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Saturday, August 01 2015 @ 09:17 PM CDT

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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.”
 
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Celebrating 30 Years of the X Windows System

Open Source/Open Standards

Where were you when you first learned about open source software? If you’re under, say, the age of 40, your answer will probably be, “Come again? I’ve always known about it!” But if you’re older, you may recall the first time you ever heard the phrase. Maybe it was when Netscape announced it was going to “open source” its Navigator Browser, or perhaps when you heard the name Richard Stallman for the first time. It may also be the case that it was some time before you really got your arms around what open software (or Stallman’s Free and Open Software) really meant in all of its various connotations – license-wise, commercial and community.

Or maybe you got involved before the phrase “open source software” had even been coined (in 1998, by Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond) to describe what it was they were doing.

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The Alexandria Project, Chapter 22: Fancy Meeting You Here!

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

 
Courtesy of Liam Quin - Public Domain“There?  That dusty old bookstore?  That's where you think the Alexandria Project that's trying to take down western civilization as we know it is based?" 
 
“Yes, 'that dusty old bookstore!'” Marla snapped. “My father’s certain that’s where the attacks are coming from. We’re in Alexandria, right? So it all ties together. And in case you’ve forgotten, the first gripe the Alexandria Project mentioned in the letter they sent George Marchand was about the Library of Congress pulping books,” so why not a bunch of book fanatics? Marla blew her nose, and Carl noticed for the first time that she had a bad cold.
 
“Okay, okay. It’s just not what I had expected, but don’t worry, we’ll take it from here.”
 
“’We’ll take it from here?’ What is that supposed to mean?” Marla was more than annoyed now.
 
Carl looked surprised. “You know, I’ll report in to headquarters, we’ll comb the store without the owners knowing anything, and if we can find the right evidence, we’ll arrest them.”
 
“Right.” Marla said. “Exactly right. That’s just what we’ll do. Didn’t anyone teach you how to use pronouns properly?”

 

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Amazon or Hachette: Which Would George Washington Choose?

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Unless you’ve been taking a holiday from the news for the past month, you are already aware that Amazon is in the midst of a very nasty negotiation with Hatchette, one of the “Big Five” U.S. publishers. Together, as a result of a decades-long series of acquisitions, these five companies have consolidated virtually all of the most-revered, but now conglomerate-owned, publishing houses in the U.S. Given the degree of respect that books still command, the dispute has attracted far more public commentary than commercial disputes in such a narrow market usually attract.

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The Alexandria Project, Chapter 21: What a Difference a Dong Makes!

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 

George Marchand was not at his desk at the Library of Congress. Instead, he was ordering a mixed selection of donuts at The Bakers Dozen, a coffee shop in a small town outside the Beltway. Paying for his purchase, he asked the teenager if they had a restroom. “In the back,” she said, counting out his change without looking up.
 
George strolled to the rear of the shop and opened the door in the rear wall of the seating area. He ignored the two restroom entrances on the other side, and instead unlocked the unmarked door to their right. Closing it behind him, he found a flight of stairs leading to another door, this time without either a keyhole or a doorknob. 
 
When he arrived at the top, George slid his fingers along the door trim on the right until he found a recessed area. Pushing against it, he felt the trim unlatch, and he swung it open on its hidden hinges to expose a numerical keypad.   After punching in a seven number sequence, the door swung open to reveal a modest sized room containing nothing but a conference room with chairs, and a series of doors set into its walls. Sitting around the table were three men about his own age. 
 
“How come I always have to buy the donuts?” George asked as he walked in, pushing the door closed behind him.
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Alexandria Project, Chapter 20: Does the Dear Leader have a Rocket in his Pocket, or is he Just Happy to See Us?

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

The President of the United States was treating himself to an early breakfast of bacon and eggs. Why not? If a Commander in Chief couldn’t ignore his doctor’s orders on his 70th birthday, why bother to have the job at all? 
 
“Ready, Mr. President?” 
 
“Go for it, Harry.” 
 
Adlai Stevenson Harrison was the President’s Director of National Intelligence. He was also one of his oldest and best friends, and therefore one of the few advisors the President invited to join him in the family’s private quarters on the upper floor of the White House.
 
Harrison took the Daily Brief he had completed a half hour before from his briefcase and handed it across the breakfast table as the President put on his reading glasses.
 
“Hmm. I see you’ve moved Korea to the top position. What’s new since yesterday? Have they gone and sunk another South Korean boat?”