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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Link to radio show about Myspace suicide

I moderate a YahooGroup for my organization, WHOA, and this is the reply I sent yesterday:

Re: Kudos to Dardenne Prairie Mo for a new law making online harassment a crime there.

It's not a kudo. It's a band aid. And it wouldn't have helped in this case at all. Cyberstalking and online harassment are not "cruel messages", as was sent to this girl, number one. Number two, the law only applies for that one town, so that means a case can only occur if the victim and harasser live in Dardenne Prairie.

The town did this to appease the girl's parents.

What happened to her was horrible, don't get me wrong, but what needs to change is the accountability of sites such as Myspace, not creating laws that will do nothing like this one.

Myspace, Yahoo, Hotmail, Facebook, etc need to have some sort of safeguard so that fake profiles can NOT be opened up and used to demean, harass, or be forged in someone else's names. That is the answer.

I was on a radio show this morning with a sheriff and he and I were in total agreement on this.

Here's a link to the show :

WGAN Radio Portland, Maine
"We talked to Jayne Hitchcock of Working to Halt Online Abuse about a disturbing case of online terror.

Friday, November 23, 2007

America's Most Wanted Appearance

I just wanted to let you know that I was interviewed as an expert for a segment about online dating for America's Most Wanted. It was supposed to air tomorrow night, but has been moved to December 8th on Fox TV at 9 pm (after "COPS"). This is because it is not a time-sensitive story and is more of a "filler" for AMW.

There isn't anything on their site yet that I can see, but keep an eye out on there for info about the show just prior and after my segment airs. They are going to add more video of me on the web site later on, as the camera guy spent close to two hours interviewing me and I know they'll use less than five minutes of it on the show.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Meeting Tess Gerritsen, Microsoft blows, Plasma flat screen

I'm a member of Sisters In Crime (both national and New England) and have gotten to meet a lot of my favorite mystery authors. When I read in the local paper that Tess Gerritsen was going to be giving a talk at our local library this past Saturday night, I figured I'd see if she could join Chris and I for drinks afterward.

Chris is a HUGE fan of hers (and this is no lie - he's read just about every book of hers), so he was excited. I emailed Tess and got a prompt reply that she and her husband, Jacob, would love to come to our house afterwards for drinks.

Chris couldn't contain himself - he was actually nervous. We went to the library for her lecture at 7 pm. She talked about her latest book, The Bone Garden, which is a bit of a departure from her Jane Rizzoli & Maura Isles series. It goes back and forth between the late 1800s and present day, but of course there is a murder to be solved. She talked about the research she conducted for writing the late 1800s parts. It was truly amazing and interesting, if a bit gory at times. She told the audience how they practiced medicine back then, which was mainly badly and some pioneers of better medicine who advocated washing hands before working on a new patient. To think back then doctors actually were ticked off to be told to wash their hands. It's unthinkable now, LOL!

Afterwards, Chris got his book signed and I talked with Jacob while Tess signed a boatload of books for the audience. Then they followed us to our house.

Tess likes red wine, like me, and picked a Shiraz I had on hand. We sat in the living room and got to know each other. Turns out she and Jacob have a farm with four donkeys. Yes, you read right - donkeys! I thought it was cute. All I could think of was those long fuzzy ears and big brown eyes. Jacob told how one of the donkeys had an altercation with a porcupine. Then they said they were going to start a vineyard with white grapes and had ordered 125 vines to plant in the spring.

I told them how I'd planted one vine three years ago for the heck of it and how the grape clusters finally appeared this year - concord grapes. They were exicted to hear that.

They asked how Chris and I met (which will be a completely separate post one of these - online dating - and were fascinated. Jacob asked Chris some landscaping questions and we had a good time.

After they left, we watched TV for a bit, but Chris had a big smile on his face because he'd met Tess!

I got an email from Tess the next morning:

it was so much fun spending time with you and Chris! (And he IS a cutie -- I would've jumped at his profile too) Many thanks for the wine, for the evening, and for the chance to find out just what was up with that NUMA license plate!

If you all didn't know, NUMA comes from Clive Cussler, who is a friend, and is the vanity plate for my car.

Chris was tickled pink that Tess thinks he's cute!

Microsoft just changed to a new version of Hotmail called Windows Live Hotmail. What a mess. There are no check boxes next to the list of messages you receive so that you can delete some or all at once. You have to open each message now to delete it if you want.

Another HUGE problem is that you can no longer show full headers, which is imperative for law enforcement and for the advocates of my organization, WHOA to be able to report harassment complaints to the originating Internet service provider. I've already gotten several emails from cops and victims asking for help with this.

The instructions on the Hotmail site tell you to open the message, then right-click, then click on View Source. No can do, chumps. There are no full headers when you do that. Nor are there any when you forward the message.

So I called all the numbers I could find for Hotmail, MSN and Microsoft. No one had a clue as to what I was talking about. One woman told me law enforcement would need to contact them with a subpoena for the info. I explained very carefully what full headers were and what the originating IP address was and how victims could file complaints to the proper ISP when full headers are shown. She said they could just file the complaint with Hotmail. I told her that wouldn't do, as the originating ISP needs to be contacted as well.

I gave up and called the law enforcement hotline I have. I avoided doing that until I exhausted all other possiblities. The people at Microsoft are clueless. Geez. I left a voicemail for the guy there and hope he calls back. I also emailed a Microsoft contact in Europe asking for his help. I hope someone gets back to me.

The new Hotmail sucks.


I've been thinking of getting a flat screen TV for over the fireplace in the living room since January. I've been watching prices and keeping up with things. Chris keeps saying the big TV I currently have is fine and why spend the money? But I found a deal at Best Buy I couldn't pass up. It's a Hitachi 50-inch plasma flat screen with HDMI and HDTV for half price - the original price was $1999. I already checked the Black Friday ads that have been plastered all over and nothing came close to this.

So we went to Best Buy on Sunday, I talked with the guy in the TV department and bought the TV. I paid for the Geek Squad to install it, only because

1) If something goes wrong with the installation, Best Buy is responsible for it

2) They hook it up to the stereo - I have a surround system with a receiver, DVD player, VCR and the cable box

3) The salesguy dropped the price from the advertised $450 to $250.

So they're coming to install it on Saturday. I can't wait!

The TV currently in the living room will go in the bedroom and the bedroom TV will go downstairs into my new office (which I have yet to fully move into. I know, I know, I'm procrastinating. Pfft)

We plan on using an airbed to sleep in the living room Saturday night in front of the fireplace and watching the new TV. It'll be like camping out, LOL.

More later. . .

Cyberstalking survey needs you!

Complete a brief, anonymous survey and you could win $50!

Click Here to take survey

This is being conducted by

Nancy Hensler-McGinnis, M.A.
Doctoral Candidate, Counseling Psychology
University of Maryland, College Park

Saturday, November 17, 2007

People who post anonymously. . .

. . .will be ignored. My blog info clearly states that I post about my professional and personal life. I do not disclose information I don't feel comfortable letting the world read. As a cyber crime expert, I know what I am doing and I am more than comfortable with what I post. If you are not, that is your problem.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sarasota, life, Video Professor, more

I knew I couldn't be here when the anniversary of dad and my husband's deaths came up, so I made plans to fly to Sarasota, Florida to be with Jean, a dear friend I haven't seen in almost 10 years. I met her on a flight back from Tampa - we were seatmates. I usually don't talk to anyone on planes, but we struck up a conversation and became great friends. She's almost 20 years older than me, but very young at heart and we got along famously. Then it turned out she lived in Annapolis, only about 10 minutes from where we lived in Crofton, Maryland, so we ended up becoming good friends. I call her my fairy godmother, LOL.

So I asked Jean if I could come see her - she and her husband, David, moved to Sarasota full time last year. She was ecstatic. I made my reservations and flew down there on US Airways on November 3rd, a Saturday. No problems with my connection and I almost cried when I saw Jean. It had been too long!

We drove to her place to say hello to her neighbors and see David real quick before zipping me off to my hotel, a Holiday Inn Express near Siesta Key (where they live). I kept telling everyone maybe I'll get smarter staying at that hotel (if you haven't seen the commercials, go here.

The hotel was nice, I got a King suite for just $70/night. Not a bad deal!

Jean came back to pick me up for dinner at a little seafood place where I had alligator bites (real gator, tastes like chicken - really!), then off to the Ringling Museum of Art's Asolo Theatre to see Murder by Poe. Yes, that Ringling. John Ringling and his wife Mabel were quite the art collectors and such.

The play was wonderful and when I got back to my room, I talked with Chris on the phone for a bit, then collapsed to sleep. I knew that being away five days would test us - it would be the first time since we'd moved in together that we'd been apart. He was already missing me and told me the dogs were missing me, too.

The next morning Jean picked me up at 930 am (giving me time for my treadmill jog and some quick breakfast) to go on a 2-hour tour of the bay put on by the Sarasota Historical Society every year. There was a buffet breakfast (mainly doughnuts and pastries) and a bar - LOL. We got great seats at the back of the boat we were on, so I got some sun. The tour was educational, fun and the weather was gorgeous.

Afterwards, we walked around the park at the marina, then stopped by Best Buy and Walgreen's to pick up some things I wanted to get. Then Jean dropped me off at my hotel. She and David had a preplanne charity event they had to attend. I called Chris, then collapsed and took a nap. At 6 pm, I went to the local sports bar and grill for a cheeseburger and a beer. The New England Patriots were playing (and won), so the place was noisy, but fun. Called Chris when I got back to my room, then went to bed.

Jean came by again at 930 am to take me to the Ringling Museum of Art to see a Cuba modernism show, a Goya show and some Reubens paintings. We walked around the mansion John Ringling and his wife had lived in. God it was beautiful - steps from the ocean.

Had lunch, then back to the hotel for a quick nap, call to Chris (he was *really* missing me by now and I was missing him, too - it's hard to sleep in a big bed alone when you're used to having someone there), then Jean picked me up for a dinner party.

Jack and Judy are a couple in their 70s who met just over a year ago. Both had been previously married and their spouses had died and they connected. They've been living together for a year and love to travel the world together. They done some traveling to Mexico and Judy was fascinated by the October 31st celebration of the Day of the Dead - so that was the theme of their dinner party. Authentic Mexican food, a slide show played on one wall of photos she'd taken at a celebration in Mexico and good wine.

There was a bowl where you could write the names of your loved ones who had died on a piece of paper and add it. I put both dad and Chris' names in the bowl. I was glad Jean brought me to this party. Everyone was remembering someone. Judy then announced she was going to tell us about the Day of the Dead and proceeded to give us a PowerPoint lecture. Don't groan - it was actually very interesting and her photos were fantastic!

After, Jean and I walked with another Judy to her house. She is a potter and wanted to show us her latest work. She does everything - vases, bowls, plates, cups - you name it. And they are ALL gorgeous. There was one plate that needed to be fired that was a pretty blue with a constellation on it. An outline of lovers in the stars had been drawn and I told Jean I wanted that plate. It just hit me as something I had to have. She said she's getting it for me as an engagement present. I can't wait to hang it on the wall.

Got back to my room, called Chris, then fell asleep.

My last full day in Sarasota was November 6th, the day Chris died. Jean picked me up again at 930 am and we went to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. It was a beautiful, peaceful place to be with the most gorgeous plants and butterflies I have ever seen. I'll be posting photos this weekend.

Lunch was at the marina, overlooking the bay, then Jean took me to buy some roses. I had looked online and found that light pink roses are for sympathy. So I bought some and she drove me to a beautiful white sand beach. I walked out by myself to the water with two roses, one for dad and one for my late husband. A group of pelicans floated on the water, sandpipers chittered on the sand at the waters edge and a flock of birds (I don't know what kind) flew low over the ocean in front of me. I walked out as far as I could go, said a silent prayer for dad and my husband and tossed the roses into the waves.

It was really beautiful.

Jean took me back to my room. I called Chris and he was wonderful as I cried my eyes out. I don't know how I was ever lucky enough to find this man, but I am glad I did. He told me he was going to just hold me when I got home (and he did).

I napped, then Jean and David picked me up to go see a Neil Simon play, Laughter on the 23rd Floor at the Golden Apple Theater, which was a dinner theatre. The play was wonderful, the food was good and it was fun being with both Jean and David.

Here are the three of us at the theatre:

The next morning, Jean took me to see a sculpture exhibit along the marina, then to the airport. I had two connections on the way home, but surprisingly, no delays and even got into Portland, Maine 15 minutes early.

Boy, was Chris happy to see me home. He was waiting in the garage and ran around the back of the car to just hold me in his arms. Bandit and Guin wriggled with happiness. It was good to be home.

Video Professor is on the fast track - the CDs are done and I get my copy to look at this week. They are paying to have me videotaped for press releases on the 27th to send out to the media, plus the big rollout is the week of December 1st. So the tutorial based on my book, Net Crimes & Misdemeanors, will be available just in time for Christmas!

I am very excited about this project!

Life has been really good. Since Chris is a landscaper, we added up how much I'd been paying for my landscapers to do my lawn (I have about an acre), plus the spring and fall cleanups plus the snow plowing in the winter and it came out to almost $4,000. I just about fell over.

We went to Home Depot and ended up getting a Cub Cadet riding lawn mower for half price because it was reconditioned, plus a cart and bagger and a snow blower. The total was less than half what I'd been paying each year for 10 years. I'm going to save a lot of money with Chris doing the yard. He said in the spring he's redoing all my flower and plant beds. I'll have the best looking yard in York, ha ha.

He's also been doing a lot around the house - recaulking the outside of the windows, cleaning the gutters, chopping firewood, general cleanup and helped me put up a canopy shed for the Jeep so that we can store it for the winter along with the lawn equipment.

He's now working for a landscaping company out of Hampton, NH, plus a local condo complex doing yard work and snow blowing and will work on weekends when he can on restoring some cars. He is not an idle man, LOL. In the spring, he's thinking of going off on his own and trying to do his own landscaping/lawn business, so I'm going to help him come up with business cards and ads in the local papers.

Life is good. I am happy again. The dogs love Chris (which was the clincher when he met them). I sometimes have to pinch myself to make sure this isn't a dream. I really thought I could never be this happy again.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Remembering Chris

Who was it that said that everything happens for a reason?

When my husband died a year ago today, I was devastated. I didn't know how I could go on, but I did. I didn't know how I'd be able to live in the same house where he died, but I am. I never thought I would ever find someone to love again, but I have.

This doesn't mean I love my late husband any less - so not true. He will always be in my heart. How could he not? After all, we were together for almost 20 years.

But I know he would have wanted me to be happy again. I think he approves of my newfound happiness in the little signs I see every day. Pennies from heaven. A 1989 nickel (that was the year we were married). A heart-shaped rock. Monarch butterflies following me everywhere. . .

So on this day that was so sad a year ago, I rejoice in my love for my late husband and my love for Chris - yes, the new man in my life is also named Chris. Another sign, I truly believe.

Everything happens for a reason and though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.

My new ending is beginning now.

In memory of Christopher Hitchcock

The following was originally written by Christopher Hitchcock for his father's funeral and was changed by one of his best friends, Rich Knox, to read at Christopher's funeral on November 10, 2006:

I believe the world has lost two true artists
A Da Vinci, a Michelangelo, a Mozart
And I fear that the world will never know it
I'll bet more people could tell you the last five finalists of American Idol
Than could tell you who painted the Sistine Chapel
And that is so sad

Monday, November 05, 2007

Missing you

I miss you, Dad.

In memory of William E. Hitchcock 1928-2006

Friday, November 02, 2007

Big Announcement - Video Professor Buys Rights to Net Crimes Book

Now I can make the announcement I have been waiting to make for over a year. Back in late 2006, soon after the 2nd edition of Net Crimes & Misdemeanors came out, a representative from Video Professor contacted me about possibly basing a tutorial on the book. I was very excited at the time and put them in contact with my publisher, Information Today, Inc. (the parent company of the imprint Cyberage Books).

Time passed. Emails went back and forth many times. I persisted. Sent them candy (actually salt water taffy from Maine) to sweeten them up - pun intended. More time passed. Then I was on Good Morning, America and several other news articles/shows and suddenly things were on again.

A contract was sent out. It took forever (it seemed) for both sides to agree on the terms. Finally, it got signed. Then I had to wait for the advance check to arrive. More toe-tapping while I waited. Video Professor did send the first script for me to go over, so I worked on that. Waited some more.

Finally, the check arrived earlier this week and Video Professor sent out their first press release about the project, so now I can officially announce it:

Video Professor -- the leader in comprehensive, self-paced computer software tutorials -- will offer a three-lesson Protect Yourself Online: Viruses, Scams and Social Networking tutorial to teach people how to protect themselves, their loved ones and their computers from identity thieves, scammers and viruses (based on the book, Net Crimes & Misdemeanors 2nd edition by J.A. Hitchcock).

Millions of kids create MySpace(R) profiles that make them susceptible to online predators. Dating sites like eHarmony(R) and open the door for deception and cyberstalking. Ten million people buy and sell on eBay(R) every month, despite the risk of scamming and the prevalence of phishing associated with eBay and PayPal(R).

The Video Professor Protect Yourself Online tutorial will help consumers guard themselves against phishing, cyberstalking, online harassment, and identity theft. The Protect Yourself Online tutorial, which will be available soon, teaches users the safety measures to take when making purchases online, the warning signs to look for that indicate you might have become a victim to identity theft or credit card fraud, and the top ten online scams. Specifically, Video Professor's Protect Yourself Online tutorial provides hours of in-depth, one-on-one instruction about keeping yourself and your kids safe while participating in social networking sites, online auctions, online banking, online shopping, and online dating.

Video Professor's Protect Yourself Online tutorial makes it easy for users to learn how to protect themselves when buying and selling online, socializing online or just browsing the Internet. This new Video Professor tutorial will teach you how to interact online safely and securely and how to portray yourself effectively while guarding yourself from becoming a victim. The Protect Yourself Online tutorial systematically introduces online hazards, such as:

-- Phony photos on online auction sites
-- Phony e-mail from major corporations and e-mail forwards
-- Reverse auction fraud
-- Firewalls, Internet security, passwords, and cookies
-- Online impersonation
-- Dangers of blogs, journals and profiles on social networking sites

Identity theft is a particularly important issue for most computer users, and Video Professor's Protect Yourself Online tutorial provides detailed instruction about how to avoid becoming a victim. The Protect Yourself Online tutorial describes how to teach your kids to protect themselves and how to use parental controls to keep them out of trouble. Video Professor's Protect Yourself Online tutorial also explains computer viruses and how to steer clear of them. After completing the Protect Yourself Online tutorial, users will have all the information needed to protect themselves, their loved ones and their computers from identity thieves, scammers and viruses.

Video Professor's Protect Yourself Online tutorial is ideal for anyone wanting to enjoy the Internet safely without worrying about falling victim to criminals. The Protect Yourself Online tutorial is designed to be useful for beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels. Video Professor recommends a basic knowledge of using the Internet before starting the Protect Yourself Online tutorial. Once a user has completed all Protect Yourself Online tutorial lessons in the, he or she will be able to surf the Internet with confidence.

To learn more about Video Professor and its complete line of computer tutorials, or to view a demo of the Video Professor Protect Yourself Online: Viruses, Scams and Social Networking tutorial, visit and click on the CD Products link.

About Video Professor

Based in Lakewood, Colo., Video Professor has been the leader in comprehensive self-paced computer software tutorials for more than 20 years. The core of Video Professor's learning initiative is to provide home users as well as corporate professionals with valuable and user-friendly learning solutions for today's most common software titles. In addition to pioneering the future of easy-to-use online tutorials, Video Professor currently ships over 250,000 CD-ROMs every month and has helped more than 8 million households learn the computer skills they need to remain competitive in today's computer-driven marketplace. The complete Video Professor library is also available online to stream directly to computers.