My Gmail account was hacked a week ago — Saturday, Nov. 9, at 5:19 p.m. Approximately 200 people got an e-mail from asking them to open an “important document.”

Even though I was on my computer at the time, I was unaware of the dirty deed until around 5:30 p.m. when I checked my personal AOL mail inbox and found two of the e-mails from my Gmail account which I quickly relegated to the spam folder.

A few minutes later local activist Pro Se phoned and told me that hundreds of e-mails sent from my Gmail account to him and others didn’t appear to come from me. I immediately recalled the e-mails from my spam, copied the addresses of the recipients and e-mailed them saying that I’d been hacked and to not open the first e-mail, especially the attachment. In the meantime, Councilman Kevin McKeown e-mailed and also advised me that I’d been hacked.

A number of recipients asked, “Who are you?” I didn’t know them, either. Among the hundreds of folks that received the original spam from my Gmail account were unfamiliar names and addresses along with some familiar ones from my address book including folks in City Hall such as McKeown.

Google suggested changing my password which should end the incursions. I did and it seems to have worked.

I found out the spam e-mails originated from a computer in Woodbridge Township, NJ. My own computer’s Gmail “sent mail” folder didn’t record the mailing.

One recipient e-mailed that the “important document” wound up forwarding the same spam to everyone on her address book. Another recipient said she opened the attachment and saw a blue screen (The dreaded blue screen of death?) and was asked for account information.

Wilmont board member Jim Pickrell, who is an expert on computers, e-mailed, “There are two possibilities: they hacked your computer, or they hacked your Google account.

“Google accounts as far as I know can only be hacked by guessing passwords. On the other hand, if you are running Windows, it could be that your computer was hacked and they got your passwords and e-mail list that way.”

I’ve been advised to use a complicated, random password and to be wary of e-mail, even from persons I know, asking to “download this” or “open this” — like the phishing e-mails I’ve occasionally received from acquaintances asking for cash because they’re “… stranded in Europe, have been robbed and please wire 300 Euros (not dollars) immediately.”

To those who received the “important document” purportedly sent from my Gmail that Saturday evening: Sorry for the problems.


Stranded at the bus stop — again


I’ll bet the spam came from the driver of the Big Blue Bus that didn’t stop for me on Lincoln Boulevard last Tuesday morning. Just kidding.

Yes folks, it happened again. I dropped off the aging TR-6 at my mechanic Juda at European Exclusives (shameless plug) at 7:35 a.m. for servicing. I went to the nearest bus stop at Ashland Avenue and Lincoln and waited for a bus. After a quarter hour, the regular “3” rolled on by without even a driver’s wave.

This is the third or fourth time I’ve been passed up there. I know why the driver doesn’t stop. He was probably loaded with high school and Santa Monica College students.

Last spring, I was told by a Big Blue (I’m now calling it “Big Blue Bust”) service representative that the “3” is always filled during the morning rush hour for a few weeks around the beginning of the semesters. As time goes on and students adjust their schedules, the bus becomes less crowded.

Being it’s nearing the end of the school semester, it would appear that is not the situation and might partially explain why the bad service continues month after month.

I’ve written about filled busses bypassing stops a number of times in this space over the last few years. Big Blue’s management seems unwilling or unable to make changes such as adjusting schedules or adding another bus or two to meet peak period demand.

Last Tuesday, I walked from Ashland and Lincoln to my home near 14th Street and Montana Avenue. I’m fortunate that I can walk the two miles. Many of Big Blue’s customers can’t. And, some must go much further. When they’re stranded, they miss appointments, are late for school or work and are highly inconvenienced. This is absolutely unacceptable and inexcusable.

A couple of weeks ago, I was on a “3” coming from UCLA. The nearly empty bus passed a trio of elementary school kids and their nanny at the Gretna Green Way stop in Brentwood. Some months prior, I was bypassed in Westwood Village. There are other occasions where I or others were left stranded. While some drivers may just not see people waiting for the bus, it seems to be another issue that needs addressing.

Public service is a scarce commodity at City Hall these days so I’m not holding my breath that any improvements will be made. I feel badly for riders who have to put up with lousy bus schedules, inadequate service and mealy-mouth excuses when they need a lift the most.

I’ve finally learned my lesson. When unable to drive, I’ll walk or make other arrangements because Big Blue is just not unreliable.


Matt Stevens credited


A final note. Last week in my column on development, I quoted Los Angeles Times news writer Matt Stevens, except I referred to him as Matt Williams. Apologies, Matt.


Bill can be reached at

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