Weekly Update, Week 25

I have not been working as consistently as I did in the beginning of this process. It is partly because I am close to being done, but also because life happens. This past weekend, my family came to celebrate my birthday, which is on February 25.

We had a lovely time attending a University of Massachusetts women’s basketball game and going out to dinner. The biggest gift was all being together.

I am still doing a final edit of the chapters and am working on chapter 6 at the moment. One problem that will probably affect how much work I get done this coming week is that my computer broke. I tripped on my cord yesterday causing the top lid hinge to break. It still works, but I cannot really close it. My computer repairman is ordering the part. When the part  comes, it will be about an hour of work to complete the repair.

This is the third time I have needed a new lid. I have had some kind of repair to almost every part of this computer. Some other things have been repaired twice. I dread getting a new computer, so it is easier to keep repairing this one. Eventually some repair will be prohibitively expensive, thus necessitating purchase of a new computer.

Weekly Update Number 1

 

As I said in my previous post, Good News, I am under a strict, self-imposed deadline, to send a clean as possible copy of my manuscript, Dames, Dishes and Degrees, to Levellers Press, by May 1 2024. This still seems like a daunting prospect, but I have made some progress.

I started work on August 21, and was able to send the introduction and chapter one to an editor I am working with. I have worked eleven days at an average of 2 hours and fifteen minutes a day. I am hoping to get to more like three or four hours a day, at some point.

I then started working on editing and tightening up Chapter 8. Most of my book deals with people who are dead. The last chapter, however, looks at two different college president’s wives and some controversies they were involved in. Because of this, the press wants to have their lawyer look at it. That is why I have skipped from the beginning to the end in my editing process.

While I was working on the chapter, I realized I have done a terrible job keeping track of my citations and sources. Years ago, I was using a citation manager, RefWorks, which I got from UMASS since I am an alum. Long story short, they went private a few years ago and the school no longer offers it. I was too busy to start with a new program, so I just continued powering through to finish the manuscript.

Now I have to figure out how to format all my notes and generate a bibliography. I am going to try to use Zotero. If anyone has any other suggestions, please let me know.

Threads

About three weeks ago, I started using Threads when Facebook first had it go live. I added it to the social media sites that I use to promote my blog posts. Last November, I blogged about how I was stopping using Twitter and Facebook in response to Elon Musk reinstating Donald Trump.

I have used Twitter since 2009 and have generally really liked it. It was great for politics and finding out about breaking news. There were issues beginning in 2018. I was unable to tweet my URL  and that has persisted to today. I believe the problem developed as part of my website being hacked but it has never been resolved. You can read about all my problems after being hacked and Twitter here, and here.

A few weeks ago, Twitter stopped displaying my most recent Tweets on my website. I don’t have any hope that that will get fixed any time soon, Now Musk is getting rid of the bird symbol and replacing it with an X. We won’t tweet anymore, we will be x’ing. Elon Musk is a fascist and an antisemite who has ruined something many people enjoyed.

Since November, I have only tweeted and posted to Facebook once a week to let people know about my blog posts. Around the time I stopped continually looking at Facebook and Twitter, I started using Substack Notes. I really don’t know that much about Substack, Substack Notes, or Threads. I am not sure how to get followers on any of these sites. I remember that there was a learning cure for Twitter, and it took quite a while for me to gain followers. Probably the same thing will happen with Threads. Right now, I don’t really care but I will have to step up my social media presence if Dames, Dishes, and Degrees is published.

As far as Threads goes, I don’t like that there isn’t a desktop version. It is hard to only have the phone app. I miss hash tags and the ability to decide who is in your feed. As time goes on, hopefully Facebook will add more features and make it more like Twitter.

 

Emails and Identity

As I have said in several earlier posts, I am trying to revise Dames, Dishes, and Degrees. Unfortunately, I have found it difficult to get into a consistent rhythm of working on the book.

The family members that I do a lot of caregiving for have taken up most of my time so that has been one limitation on how consistently I can work on the book. The other thing that happened more recently and pertains to my manuscript is that Hampshire College changed its email system. Essentially Hampshire email is now part of a college-based Google account.

Without getting too much in the weeds, I’ll just say that since I already had my own personal Gmail account, the first attempt at accessing the Hampshire Gmail did not go that well. Monday and Tuesday were involved with figuring out how I could make this new system work and occupied a lot of my time. Wednesday morning I finally figured it out and I think I have a workable process by which I can access all of my different emails in Thunderbird. At least I now have a working system.

The way this email trouble intersected with the topic of my book, faculty wives, and the fact that I am one, is that I have for many years had a Hampshire email account but the username indicates to anyone in the know that I am a guest and not a full functioning member of the Hampshire community. My actual Hampshire email address is amGU at hampshire dot edu. The GU stands for guest.

I’ve been aware of that classification for years, choosing to ignore how badly it made me feel. In this process of the transition from the old email system to the new Google based system I had to stare at amGU, my email address, repeatedly. Looking at it reminded me how precarious and constrained my position at Hampshire has been all these years. Most of the women I write about in my book were in a comparable situation. They were often part of elite families – being the wife of a Harvard college professor is nothing to sneeze about – yet their role, their identity, as a faculty wife mostly constrained them from having an independent autonomous life.

This week I realized, again, that my own life has consisted of constraints that I have endured for many years as a Hampshire faculty wife even though my husband’s position has allowed me to have a very comfortable lifestyle making me, as a white woman, among the more elite groups in American Society. Although triggering has become an overused word and the subject of ridicule by the American right by Republicans, having to stare at amGU at hampshire dot edu repeatedly this week was certainly triggering for me.

The net result of all of this is that I have decided to begin a process where I eventually will not have that Hampshire email address. My husband is retired. We don’t really have an active connection to Hampshire anymore although I did do over 20 oral histories for Hampshire and I’m still trying to get that to be an actual collection in the archives.

In general, we don’t really have anything to do with Hampshire, therefore I can be like everyone else, accept that Google now rules the world, and just have a Gmail account. Another possibility is to have two email address instead of three, keeping mail amymittelman dot com which is from my website where I post this blog. I think at this point in my life I can forget about existing within the constraints of being a faculty wife and try to have an identity that is just me,  Amy,  as I go through the world.

Domain Change

I know I just posted my weekly blog but because my life is always very exciting, I had to post again. Siteground hosts my blog but my domain registration is still with Bluehost, my old host.

I got an email today from Siteground that said the “new Centralized DNS service is now active for use for your site(s) listed below. The email included the new DNS settings. Since  my domain is registered  with BlueHost, I have to get that information to them.

I barely understand all this and I really want to do the simplest thing. I have not transferred the domain to Siteground, even though that would make the most sense, because it has seemed too complicated.

I just finished chatting with someone from Bluehost and they would install or do whatever with the new settings but the process means my website could be out of commission for up to 48 hours. That is why I am telling you all this.

If you haven’t read my latest scheduled post yet, please try to do it soon or you will have to wait until sometime on Sunday in the late afternoon to do so.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Computer Trouble, Again

Last week, I had planned on not having my computer for Wednesday into Thursday. The back cover of my laptop needed to be replaced. When the shop started the repair, my screen cracked. This meant I had no computer until Saturday.

This put a big dent in my work schedule and made posting on this blog very difficult. I couldn’t figure out how to post something from my phone. If any of you know how to do that, please let me know.

This unforeseen problem is why I didn’t post last week. Because I am so far behind on working on my book, I have decided not to post this coming Friday either. I plan to resume my regular schedule on Friday September 3.

There have been many times in 2021 that I have felt akin to the biblical Job. Maybe I am cursed or living under a bad sign. The Jewish New York begins September 6th. Hopefully thing will begin looking up.

Subscription Bomb

 

On Thursday I got an email from Venmo that someone had changed the primary email associated with my account. Before I could focus on what I had to do, my Gmail inbox was suddenly populated with almost four hundred emails. They were mostly emails confirming I had joined or subscribed to something. Of course, I hadn’t.

This was very overwhelming, and I didn’t know what to do first. Venmo wanted me to change my password so I tried that. It didn’t work; I think because it no longer recognized my email address. I sent emails to Venmo support, receiving a response that they would get back to me in twenty-four hours.

I tried to call Venmo, but you can’t reach customer support by phone. I also found out that Venmo will not cancel any payment. You must deal with your financial institution. On Thursday I called my bank to make sure that no payment had gone out to Venmo. On Friday, because I couldn’t reset my password, I went to my bank and put a stop on Venmo.

On Saturday I was finally able to access my Venmo account and I saw that on Thursday there was an unauthorized payment to Buydig.com for over one thousand dollars. I rechecked that the payment hadn’t gone through and then I cancelled my Venmo account. I emailed Venmo informing them of this and asked them to remove the payment. I got no response.

On Monday, the bank called and said that Venmo had tried to put the payment through, but it was blocked. I will never use Venmo again. They were completely useless and have terrible security.

While I was dealing with Venmo, I deleted the four hundred emails. I then found out from a friend that what had happened is called a subscription bombing. The point is to distract you while they try to access your financial information and sites. The article I read said that you could keep getting emails for months or years.

I am still getting about 6-8 emails a day from the subscription bomb. I first tried to put a filter on everything that was in my spam folder. That did nothing. Now for each email, if I can unsubscribe, I do. Then I make an individual filter, directly deleting it. Then I mark it as spam. It is very tedious. If any of you know of any other way for me to deal with this, please let me know.  Happy Thanksgiving.

 

New Host – SiteGround

I did it. I switched my hosting company from BlueHost to SiteGround. It took a few days for everything to get into place but now it is done. SiteGround was helpful during the process; BlueHost was less so. As in past experiences, the best way to contact BlueHost and get results was via chat.

My goal in making the switch was for it to be seamless and invisible so no one would even know I had changed hosts.  That worked so I was very happy. As far as logging in to work on posts, I do that through WordPress. The login is the same.

For the first year, I got a special Black Friday rate so it is cheaper than BlueHost would have been. If I stay with SiteGround, next year it will be more expensive. However, I am stopping SiteLock because SiteGround persuaded me that  my site would be secure without it. Because SiteLock  was so expensive, I will be saving a lot by discontinuing it.

My main concern in choosing a new host was security. BlueHost was useless when my website got hacked. Hopefully I won’t get hacked again. If I do, I am hoping SiteGround will be helpful in fixing whatever problems occur.

BlueHost

This week I was going to write about beer, for a change, but, I had another BlueHost issue. I got an email that said the server for my BlueHost email  was being “decommissioned in the next week. In order to ensure full email functionality after this server’s shut-off date, you will need to update the server name in your email client settings.”(their bold). This was pretty anxiety provoking and reading the rest of the email didn’t alleviate my panic.

I looked at my current email settings and I couldn’t really understand what they were talking about so I decided to contact BlueHost for help. When I went to their website, the most immediate form of help was a live chat so I did that. Twenty-nine minutes later, I was still completely perplexed about what I was supposed to do.

I did tried changing the settings to  what the emails suggested but then my email didn’t work so I changed them back. The person chatting with me was no help so I decided to call.  Ray, the tech support person I reached, was helpful. After ascertaining that the email was legitimate, he concluded that I didn’t have to change anything since my email was working.

This is the  fourth time since my website was hacked in February 2018 that I have had a problem with my website and BlueHost.  In October, my website was offline for two days or so because BlueHost had changed servers and SiteLock, my security provider, couldn’t access my site and therefore shut it down. Again chatting was useless but a real person did help me by contacting SiteLock and getting my website restored.

In looking over the various posts I have written about website problems, a common theme is that I would like to make a change but I still have not managed to do that. In June I renewed for six months. The six months have come and gone and I am still with BlueHost.

Since I was hacked, the main issue has been security. I pay SiteLock $70 a month to prevent my site being hacked again. If I switched to WordPress.com, I supposedly wouldn’t need SiteLock anymore which would save a lot of money. The problem is I don’t believe that. Not being sure about the advantages of WordPress has kept me with BlueHost.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Website Troubles, Again

Earlier today, I sat down to write a blog post. As I tried to access  my website, I got an account suspended error message. I was puzzled since I knew that I was all paid up. I got worried that  I had been hacked again.

I called BlueHost and also tried to chat with them. I eventually got through and a nice tech support person named Casey told me Blue Host had changed the server ip address. I don’t completely understand it but the upgrade or change meant that Sitelock couldn’t search or contact my website anymore. This led to my website being suspended.

Casey contacted SiteLock, which provides security for my website, and the problem got fixed.  It appears, from my Jetpack Statistics, that the website was probably down since Friday. I asked Casey why I wasn’t notified of this change. He said they has wanted to send out an email to all the customers who were affected but somehow it never got sent.

That was very disappointing and had made me think once again about changing my hosting situation. If any of you have any advice, I would love to hear it.

I am posting this today because tomorrow night is Kol Nidre and then Wednesday is Yom Kippor. L’Shanah Tovah.