Back from the brink

The wordpress editor feels like heaven right now, with angels playing Beethoven on ethereal harps and other things like that. It feels like crisp onion rava masala from Saravana Bhavan. It feels like the “Ga Ma Ni Da Ma” section of Reeti Gowlai. It feels like how Andy Dufresne felt when he escapes from Shawshank prison.

Stop. Rewind. Explain

So why all this unbridled adulation?

Astute readers might have noticed a complete lack of activity on the blog since July 20th. That was the day that I woke up in Toronto, Canada and found that two very bad things had happened.

  • My gmail account (since 2005) had disappeared. Much like Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption. Disappeared. Gone. Deleted. So in one inexplicable cyberswoosh of e-tragedy, my digital life was wiped out. All my contacts, emails and chat transcripts. Gone. The first groundnut-putting email I sent the girl who went on to become my wife. Gone. The first version of the first ever song I recorded on Garageband and sent to my close friends. Gone.
  • I could not login to my wordpress account. It seemed like somebody had taken it over and changed the password on it. The email domain to which it was registered was a fairly well known scammer domain. So they could have turned this blog into something obscene. Like a Kumar Sanu fan blog or something.

I could use some more drastic similies to describe what I felt like, but I’ll spare you. So the last 4 days have been a desperate exercise in (trying to) contact Google support to find out what on earth happened. Now, trying to find the Gmail ticket submission form is sort of like a mirage in the desert. One thinks it’s out there, right there, but it’s actually pretty hard to find. Eventually I did log a ticket and pretty much got an instantaneous response, fully sealed in aluminium.

Thank you for your report. We’ve completed our investigation. Because our investigation was inconclusive, we are unable to return your account at this time. At Google we take the privacy and security of our users very seriously. For this reason, we’re unable to reveal any further information about this account.

So essentially I was being told that in order to protect the privacy of my (recently deceased) account, no further information will be revealed to the owner of the account. Sort of like the Military telling parents that they are unable reveal whether their son is dead or alive because of national security reasons, but in any case, he won’t be returning home.

That was Google. I don’t blame them. One cannot provide free support for free email. But what about WordPress? They are free and open source to boot. How good was their support?

For a change, I got to talk to human beings, not bots packaging responses in aluminium. Antony, Noel and Heather from WordPress support took the pains to read my lengthy, verbose emails explaining why I was the real Krish Ashok, and that somebody from a suspicious domain had hijacked my account recently, and today, they restored my access. I quickly changed my password to a string that contains, among other things, Hieroglyphics, Klingon and musical notes in addition to alphanumeric characters, and I am back posting.

I recently finished playing what I think is one of the greatest video games of all time – Portal, and the villanous GLaDOS cheats me in the end by not giving me the cake that was due to me, but to the WordPress support team, here you go. You deserve it.

Update: July 28th – Google restored my account, and all the data. Thank you Vish and Thaths for helping out from the inside. So this black forest cake is for everyone involved.

Thank you WordPress.

ps: Note changed email/gtalk. Plisxcuse and update your contacts.

59 Comments

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  1. and your Gmail account?? Please tell me they managed to give it back to you…this is my worst nightmare come true…
    Ashok: Nope. Once a google account is deleted, especially on purpose, there’s no way to restore it. It’s only when Google admits to making some sort of internal mistake, which is generally very rare, that they restore ids

  2. Hi,

    You never responded to my comment (that I too am in Toronto) I presume that its because of all this mess.

    Re the google account, was the identity thief smart enough to change/answer your security question?..I am pretty sure you didn’t forget that part, but just thought I’d mention anyways.

    You could visit http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=12381&ctx=sibling
    check out the password recovery page and see if you can answer the security question..that is if its still unchanged.
    Ashok: That account has got deleted, so there’s no point with the security question

  3. All Drishti … Suthufy a big size poosanikka and odachufy it in front of your veetu vaasal. May be you should also hang an elumichambalam in your blog, with two molagais around it.

  4. Maybe from now on, you should activate POP/IMAP for Gmail and download all your mails periodically.
    What’s happened to you is scary and a textbook example as to why you can’t 100% rely on storing your personal life online.
    Ashok Oh yeah. doing that from now on.

  5. Cue taken, gmail, twitter and wordpress passwords changed! I don’t care about the rest….

    Must be hard to lose out on all those mails! But then you are back. and lets do a coronation with an ashvamedha yagna!

    Shoots we can’t do it in Chennai, the govt doesn’t recognize them…

  6. Gasp! Do you think the G folks deleted ur account on purpose…seeing as how u weren’t using their popular blogging platform B and using W instead???

    P.S: took me a while to realize that “Dristhi”in DB’s comment was ‘buri nazar’…was thinking some ‘scorned lover’ was behind all this un-jalsa πŸ˜›

  7. Google will give you back the acccount if you provide enough info to prove its yours. Send me email and Ill try to help.

  8. Wow – scary indeed.

    But – WTF Google? But I guess anyone can register an account without any authenticated info regarding our identity, and so once you lose it or your identity gets hijacked – it is difficult to unambiguously establish that you are “the real one” – to them there is no “real one” – we are just a username and password (and security question).

    I only recently used Mac “Mail”‘s POP/IMAP capability to get my gmail stuff on it. I guess I better do it more often.

    But google is better than stupid Yahoo! as with them for POP/IMAP etc you need to pay up by signing to Yahoo Plus.

    Arun

  9. ellam karma vinai. jalsa pannina….

    account restore aachuna, email vinayagar-kku 108 thengai, forward pannama, self-a vandhu odai-kirein-nu vendikongo.

    on a serious note, sorry about the account disappearance. was it the usage of public network in toronto that exposed your account?

    this blog of yours has expedited my email download, and hard disk back up implementation.

  10. Hey,

    This is Thaths. You met me in Madras for lunch last december. Email me with more details about your interaction with gmail so far. Let me see what I can do.

  11. Dear KrishAshok-sir,

    The same thing happened a couple of weeks ago to a close friend of mine. However, with a few email exchanges to Google, he managed to get his account back.

    I just thought I’d share this informasun with you.

    Regards,

    Puppy Manohar

    Ashok: Thanks Mr PM (&BV).

  12. see, this is exactly why emails should always be sent in triplicate. One To, one CC and one BCC. To three different IDs. And then just to be sure, re-forward them to your spouse’s account (again, in triplicate) so you know you have back up.

    btw, this gmail account issue is like my worst nightmare come true. I mean, if it happened to me ofcourse! πŸ™‚

  13. Sympathies. I hope you’ll get your GMail account back.

    Also, thanks for this post. It should spur us into backing up our GMail (and other online) stuff that we depend on so much.

  14. Good heavens!! This actually happens?

    Surreal (cyber) identity loss . (Three cheers for the offline world and all that!)

    And belated first anniversary wishes to the blog???

  15. Hey,

    The same thing happened to me a few weeks back.
    Even I was told my account has been deleted. I couldn’t answer the secret question, nor was there any mail to my secondary mail id.
    Please try this option..

    fill up their account recovery form.
    Fill in as much details as possible.
    ****Most important please list all the labels you had created, you most recent chat conv, the people to whom you mail or chat the most. ****

    Please give as much details as possible. They got back within 48 hours with a mail saying they founds some problem with the account and gave me a one time link to just set a new password .

    AFAIK this has happened to 3 of my friends and all of then have succeeded in getting their accounts back .

    All the best dude. for this fan’s sake give it a shot it works.

  16. account got deleted?
    does that mean that if u were using Blogger instead of wordpress, all your blogs would have been deleted too?
    i changed my password and security questions πŸ™‚

  17. How did you lose both Gmail and WordPress.com accounts?

    I guess it must be a job of a damn keylogger. Crackers must have deleted your account.

  18. Think about it this way…if you WordPress a/c was not on hold, Comments on your previous post would have filled it up anyways??

    Here are some anti-jinx symbols you can use πŸ™‚
    Hope they un-delete your Gmail a/c (at least to give the rest of us hope that all won’t be lost)!!!

  19. idulendu enna understandment you know?

    > Before you sign out, please remember the latest chat you had.

    > Create random labels especially for this purpose. Like “dabbalakkadigumma”. Then when Google people ask you the labels you had, just say dabbalakkadigumma and there you go, account restored.

    > Never give out the mail ID where you have pathbreaking mails/chat transcripts. Make one separate I-don’t-care-about-this-mail-ID ID. The internet is your frenemy.

    > Listen to Dinesh Babu sir. Leetul drishti sutti pottaal ellaam nalam. Then stop listening to Dinesh sir. Or don’t. unga ishtam.

    > Think about gmail at least once a day. ida pannalenu daan ippo ellaathukum setthu vecchu lowe-hate relationship happening. idu thevaiya? That is a good question.

    I will stop trying to be funny now and try to woo my gmail account so it stays with me. (Yes, my gmail account is a meerkat.)

  20. I am a little scared. My kostin is, how was the person able to get your a/c passwd in the first place. Did you fall for a phishing scam?

    Enlighten other makkal so that they dont get hit with the same thing.

  21. Sorry about G-mail! 😦 but you are back, YAY!:)

    Drishti thaan (or rechna va?). You need that Kala Tikki stuff on here. heehee.

  22. That’s really sad 😦
    I know how you feel – coz my hotmail account deleted everything when I didn’t have access to the Internet for a couple of months! And like you, I too lost that Momentous Mushy email I had sent my husband-to-be – ofcourse at that stage, I was just hitting on him!
    All I can say, start afresh πŸ™‚ – send your wife a new one πŸ™‚
    I’m telling you, technology is going to be the death of us one day…..

  23. Recently my orkut account became inaccessible to me and I got a message that they were trying to restore. After 3 days I could access it. All the while my pics kept changing and other funny things kept happening which baffled my friends and family. and now I see this on my home page:

    Your account may have recently been impacted by a bug that affected your profile. Our engineering team has resolved this issue, and your profile has been restored. If you’re still experiencing problems with your profile, please click “logout” and sign back into your account. At no time was your login information at risk. Your safety and security on orkut are a priority for our team. If you have further questions, please visit our help center or user group.

    I am happy it all got over without any serious damage.

  24. I suppose your google account must have been under the influence of eyzharai naal shaani. I can only say that it was a good thing you were not on Blogger. Gyan of timeless and enduring value might just have got lost.

  25. You may have been victim to some cross site scripting attack. Saga of another blogger who used gmail using public wifi can be found on, where else but, google. I always use secure http when checking gmail. Use https://gmail.google.com always. Infact, now gmail has it as an option in the account settings. Turn on the ‘always’ mode.

  26. Did u ever recover ur gmail account?! this is horrifying..

    Surely google can recover some deleted account as well isnt it (if contacted on time ie.)?
    Ashok: No. No news from Google yet. If this was a manual deletion as a result of my account being phished by some one, I’m guessing there’s little Google can do, but what I’d like to hear from Google is what happened to my account. Surely they have activity history, and surely they must realize that regular human beings do not go about deleting their entire online life for no reason

  27. Gmail accounts dissapearing.. Andavaa.. that must be the most frightenin piece of tech literature I’ve ever read.

    You dont suspect that Pnjaabi Paaji whose cyber cafe u musta used while chewing Pronto in Tronto do u?

    But Kumar Sanu fan club… lol!! Unga santity in adversity retention tactitcs kunjam share panrela ?

  28. Hello Ashok, I am recent victim of the exactly the same issue. Gmail & WordPress taken over. You obviously have my email (because of this comment). Could you tell me what I could do to get back my blog? I have sixteen of them and have five years worth of work. I’d appreciate any help, thanks!
    Ashok: I’ve sent you a reply by email

  29. aiyoo! thalaiva :(.. ellam ethur katchi yoda sozhchi nu naniakiren.. but am glad ur back ! and belated b’day wishes for ur google account(july 28th πŸ˜‰ ) hurray!!!! πŸ˜€

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