Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hacked and back

Hello dear reader

Some of you may have noticed on Facebook last weekend that my website had been hacked.  Yes, it's true.  Now, I don't profess to be an expert at this whole website thing, so it was very unsettling to get the email from my webhost saying my account had been suspended.  At that time, I didn't understand how this all worked.  Now, a week later, I still don't understand a lot, but I do get it a bit more. Read on if you care,dear reader.  I'm venting my spleen.

When I received the email from my webhost, I replied with the question "What can I do to fix this?"  The response I got was "Terminate your account and re-apply".  Wowsers.  That seemed rather harsh...were there no other options other than 'start from scratch'?  I didn't care so much about the site itself...I can rebuild that.  What had me very concerned was that, due to ignorance and lack of foresight on my part, I did not have my articles backed up.  That's right, dear much as I preach to people to back up their data, I did not follow my own advice.  And I almost paid dearly for it.  Articles such as 11 Years Ago, Papillons de L'Amour, Wanna Smoke and A Mistress to Many were going to be gone.  There was no way I could re-write these articles.  Clearly the emotion of some of them were of a time sensitive nature, plus there's no way I can remember what I wrote.

And so, dear reader...I fretted.  I stressed.  I worried.  And I worked my a$$ off trying to figure things out.  The part that made things oh so difficult was that my webhost had changed that way the control panel and site controls worked.  So, instead of installing Joomla into my site space using Fantastico Deluxe, I now had to do this via Simple Scripts.  Because of this change, my website files were no longer where they were supposed to be.  I could not find  I could not find my articles.  And for a while, I could not find my happy place.  Losing these articles would have been devastating.  As a writer (or a wannabe writer), my words are pure emotion, pure energy, and my heart on my sleeve.  As an IT professional, backups are one of the most important things we preach...and the fact that I didn't do it hurt.  Yes dear reader, I can admit that my pride was hurt.  And that made me even more convinced that I would stop at nothing to recover from my own stupid mistake.

In the meantime, the emails were flowing back and forth between my webhost and myself.  After I questioned them on the whole 'termination' thing and asking if there was another alternative, they did come back and say that the problem was caused by an old WordPress installation, but since I didn't know how to get rid of it, 'termination' was the only alternative.  Really?  I didn't know how to get rid of it?  I think they just called me stupid!!  And as right as they might be, I did know how to get rid of the security hole.  Now that I knew where the problem was, I could fix it.  So this begs the question "Why didn't they present that option in the first place?"  Now, don't get me wrong, dear reader.  I really like the webhost I'm with.  They offer some very cool stuff.  But, I did find that in crunch time, the one person I dealt with was very un-professional.  Suggesting in an underhanded manner that I'm stupid (rightly or wrongly is irelevant) is simply not acceptable.  And I told them that...not that they care.

One of the problems I faced is that, as mentioned, I am not an expert in all of this.  And apparently, neither is my webhost.  That's right, they offered pretty much no support to get this resolved.  "Not our problem" they said.  "We don't care about your website" they insinuated.  And so, there I was....on my own.  But, with my bulldog approach to this issue, I figured a few things out.  I figured out which zip file on my webspace actually contained my data.  And so, after I cleaned up the old WordPress installation, I copied the clean data back up to the server, and kindly asked my webhost to reactivate my account.  Which they did......just as their server developed issues.  So, for 24 hours, I still could not see my website.  I didn't know as of yet if I was going to be able to recover my articles.  I did not sleep well that night.

Yesterday morning (Tuesday), I emailed them once more and asked if the problem had been resolved.  With a very quick apology, they did something on their end to make things right.  And there, dear reader, there on my screen....there in the exact layout I remembered, were my articles.  I just about cried with happiness.  And I immediately made backups of each article, and firmly resolve here and now to make sure that each article I write is also pasted into a Word document and stored safely.

It was at this point, dear reader, that I became un-stressed.  I completely understand and agree with the position my webhost took in suspending my account.  I do not like the un-professional attitude of the one person I dealt with, but I cannot fault the entire organization because of one person having a bad day or two.  The bottom line is that I got my articles back, I have my site back and I have happy back.  The only thing that didn't work out in all of this was my photogalleries.  And that in itself is no big deal....I can recreate that.  Now I am looking into security for my site.  If I can protect myself from hackers, then a small fee every month might be worth it.  Yes, dear reader, means that much to me.

Thank you, dear reader, for your patience in waiting for my site to get back online.  And if you're reading this sentence, thank you for staying with this article.  I did something I rarely do in my articles in this one....I wrote it mostly for me.  But thank you, and please come again.  Soon.

My spleen is vented.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Mistress to Many

Today, dear reader, I muse.  I muse about a love affair that has consumed me for a good part of this summer.  The beginning of the summer saw me and my unwilling mistress spend a lot of time together.  I put a lot of effort in this affair, but the effort was rarely returned with the same enthusiasm.    I sometimes wonder if I should have seen the writing on the wall much sooner, but my love was such that I continued to pour my body and soul into her.  And yes, dear reader, I spent a lot of money on her.  And as much as she continued to expect me to lavish her with monetary gifts, she never once gave anything substantial in return.  She would tease me here and there, but not once did I feel appreciated.  And so, dear reader, I need to ask a question of my mistress.  And I need to do this in a very public way, for it seems the only way she will listen, although I do not expect her to answer.  She’s fickle that way.  And so I ask “Ah golf…why do you hate me so?”

I suppose it would be easier to deal with her if she wasn’t adored by so many people.  And the more people that spend time with her, the happier she is.  She will never be a mistress for just one.  I refer to her as the mistress to the masses.  But she holds a powerful sway over each and every one of us.  And in some form or another, she is in our hearts.  I’ve tried to leave her, but she draws me back.  She won’t let go.

Yes, dear reader, golf is an affair of the heart.  For some, it is a casual affair.  For others, it burrows  down deep into the heart.  I suppose I fall into the ‘casual’ category, and maybe that is my mistake.  For this particular mistress demands more time than I am willing to spend with her.  And although she doesn’t always need me to spend a pile of money on her, she does expect that every time I see her, I spend something.  She also doesn’t like it when I drink in her company, although it is a common practice.  Most everyone I know can’t help but drink when with her…such is her personality.  Aye, the more I drink in her company, the more she seems to hate me.  I try to control it, but she frustrates me.

Alas, I must admit that my frustration is most likely due to my own failure to do exactly as she expects.  When she expects a 3, I give her a 4 or even a 5.  When she expects a 5, I throw up a snowman.  She demands that I be a straight shooter, but inevitably I veer either to the right or the left.  But honestly, dear reader, it’s not all my fault.  She doesn’t make it any easier for me, what with all the trees and long grass she throws into my path.  And I can hear her evil laugh every time we are in the water.  Or the sand.

The very afternoon of this writing, I gave her one last chance.  I gave her the opportunity to repay me in a meaningful way.  But alas, she threw back her head and scoffed.  Oh, along with the scoffing she threw me a brief glimpse or two of how much she wants me.  But I was not fooled, dear reader.  She really doesn’t like me that much.  And so I told her that our affair had run its course.  I was calling it quits.  I am done with her, dear reader.  I cannot, in good conscience, continue to see her.  I don’t see it ending well if it continues.  And thus we part.  Not as friends, but as enemies.  For on the final 9 holes of the year, I shot a 51.

Ah, golf.  Why do you hate me so much?  See you next year.



Thursday, October 7, 2010

11 Years Ago.

Hello again, dear reader.  This particular article could prove to be one of the most difficult I've written.  Oh, it's not from a lack of things to say, or the creativity to say it in an appealing manner.  No, that is not my problem.  Rather, it is the content of this article that is somewhat difficult.  You see, this article is about my son.  Most of you are thinking about David, as he is the one that most of you have heard of.  However, dear reader, this article is not about David.  Today I am going to introduce you to Michael, who 11 years ago on October 14, was born to Dianne and I.  I am going to give you a glimpse into his life, and what he was all about.  If this article could show tear stains, I'm sure you'd see a couple.  But the tears would not be tears of pain, or sadness....they would be tears of joy.  Read on, my dear readers.  I present to you Michael Jeffrey Kok.

When we found out we were going to have a baby, we were over the moon.  I mean, what an intense feeling of joy, suprise, elation, nervousness and w00t w00t....all in one big package.  We assumed, as is pretty much normal, that all would be well and in 9 months (give or take a week or so), we would have a healthy baby something.  Dianne had found an OB she was very comfortable with (he was shocked the first time he met me....he was expecting a small little asian man, not a big pasty white guy).  She went to visit him regularly, and everything was progressing nicely.  We picked out names, we heard the baby's heartbeat, we acted and reacted exactly like we should have.  Life was beautiful.

19 weeks into the pregnancy, things started to go awry.  Dianne's water broke, leaving just a wee little pool of amniotic fluid for the baby to use for development.  We saw several specialists in light of these developments, including Dianne's OB/GYN.  The prognosis from them all was not great, but what struck us the most was the different opinions on how to deal with it.  One Dr. suggested an abortion. Dianne's Dr. and ourselves were completely against that option, and ruled it out immediately.  He, as well as ourselves, wanted to give the baby every chance of survival.  So, that's what we planned.  Dianne stayed on intensive bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy.  Many ultrasounds took place, and much hard work happened before the baby was born.

27 weeks into the pregnancy, our son was born.  He was 2 lbs 1 oz at birth.  The NICU staff at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton was absolutely amazing.  They worked their tails off for that little boy.  They too wanted to give him every chance of survival.  There are many details that I just don't remember anymore, and I suspect that it's because those details aren't too important in the big scheme of things.  I have my memories of Michael, and that's the important stuff.  And it's some of those memories that I'd like to share.

Michael was a tiny little boy, but he had huge attitude.  If any of you were ever in the old NICU at the Royal Alex, you will remember that it was not great on privacy for the kids.  Michael's home was right at the entrance for the staff...thus at shift changes or staff eating times, it was quite noisy in his corner.  He hated noise.  You could see him reacting to the noise...his oxygen levels would go down, his heart rate up and he'd start pulling at his breathing tube.  Yup, my boy loved his peace and quiet and in his own way, he'd give the noisy people a piece of his mind.  It didn't take long before there were signs up at the staff entrance reminding the staff to be quiet.  Michael won that battle.

I'll never forget the first time we got to hold him.  The nurses took him out of his incubator, and we got to 'kangaroo cuddle'.  That means that he was up against our bare skin....he loved the warmth, he loved the cuddles and we were thrilled to bits with this contact.   Rarely have I been so proud as after one of our cuddle sessions (kept my shirt on for this one).  When it was time for Michael to go back to bed, the nurse moved him away from me and there, like a tattoo in the middle of shirt, was a big wet stain.  My boy peed on me!!!  Through all the swaddling cloths, he managed to get me.  I beamed.  Peeing seemed to be something Michael day he and the little boy across the way both set off their alarms.  When the nurses came a runnin', Michael shot a stream out through the arm holes of the incubator!!

One of the fondest memories I have of him was when a new nurse (new to him) was going to be his nurse for the night.  She had heard about the little baby with the big attitude over in the corner, and she was a bit nervous.  Dianne and I could tell that she was on edge, and I warned her that if she didn't settle down, Michael would extubate himself (extubate means to pull his breathing tube out).  Well, this made her even more jittery.  So, I mentioned to the RT (Respiratory Therapist) before I left that Michael was going to extubate within the hour.  Sure enough, the little gaffer yanked his tubes out before we were even home.  That nurse didn't look after him again.

Dear reader, it may seem odd, but the time we spent in the NICU with Michael was a very good time.  We developed some great relationships, we grew in faith, we grew closer together and to our families.  11 years ago, Michael Jeffrey was born.  After battles with meningitis and e-coli, amongst all his other health issues, Michael lost the battle to live.  Along with his doctors, we made the decision to remove MIchael from life support 8 weeks after his birth.  His chances of survival on his own were nil.  And so, surrounded by Diannes parents, my parents, my brother Lyndon and our Pastor Rev. Aasman, Michael Jeffrey Kok died in my arms very peacefully.  The doctor came in every 5 minutes or so and checked his vitals.  I don't remember the exact time, but I do remember the doctor looking at us and saying that he was gone.  We said our goodbyes, and the nurse took his body away.

Michaels gravesite is just east of Barrhead, Alberta.  We go once a year, just to make sure everything is nice and neat.  We take great comfort knowing that Michael is in Heaven, and he is perfect.  He has no illnesses, no weakness and no threat of disease.  Yes dear reader, we still cry sometimes when we think of him, or when we look at pictures.  But, we don't grieve anymore.  The memories are not as painful as they once were.  No, rather, the memories have turned from pain to joy.  We were blessed with Michael for 8 weeks.  How can a person be anything but joyful at that rich blessing?

In memory of: Michael Jeffrey Kok

October 14, 1999 - December 7, 1999