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Friday, July 03 2015 @ 10:25 PM CDT

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The Alexandria Project: Prologue

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

I've been re-working The Alexandria Project in preparation for approaching a literary agent.  One thing I'm toying with is whether the book needs to get to a quicker, edgier start than the original first chapter provides - such as what follows below.  What's your opinion?

Courtesy Guillaume Paumier, CCA3.0 UnportedLate in the afternoon of December 11, 2010 a large panel truck backed up to a chain link fence topped with concertina wire in a run-down section of Richmond, Virginai. The words “Lowell Wholesale Paper Goods” were spread across the sides of the truck, as well as across the back of the gray coveralls worn by the truck’s driver, Jack Davis.

Jumping down from behind the wheel, Davis entered a number on the battered keypad set on a steel post rising from the cracked pavement, and a section of the fence began to clank slowly to one side. A moment later, and he had backed the truck up flush against the loading dock of the nondescript warehouse inside. By the time he was done, the fence had closed once again behind him.

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Alexandria Proj. Chap. 29: The Death Defying, Incredibly Exciting, Final Chapter!

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

What follows is the the first draft of my first cybersecurity thriller, The Alexandria Project. You can buy the final, and much revised eBook and printed versions, here and at all of the other usual on-line outlets.

 
Civil Defense Poster“Marla, if the FBI has spotted him, we’ve got to get him someplace safe – maybe somewhere in West Virginia if he’s already back east. Where is he now?”
 
“I don’t know for sure. I just know he’s headed into town.”
 
“Into Washington? Is he out of his mind?”
 
“He figures D.C. is the last place the FBI will look for him - they won’t believe he could get past them.”
 
Washington! If Frank carried that line of reasoning far enough, he’d probably head for his own apartment!
 
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Alexandria Proj. Chap 28: A Car Chase is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

What follows is the the first draft of my first cybersecurity thriller, The Alexandria Project. You can buy the final, and much revised eBook and printed versions, here and at all of the other usual on-line outlets.

Constellation  GPS - courtesy Wikipedia“What do you mean that Web site doesn’t exist? I’m looking at its log-in screen right now.”
 
George Marchand was on the phone with the director of IT services at the U.S. Geological Survey.
 
“No it doesn’t George. You know what I’m saying.”
 
“I know you’re saying you know something you’re not telling me.”
 
“No, George. You know I’m saying I know something I can’t tell you. C’mon, be reasonable.”
 
“OK, have it your way. Then how about giving me a user ID and a password that don’t exist for this Web site that doesn’t exist?”
 
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The Alexandria Project, Chap. 27: Here's to the Company!

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

What follows is the the first draft of my first cybersecurity thriller, The Alexandria Project. You can buy the final, and much revised eBook and printed versions, here and at all of the other usual on-line outlets.

Courtesy prinsje  from stock.xchng at: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1008254Frank Sr. swung his ancient Land Rover back onto the highway, a server humming in the back and Frank Jr. tapping away in the front on his laptop. Power and connector cables passed between the two seats. 

“I’ve only got an AirCard to work, but if we’re lucky I’ll have Foomjoy’s entire hard drive replicated by the time we cross the Mississippi. I’ve already got the CIA’s list of hacked sites from the CIA, so let’s see what that shows.”
 
Frank pored over the data as they drove eastward into the night. There seemed to be no order or pattern to the 492 sites that had been attacked to date. Every type of host had been hit - newspapers, universities, retailers, government sites, non-profits – you name it. After the first few high profile targets, the most obvious conclusion seemed to be that the hits had been chosen at random. 
 
What to make of that?

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U.K. Cabinet Office Adopts ODF as Exclusive Standard for Sharable Documents

OpenDocument and OOXML

The U.K. Cabinet Office accomplished today what the Commonwealth of Massachusetts set out (unsuccessfully) to achieve ten years ago: it formally required compliance with the Open Document Format (ODF) by software to be purchased in the future across all government bodies. Compliance with any of the existing versions of OOXML, the competing document format championed by Microsoft, is neither required nor relevant. The announcement was made today by The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude.

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The Alexandria Project, Chap. 26: Is This the Person to Whom I am Speaking?

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

What follows is the the first draft of my first cybersecurity thriller, The Alexandria Project. You can buy the final, and much revised eBook and printed versions, here and at all of the other usual on-line outlets.

Ancient Switchboard OperatorFBI Director Francis X. McInnerney pressed the intercom button on his speakerphone.
 
“Yes, Mary?”
 
“Mr. Baldwin for you, Sir.”
 
McInnerney gave a gasp that was half astonishment and half rage. Baldwin was calling him after nuking an FBI target that morning? He punched the phone ferociously with his index finger and cut loose.
 
“What the hell do you think you’re doing Baldwin, interfering with an FBI operation on American soil? You’re so far over the line I’m going to get your head handed to you if it’s the last thing I do!” 
 
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Alexandria Proj. Chap 25: Just a Simple Walk in the Woods

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

 New to The Alexandria Project?  Find a plot synopsis and guide to the characters here, find the earlier chapters here, and follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter

 Missile Command Video GameTwo can play the same game, CIA Director John Foster Baldwin thought with a smile. Maybe this inter-agency database has something going for it after all.
 
“Do we have any equipment within range of Ely Nevada?” Baldwin asked into his speakerphone. 
 
“Yes, Sir. We’ve got units at our New Mexico test facility. We can send them in above commercial air traffic and then give you about five hours over target.”
 
“That will be more than we’ll need. I want two ready to go as soon as you can, one for the mission, and the second as backup. Can you get me on target by first light tomorrow?” 
 
There was a pause this time. Baldwin could hear computer keys clicking in the background.

 

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The Alexandria Project, Chapter 24: The Bacon and Eggs will get you Every Time

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

 New to The Alexandria Project?  Find a plot synopsis and guide to the characters here, find the earlier chapters here, and follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter

Slim Pickens, riding The Bomb all the way down in Stanley Kubrick's Doctor Strangelove (1964)CIA Director John Foster Baldwin pressed a button on his intercom.

“Yes, Gwen?”
 
“Mr. McInnerney for you, Sir.”
 
The Director gave an inward groan. What the hell could Francis X. McInnerney want?   Baldwin hadn’t spoken to the FBI Director since their grilling by Congressman Steele’s committee weeks ago. And why would he want to? McInnerney had done everything he could to deflect Steele’s wrath towards the CIA, and with some success, too. Whatever McInnerney might have to say, Baldwin doubted he’d like it.
 
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The Future of Competition in Publishing: Be Very Afraid

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Lord Stanhope's Printing PressIf you were to count up all of the earnest articles, blog entries, and even Colbert Report routines that have been dedicated to the Amazon vs. Hatchette dispute, well, you wouldn't have an accurate number, because more would have been written while you were counting. Curiously enough, almost 100% of them  miss the point of greatest concern to authors. The real issue isn't whether the on-line retailer or the publishers win the current battle, but whether there will be any real competition in the marketplace in the future regardless of who wins. Right now, it's very hard for me to see how there can be.  Here's why.

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The Alexandria Project, Chapter 23: Sarin? You Thought I Said Sarin?

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

  New to The Alexandria Project?  Find a plot synopsis and guide to the characters here, find the earlier chapters here, and follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter

 
General Chan Bok-choy, ranking general of the Peoples Army of North Korea, was walking across a broad plaza at the side of the President of the Supreme People’s Assembly. They had just left a meeting with the Dear Leader, and had only a few minutes to converse without being overheard by their aides, or by those in the listening rooms that monitored the microphones that were everywhere. 
 
General Bok-choy knew that they were not completely safe from surveillance even here. Doubtless, some member of the Secret Police was filming them from a hidden location using a telescopic lens, so that another agent could later try to read their lips. For that reason, the General walked with his hands clasped behind his back and his head bowed. Being at the top of the chain of command in the paranoid, otherworld of North Korea meant you were always being spied on by everyone else in the inner circle. And, of course, you were spying on them as well.
 
President Kim Lang-dong spoke first. 
 
“Are you sure that you can destroy both Washington and New York, General?”
 
“There can be no doubt.”