by J. Rae Chipera
(not a Twitter stockholder)

Alas, my un-named source who works for Google has informed me about the truth behind the rumors that Google+ will abandon ship.

The truth is that they are dismantling Google+ and all existing employees are going to work on the secret Dinosaur Cloning Development department. Jurassic Park will benefit our economy by eating Facebook. After all, Google's only concern as a corporation is NOT increasing the wealth of its shareholders and ensuring the longevity of its long-term assets - it's all about taking down that face place. 

The reorganization originally happened because of a broken light bulb. Nobody could figure out how many Google employees to get to fix it. Thus the light bulb went unchanged, and our beloved Mr. Vic Gundotra had to resign because he couldn't see the power button to turn his computer on at work.

With his departure, the entire platform will go to the Dinosaur Development project because no project on earth has ever survived after its leader leaves - ever. In the history of all time. Though people have been working hard on Google+, it's just not allowed to function anymore now that Gundotra is leaving.

<<Disclaimer: This truth has been completely made up. Thanks for clicking.>>>
by J. Rae Chip

To all the friendly people reading this and all the indifferent ones who happened upon it by mistake: I hope you get some negative feedback on your site. You deserve it. And yes, that is a complement. Want to know why? Keep reading!

I owe a big fat thank you to my internet trolls. Most businesses only get positive feedback, and consumers don't really have a lot of trust in businesses with only good feedback. It seems fabricated and fake. So I really appreciate you bringing humanity and reality to my web presence. If you are a business owner, and you have negative feedback, weigh that carefully because it's not necessarily bad. Just because John Doe on Yelp didn't like that you shoot too many flowers and sunsets and wants to spread that all over the internet doesn't mean that people who like flowers and sunsets will dislike you.

My trolls like to spread that I'm a possible psychopath with a fetish for the apocalypse. Someone once accused me of breaking and entering into an abandoned building (for the record, I don't break and enter, and I'm not a psychopath. I will plead guilty to being obsessed with the apocalypse, though.) So I don't get a surplus of people calling me to ask about shooting their newborn photography. Since newborn photography isn't my niche or a particular interest, that's not really bad for me. 
Rumors about my alleged nefariousness and creepiness have raised interest for my business in the fields I do enjoy. I get crazy calls. If the police ever tap my phone they'll wonder about the people calling me. Someday, someone is going to call me wanting me to shoot them naked in a coffin with blood all over and a sign saying "killed by the chocolate sauce killer" with chocolate sauce smeared all over the wall in the shape of a skull and cross-bones and cherries as eyes. Seriously, that could happen. And I would find that fun to shoot. (Again, I'm not a psychopath. I just like fake blood, chocolate, cherries, and naked people.)

My h8rs don't like that use a pseudo name. They'll have to get over it. It is extremely common for artists, writers, famous people, etc. to use pseudo names. It's not illegal, and I can use whatever name I want. People use pseudo names to protect their identity, which is what I am doing by using one.

Someone I admire once said that "Anyone can create something mediocre, call it art, and post it on the internet. And people will like it. But you know you're a real artist when you have a group of haters who are just as adamant as your fans." The thing is... my art can piss people off. And I'm okay with that because when they get mad, I know they took the time to look at it. It makes me happy when people look at what I create.

Between six months and a year ago, someone who was very popular online had a lot of untrue things to say about me, and it really bothered me. A bunch of other people jumped on that bandwagon. I was so upset by it that I deleted that social network page. And when the people who joined the mob against me found out the truth behind the situation, some of them felt like a$$*%@s, and they were. But when the apologized, I forgave them. One positive externality I didn't foresee was the immense jump in web traffic I got from people wanting to know who the f%&$ I thought I was. This popular person is the founder of the "Foes with an Unhealthy Compulsion for J. Rae" Club (FUC for short).

J. Rae Chip Productions' website jumped from the second page of search results for one of our target keywords to the very top slot on the first page, overnight. So thank you for the negative publicity, FUC J. Rae Club.

And now I find myself facing a new evolved form of troll: the anonymous troll with some smart friends. (I suppose it's a possibility that the troll is diabolical too, but I envision trolls more as short people with pointy noses and poofy hair who cause trouble under bridges and don't know what the frack a computer is.)

So since this new attack is all about posting alleged personal / private information of "mine" all over the public internet, I'm sure they will not mind if I name them. So... to Marty Phillips, Mondo Diaz, Amanda Kroenig, HAHAHA, Samantha Samson, and Drew Q, I would like to again say thank you. These people are the new officers of the adamant FUC J. Rae Club.

I find it ironic that these people are so angry that I use a pseudo name. HAHAHA can't possibly be the person's real name. And if it is, I totally understand why they're so angry. It's more likely that I'm being attacked by a bunch of pseudo names who are mad at me for having a pseudo name. The difference between me and them is that on my social media accounts, my profile is filled out. Theirs is not.

So this FUC J. Rae Club has several avenues. First they went with the ingenious tactic of nicely asking me about myself and my history. Blue headed Mondo Diaz asked me on Google Plus. I didn't think anything of it because I don't discriminate by skin tone. However, my professional life is not usually something I discuss on social media, as I find that saying "HELLO MY NAME IS BEST ARTIST IN THE WHOLE WORLD" all the time is a huge turn-off. I really don't like it when people do that to me, so I try not to do it to my friends. So when "Diaz" asked, I gave short answers and a re-direct to a different site where my work is more directed to the business world.

Then, when they couldn't verify every single little thread of information they found about me, they started e-mailing my friends, telling them that I was a liar. They commented on my Google Plus profile, and then courageously deleted their comments after I notified Google bigwigs of the event. Luckily I have screen shots because my fans are geniuses.

Like magic, all of a sudden I started seeing my web hits climbing again. Maybe this time I can get onto the first page of search results for an entirely different keyword. Once again, I have discovered that for some reason, someone somewhere finds me interesting enough to join the FUC J. Rae Club and start FUCing. Maybe the president of the Club, the founder, is recruiting. Maybe not. Hell if I know. Or care.

I do, however, really appreciate the ungodly amount of time these trolls must be spending marketing my business for me. It seriously is saving me a lot of money. 

That said, I did finally have to notify the police about this cyber-stalking campaign from the FUC J. Rae Club. It's not cool to post someone's personal information all over the internet. Whether or not my name really is what they say it is (redacted to protect the real identity of a person who they say I am), or if it is Jennifer Smith or Gretchen Green or Booger Flicker or whatever, it is not cool to put someone's home address on the internet. That is when it bridges the canyon from "trolling" to "stalking." I also reported it to Google.

The thing is... whether or not my real last name is actually Chipera (which I will neither confirm nor deny), I know people with that last name. I like that name, and so I use it. On Google+ I shortened it to Chip for the sake of an easier link between this website and that profile. Is Chipera a pseudo name? Who the hell cares, and why does it matter?

Trolls... please grow some humanity and stop posting someone's address on my Flickr, Google+, and 500PX profiles. How would you feel if someone did that to you? Please stop saying I'm a liar simply because you can't verify every piece of information about me with the Internet. I sure hope everyone doesn't post every aspect of their lives on the Internet. That is extremely unsafe!

So... Dear FUC J. Rae Club... thank you for being one of my most efficient marketing groups. I didn't solicit your services, but seriously this is the best free service I've ever had!
One of the things the FUC J. Rae Club says about me is that I was never in Egypt. 

Well here's a photo that I obviously didn't take on a trip that I probably didn't go on. I also have some non-existent friends who were nice enough to host me in their house while I was not there. They didn't even feed me! Since they are paranoid about internet stalkers (though I can't understand why, because obviously there is no such thing as internet stalkers), it is hard to verify their nonexistence by simply the internet alone. And I respect their privacy, so I don't see a reason to ever reveal their identities for any stupid reason. I will not divulge that even if you pretend to be the FBI.

This piece, which I drew freehand with a box of crayons while sitting at a desk in the United States, having never seen the pyramids or the sphinx, is my single most-popular piece. It has sold hundreds of copies. It has been in three galleries in three different countries so far (none of which post photos of the art on the internet out of respect to the artists), which is part of the reason why I chose them. I like having more control over my work as it appears on the internet. If you want to see my expert crayon skills, this piece is currently being exhibited in New Mexico. Stop by and go take a look at it if you want.

And no... this blog post is NOT sarcastic. At all.

by J. Rae Chip

I think everyone can relate. 

There's a fine line in life between doing what you love, and doing what you need to do in order to pay the bills. If you feel like I just revealed some secret to you, then I am envious of you.

Seven years ago I left a job I hated - a job where I endured emotional abuse, worked long hours for no extra pay, a job where I was very competitive, but never promoted for alleged sexist reasons I could never prove - a job where I made six digits of pay a year. Money only goes so far in buying happiness, and I was not happy. I left that job and decided to just do what I enjoy for a while to see how it goes. And what a ride it has been!

There are consequences to that, and I discover new ones every day.

Leaving a job with a hostile work environment caused me to make some choices about running my own business. First, I decided I would never treat my employees the way I was treated by my former employers. What my old boss didn't understand was that when your employees feel like you are loyal to them, care about them and their well being, and give them perks for working for you, then like magic, your employees are more loyal to you. Employers can't always afford perks like cafeterias, adult playground slides, or in-house medical care. But employers can at least go to the appropriate lengths to not create a hostile work environment.

With that comes the creation of a job that people actually want to do and enjoy doing. In the arts business, it's especially important to make a position for a passionate artist and hold their passion. There is nothing worse than taking a hobby and making it a job, and then having that suck all the fun out of something that was once a hobby.

There are a lot of complications to my life that come with doing the art I want to do instead of the art that could make me money, but sucks the fun out of it. The artists reading this are saying there's not a lot of money in art, but I disagree. There is a lot of money in art if you are willing to do the kind of art that everyone wants to buy... the thing is though, that artists don't work well that way. Art is an expression of the artist's soul. People don't want to buy your soul in this day and age. They want you to sell them their own soul.
An abandoned KA-Bar paper factory in Brawley, California. This place was torn down, so I can't go back, but I loved running around inside, and I loved making this piece of art.
That's why people expect so much from wedding photographers. I don't shoot a lot of weddings. I don't enjoy them. I end up making my photos look how someone else wants them to look instead of making them look how I want them to look. People are supposed to hire a wedding photographer whose style mixes with their own, but yet I get requests to shoot them. And then when I meet with the bride, she asks for something bright and pretty. I'll take a wedding on occasion if I need to or wanted to, but I don't love shooting them. It's a constant decision between the opportunity to make more money shooting events like weddings, or shooting something I love for less money. Even when you're your own boss, you sometimes need to do things you don't love. I also don't love accounting, but if I don't do it, the IRS would be knocking on my door and asking for money; not only that, but it is unethical to not file your taxes.

Marketing is a challenge for my business. I am sometimes loud about the fact that Facebook and Google Plus make it harder for me by not allowing me to post my best work on their platforms because it has nudity in it (though, for some reason, other people can get away with it, but that is the subject for another time.) That's their choice, as it is their business to make a model for, but it complicates my marketing plan and again forces me to choose between doing what I love and compromising that in order to be able to market my work on social media. It gives other artists what I consider to be an unfair advantage over me in the business world, and therefore, I consider that kind of segregation to be harmful to the consumer.

Social media isn't the only internet source pushing me to make that compromise. One would think that I can do whatever the hell I want with my own site. I can, really, but it's hard to build links to my website. People who focus on search engine optimization know why that is important. A lot of directories or linking companies put a restriction on their sites, saying that anyone under the age of 18 should be able to see what they link to. I have warning messages on my site saying that minors should not use it because I do what I love, and I love horror and macabre. I love the human body, so I do art pertaining to that. I have to find creative ways to market that don't always include the internet. 

I'm still trying to figure out how to do what I love and survive. But for now, I'm surviving.

I am currently working with an author on illustrating her book. I'm working with a cast to make the scenes come to life, and I'm travelling to faraway exotic places, hiking up mountains, and climbing down canyons for pictures. And I love it. I'm working on some horror scenes that will be used as stills for a movie. And I love it. I'm working on some personal projects right now, something I haven't had time for in a long time. And I love it.

Giving good benefits and being nice isn't the only thing that contributes to a positive working environment. When I left my previous job, I also promised myself I would always conduct business in an ethical way. I also love journalism. So in addition to my own business, I was working for a while as the photo editor for a paper here in San Diego. I loved it, but the moment I decided I didn't love it, I quit.

When the editor-in-chief and some of the other editors on the paper needed a photo and we didn't have it, didn't want to license it, and couldn't get a courtesy photo, they pressured me to steal a photograph off the internet and publish it. I decided I didn't love it anymore. I will not steal work from someone, especially someone like myself who is just trying to pay their bills doing what they love. The other editors tried to hide behind a law that is still a gray area and not intended to be used in that way. I was all of a sudden once again faced with a decision to either do something I don't love - something that compromised my moral code, and even jeopardized my reputation and possibly my wallet - or to make less money.

My reputation as an ethical entrepreneur is very important to me, so I chose to resign from that position.

That closed another marketing door for me, so I'm branching out. I decided I also enjoy graphic design elements, and I enjoy producing and making short films. So I'm going to do a lateral branch out, and hopefully I'll be able to market those better than I can market photography because I won't have to contend with no-nudity rules as much.

I'm showing my work in galleries in other areas around my country and the world besides just places that are close to where I live. I'll let you know how that goes, too.

It's a complicated, hard thing... making your living doing what you love, but I'm determined to make it work for me. 
by J. Rae Chip

<<This blog post will be continually updated as more information becomes available.>>

Last week I decided it was time to delete my Google Plus profile. I'd been an active user of the social network for several years, so there was a lot of information to delete.

When my Facebook friends who also knew me on Google Plus found out they asked me a few things: 1) Why did you do that? Don't you know it's going to kill your search engine optimization (SEO)? 2) Do you know what affect that has on the rest of your web presence, since Google owns so much of the internet now?

Thus, I decided to write about the affects of that decision around the internet. 

Disabling Google Plus versus Deleting Google Account
The option to delete your Google Plus page is located under "account" when you click on your profile photo in the upper right photo. Once there, click the "Google+" tab. Scroll all the way to the bottom to where it says "Disable Google+."

From there, it gives you two options. You can either disable Google Plus or you can delete your Google account. Disabling your Google Plus page means you will be deleting your Google Plus profile as well as any information attached to it including comments you made and posts you made, the +1 tab, and any profile information that was not made public.

It does not include your reviews on Local, or your pages. If you were the moderator of a community, you will still be the moderator of that community, as long as you're not the only person in the community. Photos don't get deleted when you delete your profile. They will still exist in Picasa (go to Picasaweb to delete them.) Connections to third parties and merged accounts will not be affected, and the contacts you had will not be completely deleted. The people who have you circled will still have you circled until they delete you, even if your Plus page does not exist anymore. That way, they can communicate with you through Gmail. The people whom you had circled will remain in a "contacts" folder.

Deleting a Google Account means disabling Google Plus and all associated pages. It also includes the deletion of Gmail, Google Voice, Google Drive, YouTube, Reader, Blogger, Picasa, Play, and other Google products you can use. If you want to get off Google Plus but keep these items in tact, you don't want to delete your Google account.

Search Engine Optimization
In case you don't know, I'm an entrepreneur and I rely on a web presence for a portion of my marketing plan. I've been kind of lazy with my SEO tags on this website (and elsewhere) and in the past, I chose to use social media to compensate for my laziness. I posted links to this website over there. When I wrote a new blog post, I posted a link in a post on Google Plus. I also did this with photos I made that I knew my audience would like, but that defied Google Plus' terms of use. I imagine my Google Analytics will tank now that I don't have those posts out there linking people to the content on the site.

If people who used Google Plus searched for my name, a lot of Google Plus results would come up. Posts would come up that had links to my website. When I deleted Google Plus, all of that went away.

I didn't remember that I had links to Google Plus embedded all over the internet, to include Facebook. I stopped posting to Facebook directly because I have issues with their terms of service. That meant that my SEO on Facebook consisted of a link back to Google Plus, which meant that once Google Plus was gone, so was all the SEO on Facebook. 

Links on this website to Google Plus became 404 messages, which some search engines penalize websites for.

Deletion of the +1 feature meant that all the times when I plus-one'd my photo somewhere else in order to gain the SEO from Google Plus, that SEO was gone. The plus ones to my own sites were also gone.

After realizing what I had happened to my business once I deleted Google Plus, I was faced with the task of trying to regain all the optimization I had lost with the deletion. It's a daunting task, as it takes time for search engines to crawl the web and index your content. I lost a lot of posts that were very high in ranking in search results, and others will fall in the rankings because their placement was based at least partially on something done on Google Plus.

Broken YouTube Links
After I deleted my Google Plus account, I went to YouTube and nearly lost my lunch. My account was blank. It appeared as if none of my videos were there. And I was horrified because I didn't want to have lost the views on those videos, as that was another piece of my SEO plan. 

Google didn't warn people about that when it gave information about the disabling of Google Plus. Had I not gone there looking for a video to post onto Facebook, I would have had 404 warnings and broken links everywhere until someone either told me, or until I finally figured it out on my own.

Luckily, I didn't lose all my videos. However, they were broken links everywhere because the deletion of my Plus page made them all visible only to me. This applies to all the videos I uploaded as well as every playlist I had saved of other peoples' uploads.

I was able to go into each playlist and each video and make them visible to the public again.

Because this happened with YouTube, I wonder if there are other Google products out there to which this has occurred. I have been combing my Google account looking for any other inconsistencies that could cause a 404 on my website or on someone else's website.

Speaking of other peoples' websites.... I now have lost some business contacts because their links to my Google Plus page went 404. They didn't want to bother with writing to me about it, and just dropped me. Some have called me already wanting a new link. Others didn't have my contact information to begin with.
by J. Rae Chip

THIS POST HAS BEEN CHANGED / UPDATED AS OF MARCH 5, 2013. Portions have now been redacted.
The original has been archived as the same HTML code it came with. Given recent unethical activities by the person this was promoting, I had to change this to comply with the basic ethical codes of society.

Those who know me might be surprised to discover that I did a Christmas album this year. Needless to say, Christmas..... is not my niche. At. All. In fact, my artistic style and taste often clash with both social media, and Christmas.

It is for that reason precisely that I chose to do it.

Art is about expression of an emotion. Happiness is hard for me to uncover with film, so I mostly choose to convey the less-common (on social media anyway) portrayals anger, sadness, depression, deep anguish, and others of the like. For some, art is an expression of the emotion at the moment of the creation of the piece. That's not true for me. I decided I would try to put a bit of a lighter heart into this shoot.

Another reason for my album is because I don't often get to play with computer software for my photography. Most of my work is for the media, which has strict rules about software usage.  

by J. Rae Chip

<<Updated March 7, 2013 because both social media networks have changed.>>

Google Plus was created over a year ago, claiming to be the haven for photographers. Now they are trying to branch out and become more appealing for everyone. As a young network, there is still a lot that can be done to improve the social media platform, but it seems to be viable competition to Facebook. 

The site preferred by the author of this blog is indicated by italic letters.

"You Might Like"


Photo Albums

Photos and Text

Noise Control

Pornography Control

Spam Control




Lists / Circles

Unfollow / Mute Post


Game Requests

Private Messages

Finding Old Posts

Post / Photo Creation Date

Share a Post Directly with User

Change Visibility of Post

Search Function

Location Data

Mobile App

Friend Requests

Cover Photo

Groups / Communities


Recommends things the user might like in the form of ads based off web traffic. 

Does not have the feature.

Photo albums are nicely organized, easily renamed and re-organized without going to another site to do it. Re-sharing a photo that was previously uploaded does not create a new copy of it and muck up the photo album.
When a photo is shared, the text from the post stays with the photograph. The caption of the photo becomes the post (or vice versa). People who post words that are important to the photo like this feature.
Openly uses an algorithm that filters out certain posts, only showing users what the algorithm thinks the user wants to see. This means that they don’t see everything from the pages they “like” unless the page owner or poster pays a fee of $49.99 to get the post seen.
Lets the user choose which shared content he/she sees in the stream and which don't show up. User can turn off movies, status updates, photos, or likes etc. and only view what he/she wants to view from certain people instead of every public aspect of their lives.
Users can flag something as inappropriate, and the Facebook team then reviews it and decides if it is inappropriate, after thanking the user for their input. Material is not immediately taken down.
Users can flag something as spam, and the Facebook team then reviews it, after thanking the user for their input. (Not immediately taken down). 
They also seem to use an algorithm to look for repetitive comments, duplicate posts, deletes them, and then the post originator can say they're not spam to reinstate them. 
Limits the number of comments a person can initiate in a day, and the number of times something can be posted on an individual's wall.
Does not have hangouts.
Can be invisible so that one can be on Facebook without having chat pop up.
Users can choose only some of their friends to see in the chat.
When one user blocks another user, the blocked is not visible in the stream of the blocker, nor can they chat. The blocked cannot see anything the blocker posts, nor does the blocker see anything the blocked posts. 
Blocked cannot chat with the blocker.

Lists can contain more than 500 things or people in them, and can be shared or subscribed to.
Some posts can be unfollowed, but not all of them.
When a person mentions you in a post you unfollowed, you get notified of it.
Advertisers have ads along the sidebar, and in the stream via pay per click or sponsored posts. Ads tailored to user interests.
Get notifications about game requests unless you block the game or block requests from that person.
Stored in one specific place, making it much easier to find conversations had there.

The timeline setup lets users go back and find any specific post they want to find without having to run a search for it.

On the timeline, you can back-date the upload to match the time when the photograph was taken / when the post was made.
In order to share a post directly with people, the user must tag them in the post.

Once a post is created and shared, user can change with whom it is shared by switching between friends, acquaintances or public etc. 
The search feature works pretty well.
Location data can be placed in the post when it is uploaded from a computer, and not just from mobile phone snaps.
Mobile app works pretty well. Users can use almost every feature from mobile.
Friend requests are kept separate from other notifications, allowing users to see each person who adds them and decide if they want to add them back.
The cover photo is made to fit a normal panorama aspect photograph.
About the same as Google+
Events are well organized, and photographs can be added to the event without making the user’s album and followers’ streams look cluttered with duplicates. Text can accompany the photo to add an explanation.
Events are kept and organized internally to Facebook.
Recommends popular things the user might like, based on what the user posts about. 
Great way to see current events that the community is talking about, including news or tech. 
Terrible! Plagued with mandatory duplicates - every time a photo is re-shared, it duplicates it and puts into a new album. Glitches, photographers forced to jump through hoops to organize them on a separate site.
When a photo is shared, the photo and the post are treated as two separate entities, and the text gets lost in the black hole while the photo remains visible in the light box.

Passively filters streams by allowing users to place a photographer in circles and then control the volume of those circles in the stream.

Doesn’t let the user choose certain posts of some people. User sees every aspect of the public lives of those whom he/she follows, leading to a very noisy stream.

Users can flag something as inappropriate, and it is immediately taken down. The poster can request a review, which is allegedly done by a person on the Google+ team.
Users can flag something as spam, and the Google team then reviews it, after thanking the user for their input. (Not immediately taken down). 
They also seem to use an algorithm to look for repetitive comments, duplicate posts, deletes them, and then the post originator can say they're not spam to reinstate them (or request review). 
Limits the number of comments a person can initiate, and the number of people a person can add per day.
Has hangouts.
Can be invisible so that one can be on Google+ without having chat pop up.
Users can choose only some of their friends to see in the chat.
When one user blocks another user, the blocked is not visible in the stream of the blocker, nor can they chat. The blocked cannot see anything the blocker posts, nor does the blocker see anything the blocked posts. 
Blocked cannot chat with the blocker.

Circles can be shared, but cannot contain more than 500 people in them. Cannot be subscribed to.
Any post can be muted and no longer seen.
When a person mentions you in a post you muted, you no longer get notified of it.
No paid advertisements, but Google promotes some posts or people for free. Ads tailored to Google's interests.

No game requests. Ever.

Private messages get lost in the soup, making it necessary to search for them.
It keeps some of the most recent posts in chronological order, but then after a certain date, looking for any past post proves fruitless because they’re in a random order.

The date cannot be back-dated to match the time of creation.

User can share a post directly with people by placing their name in the bar, tagging them in it, or by sending an email to the circle.

Once a post is created and shared, user cannot change with whom it is shared.

Terrible! Google should be embarrassed of it.
Location data can only be uploaded from a mobile phone post and not from a post uploaded from the computer.
Mobile app does not work well; users cannot use a lot of features from mobile.
When people add user, the latest 9 of them show up in the user's notifications, so the user may miss it when important people add him/her.
The cover photo is huge ... like MySpace huge (if you want it to be).
About the same as FB.
Events are more aesthetically pleasing, but uploading photos to them is a complete mess! Duplicates appear in the uploader’s albums, their followers’ streams, and text cannot accompany the photo.
Events are kept and organized on Google+ and also uploaded to Google Calendar.
Google has a safety feature on its accounts that is optional. You can sign up for it to keep people from stealing your account - and for many of us, that means they steal our identity as well. When you log on from a computer you haven't used before it asks you for a pin number in addition to your password. You get the pin number when it is texted to your phone. When I was in Egypt, I got locked out of my account because.... I didn't think about the logistics of this before I left. IE my cell phone did not work overseas so I couldn't get into my account.

Recently, this has happened to another photographer I know who was studying in Australia and then went home. So now his Australian number does not work, and he is locked out of his account. I was lucky enough to come back to the USA whereas, unfortunately Danny is not returning to Australia so he cannot simply just wait to get his account back.

If you have 2-step notification enabled, make sure you:

1) Actually print out the back-up codes Google gives you. Those will save you if you are overseas and can't get the text message from your phone. You can get to them by going to your account settings and clicking on "download backup codes." It may ask you for your password.

2) Find out the dates that you started using all the Google products you use. It is probably the FIRST email you have in your box if you use Gmail (unless you delete them) or the FIRST in your Google Voice inbox.... etc. If you become locked out, they will ask you for the specific DAY. If you're off by a few days... no access.

3) Maybe set a backup number that belongs to your spouse / friend / mother so that if you lose access and none of the rest works.... you can still get your pin code from them. DON'T SET YOUR BACKUP NUMBER AS A GOOGLE VOICE NUMBER. If you're locked out of your account that includes your GVoice number. So if you can't get it on your cell phone (which your voice number is linked to) and you can't see the text message on the GVoice site, it does you absolutely no good to do it that way.

You could always go into your account settings before you leave and disable the feature, but if you enabled it in the first place, it was for a reason, right? That said, I personally think Google could probably have a better way of doing this service - maybe security questions that we can make up (I guarantee nobody would guess the name of my first stuffed animal and steal my identity.) HOWEVER I am not a Google Geek nor really a geek in general so there may be a very good reason why Google decided to use text messages / voice call instead of the way every financial institution seems to do it. The answer would probably contain a whole bunch of computer-y words that make my head hurt. If there is a reason why we NEED to have something we know and something we have in order to be secure, then maybe we could print out a big grid of codes - say 100 boxes with one code in each box. The computer could ask you for the code in box AA5 and then you count 27 over from the left and 5 down and that's the code you put in! That would keep people from having to rely on a phone if they are overseas.

If you are moving overseas..... just deactivate the security feature until you finish moving. Honestly it's a lot easier. Hopefully nobody will hack your account during that time. Make sure you only log on when necessary, as you will probably be on unsecured networks. Just be careful!