Monday, May 25, 2015


When I was still a galley slave on the good ship Workalot, I worked for a guy who carried his own anti-electronic force shield with him.  Not unlike Joe Btfsplk's cloud.

Whenever he sat down at a computer, odd things happened with programs.  The screen would go blank.  Functions didn't.  And it was not just his computer.  It would happen with anyone's computer he used.  Even his blackberry.

Our IS staff was baffled.  The problem made no sense.

I thought of my former boss while I was on my trip in Asia.  In addition to contracting a head cold, I seem to have developed an electronic virus.

It started with my personal Quicken account.  When I entered the password for my data, the program reportedly informed me I was not who I have always thought I was.  Or, at least, the program thought I was so slow-witted I could not remember my password.  Even with hours of support from Quicken "agents," I have been unable to use my own data for three weeks now.

That was the first problem.  The second was my credit cards.  According to my bank, an undisclosed merchant's files had been compromised by a data miner, and my credit cards were being cancelled at the end of the month.  (The merchant was Amazon.  I knew that because Amazon was far more efficient at informing me than was my bank.)

At least, I would be back in Mexico when the axe dropped -- effectively cutting me off from credit cards.  But, I was told not to worry.  New cards were on their way.  On their way, of course, to my Reno address.  I suspect I will eventually see them.

Glitch number three involved my trip photographs.  Well, my trip and more.  I had some essay ideas in mind supplementing my earlier posts from China and Korea.  But, when I looked in my April folder, it was empty.  Not a single photograph.

My usual procedure on trips is to transfer my photographs from the camera's memory card to a portable hard drive.  At home, that drive is then backed up on my large backup drive.

But there was no backup.  The folder was simply empty.

I think I know what happened to the photographs.  I mistakenly deleted them thinking that they were the copies on my camera's card.  That was my fault; not the mysterious aura.  At least, that is the most logical explanation.

The credit card mess is simply one of those little exercises that banks jump us through to protect "our" interest -- when, of course, they are merely protecting their own interests.  As they so helpfully informed me in the telephone message they left for me: I would incur no financial liability.  Other than for the automatic payments associated with one of my cards.

And the Quicken problem?  It turns out that one of the company's recent software upgrades caused Quicken to suffer amnesia -- and to refuse to recognize the passwords of people who wanted to access their own data.  Quicken's helpful solution?  "We are working on a patch."

A patch without a potential release date.  That leaves users (read "me" there) without access to the program we purchased to track finances.  It is a large black eye for Quicken's reputation for producing quality software.

And I thought it was over.  Not so.  Last evening the CD player in my Escape started skipping.  Apparently my DVD player, which I had just set up as part of my home theater, got jealous.  While watching a new import from the north (The Queen), it also started skipping and sticking.

I won't even bother you with the dodgy responses I have been getting from my laptop and Kindle for the past week. 

Rather than deal with the DVD and the CD players, I turned them off.  Maybe I just need a break from my electronic cocoon.

Scarlett may have provided the best advice: "I'll think about it tomorrow. ...  After all -- tomorrow is another day."

I am going to bed.

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