Sunday, March 26, 2017

Some Technical Difficulties

I haven't been posting as much as usual because I've been distracted by life, The News, and various technical problems.

I'm sorry this post has no cute photos. I always like to post photos I've just taken, but I've been having trouble getting those photos to copy automatically from my phone to my laptop via iCloud these days. For example, I've been waiting for a series of odd Possum-and-Toffee photos, which will appear in my next post, to load for several days. I finally gave up and emailed them to myself — how primitive. How 2008.

This is just one of many troubles I've had in recent weeks. If you are not into long and boring stories about how technology fails us, please, please quit reading here and look for the cat photos I'm about to post next, okay? This post is mainly to document the mess I've been in this month. That way, if/when it happens again, I'll know what happened and what to do next.

I've had to stop using the Verizon email address that I've used for everything for close to 20 years. Verizon decided to get out of the email business. They are switching those accounts to AOL. But I don't have to tell you that AOL is not cool. I couldn't use it anymore than I could ride a girl's bike or wear pristine white sneakers. Some things will never happen.

I've been spending part of every day changing my many, many online accounts over to a more recent Gmail address I've been using for a little while. It has been a nuisance, particularly because the old email address was my Apple ID, and that Gmail address was the backup "recovery" address in case bad things happened. For some reason, Apple made it very hard for me make the switch. I had to jump through several virtual hoops, including dredging up an ancient Yahoo address (and remembering the password) to swap for the recovery address. Then I had to wait 30 days to see if that worked. It did. But everything still went to hell when I finally did the switch and it didn't register at iCloud. I had to enter it manually in about 20 places on all of my devices. (Oh, no. I forgot all about my iPad! Argh....)

An hour or so on the phone with Apple Support made things better but not great. Fixing  the mess meant erasing all of my photos, contacts, calendars, and notes on all of my devices, one at a time, and hoping they'd reappear via iCloud. That's how some photos went missing. I'll be back on the phone with Apple tomorrow to see if we can find them. I estimate that about 9,000 disappeared. I am trying to stay calm. (It's not hard because I'm far too confused and tired to successfully freak out.)

Yesterday I discovered that my carefully curated set of bookmarks, which appear in a row across my web browser, had gone to hell. They were still there, but they were mixed in with about 50 others, many of which were ancient history. These must have lived somewhere on my phone, where I ignored them, but iCloud didn't. Similar things happened to my "Reading List," an insane number of web links that I consulted all the time to find blogs and other sites I frequented often. It is now a mess; I can't find anything.

Maybe this is God's way of telling me to read more books.

I'd be philosophical about all this except that, recently, my automatic "Time Machine" backup disk decided that it didn't like me and my laptop anymore. It was my main archive if my laptop died or fried. And now it is on the fritz. On March 11, it whimsically told me that it wanted to erase ALL of my backups, the ones it carefully saved over several years, because it wants a fresh start. I have no way to tell it that "fresh starts" are rarely what they are cracked up to be.

I wouldn't care that much except for my photos. I have had other weird stuff happening to them. I have about 40,000 and maybe that's a lot for Apple to handle. But it seems to me that some people take about that many in a week — and all selfies. Anyhow, I refuse to let my archive erase itself. So I had to stop those life-preserving automatic backups. Now I just do manual backups to an external hard drive — when I remember. Fortunately, I'd done that just before those 9,000 photos took off for Neverland. Of course, if I back up my laptop NOW, all of them will disappear from my archive. Sigh.

On top of that, I discovered fraudulent charges on my credit card earlier this month. I just happened to be looking at my account online (after changing the damn password). I discovered a $300 charge to a company in California called Keen. I also saw that someone had set up a Lyft account in San Francisco, setting up auto-billing with a charge of less than a dollar. Clearly someone had stolen my info.

I called my bank and, as part of dealing with the fraudulent charges, they had me call Keen to dispute the charge. I had imagined they sold hiking shoes, but they are an online fortune-telling service. They sign up freelance psychics who use the site to charge gullible people large sums for "advice." I wonder if their advice ever includes advising clients not to throw money away on psychics.

Keen helpfully has its own fraud department. I spoke to a woman who began by asking for my name and address.

"But you're psychics." I said.

"I am not a psychic," she said, patiently.

"Honey, nobody is." I said.

That charge was dropped, my credit card was canceled, and a new one arrived. To get it overnighted, I had to pay $6, and I'm still hopping mad about that, since I've been a customer for 22 years.

I assumed that the Lyft charge had been settled, too. I began using my new card. That meant giving the number to various companies I use often like the pet store where I order all the cat food. I did this during breaks from spreading my new email address around, which included repeated contact with some of my associates, who kept ignoring my repeated pleadings and warnings to delete the Verizon address.

The other day I got at my latest credit card bill and found more Lyft charges. So, back to the phone. I'm getting yet another credit card. This time, they are paying the overnight postage. And the bank has finally figured out that they can't just automatically transfer over all of the monthly automatic charges to this new card, as they naively did last time.

And this time I contacted Lyft and their fraud department tracked down the crook's account and froze it.

However, I got a couple of weird emails, yesterday, informing me that my Apple Pay AND Android Pay accounts were updated with my new card number. (I love Apple Pay, because all I need to buy groceries is my phone. I can leave my wallet and purse at home.) But I don't have Android Pay. Maybe the crook in California does. I made some calls. Neither my bank now Apple knows what those emails are about. My bank can't even tell me what that new card number is — they don't know! The card has to arrive here and I have to authorize it first, I guess. I'm hoping those emails have something to do with all that iCloud erasing I had to do the other night, to start using my new email address. More phone calls tomorrow.

Such fun. And I did mention it's also Turbo Tax time? Let's just not go there. Ever.

1 comment:

Spam goes right into the trash but I appreciate relevant comments from non-spammers (and I can always tell the difference). I do my best to follow up if you have a question. ALL spam, attempts to market other websites, and anything nasty or unintelligible gets deleted instantly. The cats and I thank you for reading — and please feel free to comment on what you read.