Oh Good Grief. When It Rains, It Really Pours.

March 15th, 2016

This message is primarily intended for the former members of my VCS community.  I just posted a message there explaining that the site was finally going to have to come down once and for all, and as if to illustrate my point… immediately after publishing the post, WP seems to no longer be able to display ANY blog posts whatsoever.  Unreal.

So… extracted from the WP back-end, here is what I had written:

Howdy all.  I need to let you all know that VCS is going to go away permanently now.  The reason is simple and frankly, kinda pathetic.  The WordPress that it was built on, has been hacked to oblivion.  It’s loaded with malicious files and dangerously outdated plugins that I can’t update because they’ll break other stuff.  The site was my attempt to build a custom WP-based community at a time when many of today’s solutions for such a thing, didn’t really exist yet (or just couldn’t quite do what I had wanted).  Guess I was a little bit ambitious.

The end result is that it’s loaded with old beta plugins, custom code, and products that don’t even exist anymore so will never be updated.  I can’t just repair the damage, as it’s too extensive.  But I can’t leave it up either and risk compromises to the rest of my server and the world (there’s no telling what these nasty bastards are actually doing…).  So, on that unfortunate note… VCS has to come down once and for all.  I’m still pretty unhappy with how it ended up, but not every project works out the way we want it to.

In case anyone actually reads this and is wondering, I’ve just gone back completely “underground” and have never been happier.  I’ve been running traffic on my own and building a system around it (with the help of my team of 4 full time developers) and scaling gradually and steadily.  I miss some things about the whole teaching/coaching/product development space, but I definitely don’t miss a lot of other things.  My workload and stress levels have gone down, my income and happiness have gone up, and in general life is good.

I hope this message finds some of you and that you are also doing great.  I need to pull the site down ASAP but will try to only take down the most critical stuff first (like the forum, which has been badly infected) and not just take everything down in one shot.

Take care!


Now to clarify the title of this post.  Last week my primary computer started behaving strangely.  Crashes where I didn’t normally get them, random weird glitches, etc.  By this weekend, it was clearly in a bad state so I tried to do a little housecleaning (Mac users will be familiar with the “repair permissions” dance).  This made things much, much worse.  My primary Time Machine backup drive for this computer, died.  Then in trying to repair that, my boot drive followed suit.  The one saving grace here is that my data drives all seemed perfectly fine (knock on wood!!!).  But I had no choice but to wipe my backup drive completely (had to do a low-level format too… it wouldn’t do a basic format.  Took all night.) and then had to do the same to my boot drive and completely reinstall everything.  I’m still in the middle of that nightmare… realizing how many apps I had carefully configured over the years to work just how I want them to work.

I didn’t lose everything, as I also use CrashPlan as a cloud backup provider.  But still, it’s an enormous pain to say the least.  Add to that my iPhone 4s (don’t get me started on all the new stupidly-gigantic phones… the 4s is still the best phone Apple has ever made) dying on me a few weeks back which ended up requiring me to wipe it and upgrade to the latest iOS which is horrible on it and runs like frozen molasses… and let’s just say that so far this has not been a good year for me & my personal technology.

Anyway… hopefully the former VCS members who now can’t see anything at VCS, see this post instead.  I have a bunch of support tickets coming in that I will be responding to shortly with a link to this post.

What a day week month year…


PayPal Executive Escalations Delivers!

September 2nd, 2015

UPDATE 09.03.15:  A credit hit my PayPal account this morning, I got all my money back.

Well holy crap has my day/week ever turned around.

I just got off the phone with Adam from PayPal’s Executive Escalations team, who apologized quite profusely about how things went down in this case, and PayPal is going to be crediting me the full $500 that I paid, and is actually investigating the seller (they couldn’t tell me more about that part obviously).

This is amazing and awesome.  I had already written it off and just wanted to make this into a learning experience for others, but instead my case is probably going to end up as a learning experience for PayPal!  My video showing how easy it is to fabricate a screenshot has apparently been making the rounds within PayPal already and they may even use it as a teaching aid within the company – which would be pretty dang cool if I do say so.

Prior to the commenter named “A” on my earlier post, I didn’t even know there was an Executive Escalations team.  I hadn’t gotten around to trying to locate them yet but they found me first.  Kudos to them for acknowledging a weakness in their policies and procedures, and for wanting to educate their people better on issues such as this.  I’m psyched that I’ll get my money back and even more psyched that the scammer won’t be getting it.

PayPal, you’ve redeemed yourself quite a bit in my eyes!


Watch Me Hack And Own PayPal.com In Seconds!

September 2nd, 2015

This is of course a followup to my previous post.  PayPal… come on, get a clue.