and they’re pretty much done. I think you’re going to be releasing those within the next six months or so, is that correct?

Richard: Yes.

Dr. Mitchell: Ok. So you’ve got some…they’re fiction?

Richard: Yeah. I’ve got a space war novel that I’m writing called, [Inaudible 23:18]. It’s, you know, like massive space war with millions of ships, you know, and devastation all over the place. I’m writing a novel about my kitty cat from my kitty cats point of view called Fur Baby, for her life, from her life to her death. She was put in a sack and thrown in a river. Then got rescued, went to the Humane Society where I got her and then, you know I finally had to put her down when she had cancer. So, it’s her whole story from her life her death but I’m going to write it as if she’s the main character and she hadn’t figured out by the end of the story yet whether or not people are so intelligent.

Dr. Mitchell: I totally empathize with the kitty. What was your kitty name?

Richard: Buttercup.

Dr. Mitchell: Oh, Buttercup. I’m so glad that you had Buttercup.

Richard: Yea, Buttercup was great. That was my kitty. Well I’m so sorry Buttercup is gone on to her reward but it sounds like she had a very good life with you and that was very great of you to take an animal from the humane society. We need to do more like that, adopting more animals from rescue.

Dr. Mitchell: Now, you’ve got an incredible site here and your Writing King site is talking also about doing copywriting. Now, is that what you were referencing when you were talking about writing profiles and so forth for LinkedIn?

Richard: That’s a kind of copyrighting. It’s a very specific kind. Copywriting is advertising. It’s writing marketing and advertising stuff. That’s what you write. Like, when you get those letters in the mail from American Express or something that go on for pages or you go to some website that tells you why you should buy and testimonial and all that kind of stuff. That’s something I’m getting into.

Dr. Mitchell: It sounds like something we used to call boilerplate. Would that still be a good term for that?

Richard: Not for me, with that term, but I’m guessing it describes it just fine.

Dr. Mitchell: Yea, it tends to be like you have an insurance policy in the boilerplate just gives you all the da, da, da, da, da, and this and that manner and the other thing in the background. It just fills in all the gaps and something you may reference, maybe once in your lifetime, but it’s only there to meet a technical…

Richard: No, no, no, no. Copywriting is text or article that are intended to get somebody to buy something.

Dr. Mitchell: Gotcha, that would not be boilerplate.

Richard: Right. It’s advertising, it’s marketing it is… You start from the top and it tells you all the benefits and by the time you’re at the bottom, a good number of people should be excited about that product or service and want to buy it.

Dr. Mitchell: Now, one of the things I really enjoyed when I was looking at your Writing King website is you have an awful lot of articles here to give information to people about you know how to sell their books or how to sell their writing or how to get into different areas of publishing and writing copywriting and you’re really giving a lot of information here to people and I really encourage my listeners to look at Richard’s site again. My guest tonight is Richard Lowe and the book that we’re talking about primarily, although I want to talk about all your books here, are you know, your book on computer safety and the website I’m looking at The Writing King, you have all these background information about the things that you offer, the services and then on Amazon.com site, where we’re looking at your author profile. He’s got a really broad range of books from Survival Guide I like this one, cracked me up here, Expert Tips on Throwing a Party.

Richard: Yes. Well how about the one, How to Surround Yourself with beautiful women without being a sleezeball.

Dr. Mitchell: And is there a way to do that?

Richard: Well, there’s actually a story on that, if you have a minute.

Dr. Mitchell: Sure.

Richard: When my wife passed away ten years ago, you know, you got the grief and all that kind of stuff and I didn’t want to get all griefy because grief is not a great place to be in life and she wouldn’t have wanted that. So, I started photographing. I started with nature and then I went to a renaissance fair and I ran into belly dancers and belly dancers were actually very nice ladies, very conservative for the most part and they dance and I found comfort in the aesthetics of the dance. So what I started doing is they started inviting in their shows to photograph and they give me front row center and bring me food and stuff like that and by the time I finished doing that one, I moved from California, that was two years ago, I’d photographed 1200 belly dance shows and about 400 renaissance fairs. They’re all my other website, renfaireguy.smugmug.com, over a million pictures and what I learnt…what, you know, the pictures of me with belly dancers hanging all over me. I mean hundreds of them and how do you do that? Well, you do that by treating dancers and women and each other as human beings by…and I focus on human rights in that book. You treat them as if they have rights like you do. So, you don’t expect women to do it and expect women to do. You treat them as you would treat any other human being. You don’t put your hands where they’re not supposed to be and, you know, if a woman says no, you understand that’s fine. If you don’t get your feelings hurt, I mean, come on, you know, grow up, you know.

Dr. Mitchell: Treat all women with respect. Yes, that’s a very good way to live your life. I do think that’s excellent advice.

Richard: And most, well not most, but many men don’t do that. They walk in expecting…there’s this term friend zone and well friend-zoning is kind of a hey, you know, she’s a human being. She doesn’t have to do that with you, you know what I mean. You treat her like a human being and if you’re in the “friend zone”, well great, your friends, big deal.

Dr. Mitchell: I’m looking at this site and there’s lots of amazing folders of photographs of animals and aquariums and cosplay, which I find cosplay to be very fascinating. People create these very elaborate costumes and dress up as their favorite characters. We’re going to take a short break here. A little station identification. I do urge all of you to come back and listen to the other half of this show that we’re going to have as we continue to speak with Richard Lowe and learn more about his writing and his photography. So, please come back.




Male Voice:  Thanks for joining us on the Dr Briar Lee Mitchell show on the artist first radio network. All broadcasts are archived. Visit artistfirst.com. Now, back to your host, Dr Briar Lee Mitchell.

Dr. Mitchell: And thank you Scott and thank you to my listeners for tuning in tonight. My guest again is Richard Lowe, a very interesting author, ghost writer and photographer, who is here tonight to share with us information about the years he spent in the information technology industry and also, you know, working with his writing and the book that we’ve been talking about was “Safe Computing it’s like Safe sex” and you’ve offered some excellent tips for us, you know, in terms of people who are PC owners and little bit, touched a little bit on some of the corporate work that is done but you often have a very fascinating book called “Real World Survival Tips and Survival Guide” and in this day and age of hurricanes and earthquakes and what have you. I mean, this looks like a really excellent guide. Can you tell us a little bit about this book, Richard.

Richard: Yeah, this book, well at Trader Joe’s, I was in charge of what we call disaster recovery, which means if Trader Joe’s had an earthquake, we can move the computer to another site. So that’s kind of how I got into the survival side of things was I started to become more trained on how to help the people survive because computers don’t do anything if the people don’t actually get there, you know. Got to have people. So, I got trained as a civilian emergency response team. You can get trained by your fire department for free. It’s a 7 day course, at least it was in California and it’s extremely valuable. The firefighters teach it and I got trained in that. I went through it twice and it’s…actually, I want to do another refresher pretty soon. And the idea is the same as with safe computing, my main concept of both of these books is you can be afraid or you can get the knowledge and then not be afraid and be prepared. There’s no…living in fear doesn’t help you at all but understanding what the dangers are and understanding how to prepare for them and then doing what’s appropriate and what you can afford to prepare for them is what you need to do. If that doesn’t work, don’t be afraid, just prepare.

Dr. Mitchell: Just prepare for this because it’s inevitable. I mean you may live your whole life and not encounter anything. However, the odds are pretty good that some point in your life you’re going to have to deal with a storm, a hurricane an earthquake, some form of natural or even manmade disaster. I mean look at some of the terrorist attacks that have occurred in this country. Now, when you were working on your book Survival Guide, you referenced a situation at Trader Joe’s where you had a plan to move the computer in the event of an earthquake. What other information did you research to write this book? Had you experienced different things yourself? Did you interview people? How did you go about preparing the book?

Richard: Well, first of all, to a significant earthquake in California. It was, I mean, there’s nothing like the Chile quake that just happened or even the one in Japan but it was pretty scary. I think it was a 6.7 or maybe even higher and that was…watching furniture dance across the floor and shelves fall down and not being able to do anything about it is pretty darn terrifying. Especially because the wife went wacko. She started…

Dr. Mitchell: Is this the Northridge Quake you’re talking about?

Richard: I think it was the Hollywood quake.

Dr. Mitchell: Oh, the Hollywood quake. Ok.

Richard: That may be the North Ridge, I’m not sure how they relate. And then I went through a couple more earthquakes and then we had a huge fire in Lake Arrowhead, which is where my parents live and they had to evacuate. We lost them for a week and my sister finally tracked them down and then my sister in law was caught Katrina. We lost her for two weeks. We didn’t know if she was dead or alive and we finally found her. Managed to wire her some money so she could survive and just all of these things made me aware of that how unprepared, first of all, I was and how unprepared everybody else is for these things. You’re in California there’s going to be an earthquake. It could be now. Why aren’t you prepared? Well, because you kind of shove it away, you know. It’s not important. It hasn’t happened yet and you’re in Florida. There’s going to be a hurricane, pretty much guaranteed or at least a storm. If you’re in the mountains or you’re in the desert, there’s going to be flash floods. You’re in of the forest, there’s going to be a fire. All these things you could panic about or you could ignore but instead, create what’s called a bug out bag, which is a duffel bag full of the stuff you’re going to need. If you have thirty seconds to leave your house, grab this bag, run and sometimes you’ve got less than five minutes to leave your house. There was a fire recently and I think it was in northern California where the fire department said leave now because the fire was coming that fast.

Dr. Mitchell: I mean, that’s true you really have to have that bug out bag ready and packed and you don’t have the opportunity just pick the bag up and start packing. It has to be prepared ahead of time. So, do you go through in your book what should be in the bug out bag?

Richard: I do it and it has a companion volume that’s ninety nine cents on Kindle, which goes through a complete inventory of everything that should be in it and why and the Survival Guide goes through a little bit less detail, just listed out. So…

Dr. Mitchell: Oh, I see that, “Creating a bug out bag to save your life what you need to pack for emergency evacuations”. Now, I’ve lived in California for twenty three years. I lived in Los Angeles and I also lived for four years up in San Francisco and I had experienced a couple of quakes. Again, not like what happened recently in Chile. That’s just wow. Back in 94, we had the Northridge quake which was arguably one of the biggest quakes to hit Southern California. Some said it was a 7.2, other say it was 6.8. All I remember was holy god…

Richard: Exactly, I remember that quake. My house was tossed around like I was in a box and I was being shaken and the noise, the noise that an earthquake makes because that ground is shaking and what’s between you and the epicenter. All the cars rattling, the transformers exploding, pool venting, windows shattering, it sounded like a freight train was going right through my house. That’s how loud the earthquake was as it rolled through. I just remember being able to get out of my house and somehow end up in the front lawn with all of my dogs and a fire extinguisher. And there I was standing, looking at the world around me and my neighbor came to check on me. He said, “oh good you’re safe” and he looked up and he said, “Look at all the stars” and we realized right then and there Los Angeles had gone into a blackout and so that was the time when we had to look after ourselves and you need to maybe shelter in place and your bug out bag is going to be important to shelter in place as well.

Richard: Yes and I talk about both of those options. You could…you have your bug out bag, which should have one to two days of supplies and clothing and a few other things. You would generally have one per family member, if you can and you just grab it and run but if you have to stay in your place, which is actually fairly probable in an earthquake, then you want to make sure you’ve got at least two weeks of food and water and supplies. At least two weeks. And because, in a bigger earthquake, let’s an 8.0, nobody’s going to get to you for a while. Nobody’s going to come risk you. Nobody is going to come help. They’re going to be busy with the thousands the fires and thousands of collapsed buildings and all of these other things that they’ve got to deal with. You need to be ready to survive on your own and how do you do that? Well, I got, I guess, five of these five-gallon bottles of water and that’s enough for me for two weeks. I got what are called MREs, meals ready to eat. You can buy those off the Internet. They’re military meals. They will last almost forever. I haven’t tasted one yet. I’m sure they’re awful but they’re edible.

Dr. Mitchell: They’re not bad. They’re not bad. I think if you recall, when Scott introduced me at the beginning of the show, I do search and rescue with my dog and I had to do what was called an UNO with my dog and that stands for unexpected night out because if I’m on a search, I might have to spend the night out, wherever it is I got dropped off to do to search and in this case my dog and I did the UNO on top of a mountain near Hemet, California. One side is Hemet, the other side of Palm Springs for 5,000 feet up and I had to make a tent out of what I had in my pack that I carry in the search. So, I made a tent out of a garbage bag and then you take a garbage bag and fill it with grass, you’re not lying on the ground and it was 42 degrees and I was cold but yes, I was able to make a survival tent and I had an MRE with me and you can buy them with your own little heating systems involved. So, there excellent. They’re not bad, you can buy them in big bulk quantities. So, definitely MREs are things to look at.

Dr. Mitchell: Now, you you’ve just done such an incredible amount of research in writing with your books. Now, you have some fiction books coming up. Do you have any addendums or additions you’re going to be writing about in terms of computer safety or survival? What directions are you going in now?

Richard: Well, with the survival one, there’s going to be smaller Kindle books that have to do with how to survive an earthquake, how to survive a hurricane. Very specific to things, how to survive a fire, what you need to do prepare for those. Those will be coming out through to next year. The computer book will probably have some expansion volumes to describe specific threats like cyber warfare is something, cybercrime, is something I’m becoming very interested in. Cyber warfare is especially fascinating, and I want to read a book on it. Privacy, I want to write a book on computer privacy. How to protect yourself and what everybody knows about you that you don’t think they know. I mean, how does Amazon know that you are looking…how does Amazon know to display that advertisement of toilet paper when you didn’t even, anywhere mention toilet paper? How do they know that, you know. I know how they know that but I want to display that in a book.

Dr. Mitchell: And you better because now I want to find out. I want to find out from your book. Now, what is that book going to be called?

Richard: It doesn’t have a title yet. I’m just kind of planning it but it’ll be up on cool sites and of course the writing King, thewritingking.com.

Dr. Mitchell: Thank you. I had made a mistake here earlier and said writing King but it is thewritingking.com. So, for those of you listening that’s the website you want to go to to learn more about my guest tonight. With these topics that you are going to be working on, I love the fact that you’ve got these smaller ones, the ninety nine cent ones, that are specifically tailored to things where I don’t want to have maybe a book that tells me how to survive twelve different disasters when I know I’m in an earthquake zone or I know I’m in a hurricane zone. So, I think that’s wonderful that you’ve got those separated out like that and your survival guide, now, can you tell us any more about that? What are the things you’d like to explain to us about your survival guide?

Richard: Well, I have a whole chapter on something called situational awareness and situational awareness is exactly what it sounds like, be aware of your situation. Why do people get mugged? People get mugged because they zone out, in general. I mean, I’m not talking about every time but muggers look for people who aren’t there, so to speak. They’re thinking about something else, they’re tired, they’re not looking. But if you’re aware of the situation, you look around, then you have increased your odds of survival in any situation dramatically. For example, if you go into a theatre, where are the exits? As simple as that, where are the exits? Where are the people congregated at? So, when, if the theater has a problem, you take that extra one minute to stand there and look, ok, there’s and exit there, there’s an exit there, there’s and exit there, ok. If there’s a fire in here or somebody’s shooting or whatever, I know that I need to go backwards because everybody’s in front. You’re aware of the situation now and you have just made yourself safer. It’s not a paranoid thing. It’s a knowledge thing. Be aware. You live on the beach, all right, in Seattle.  Ok. Seattle has earthquakes, what happens when there’s an earthquake in Seattle? Tsunamis. Ok. If there’s a tsunami, where would I go? What would I do? Spend a couple of hours on Google and figure it out. Are you in a safe zone for Tsunamis or not? And then, how would I know there’s a tsunami because there’s warning of tsunamis usually and things like that. So, you just know your surroundings. Ok. I’m in California. That means earthquakes. What else does it mean? Oh, floods, flash floods. Hey, yeah, flash floods in the desert. Spend that…a lot of the book goes over that. Spend that time researching the area and looking around and opening your eyes and guess what? You’re going to improve your safety by many times.

Dr. Mitchell: It doesn’t have to be drudgery either. I’ve always found that when you start to research about survival information, it’s actually kind of interesting and it’s not overwhelming. It’s really remarkable how very simple tips, pre-planning, can save you and your family and your pets that are part of your family from a really horrific experience and if you do take, as you said, not a whole lot of time, just a small amount of time to be prepared and know your environment, to be aware of your environment, your situation, you can protect your family and I think that for a lot of people that’s where you want to come up with that energy to do this. So, this Survival Guide is an excellent book and I really am looking at this right now, Preparing for Surviving Disasters and Survival Skills.

Dr. Mitchell: Now, is there information here? You mentioned something about being able to do some studying with the firefighters. What was it they taught you again?

Richard: Well, it’s called the Civilian Emergency Response Team or CERT for short and they’re…I believe they’re in most counties and cities. The fire department puts them on. They have websites. You could just probably put CERT into your local search engine and it would come up and they teach classes. The one I took in California was 7 days long, 3 hours each day. 7 days, 1 a week and they teach you everything you need to know about how to be…how to survive disasters. And it took it twice. It was fascinating.

Dr. Mitchell: Are they teaching you first responder skills? Are they teaching you things like how to build a shelter or find water? What kinds of things do you cover?

Richard: They, one of the examples they took was, ok, you’re on a bus. You have twenty people there and the bus got into an accident, it turned on its back and you’re the one who’s still alive. You’re the one who’s still conscious. What do you do? And there’s a whole scenario where you now have to figure out who’s on that bus, who can function, who can’t function, who’s wounded, who’s not. You have to do that in 2 minutes or 3 minutes, something like that. How do you tell who’s capable, who’s not, how do you get those people out and so forth. That’s a scenario that could very well happen. I mean, it’s likely that a bus is going to turn over but it could.

Dr. Mitchell: Well, I mean, it doesn’t even have to be a bus. I mean there are situations where you could be if you want a cup of coffee and a car comes piling through the plate glass window. These things do happen, and it doesn’t matter what part of the country you’re in. So, it sounds like you’re covering truly situational experiences that are specific to certain areas of the country. Like, I think of the Pacific Northwest, as you said earthquakes and volcanoes. I mean, there’s a couple volcanoes up there. Mt St Helens comes to mind and surviving that, you know. The amazing things that you have to be able to do but also day to day things. A car accident or what other things? A house fire. Things that you may have to be able to survive.

Richard: Well, yea, one of the things that I go through in my book is take a few minutes and go through your house and go into each room. Ok, if there was a fire, how would I get out and just think about it. Ok, well the windows blocked, the doors rusted, I better fix that, you know, and make a list and you know, don’t panic. Don’t get freaky about it. Just go into each room and take a look. How would I get out? Oh, mom’s here and moms bedridden. How do I get her out, you know. Asking questions before the disaster so that when the disaster comes, you’ve at least done a little bit of thinking and maybe a little bit of preparing. You don’t have to spend any money or at least, not a lot but maybe you do need to get a rope ladder to get out of the window because you’re on the third story, you know.

Dr. Mitchell: Well, if you have a plan you come up with, as you said, let’s stand in the room and look and say, well how am I going to get out, do you write your plan down? Do you share with your family? How do you record the information? What you recommend to your readers how they do that?

Richard: You have a family plan. You get together with your family and possibly your friends, sit in the room, and this includes your children because they’re involved too and they need to be involved because children will be scared so they need to understand that you are not scared and they need to understand you have it under control. So, you involve them in it and then, ok, if there’s an earthquake and you’re at school and I’m at home, here’s what we do. You go over here, you stay in school, or you do this or you do that or what do you think you should do? That way when there is an earthquake and they’re in school and you’re at home, they know what to do.

Dr. Mitchell: And it gives you more peace of mind. I would imagine if you have a family that you care about and yes, people love their families. You want to be able to have this information ready for them. I just…I know of people who’ve been in, you know, brush fires in California and rushing to get their children away from the schools and of course, the earthquakes. Oh my gosh, you know. An earthquake is one of those disasters where, there can be a fire and it affects those people locally, but an earthquake affects everybody for miles and miles, and you really do need to have a plan because it isn’t going to be just you. It’s going to be literally millions of people that are affected. I do have one interesting tip I can share. If you do a lot of flying I always check and see where the exits are on the plane in front of me and behind me and then I count the number of seats to that exit because if you are in a crash, it may be dark or maybe smoke and you can’t see the exit then and then you can count by going up the seat numbers to then find your way to the exit. There, that’s my tidbit. That’s my whole survival tip this year.

Richard: That makes sense and it’s the same thing. Be aware of the situation.

Dr. Mitchell: And, I’m sorry. Go ahead.

Richard: Just be aware and don’t be afraid to discuss it. Ok, you know, I hate to bring this up but there’s been a couple of school shootings lately. Have that discussion with your kids. What would you do? What should they do? Go to the police and ask them. If there is an incident here, what should we do? Talk to your police. Get to know them. They’re a part of the community too. Talk to the fire department. Go to community…go to city hall and start up a group.  Meetpup.com is great for that stuff and start to, you know, what do we do in, not necessarily a shooting, because that’s kind of sticky, but you know, I mean what if there was a fire at the school or there was some kind of the disaster, what would…talk to your kids so they know what to do.

Dr. Mitchell: Well, you’ve covered some excellent information in your computer book, Safe Computing. It’s very, you know, the way that you discuss this and the writing, it’s not over the top. It’s just something that anybody can read and access the information. It’s very important information that you’ve compiled to give to people and you’ve done this now with your computer book and on how to, you know, the survival guide and I’m a little bit interested also in the novels you have coming up. What inspired you now to move away a little bit from the more reality-based books into the world of fiction and science fiction that you mentioned this universal battle going on? What brought you to that?

Richard: Well, the final fiction novel is actually going to be a series of ten. It’s going to take up years to write but it came to me back in high school, which is further back than I like to think. Now that I’m a professional writer, I’ve decided I’m going to actually finish that, and I’ve got about 30,000 words finished. There’s a, not quite a contest but there’s an event going on in November, goes on every November, where you’re supposed to write a novel in a month and…

Dr. Mitchell: I’ve seen that. Yes, I’ve seen that contest. It is open in the month of November.

Richard: Yea, well, I’m in that. I’m about halfway through my first draft because I write fast. I write about 10,000 words a day. But I decided I want to have a wide variety of things that I write about because I…my whole thing with life is my wife was sick for 10 years and she didn’t…she couldn’t leave the house and what I learned from that is, you have to live for today. You have to live properly. You have to learn to live. Don’t put off that vacation. Don’t put off learning that thing. Don’t put off how to make more money. Don’t put things off till tomorrow because you’re too busy. Don’t put off talking to your kids. Get involved in life. So, I got involved with the belly dance community and with renaissance fair community and photography and I’ve done so many things because I wanted to be alive. I’m alive and I wanted to get out there and see the world, travel around the world, go up in a hot…I’m scared of heights, every year, I go up in a hot air balloon. Why? Just to push it, you know and there’s a piece of plywood a quarter inch thick under my feet then there’s 3,000 feet and I’m like, why did I do this but I do it because, why not?

Dr. Mitchell: Well, you’ll certainly feel alive there when that fear grips you. I would definitely be feeling very alive.

Richard: Go to a masquerade ball, you know. I tend to be a little of an introvert, sometimes and I go to a masquerade ball dressed as a, as, you know, a vampire with the black lipstick and the black hair and all that stuff, you know, goth.

Dr. Mitchell: Well, it’s a lot of fun. I mean, you definitely are delving into the things that, you know, make life enjoyable and interesting and to be safe also. I mean you are talking about really living your life in a very big way and enjoying it, what’s around you and you have all this safety and survival information. It isn’t saying be afraid and exactly that seems to be your message, it’s prepared.

Richard: Be prepared. Most of all, be knowledgeable. Be aware of your surroundings. Like on a computer, be aware. Don’t…it’s not just a toaster you plug in. It’s actually is more complicated and just like your car, you need to learn to do oil changes once every 3,000 miles. You need to learn to wash the windows, etcetera, etcetera.  Well, with computers, you need to learn to do the same thing. You need to learn how to back it up. It doesn’t take a lot of work. The books, I wrote them to very…to the normal person. They’re not high technical manuals. They’re just…they’re talking like you and I are, for everybody.

Dr. Mitchell: Well, I think that’s an excellent approach. I mean, if you’re trying to reach out and educate people who may be a bit resistant to it because it could be intimidating, the books, I have to say, and I’ve looked through them and the writing in them it’s very friendly, it’s extremely informative but it’s also very friendly. That was an [Inaudible 57:33].

Richard: I know. Well, that was the point. I’m writing to the “normal person” instead of, you know, I’m a computer geek. I can get down to how it all works and I can tell you how a virus works all the way down to the lowest level. I’m not going to do that because I mean, I might write a book like that but it won’t be aimed at “normal people”.

Dr. Mitchell: And what is it exactly, a normal person? I think that’s a delightful phrase. Certainly, not you Richard, with all the things that you’re involved in. I mean, it’s really so remarkable. I mean your books and the things that you enjoy doing, the photographs that you have on your site renfaireguy.smugmug.com and just fun. I mean your wonderfully, beautifully done photographs of animals and renaissance fairs and you clearly live life to a very, you know, broad expanse. You enjoy what you’re doing and that seems to be very evident and I think it’s wonderful that you share it with the photographs and the writing that you do and I just want to say Richard, thank you very much for being on my show tonight and for joining us and sharing with us information about your book and about the books that you have coming up and I encourage my readers to take a look at Richard Lowe’s work, especially, “Safe Computing is like Safe Sex” and “Real World Survival Tips”. Any last-minute word, Richard?

Richard: Just don’t be afraid and get prepared and get knowledgeable and you’ll get through life just fine is what I have found. I mean, there have been times when it was hell, when the wife was sick and, you know, all kinds of bad things were happening and you just power through it and learn and keep aware of the situation and move forward and then try and enjoy it. Not the bad stuff. I mean but enjoy life even if enjoying life means going to the free botanical garden once in a while.

Dr. Mitchell: Well, these are definitely words of wisdom and again, thank you for being on the show tonight and for my listeners for tuning in. Good night.


[End: 01:01:50]

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Richard Lowe

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