Monday, 21 April 2008

Locked out ...

There's never anything bloody simple, is there? Updates on the domestic situation. In a nutshell:
  • The toilet is fixed, for now. I don't want to sound negative, but it's an old cistern that's had small repairs. They aren't going to last forever.
  • The water pressure is crap and insufficient for the water heater again.
  • Plumbers inspected the leaking water heater and say it cannot be repaired and will need to be replaced anyway (chance of landlord doing this, considerably lower than extracting milk from a bull), so once again, I am without hot water, cannot have a shower, cannot wash my hair ...
  • The tap in the kitchen had to be replaced, but as the old style sink is so old, small and, frankly like everything else here, crap, the best fitting tap they could get is in the wrong place for the sink and the right place to drench me in cold water. No this will NOT substitute for the shower!
  • And, I'm still without a washing machine. Since nobody has come (as was promised) to look at the machine itself, I'll have to try under the guarantee or get my own repairer (if it can be and because of the water heater problem, the water supply has to be turned off to it anyway.)

Yeah, if I weren't living this nightmare, I'd think it was a comedy sketch too!

There's a lot more to all this, of course and, over the weekend, I was going to write updates on various of the things that had happened during the week, however, I had to turn my attention to other matters instead ...

When Google first offered Gmail, I (foolishly) accepted the email address they suggested, a rather "obvious" one word prefix that every spammer and his dog sends spam to, because it was that easy to guess the alias would exist.

The price for being such an "early adopter": The email address may well have been almost as exclusive as having a personal registration plate, but it was on a par with a chocolate teapot in terms of being "water tight" to abuse!

In addition to that, there are at least two other people who appear to think that the email address is theirs, which has also meant a constant barrage of things they have signed up for, belong to, requests for access and passwords ...

Well, it's simply become unmanageable now. Even setting it so that all mail addressed to that particular address is deleted (that, incidentally, I have NEVER used myself - the only mail I get there that I want is being forwarded), except ONE source I wish to get through only, still leaves me with hundreds of emails in the spam box and a much larger number in the trash each day.

Consequently, finding the odd "false positive" or fishing something out of the trash that might have gone there accidentally, was no longer possible - unless one had all day to do this. In half an hour there'll be 40-50 more spams!

Then, yesterday, for the second time recently, I started getting a barrage of bounced emails, because someone is sending email using my address. That someone is obviously forging this (do I need to underline the fact that the IP address of the "offender" and the fact that the emails are NOT being sent via my actual account interface will prove this to Google, or anyone else), but obviously, as it is my email address being used, I'm getting the flack.

As I also need to separate some aspects of my online presence (related to some plans for the future that I wont go into now), I decided that the only way I was going to be able to cure all these problems would be to get a new Gmail account (there do not seem to be any "laws" against this and, indeed Google offer instructions for using multiple accounts), then close or abandon the old one. So I chose a longer and more obtuse prefix (again, is NOT going to be used or advertised outside), in the hope it will be less easy for the spam robots to guess and, therefore, attract less Directory Harvest Attack spam.

For a while, maybe.

As far as I could see, the only place where there could be a problem would be with Adsense, but I was not even thinking about attempting to sign up again (as that's forbidden), but intended that I would write to Google to see if it's possible to change the login / email address associated with my Adsense account.

A Yahoo account had the same trouble, getting bombarded with spam, only because I'd been deliberately using that publicly as the email address to sign up for stuff, for several years (specifically to protect the underlying addresses and that one lasted longer than I expected), so I chose to get a new one of those too while I was about it, to associate with Flickr accounts, etc.

Of course, if I say that I can switch in and out of Yahoo IDs without triggering some online terrorist filter, Google might say that Yahoo's security is lacking.

Google also makes me fill out not one, but two CAPTCHAS just to be able to search most weekends. This might mean that all Spanish spammers use my ISP on Saturdays and Sundays. Part-time spammers? Anything's possible - they're probably in school Mon-Fri. It might just be that there is more online traffic in Spain at the weekend and their filters are way too pedantic ...

Then I began the tedious process of swapping things over, setting up the new accounts, etc. Well, I get half way through the tasks and what happens?

With no warning or explanation, I found that I was locked out of BOTH Google accounts, BOTH Gmail accounts. Couldn't access Blogger accounts, nothing.

No error was served, the logins simply did not log in.

Try to reset it ... ... and I was told to follow the instructions in the email that had been forwarded to (one of the email accounts I couldn't access) or wait FIVE DAYS. Fortunately, I've managed to clear this problem once, but only by clearing out all logins, history, cookies, etc. And as far as I'm concerned, what I'm doing is valid and necessary, but Google has, no doubt, seen my efforts to solve this problem as being something excessive or suspicious account activity.

You never know when it's going to happen again or if the same fix will work and, I still have to transfer the old emails to the new account (following Google's instructions, but I've stopped expecting things to work as they should.)

In the meantime, until the switch is complete, if you were expecting an email or anything at all from me, you probably shouldn't bank on getting it! :)

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