on learning to face the new year without me

Are you wondering where all the images went?

Well, it would appear as though a hacker has decided to come in and erase those files. I’d like to think that it was somehow politically motivated, but right now it looks as though it was just some second-rate hacker looking to exploit a pretty well documented security hole in the open-source software we use to run MM.com. I’ve been trying to come up with an analogy and the best that I can come up with is that it’s like a young thug pushing an elderly woman over, and running off with her walker and her family photo albums while yelling “I own you!”

And, yes, I’m aware that I just cast myself as a helpless elderly woman (sadly, I am when it comes to technology), and, yes, the guy who did it did say something like, “I own you.” In the brief message that he left, he also identified himself as an Iranian hacker. (If I were a hacker in Iran, I think I’d be a bit more interested in using my skills to expose and bring down extremist clerics than eliminating the family photos of a depressive midwesterner, but that’s just me.)

So, an Iranian asshole wiped out every image I’ve ever posted, and I’m thinking about “taking my ball and going home.” At least that’s how Linette put it last night. (She’d rather that I stay here and fight.) Echoing Linette’s sentiments, our friend Patty says that I’d be “letting the terrorists win” if I walked away now. (She also said, and I don’t know that she’d want me sharing this, that this attack was more devastating than the one on 9/11.)

The truth is, I’d been thinking about pulling the plug on this site for a long time now, and this recent incident may have just served to hasten along the inevitable. I think we all knew that this site jumped the shark with my decision to write in the character of the baby, Clementine. (I thought that she might deliver a younger demographic.) And, I’m not too proud to admit that I burned-out creatively at about he same time. Yes, there have been the occasional bursts of greatness, like the interviews with Peter Falk and John Edwards, the mentions by the BBC, and with projects like Zombie Claus, but, on the whole, it’s just a faint echo of what we once had. And, I think we all know it.

With all of that said, I should add that I’m not so sure that this is going to be permanent. Bloggers, as you might know, in addition to being insecure and obsessive by nature, are a fickle bunch. And, as I realize that, I’m not going to say definitively that you’ll never hear from me again. (That’s what you would have heard me saying last night, but I’ve calmed down a little since then.) All I’m going to say right now is that you’d better start looking for more reliable sources for your daily fix of whatever it is that you’ve been getting here. I may take a month or so off, or I may just be leaving terse little observations every now and then, but it certainly won’t be anything like the reams of content I’ve been dumping these past few years on a nightly basis.

So, now you know. It’s not exactly the news I was hoping to share with you as we prepare to enter the new year, but maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe this will give some of us the time to actually start doing things in the real world, with real people. (I, for one, plan to focus on the new issue of “Crimewave,” and some other things that have been hanging over my head.)

One more thing… For the record, I don’t regret any of the time or effort that I’ve put into this site over the past four years. If I had it all to do over again, I’d do it the exact same way. I’ve met some really incredible people through this site, and it’s opened up some possibilities for me that wouldn’t have otherwise been there for me. I loved all of your comments and looked forward to coming home every night, putting the baby to sleep, reading what you all had to say and joining in on the debate. I don’t want to get all sappy, but I think we had something really special here, and I’ll miss it. (It’s been my experience that communities like this, either in the real world or on-line, are pretty hard to come by.)

One other important lesson I’ve taken away from this experience: always backup. I didn’t do it with any consistency with my photos, and, as a result, I don’t think that most of the work here that I’ve done can be recreated. I might, if I can find the time, try to rebuild what I can, but I don’t relish the idea of spending weeks of my life trying to do what I’d already done once before. (I did write a note to the hacker asking that he replace the images, on the off chance that he has them, but I suspect that he probably doesn’t have the ability to do so. The fact that he left his email address suggests to me that he probably just gets off on having people grovel, but I went ahead and sent a note anyway, hoping that perhaps it might lead to my at least getting some of my old images back, especially the ones of my daughter.)

So, to reiterate, we were fucked yesterday. A real badass Iranian hacker found a way in and destroyed my site. A monkey could have done it. I’m using open-source software and the security limitations are pretty well documented. I guess I never really thought that it would happen to me though. I guess I knew that hackers were out there, but I never really thought that they’d bother going after such easy prey. I thought any hacker worth a damn would be going after Microsoft and the NSA. But, I guess second-rate hackers need to have their fun too.

I suppose it’s possible that it has something to do with the fact that I’ve never restrained myself when it came to saying what I felt about militant Islamic theocracies (like the one in Iran). It would make me feel a lot better if that were the case, but I suspect that it wasn’t. (If you have a moment, and if you want to cheer me up, please leave a comment telling me this is what I get for suggesting that women should have equality with men and that burkas, like the chains of slavery, should be abolished forever. (Bonus points if you can work in the phrase “American pig dog.”))

I wish I could be more eloquent here, and really sum up what I’ve come to learn over the past few years that I’ve spent on-line, but I just don’t know what to say. I guess I’ve learned that people are shortsighted and stupid. And that backing up your files is probably a good thing to do.

Now I will begin the next phase of my life — lobbying for the United States military to begin the indiscriminate bombing of the people of Iran until my hacker is dead.

Happy holidays.

It was nice knowing you.

-Mark

update: Thanks to the efforts of Steve Cherry, most of the pre-2005 images have now been restored.

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37 Comments

  1. Dr Cherry
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Mark, this is obviously my fault. I failed to make sure you had some kind of system to backup your photos.

    For some reason I imagined you having several copies of each photo on your hard-drive.

  2. Hillary
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Before Mark commits hari kari on us, could readers please check their internet cache for copies of his photos?

  3. Brian
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    I thought the addition of Clementine worked well, but now we’ll never find out who the real father was!!!

    Shoot…

  4. mark
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    It was no one’s fault, Steve… At least no one in this country… Unless, of course, you’re my Iranian hacker.

    As for the photos, I probalby do have most of them. I just don’t want to dig through everything and find them. The thought of finding thousands of images that might be scattered over a few computers and a bunch of miscelaneous, unlabeled disks just depresses the hell out of me… And, like I said, I was already leaning in this direction to begin with. This was just the deciding factor.

  5. Stella Magdalen
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Look pig dog, I work my ass off in school so that I may become a perfect babymachine/homeschooler for whichever theocracy wins me as a trophy of war. I know that my veils, whether to cover my lurid temptations or to denote my status as handmaiden will purify me for whichever master race I am bound to.
    But in the meantime I have just this small window of my lifetime to covertly infiltrate such communities as yours and I haven’t fully had the opportunity to convert you and your buddies to one or the other superior and proper ways to serve our soon to be masters.
    So won’t you keep it going long enough for my hypo-tizin’ to take full effect?

    Oh, I could also resend the A2 news article, no problem.

  6. Dr Cherry
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    I can fix it. My dad’s a TV repairman, and he has an awesome set of tools!

  7. Dr Cherry
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Send missing mm photos to me scherry[at]defcode.com

  8. Hillary
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Now, Mark…. Peter Falk, John Edwards, and Zombie Claus all in one year and that’s a creative drought?

    Do you have those files on your computer with the same names and everything?

    “you

  9. DetroitWonk
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    No, Mark! Say it aint so! I love reading your ramblings, and Zombie Claus was a frightful way to ring in Christmas on the net…please don’t go!

  10. EdB
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    You’re running b2evo version 0.9.0.11 without the security patch? DUDE!!! Assuming you want to keep blogging upgrade your installation to version 0.9.1 – the security hole is filled and it’s a hell of a lot nicer to your server regarding how quickly it slams the door on spammers. Keeping your skin and hackage in place is a no-brainer too, so you lose nothing and gain some peace of mind.

    BTW You’re one of the small collection of domains I consider a “trustworthy” spam reporter. If you bail out on blogging I’ll have to verify reports are actually spammers myself, which would suck. So don’t do it!

  11. kez
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    where shall we go for our “ball-shaving” news?

  12. mark
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Hillary, I wasn’t slagging open-source or suggesting that pay software is somehow superior. I was just saying that there was a hole that was easy to expoloit. My mentioning that it was open-source wasn’t necessary to the story. I just threw it in.

  13. Dr Cherry
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    EdB, it’s patched. I did it myself about three hours after the security hole was announced.

    We’re talking about it on the forums now and suspect it’s not b2 but some other app.

    http://forums.b2evolution.net/viewtopic.php?t=5453&start=0

  14. Dr Cherry
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    I missed the 8/31 security patch. The dates on the patched files is July 5th.

    Jul 5 14:41 _functions_xmlrpc.php
    Jul 5 14:41 _functions_xmlrpcs.php

  15. Ken
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Hell, who looks at the archives anyway. You still have the text. Just start fresh, all tabla rasa style.

    I do have images that I sent you but I think I should go back those up right about now.

  16. Anonymatt
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    I was going to laugh and call you a quitter, but really, congratulations on making it this far. I don’t know how you managed a blog, a comic, a magazine, a band, and a baby all at the same time. I doubt you will be able to keep yourself away but feel free to post infrequently as necessary, especially until the next issue of Crimewave is done.

    I don’t have any articles to submit. Is Doug still taking questions for Let’s Ask Skinner? I can try to think of a few submissions for that. BTW, I was catching up on old Fortean Times over the holiday and got to read Skinner’s article on Tiffany Thayer, neat stuff.

  17. mark
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to thank everyone for their very nice comments and emails. It’s cool knowing that this site was appreciated and that I wasn’t just wasting these last few years of my life.

    I’d also like to reiterate that this post shouldn’t be taken as a condemnation of open-source software. As several of you have pointed out in your notes to me, I’m aware that open-source is often far superior to pay software. I’m not a technical person, but I do grasp the underlying concept and I agree with it. I can see how you might have read it as though I was saying,

  18. mark
    Posted December 30, 2005 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    As for Doug, Matt, I believe he might still be willing to accept questions for the next issue. Is there something that you wanted me to ask him for you?

  19. mark
    Posted December 31, 2005 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    Actually, if I’m understanding Steve correctly, it looks now as though it wasn’t so much an issue with B2 Evolution as it was with the company we have hosting the site.

  20. Dr Cherry
    Posted December 31, 2005 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    Ok, here’s the scoop. Somebody hacked into the server Mark’s site is on through a security hole. It may have been the b2evolution bug I missed or it could have been somebody else’s non-updated sofware.

    Anymore web security is a constant process of identifying security holes and fixing them. This is the consequences of a missed patch.

    I hereby suggest that Mark cut my pay in half from this moment forward.

  21. Shanster
    Posted December 31, 2005 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    I am truly sad to think that you are going away. I have enjoyed becoming invisible friends with folks that I normally might not socialize with, and you have helped me develop more sensitivity toward different points of view.

  22. schutzman
    Posted December 31, 2005 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    i’ve developed a plan.

    in the spirit of the season, i propose that, “George Bailey-Like”, mark should call in some favors.

    first, for access to secret government files, we’ll need john edwards to open a few doors. Then, the actual investigation will be led by peter falk, and once he’s isolated the location of the iranian hacker, we send in the zombie claus mob to apprehend him.

    finally, once he’s in custody, we put him into solitary confinement- inside a bathroom stall next to jim jarmusch pooping.

  23. DM
    Posted December 31, 2005 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Mark, you cannot quit. We’ve all spent too much time farting around here for you to pull the plug now. You’d be doing to us what your Iranian buddy did to you. I’d understand if it was a matter of spending more time with Linette and Clementine though…

    In defense of Patty’s statement, I interpret it to mean that it was more devastating on a personal level. She has a heart of gold and I’m sure it was meant as a way of expressing a deep felt empathy. ( I’ know you know this. It just read strange and for those who don’t know her it seemed appropriate to explain further.)

    Perhaps you could share the guys email address with us so we can send him some love letters.

  24. Jim
    Posted January 1, 2006 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I recently became a “member” of this blog, which according to
    http://www.business-opportunities.biz/projects/how-much-is-your-blog-worth/ is worth $29,356.08. If Mark pulls the plug, I want compensation for my devalued membership. I’d accept a lifetime subscription to Crimewave, a complete collection of MPT recordings, and a MM original artwork framed and signed by the artist. I also would like to remind Mark that if he quits, he will no longer be able to drink beer with bloggers without feeling like a fraud.

    PS: Was the name “Monkey Power Trio” inspired by the extension “mp3”?

  25. It's Skinner Again
    Posted January 2, 2006 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Mark — I enjoy checking in with the blog; it’s like a cocktail party that’s always going on in someone’s basement. I can understand if you want to pull the plug on it; the constant attacks by trolls, spammers, and hackers must have been discouraging. And I sometimes worry that OCD and blogging are not the healthiest combo — especially when that eye flares up. Well, Happy New Year, and I hope you make the happiest decision!

    Anonymatt — I’m glad you enjoyed the Thayer article! He was great fun to research; very little has been written on him, so I had to do some digging. If another CW is in the works, I’ll be happy to answer more questions. Send them to Mark; he’s the editor. Cheers!

  26. danandkitty
    Posted January 2, 2006 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    Images are really overrated anyway!

    I do think that Clementine would have been more believable if she had been cast as Jonathan Winters, but she does add a touch of class to the place.

  27. mark
    Posted January 2, 2006 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    If it makes sense financially we might spin the Clementine character off, creating a new site. And I don’t think it would be that difficult, as long as we’re at it, to make her twins… I’d settle for just 2% of what the Olson Twins have.

  28. Theodore Glass
    Posted January 3, 2006 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Can we elect a new leader?

    You know, “Mark Maynard” doesn’t need to be a person – it could be a title.

  29. schutzman
    Posted January 3, 2006 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    excellent idea, Theodore. I nominate Kami Andrews to be “America’s Next Top Mark Maynard”.

  30. lori
    Posted January 3, 2006 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Okay — it sounds like you’re beginning to buck up a little. I’m completely anti-registration on Web sites, but have now done so just to tell you not to quit. For all the people that show up in the comments every day there’s tons more of us that stop by, but just don’t say hello. And even Jeff Kay applauded the sense of community here recently. C’mon — I’m with Linette. Stay and fight.

  31. chris
    Posted January 3, 2006 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    You do know that this will mean I have to up my meds. Also, where can I go to revel in the Abromov indictment?

    Can Linette pick up where you leave off?

  32. mark
    Posted January 3, 2006 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Can someone contact Kami and let her know that I’m willing to hand over this website (a $29,356.08 value), no strings attached, whenever she’s ready for it?

  33. danandkitty
    Posted January 4, 2006 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    Where will John Galt go? Think of the wingnuts!

    As far as the “NEXT MARK MAYNARD” goes, I smell reality show!

  34. doulicia
    Posted January 4, 2006 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Funny, I only became familiar with the site through the birth of Clementine, so I have no sense of what its one-time greatness was. However, what I’ve read for the last year and a half (can it be that long already?) is pretty darn good.

    I always felt better knowing you were walking around the streets of Ypsilanti with appreciation for the city and contempt for many features of the United States and modern civilazation.

    I don’t suppose that will change, but reading your posts and being able to think “Hell yeah!” was cathartic. I will miss that feeling.

    Knowing your creativity I suspect we’ll hear from you in other fora if not here. So I’m not exactly sad. Just waiting to see what form you take next. Kinda like virtual reincarnation.

  35. Dave
    Posted January 4, 2006 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    A guy goes away from his computer for a few days, and this is what happens. All I have to say is: WWCD? That’s right, Columbo would kick that Iranian hacker’s rump.

  36. Tony Buttons Esq.
    Posted January 5, 2006 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    If I’m remembering correctly, Jesus was gone for three days too, and when he rose again he was more poplar than ever.

  37. Viotekno
    Posted January 4, 2014 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    I was hoping that 2014 would be the year we’d have to face the world without you.

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