Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Crochet Pattern Companion Blog: What Happened!

Here's a happier topic:
Kisses from young alpacas are buttery-soft. An amazing memory
from October 2012, when I led a crochet retreat in Illinois.
UPDATE: the CPC blog is fixed! Google confirmed that it's clean. It's loading faster too.
Just after New Year's Day 2013, a bad thing happened to a good blog. NOT the blog you're reading right now and NOT my Crochet Inspirations Newsletter. It's one of my other four crochet blogs. (You can learn more about them by clicking on a tab at the top of this blog.) A skilled malicious person haacked* into the Crochet Pattern Companion blog. 

*Take out the extra "a" in haacked. I'm using this spelling to avoid suggesting to internet robots that it happened to this blog. It also entertains me how close it is to the Dutch word for crochet, Haak. (Little things like this lift my spirits. So does the photo above.)
The heck!? This haak got haacked: "Which
Foundation Stitch?" See it in Flickr.

Turns out it's a blessing in disguise for all of us! Mean people don't get to win in my crochet universe. So, new free crochet patterns (more on this below). 

It's possible that this was a random (and skillful) drive-by shooting at a...crochet blog...that's about...nuts 'n bolts stuff. Um, really? Of all blogs? I've got an older crochet blog about crochet for boys (and gamers) that attracts a constant stream of spaam. It's easy to keep that blog clean, though, because the garden-variety attaacks are truly meaningless and sloppy--NOT skillful. 

Maybe the CPC blog attracted too much traffic? The crochet tutorial posts at the CPC blog were going viral in Pinterest. Pinterest is a hot site right now for both haakers (see all my crochet pin boards!) and... haackers. Pinterest was sending lots of people to CPC. I heard from them the minute the blog got hijaacked.
See the newsletter issue:
"Favorite Tweaks for Tall Stitch Row Edges"
Photos for this popular CPC blog post: "Try a Linked Stitch
to Close the Gap Between a Turning Chain
and Double Crochet."

Isn't it supposed to be awesome if your blog posts go viral? If they become a target of mean people, I guess it's flattering, but it sure turns the success into a mixed blessing. I can decode a crochet pattern, NOT computer code. It's bewildering. I don't even know if a site like CPC can be fixed.  

I can turn blog posts into lovely free downloadable pattern PDFs, and how-to crochet e-booklets, and store them in safer places. I'm creating a special new section in the DesigningVashti Shop for certain blog posts and newsletter issues that get expanded into articles. E-booklets, e-books, and Doris Chan's books will also go there. I have a few place holders there so far but please check back.

While I'm busy converting CPC posts to PDFs, you can visit some of these Flickr crochet tutorial albums that I used as back ups for some of the blog posts:

Slip stitch short rows:
NEW free pdf version: http://www.shop.designingvashti.com/Slip-Stitch-Crochet-in-Short-Rows-Photo-Tutorial-9-A12112.htm
You might like the newsletter issue about this tutorial, "Short Row Startle."

Which Foundation Stitch?:

Linked turning chain alternative (for dc etc):


  1. Well, this is very scary. Can Blogger help at all with this, or is the burden on you to fix your own code? And how do you safely get into the corrupted posts to convert them to PDF, without endangering your own system? (I'm too computer-illiterate for someone who writes a blog.)

    So sorry this happened - I do hope it will all work out for the best. Your blogs have been such a help and inspiration to many of us - long may they continue.

    1. Thank you for your concern. You have the same questions I do. This event has sobering implications for me as a blogger. Google has Webmaster Tools for diagnosing and fixing "sick" blogs, and I tried to use them. The diagnosis: malicious code that can't be pinpointed. Yikes--if Blogger's owner (Google) can't pinpoint the problem, I sure can't!! Nor do I wish to pay someone by the hour to comb through my blog manually.

      The Tools offer LOTS of helpful tips. Unfortunately, applying them is beyond my understanding without risking infecting my own computer! The most I've been able to do is "edit" a post via the Blogger Dashboard just to salvage text (I cut and pasted it into a word processor). I'm then going to strip it of formatting and hyperlinks in case there is bad code in it.

      To my hapless humble non-webmaster mind, after first-level searching for understanding, it seems like there's a vulnerability in Blogger that someone knew how to exploit. If so, I'd think twice about spending valuable time blogging. I searched for info on this and didn't find anything, although I don't have time to sift through lots of stuff I barely understand. This came at a bad time, when I don't have time to chat in tech forums. If it's a simple matter of "don't upload photos from Flickr" or "don't embed a video" [I totally made these up] then fine, I could stop doing it to avoid making the blog vulnerable. I've found nothing like this, so far.

      Most of all I hate that anyone might think *I* could infect their computer and I hate losing all of the wonderful comments and link exchanges of that blog. On the bright side, it could have been worse -- my whole Blogger account & identity could have been stolen, but it's not. This is why I'm thinking it's a vulnerability issue with Blogger, not with my particular blog. And I'm hearing that Wordpress is more vulnerable!?

    2. Thanks for the info. I will say this: your post inspired me to back up my blog and also to download the template onto my hard drive (neither of which I'd ever done before). Just in case....

      (Now I only need to remember to do this on a regular basis.)

      Good luck!

    3. I found this Blogger blog post, mentioning certain 3rd party widgets: http://knownissues.blogspot.com/2013/01/yesterday-our-malware-detection-system_17.html
      I don't know if this includes mine but at least it would be an easy fix!
      None of my other blogs are having widget problems though. Blogger hasn't notified me so far, but I'll hold off on deleting that blog for a bit.

  2. Oh no Vashti! I linked to that very blog post in my own blog as a terrific resource! YIKES! I sure hope the bad guys didn't get to you through my post! although I don't think anybody reads mine yet! LOL! I am praying for peace and clarity for you as you try to undo it all!

  3. I'm so, so sorry CaraLouise. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for linking to it, and for commenting.

  4. So agreed with Mrs M!!

    I didn't realize how often i stopped by the CPC for a nugget or reminder until i couldn't anymore (not to mention sending others your way). Glad the rest of your sites are okay! Thanks for letting us know what's happened - your determination to turn this into something we will all benefit from is downright inspiring!

    1. Thank you Terra! At this moment I'm turning the slip stitch short rows tutorial post into a pdf. I'm discovering that I really enjoy the control I have over simple things like where I put the photos, how the captions look, and how the text pours around them lol.

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    1. New link to the Slip Stitch Short Row Tutorial as downloadable pdf:

  6. So glad they didn't eradicate all your posts in addition to haacking you!!! If you are interested in a volunteer assistant who can be discrete and keep things confidential, I'd be willing, and I have quite a bit of time on my hands.

    If it makes it less creepy to say that, this is cleverbritches from Ravelry, and I also am working on setting up that group for you :)

  7. That stinks. I'm glad your other blogs are safe. (And the haakers thing lifted my spirits, too.)


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