Saturday, September 30, 2006

eBay Account Hijacked

Identity theft comes in just som many varieties these days. A few days ago I discovered that I had fallen victem to a mild (compared to what can happen) although very annoying and frustrating form. Some ass clown out there hijacked my eBay account.

I'm not sure when the hijacking took place. I'm a fairly infrequent eBay user. I have never listed anything for sale and have only bought a multitude of pretty but relatively inexpensive junk. In fact I think the last time I was on was back in march when I bought a really nice handmade happy sun clock from a nice lady in California to go with the tropical motif in my office. Like I said, I'm an infrequent user. Thursday night I was attempting to purchase some fabric for a Halloween show I'm doing costumes for. Fabric is one of those things I like to buy in person so I can get a feel for its texture, stretchiness, and other aspects but, let's face it, my choices for stretch mesh and wet look vinyl are limited in this state. When I tried to log in to bid, my password didn't work.

Well, that's odd. I tried it again. Still didn't work. I tried a third time , paying extra special attention to the keys that I hit. Still doesn't work. Did I change my password and then forget about it? It's possible. After all, I haven't been on since March. I went through the forgotten password process. Everything worked fine right up to the confirmation email. I never got it. I tried again. Still nothing. I then looked at my email setup to make sure it wasn't being blocked by the spam filters.

Now here's where things got interesting. There was a filter set up in my email account that deleted messages containing the word 'ebay' and forwarded them to a yahoo account. That's got to go. I removed those filters and changed the password on my email. After that I was able to receive the forgotten password confirmation email from eBay. When I got back into my account I found that my personal information had been changed. I seller's account had been set up complete with credit card number. I can only assume this was a stolen credit card. More disturbing was the fact that several auctions had been put up for gold watches. eBay put a hold on the seller's account because of complaints. And the topper was that bids that were placed without my knowledge. One was for a lot of 100 stainless steel men's watches totaling $4,095 excluding shipping. This scenario just made me think someone was buying stainless steel watches, applying a cheap electroplating, and then selling them as gold watches. I do hope no one actually gave this rectum ranger any money. I would be suspicious of someone who has never sold anything on eBay and then all of a sudden is selling a dozen gold watches. Sounds fishy to me.

I was not happy. While I am an infrequent user, I have been using eBay since about 1999 and have wracked up a good amount of positive feedback. I didn't want to have to start over. And the kicker is you can't re-register with the same email address. Also, I didn't want to be responsible for the gobs of money this sphincter dart decided to bid. So now, the dreaded contacting of tech support. Eek!

eBay doesn't have a phone number listed anywhere on their site. What I did find was a live chat support for security and account theft. It isn't intuitive to find, especially when you're in 'What The Fuck' mode. The live chat can be found by navigating the menus at the very bottom of most eBay pages. You need to click on 'Security & Resolution Center' and then 'eBay Account Protection'. On Thursday evening I waited a little over half an hour to chat with someone. Once I actually able to talk with an eBay security agent, the problem was resolved quickly. One of the ways eBay verifies your account is to call and speak with you and a nice feature of that is that you can ask questions to the agent over the phone instead of typing everything. I was assurred that I would not be responsible for the auctions that were put up and the bids that were placed without my knowledge. Yay. It was all rather painless.

The next day I received a notice from eBay that said an unpaid item strike had been placed against my account (for the watches). I also noticed that the seller had left me some lovely negative feedback. Wait a minute. Wasn't this all supposed to be taken care of? The email alerting me to the strike had a link to an appeals page. I appealed the strike and it was removed. Now to remove the negative feedback. Back on to eBay live help chat. I again explained the situation again. The negative feedback was removed.

eBay seems pretty good at resolving the symptons of account theft. My concern is that I will need to keep a close eye on my account for any additional fallout. When I was assurred that everything was taken care of the first time I contacted eBay, I took that to mean everything was taken care of and I won't have to worry about additional problems stemming from this event. I thought that this would include everything that transpired from my last legitimate purchase in March until Thursday evening when I discovered the problem. This is not actually the case.

There are a few security loopholes that I wish eBay would close. First, they do not lock your account after so many unsuccessful log in attempts. This allows someone to just run random strings of letters and numbers until they luck out and find your password. Most places will lock your account after 3 tries. There is also the problem with third party authorizations. Neither security tech that I spoke with mentioned these and I found out about this through some message boards. The eBay account gets hacked somehow and then some sort of 3rd party software is used to post the automatted auctions.

If you have an eBay account, go to your Account Details, then Preferences, and then scroll down and look for 3rd party authorizations. Check that to be sure anything listed is valid. Many things (contests, etc) can apparently add entries here. In my case, I had an entry from AuctionWorks, a company that makes auctioning software. It is very important to make sure you remove 3rd party autorizations because when using the eBay API, once you get added to the 3rd party authorizations, you can continue to access the eBay account even after the password has changed.

The tech support people didn't mention this at all. It is not mentioned anywhere in the documaentation about securing your account. I got the usual security spiel from the live chat techs. My password is a combination of letters and numbers that is not easily guessed. I haven't answered any of those annoying spoof emails I get asking me to verify account information or my eBay account will be terminated. I have a current anti-virus software and a firewall. Somehow someone was able to gain control of my eBay account.

Consider this your public saftey announcment of the day.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Let me preface this post by stating that I really dislike spiders. I'm not aracnophobic, I just really don't like them. They creep me out with their multiple eyes and little fangs. I can deal with regular small spiders, but when they start getting larger than my thumb it gets creepy. I think I may have too active of an imagination when it comes to these critters. Just...yuck. Today has been a creepy spider filled day.

Sometime between when I came home last night around 9:30 and when I left for work around 8 this morning, a spider had built a nest in my shoe. I discovered this when I picked up my shoe and got a handfull of sticky spiderweb. Yuck. I thought better of just putting the shoe on and decided to investigate further. I felt more spiderweb inside of the shoe near the laces and going towards the toe. I held the shoe up to the light and looked in to it. Nestled in the toe was a large brown spider. Good morning. This is your wake up call. I dropped the shoe and jumped about 3 feet in the air.

My first thought was to just throw the shoes away and wear something else. Then I thought I wasn't going to let that silly little spider get the best of me. I again looked in to the shoe. Darn - it's still in there. The thing had a body about the size of a nickle and had officially crossed the line between small common spider to big frickin' scarey spider. Armed with a swifter duster in my shaking hand, I bravely managed to extricate web and spider from the inside of my shoe. The spider jumped to the floor. With an angry spider on the loose, I prepared for battle with my one shoed foot. It was a stomping victory.

After the battle, I also evicted the other spider who had been watching from the corner of the door. I didn't want him to get any funny ideas. A couple of large spiders had set up housekeeping outside of my apartment door. They've been there without incident all summer. I let let them stay out there despite the creepiness factor, and the thought that one day they might decide to jump on my head, because, hey, they eat flies. Well, now that they've decided the weather's too cold to stay outside they've got to go. Nesting in my shoe was just too much. I took the broom and went on a spider killing spree. Again...yuck.

As I walked to work, I kept imaging that I felt something crawling up my leg. It might have been the wind blowing or my slacks moving as I walked or just my imagination, but I had that creepy sensation all morning. The other horrible thought that I had was what if that spider laid eggs in my shoe? And I didn't notice? And then one day they hatched, and I was wearing my shoe, and a whole bunch of spiders coming crawling out of my shoe and up my leg? Again, perhaps I have too active of an imagination.

I laughed about the incident later on, but then something else happened. I was driving my car and stopped to get gas. One of my friends pointed out that there was a spider on my window, a bit ironic, since I had just told him the story of the shoe spider. And then there were two spiders. These ones were little, about the size of my pinky finger, and white. I killed those spiders and noticed a few more. I flicked those off the car as well. They don't have to die, but they certainly can't stay with me. In all, there was a total of 5 spiders on my car. I couldn't help but wonder if they were somehow out for revenge.

When I arrived home there was another large brown spider by my door. This time it was nestled by my neighbors door. Hopefully it'll go in there and leave me alone. I didn't take any chances, though. I brought my shoes upstairs instead of leaving them down by the door. I don't want a repeat of this morning. Besides, it might send for reinforcements.

International Talk Like A Pirate Day

Everyone say ARRRR! Today be International Talk Like A Pirate Day! Well, every day is talk like a pirate day for me, but today is different. I can gently coerce my family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and other random people to unleash their inner pirate.

In honor of ITLAPD, enjoy some handy pirate pick up lines.

  • Avast, me proud beauty! Wanna know why my Roger is so Jolly?
  • Have ya ever met a man with a real yardarm?
  • Come on up and see me urchins.
  • Yes, that is a hornpipe in my pocket and I am happy to see you.
  • I'd love to drop anchor in your lagoon.
  • Pardon me, but would ya mind if fired me cannon through your porthole?
  • How'd you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?
  • Well blow me down?
  • Prepare to be boarded.
  • They don't call me Long John because my head is so big.
  • You're drinking a Salty Dog? How'd you like to try the real thing?
  • Wanna shiver me timbers?
  • I've sailed the seven seas, and you're the sleekest schooner I've ever sighted.
  • That's the finest pirate booty I've ever laid eyes on.
  • Let's get together and haul some keel.
  • That's some treasure chest you've got there.
  • Yo ho! Bottle of rum?
  • ARRR you single?

For the wenches...

  • What are YOU doing here?
  • Is that a belayin' pin in yer britches, or are ye ... (this one is never completed)
  • Come show me how ye bury yer treasure, lad!
  • So, tell me, why do they call ye, "Cap'n Feathersword?"
  • That's quite a cutlass ye got thar, what ye need is a good scabbard!
  • I've crushed seventeen men's skulls between me thighs!
  • C'mon, lad, shiver me timbers!
  • Want to climb in me rigging?
  • Unbuckle your swash?
  • You. Pants Off. Now!

Friday, September 15, 2006

City of Villains

One of my favorite time sinks these days has got to be the MMORPG City of Villains. (For my non-geek friends MMORPG stands for massive multiplayer online role playing game) The basic premise of the game is to create your own super villain and then wreck havoc on the city. The game starts with your escape from prison. As you progress in the game and gain levels, you get additional powers. You can also team up and interact with other players as well as form super villain groups and secret bases. City of Villains is the sister game to City of Heros. The gameplay in each is identicle, and there are portions of the game where villains and heros can interact, either in a special super nightclub or player vs player areas. I think Villains is more fun because there is something inherently much more fun at being responsible for robbing the bank, as opposed to thwarting a bank robbery. It's a great game to play, especially if you have friends who play the game as well.

I cancelled my subscription to COV last spring when I found I just didn't have the time to spend in front of the computer. Now that the cold weather is setting in, I've rediscovered the joy that is this game. I was prompted into renewing my subscription after one of my friends purchased the game. He started talking about it and then I stared to remember how much fun it was to play. Our excitment rolled over to another mutual friend, who also renewed his subscription. There are now a trio of us running around the Rouge Isles. A force to be reckoned with.

All of this has gotten thinking about what it takes to be a villain. The running joke in our little trio is that we're so much ruthless as we are mildly beligerant. I've been thinking about things I could do to help bring out my villainous nature. I've got a long way to go before I'm evil overlord material.

  • Lather, rinse, but don't repeat
  • Don't seperate my recyclables
  • Tip less than 15%
  • Refuse to refrigerate after opening
  • Walk in doors marked 'exit only'
And finally, I need to incorporate the evil laugh into my everyday conversation. For example -
Random Person: What are you making for dinner tonight?
Me: I'm having chicken. MUAHAHA!!!!

Friday Fiver: Masticating With Thespians

In keeping with my 'things that sound kind of dirty' theme, I've decided to pick 5 great words that sound dirty. I invite, and even encourage, others to post their own lists here.

  • Angina - Short for angina pectoris, severe paroxysmal pain in the chest associated with an insufficient supply of blood to the heart. It sounds even dirtier if someone declares that they have 'acute angina'
  • Dictum - An authoritative, often formal pronouncement
  • Manhole - A hole, usually with a cover, through which a person may enter a sewer, boiler, drain, or similar structure
  • Penal - Of, relating to, or prescribing punishment, as for breaking the law
  • Supeona - A writ requiring appearance in court to give testimony

Thursday, September 14, 2006

First Rehearsal

Last night was the first rehearsal for Vermont Nightmare, a very cool Halloween event. My fine acting abilities have landed me the role of random scarey person #1 (not my official title). My job is to scare the crap out of people when they enter the 'dark room' portion of the event. Other than that, I'll also be prop/costume bitch. Costumes for this production should be a blast to work on. With a general theme of vampire ridden nightclub, I'm only limited by my imagination what I can come up with. Did I mention I was a bit excited to be doing some sexy fantasy pieces? Don't get me wrong, I still love ren, but this is going to be a blast.

And everything about this show is going right in the gutter. Even when we're trying to be serious. Here's a few choice quotes from our first fight call. These were said by the fight leader in all seriousness. I've just taken them out of context and twisted them around in my dark and dirty little mind.

  • You'll just have to play with yourselves for a while.
  • Everyone take turns going down.
  • You hang on. I'm trying to get off here.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Gearing Up For Nightmare

Equinox held audtions over the weekend for this year's Nightmare, a fantastic Halloween event in downtown Burlington. I'll be doing props and costumes, and also devising interesting ways to scare unsuspecting patrons. It's a very fun event, best described as an 'interactive haunted house'. Last year was a blast. We did a zombie outbreak theme, with people trying to escape from a zombie-infested hospital (think Resident Evil). We even had a few people not finish because the show was too scarey.

This year's theme is a vampire nightclub. I'm excited about the costumes. It will be fun to do some straight fantasy costumes instead of all ren garb I've been doing. I've got a few good ideas I'm firming up right now. Expect a lot of PVC and a heavy HR Giger influence.

The show is geared toward adults, but is appropriate for older kids. If I had to put a rating on it, I'd say probably PG-13 for violence. We did have some wee little ones go through last year with their parents and we have a few youngsters as part of the cast.

The show will run 3 nights the weekend before Halloween, on October 27, 28, and 29 (Fri, Sat, and Sun) at Memorial Auditorium in downtown Burlington. It should be a blast.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Words That Sound Dirty

I've officially decided to get rid of the Friday Fiver. The questions were never really that good and I'm pretty sure I can dredge up something from deep within the bowels of my mind to write about. Spending a lot of time driving this week gave me time to think. Did I clear my head? No. Did I come up with a life plan? No. Something to better mankind? No. I was thinking about hte English language and words that sound kind of dirty but really aren't. Here's some of my favorites. Feel free to add yours. I've given only the actual definitions. You'll have to use your twisted little mind to come up with the 'dirty' meanings.

  • booby prize - A mock award given in good humor for a poor showing
  • convolvulaceous - A botanical term for a member of the morning-glory family
  • fagaceous - Of or about a large tree family or shrubs with basic leaves, flowers and nuts
  • saucebox - A saucy or impudent person.
  • saltpeter - sodium nitrate
  • cockchafer - A scarabaeoid beetle
  • snatch block - A nautical term for a block that can be opened on one side to receive the looped part of a rope.
  • touchhole - The opening on a cannon where the powder was lit
  • succumb - To yield or give way.
  • muffineer - A covered dish for keeping muffins hot
  • fiddlestick -Literally, a fiddle bow; slangly, an absurd thing
  • crotchety - Whimsical, eccentric, grumpy
  • screwjack - A hoisting jack operated with a screw
  • titivate - To add decorate touches or dress up
  • kumquat - The smallest of the citrus fruits
  • shuttlecock - The cone-shaped thing used in badminton. Also called a birdie
  • declivitous - Sloping down; slightly steep
  • joystick - The stick-like control of an airplane or video game
  • blowhard - A braggart
  • double-tongue - A musical term referring to rapid movement of the tongue as used when playing a staccato passage on the flute or cornet.
  • probang - A long, slender, flexible rod having a tuft or sponge at the end, used to remove foreign bodies from or apply medication to the larynx or esophagus
  • uvula - A small, conical, fleshy mass of tissue suspended from the center of the soft palate (the hangy-down thing at the back of your throat)

And everyone's favorite...
  • bunghole - The hole in a cask, keg, or barrel through which liquid is poured in or drained out

A Craptacular Week

Saturday is good because it means I don't have to go back there until Monday. It's bad because Monday is only two days away. I've always made it a point to not vent about my job in this blog, mainly because I've heard of people getting in trouble for that kind of thing. A couple of things have happened that have made me change my mind. First, I'm to the point where I really don't care if I get fired. I know it's a horrible attitude to have, but it's where I've been pushed. I used to like my job. Second, it's been a particular craptacular week. And lastly, about 2 people actually read this, and I'm pretty sure neither one will tell my boss, so no harm done, right? And now you get to listen to me vent.

First, let me say that's it's been over a year since I've taken any kind of vacation. The 5 days I took off to recover from oral surgery don't count, and I was paged to take care of a problem one of those days. On the 25th, some of my vacation days are going to poof, as I can only carry 6 weeks. It doesn't look like I'm going to have a chance to use them.

I should have been well rested after a nice 3 day weekend. No, I had to write a presentation on anesthesia service and support for the 6 Japanese visitors we had coming. Looking at the itinerary, I realized I had to give not one, but two presentations. These were scheduled for 1 hour each. I am not a good public speaker. Granted, one of the presentations was to be a collaborative effort between myself and one of the senior engineers. Both presentations were to be given Wednesday afternoon. I wanted to finish them over the weekend, so I could have my boss take a look at them on Tuesday (Monday was a holiday) and I would have time to make changes to the presentation.

No information about the visitors was provided, and I had to make some assumptions as to who my audience was. The first assumption I made was to assume our visitors could speak English. I had to, since I don't speak a word of Japanese. The next was a bit challenging. These are technical talks. I didn't want to insult these people by coming in with too basic information if they've had 30 years of experience. Likewise, I didn't want to start talking over their heads if they were hospital administrators and not real technical. I assumed a base of technical knowledge and went for the safe middle ground, assuming I could give more detail if necessary or skip slides if they knew a lot.

These were bad assumptions. On Tuesday morning I found out that the group couldn't speak English, and everything would need to be done through an interpreter. Eek. I guess I should have put more pictures in my powerpoint presentation. I also learned that I needed to drive these people around campus for a week and make sure they got to their scheduled destinations. Nevermind all the other work that's building up on my desk.

Tuesday afternoon was fun for another reason. I got a call that one of my hospitals was having problems with it's anesthesia gas monitor, again. This was left on my voicemail. Since I was carting the Japanese visitors around, I didn't get the message until about 3 pm. Why they didn't call the main desk or my pager is beyond me. Great now I've got to drive 2 hours to northern New Hampshire. While packing my tools, I discovered the best part. The calibration gas, essential for fixing a gas monitor, was in the anesthesia van that I share with another tech. He was in Rutland. So now I've got to drive 2 hours in the wrong direction to pick up the cal gas. Not impressed. To top it off, on the ride down I had to deal with traffic from the VT State fair, an accident on route 7, and all 19 of Rutland's traffic lights (21 in the other direction. I know this because I stopped at each and every one of them). The other tech, being the funny guy that he is, decided to play one of his jokes and proceeded to tell me that he looked for the cal gas in the van but couldn't find it. I managed to resist the temptation to lodge the car keys in a very uncomfortable place in his anatomy. I got the gas and went on my merry way.

Arriving in Littleton sometime after 8, no one form the operating room was around. I found someone to let me in the room and put on my very attractive paper suit (The locker with the scrubs in it was locked, so I just put on one of the paper bunny suits). After an hour of testing the machine, I couldn't find an error.It was working grat and just wouldn't fail. Great. I know the hospital won't be happy when I tell them that. Oh well. I arrived home sometime around 11:30. A bit wound up from the drive, I read for a while before finally falling asleep. As you can imagine, I was not well rested for my presentation the next day. As a side note, the hospital used the same monitor without incident for the rest of the week.

Giving the presentation to the Japanese visitors was interesting. We got through about half of what I wanted to cover for infusion pumps, in the first presentation. This is mainly due to the fact that we spent about 2 hours talking, instead of the scheduled 1 hour. I only got through about a quarter of what I wanted to cover for my presentation on anesthesia. If I knew we were only going to get that far, I would have written a 15 minute presentation.

All in all, the visitors had a good time. I do hope we gave them a good impression of American healthcare. Apparently this is the only place in the US they're visiting. I think it would have made more sense for them to visit a larger healthcare provider. Playing the role of tour guide wasn't bad either, I just wish I would have known beforehand. I'm just glad I managed not to lose anybody.