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Friday, July 23, 2004

The crisp Autumn air gracefully breezed past Dana as she looked out over the city. It was early Friday morning, and Dana had awoken oddly refreshed. Just three days ago, the past Tuesday, something happened that convinced Dana she had to get away for a while. She had to take a break and clear her thoughts. So she packed her backpack, and prepared for a short road trip. Though her trip to China was rapidly approaching, she was growing ever impatient, longing for that day moreso as it crept in, yet she also didn't want to leave her Aunt behind while this problem remained. So, on this morning, after a couple days of wandering 'off the grid', out of contact, just spending time alone and organizing her thoughts, she took a deep breath of 5th floor air from her hotel balcony, and headed to the pool.

On that Tuesday, after she had posted her most recent blog, she received an email from Aunt Margaret. Only this was no ordinary email. This email was so odd, so out of place, that it caught Dana off guard. If this was her Aunt, then someone had gotten to her. Someone had done something to Aunt Margaret. But the email was so... inhuman. It couldn't have been her Aunt. The only other possibility was that someone, or something, had been able to hack Margaret's email account. And neither possibility was high on her list of fun things for the day. She had to get a hold of Margaret, and find out...

What she didn't know, was just before she received that email, a new block of text had appeared on the website, on the contact form - the page that also listed Aunt Margaret's email address.

problem quite interesting

This is the email Dana received from Aunt Margaret...

keep me
odd behavior cry for help
I'm using it to make some of the messages have ever put together some of the messages
Just wanted to say that I'm not odd behavior but I danger of voodoo witch that runs smear into the web the forte the web the forte including the any enemies

I am sorry

Just wanted to say
Just wanted to say
Just wanted to say
Just wanted to say

I'm not much of an expert
But I wanted
I wanted to find out more about ordering
some of the messages

the forte
I can see the forte

problem quite interesting
No idea who I'm part of

have any enemies
voodoo witch voodoo parents
voodoo witch that runs into the web
voodoo parents wanted to cover all my
together a home the forte of voodoo parents of mine
voodoo parents keep me

I wanted to find out more
I wanted to find out if there's anything I can do

problem quite interesting
time of need
I wanted to say that I'm using it some of the messages be some kind of cry for help

and if there's warning voodoo parents of cry for help
voodoo parents wanted to cover all my odd behavior into the web
and if you check it might be some kind of seductive danger of get many people angry,

...but I wanted to find all these people willing to help very nice

problem quite interesting


She was able to get in touch with Margaret, after some time, but at least her Aunt was ok. Apparently more had happened, however, than just the email Dana had received. After exploring a little more, Dana's computer chimed, alerting her that an email had arrived - a sound she was going quite accustomed to recently. This one was from a beekeeper named Rose. Dana liked that name. Reading that email encouraged her greatly. Again, Dana was comforted knowing that there really were sane people out there who were genuinely concerned for her health. A signal in the noise, per se. It was always the same - Masses of people all saying the same thing, trying to get her to join forums, sign up for mailing lists, give people calls... the same ol' same ol'. Growing tired, she posted another comment, before packing up for a quick getaway.

many thanks for the info about the IRC channel, wikis, etc. I'll probably stick to the blog myself if you guys don't mind (easier for me heading out of the country to keep things central), but definitely good to know where to direct anyone who might want to join forces.

(contemplates setting up a links sidebar.) (so tired of looking at code.)

Rose... that's an apt perspective: "you wanted to be in a strange new world, it looks like one came to you... without your having to leave home after all." True, isn't it? Be careful what you wish for, is that what they say?

(keeps packing backs for China, anyway.)

Dana simply felt overstressed, and with that last comment, she packed her back, and upped and left that very day to clear her mind.

A couple of days later, after her long relaxing dip in the hotel's complimentary hot tub and collecting her thoughts, Dana finally decided to re-enter the real world. Heading over to the nearest internet cafe, she logged in and started checking her email. So many... So many! A few stood out, and after reading them, she was again encouraged, and reassured that she was in good hands. Still, people were recommending that she be better safe than sorry, and continue living 'off the grid' for a while, just in case she was being stalked, or there was danger of harm. So quitely thanking the beekeepers, she blogged another entry...

Ladybee777 "odd behavior cry for help" [Friday, July 23, 2004]

Woke up Tuesday to an alarming email from Aunt Margaret. (Apparently, so did quite few of you, as evidenced by the many "I think your aunt has completely lost it" messages I received.)

It took several hours to finally get a hold of Aunt M on the phone. Before I could say a word about the "odd behavior cry for help," she had her own email question for me:

Did I have any idea why all of her Hotmail would disappear overnight?

I logged in as ladybee777 to check out the damage. Old password worked fine. But no mail in any of the folders…? Weird. (Where was the concerned reply I had sent her that morning?)

Wrote a quick test message and sent it off to myself. Nothing shows up in my gmail inbox. Try again, this time to an older account. Check there: Nothing. Again. Rinse. Repeat. Nothing. Like a little Maxwell's Demon siphoning off all ingoing and outgoing messages. (And apparently sending out its own.)

So Aunt Margaret's email appears to have gone the way of the China countdown. Hijacked. Repurposed.

My first instinct: ask Hotmail to kill the account entirely. But then someone calling him (her?) self "xnbomb" sent me a very persuasive email that made me rethink things. Read for yourself:

It seems that snippets of various emails that have been sent to you by my colleagues have been reassembled and sent back, apparently originating from your aunt's hotmail address. I'm not really sure what it means at this point. But it tells us that we can communicate with these entities using email. In the absence of having a clear idea of just what is going on, the first priority is to communicate, that is how we can learn more. It's at least possible that we've stumbled across something extraordinary here, and our first priority must be to learn all that we can about it.

It's for that reason that I'm going to suggest that you take no further action that interferes with what's going on at There's another reason too, one slightly more disturbing. Consider this passage from the end of the tale hidden in the images:

"The day will break and the sun will rise when the Queen returns to rule, and further let it be known that retribution on any who hinder the return of the Queen will be swift and terrible.

This is a significant warning, namely that any interference with that process will be regarded as a hostile act, and will be responded to accordingly. I don't know what the SPDR is capable of, but I'm not sure I want to find out.It's for this reason that I suggest that you don't do anything else to get in the way of this business. If your aunt's business needs a functioning web site immediately, purchase her a new and similarly named domain and get her web site going there. But let this follow its course… while it could just be some hackers being jerks, there is at least a chance that this is something unique and important and wonderful, a window on a world that we may have never seen before, nor will ever see again.

Optimistic and curious, yet with the good sense to be terrified. This seems like a pretty good fix on the situation — thanks, xnbomb.

I am, of course, wildly nervous about letting the bug(s) continue wreaking havoc entirely unimpeded. But nothing, and I mean nothing, I was doing on the tech side seemed to make a damn bit of difference anyway. So it seems like a good plan to switch gears from active damage control to... well, what?


P.S. Have decided to try to shield Aunt M from the latest development, so for now I'm telling her it’s a widespread Hotmail glitch. I hope I'm doing the right thing.

Glancing back over some of the comments from previous blog posts she had made, Dana was starting to realize how messy it was getting trying to track people's help just through blog comments. She even noticed that some idiots out there were actually pretending to be her, and directing people away! Getting on her nerves, she posted another comment, hoping people would believe it was really from her...

(dana decides to reserve the right in the future to delete wildly off-topic, hostile or prankster comments.)

No offense to anyone, I hope. I'm as big a fan of occasional irrelevance, open hostility and practical jokes as the next person, but we've already got enough entities of questionable motives to deal with as it is, and I don't want anyone to waste their time defending me or digging through nonsense comments.

(you can always email me with the OT stuff or if you want to pick a bone with me.)

Still, it was not helping. Continuing to review more of the comments, Dana grew more and more exasperated at quite a number of people who seemed to be abusing her blog.

AUGH. headache. too much noise, I am losing the signal... I am turning off anonymous comments for now.
Please log in to post.
thanks, guys.

So many comments... it was like they'd never end. And now she also had the task of filtering out inappropriate comments. So, she decided to give the comments one more chance. But as they say, 3 strikes and you're out. Quite of number of beekeepers had decided to ignore a lot of her suggestions. She came across a post that revealed that her phone number had been discovered. As well as the physical address of Aunt Margaret's beekeeping business. Let alone the fact that so many people simply didn't seem to realize that she was a real person, flesh and blood, and in her own blog were posting comments to each other like she didn't exist. Dana decided to let the comments go, and not even bother trying any more with that group of people. It was just much easier and less time consuming filtering through private emails to herself. People would email her if they had something important to say. That was good enough for her. So after this final comment, Dana resigned herself to only posting new blog entries.

ummm... glad you guys have found my phone number.

that explains all the recent hang up calls.

and yes, that's the address for Aunt Margaret's business.

I am here you know... don't have to talk about me in the third-person. ;)

The only thing left to do - wait 4 more days until this "Network throttling erodes". If the events of the past 2 1/2 weeks weren't enough, it was only the first countdown, so things could still get much worse.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Things got much worse.

Read on -- Chapter 4 >>