Ramblings of a Tampa engineer
a person holding a black book with the word guests on it
Photo by Erik Mclean / Unsplash

A few days ago I saw someone online begging for anyone to help as their Google account of 10+ years was suspended for an unknown reason. Imagine yourself in that situation where your primary email account disappears and you are left trying to figure out how to recover an account that may have 100s of accounts associated with said email.

I have a related experience that occurred roughly ~12 years ago on Xbox Live which I blogged about with a bit less elegance than I have today. You are a guest on Xbox Live and your account is a privilege when you look at the perspective of accessing the service from Microsoft. Before I joined doing security for the good - I messed around on Xbox Live doing cheats/mods for the bad. Of course I thought I was being smart separating my cheat life from legit life, but something caught up to me at one point.

I got suspended till year 9999 and a hardware ban on all consoles I had used, which due to going to college ended up being my brother's Xbox, my Xbox and my roommate's Xbox. This effectively turned these consoles into useless machines that could only do offline content and were blocked from Xbox Live.

The account banned permanently was "Bio Toxic Peach".

This was a big wake up call to someone who didn't yet have a full time job as all the DLC and digital games obtained were no longer available. I lost access to games I purchased because they were "technically" licensed to me. On that same regard even games I had physical copies required another purchase as those dumb EA games contained an "online code" which had to be used to register in order to play online.

What I didn't realize is that my ban was more towards my Microsoft account instead of isolated to my Xbox account. I lost my Dreamspark license, my Skydrive and my email account. I spent months and months attempting to get that account working and it was worthless. I could do password resets and recovery, but anytime I signed in I would get some cryptic error.

At one point I escalated my case further and further with Microsoft and got the shortest response ever - "The suspension will stand as issued.". Of course at this point in my life I was trying to pass classes and the family listening to me complain about this vendetta with Microsoft showed my priorities were out of wack. I just couldn't fathom why my Xbox ban continued onward to all services associated with that Microsoft account.

If we look at today's world - a good deal of dependencies we have are on licensed/borrowed time. Imagine losing one of the following:

  • Google Account
  • 1Password Account
  • GitHub Account
  • Linode Account

Of course these services you can live without, but imagine building a solid chunk of your life on said service for it to disappear. If I lost my GitHub account, which I've been using for 15 years to house my programming creations - I'd probably lose a solid chance of getting interviews during a job hunt.

If you move into the physical world - my electric company sent me a very legal looking letter asking for my signature for permission to build equipment in my yard (as part of a easement) to support moving overhead wires underground. I ignored it because there isn't a single overhead power line in my entire cul-de-sac, so I imagine it was just a mistake.

Months went by and I got a call from said electric company asking me if I received the letter and what was withholding my approval to calm any concerns I had. I had no concerns except the fact that why should I have to give permission to a chunk of my tiny yard for a reason that doesn't apply to me. I told the person on the call to bring a representative out to my house - show me the overhead lines they are talking about and I'll sign it in front of them.

No one ever showed up and its been at least a year now. I started thinking though if you go to war against your electric company - whose to say they won't find some cryptic reason to no longer service you. Thankfully since they are a public utility that's not probably something that can occur.

I say that because something odd happened with my local town of Temple Terrace. When I moved in I was trying to figure out how to get trash/debris/recycle service - in short its confusing. Some even require a specific type of trashcan in order to be picked up, so it explains why my pickup was ignored. So right when you move into a place - I had a lot of trash. Moving things, reworking things, cleaning things and I struggled to get working trash pickup.

Once that finally was resolved - Temple Terrace comes by to leave me a note that I'll be fined if I don't fix my "algae driveway" which I thought was laughable. My driveway looked identical, if not better, than all my neighbors. Yet I'm called out to do some cleaning. I thought it was the classic behavior of - if you treat a company badly they'll work to make your life a bit stressful.

It just kept me thinking - we are just guests for most services in this world and a few missteps can turn you into a malicious guest in the eyes of the company/service. Continue in the negative light and you might end up without an account, which may be quite a disaster.

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