Home > Computing, Family, Fraud > Thanksgiving Eve Outing

Thanksgiving Eve Outing

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Last Monday’s snow — or the ensuing deep freeze and icy roads — brought a rare closure of the university on Tuesday. Even more unexpected, I awoke early Wednesday to discover that the university was closed yet again. This was bad news for a variety of reasons, but once I recovered from the shock, I decided Wednesday was the day to replace Gail’s decrepit iMac.

Her computer had been slow for months. I thought the problem might be our network, but more recently I came to appreciate just how slow it was. Web pages could take a minute or two to open, pages could take ten minutes to print. Joel decided to attempt a fix a week ago by backing everything up and then wiping the hard drive and installing the operating system anew. A sign of its slowness is that the backup took a day. He installed the OS last Monday, and tried to restore the backup starting Tuesday morning. On Wednesday morning, according to the progress bar, the backup was about 1/8th done. That’s when I knew this was a lost cause.

Along the way, I found the old paperwork and discovered that Wednesday marked the 4th anniversary of the date the iMac shipped. No coincidence. Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, Apple discounts most of their computers $50 or $100. Obviously I had taken advantage of that sale four years ago to order Gail’s. This might have been an argument for waiting two more days to take advantage of the sale again, but we had the day free Wednesday, Gail’s computer was inoperable, and I decided to wait no longer.

Off we went (Gail, Joel, me) to University Village. We stopped in at the Apple Store to take a quick look and make sure they had iMacs in stock, then walked over to Piatti for lunch. Pretty good. Back to the Apple Store, where we bought Gail a new iMac, and then home.

At which point things started going downhill. It started when I checked my email and found an odd message from my credit card company. It started:

For your security, we regularly monitor accounts for possible fraudulent activity. Please review the attempted charge below which occurred within minutes of the timestamp of this message.

Transaction Date: 11/24/10

Merchant: LIRR TVM’S

Amount: 408.00

Currency: currency code

Please call us as soon as possible using the number on the back of your Card to verify these attempted charges.

As it turns out, being a native Long Islander, I actually knew what LIRR stood for. It’s the Long Island Rail Road, the commuter train line that my father took every morning to get into the city, and that I thought was the coolest thing in the world. (In a post I wrote on the second day of this blog’s existence, I noted that my childhood dream was to be a LIRR conductor.) And I knew I hadn’t bought any LIRR tickets that day. Not at U Village. It seemed that someone was buying monthly passes with my credit card number. Not with my card itself. I just used it at Piatti and the Apple Store. This all seemed implausible.

I called the number on my card, as instructed, and was transferred to the security department. The man I spoke to said that indeed someone had swiped a card in an attempt to complete a transaction with the LIRR. The purchase was denied. In response to his questions, I said that yes, I did have the card, I was holding it as we spoke, and I was in Seattle, so I couldn’t have made the purchases by swiping the card, and in fact it had been swiped in Seattle just an hour earlier, at two places. He verified that I had made purchases at Piatti and Apple, then told me that someone had somehow gotten hold of my data and produced a new card. He also told me that he had just cancelled my card. I would get a replacement with a new number.

I realize this happens all the time, but it was most disconcerting. Things could be worse. I should have my new card tomorrow. But still, it’s a nuisance. And how did this happen?

As for Gail’s iMac, setting it up has been problematic. Some problems:

1. Because we were unable to transfer the data from the old iMac, she has to restore all her preferred settings from scratch. I guess I didn’t explain fully. The backup Joel made that was taking forever to put back on the old iMac won’t go on the new one either. This also means Gail has lost lots of documents, old email, etc. We may be able to recover it, but not by ourselves.

2. Another consequence is that Gail’s new computer is not recognized by the iTunes store as the rightful replacement of the old one. This means she can’t get her purchased music, TV shows, and apps put on the computer. If she tries to sync with iPhone and iPad, the computer will wipe them clean and rewrite its data, except that it has no data to rewrite. I’ve gotten around this with the music, which I’ve installed on the computer from the iPad without using iTunes. But I don’t know how to get around this with her apps on the iPad and iPhone, and her TV shows are lost. We need to get Apple to give us permission to re-download all this onto the new iMac. And this has to be done by email. They don’t take phone calls.

3. When we try to wake it up from sleep, the hard drive spins, it sound awake, but the screen doesn’t light up. We have to forcibly shut the computer down and re-start it. Not always, but over half the time.

What started out last Wednesday with such promise has become a continuing headache. And I’m next. My Mac Mini is even older than Gail’s iMac and has its own problems. You know that sale Apple has the day after Thanksgiving? I decided to take advantage of it. I’ve ordered my own matching iMac. I just hope I can transfer data and get it to work without the problems we’re encountering with Gail’s.

We had much to be thankful for on Thursday. Not Apple and credit card thieves though.

Categories: Computing, Family, Fraud
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