One of the crime scenes

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

da House
is BACK!

But, Where/Why did it Go?

Last week, at almost precisely (in Jack Webster terms) 12:30PM, Tuesday, February 15, the House of Infamy went away - the last visitor being someone from Port Coquitlam. The first visitor when it returned was someone from Kelowna, who had clicked over from Gary E's How Bad the Record. Where it went and why remains a mystery, but as a result I learned and re-learned quite a bit.

First I would like to thank all those who sent emails or posted on their blogs about the abrupt disappearance and this post is an attempt to answer some of the questions those folks had about the situation. In the end perhaps this whole experience was a necessary kick in my ass to remind me of stuff I already knew, but was forgetting/ignoring in practice.

Back in the last decade of the last century, the nineties, before Bush the Lesser, before the Global War on Terrorism, before the first dip of the current depression and the Initial Public Offering of Google Inc. the internet was a smaller place. The biggest and busiest search engines were Alta Vista, Yahoo and Dogpile. Then a new kid on the block appeared. This new kid had a really clean interface and great algorithms that made searching the ever growing internet fast and efficient even in the days of mostly dial-up connections and 486's and Pentium 1 machines. As time went by Google pretty well took over the search business and as time went by they've come to be as major a player in computer technology and especially cyberspace as (shudder) the evil empire of Bill Gates - Microsoft. They've spread over e-mail, with GMail, purchased youTube, and made it possible for entire populations to live in a Google controlled and provided cyber universe - but there can be a downside.

Unfortunately it would seem that beneath all the billions of dollars and groovy mottos like "First, Do No Evil," at base the folks at Google are typical geeks lacking in basic "people skills." If you have your cyber identity all tied up with Google Services and something happens to sever your connection you are basically f**ked. I'll let another user who had problems with Google inexplicably blocking their entire online life explain. This is from the same place as the graphic accompanying this post, perhaps not surprisingly published via Wordpress.

NO SUPPORT from Google

Their customer service and support for their online services is terrible (actually non-existent -kc). Google does not offer any support, for issues that they create, such as blocking a Profile Page and Gmail, without cause. As they have you post comments on their support forum page, that actual support staff might not even look at. There is no one to talk to on their support staff, or directly send a comment to, to even ask why your account was disabled. The only thing you know from when you got your account disabled is “unusual activity”, which is an unspecific term, probably to protect them from legal issues.

In my case, when I discovered I was blocked from access to my google account and the blog was gone due to "unusual activity" was especially strange as I hadn't even posted in almost three weeks, and as is usual when I don't post, there had been no comments there either, though there was some traffic. I use third party software for my visitor logs, so those were still accessible and not google dependent. Amazingly I still had traffic during the shut down as people were still visiting "cached" pages thanks to, yeah you guessed, Google. All one had to do during the closure was use House of Infamy in your search term and then take your pick of cached pages to view - even the very first post from April 2006 was available with the right combination of search terms.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the experience was when I tried to log in to my Google account (necessary even to complain on one of the "help" forums, much less check my gmail, which thankfully I use hardly at all) I was confronted by this:

Click on Image to Enlarge

For starters, I don't have a mobile phone, and unless I go into the dope dealing business or something, doubt that I will ever get one. Here in the boonies, the cell service is the first thing to go down when the power is out, while my land line POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) system still works. Also I don't even necessarily answer my phone when I'm next to it, that is what voice mail is for, and I'll be damned if I want to be in touch with the world when I'm off in the Valhallas or somewhere. But there is a creepier possibility with this request from Google for your cell number, once again I'll let Flynn explain:
The issue here, is that this is a phishing attempt to get your mobile phone number. They want your mobile phone number to your cell phone. Why do they want that kind of personal information. Most of the current mobile devices, cell phones, iPhones, Blackberry phones, etc have a GPS device inside. A tracking device. So if you verify your account, then they will always know where and when you are. You might even become predictable as to where you’ll be at what time. As people are creatures of habit. So Google servers will have your Modis Operandi. This sounds like a Big Brother thing to me. Perhaps they are doing this in cooperation with the NSA, FBI or CIA for the Department of Homeland Security.

After all, they have Google Maps and Google Earth, which they can use the GPS technology with.

I also have read, that people who complied and sent their SMS information, now have ads being send to their sell phone, and that these persons who complied can’t stop these text ads Google is sending to their cell phones. Google is costing these people money, as they have to pay to receive these unwanted ads.

Now Google can know where and when you are (modus operandi), send you unwanted SMS ads, and cost you money by sending these unwanted SMS ads to your cell phone, all at the same time. Don’t give them your credit card number, just to verify yourself to them.

I'm not one to worry overly much about the modern surveillance world we live in, because I don't think those who would watch are smart enough, or capable of utilizing the surfeit of data that can be collected about everybody - but then maybe I'm just whistling past the graveyard.

By and large I still like Google and just think maybe they should give some thought to the way they do business. After all, I know they serve millions, probably billions of people and can't really hold everybody's hand. However, it must have taken a human to first render my blog and account inaccessible and then to re-activate it. I don't think it would be too much to ask for someone from Google to fire off a brief email explaining WHY?

Last year Google, for no reason I can understand, other than perhaps a desire to control data, information and content, quit supporting Google Blogger Blogspot blogs that were hosted on the blog owners own non-blogger servers - I was involved with two blogs implemented that way. I neither got nor asked for any special support and had to implement my own work around/hacks to resolve various issues, but still they basically shut down these blogs that merely used the Blogspot templates (in one case I had to upload outside the Blogger interface already) and thus as far as I can see had very little impact on Google resources. So when the House went missing, my feeling was that this was strike two for Google. At least now I realized again how important backing up one's work really is and am ready to move the House of Infamy if necessary. But for now I will stay where I am and assume that last week was an inexplicable glitch.

Once again I would like to thank all those who offered their support during last week's lights out period at the House. I hope to be back with other issues real soon. After all it isn't like there isn't a lot of silly and sad stuff to write about these days, indeed the problem is where to start.

Update: Noon

I thought I would just check to see if Google had tried to notify me of anything via my gmail account - though with my account disabled it was inaccessible meaning I would be unlikely to look there for news, with the account disabled no explanation there would get to me. However now I still can't access my Google GMail as when I try to do so, I get a page telling me how great it would be to hook up with yet another great Google product - BUZZ! The only problem is when I try to use the link that says " Just go to my inbox, I'll try Buzz later," it leads to another copy of the BUZZ enticement page and even if I give in and agree to go with "Sweet! Check out Buzz," it still just stays on the same page - so my gmail is still not accessible - good thing I don't use it! I'm pretty certain already that I want nothing to do with BUZZ and Wordpress is looking more attractive all the time!


Blogger Gary E said...

Glad you made it Back Kootcoot.

I started working with some of the info you gave me in the email but found I will have to work one step at a time. The first thing I did was to look at their terms of service. In doing so I was alarmed to notice the word "perceived" crop up a couple of times. That word really pisses me off. And I think it should never be used in contracts such as these. We all know what conspiracy theorists the Homeland Security are in the States.
At any rate I will try to work on some of the things you mentioned and will try to figure out how to get my blog stored so I can move it to another location.
I hope Mary's is set up.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 12:16:00 PM PST  
Anonymous e.a.f. said...

When I found House of Infamy missing and read some other blogs I decided to complain to Goggle. I couldn't find an email address for them. There were those catagories for "problems" but none which addressed, my problem.
I did find their address, phone number and fax number for their London and L.A. offices.
I still have old technology, a fax machine, hand wrote them a letter and faxed it to them!
It always pays to keep a pen and paper, a land line and an old working fax machine.
It may not be high tech but it does the job.
Glad to see you are back.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 12:51:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Tony G said...

I just figured you`d tired of maintaining the blog and had just pulled the plug. I was disappointed cause I figure it is one of the best local blogs around.
Could the lack of hadn`t put up anything for awhile and no new comments..maybe have triggered some auto response from google as there are more than a few derelict blogs floating around. Like after 3 weeks they shut `er down?
Well whatever it`s good to see you back.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 2:29:00 PM PST  
Blogger kootcoot said...

Tony G, I'm glad you like da House. As to your idea that lack of action caused the blog to disappear, don't even consider that. A blog I was involved in (FreeSpeechCanada) was inactive from late 2007 (my last post was September 25, 2007) and was accessible online up until a few days ago when the other partner in the endeavour decided to get blogging again and moved it and all of its content to a new address as Coyote Times

I continued to link from elsewhere to relevant archived posts at the old site, but I can see I will have to update all those links now (Thanks Coyote)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 2:45:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to see you up and running again Koot.


Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 7:10:00 AM PST  
Blogger Norm Farrell said...

Google needs to think about its own promise to avoid evil. Closing down a user without explanation is evil. Being unavailable to communicate in a timely fashion is evil.

BTW, they publish information for three Canadian offices, complete with telephone numbers:

Google Montreal
1253 McGill College, Suite 250
Montreal, Quebec, h2B 2Y5
Phone: 514-670-8700
Fax: 514-670-8701

Google Toronto
10 Dundas Street East
Suite 600
Toronto, Ontario M5B 2G9
Phone: +1 416-915-8200
Fax: +1 416-915-8201

Google Waterloo
340 Hagey Blvd
2nd Floor
Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 6R6
Phone: 519-880-2300
Fax: 519-880-3401

At least they southern Ontario covered.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 3:16:00 PM PST  

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