tomfromhr.com a blog on tech, politics, life and zombies

25Mar/121

Mistaken Email Identity

The first thing you should know about me is that I'm an early adopter. I had Gmail well before many other folks due to a nice person who sent me an invite. This means that I'm one of the lucky folks that managed to get my full name@gmail.com. Now because it was trendy at the time, I put a dot in between my first and last name, simply because that was what most people were doing.

A little-known fact about Gmail is that because of the dot in my name I actually own my full name with no dot @gmail.com as well.

A few years ago I started getting some emails that were distinctly not mine. Initially I thought these were spam but many of them seemed to actually be legitimate emails, including a tee time reservation for a ranch in Oregon. Eventually I started getting legitimate emails and personal correspondence for this person who seemed to share my name but who many people seemed to think had my email address and, obviously, did not.

It even came to the point that I had a back-and-forth with someone claiming that they had known me from somewhere else and I had said no I didn't and they had said oh no yes remember I met you here and I said no I'm a 20-year-old Canadian I'm pretty sure I've never met you before. A few weeks ago I even got a flight confirmation for this gentleman; however, with no way to reach him I had nothing to do with it obviously.

A few months ago I started receiving a mailing list email from a pub in the United Kingdom. I figured that my gentleman who golfed in Oregon had perhaps taken a trip and, for some reason, given his email to a local pub. However, I have since come to the conclusion that there is actually a third person who shares my first and last name and believes he owns that address at Gmail.com. The reason for this is a I have been receiving emails for a website purporting to allow UK people to have extramarital affairs. These emails come complete with a login and password allowing me to login as him and learn a bit more about him.

I initially debated the moral conundrum of logging in as someone else and looking over their personal emails, however I realized that this is guy seems to be cheating on his wife or encouraging others to cheat on their wives, so I'm kind of okay with it.

So a few minutes ago I did it, feeling just a little dirty even doing so. The gentleman had little information on his profile and it seemed to be only something exploratory; he only viewed one person and haven't done much of anything. However, being a little bit of a vigilante I went to look for a delete profile button but was unable to find anything. I attempted to delete his information but there is really nothing there, and so I settled for simply changing the email address to a nonsensical one that hopefully means he will be unable to log in again since he never received the login info and password that I have received.

The whole thing, the experiences with both Toms, really makes me wonder. How do you enter your own email address so completely wrong? How do you think you own email address that you never have and never will? I wish I had a way to get in touch with both of these gentlemen, for Oregon Tom to tell him that he really needs to make sure people get his email address right, and for the UK Tom to tell him that this is not the way.

Have you ever had a case of mistaken email identity? Tell me about it!

27Nov/111

Tom’s Life Lessons: How to Vacation

A good friend of mine recently told me that she did not know how to be on vacation. This perplexed and saddened me, greatly. I am a great vacationer. I know precisely how to relax, how to slack off, and how to stop worrying about anything outside the world.
So, we come to the next installment in my award ready series, Tom's Life Lessons: How to Vacation

  1. Turn off all work related devices. Cell phones, pagers, emails, anything where work can reach you, turn it off. I like to have an emergency number or email address, but to make it clear that this is to be used only in an emergency. This runs the risk that every little issue that comes up may be seen as an emergency to those left behind, but it's a risk you take. Alternatively, give them a number to reach you at, and promptly turn off that phone. The important thing is to make it as difficult as possible for work to reach you, and you to reach work. While this may not be possible in all jobs, it's best to try.
  2. Stay up late and sleep in. This part is critical to getting a good vacation time going. Stay up late. Do whatever. Read, play games, watch TV. The point is to wake up the next day just a little thrown off, and just a little sleepy. This helps to establish a trend of sleeping in and taking it easy.
  3. Do little things around the house, slowly. One of the lovely parts of vacation is being able to do all those things you never have time, or are too exhausted, to do otherwise. However, you have to be careful not to do any real actual work. Ideally you want to do something like clean a room with an episode of something playing (or, better yet, several episodes of something queued up on Netflix). Take a break every few minutes to watch a good scene. Wander in and out of the room. In general, do what you have to do, but do it slowly and enjoy it. Reward yourself with a snack after.
  4. Never see people before noon. Because you have the entire day off it may be tempting to schedule a coffee at 10, or 11, or even 9. Resist this temptation. Much like the famous adage "nothing good happens after 2am," on vacation, "nothing good happens before noon." Stay in, relax, sleep. Give yourself time to recover, have a nice breakfast, and have a lazy sleep in. Scheduling anything before noon will only result in you feeling groggy and your entire day being thrown off.
  5. Exercise, but not too much. A bit of exercise is always good, but too much can feel like work. Go for a long walk. Take the dog. But go slow, and don't go too crazy. The idea with this piece is to feel like you've accomplished something without actually really straining yourself. This is key.
  6. Never let yourself feel guilty. Never compare your vacation to someone else's. Let it stand for itself, and let yourself relax. You deserve it, and it will help you for when you go back to work. The idea of this kind of vacation is to allow you to recover and relax. Not to push yourself, and not to energize you, but to truly sink back and recover.

Now this kind of vacation may not be for everyone, and that's fine. But I think this is a good recipe for relaxation that allows you to really just let go. Because Gods know we all hold onto things a bit too tightly these days.