From:         Bob Rankin 
Subject:      TOURBUS - 03 MAY 2006 - Passports / Myspace Safety


The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

In today's TOURBUS, the sad story of why I didn't make it to Jamaica (and how to get a passport), safety tips for teens who use Myspace, and the scoop on radar detectors. Read on!

Getting a Passport Online

If you are a U.S. citizen and plan to travel outside the USA, you'll most likely need a passport. Recently I found this out the hard way. I arrived at Newark airport bound for Jamaica and ended up in Phoenix Arizona the next day.

Last month I was planning to attend an all-expenses-paid conference in sunny Jamaica. My airline and hotel reservations were in order, and I showed up at the airport early on a Sunday morning. I didn't have a passport, but I had been told by the travel agent that an original birth certificate was sufficient to enter Jamaica. So I brought my driver's license, social security card, and the only birth certificate I had, which was issued by the hospital where I was born. It was signed by the attending physician, embossed with an official seal, and even had my cute little baby footprints on the back.

"Not good enough!" said the surly ticket agent. In the absence of a passport, an "official, certified" birth certificate, issued by the county where I was born, was the only acceptable form of ID. Thwarted from entering Jamaica, I went instead to Phoenix for a meeting of the Cabal Of Which We Do Not Speak.

Phoenix has sun, sand, and palm trees, so I made the best of it. But I determined then and there to get a passport as soon as possible. Here's how to use the Internet to get a certified copy of your birth certificate, and apply for a passport online:

Myspace Safety Tips

I promised to write more about Myspace, and one particular hot button issue is teen safety on this hugely popular medium. Are teens putting themselves at risk by posting too much personal information on social networking sites like Myspace? Is Myspace a danger to kids that should be tightly controlled or shut down?

If you ask police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, they may tell you about 24 year-old Thomas Tafoya who claimed to be 18 in order to meet up
with a 15 year-old girl. According to statements made by the girl, she met Tafoya on Myspace several weeks earlier, gave him her home address, allowed him to climb a tree and enter the home through her bedroom window on at least SIX separate occasions. And oh, they weren't doing her math homework up there...

To be sure, there are bad people using Myspace to do bad things. But is Myspace To blame? Those who have been online since the early days of the Web will recall similar stories. It began with the popularity of email amongst teens, then chat rooms, instant messaging services, and more recently the focus is on social networking websites.

Young people meet and hang out at the popular online destination du jour. They talk, boast, experiment with different personas, reveal personal details in public spaces, and they tend to believe almost anything. And yes, some get into trouble. If you allow your child to have a Myspace profile, make sure they understand these basic safety tips that apply to all online interactions:

Also of interest, an academic whitepaper discussing how kids use Myspace in positive ways for "identity production" and socialization:

Radar Detectors

A reader recently asked me about radar detectors: "I just got a speeding ticket, and now I'm wishing I had a radar detector. But there are so many different kinds and price ranges. How do radar detectors work, and which one should I buy?"

As it happens, I recently purchased one of these gadgets myself, so I decided to write an article summarizing what I learned about radar detectors (how they work, what protection they can & CANNOT offer) and give some recommendations about which one to buy.

The article also talks about laser (lidar) detection, and gives links to some free reference material about radar detectors, speed traps, and what to do if you get a speeding ticket.

That's all for now, see you next time! -- Bob Rankin

The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
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