Ballpoint Wren Banner

I fought the lawn… and the lawn won

I can walk in slow-mo, too

Filed under: Columns, Geek Wannabe on Thursday, July 20, 2006

Screenshot of Matrix screen
You know how it is when you do a little research on a subject and then all of a sudden all your friends see you as an expert?

It happens to me all the time—why, I don’t know. Just one of those amusing little foibles of human nature, I guess.

BONNIE: Yup. (examines fingernails) I just installed two PLUGINS on my WEBSITE.

CARPOOL MOM: You have a website?

BONNIE: (nonchalantly) Oh, it’s nothing. Really.

CARPOOL MOM: That reminds me! Did you see Oprah today?

BONNIE: Um, no. But I did take a look at her website’s SOURCE CODE and did you know she actually uses TABLES for FORMATTING? Ha! I don’t know who her designer is, but—

CARPOOL MOM: (frowning) I don’t remember Oprah doing any shows on designer table coverings.

Yes, I have quite a geeky reputation amongst my friends. And I get tons of requests to help people with their websites, too. TONS.

BONNIE: Let me do your website for you! Please, please, please?

FRIEND: I, uh, oh, I don’t know…

BONNIE: But I’m ever so cheap! In fact, I’m free! A free website! Just for you!

FRIEND: Uh…

Being a webmaster is an important responsibility, as you might imagine, especially if you’re doing it for a friend. So I frequently check my friend’s site just to make sure all is hunky dory. And on Monday morning—yowza!

Her site was trashed. Completely unreadable. She had been hacked!

Of course, I handled this crisis as calmly and authoritatively as any level-headed webmaster would.

BONNIE: (running around the living room, arms flapping) We were hacked! We were HACKED! WE… WERE… HACKED!

I searched through all the files and in a few of them found strange snippets of code that did not belong—code I’d never seen before—with phrases like “ERROR_REPORTING” and “base64_encode”.

And when I finally figured out how to translate all this base64_encode stuff, I discovered it contained a URL! A URL that pointed to… A ROMANIAN WEBSITE.

BONNIE: (running around the living room, arms flapping) We were hacked by ROMANIANS! We were HACKED BY ROMANIANS! WE WERE… HACKED… BY ROMANIANS!

What the Romanians wanted, I don’t know, but they really messed up the site. And how they got into the files in the first place, I don’t know, either, but it took me some time to find all the little bits of code they added. At one point I just gave up and uploaded one of my backups. Now the site loads perfectly.

And of course, all my friends are dying to hear about this online adventure.

BONNIE: (sniffs modestly) Yup. Spent most the day cleaning up some website files. HACKERS, you know.

SWIM TEAM MOM: Huh?

BONNIE: It was nothing, really. Just one of my websites. Got HACKED. By ROMANIANS.

SWIM TEAM MOM: Romanians? Say, didn’t Nadia Comaneci marry an American gymnast?

Yup. That foible of human nature thing—you gotta love it.

  1. Years ago, before Nigerians became fashionable, and now passé, before the internet, before we had two sous to our name – I mean WAAAAAAYYYY back in the olden days when my husband was still in training and we were eating off his meal plan, Nigerians set up a telephone in Philly in my husband’s name.

    How did we find out. Coincidentally we were moving back to Philly for his fellowship and I called to set up a phone line and was informed that he already had one.

    I was on the case. I gathered my evidence. Yes, his identity had been stolen, back before it was fashionable to have an identity stolen, but also back before it was so damned devastating to have it stolen. In other words, it was way easier to fix. I was pissed to because my husband’s fake identity made way more money than he did and was probably eating way better.

    I digress. I called the FBI, incensed that anybody would do this. I got a real nice agent on the phone who told me about the Nigerian Fraud Ring.

    Seriously, I thought he was joking.

    Yes – this will be a chapter in a future novel.

    Comment by m.g.tarquini — 7/20/2006 @ 9:02 am

  2. Wow! I thought Nigerian scammers were all more of a passive type—the kind to fish for suckers via e-mail. Not so! I found this, too:

    CALIFORNIA: Nine people alleged to be members of the Nigerian mob were arrested in Los Angeles on charges of running an elaborate check fraud ring that authorities say stole nearly $400 million over the past four years.

    Comment by Bonnie Wren — 7/20/2006 @ 12:33 pm

  3. Just confirms what I’ve always thought – we speak a different language.

    Comment by Bernita — 7/21/2006 @ 3:40 am

  4. I love the way you write! I found your site by accident really, but it is bookmarked now. Thanks for the laughs.

    Comment by Neska — 7/23/2006 @ 6:26 am

  5. I don’t know, Bernita. it may be different, but I love the way you use it!

    Hi, Neska, I’m glad you liked my site. I love your name: “Neska.”

    Comment by Bonnie Wren — 7/23/2006 @ 3:44 pm

  6. Oh man, you crack me up. I can picture you flying around the room like a duck, quaking, “The Romanians are coming!” LOL.

    Comment by Mimi — 8/27/2006 @ 9:14 pm

(required)

(required but not published)

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

 
My Ecosystem Details Blogrankings