Samara O'Shea

Archive for the ‘All Things Digital’ Category

Me and My Malware

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

Well that was fun, wasn’t it? Coming to this website and being told it’s an evil, malware-infested place. It was especially strange for me considering I run the site and was being told it had been deemed a digital disaster. The way I figure it, something like this has to happen to me once a year. Remember this time last summer when my e-mail was hacked? Ah, memories.

I don’t know for certain why it happened, but I do have a guess. My latest blog for The Huffington Post (mentioned below) garnered 1,200+ comments. I was very excited about this, but I imagine it also brought in a lot of new traffic to my little letter-writing website. Maybe one of those viewers was an ill-intentioned hacker. I can’t say for certain, but that’s my guess.

It took a while and many e-mails (to my web designer, web host, and URL provider), but we are up and running again. Whew! My biggest fear was the I lost the blog entirely, and everything I’d written here since April 2007 was gone. I really need to print and bind my blog–make it into a nice journal-like book and place it safely on my shelf.

Thank you to everyone who let me know what was going on. I appreciate your concern and, if you’re here, I appreciate you coming back!!

First Two Days Sans Facebook

Friday, February 24th, 2012

There have been two incidents so far:

1. I haven’t been tagged in a photo (by someone other than myself) on Facebook all year (remember it’s only February) , and what do I get on Ash Wednesday? An e-mail saying I’ve been tagged. I thought What f I sign in real quick and just look at it. I’ll keep the tag or un-tag and then I’ll be gone. I stopped myself because that would be giving in on day one! Instead, I called my mother. She said, “Is everything okay?” because I don’t usually call her in the middle of the work day. I said yes and I explained that she had to log into FB immediately and look at my page. She thought this was hilarious, and she dutifully did as I asked.

She said she saw no new photos on my page. I’m hoping this means that FB needs my permission before displaying a tagged photo. But I’m not sure that’s what it means. It could mean my mother was looking in the wrong spot. Her FB knowledge and experience are limited. It’s unnerving isn’t it? Someone tells you they have a photo of you and you can’t look at it. . .

2. Today Lisa Ling posted this on Twitter: “Look what came in the mail today! Thanks to my awesome hubby. http://fb.me/1k

I didn’t look closely at the link I just clicked. It does say “fb” which gives away where it’ll take you. I panicked. Oh no I’m on FB! But I only saw her photo. I would have had to sign in to officially be on FB, so I think I can let that one slide.

Onward!

Forty Days and Forty Nights Without Facebook

Monday, February 20th, 2012

I’m giving up Facebook for Lent. I wanted to do this last year, but it was right before Modern Love Rejects went live and I needed Facebook to promote it. This year, I have another project waiting in the wings and I hesitate, once again, to give up FB. But you’re not supposed to give up something for Lent when it’s convenient, rather when it’s inconvenient. Therefore, I’m sticking to it this time.

My infatuation with FB has faded. I no longer check it every day like I once did. I can easily go two or three days without it. However, around day four I will start to get antsy. I will wonder what so and so is up to. Did he post photos from Thailand yet? Something might remind me of someone, and I’ll want to look up that person. Has an old friend gotten in touch? Has a new friend tried to “friend” me? I will wonder these things and therein lies the challenge of giving up the ultimate social network.

Here’s what I am looking forward to giving up: reading things about people that I don’t care to read, critical comparisons, and subconscious judging. There is something about social networks that bring our very human bad habits front and center. There was an article in The Times about this last week called Don’t Tell Me, I Don’t Want to Know.

One of the article’s more disturbing facts:

“A study published last month in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking found that the more time people spent on Facebook, the happier they perceived their friends to be and the sadder they felt as a consequence.”

Please don’t let yourself think this way. Looking at people on FB is like reading an article about your favorite actor–you are only getting a small, airbrushed portion of the story. In any case, I hope my ability to give up FB for forty days will enable me to take it even less seriously when I return.

Passwords of Love

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Once upon a time I dated a man whose ex-girlfriend still had his voicemail pass code. He warned me that she listened to all of the messages I left him. One time I took it upon myself to say hello to her. I left a message that began with, “Hi Jim and Cindy!” It was an admittedly snotty thing to do and she called me several choice words afterwards. I just couldn’t—for the LIFE of me—understand why he didn’t change the code. He acted so helpless, “What can I do? Cindy has my code?” Um, you could change it. I think he liked knowing that someone cared about him enough to spy on him. It gave his ego a little boost. He and I didn’t last very long.

I’ve heard the argument for exchanging pass codes/passwords, and it goes something like: It’s a way to prove to your significant other that you have nothing to hide. Earlier this week there was an article in the Times about teenagers sharing their e-mail and Facebook passwords as a sign of affection. It’s just like giving someone your ring—sort of.

“It’s a sign of trust,” Tiffany Carandang, a high school senior in San Francisco, said of the decision she and her boyfriend made several months ago to share passwords for e-mail and Facebook. “I have nothing to hide from him, and he has nothing to hide from me.”

The great thing about trust is it automatically exists—you don’t have to prove it. Only if the trust is broken, do you have to work to earn it back. If your significant other has given you no reason whatsoever to think s/he is untrustworthy and you are still in constant fear of the trust being broken, then the problem is yours. Your insecurities are playing tricks on you—causing you to see problems that aren’t there. Only you can remedy this by facing your insecurities and, ultimately and ideally, ridding yourself of them.

The other issue with exchanging passwords is relationships can go sour very quickly—especially when you’re a teenager. The damage someone holding your passwords could do to your online reputation is immeasurable. More harm than good can come from this situation.

Again, there’s no need to test trust. Respecting your significant other’s privacy and valuing your own is an important part of a relationship. At the end of the day, I’m exhausted by all the goes on in my own e-mail account. Why would I want to look at someone else’s?

Nothing Like a Little Spam. . .

Friday, August 26th, 2011

My most recent blog for The Huffington Post has been posted. It’s my first for the Tech page: Nothing Like a Little Spam to Remind You How Loved You Are. I hope you like it.

Have a great weekend everyone. To those of you, like me, living in the path of Hurricane Irene: May the force be with you!

Rise of the Post Office

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Here’s an interactive map I came across that shows the spread of post offices in the US between 1700-1900. I wonder if we’ll start charting the close of post offices now from 2011 – and beyond =(

“Using data from the USPS Postmaster Finder and the USGS Geographic Names Information System, geography graduate student Derek Watkins maps the opening of new post offices from 1700 to 1900. As you know, the mail must go through. No matter if it rains or snows. The mail must go through. So it’s also a great way to see expansion of the US.

Some interesting spots: In 1776, after the revolution, new offices open along the east coast; in 1848, during the gold rush, offices sprout up on the west coast; in the 1870s, offices along the railroad open up.”

Posted: Visualizing US expansion through post offices. from Derek Watkins on Vimeo.

The Comment Conundrum

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

In addition to what I wrote last Saturday, I have another apology. I’m just full of contrition these days! This time I’m sorry to any new visitors who’ve tried to leave comments since . . . oh . . . last March and haven’t been able to. Here’s the situation:

When I was in Italy earlier this year, I had very little access to the web. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice—makes for a better vacation. But I only did what I had to—e-mailing my parents and telling them I’d arrived safely etc. When I returned, I had 8,000 comments—99.7% of which were spam. I tried to go in and delete them, and I couldn’t. When you have that many comments, it’s all but impossible to load the page. I tried on both my MAC at home and my PC at work. Since then, the comments have been accumulating. As of right now, I have 30,565.
Every now and then I’ll try to get in touch with WordPress and ask them to delete my comments from the back end. Hasn’t happened, and they don’t have an 800 number.

Now, people who’ve commented before March 2011—such as Mike from VA, Matt G, Masa, Stephanie, etc.—you can still leave comments. If a comment is approved once, then the commentor can continue to write. (Please Note: I do have the power to delete if you get too rowdy =). In any case, I haven’t thought much about it until my friend Jennifer asked me if I didn’t approve her comments last week because they’re too personal. Knowing that’s an unlikely thing of me to do, I had to revisit the comment conundrum.

Again, I offer my apology if you’ve tried to comment and haven’t been able to. I’m not screening or deleting comments. I can’t even see them myself. I’ll try to be more assertive about fixing the problem. Carry on!

If you know how to fix such a problem, email me! It’s working again.