Archive | October, 2006

Happy Halloween from Little Miss

31 Oct

Little Miss would like to wish you a Happy Halloween on her first celebration of the holiday.

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Happy Halloween

31 Oct

Little Miss would like to wish you a Happy Halloween on her first celebration of the holiday.

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Daylight Savings Time

28 Oct

I’ve always hated Daylight Savings Time. It completely sucks having it be dark when I get off of work, or close to dark. But this year, I’m dreading it more than ever, because the people that thought up this brainy idea must not have had a baby at home and a job to get to.

I’ve been trying to get Little Miss to stay up later in the hopes that she’ll sleep later all this week, but it hasn’t worked. In fact, she has been waking up earlier — sometimes at 6am, which after tomorrow will really be 5am. I guess it wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t have to go to work and function, but as it is, I’m dreading this.

Any tips?

I’d Give This a Witty Title, But I have A Baby Toy Blaring In My Ear

23 Oct

Yesterday, we went for a hike to enjoy the Fall leaves in the Sierras. It was a beautiful day until our dog Tucker decided to run away.

He had never done this before, but next thing we knew, he was gone, and we were calling for him and he was gone.

We retraced our steps, calling for him and whisteling, and no sign of him. We then drove up a dirt road next to the trail with the window down as we whistled and called for him.

I had visions of him being eaten by a bear.

When we had finally given up looking for our black dog in the pitch of darkness, we started to drive away, and our little black dog ran in front of the truck.

I could have strangled him, but refrained.

JB is sitting next to me playing with one of Little Miss’s toys and trying to annoy me so that I’ll get off the computer. I guess he’s winning. Good night, all.

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Is it just me…

23 Oct

Is it just me, or is the formatting on my site all screwed up?!

Now what have I done?!

Google Issue Resolved — Two Weeks Later

23 Oct

I couldn’t believe my shock on Sunday when I opened my Hotmail account (thank you, Microsoft) to find this message from Google:

“We have completed an extenaive investigation of your account and are re-enabling your access to this account. The account settings have been restored to the first name, last name, and secondary email address that you provided.”

Low and behold, I followed their directions, and was back in my infamous account within minutes.

Now was that so hard, Google?!

But what cracks me up is that after well over a week of silence on their end, they say they did “an extenaive investigation”, which I assume is really an extensive investigation. I think perhaps someone was investigating this site, as their investigation didn’t involve me providing any further information, as I had offered them.

So to conclude my thoughts on Google, they need to have a process in place (ala eBay) to deal with account hackers in a more timely fashion. I know many people think that I wasn’t giving them a fair shake, but really, I don’t think I’m asking too much. And honestly, even if they charged for an upgraded account that came with support that actually responded to you in a timely fashion, I would have been all over that.

But, I’m over Google. I’m clearing out the data on my account and giving it a proper burial. I’m moving on to bigger and better accounts with actual customer service.

I just have to decided where that will be.

But one thing I’ve learned is that blogs are a great medium for customers to get their voice heard. The traffic to my site has sky-rocketed this month. I think as long as bloggers save their rants for valid customer service levels, this will remain one way that us Davids out there can shoot stones at the Golliaths of the world.

Freakonomics on Car Seats

23 Oct

Thanks to my brother, who pointed out this link to the Freakonomics site.

My favorite quotes are as follows:

“On a recent Monday morning, nearly 20 police officers gathered in Clarkstown, N.Y., for a four-day seminar. They had assembled to fight one of modernity’s great scourges: child deaths in motor-vehicle crashes. Each officer was given a 345-page training manual issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). At seminar’s end, each would be certified as a ”child passenger safety technician,” which primarily means that they would be experts in the installation and use of child car seats.

Why does it take four days to learn about car seats? Because any given seat is a tangle of straps, tethers and harnesses built by one of dozens of manufacturers whose products must be secured by the diverse seat-belt configurations of any passenger vehicle sold in the United States. According to the NHTSA manual, more than 80 percent of car seats are improperly installed.”

“So if car seats and booster seats aren’t the safety miracle that parents have been taught to believe, what should they do? The most important thing, certainly, is to make sure that children always ride with some kind of restraint — and, depending on your state, a car seat or booster seat may be the only legal option. On a broader level, though, it might be worth asking this question: Considering that Americans spend a few hundred million dollars annually on complicated contraptions that may not add much lifesaving value, how much better off might we be if that money was spent to make existing seat belts fit children?

My thoughts exactly!

Out of Car Seat Hell Finally

22 Oct

I enlisted JB to help me install the car seat yesterday. It took us about an hour an a half to get the darn thing installed as we referenced both the vehicle owner’s manual and the seat owner’s manual.

The LATCH system just didn’t work, which seems stupid, but we couldn’t get the seat secure in the rear facing position. We also ended up having to use a seat belt clip, which we weren’t supposed to need with it being a new vehicle and all, but whatever works, right?

My point is this — it took two well educated adults over an hour and a half to get it installed correctly. Do you know how many people out there wouldn’t put that kind of time and energy into installing a car seat?! It’s no wonder most car seats are installed incorrectly, and I found myself muttering yesterday that the people that designed these things should be shot.

Or, at least they should have been forced to watch us try and figure it out. Grrrr…..

Car Seat Hell

19 Oct

We’ve come to the point that it is painfully obvious that it is time to move our 95+ percentile baby out of the infant seat and into a convertible seat.

I figured with a brand new car seat and a brand new vehicle with the LATCH system, it would be a breeze to install.

Not the case.

I’ve heard that between 80 and 90 percent of car seats are installed improperly, and here is the reason, people.

THEY ARE FRIGGEN HARD TO INSTALL.

I have a Masters degree, people, and I spent over an hour trying to install it myself, and it is anything but secure.

I then took it over to my sister-in-law’s house, who has helped me with car seat installations in the past, and even she couldn’t figure out the problem.

So the next step?! I have to take one of my lunch hours next week to drive across town to the DMV in order to have it professionally installed for $45. And I may have to repeat the process if we have the same problems installing the second seat in our other vehicle.

Seriously, this is insane. No wonder most car seats are installed wrong. Perhaps the manufacturers should make some changes!

Sick Baby

18 Oct

Little Miss came down with a mysterious illness this week, where she had a fever, didn’t want to eat, and was C-R-A-N-K-Y. She got kicked out of daycare on Monday with a fever of 103, and JB stayed home with her yesterday while I stayed home with her today. Phew! She seems to be on the mend, but I’m starting to wonder what winter will be like with all those germs flying around daycare.

However, I got an email from HR at work today saying that they’ll be launching a new program in January offering back-up childcare. Basically, if your child is sick, for a copay of $4, someone will come to your house and watch your kid for you. I’m not so sure how I feel about a stranger coming into my house to watch my kid, but perhaps I could have that person watch Little Miss while I work in our home office.

We got a new vehicle this past weekend. I never thought I’d say this, but our 2007 Toyota RAV4 is pretty cool. I had to fight to get the color I wanted – RED – but the dealer was able to place the vehicle of our choice and did a dealer trade. I’ll post pics of it this weekend.

So not much else to say. I’m still pissed at Google, but I’m sick of talking about them. I’m just boycotting them, and I invite you to do the same!

Confession

16 Oct

OK, people… I know I have a lot of techies frequenting my site as of the past week, and I have a confession to make. I’m just a wannabe. For instance, I tried to remove Google Adwords from my site, in an effort to protest against Google, and I totally screwed up the formatting of my right navigation.

I also had Matt point out that I’m leaking email addresses in my comments. I had thought about that. The problem? I have no time to research how to remedy the situation. I figured out how to make email an optional field in my comments, but that’s as far as I got.

Here’s the gist. I work full time, and have an 8 month old daughter, who is sick and crying for my attention right now. If you’re a techie reading this, your tips would be greatly appreciated!

**Update: I figured out the formatting problem with the navigation… And I did it with an upset baby in my lap. Perhaps I’m not as much as a wannabe as I thought!

Starting Over

14 Oct

As I try to force Google to give me access to the data in my account, I am researching where I should set up my next primary email account. Anyone have recommendations for me? I’m looking for an account that will be SECURE and have reliable customer service!

Day 4: OK, I Got A Response, But I’m Not Happy

13 Oct

Wow! I had intended to spread the word on how Google treats security breaches, and I have succeeded! I’ve received a ton of comments, many of which I’d like to address in this message.

But first, an update on the situation… I received a very short email from Google support today saying that they were unable to confirm my identity (because I can’t remember what the secret question was I set up on my account TWO YEARS AGO — not the answer, but the QUESTION!). However, they did say that they disabled the account (thankyaJesus for that). In essence, the account is now dead as a doornail, and Google does not intend to let me have access to the data in that account ever again.

It is progress. I am pleased that the hacker no longer has access to my account, but come on — that person had access to my account for 4 days before Google reacted. Four days is plenty of time to peruse the account and get any bit of information they wanted.

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to remember what kind of data is in there. I’ve also been worried that the hacker would tap into my address book and pull the same voodoo magic on my family and friends. Seriously, Google, giving someone access to my account for four days is completely unacceptable.

And I’m not ready to walk away from that account. I want to regain access so that I can grab out the email addresses that I had only stored in that account. I want to grab out the account details for things like when I need to renew my web hosting and domain name. So I’m not done with Google. I think they owe it to me to give me a chance to prove I am the rightful owner of the account so that I can gain access to it one final time.

I’m also a bit curious to check the Sent messages to see if the hacker sent any emails under my alias.

Many people that commented seemed to think I had set my expectations too high for Google. I don’t think so. They say on their site that my security is very important to them. They told me I never had to delete an email because of unlimited storage. They make a ton of money on other products, so no, I do not think it is too much to ask to have them respond to my security breach in a timely manner.

And with that, I’ll address some comments individually. Thank you all for your feedback and support. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
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  • My favorite comment came from John, who said, “All I can say is: I sympathise. Having a hacker in your mail account is like living with a burglar.”

    Amen, to that, John. That is exactly how I have felt. I have felt completely violated. I have felt like I discovered a burgler in my house, but the police wouldn’t even bother to pick up the phone.

  • I was just wondering: has the hacker tried to write to you? Have you tried to contact him? Because it seems several users experience some access issues. They are being advised some standard procedures, and most don’t complain any more—so it might be that. As you don’t give much detail to what happens when you try to log on, I can only be guessing.

    No, the hacker hasn’t tried to write to me. And yes, I did contact him. I emailed my own account saying GET OUT OF MY ACCOUNT, YOU BASTARD! I then informed him that the breach had been reported and I had taken steps to make sure he couldn’t steal my identity. As I mentioned before, I knew it was a hacker when the person changed the password and then the user name on my eBay account, and within minutes they had shut me out of my Gmail account.

  • When they ask for your email address, did they mean your compromised or another one?

    Why have you aimed so high? If anyone is busy at Google, it must be the top executives—and “Search and User Experience” must be all up with YouTube right now. Your case doesn’t need any exec-boost: everyone at Google know what is an ID theft, and that what they should do—it just takes time to deal with it.

    They had asked for my compromised email account, the very address I had put in every communication to Google. It proved they didn’t even bother to read my emails.

    And as for why I aimed so high in the organization? Well, that was the only level of employee for which I could find published names and email addresses. Besides, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a VP or the VP’s secretary to forward my email and ask for it to be taken care of.

    As for it “taking time” to deal with it, I’m sorry, eBay was able to solve my security breach within an hour. The more time a hacker has access to your account, the more damage that person can do. Security should be dealt with promptly. Period.

  • Why have you filled it [the security breach form} ten times? You expect them to restore your account that many times? Or you wanted it to be safer?

    I’m not familiar with the internal red tape, but I beleive each time your filled it, someone will have to check if anything has been going fine—and this will only delay them coming back to you, right?

    I initially filled it out once. Then there was no response. I then tried other avenues, and everyone kept pointing me back to the same friggen form. I was freaking out — my identity was being stolen. I wanted 11 different people to be aware of this. If they had answered my first form, I wouldn’t have had to fill it out eleven times.

  • Do you know how your accounts became compromised? No, I don’t, but the person at eBay suggested that perhaps someone used a virus or a phishing email. I doubt the phishing email, because I’ve worked online for the past 8 years, and I know better than to click on phishing emails. The biggest mistake I made was having the same password on multiple accounts. Once the hacker figured out the password to one account, he had an open door to the other.
  • And what if someone at Google did see this? It’s not like you included any details of your account, like, say, your email address. How would they know what to look for?

    Well, gee, I would have given them my Gmail address, BUT I COULDN’T ACCESS THE ACCOUNT. I’m a bit afraid now to post email addresses on my site, so I figured they could contact me via comments, just like you did.

  • Be nice, Google, you shall not be evil .. it is thy commandment 🙂

    Google is not nice. They are evil. And I’m out to spread the word!

  • You get what you pay for.

    Evidently. But I still think they shouldn’t offer email accounts if they can’t deal with security breaches in a timely manner.

  • I don’t know about you, but I got my gmail account for free. If this is the case for you, I suggest loosening up on your expectations of google. Don’t forget that they provide this (otherwise excellent) service, free of charge, to millions of customers/consumers, and its bound that sometimes there will be problems (whether it’s google or not).

    So give the google people a chance – I’m sure they are working on the problem as we speak. 🙂

    See my above response. I don’t believe in “giving someone a chance” for four days when it means someone with bad intentions has access to my account.

  • Atleast you are getting some kind of response :), my yahoo mail account (which also happened to be my first mail id on net) was hacked (phishing) and nobody has bothered to reply to my mail till now 😦

    I’m sorry to hear this is a more widespread problem than I thought. I think we should all rise up and demand attention to our data integrity!

Day 3: Google’s Complete Lack of Response

12 Oct

Today marked the end of Day 3 where a hacker has had access to my personal Gmail account, and Google has done absolutely nothing to rectify the problem. I received two emails from Google support today.

The first email responded to a message where I gave them my gmail address, and their response asked me for my gmail address – proving they didn’t even bother to read my message. The second email I received told me to fill out the form to report that your account had been compromised — the same form I have filled out 11 times with no response.

What really urks me is that yesterday, I looked up Google’s VP of Search and User Experience, Sheryl Sandberg. I have left her a voice mail and three emails, and do you think she has managed to respond or forward on my emails?! NO!!!

You know, every company I’ve worked for responded when a consumer had a problem that they escalated up to the executives. In fact, for a while at General Motors, I had the responsibility of solving customer problems that had been directed towards the top executives. Evidently, Google doesn’t have that. Evidently, the woman in charge of the user experience doesn’t care that my identity is at risk because my account has been compromised and no one has bothered to help me with the problem that I reported mere minutes after the security breach.

I don’t want this site to be a Google rant. I’d love to tell you how they finally reacted and stopped the hacker in his tracks. In fact, I’d love to tell you about the positive stuff happening in my life right now, like my 2 year wedding anniversary and my daughter turning 8 months this week. But I’m too consumed with this crap to even think about those positive things.

Thanks, Google.

The Hacker’s Revenge: Day 2

11 Oct

Some criminal still has access to my personal gmail account, and what is Google doing about it?

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

I have done the following:

  • reported my account as compromised 10 times
  • emailed the abuse address
  • emailed the security address
  • emailed the general support line
  • called and asked to talk to someone in the abuse department (denied!)
  • looked up executive names and left voice mails for three executives

And the response thus far?!

One automated response.

That’s it.

We are heading into Day 3 of my account being compromised by some cretin with bad intentions. Google’s site says that my security is their top priority, but I’m afraid their actions (or lack there of) speak louder than words.

I will be documenting Google’s response to this urgent matter on this site, and perhaps those of you without a Gmail account should think twice about establishing one….

I’ve Been Hacked

10 Oct

I was sitting at my computer this afternoon when I got an e-mail saying that my eBay password had been changed. Then, immediately after, I got an email saying my “secret question” had been changed.

As I was contacting eBay telling them I suspected someone was hacking my account, I was prompted to log into my email account.

And the password didn’t work. The bastards hacked both of my accounts.

After about three hours, I was able to get my eBay account back, but Google… Dear Google… They are unreachable. THAT IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE WHEN MY IDENTITY IS IN THE PROCESS OF BEING STOLEN!

I called Google, and got a recording saying they don’t handle customer service over the phone. Some customer service. What about emergencies?!

Google Mail’s main selling point is that you “never have to delete an email” because of their unlimited storage. I took advantage of that storage. And now those bastards have access to two years of my personal emails.

I have submitted at least five contact forms to Google through the form where you report fraud. I haven’t even received an email saying that they received my report. Totally unacceptable customer service! (Maybe if I say GOOGLE enough in this entry, someone at GOOGLE will read this and help me out instead of getting more and more bad press as they don’t help me.)

I can’t believe this is happening.

So don’t email me right now. Contact me through this site until I claim my identity back.

And if this is the hacker reading, know that all of my credit cards, bank accounts and credit reports have been alerted.

Hiking in the Sierras

8 Oct

I’m back from my business trip, which was enjoyable, but not nearly as enjoyable as being reunited with Little Miss M. Sorry I haven’t written, but things have been nutty around here. I leave you with a pic from our hike today. More later, I promise!

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Cousins Unite

1 Oct

My brothers and their families all got together at my house today in honor of our newest family member, baby K. Click here to see the first ever pictures of all the Cook cousins together.

(I’m having trouble cropping/resizing photos… New software is in the mail to enable me to work with photos better on my home computer!)

Race For the Starting Line!

1 Oct

I had been planning to run the Race for the Cure for at least 9 months now. I have been training for it since about April… Little by little. When I started running again after having Little Miss, I was only able to run 3 minutes without stopping, so working up to 3.1 miles was a challenge for my post-baby body.

The race started at 9am this morning, and I left my house around 8:40. That should have been plenty of time, but I didn’t plan on the traffic. The minute I got off the highway and saw the traffic back up, I knew I was in trouble. On one hand, it’s great to see so much participation — a record year for the race. On the other, I almost missed the race all together.

I ended up parking about 1/2 mile away from the starting line with about 5 minutes until race start. I ran the entire way to the starting line, totally skipping the race check in, and stopped huffing and puffing as they started counting down to the start.

The race went well considering. I’m slow (undeniably), but I had a goal of running the entire way and not stopping to walk, which I did. That’s even more impressive for me, considering it ended up being about 3.5 miles instead of 3.1!

Anyway, I’m starting to get sore now, just in time for my business trip tomorrow. I’m sure sitting on airplanes won’t help my poor muscles!

I had JB take my picture once I got home to document my achievement, and to send to my Aunt, for whom I ran in her honor.

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