Thursday, December 17, 2009

A technical glitch: thanks to Brett W.!

A "detail" happened to this blog at 2 p.m. today, Central European Time. It died. I received an e-mail saying that The Reference Frame was deleted because of the presence of malware which would obviously violate the terms and conditions. Thank you, bye, that's it. ;-)

The official Google's detection tool and database always said that the site was clean, i.e. free of malware, rather than suspicious, and although I have many slow gadgets that some of you dislike (and I like them, otherwise they would have been gone), I check each new one very carefully and I have always believed that the deletion was just a technical glitch.

Let me return to the past by one year.

One year ago, my PC was getting lots of blue screens of death and I eventually had to do a full installation of the Windows Vista - but saved pretty much all the documents in the Electroworld (like Microcenter) where I bought the PC, right before the reinstallation - they could read from the hard disk.

My mood was decimated because the blue screens didn't disappear. Finally, after checking 5 other theories to explain the blue screens (faulty RAM, weak power source, hot graphics card etc.), a slightly dirty fan which was slightly overheating CPU was found to be the cause. By cleaning it, I could reduce the stable temperature at "minimal traffic" from 40 °C to 30 °C (measured by SpeedFan).

The reason why I tell you about it is that I promised myself not to get frustrated again because of similar technical issues. It's just a PC, a website, and so on. And I managed to remain completely cool today. As you can see, the website is back. It only took 4 hours.

Those four hours

I quickly sent two semi-automatic "requests" and "appeals", added myself to a database, studied the story of people whose blogs were removed for the same reason (clearly, some of them had some actual malware or links to it), and found the Twitter and Facebook accounts of the professional who is managing all these things - and on Facebook, I sent him a message. Although I have a backup copy of all the postings, it would be extremely annoying to lose the URL, links from other websites, connection with the JS-Kit comments, and so on.

Right now, it's evening in Czechia but morning in a Californian city where I had spent half a year in 2000. Without a loss of generality, let me call it Santa Cruz. ;-) So I sent the guy - Brett W. - who lives there - a special kind message on the Facebook. And he abruptly resuscitated the blog, informing me about it with a smiling. So it only took four hours or so.

During that time, I received complaints/warnings/condolences from exactly 10 readers who know my e-mail (it would probably be many more if the outage continued through the day in the U.S.) who observed that the blog was deleted, and I sent most of them a standardized explanation of the situation. ;-)

Needless to say, about 1/2 of them suggested some hypotheses that the deletion was deliberate, related to the opinions expressed in TRF, and unrelated to malware. I carefully rejected these hypotheses which I still consider to be largely unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.

Google is a very important company doing lots of key services for us. The world would be in real trouble if they were systematically working on some distortion of the information content of the Internet because they would really have many tools to do so. On the other hand, the customers would have many ways to find out and act against some unacceptable behavior of the company.

Because of the many activities I am doing with Google, I just don't even want to think about this possibility of a conspiracy at Google. If there are individuals employed in Google who would like to erase inconvenient blogs with 3,224 postings or something like that, I still believe that the company as a bloc would prevent them from doing so in the medium and long run because such a behavior of the individuals would run against Google's interests (for example, Google surely doesn't want to lose all customers who prefer GOP in the U.S.). And while the company displays many PC and similar positions, most others do the same. It's still very different from a massive censorship of particular "colors" of the opinions which I am not ready to believe.

So for me, it's a coincidence that another blog that was recently disabled for 4 days was kind of conservative, too. By the way, Dennis' reaction was equally conservative as mine and he will not move to a different domain because of this incident.

Incidentally, Brett W. who kindly revived the deleted blog is a jazz musician at night. That's a good opportunity to say that last night, I/we met Czech President Václav Klaus, the most important European personality in 2009 according to Belgium's The Bulletin (he knew that I was on TV on the previous night), and the evening continued with "Jazz on the Castle". We liked the concert much more than we did the last time - it was more conventional a kind of jazz and less alternative one.

I also loved the Yellow Sisters, a band of women with beautiful voices and creative melodies and harmonies (I know one of them - BV), who sang tropical "Jingle Bells" in Slovak. ;-)

To summarize, I am grateful to Brett W. for the speedy action and I will kind of discourage you from wild accusations against the top Internet company. Also, there are many more reasons why I wouldn't be eager to look for the replacements of their various services. Finally, I don't know what was the exact reason of the glitch and I am not sure whether I want to know.

Brett W. says that Google spam robots just misdetected something because of things unrelated to the content of the blog. I choose to believe him.

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