After years as a sub-domain of irenesmith.com, “It’s an Irene Thing” is moving to its own domain, http://www.anirenething.com
Hope you will visit us at our new location.
After years as a sub-domain of irenesmith.com, “It’s an Irene Thing” is moving to its own domain, http://www.anirenething.com
Hope you will visit us at our new location.
When I began getting messages from friends telling me that my Facebook account had been hacked, I immediately went on Facebook and started looking around. I quickly discovered that someone had set up a Facebook account using my name, my profile picture, and even the same cover image as my real account. They had then started sending friend requests to my friends.
Luckily I have some pretty smart friends.
They immediately became suspicious and, even better, they let me know about it.
I sat down and fixed the problem. Some of the things I did, I should probably have done a long time ago but I never got around to it. I figured, “Hey, I’m not famous, why would someone want to hack into my account and cause trouble? I especially didn’t think anyone would want to pretend to be me. Apparently I was wrong.
I did some research and discovered that one of the motivating factors for these scam artists is just that. They pretend to be someone they’re not and make friends with that person’s friends. Then they start asking for money or trying to get people involved in scams.
Obviously, I couldn’t just ignore the imposter. Here are the steps I took to fix the problem:
With my account secured, I looked up the imitator. Luckily I was able to see the account and report them to Facebook. I did so by clicking on the ellipsis (…) to the right of the Message button and then selecting Report.
When I did, I got three options:
I selected “Report this profile” and got the following:
I selected the second option, and clicked Continue. I was asked “Who are they pretending to be?” with the following choices:
I picked “Me” and followed through the rest of the instructions. I say “followed through” because I didn’t think to write down the steps when I did it, and couldn’t remember when the report was actually committed so when I recreated the report to tell you the steps I stopped here.
Once that was done, I got a notification from Facebook telling me they were investigating the report and would get back to me.
Login Alerts – This means I get an alert when someone logs in using an unrecognized device or browser. This seems like a pain in the rear end, but better safe than sorry!
Login Approvals – This means that if someone tries to sign in to my account using an unrecognized device or browser, I have enter a login code that they will send to my phone. Another painful step, but it will help keep the account secure.
And the last thing I did was go to my profile (on the web browser, click the picture of you at the top of the page) and then select Friends.
Now this isn’t obvious. Click on the pencil icon. It’s the button to the right of “Find Friends”. When you click on that button, you are given the opportunity to edit your privacy. Click that and then change the first option, “Who can see your friends list?” to Friends. This helps prevent an imitator from going to your Friends list and picking a bunch of people.
With all of that done, I hope that my friends will not be bothered again. At least, not by someone pretending to be me!
Why is it that, when it comes to social media, normally intelligent people are willing to believe anything they read? Not only do they take it at face value, they pass it along, clogging the news feeds of all of their friends and acquaintances. Here is a sample:
My very intelligent friend who is an attorney said to post this. Good enough for me. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 and the Rome Statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you do not publish a statement at least once it will be tacitly understood that you are allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in your profile status updates. I DO NOT GIVE MY PERMISSION. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version.
Wherever this information came from, it is clearly wishful thinking. This paragraph is just a bunch of legal-sounding mumbo jumbo strung together to make it look official and scary. You agreed to the terms of service when you signed up and, if you could retroactively contradict a legal agreement, that means that contracts would be more useless than they are already. Furthermore, Facebook is willing to help you protect your images and other intellectual property.
How do I know? This is a quote from the Terms of Service. Remember those? You agreed to them when you signed up. Here’s the quote: “We provide you with tools to help you protect your intellectual property rights.” So, if they are going to help yo protect your property rights, why would they want to violate them?
Want more information?
Here are a couple of links to articles you might find useful:
Snope’s article: Facebook Privacy Notice
Now here’s the thing. I did not write this post to make fun of people who post these notices and pass on other hoax posts. I get it. They read them, become scared, and think that this is the answer. It isn’t. What I’d like to suggest is that, instead of hitting share or simply copying the post to their own timelines, take a few minutes to confirm the truth of what the post says. And then? Only share if it turns out to be true. Yes, sometimes these things can be true but usually? They are started by some attention-seeking ass who just wants to scare people. And who does that remind you of?
It used to be that if you submitted an article, story, book proposal or novel and you hadn’t been rejected, there was still the possibility that the publisher was just running behind. Until you actually got that piece of paper (or email) that said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” there was still a chance. You would check your mail or your email every day and tell yourself, “Well, no news is good news. Maybe I’ll hear next week.”
But no news is not really good news after all. No news might mean that they have deleted your submission because they don’t like it, because they don’t need it, or because it’s not formatted to suit them. You never know if, and you will never know why. I know, getting a generic rejection doesn’t tell you why either, but at least it tells you something.
Lately, I’ve been reading submission guidelines that say, if you don’t hear from us in [amount of time] then just assume that we’re not interested. Then there’s the site I saw today that first tells writers that they don’t accept simultaneous submissions and then proceeds to say that if they are not in a reading period, the submission will be deleted without response. A re-reading of these guidelines shows that they give NO idea how long a writer should wait for a response either. So, how long should I tie up a story or article while they consider it? A year, two years, five?
Ever hear of auto-responders? You know, “Thank you for submitting your story. Unfortunately we are not reading submissions right now. Feel free to submit your story elsewhere.”
I get it that some magazines receive more submissions than they can handle. I also get that sending a detailed rejection message could take more time than they have. On the other hand, we’re talking about computers here. Is it that difficult to write a little macro that could automatically open a reply, insert “Thanks, but no thanks” and then send the message? Is that really so difficult? Really? Your time is important to you, I get it. But what about the writer’s time?
It occurs to me that, in the days of easy self-publishing, why aren’t the magazines more respectful of authors’ work? And why aren’t we, as writers, more respectful of our own works? Why do we put up with publications that simultaneously demand an exclusive opportunity to evaluate our work without the common courtesy to notify the submitter when the story is no longer under consideration?
Am I mistaken or is there a disconnect here? I mean, these publications wouldn’t have anything to publish if there weren’t authors submitting stories and articles. So why treat them with such contempt?
It sounds as though I’m whining (and to some extent, I am) but also I’d love to get a dialog started on this. What do you think? I’d really like to know.
I am really excited to report that my book, Dreams in Transit, will soon be released through Smashwords. If you have a Kindle or use the Kindle reading app, this isn’t really a big deal. After all, the book has been available for Kindle since I first published it along with the paperback book three years ago. On the other hand, if you have a Nook, Kobo, or like to read books in Apple’s iBook format, you were out of luck until now.
Or should I say, until September 2nd. The book is available for pre-order now. You can go to the following links to order the book at $2.99 in your format of choice. Here are some places where you can put in your pre-order:
Apple iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/x/id1137863690
Finally, you can find the book’s listing at Smashwords here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/653251
Oh, and if you are interested in the new cover? Here is is!
I’d love to know what you think of it!
It seems lately that the incidence of virus-laden emails has skyrocketed. I’m referring to unsolicited email messages that include an attachment.
I don’t know if it’s a trend or if I just noticed it, but the spammers who send virus-infected emails have absolutely no creativity. I began to count the subject of these messages when I noticed about 20 emails with the subject “Report” and an attachment. The following table is by no means completely accurate because at first I was deleting the messages without reading them. The table lists a sampling of the messages I received over the past few days. All of the sender email addresses seem to be different but that’s easily spoofed. So here are the counts…
|FW: New Invoices||12|
It would seem that even an idiot would realize that someone receiving dozens of the same message would become suspicious. Even so, this little exercise leads me to wonder how these things start. Is there a course for “evil-doers” somewhere that teaches them how to attach viruses? Or maybe it’s a service that sends new virus and phishing messages to its members every day. I hardly think that 130 different people came up with the same idea at the same time. Maybe there is a server somewhere that sends out the messages with spoofed return addresses. But if so, why would they send 130 copies of the same message to the same email address?
Perhaps it’s because I have used the email address in question for so many years. I’ve had it since 1998, and made the mistake of publishing it on my websites for several years before I learned better. This account received over 1,000 emails per day and 99% of them are spam. Perhaps the average person doesn’t receive so many messages and so it doesn’t stand out so much?
I suppose the real question is how they expect to succeed with such stupid, obvious attempts. On the other hand, the return rate for legitimate advertising is supposedly 1 to 1.5% and 1,000,000 messages with only a 1% return rate means 10,000 responses.
I just had a rather more creative spam experience, by the way. I suppose they aren’t all idiots. At least, not complete idiots, because this was one of those “you may have inherited a fortune” messages. What made it clever was the way it was presented. About fifteen minutes or so ago, I was presented with this popup:
This popup was a meeting reminder that I hadn’t noticed or accepted, of course, and when I opened the message it had come with, it told me that the meeting was with an attorney for a man who used to work for an oil company in Ghana. Apparently, he and his family had died, tragically, in an automobile accident and this attorney thought I might be related to him.
All right, so I won’t be inheriting a fortune. Heck, if I respond, I probably will be lucky to have a roof over my head. The thing that makes this interesting, however, is the fact that the message came with an attachment that originated at Yahoo calendar. And Outlook inserted it into my calendar without question. Apparently, because .ics represents a valid appointment, it isn’t considered dangerous. Then again…
Keep an eye on your calendar. If you didn’t make the appointment, or expect to receive the invitation, don’t accept it and certainly don’t keep it. You never know who is on the other end.
What interesting or unusual virus/spam emails have you received lately? Tell me about them. After all, I have attachment issues.
I’ve written several posts about my problems with New York State of Health and Affinity Health Plan. Today I want to write what I hope will be the last entry in this miserable saga. In a nutshell, I lost my health insurance at the beginning of this year. Whether the fault lies with Affinity or with New York State of Health, my health insurance policy was canceled. The problem is that, once it was canceled, it took six months to get it reinstated.
Yes, you saw that correctly, it took SIX MONTHS!
Along the way, Affinity tried to justify the loss of coverage by saying that I had canceled my account and, when that didn’t work, they retroactively canceled my policy back to September 2015 for lack of payment. We can, of course, prove that isn’t true because the money was automatically deducted from my checking account every month. I finally had to get Representative Sean Patrick Maloney involved to resolve the issue and finally received coverage as of July 1st.
The question is, what did that do to me?
In addition to the constant aggravation of talking to people at the New York State of Health and Affinity Health Plan, the fact that I had no insurance combined with a temporary lack of a job meant no doctor visits and no medications. Going to the doctor without health insurance is an expensive proposition, and that’s if they don’t want to do any tests!
I found an explanation of benefits for a regular doctor’s visit. It said that the cost was $245.00 just for the visit. That’s not what the insurance company paid, by the way. (They paid only $128.61, but that’s a whole other story.) Chances are that the cost would be more for an uninsured patient.
I couldn’t find any receipts for my own blood work, but I did some research and, according to Walk-In-Lab, “On average, to get blood work done at a lab when the patient is uninsured will cost around $1,500.” (See: http://www.walkinlab.com/blog/cost-blood-work-without-insurance/) So between the tests and the doctor’s fees, we’re looking at about $1700 to $1800. And that would have had to happen twice during the time I was unemployed and uninsured. I didn’t even count the cost of prescriptions because I have no clue how much it would cost without insurance co-pays. But, even if it were free, the doctor isn’t going to extend my prescriptions without an office visit so no medications either.
Why didn’t I get Medicaid? Because, even on unemployment, I make too much money, so with no insurance, I’m responsible for the full cost of doctor’s visits, lab tests, and prescriptions. And yet, the amount of money I received on unemployment doesn’t even cover my mortgage. We were living on savings for that six months, even with no doctor’s visits. All of the health issues that I had successfully gotten under control are now out of control. It will probably take a good six months to get back to where I was last December.
NOTE: I want to thank Sean Patrick Maloney’s office for the help they gave me in resolving the issue. They did everything they could to resolve the issue quickly, but thanks to Affinity and New York State of Health, it still took six months. And I’m sure that if I had continued to deal with the issue on my own, I’d still be fighting.
I came across this little story when I was looking for something else. It was originally submitted to a contest (which it clearly didn’t win!) so I thought I’d share it here. This is not fiction! It actually happened.
My son, Matthew, loves superheroes. Even now, when he is almost twenty, he is crazy about the heroes of both the Marvel and DC universes. Fortunately, Matt still loves this story and sees the humor in it, even now that he is a grown-up or I couldn’t tell it to you. I guess the subtitle should be, “Matt and his (short) Web Swinging Career.
Matt was 5-years old when the first Spider-Man movie came out in 2002. He could barely wait to see it. We watched all of the trailers on the web, I taught him the Spider-Man song, and all three of us, my husband, my son, and I went to the movie and had a wonderful time.
Matt, normally a non-stop talker, watched the movie in silence. He even forgot his pop corn, he was so involved with the story unfolding on the screen. After the movie, he told us how much he thought he looked like Tobey Maguire, told us he wanted to be just like Spider-Man, and a lot of his play involved incidents from the movie. It was obvious he liked it, but a few days later, two incidents told us just how much. The first happened late at night. My husband called me to come to the bathroom and see what “my” son had done.
I was concerned until I registered the barely restrained laughter in my husband’s voice. When I got to the bathroom, I saw that Matt had drawn spider webs on his face, his arms, and his legs with a marker. “I just wanted to be like Spider-Man,” he said. He really couldn’t see that the permanent ink was a problem until we started scrubbing.
The next day I was walking down the hall with an armful of laundry when I heard my son say, “This should do for web swinging.”
I looked into his room and nearly had a heart attack. Matt stood on the edge of his bed, holding the venetian blind cord firmly in both hands. His knees were slightly bent and it was clear that he was about to launch himself into the air. Since his bed is one of those with drawers under it, it is nearly 4′ off the ground.
Laundry went flying as I dashed into the room to grab him before he could jump. He was quite exasperated with me, even after the ten-minute lecture on how badly he could hurt himself and he reluctantly promised that his web swinging career was over before it began.
The title is a quote from one of my favorite movies, “Galaxy Quest,” one of the best spoofs and homages to Star Trek that I’ve ever seen. The saying is a bit trite, but maybe it’s time I took it to heart anyway. I’ve known that I want to be a writer since I was seven years old. That’s almost 50 years! And, in some ways I’ve succeeded. I’ve been a [Technical] Writer on and off for the past sixteen years. I’ve made pretty good money at it. But I’ve made only a bit over $100 writing fiction.
Is it a matter of being hypercritical?
I feel that I am a good writer. People who read my stories like them, and I have four five-star reviews on Amazon. But four reviews, no matter how good, don’t make me a successful writer.
Why do some authors consistently make sales and garner new readers while others–well, don’t?
I have been seriously writing fiction for 13 years.
Has it come time for me to give up? I suppose that an intelligent person would not continue to bang their head against a wall of rejection. Yet…
There is something in me that just won’t allow me to quit. I’ve tried. After a while, the urge to write becomes so strong that I just have to start again. Sometimes I try to edit the crap that I’ve already started or even finished, but usually I start a new story. Yet I haven’t done anything to find an agent or get a book published “for real.”
I’ve been berating myself about it lately.
This morning, I typed a sentence into Google that made all the difference in the world: “writers who had their first book published after forty.”
I discovered that there are many writers out there who have become more or less successful and well known after the age of forty, including Laura Ingalls Wilder and Bram Stoker (authors whose books I devoured when I was a child.) Here is one of the more interesting articles I found on the subject:
Reading that article and a couple of others has confirmed the fact that it isn’t too late and, now that I no longer have permission to beat myself up over my “failure” to launch a writing career at 57, I’ve also given myself permission to write the absolute crap that other writers get out of their system in their teens or twenties and get back to my pursuit.
I worked for Microsoft in Redmond, WA for a little over four years, first as a contractor and then as a full-time employee. Although I enjoyed my time there, I don’t regret moving back to New York State. The three of us, my husband, my son, and I, missed our family here on the East Coast. Also, by moving back, my son had a chance to get to know his grandfather much better than he would have if we had stayed.
This is my Microsoft Ship-It award. You can’t see it by looking at this picture, but there are small stickers that run up the sides listing the projects that included my work. During the time that I worked at Microsoft, my documentation was included with Windows Server 2003, Visual Studio .Net/.Net Framework 7.0, Windows XP, SQL Server 2000, and Microsoft Office 2003.
Sometimes I curse the fact that I was so anxious to work for Microsoft that I switched from being a Programmer to being a full-time Technical Writer. Although my job title was “Programming Writer” I found it impossible to move back into programming when we returned. When I actually managed to get an interview, I had to listen to, “You can’t have kept your programming skills up to date. After all, you were a writer for (fill in the number) years.”
Despite the fact that the code I wrote during the time I was at Microsoft was the stuff that developers all over the world cut and paste into their applications, hiring managers dismissed my programming skills out of hand. Even now, when I have a BS in IT with a concentration in software development and a GPA of 3.92, I have a hard time getting anyone to take me seriously.
It seems as though the contract that I just completed at BNP Paribas was a fluke. I have been applying for programming positions at other firms since last October and am getting little to no response. Now that short 7 months at BNP is coming back to bite me in just the opposite way. I had a call the other day about a contract position as a technical writer, and was told that since I’d been a developer for the past 7 months, the client wouldn’t be interested in me.
I have taught myself BASIC, C, C++, Pascal, Assembly Language, Visual Basic (for DOS and Windows), Visual Basic .NET, C#, Java, Python, and those are the ones I can remember. I also know HTML 5, CSS 3, and have learned to use several of the popular frameworks such as AngularJS, Bootstrap, KnockoutJS, and a little bit of NodeJS.
As a writer I have written API documentation, how-to articles, requirements, design specifications, implementation guides, and context-sensitive help. When I created my own games, I did everything from design to code to graphics and documentation. I was an FTE at Microsft and a contract-employee at Google. Take a look at my resume, if you want to know the details.
I am good at what I do and I am not one of those people who sees that something needs to be done and says, “That’s not my job.” I pitch in. If you’re interested, and you are located in Manhattan, Hoboken, or Jersey City. Or if you have a telecommute position for a technical writer or a programmer, please contact me.