Friday, September 24, 2004


Mrs. Linklater has had a bad day.  In fact, this whole week sucked.

Where to start. 

How about that whole Keyword: GRAPEVINE episode.  My face and journal were featured with an out of context quote that pretty much took care of whatever soccer mom reputation I might have had.  Except for a couple of notable exceptions, the IM's and emails that flooded in left me wanting to get checked for STD's. 

I finally wrote and asked to be removed from GRAPEVINE.  When people ask whether you want fame or money, always take the money. In this case, AOL offered nothing.  I wish I'd taken them up on it.

I even told the two new people I enjoyed chatting with to stop further contact, because, as you will read shortly, I have been hacked. After all the creeps and pervs, someone was also sending out inappropriate stuff from my computer. How could these new people not be suspects?  Guilty until proven innocent.

Now to this morning and all the annoying, stupid things that followed. Logging on to AOL began with a TOS notification. Oh, yes, I'm now unclean. A member of the unwashed.  I've been warned.  The good news is I can have my record expunged in six months for good behavior.  The chances of that?  Slim and none.

The first hint of trouble came when I couldn't log on to AOL at all.  I had to answer a security question that required intelligence I couldn't muster up at first. Then, as soon as I got through security, I was told I also had to change my passwords.

Oh, crap.  What is going on?

To make a long story short, according to the TOS police, there was a file in my FTP space [where I keep pictures to upload to my journal] which had been used to send something inappropriate somewhere.  I noticed that file weeks ago.  I just thought it was there by mistake. It had my name on it so how dangerous could it be?  However, I would delete it whenever I was in the FTP space uploading something for my journal.  But I noticed it always came back.

I also noted that at the time the alleged TOS event took place, according to the report, I was in bed.

Did someone have my password?  Did I have a virus?  A Trojan Horse?

Anything is possible.

Not that I haven't paid good money to try to prevent these things. I have Norton Personal Firewall, which sends me an alert when other computers have been waylaid in their attempts to leave garbage on my hard drive.

By the way, since I started writing in this journal, the alerts have tripled, if not quadrupled. Writing an entry in J-Land is the cyber equivalent of walking through a bad neighborhood at midnight stark naked.

Sometimes -- today for instance -- I wish there were a way to reach out and give each person [computer, whatever] the finger every time they tried to break in. Luckily the firewall stops them. Or makes me think it's stopping them.

I also have Norton Anti-virus, which is updated constantly.  Just for the heck of it I ran it this morning.  Nothing. I also ran my spyware.  Nothing but a few cookies to dump.

I'm grateful for Norton, but don't get the idea I'm a fan.  I hate that I have to use their products. I consider any of the protection software [that includes McAfee] a necessary evil.  They don't configure well. Even with a clean boot. The 2004 version of Norton is not one of their best efforts. The instructions on the Symantec site might as well be written in Chinese. And they charge for tech support.  Come on, the others aren't any better.

Where was I?

After all the password changes and a review of the TOS notification, I logged on to AOL. Oddly, the evil file in question was still in my FTP space. It contains only 8 bytes.  Pretty much emtpy. I assumed TOS had taken it.  So I deleted it. And logged off AOL.  I logged back on later and noticed the file was back in my FTP space again.  I deleted it.  Logged off AOL.  I logged back on and there it was in the FTP space.  Yet again. Was I going to have to do this every time I logged onto AOL?

I talked to all kinds of people abou it.  Tech people.  TOS people. Even CompuServe -- one of the Tech people sent me there incorrectly for some reason.  I even got routed to Billing once. The Norton people? I was saving them for last. I wasn't ready to put a stick in my eye yet.

At the suggestion of the second TOS spokesperson, I sent a note to Keyword: TELL US. I carefully wrote out what was going on with the file that could not be deleted. 

Apparently TELL US gets your message to the actual programmers.  After hours of dealing with all kinds of people who could not help, I really didn't expect anything from the programmers.

Personally, I think something is messed up in the code for J-Land.  And since AOL already had one person who gave up hundreds of thousands of our screennames to spammers, who knows what evil lurks in the journals community.

Well, guess what happened.  I logged on to AOL, went to the FTP space to delete the file that wouldn't leave. And it was gone. There was nothing to delete.  Wowser.

Maybe the programmers did know something.  I am sure this isn't over, however.

My only suggestion to anyone who has a journal is to go to their FTP space and check for any files you know you didn't put there.  Call TOS at 888-265-3733 to complain that someone might be using your screenname.

Also change your passwords a lot. And send your complaints to Keyword: TELL US.  Or send an email to TOS REPORTS.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Speaking of which -- my counter started over for a third time. And now a fourth. And a fifth.  Apparently it starts over every time I log on to my journal now. Great. To quote one of our English journalers:  Damn Blast and Bollox!

Guess what, just for fun, I checked to see if the never say die file was still deleted. 

It's back.








olddog299 said...

And you are sure you aren't deleting the counter from your FTP space, right?  It, too, is only 8 bytes in size.  It is named ".odometer.myblog" where "myblog"= the name of your blog, "AskMrsLinklater".

jevanslink said...

Yes, I realized I was deleting my counter so it kept starting from zero.  But the real problem is that AOL accused me of uploading unacceptable content from the counter file. At a time when I was asleep.  I'm the only one on this computer. So, come on AOL -- WTF?  I have been told by other journalers that there have indeed been other TOS errors.  This is clearly one of those times, but I have to wait a couple of days to take these unhelpful, guilty until proven innocent SOBs to the woodshed.  Mrs. L