spam…not the canned kind

Illustration of Facebook mobile interface

Image via Wikipedia

Just a warning that linking posts to Facebook are being spammed. Perused my “Wall” and saw that several of my posts, quite a few in fact, did not appear as they normally do. In place of the norm, was a cryptic message saying I’d shared a link, and the URL was wp.me. I recognized that from an attempt to spam my Facebook page a long time ago. Of course I deleted all those fictitious messages, and shared a note with my Facebook readers explaining the situation.

I wanted to warn you of what’s afoot. When I’ve clicked on the Facebook icon and then clicked on the “share link” button, no security words appeared as had normally. I thought my connection to Facebook was secure so I was allowed to bypass that intermediate step. Obviously a scammer had intercepted that step and was posting his or her link to my “Wall” instead.

My husband surmises that recent WordPress modifications may have disrupted my blog’s link to Facebook, which meant I needed to reconnect manually. Duh! Would I have thought of doing that? Not likely. A heads up from WordPress might have been helpful. Looks like we bloggers need to have each other’s backs.  

As my recent posts with advice from consumer advocate David Horowitz indicate, scammers are out to get us any way they can. They’re like worms crawling out from the woodwork, attempting to feed off us.

worms

Gotta squish those buggers underfoot every chance we get. They’re bad for the environment and must be extinguished!!!

…norton virus…my cavalry…to the rescue…CHARGE!!!…see you after the bloodbath…

………hugmamma.

gotcha!…almost

I must thank Akismet for fending off all those spammers, nasty little critters trying to mess with my laptop and make mincemeat of my brain. It doesn’t take much to throw me into a technological tizzy, I can tell you that. WordPress makes following their prompts relatively simple. I say relatively, because other bloggers, like My Life in Photos – 365 Challenge, and Figments of a Duchess have set me straight about a number of gimmicks and doodads. Thank goodness for helpful friends who don’t mind sharing information.

no spam!

Image via Wikipedia

But then I get someone like Daniel Tan whose email address is powered by “harvard.edu,” trying to sell me something to bring more views my way. I fell for the come-on which said that my standing with Google wasn’t getting me the readership he thought my blog deserved. Tan suggested, of course, I click on a site that helped him with the several blogs he had. Well, I should’ve seen the invisible neon sign blinking right in front of me saying “sucker…sucker…sucker.” You guessed it! Tell an almost 62-year-old I’m pretty good at something, which I’m still not quite sure about, and I’m dangling from the end of a fishing line. Tan snagged another balloon fish.

No matter what key I pressed, and I was pretty cautious this time, having already paid $199 to back out of a previous trip down “spam” alley as elaborated in a bad bout of “virus”. I didn’t dare click on the red “x” because I’d learned that lets in the viruses. But I’d forgotten that David Horowitz, consumer advocate guru, said not to click on anything within the pop-up. I clicked on “cancel,” which got me another pop-up. Afraid that I was breeding spam pop-ups that would soon overrun my screen, I yelled for my hubby. “Help! I’m being invaded by spams!” Well, maybe I wasn’t that dramatic, but he got the message, and came running, well…striding purposefully.

My husband couldn’t even figure out how to back out of the mess. I had to tell him what Tech Pros told me when they fixed my earlier problem some months ago, as described in virus tips…from “tech pros”.  I was told to “press “cntrl” + “alt” + “delete.” On the next page, I should click on “start task manager.” On the following page, I should click on the “pop-up” and “end task.” That will remove the pop-up, without allowing its virus to infiltrate.” Somehow, we weren’t getting the expected results. So instead, my husband decided to run the Norton virus to weed out any and all viruses that may have wormed their way into my laptop’s system.

Since the process derailed my blogging efforts, although I wasn’t trying to write any posts, just checking emails and looking at the list of spams. Trying to trash them before too many accumulate, making it a chore to weed out any friendly bloggers whose posts got thrown in with the garbage. After I was shut out of other WordPress blogs some months ago, when hackers broke into its system, I’m very wary of spammers. The entire incident is detailed in “spammed” out of wordpress.com community, and  baby steps…whew!, and  wordpress “woes”, and  a hiccup…albeit a big one. The entire episode permanently scared me into considering removing comments from Akismet’s spam list. I normally just delete them all. I should’ve followed the same routine, instead of being sweet-talked by Daniel Tan.

decided to forewarn you…so you’re not hooked…by a spam that’ll give you… a virus…hugmamma.

twitter…hummingbird?…or nasty bug?

Ellen DeGeneres

Not sure how many of you tweet via twitter. My brother sold me on the idea eons ago. I took it as a compliment that an older, tech-wise sibling thought my writing was good enough to hit the air waves. Hesitant at first because of all the advice against “putting it out there,” I finally went for it. I get how it’s done, on the most elementary level. WordPress included an icon which, when clicked, sends my posts into the internet stratosphere. That’s the extent of my understanding. I’ve visited my twitter site which looks like Greek to me, except for the fact that Ellen de Generes is tweeting to it regularly. Can’t say I’ve been asked to return the favor. No matter. She’s like a hummingbird whose tweets I find musical. 

Recently, however, I’ve noticed that before I’ve even tweeted my posts, it’s already been done…twice. How’s that happen? I thought perhaps my brother lent a helping hand, and maybe WordPress. If I recall, it would happen most times, but not always. So I thought perhaps certain words in my post triggered the tweets. Happy not to have to bother doing it myself, I didn’t give it a second thought. Today, however, I decided I’d better tweet, because my posts might not be making it to my own twitter site. That the other tweets were posting to other sites. I can rationalize anything, even if it makes no sense.

Follow me on Twitter logo

Image via Wikipedia

When I clicked the twitter icon, I was asked to “sign on,” something I’d not been asked to do in sometime. Try as I might, the resulting prompt indicated my username and/or email did not match up with my password. So I proceeded to request help from Twitter Support. Indicating they could help me reset my password, I decided to do that. To my total surprise, shock actually, the message I received from them to my email address was to a “Helah Chester @helacobtendy.” “Who the heck is that?” I thought. 

I never did learn who the perpetrator was because my query to Twitter Support said their service was down, that I should try again later, or that my username and password didn’t match. Well about this time is when my cable service was shut off while the Comcast repair guy worked his magic. When it was up and running, I decided to click on the name and email address Twitter had sent in their message. Up popped their screen saying that that the account had been “unsuspended.” The screen was then replaced with my Twitter site which looked as it should. Thereafter when I proceeded to tweet my recent post, it worked. Go figure.

Alex Payne from Twitter at Bear Hug Camp.

Image via Wikipedia

When I first sought Twitter’s help in the matter, their site did indicate they’ve been having problems, beginning 3 days ago, and again an hour before my visit to their site. Makes me worry. Do these internet gurus know what the h–l they’re doing with our information? Makes me doubly worried.

So was Helah Chester a victim of their bungling, like I was? Or is there something more sinister at work here? Hummingbird? Or nasty bug? Depending upon what any of you might have to offer by way of explanation…

Nature at Its Best (2254321574)

Image via Wikipedia

…i may have tweeted my last note…although my hubby thinks i’m overly cynical…could i be?…hugmamma.

husbands…can’t live without them

A sure sign of my significant other’s undying support and love was reflected in something he did for me, which I’d not even asked him to do. When WordPress suspended my blog, my husband came to my defense by messaging the support staff a few complimentary words. In return, WordPress emailed an equally supportive message.

Hi

WordPress Logo

Image via Wikipedia

Thank you for your note. 

The site you mention was actually removed by mistake, and it has been restored to its original state. We have notified the site owner of this, as well. We are incredibly happy that you’re enjoying this blog (and we’re sure the owner is, as well) and hope that you do continue to do so.

We do apologize for this, and if you have any further concerns at all please just let us know.

Enjoy your weekend  🙂

Anthony

WordPress.com

As with my previous experiences with Comcast, this one with WordPress continues to support my feeling that you can “get more with honey, than with vinegar.” This situation felt a little closer to the skin, in that I felt personally attacked, being labeled a spammer. Nonetheless, launching a retaliatory attack of words would’ve cost me more.

Stress is as much a killer, as heart disease. As it turned out, with whom would I have been engaged in battle? An automated system that would have come out the victor, not having shed any blood in the process. I didn’t mince words, but the matter wasn’t going to be resolved without the help of WordPress’s support staff. So I enlisted their aid, and while resolution seemed tedious and painstakingly slow, respect on both sides was never jeopardized. In the end, we both got what we wanted. I was able to resume blogging, and WordPress retained a consumer of its product.

Firetruck shirts

Image by Jordan via Flickr

isn’t that what life should be about?…getting along with one another?..hugmamma.

a hiccup…albeit a big one

The last 12 hours or so has had me pondering the ups and downs of blogging. Not something I’d set out to do when I awoke yesterday. But being blindsided by another “tsunami,” I had to deal with it. I’m becoming very familiar with those of late, as regular readers of my blog are aware.

I’d been writing about being spammed out of leaving comments on other blogs. “Speaking” with WordPress support staff, I was told to check with Akismet, which I did, but got nowhere. So I hunkered down and continued writing, hoping the situation would even itself out. Meanwhile I’d check to see if I was able to leave comments with blogging buddies. Eventually it seemed I could, with a few of them.

I got a message from Akismet saying they’d tweaked the system, leading me to think I would no longer be spammed from participating in the WordPress community. Proceeding to publish my last post, I pressed “click.” What happened next was reminiscent of the viral attack on my laptop several weeks ago. Across the top of my blog were words to the effect that it was suspended because I’d broken rules and regulations, and needed to go elsewhere with my blog, which was no longer suitable for this site. Well, I have to admit it was like a punch to the stomach.

WordPress.com

Image via Wikipedia

Recovering somewhat I sent off a message via an automated screen, and clicked “report blog.” That seemed to trigger the message to the entire community that “hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul” was suspended. So it looked to me like I “cooked my own goose,” by seeking help. A couple of friends inquired as to what happened, and I told them what I knew. Waxing philosophical, I decided what occurred was probably inevitable, given that I was labeled a spammer.

I held no ill-will towards WordPress, still don’t, because I’m on their site gratis. I understand I must abide by their rules. I just wasn’t sure which rules I’d broken. But I’d need to “cool my high heels,” or flats as the case may be, and wait to hear back from their review. 

The entire situation was disconcerting to say the least. But now I was free to do other things which I’d neglected. So I puttered, and puttered, and puttered. Eventually I returned to my laptop and began looking through tech sites which reported on WordPress’s recent DDoS, Distributed Denial of Service attack. In so doing, I came to understand its vast reach on the internet, and its correlating, gigantic presence.

My hobbit’s eyes were opened. My spam situation was microbial compared to what WordPress has been dealing with this last week or so. And from what I read, there are only 75 staff who handle millions of customers. I now understood why my blog was probably still reeling from the trickle down effects of the attack. It’s not to say I shouldn’t have queried the support staff about my issues, because they would not otherwise have known. It is true that the “squeaky wheel” gets the oil, or whatever the adage is.

Robogallery

Image via Wikipedia

With such a massive operation, it’s obviously imperative that WordPress is on a highly sophisticated automated system of checks and balances. However it wasn’t infallible to hackers determined to wreak havoc. My blog, it seems, got caught up in the warfare. I’d be curious to know if other blogs were similarly affected.

So while the events of recent days have “stirred the pot” until it boiled over, I’m a little wiser to the downside of blogging. There are things beyond my control, and in those instances I can seek solace in my family and God, knowing that there’s always a bigger picture in which I’m just one of his creatures.

It did help that when I awoke this morning, 2 messages awaited me from the WordPress support staff.

 

Hi, 

Your site was flagged by our automated anti-spam controls. I have reviewed your site and have removed the suspension notice.

We are very sorry for that happening and the inconvenience it caused you.

--

Anthony

WordPress.com

and

> Since my blog, "hugmamma's mind, body, and soul" has been suspended, I wondered if I could have access to my files.

Your site doesn't appear to be suspended - what's the URL of the site that you're speaking of above?

--

Ryan M.

WordPress.com | Automattic

Thankfully, WordPress's relatively small administrative staff does respond to questions from a non-paying blogger like me, even in the midst of managing a major crisis. I tip my hat to them for doing the best they can, which is pretty good, considering.

i'm learning...not such a novice anymore...hugmamma.  

halleluja! for small favors

Tried to leave comments on my blog buddies’ blogs. Thank goodness 2 of them worked, jeanne’s blog and The Daily Dabbler. I posted 2 comments on each consecutively, to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, as well as to celebrate the moment. Gotta love those small moments! Not so lucky with Scriptor Obscura and Sage Chronicles. Am letting them know via this post that I’ve left comments which disappeared into “thin air.”

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

Bought a book which might help me understand the machinations of the internet better, especially the manipulations of others to get ahead of the pack. I think the title speaks for itself, Get to the top on Google,” by David Viney. Someone left a comment a while back asking how it was I got to the top of Google’s ranks. I responded that I had no clue. Remember I’m a writer, not an internet guru. I’ve no clue about Akismet, let alone Google. I write. I click. And it’s out of my hands. Except for checking stats on my blog, I rarely venture out to see what’s happening with my site on Google. When I do, I’ve no idea what to make of what I see. I do see a lot of sites using my posts, but I just shake my head not knowing what to make of that.

My brother’s more tech savvy, so he’s been trying to clue me in on what’s what. I guess manipulation is part of life. We all do it, to some degree, to get our way, to get what we want. But when it oversteps, in the hopes of hurting others, then it’s in another league altogether. But I’m not going to go there. Just want to let readers of my blog know in case your comments are hijacked too. My advice? Don’t stress. Celebrate the small things that do go right.

thank you, jeanne, and the daily dabbler…for “taking my calls”…hugmamma.

“lemonade out of lemons”

no spam!

Image via Wikipedia

Am experiencing some difficulty posting comments on other blogs, including wordpress Daily Post, Random Thoughts from Mid-Life and The Daily Dabbler. Wondering if anyonelse has found themselves in this situation before. WordPress support is trying to figure things out, as am I. It might be that Akismet is spamming my comments. So I emailed them a message of inquiry. Funny that wordpress’ own blog should be spamming me, since I’m a wordpress blogger. But computers aren’t infallible. Thank goodness! Otherwise, they might replace the human race. Our brains still top computer nuts and bolts, I guess. Now if we could only figure out why my comments to those 3 blogs keep “vanishing into thin air.”

The logo of the blogging software WordPress.

Image via Wikipedia

This is a good time to send hugs to the wordpress support team for helping me out of “jams.” I’ve seen a couple of their pics. They look like they could be my sons, or grandsons. If they were, but even though they aren’t, I sure wouldn’t want to beat them up for something that might be beyond their control, and mine. And besides, I’m paying nothing for their services, except what I invest in time and writing. Those are significant to me, of course, but everyone’s life is of importance to them. So, hey! I’ll just keep doing my thing, until I’m no longer able. There are a million other exciting things that await me. So many things, so little time.

Just want to let blog friends, Random Thoughts from Mid-Life and The Daily Dabbler, that I’m unable to post comments on your blog, but I look forward to your leaving comments on mine. I’ll still visit your blogs, however. You’ve valuable things to say, and I’m glad you’re sharing!

will keep writing…hope you keep reading…hugmamma.