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

29Oct/121

Losing My Virtual Wallet

On either my morning or evening train on Monday the 22nd, I put my iPad down and forgot about it.

Realizing this at around 11:30 that night, I panicked. I felt violated. Lost. Worried. Scared. Despite what you may think of me as an Apple fanboy, this had nothing to do with some addiction to the device. If I'm to be honest, there's nothing I do on my iPad that cannot be done on my phone, albeit not always as well. 

What worried me most about it was my data. The iPad held many apps that automatically logged into things. It held some of my photos and many of my emails, not to mention access to my Twitter, Facebook, Gmail and even some work systems. After a few minutes of debating, I used Find My iPhone (really should be called Find My Apple Device) to send a remote erase command. The next time my iPad connects to the internet, it will be erased.

I realized too much was at stake, in my mind, to justify the chance it might come online and I'd be able to track it via the GPS. I was too worried about someone using that data to harass or attack me or the people I love. It felt like losing my virtual wallet or purse; so many personal things were in there. I've spent the last few days concocting ways someone malicious could use that data, the various ways they could keep my iPad off the internet and still use what was there. A colleague at worked joke there usually aren't too many evil tech geniuses on the train, "except you, of course," she said with a grin. And realistically I think if my iPad did fall into evil hands, I would have seen SOME fingerprints on my accounts. Weird accesses. Emails accidentally read. Something like that.

Since Monday at 11:53pm it has not come online, which means it's either in a place without cell service, it's been turned off since then, it's been wiped and has moved on or it's been switched to Airplane Mode and some evil genius is browsing what's cached and turned it to Airplane so as not to delete it and is monitoring my Twitter and blog (hi, EG). Honestly, any of them except the latter is kind of okay. It's an expensive device, that I'd very much like to get back, but I could never lived with myself if someone used my data maliciously to harm others. Keeping that from happening is worth the money.

It was interesting, going through and changing every password, thinking of all the things that are connected to that iPad, the things that are linked together, the things that work without an internet connection. I've done that and, as far as I can tell, there was no penetration of any of my accounts. 

It may still turn up. I contacted GO Transit, the system on which I lost it, who told me their standard procedure is to turn the device off when they find it and ship it to a central lost and found, who then turn it back on and try to identify the owner. They also said it often takes a few days for things to get to the central lost and found, so I am holding out hope for that. The fact that it hasn't turned on, not even once, since then is a good sign that some kind soul may have turned it in.

I have learned my lesson, though. My iPhone is locked down tighter than a drum now, and if I get that iPad back (or purchase a new one) it will be again. The cloud services are kind of double edged swords; I lost no data, but I'm constantly worried it fell into another's hands.

Ah well. Life goes on.

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14Sep/128

So I saw a therapist.

So that happened.

And it was good. She's a tad bit hippy, but I'm okay with that.

I was worried about a lot of things. There's a lot of things I love in life that I think a lot of folks would judge, or see as not worthwhile. Twitter. WoW. I'm transitioning to a place where a lot of my best friends are people I've never met, and may never meet, and that's awesome, to me, because almost all of them are awesome.

"I believe that online friends are just as real, if not more so, than regular friends."

Once she said that, I knew I had found a good one.

She agreed that, yes, there was stuff I could work on, and that a lot of my self talk was not good. She understood my wanting to just stay home some nights and weekends and cautioned me against villainizing anyone.

Part of me worries that I need more of a challenging person, but it was the first session. I think right now I need the support. I need someone who will help me on the path I want to be on, not tell me it's the wrong path right off the bat.

"Is it making you happy?"

"Yes."

"Is it hurting you in any way?"

"Well…no, not really."

"Then it's good."

I loved that lack of judgment. That understanding. 

She told me something at the end of the session which I can't at all remember. Something positive, something about self-talk. My usual crappy memory fails me. Something she told me to think about, of course. But it's okay. I walked away feeling more aware. I walked away feeling like, hey, maybe I can actually change some of this stuff in my head. Maybe I can really start to turn things around.

I mean, hey, instead of caving and buying the new iPhone cause, I'm sure, this will be the gadget that fixes my life, I've resisted. It may sound like a silly victory, but it is one for me.

26Apr/120

Interviews, Technology and You

"This may be a little awkward," the woman said as she led me into the conference room. "We're sorry he can't be here in person!"

The room was a bit dark and larger than I would have thought. Inside, a man waited for me on teleconference, and a seat was prepared for me, with the camera facing me. The seat was angled such that I had to lean back and rest one arm on the table, with the other dangling free.

A little bit awkward turned out to be an understatement, but I understood the constraints of a large, multinational corporation with new technology they must justify using. In the end, though, I feel like I would've done better had I set up my iPad and Skyped.

The next day, they called to tell me they were "unable to offer me a position at this time."

It may shock you to learn that, as an HR guy, I hate that kind of HR language. Some of that stuff I love. Inclusive language is awesome. But couching things like that? No. You aren't unable to offer me a position. You're unwilling. Or, to be a bit nicer, you feel other candidates are better suited to this position.

The day after that call, I was scheduled to attend a seminar about the use of technology in the industry I'm currently working with. The talk was largely full of terms and tools I expect you all are familiar with; tablets, cloud computing, DropBox and the like. But the time flew. I was excited to get back to work and start to think about using some of these tools, to campaign to implement some to improve our workflow and to make all of our jobs easier. I chatted with my boss on the way back about all the ways we could improve things for everyone in the company.

I'd never have gotten to do this, had I gotten the job I interviewed for. I'd have ended up in a cozy, comfortable position with a large company, and it would have been very easy to just work my way up there for the rest of my life. Everything I did, technology wise, would have had to been approved by IT.

I'll admit I was a little bitter over this. I still am, which I think is understandable. I was spurned. Rejected. But in the end, I think it was a blessing. A message, even, if you believe in that sort of thing. A sign I could do…something different. Something that would get me really, honestly excited. Work that didn't feel like work.

I'm still figuring out exactly what that looks like. It's still not quite where I am now, but it's not terribly far off. I love technology, I love what it can do for us. And I love helping people work better; looking at systems and organizations and figuring out how we can use everyone to the best of their abilities, so maybe we can get our work done in 35 hours instead of 40, and all get to go home an hour early every day. Or, do a half day on Friday.

So, in the end, maybe it was good we had an awkward teleconference interview.

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!