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An Aura’s House Confessional- Behind the Scenes, Black and White Clouds

12 May 2012 No Comment

Hi Everyone,

Kristen Here. I’m the founder of Aura’s House and one of the people who keep the site going and the projects rolling on a daily basis. Things have been quiet at the site for a little while. I’m sorry and I can explain…

First, I have two babies.
Aren’t they cute?

Nico (5 months-old) and Lukas (2 and a half years old)

In fact, I just put them both to bed about a half hour ago. In a nutshell, I am happy but exhausted and exhaustion and running a website don’t go so great together. In perfect world I’d be writing more posts, featuring more people, highlighting more projects, yadda yadda yadda. But this post counts, doesn’t it?

I also recently returned to my job as a Professor at The American University of Rome. This happened about four weeks ago right around the time our website got hacked.

Wait. Hacked?

Second, Our Website got Hacked

Really. Can you believe that hackers would target a humble do-gooder site like Aura’s House? Well, I’m not sure they actually intended to. You might remember hearing a few weeks ago that malware created just for MACS infected 500,000 computers worldwide. Yup. Mine was one of them. The nasty scripts then attached themselves to pages in both my websites, Aura’s House and my online portfolio, kpalana.com. I had to spend several hundred dollars for a company to remove all the bad code from the sites for me. -Money that could have been spent on Aura’s House donations I might add! Then, because I wasn’t yet aware that the problem was coming from my own computer, the sites got infected again. And again. And a week later..again. The last infection was so bad, Aura’s House was essentially a blank screen with an error message on it for almost a full week. Donor confidence? Probably not at an all time high. The good news is that donor information was never in trouble since payments go directly through Children International’s site and is safe behind their firewalls. Still, it didn’t look good.

Anyhoo, long story short…expensive savior company half-fixed the last web infection and I sweated bullets and figured out the rest. I’m actually a little bit proud of myself as now I know how to partially fix a hacked website. My Mac was completely cleaned and I have better anti-virus protection so all is on the up and up.

Third, I got preoccupied with some other projects

So, after returning to work, dealing with my babies, and saving Aura’s House from hackers, I felt like I wanted to jump back into some version of my old life that did not involve changing diapers and lame nursery rhyme songs.

I immediately started a new animation. (I’m an animator or at least like to call myself one. Visit my website to see some of my work…) Also, since I came back at the tail end of the semester and wasn’t teaching, I wanted to take the opportunity to showcase our best student work and make our departmental blog all snazzy. (I.E. I wanted my colleagues and students to notice that I came back after five months away and perhaps also be glad about it.) Here’s my happy creation from the past two weeks: AURCOM’s Blog
I’m sort of proud of it. But now I can turn my attention back to Aura’s House…

So What Next?

We have a new project getting ready to launch. It’s completely different than any other project we’ve done before and will be our first ever in Europe. We are still ironing out details so I can’t really say much more. However, you can watch a short video on Amnesty International’s website that features the five year-old boy and his mother that we intend to help. (My friend, journalist Christine Pawlata made the film and has been the driving force behind this project.)

I also intend to do a post featuring the amazing Mike Epler who in a few weeks will run across the Gobi Desert in China in a three day endurance race to raise funds for our USA Dental Project to benefit needy children in Little Rock, Arkansas. Mike keeps his own blog so I will be sure to post the link.

Stay tuned also for more updates, news from completed past projects, photos, and more.

Basically I just wanted to write to let you know that someone “is still home” at the site and making sure that everything keeps running smoothly-ish and that our very worthy projects are still in the process of funding.

Thanks for your patience and hope to hear from you. Volunteer bloggers are always welcome!


Kristen Palana
Happy but Weary Founder of Aura’s House

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