Custom PCs, Jamaican Weed, and Webcam Security

Dear Brian,
What are the pros and cons of pre-built PC and custom PC?

I’m not a fan of pre-built PCs. If you can build your own, it’s always preferable, as you’ll be fully in control of customizing each individual component.

A pro¬†of a pre-built PC is that it’s cheaper because the manufacturer makes deals with companies like Microsoft so you’ll get a lot of free software you won’t get on a custom PC. Of course much of this software is useless trial software and bloatware.

A pre-built PC also comes with support from the manufacturer. If something goes wrong, you can easily call tech support and have them walk you through the troubleshooting process. If it’s irreparable, you may get a free replacement (which will likely be a refurbished model from another customer).

Custom PCs are recommended if you know how to build a PC. You’ll get the best memory, video card, and be in complete control of the performance. Custom-built PCs are easily configured and upgraded, and the warranty is on each individual part.

While custom PCs do require more technical knowledge, if you have this knowledge, you’ll be much more satisfied with your purchase. It’ll last longer, work better, and you’ll learn more.

Dear Brian,
Is Jamaica the best place for growing marijuana?

Places near the equator do provide a great environment for growing cannabis, but, since it’s illegal in Jamaica, an outdoor grow is risky.

When you’re growing indoors, anywhere works, really. You should know that most grow ops are busted because of the increased energy usage though. If you’re going to grow cannabis somewhere it’s illegal, you’ll want to invest in a generator so as not to increase your electricity usage and attract police attention.

It’s best to not live in your grow house. Anything over 4-8 plants is increasingly likely to attract attention and you don’t need the stress that comes with living near such a risky venture.

The best places to grow are places where it’s legal to do so. Currently Oregon and Washington are your best bets, though Colorado also allows the practice.

Most of the cannabis consumed in the U.S. used to come from Columbia and South/Central America. It soon started being grown in Mexico by cartels who wanted to increase their revenues over simply allowing passage from southern countries. These days the large majority of the pot in the U.S. is grown domestically.

Your best bet is to apply for a medical card (and cultivation license, if required in your state) and grow at home.

Dear Brian,
Some people at work taped their laptop’s webcam because ‘someone’ could see them. I think it’s nonsense. Is this possible? If so, how could one do this? If not why isn’t it possible?

It is most definitely not nonsense. When a hacker takes remote control over your computer, one of the first things they check is the webcam to see if anyone’s currently on the laptop who may see them.

When whistleblower Ed Snowden leaked information on the NSA monitoring programs, those programs showed how easily the government can access web-connected cameras.

Cameras on video game consoles like the Xbox Kinnect and PS Eye are even more dangerous, as these include facial recognition software that can recognize who’s in the room, where you’re looking, etc.

Placing tape over a webcam is one of the smartest security steps you can take to ensure you’re not being watched by any random person.

If you close your curtains and blinds before getting undressed in your home so people won’t see you, then you understand the concept. It’s not nonsense and is vital to maintaining your privacy.

Brian Penny HeadshotBrian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work appears in High Times, Huffington Post, Fast Company, Hardcore Droid, and The Street.


Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer.

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