Friday, May 03, 2013

The Case of the Wandering Email

I made a rather unpleasant discovery yesterday, thanks to this guy:


His name is Angel (a name that has nothing to do with his temperament, by the way; he once had a sibling named Buffy...) and he has a bad habit of sprawling all over my papers when I'm sitting on the sofa and trying to write. Well, yesterday, he was sleeping on the outline for Who Buries the Dead, the tenth Sebastian St. Cyr book. Not wanting to disturb him, I decided simply to email myself the outline and consult it on my iPad. So I did. Only, it never arrived.

Since Angel ambled off soon afterwards to stick his face in his food bowl, I didn't think too much about it until Steve came home and said, "Why did you send me your outline?"

I went, "Huh?"

He said, "I thought maybe something's wrong with your printer, so I ran it off for you."

Assuming I must have sent it to him by mistake, I went to my computer and looked. But no; I had indeed sent the outline to myself, and myself alone.

"Here's the weird thing," said Steve. "Right after I printed it, it disappeared out of my inbox. I didn't delete it; it just went away."

About this time, my computer chimed at me, and there was the outline in my inbox where it should have been two hours before. There was nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, to indicate that it had been on an unauthorized detour.

Now, I don't know about you, but this has thoroughly spooked me. Because I sometimes include information in my emails that I really, really wouldn't want other people on my email contacts list to read.

Have you ever had a similar experience? Any ideas as to how one can prevent this from happening? It isn't exactly as if we can quit using email or even avoid saying things that are intended only for the eyes of the recipient.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

You ask about mystery emails, you get spam comment! Such is internet!

Yikes!

cs harris said...

Maybe I should have asked for suggestions on how to stop the spam!

paz said...

Sounds to me like a virus...
I got a fax story. I sent one to a friend and got confirmation it went through. However, my friend waited for hours for it to print out, and when it didn't happen, concluded my fax machine was busted. I ended up sending the document via email. However... the next day, a colleague of my friend told her that the weirdest thing happened: part of a random fax got inserted in a fax meant for her. You guessed it: my fax became a ghost in the (fax)machine, and parts of it lingered for about 24 hours before they were "exorcized."

Anonymous said...

It is so hard to say what happened. My husband has been working on a program/application for the last several years that addresses some of this very problem - how to protect and move your information, including your most sensitive data without anyone having access. (Yes, he was a information security DOD guy in a past life). It isn't ready yet, but here's a little look at what he's trying to do. http://www.lograv.com/Pages/OnString_Enables_Information_Sorting.aspx With any luck we'll have the beta version out in a year for folks to start testing/using. Just glad nothing got lost. BTW, I love how our cats have us so under their spell that we work around them to not inconvenience them. Sabena

cs harris said...

Paz, the idea of a virus never occurred to me. Now I'm really going to have to be careful. And your ghost fax is hilarious!

Sabena, this sounds like a wonderful idea. And you're right, no one would ever DREAM of disturbing a sleeping cat in this household--although Huck wakes me up at 6 am all the time to tell me he wants fresh food, or he wants to go out on the porch, or he wants me to dangle my hand over the side of the bed and give him a few pets, etc, etc

Charles Gramlich said...

That would definitely freak me out as well. Very strange. I haven't had this happen, that I know of. but it is certainly pause for thought.

Susan said...

I had something like this happen to me. People were receiving e-mails from me (many of whom I'd lost contact by choice or not) that were sent from a college e-mail account that I no longer used. The only thing I've been able to figure out is that someone hacked into the college e-mail system and sent out e-mails with worms attached. This may be what happened with you.

Anonymous said...

c - i was having a conversation with someone at work just now and we both had the same thought. did you contact your email service provider? they can trace the email and tell you why, where, when,etc. others may have experienced the same thing but they dont want to advertise it. you may have done this already but if not its worth a try - at least maybe solve a mystery. good luck.
ali

cs harris said...

Susan, I once had my email's inbox flooded with bounced emails when someone hacked into it and used the address to send out spam. That was a true nightmare. But so far, the only person I know who received the outline was Steve (anyone else out there, let me know!)

Ali, I must admit I haven't done that. Dealing with vast faceless Internet entities from Facebook to Blogger to Goodreads tends to give me hives, but you're right, I should try it. Gulp.

Anonymous said...

c- i feel your pain. i just switched from a stupidphone to a smartphone and i can barely make a phone call or text message anymore. my skill set stinks. i still buy books (hardcovers!!) all my sebastian/hero. but have a kindle that is growing on me. i put what darkness brings on there. but back to the point....i am getting the hives just thinking about what you have to do all the time.
ali

cs harris said...

Ali, I must confess I've had an iPad for almost two years now and have never bought a book for it yet! But it's wonderful for downloading old 19th century guidebooks to London.

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Katie said...

Actually never read Rayner before. Chose that example because it's the last time I looked closer at a book because of the cover. Now that I think about it, I think What Angels Fear was another book where that happened. I really like that cover. Deanna Raybourn's new one, Spear of Summer Grass, has a beautiful cover. Think one of my favorites is Jennifer Crusie's Maybe This Time.

Contemporary mystery/thriller covers don't make much of an impression on me, good or bad. And since they're in the mystery section, I have a pretty good idea what I'm getting, so it doesn't bother me. I enjoy the JD Robb covers a lot of the time. You can look at the images after you read it and see their significance to the plot. Historical romance covers often seem very over the top, although that's usually in used bookstores. I think it's getting better.

Katie said...

Ugh. Comment went to the wrong post.

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