Tuesday Opinion: Computer Trouble

Late last week it was my unfortunate experience to have my email account hacked.  My shock and displeasure with the situation mattered not one bit.  That everyone whose email address was stored in my contacts was contacted with an annoyingly irritating email asking for help was embarassing in the extreme.  That all of my email contacts, and all of my email folders dating back close to ten years were wiped out-shocking. 

 Of course this had to happen on a Friday.  Events take time to unfold.  By the time that I knew I needed help, the weekend was looming.  I had the weekend with no available help to feel resentful and worried.  I really dislike anything that makes me feel like this.  I have a passion for making things grow.  I have a big love for living things-this means people, plants, animals, lichens-I am not so fond of slime molds, but I respect that they live. I have no patience for worrying trouble like a tongue on a sore tooth.  I like to wade right in, and put things to right.   But there was nothing I could do until my IT person returned from his vacation.  A computer, and all that goes with it- that machine comprised of characters, numbers and marks on a page that somehow get translated by a person into a photograph, a story, a video, or a letter can enable all kinds of things I would never have thought possible.  Please keep in mind that I was anxious the entire 2 hours it took to install my first fax machine.  I am a little more savvy now. It is one of the most amazing tools I have ever had at my disposal.  People 1/3 my age expect everything that comes from their computer-I am still simply amazed by it. A computer can be the next best thing to a trip to the Chelsea Garden Show.  Want to see pictures, or videos?  There are more to choose from than I could ever look at. I see things, I learn, I communicate after a fashion.  A computer is much like a third hand.

There are those things not to like.  If you have tried to solve a problem with your phone via the account you set up at the My Verizon website, be prepared to dig in and stay put.  Service websites may list 1000 possible issues you want to discuss, but are any of them your issue?  They don’t seem to be mine.  Have you ever hung up, not knowing what option to choose?  Me too!  It can take 20 minutes to find a phone number, and even longer to actually get to talk to a person.  I am amazed that a tech support person from Verizon was on the line with me for over 1/2 hour, until everything got sorted out.  Gracious and patient, she was. A person to talk to-the best.  At my shop I am adamant about this one thing.  Answer the phone.  Just answer.   

It took my IT person almost 7 hours to sort out, solve, and return my computer to a working state.  He had little interest in discussing why someone would hack my email.  I understand-after all, what would be the point of that exercise?  The idea is to get going again.  When something dies in my garden, there is the frustration, and inevitably the idea to understand what happened.  It is not always possible to know what happened.  Plants thrive, and they die.  Don’t mourn too long.  Mourn properly, and then stop crying in public.  Cry in private for as long as you want.  Getting going again after something fails is an awkward way of expressing the idea of experience.  I can wring my hands over what didn’t work, or I can plant again.  It is my choice to keep on gardening.  No one, and nothing can keep me from it-no one but me, that is.  

Loosing all of those files took my breath away.  5 days later, that loss seems like an opportunity to start fresh.  I didn’t loose one thing that enables me to live.  I lost 10 years of computer recorded history. But I didn’t loose any memories, or experience.  I have been thinking a lot about this.  Being older, I am not so crazy about change, or unexpected developments.  But unexpected developments can clear musty air.  Get the old blood moving.  From this day forward-doesn’t this sound good?       



  1. Nancy LaMotte says

    Deborah, it is so much a personal violation. I did once get a great tip on creating password from a Google assistant. She recommend creating a sentence; such as: Detroit Garden Works was opened in January 1996. Then take the first letter of each word to create a unique and meaningless password containing both capital letters and numerals. Good Luck!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Nancy, this was my mistake. I clicked on a website that came listed at the bottom of an email from a source I did not know. I should have looked it up on Google, and seen whther the site was ok. My email was already open when I let the hacker out of the bag- it didn’t need my password. Another word to the wise-always use a search engine to look up a website-they will tell you if it is ok to open. Deborah

  2. Deborah Banks says

    So sorry to hear about your woes. I hope your IT person talked to you about the wisdom (going forward) of doing periodic backups of your mail and files to an external disk. Or you can use one of those internet services to do it for you, like Carbonite. (I confess, this is a case of do as I say, not as I do.) I once had my hard drive crash and lost everything on it. But I’ve never been hacked. It must be a lot like having your car or house broken into, that feeling of violation. Thanks for moving on, and keeping on. Your blog is wonderful, and I treasure it. Your writing is wonderful. (When’s your book coming out?)

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Deborah, we do have offsite computer backup via Crash Plan. But my email was with yahoo-and not a hosted server like all of the other computers at work. Who knows why. All of our other email addresses are hosted by Rackspace-had my email been like everyone else’s, my emails would have been saved. Live and learn! Needless to say, I have a new email account! On and off, I do think about trying to write a book, but for now I like this short essay version. And I can talk about computer messes, if I feel like it! Thanks for writing, Deborah

  3. Thanks Deborah, I did not know leaving my gmail open was a risk factor!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Only if you click on a website contained in an email-you email is open when you are reading, so a hacker could get in without your email password. Always check with your search engine to see if a site is ok.

  4. Even though this seems to have forced you to clean your email up somewhat (by clean I mean lose) I am still sorry this happened to you. It is such a senseless thing to do to someone. If people would put half the effort into good as evil the world would be a great place.
    On another note, thanks for your wonderful blog, I save your posts until later at night so I can read them slowly and spend time staring at your gorgeous images.

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