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On Valentine’s Day please don’t forget to remove the metadata

By Charles Miller

This column is scheduled to be printed on St. Valentine’s Day so maybe this would be a good occasion on which to touch on the subject of online dating sites. If you are looking to meet someone it is hard to ignore the statistics showing that today a third of couples say they met online. If you would like to meet someone going online could be a good move; this is proactive and forward thinking, but you should be careful to avoid some things with the potential to undermine your online dating experience.

Studies indicate that men lie most about their age, height, or income while women lie most about their weight, physical build, and age. And one of the worst complements anyone can receive on a first date is “Gee, you must be really good with PhotoShop!” But rather than going any further on this track, I will turn to some technical tips.

It is highly recommended to set up an entirely new email address to use in conjunction with your online dating experiences. There are a number of good reasons for this, and since it costs nothing to open a new email account with Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo this should be your first step.

There are a number of free dating sites available on the web and many people find these to be a good place to start. Simply go to your favorite search engine such as Google and search for “free online dating” without the quotes. Google offers only a half billion hits for this search. Beware of the sites that say “Free” but in the fine print say “free trial.” Some sites are free to browse but require a paid membership before you are able to contact other members.

If you are interested in learning more but not quite ready to jump in, there are entire online communities directed at helping people learn the ropes. These forums, or message boards, offer advice on everything from how to design your profile to how to choose the right pictures, and just reading through these posts is a good way to get started. For the lazy, there are even paid services out there that will not only build your profile for you but will even handle your correspondence.

On the subject of signing up for a paid web site membership, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you use a virtual credit card if your bank offers this service, or a prepaid credit card good for only two or three months of membership. A common complaint leveled even at legitimate web sites is that they make it very easy to sign up and give them your credit card information, but extremely difficult to get them to stop billing you every month if you decide to quit.

Before uploading any pictures, consider if you should first remove the metadata from the image file. Windows users right-click on the image file, click on the “Details” tab then on “Remove properties and personal information.” Last year fugitive John McAfee forgot to do that and the police quickly zeroed in on the GPS coordinates in a picture, one meter from his front door.

Finally, something I once read online has proven to be true for me without fail. The first time you arrange to meet someone in person they will have some kind of prepared speech about how they only signed up for online dating because their friends/mother/father/ex/priest/siblings put them up to it. To me that has always meant they wanted to convey that they are not taking it too seriously, even if they really are. Perhaps that is the right attitude to take, not taking life too seriously, and you might just achieve success with this approach online. It also helps to remember that all human beings are expert self-justifiers. This does not mean everyone lies, although that is a possibility, it just means that the way we see ourselves often bears little relation to how others see us. No matter what happens you are almost sure to have some interesting stories to tell your friends.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044-415-101-8528 or email FAQ8 (at)


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