My new WordPress Theme

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve updated the theme I use for One Digital Life.

Although I haven’t exactly been an active blogger for quite a while now (most of 2008), I just couldn’t stand to look at the theme I was using any longer. I’ve wanted to simplify the site for a long time, and last Saturday night I got a giant bug up my butt, and decided I HAD to change the site that night. I stayed up until 5:00am looking at, and tweaking WordPress themes.

The theme I chose to use is called, deFusion. It was nice, but I’ve never been an out-of-the-box kind of guy, so I’ve tweaked it quite a bit. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s getting closer. I’ll probably be fiddling with it for a while, so don’t be surprised if things are a little different each time you come by.

I think it worth mentioning that I did take some inspiration from Arron Martins blog, which I think is awesome. Arron has achieved a simplicity that is really beautiful. I’ve had themes with this basic structure before, but I did borrow Arrons color scheme.

Every year or so I write about how I want to create a WordPress theme from scratch (instead of using an existing theme as a starting point), but I just never seem to find make the time to do it. I may still do that one day, but that day is not today. Besides, if I were to redesign a site right now, it would be my Portfolio. It’s been almost 2 years since I updated it and I’m feeling the itch. :)

As I mentioned, I haven’t been doing a lot of blogging lately. I actually miss it. I really want to get back into the habit of posting regularly again. In fact, I have some pretty big news that I want to share, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. ;)


President Barack Obama: Yes We Can
Obama Illustration by Obey Giant.

On November 4th, 2008, Barack Obama was elected 44th President of the United Sates of America. This momentous occasion can be summed up in 3 words… Yes We Can!

If you didn’t watch Barack’s speech from Chicago on TV tonight, I highly recommend looking for it online. It was quite inspirational. I really mean that. I was actually a bit choked-up. I’m sure it will be posted to in the next day or two.

I couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome of this election, but I must admit I thought it was going to be a much closer race. In fact, I’ve been a little worried that McCain was going to win.

I actually respect John McCain for everything he’s been through, and done, for this country, but I did not want him to be our next president. His views just aren’t inline with what I think our country (and the world) needs right now. I will give him credit for the very graceful speech he gave tonight in Arizona, conceding the election to Obama. He did a good job. It was too bad for him that his audience was apparently full of Arizona frat-boys, who insisted on inappropriately booing and yelling out comments during his speech.

As we move forward into what will hopefully be a turning point in the history of our country, let’s all keep those 3 little words in mind whenever faced with a new challenge… Yes We Can!

Oh, and the best news of all… no one’s house will be peed on. ;)

Get Out and VOTE!

Obama ’08 – Vote For Hope from MC Yogi on Vimeo.

The current polls have Obama slightly ahead, but it’s going to be a close race. We need everyone to get out and vote tomorrow… even if the lines are long.

Please, we can’t have 4 more years of the same old crap. If you don’t vote, and Obama loses, I’m going to come to your house and pee on your door.

Not sure where to go, check out to find out where to vote.

To be Undecided…

In a recent piece for the New Yorker, Author David Sedaris had this to say about undecided voters…

“…To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.”

Anne Marie and I actually had the opportunity to hear David Sedaris speak the other night here in San Francisco. He mentioned that the article originally said “platter of human shit…”, but his editor told him that was too graphic.

I found a serious security bug in H&R Block’s online tax software

UPDATE (4.12.08): The bug mentioned here has been resolved. Read the post and the updates at the bottom for the entire story.

I’ve been using H&R Block’s online tax services to do my taxes this year. While corresponding with one of their tax professionals through their online message center, I discovered a very serious security hole in their software. I won’t describe the exact steps here because I don’t want anyone to take advantage of this, but by clicking through the tax software in a specific order, I found that all of the messages in my message center were replaced with random messages between other customers and their tax pros. Many of these messages contained confidential information and had very sensitive attachments, like W2s and other financial documents, that I was fully able to download. The process of doing this is repeatable, so it’s definitely a bug.

I tried reporting this to H&R Block, but I don’t think I was very successful. Here’s how it went…

I called the H&R Block tech support number and spent 20 minutes on hold. A young woman finally answered and said, How may I help you? I explained that I was calling to report an urgent issue, where I could see other customer’s private information in my message center. Her only response was to give me another phone number to call.

I called the new number and spent another 20 minutes on hold. A young woman finally answered and said, How may I help you? I explained that I was calling to report an urgent issue, where I could see other customer’s private information in my message center. Her only response was, So… how may I help you? I repeated that I was calling to report a serious bug in their system to which she replied, I can open a support ticket for you, if you like? At this point I asked for her supervisor. After 40 minutes on hold, the supervisor came on the line and said, How may I help you?

By now, I’m pretty pissed off. I can’t believe I just spent an hour and a half on the phone trying to relay this issue and I’m no closer than I was when I started. I gave the supervisor the facts, and he asked me for my username. He logged into my account, but for whatever reason the screens he sees are different than the ones that I see, so he couldn’t click on the required items. My only option was to verbally describe the screens and steps required to reproduce the bug. He put me on hold for a few minutes, and then came back on and thanked me for reporting this issue. That’s it.

When I relayed the procedure to the supervisor, I rattled it off fairly quickly. I actually expected him to escalate the issue to a higher level tech support and I would be repeating it in more detail to someone else. But, he didn’t, at least not with me still on the phone. He didn’t appear to be taking any notes either, so I don’t know if he actually got it or not. It’s possible they were recording the call, but there was no standard message about that at the beginning, so I don’t know.

In addition to the security bug itself, I can’t believe I had such a hard time communicating the seriousness of this problem. Not only is H&R Block potentially screwing its customers, but they’re also opening themselves up to a giant lawsuit. One thing is for sure… I will NOT be using H&R Block Online again next year.

UPDATE (4.10.08): I don’t know if my support call yielded any results, but I did forward this blog post to the tax pros I had interacted with through the H&R Block website, and they are taking action. I was contacted by two different support people and we ran through the procedure to replicate the bug. They’re looking into it now. I’ll continue to update this post with any new information I receive.

UPDATE (4.11.08): H&R Block has informed me that they’ve identified the cause of the bug and are working on the fix now. They hope to have it implemented by late tonight. I’ll be testing this later to confirm the fix. They’re also doing research to determine how many people may have been impacted by the bug. They told me that initial data suggests it was a relatively small number of users. I’ll update this post when I know more.

UPDATE (4.12.08): This morning I tested the system on my account and my girlfriend’s. Everything appears to be fixed.

Although this whole thing started out a bit rocky due to undertrained phone-support employees, I am glad to see that once the word reached the right people they did take swift action in solving the problem. To some degree I guess this incident is a testament to the power of blogging. I can’t say this with absolute certainty, but I personally believe that forwarding this post to the tax pros I worked with did more to get this resolved than my phone call to tech support.

In the interest if absolute transparency, I should also mention that in return for the trouble I had with tech support, and my assistance in trouble-shooting the system, H&R Block did refund the cost of this years return and offered me free tax preparation for next year.