6 Simple Tips to Prevent Home Break-Ins

Your home is your sanctuary. It’s where you share meals and quality time with the family. It’s also where you keep your most precious keepsakes and valuables. Naturally, no one wants uninvited visitors in their home, and while most people think they’re not a target consider this: a burglary occurs approximately every 18 seconds in the United States, according to data from the FBI. While people may believe they’re taking proper precautions to avoid break-ins, not everyone knows some of simple things they can do to prevent theft.

Don’t become another statistic; follow these steps to protect your home and your valuables.

Use Your Locks

This one may seem a bit obvious but many people simply forget to lock their doors. The most common entry point for a burglar is through the front door, and while some will kick in a door or use another forceful entry method, about 30 percent of burglars walk right through an unlocked door.

A serious-looking or heavy-duty lock, like a mortise lock which has a standard lock and a deadbolt, may prevent a criminal from even trying to enter your home and can withstand most forceful entry attempts. Only about one in eight burglars reported picking locks or using a key that they had previously acquired to gain entry, so simply having an intimidating lock can keep some potential burglars from trying to enter your home.

Note: Avoid using overly obvious key-hiding strategies like putting your key under the doormat or in a hide-a-key. If you must keep a spare key nearby, consider a lock box or try stashing it somewhere that’s not right next to your front door, like behind an outdoor grill or air conditioning unit.

Get a Security System

If you’re worried that a security system will cost you lots of money, remember, it’s more expensive and time-consuming to replace lost or damaged items. Plus, an alarm system is one of the best ways to keep burglars from attempting to break in. According to a survey, 60 percent of burglars indicated that the presence of an alarm would cause them to seek an alternative target altogether.

Installation for a home security system usually costs about $100, but there may be additional startup fees including equipment costs and activation. After that, most people pay around $30 in monthly charges, depending on the company, for monitoring services and maintenance.

A traditional home security system is no longer your only option. There are lots of wireless security systems that are much more cost effective because you can choose the items you need. You can combine wireless components to build a safe DIY security system. DIY security systems. Whether you want to do it yourself or go the old-fashioned route, shop around for quotes and security accessories.

Don’t Leave Valuables in Plain Sight

When a burglar enters your home, he wants to find cash, jewelry, electronics or other valuables he can sell, as quickly as possible, and make a break for it. Most burglars start with the master bedroom and rifle through dresser drawers or closets, according to data from KGW News. If you make it harder to find valuable items, you reduce the risk of them getting stolen. A burglar generally only wants to spend between eight to 12 minutes in your home.

To make it harder to find your valuable items, consider creative hiding spots like a fake wall outlet, mis-labeled boxes in the garage, or inside a house plant. You can also get a floor safe to lock up your valuables, just make sure it’s not easy to transport so the burglar doesn’t just take the whole safe.

Make Them Think Someone is Home

While movies and TV shows depict robbers as masked villains who stalk the night, the majority of break-ins actually occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., while people are at school or work. There are a number of things you can do to make it look like someone’s home. Install timed or motion-activated lights or security cameras or set-up a wireless monitoring system. Motion-activated lights will turn on when someone approaches the house, giving the illusion that someone is home.

Another inexpensive option is to keep the radio or TV on during the day, which may make a burglar think the house isn’t empty. Lastly, you can get a dog to protect your house.

Call the Police

Yes, you can call the police if your home is broken into, but you can also use your local police department to help you prevent break-ins. Call the office near you and have them send an officer to your house to do a free safety inventory. They can point out any red flags and help you take proper precautions to prevent break-ins.

You can also let the police know if you will be out of town or gone for an extended period of time. They may be able to drive by your house to make sure it’s safe while you’re gone.

Use Your Landscape Strategically

Burglars are more likely to target houses with coverage like bushes and shrubs; they want to make sure they have a place to hide. Trim your shrubs and bushes so a potential thief can’t hide behind them.

This will also increase the visibility in your yard, so your neighbors will be able to spot any suspicious activity around your home.

Outsmarting a thief is easier than you think. Use these steps to protect your home and keep your family and your possessions safe.

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Survey Reveals Attitudes On Security, Privacy, and Politics

Phoenix Lockmaster conducted a survey of 1,500 Americans assessing thoughts and opinions on public safety and national security measures. The goal of the survey was to measure public sentiment on security-related issues during this election year. Below is a graphical and a textual summary of the survey data and findings.

National Security IG

Here is what we learned about Americans’ feelings on public security issues:

38% of Americans feel that terrorism/Isis are the number one safety concern.

The top answer (by a large margin) indicated that Isis and terrorism are biggest threat to their safety and should be the top concern of our government officials.

Women are slightly more concerned by crime, whereas men are slightly more concerned by hostile foreign countries.

Crime was the top concern of 18% of women but only 16% of men. While data shows that men are victimized by crime more often, public perception tends to hold women as more vulnerable to crime which may explain our survey findings. Hostile foreign countries were the top concern for 12% of men but only 6% of women, meaning men are twice as likely to choose hostile foreign countries as their top concern.

Older people are more likely to be concerned by terrorism, while younger people are more likely to be concerned by climate change.

Climate change is something that has more recently been a public concern, so for many older people the threat of terrorism is much more prevalent and real than concerns over global-warming, which is still a hotly debated topic in the political arena. In our survey, 18-24 year olds were nearly twice as likely as 45+ year olds to mark climate change as their top concern.

Surveillance cameras and airport security measures have moderate support from the American public.

From the survey results, 41% of the respondents indicated that they are comfortable with security cameras, another 41% said they are comfortable with heightened airport security measures, and 27% support a national ID card. Only 8% support stop and frisk police tactics. Government monitoring of bank accounts and personal emails had the lowest support coming in at 7% and 4%, respectively. Interestingly enough, 37% of respondents said they were not comfortable with any of the listed security measures.

Women are significantly more likely to support public security measures than men.

While both genders show little support for monitoring of emails and bank accounts, women were significantly more likely to support cameras, airport security, and ID cards:

  • 48% of women support surveillance cameras (vs. 40% of men)
  • 47% of women support airport security (vs. 39% of men)
  • 33% of women support a national id card (vs. 25% of men)

Americans give the government a 5.3/10 star rating for keeping America safe.

The federal government gets a decidedly lukewarm rating from its citizens in the area of security, and 13% felt that the government was doing a “very poor” job of keeping Americans safe.

Women and lower income respondents gave the government a lower rating.

Perhaps indicating a greater feeling of danger or greater dissatisfaction with current efforts, women and lower income respondents gave the government a lower rating on security.

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Most Popular YouTube Car Chase Channels

From careening along freeways trailed by police sirens in hot pursuit to instigating dramatic shootouts at 90 miles-per-hour, the public fascination with high-speed car chases is taking online media on a joyride. In fact, millions of viewers constantly log onto YouTube in search of the most exhilarating, suspenseful and climactic chase sequences across the web.

If screeching wheels and accelerated action make you feel like you’re in the driver’s seat, check out this infographic for a comprehensive ranking of which YouTube channels, videos and raw footage deliver the pulse-pounding thrills that all you car chase enthusiasts crave!

Most Popular YouTube Car Chase Channels IG

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5 New Year’s Eve Mistakes that Increase Your Safety Risk

2016 New Year background
Many people’s New Year’s Eve plans typically revolve around where to go, who to go with and how to have the most fun. While those are all important factors for a successful New Year’s, so is your safety. Here are five common New Year’s Eve safety mistakes – and how to avoid them.

Not designating a sober driver

With modern apps like Uber and Lyft, we tend to take transportation for granted. However, on New Year’s Eve, it can be nearly impossible to hail a cab. To make matters worse, Uber’s and Lyft’s surge pricing will likely go through the roof – and unless you have an unlimited budget, there’s a good chance you’ll be left stranded at the bar. This sort of sticky situation leads to desperate partiers getting in cars with intoxicated drivers or walking long distances alone. But if you have a sober driver, you won’t have to worry about transportation.

#ProTip: Every friend group has one person who thinks New Year’s is overrated. Find an acquaintance that’s staying in, and offer to order them a pizza or throw them some cash if they’ll pick you up after bar close.

Leaving your drink laying around

Bars and parties are going to be packed, which makes it easier for dangerous people to slip something in your drink without you noticing. So, keep one eye on your beverage at all times, and leave it under the supervision of a trusted friend if you visit the restroom. When in doubt, toss your beverage and get a new one. As the old saying goes, you’re better safe than sorry.

Not staying alert all night

With a long party night like New Year’s Eve, it can be easy to slip into a lack of awareness after a few drinks. When you appear tired, drunk and/or inarticulate, potential criminals perceive you as an easy target. So, drink one glass of water after every alcoholic beverage to pace yourself and stay alert all night.

Wandering off alone or with a stranger

One of the most dangerous things you can do when you’re under the influence of alcohol is wander away on your own. This leaves you vulnerable to attack, especially when it’s dark out. So, use the buddy system. It’s also important not to let a midnight kiss turn into a predatory situation. Don’t go home alone with someone you don’t know well – especially if you’re intoxicated and don’t have a personal safety tool.

Drinking on an empty stomach

This is one of our favorite safety tips, because it incorporates everyone’s favorite activity: eating. If you plan to go out drinking, get some food in your stomach first.

This post is provided by SABRE, the number one pepper spray brand trusted by police and consumers worldwide.

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Top 10 Most Heavily Guarded Locations

When you hear the term “maximum-security location,” what specifics come to mind? Perhaps, you think of military bases, government holdings, or important historical sites. Can you guess the most heavily guarded places on earth? And note, these are not the kind of places that offer free tours on your travels. You can always drive by those secure check points.

Check out the following Top 10 list!

1. Fort Knox

This iconic home of the US Bullion Depository not only stores tons of gold by the thousands, but also allegedly houses significant historical documents. For example, it once held the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Carta. Fort Knox’s invaluable treasures are protected by a 22-ton blast door.

fortknox

(Source: Wikipedia)

2. Area 51

This highly speculative yet top-secret U.S. air force facility, located in rural Nevada, is guarded so securely that no one has been able to break into it. Even flying overhead this “restricted area” is forbidden. These high levels of secrecy have prompted conspiracy theories of extraterrestrial alien or UFO activity.

Groom Rd. leading to Area 51 (Groom dry lake)

(Source: notevenathing)

3. The Mormon Church’s Secret Vaults

Containing the religious sect’s most important genealogical and historical records, these vaults are rumored to be protected by tempered climate control, as well as motion and heat sensors. Photos of the Mormon vaults can be a challenge to come by. This rare image surfaced in a newspaper during its 1962 construction.

Mormon Cave Photo The Deseret News 4-1-1962

 

4. Federal Reserve Bank in New York

Estimates show that roughly 25% of the world’s gold is stored here. With that much money on-site, it’s no wonder guarding the Federal Reserve is considered a national priority. The bank vault itself is eighty feet below street level and fifty feet below sea level. Plus, the building’s perimeter is manned by expertly-trained marksmen.

Federal Reserve bank New York NY

(Source: Michael Fleshman)

5. Air Force One

Often called “The Flying White House,” Air Force One’s defense technology is mostly classified, but the plane is allegedly capable of jamming enemy radars, ejecting flares to throw missiles off-course, and protecting itself from air strikes with heavy shielding. Rumor has it that Air Force One carries its own missile artillery as well.

airforceone

(Source: gregde)

 

6. Tumen River

This infamous body of water marks a crucial boundary line between Russia and North Korea, while snaking into Chinese territory as well. Would-be defectors from North Korea have tried using this river to flee into Russia by way of China. As such, it is regularly patrolled by North Korean soldiers.

Tumen River Bridge

(Source: Wikipedia)

7. Korean Demilitarized Zone

Harshly dividing Communist North Korea and Republican South Korea, this strip of land stretches 160 miles in length and 2.5 miles in width. It is counted among the most heavily defended borders in the world, and therefore, civilians rarely dare to cross. Consequently, the region has become a nature preserve.

IMG_0662

(Source: John Pavelka)

8. The Greenbrier

Spanning 6,500 acres, this exclusive resort is located in the forests of West Virginia. Beneath that posh facade, however, lies an explosive secret. The property plays host to a secure and fully-stocked underground bunker, protected by a 25-ton blast door, for U.S. Congress members to weather out nuclear attacks.

The Greenbrier White Sulphur Springs WV

(Source: David Wilson)

9. USP Florence ADMAX

Considered a modern-day Alcatraz, this is the only “supermax prison” in the U.S. and is considered the world’s most secure penitentiary. Located in Colorado, Florence houses the “worst of the worst” criminals in total solitary confinement. High-profile inmates, including Timothy McVeigh and known Islamic Terrorists, have been incarcerated here. A former warden described the prison as a “cleaner version of Hell.”

Florence_ADMAX

 (Source: Wikipedia)

10. Cheyenne Mountain

This former government complex once served as headquarters for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Space Command missions. It is comprised of a hidden tunnel network, encased by solid granite reinforcements. NORAD has since moved its operations to another location, but Cheyenne Mountain’s legacy lives on through the fictional Stargate Command on “Stargate SG-1” reruns.

norad blast doors

(Source: Wikipedia)

This list is just a sampling of the numerous maximum-security locations around the globe. But, whether these places are entirely shrouded in mystery or abound with conspiracy and speculation, the fact remains that they are virtually impenetrable to the outside world.

References:

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The 5 Best Live Music Venues in Phoenix

Most of us listen to music regularly – in the car, at home, sometimes even at work. We can’t deny that iTunes and streaming sites like Spotify have simplified the way we play our music, but there’s just something distinctive about live performances as opposed to recordings. The excitement of seeing and hearing the musicians interact with one another on stage, combined with the energy of the audience, can be thrilling.

Sure, go ahead and create fabulous playlists for your upcoming Memorial Day weekend or 4th of July cookout, but when you’re ready to really experience music, be sure to visit one of the following favorite live music venues here in Phoenix:

1. Joe’s Grotto

joe's_grottoPhoto by Ben Cane

Founded in 1994 by musician / owner-operator Joe Grotto, Joe’s Grotto is a fairly intimate venue that strives to make bands the center of attention. Open mic nights give up-and-comers the chance to show off their talents, and local rock bands often name Joe’s as their favorite venue in town to play. The pool and dart tournaments, coupled with affordable drink specials, also make Joe’s a fun place to spend an evening.

Joe’s Grotto
13825 N 32nd St.
Phoenix, AZ 85032
Phone (602) 992-1007

2. Char’s Has the Blues

Considered by many locals to be the best place to hear live blues in the valley, Char’s is the place to experience live blues, R&B, soul, or funk—live musicians are on stage every single night of the week. A bit of a classic “dive bar,” several favorite bands appear regularly, and patrons are eager to crowd onto the dance floor, which is sometimes called too small. Unpretentious and fun, Char’s low prices and honky-tonk atmosphere keep both regulars and tourists coming back for more.

Char’s Has the Blues
4631 N. 7th Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85013
Phone (602) 230-0205

3. The Trunk Space

Part art gallery, part coffee shop, and part performance space, The Trunk Space is as well-known for its art exhibits as well as its live musical performances. Located at the corner of Grand and 15th, patrons of all ages are welcome as alcohol is not served. Popular among hipsters and teens, performers often include punk, emo, and experimental musicians that you just won’t see at any other venue in town.

The Trunk Space
506 Grand Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phone (602) 256-6006

4. Comerica Theatre

Formerly known as Dodge Theatre, Comerica is a downtown Phoenix favorite that opened its doors in 2002. Intended to host performances by musicians and bands that won’t necessarily fill huge stadiums, yet draw too large of a crowd for more intimate venues, Comerica is a 5,000-seat theater that puts on a wide variety of acts. In addition to concerts and occasional comedy acts, Comerica has also hosted boxing and other sporting events.

Comerica Theatre
400 W Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85003
Phone (602) 379-2800

5. Desert Botanical Garden

Desert Botanical Garden

The Desert Botanical Garden is located in East Phoenix near Tempe.

While not the first place that comes to mind when the term “live music” is uttered, Desert Botanical Garden is a 140-acre botanical garden founded in 1937 that regularly hosts live performances by highly-regarded local musicians at its outdoor Ullman Terrace stage. Music in the Garden is a popular Phoenix concert series featuring local favorites, giving patrons the chance to experience live music alongside gorgeous Arizona landscapes.

Desert Botanical Garden
1201 N Galvin Pkwy.
Phoenix, AZ 85008
Phone (480) 941-1225

Music Festivals to Check Out!

If you’re also interested in some music festivals for the summer, here are a few that we think you should totally check out:

Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival

This metal festival features Slayer, King Diamond, Hell Yeah and Devil Wears Prada at the Ak-Chin Pavillion Friday, July 3rd in Phoenix.

Summer Ends Music Festival 2015

Festival will be held at Tempe Beach Park from September 24th through 27th. It will be featuring big names in music such as Jimmy Eat World, J.Cole, Big Sean, Manchester Orchestra and more!

 

 

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Embrace the Pie: 4 of the Best Pizza Spots in Phoenix

Who doesn’t love pizza? If you ever meet someone who doesn’t, it’s probably safe to say they’re not human. From hearty, Chicago style deep dish pies to crispy brick oven neapolitans, there’s a pizza for every palate. However, you’re not alone if you like them all.

On the one hand, pizza is pretty hard to mess up. Even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. Nevertheless, when it’s great, it’s a transcendent culinary experience of deliciousness that can’t be matched.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best pizzas in Phoenix to aid you in your search for the perfect pie. Between these five spots, you’ll be able to find whatever the pizza-shaped hole in your heart desires. And you can use the interactive map at the end of the post to navigate your journey.

Read on then chow down!

The Parlor Pizzeria

the_parlor_pizza_phoenix

We’ve already established The Parlor Pizzeria’s supremacy as a Phoenix dining spot in another post covering Phoenix’s five best restaurants, but the fantastic pizza that lies behind this establishment’s doors is worth noting twice. Plus, we aren’t the only ones singing The Parlor’s praises. The Food Network named this spot as the best place to get a pizza in all of Arizona in 2011.

Here’s the best plan of attack:

Start off your meal with some choice selections from the antipasti and salad menu, including killer bruschetta and a daily garden veggie board, before diving into the main attraction: the pizza.

The Parlor’s specialty pies feature excellent toppings, such as roasted organic chicken, kale, rock shrimp, and calamari. For the more traditionally minded, there are high-end variations of classic favorites too – smoked mozzarella, pancetta, and roasted mushrooms to name a few.

CIBO

CIBO, a modern pizzeria cafe, is bringing hip, artfully made pizzas to the fine people of Phoenix. In terms of authenticity, these pies are about as good as it gets. Chef Guido Saccone is a native Italian, and he has been producing outstanding Italian cuisine since the tender age of 15, when he began working part-time in his brother’s restaurant just outside of Napoli, Italy. 

Cibo pizza

Fresh imported ingredients can be found adorning beautifully prepared entrees and pizzas across the entire CIBO menu. Locally grown and raised ingredients are given priority whenever possible as well.

Venezia’s Pizza Bistro

If you’re on the hunt for an authentic New York style pizza in the Arizonian desert, Venezia’s is the place to be. Venezia’s turns out succulent, foldable, bonafide New York style pies along with a genuine and laid back atmosphere. Just add an order of wings and a pitcher of your favorite brew and you’ve got the whole package.

Fun fact for fans of “Breaking Bad:” Venezia’s gets bonus points for its appearance in the popular AMC drama. Remember in third-season episode Caballo Sin Nombre when Walter throws a pizza on his roof? It turns out that was a Venezia’s pizza!

breaking-bad-pizza

Pizzeria Bianco

Known for an incredible house-made marinara sauce and ultra high quality toppings, Pizzeria Bianco operates two locations in Phoenix where patrons can snag some of the best za in town. Chef Chris Bianco started the shop with humble beginnings – in the back corner of a community grocery store all the way back in 1988 – but it has taken off to become one of the best pizza spots in town.

pizzeria_bianco

Pizzeria Bianco has received some serious accolades too. Founder of La Brea Bakery and co-founder of Pizzeria Mozza, Chef Nancy Silverton, said in her book The Mozza Cookbook, “If there was any pizza that I did aspire to, it was a pie made by Chris Bianco, whose Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, AZ is a mecca for the pizza obsessed. When I took a bite of Chris’ pizza, I was speechless. Eating it turned out to be a life altering experience.”

A life altering experience through pizza!? Sign us up!

Chris uses as many locally sourced ingredients in every artisan pie as possible, and each one comes from the oven as a masterpiece that speaks for itself. Treat yourself to one of these delectable works of art. You won’t regret it.

Photo credits:

1. The Parlor Pizzeria

2. CIBO

3. Phoenix New Times

4. Pizzeria Bianco

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Mountain Biking in Phoenix: the Best Trails, Shops, and Post-ride Eats

Phoenix has great terrain for tons of outdoor activities, but its offerings for mountain bikers are what really set it apart. There are miles of amazing single track, several top-notch local bike shops (LBS), and even some prime spots for post-ride beers and eats.

trail_100_phoenix

Whether you’re new to the area, planning to pass through, or just want to get a few personal recommendations on the MTB scene in Phoenix, check out our short guide to mountain biking in Phoenix. We’ve rounded up a list of a few of our favorite trails, shops, and watering holes just for you, and you can find an interactive map to lead the way at the end of each section.

Trails

By no means are these the only trails to hit during your time riding in Phoenix. Having said that, these three trail systems are big local favorites. There are plenty more opportunities to shred prime single track surrounding Phoenix. For a full listing of trails surrounding Phoenix, check out http://www.mountainbikeaz.com/.

Usery Mountain Park Trail System

usery_park_phoenix
The Usery trail system is ideal for those just getting back in the saddle or those who prefer smooth and flowy to technical and tough: hucksters, free riders, and gravity junkies need not apply.

Usery has tons of loop options, and it’s pretty easily accessible too. You can get a feel for the terrain the video below:

Trail 100, Phoenix Mountains Preserve

Trail 100 has a little something for everyone, and its convenient location makes it great for after work and early morning rides. The trail system is huge, so be sure you bring a map and plan your route ahead of time. The general consensus is that the best single track is east of Dreamy Draw, so keep that in mind too.

phoenix_mountain_bikingRead some firsthand rider reviews of Trail 100 at mtbr.com

Casa Grande Mountain
At around 40 minutes east of Phoenix, the Casa Grande Mountain trail system is perfect for a weekend outing. This trail system is a little isolated, so bring plenty of water, a snack, some sunscreen, and your cell phone. It’s probably not a bad idea to bring along a buddy too.

Several miles of pristine, regularly maintained single track are waiting at this lesser-known trail system. Get the full rundown on Casa Grande Mountain at mtnbikeaz.com.

Shops

There are plenty of local bike shops throughout the Phoenix area, and most of them are good. However, these three are definitely ahead of the pack.

Rage Cycles

rage_cycles
A shop by bike nerds for bike nerds, Rage Cycles has all you could want in an LBS. All the techs are straight up and do awesome work. Plus, the shop hosts two fantastic weekly events – Pumptrack Tuesday and Free Beer Friday. The former gives locals a chance to try out the shop’s awesome on-site pumptrack and the latter… well, it speaks for itself.

Sunday Cycles
They weren’t named Phoenix Magazine’s best bike shop in 2013 for nothing. Sunday Cycles carries several boutique brands, including Ibis, Spot, and BMC, and they have one of the most welcoming atmospheres of any LBS around. Plus, who can say “no” to free snacks and coffee?

Slippery Pig
The Slippery Pig has cultivated a truly faithful following, and it has to be one of the chillest shops in town with its down-to-earth staff and friendly shop dogs. They’re outfitted to service every type of cycler – road, mountain, fixie, and everything in between. You can’t go wrong here.

Post-ride Eats and Libations

North Mountain Brewing

north_mountain_brewing
After you’re done shredding Trail 100 at the Phoenix Mountains Preserve you can head right over to North Mountain Brewing. The brewery is literally just a hop, skip, and a jump away, and they’re always pouring several small batch craft brews on any given day. They’ve also got an awesome menu filled with the perfect grub to satiate the ravenous appetite you’re likely to work up on the trail.

The Handlebar
Bikes and beers go hand-in-hand. Now you can hit up a local spot that combines both.

Tucked in downtown historic Tempe, the Handlebar is a great spot to grab a beer with the crew – maybe even a snack too depending on how hard you crushed the climbs.

Happy Trails!

Thanks for checking out our little guide to riding in Phoenix. We’re anxious to hear about your favorite spots too, so drop us a comment or find us on Facebook and let us know where we should head next!

Photo credits:

1. Cyclotourist

2. Garry Wilmore

3. Cyclotourist

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The Player’s Guide to Golf Courses in Phoenix, AZ

Golfing in the Desert: Phoenix, Arizona

When you think of the Arizonian desert, manicured greens and lush, rolling fairways are probably the last things you would envision. In fact, the uninitiated might be tempted to overlook the Southwest as a golfing destination altogether.

That would be a huge mistake! The Southwestern U.S. is chock full of incredible courses, Arizona and Phoenix in particular.

phoenix_mountain

So if you’re planning on visiting the area – on business, pleasure, or otherwise – do yourself a favor and get in a few rounds on Phoenix’s best. We’ve picked a few local favorites in three categories: High-end premier courses, still-fantastic courses with affordable rates, and short, executive or par-3 courses.

Use the interactive map at the end of this post to find the way to your next round.

High-end Premier Courses

We-Ko-Pa Desert Golf Experience
The We-Ko-Pa Golf Club is home to two of the foremost courses in the southwestern U.S., possibly the country as well. The club has received accolades from numerous publications, including GolfWeek, USA Today, and Links Magazine, and it provides a game play experience like none other. In fact, the club’s Cholla Course was named one of the 10 best new public courses worldwide by Sports Illustrated in 2001.

we-ko-pa-cholla

Secluded in the desert landscape with no surrounding developments whatsoever, either of We-Ko-Pa’s courses are sure to offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you want to enjoy the absolute best golfing that Phoenix has to offer, We-Ko-Pa is the place to be.

Raven Golf Club
Throughout the Phoenix area you’ll find courses that embrace the desert atmosphere whole heartedly. That’s where the Raven Golf Club breaks away from the pack.

This non-traditional course was constructed in the mid 90’s by moving 700,000 cubic feet of earth and importing thousands of pine trees to the course property. The result is a retreat from the arid and dry desert-based courses that are so prevalent in the area.

Come find out why the Phoenix New Times named Raven as the #1 high-end course in Arizona. You won’t be sorry.

Exceptional Courses With Affordable Rates

Depending on your tax bracket, you might be feeling a little sticker shock after seeing the rates of Phoenix’s higher end clubs. Of course, these courses offer some of the best golfing in the country, and they certainly have their place. However, there are other, more affordable options in Phoenix that can give the big guys a run for their money. And with twilight rates, you can get in a round on these courses for practically nothing.

Coyote Lakes Golf Club
Coyote Lakes Golf Club is the best choice on the list for a fun, carefree round. The course runs a little on the shorter side at 6,213 yards, but for most players it has the perfect balance of challenge and enjoyment.

Learn more about the Coyote Lakes course here.

Wigwam Resort Gold Course

wigwam_phoenix_golf
Phoenix’s Wigwam Resort houses three fantastic courses, but the Gold Course gives players an exceptional bang for their buck. The par 72 course plays at a little over 7,400 yards, and it was designed by master course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. The courses inclusion of natural terrain in conjunction with its sprawling length make it a challenge well worth taking on.

Executive, Short, and Par-3 Courses

Who says you have to go all out to have a good time? There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy yourself on one of Phoenix’s great short courses instead of dedicating the time and money to hit one of the bigger clubs. Check out these two courses if you’re looking for an abbreviated round.

The First Tee of Phoenix
The First Tee is a non-profit organization committed to providing life lessons and development of character to children and young people through the game of golf. The organization has several locations across the country, but its course at South Mountain in Phoenix is a real local favorite.

The course was designed by renowned designer Tom Fazio, and it consists of nine par-3 holes, each between 40 and 110 yards. The course is open to the public, and it’s great for practicing your short game or playing with the kids. Plus, every round you play is supporting a fantastic cause.

Augusta Ranch Golf Club
Not to be confused with the Augusta that hosted the Masters in 2013, the Augusta Ranch Golf Club is still considered one of the best short courses in Arizona.

The Augusta Ranch course comes in at 18 holes with a total par of 61, so it’s perfect for a brief morning or late afternoon game; players usually make it through the course in under three hours.

Plus, the course is just a short trip from downtown Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Gilbert, Tempe, and Chandler. Even better, it seems to always be in immaculate condition. And if you’re not sold yet, the fact that you can usually play a round for under $30 is sure to win you over.

What are your favorite golf courses and clubs in Phoenix? Have you visited any of the courses on our list? If so, drop us a comment and let us know how you liked it!

Photo credits:

1. Derrick Bostrom

2. We-Ko-Pa Golf Club

3. The Wigwam

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How to Protect Your Digital Identity and Lock Down Your Sensitive Data

In mid 2012, Wired writer Mat Honan’s digital identity was obliterated by a teenage hacker. The culprit cracked his Google account and then started picking off each of his online accounts one-by-one until stopping at his Twitter account to spread offensive content. The hacker also remotely wiped Honan’s iPhone, Macbook, and iPad, leaving his work and personal life in a lurch.

The consequences of this kind of security breach are severe and many. You can read the whole story here.

Stories like this aren’t uncommon. And if someone as technologically inclined as a journalist for Wired magazine can get hacked, then so can you.

Since the stakes are so high when it comes to securing your identity online, we’re going to walk you through five simple steps to prevent your identity from being compromised online and minimize the damage if, against all odds, it is.

Step up Your Password Game With Complex Characters and Phrasing

password

The first thing you should do to ensure your digital security is start creating complex, unique passwords for each of your online accounts – the less pronounceable the better (go crazy with numbers and special characters when allowed). And ideally, each password should be longer than 10 characters.

Many individuals use the same simple password for all their accounts. This is a disaster waiting to happen, because after a hacker gets into one account, they can get into all the others instantaneously. For example, if your Gmail and online banking account have the same password, you’re going to be in serious trouble.

Using a different password for each account, and making each password long and complex, prevents hackers from getting a foothold.

Use a Password Manager to Keep Your Logins Straight

1password

Of course, it’s not easy to keep up with several complex passwords in excess of 10 characters. And anyone with a Google, Facebook, and Twitter account would have three big passwords to remember right off the bat.

Thankfully, there’s a software solution to make the whole endeavor a little easier: it’s the password manager. Using a master password, these programs will catalog and secure the login info for every account you own, and most of them come with a browser plugin that allows you plug in any login on the fly while you browse.

There are a few different options when it comes to selecting a password manager, some paid some free. Here are a few of our favorites:

Password Box

1Password

LastPass

Enable Two-Step Verification Wherever Possible

In the article chronicling the destruction of his online identity, Mat Honan speaks to the immense value of two-step verification.

“Had I used two-factor authentication for my Google account, it’s possible that none of this would have happened…” Honan says.

Two-step verification is essentially just an extra layer of identity verification. In instances where a remote login attempt is made, and in other circumstances as well, the user is prompted to not only enter the account’s login credentials but also a code generated via phone or text. Other identification factors are sometimes used in the process, but the result is the same: by adding an extra layer of personal verification, hackers get left out in the cold.

Don’t “Daisy-Chain” Your Online Accounts

As convenient as it may seem to connect all your social, email, and other online accounts, you’re better off resisting the temptation.

For the same reason you shouldn’t use the same password for all your accounts, likewise, you shouldn’t connect all your accounts through a login daisy-chain: once a hacker gets into one account, there’s nothing stopping them from getting into all your accounts.

Limit Your Exposure to Unnecessary Threats

This tip is somewhat obvious, but it’s important enough to bear repeating. Don’t expose yourself to unnecessary digital threats. Whether it be an email requesting personal information, a fishy social media message, or another questionable online interaction, keep it on the up-and-up and you’ll likely have far fewer problems.

You can get plenty of information on the best practices for keeping your identity safe at consumer.ftc.gov.

Back Up Data Religiously, Just in Case

Although we have great confidence in the strategies outlined above, it’s important to protect your data regardless. Ending up like Wired writer Mat Honan – data wiped from all personal devices and locked out of all your accounts – can put an immediate hold on your life that isn’t easy to recover from.

hard_drive

Invest in an external HDD and start making regular backups of your system and all of its data. Also, make ample use of free cloud storage services, such as Google Drive and Dropbox.

There are plenty of options for making backups, both for backing up individual pieces of data as well as making bootable copies of your system. Mac users can use OSX’s native Time Machine software in addition to Super Duper to make bootable system backups. Windows users can find the same functionality in XXClone as well as the native Windows backup feature.

Wrapping up

With all these easy tips and tools for keeping your digital identity secure, there’s no excuse to continue allowing yourself to be exposed to hacking threats. Take what you’ve learned here and lock down your digital identity for good.

Photo credits:

1. Photo by Marc Falardeau

2. Photo via AgileBits

3. Photo by William Warby

 

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