Thursday, October 27, 2011

Inder who?

On Tuesday night, Google disabled my email account (and every other Google-related account I have) and removed this blog from the internet. If you visited at that time, you would have seen a notice that stated that my blog had been removed, and that this is usually done for a violation of Google policies. Click on Google policies, and you would discover that the big ones are child porn, hate speech, spam, and copyright violations.

Remember that scene from Back to the Future where, due to disruptions in the space-time continuum caused by time travel, key characters start to slowly disappear as their actual existence is called into question?

Yep. That's how I felt. I love Google products, and I use them for everything. Email, feed reader, social networking, this blog. I have an Android phone, which links into my Google account, which even stores my phone contacts. And of course, there is the small matter of the three years of my rather mundane and pedestrian existence that is recorded in this blog (which I have never backed up). And "little" things, like my list of family recipes and Joe's now out-of-date list of words is stored in Google Documents (which I have never backed up - are you sensing a theme?).

I never backed any of these things up because (call me naive) it honestly never occurred to me that it could all be taken away, all at once. Of course, I knew that accounts could be hacked, and I could be denied access, that one of the other of these programs could be compromised, but I never thought that it could all just vanish?! Silly me.

I'm not one to indulge in conspiracy theories. I figure, I'm not important. I'm really pretty boring. I mean, this is a sewing and parenting blog. Largely, I try to avoid controversial topics and stick to my day-to-day (well, except the time I said that I don't use bleach). I do my best to avoid violating copyright laws. I don't post illegal Mp3s. I credit my sources. I'm a rule-follower.

So it was a bit disorienting to have my entire internet identity disappear without any stated reason. Everything was working fine, and I went to give Joe a bath. When I came back, I had been locked out of pretty much all of the technology that I regularly use.

I didn't even have the means to let people know that I couldn't read my emails and that I had lost their contacts on my phone, because I didn't have my email/phone contacts.

Some complaints were filed. (Did you know you need to have an active - that is, not disabled - Google account to appeal the removal of your blog from Blogger? Who came up with that rule?)

Tears were shed.

Brain was racked trying to think of a possible  "violation of policy" I may have inadvertently committed, but I'm pretty sure I've never engaged in any kind of child porn or hate speech. If I've ever inadvertently violated copyright, I hope someone would ask me to remove the offending item, and I would gladly do so.

Attempts by family to comfort me were rudely pushed away.

Joe said, "Mama SAD!" (At which point I tried to buck up a bit.)

Cobbler was eaten.

At this point, I'm pretty sure that part of my right arm and the left side of my face became somewhat transparent, as the space-time continuum was breached, and I started to cease to exist.

Without Google, what am I?

More tears were shed.

More complaints filed.

And then, a few hours later, magically, my account was restored and I was let back in. No sign of any hacking, no sign of any unusual activity, no sign of any policy violation. No written response to any of my complaints or desperate pleas for help. Restoration of my accounts, and silence.

Whew. Thank heavens.

But I'm still a bit jumpy. I don't know why my account was disabled and my blog removed, and I don't know why it was restored. What I do know is that I will be backing up my blog from now on. And my child-like faith in Google is definitely a little shaken. I am reconsidering the way I have been entrusting one company with every last bit of my personal information. I mean, I still think Google is cool, don't get me wrong, but ohmygosh maybe I should export my contacts, hello.

What Google gives, Google can take away (pursuant to their policies, with or without reason, and with or without notice).

Got it.

I'm a lawyer. I understand that policy. I don't think it's an unfair policy (or more to the point, I understand why a "fair" policy here would not be legally prudent). I understand why it's necessary.

I just didn't think it would be applied towards little old me.

Famous last words, huh?

So anyway, readers! If you've made it this far, thanks for listening.

(One strange side effect of all of this is that the past three weeks of posts are being repeated in your Feed Reader if that's how you view this blog - sorry about that!)

Might be time to think about getting my own URL.

13 comments:

  1. creepy and annoying and weird all at the same time. not to mention that my fiance got randomly locked out of his gmail account today. hmm... perhaps i should think about this whole back up thing too. i have my own url, but it only points to my blogspot address, i don't host anything there. it is surprising (scary? not much of a conspiracy theorist here either) how much trust we put it google, among other things.

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  2. I don't know if this is at all related, but when you commented on my post earlier this week it fell into my spam comments, and I had to approve it before it would post. That's never happened before. I am glad everything got sorted out!

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  3. oh, no... maybe I'M the problem ;)

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  4. So glad the problem was resolved, and before you pulled out all your hair and rent your garments. Good thing there was cobbler in the house!

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  5. I sent you an email to see what was up but I guess you didn't get it?

    I am so sorry,how stressful,I am glad I know why your comment didn't pop up!

    I was worried I had inadvertently blocked you!

    I am such a tehcno child.....what is a URL?

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  6. Spooky! Halloween-related perhaps?? Hmm, I would be pretty sad if my blog disappeared, since I admit I partly use it instead of keeping family photo albums. Have you looked into getting your blog archives printed? I believe there are some services that can print and bind it for you, which is something I've been considering but not fully researched yet. I'm glad you're back!

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  7. Some weird things happened to my blog comments around that time, for sure. It's like, having disabled my account, my comments were automatically flagged as suspicious?

    Jane: Exactly. My blog is my "baby book" for Joe since I don't have a hard copy baby book. And it's a creative outlet and journal of sorts. The most traumatic aspect of the whole thing was the vanishing of my blog from the internet. I had imagined that if my account was compromised, I could be shut out from logging onto my blog, but I never imagined that everything could just be removed. That had a scary feeling of finality about it.

    I saw that Amy Karol at Angry Chicken printed and bound her blog in hard copy volumes - I'll have to go back and find that post.

    Thanks for your support everyone! I know that you all understand the importance of a blog as a record-keeping tool!

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  8. Nicole: "URL" is just a web address. Theoretically, I could get my own web address and free my blog from Blogger. I realize that this would not protect it from all problems, as nothing can. I was simply considering "diversifying" a bit. I may have too many eggs in the Google basket.

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  9. That is horrible, horrible, horrible. My heart would have stopped had that happened to me. So glad to see that everything is back up and running, though.

    Unrelated to the Great Google Disaster, I was wondering if you had any idea when this quilt might be from and if it's indicative of any particular regional style.

    I bought it from a second hand store in Los Angeles a couple of years ago because I'd never seen anything like it. The proprietor said it might be 1920s but wasn't sure. Got this baby for a cool $60 after a few rounds of haggling.

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  10. Inder, first of all, I'm glad you exist again! yikes! This obviously profoundly affected you -- as it should -- and I am glad you're fully restored to your interWeb glory. But aside from that, I'd like to remark that there was some especially nice writing in this post. Your pacing, your turn of phrase, and the gradual unraveling were very "on." You managed to convey the panic with both humor and hysteria.

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  11. Kate: That is GORGEOUS. You got an unbelievable deal. There are experts who know more than I do, and I can't see every detail of the fabrics in those photos, but I would guess 1930s. The Dresden Plate was a popular pattern at that time, and the fashion was for soft pastels and bright, feed-sack floral prints. See http://www.patternsfromhistory.com/colonial_revival/dresden-plate.htm

    I doubt it is any later than the 1940s unless it is an intentional reproduction of an earlier quilt. It is obviously hand-quilted, and likely hand-pieced. What does the back look like?

    Regardless, it was a steal at $60.

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  12. Hey Mojo: Thanks for the compliment! Yeah, it's hard to explain why it affected me so much. Except that all of a sudden, I realized that this blog is pretty important to me, and that I don't want it to vanish off the face of the earth! It's just a personal blog, but I've put my heart into some of the writing here, and I don't have it anywhere else. I write boring legal memoranda for a living - this has been my creative outlet for several years. I don't want to lose it. Also all of the other stuff (email!), of course.

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  13. If you find out how to make a book,may you please let me know?
    Thanks Inder
    xx N

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