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Tuesday, June 30 2015 @ 11:52 PM CDT

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Blog Branding Blues: Can a Blog Divided Against Itself Long Stand?

Adventures in Self-Publishing

From time to time I've run into people that have more than one blog, and have usually wondered how that came about, and also how it was working out? Often, I've noticed, one of the efforts ends up petering out, left abandoned and forlorn, with that one last, lonely post waiting hopefully for the next to come along, which it never comes. With each passing day, the blog becomes less visited, soon to be found only by random Web searchers that skip out as soon as they accidentally arrive. Poor Blogger.  Poor blog.

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The Alexandria Project, Chap. 13: Desperately Seeking Adversego

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

Sesame Street's Bert & ErnieIt was 8:00 AM and CIA agent Carl Cummings was already having a bad day.
 
With Frank on the run, Carl had just two responsibilities: protecting Frank’s daughter Marla without her knowledge, which was a pretty ho-hum job, and protecting Frank, which at the moment was impossible. But the tasks were still connected, since he figured his best shot at finding Frank was by intercepting a message between father and daughter. The problem was, Carl had once had a fling with the daughter that didn’t end well, and he knew she despised him. Needless to say, he couldn’t tail her personally.
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The Alexandria Project, Chap. 12: Now You See Me (Now You Don't!)

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

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

 
Humphrey Bogart as private detective Sam SpadeFrank was leaning back in his cubicle chair, feet up on his desktop. That way he could keep an eye on Carl Cumming’s office down the corridor. The guy must have the bladder of a camel, he thought. Wouldn’t he ever need to relieve himself?
 
Finally, Cummings emerged, and Frank leaned forward nonchalantly, still tapping away on his laptop. Once the agent had passed by, though, Frank leaned backward again. 
 
Good. Cummings was headed for the reception area door - and now he was through it. Frank waited for a minute to pass, then grabbed his coat and his more than usually full backpack and walked slowly up the corridor, waiting for Cummings to return.  
 
Once he saw Cummings through the reception area glass, he walked the last few steps to the reception desk. As expected, Cummings noticed Frank’s coat. Trying to appear as if a headline had caught his eye, the agent picked a newspaper up from the reception area coffee table within easy earshot. Perfect.

 

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The Alexandria Project, Chap. 11: Have I got an App for You!

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

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

 
CNBC MadMoney's Jim CramerWhile CIA Agent Carl Cummings was being taught to heel, Frank was sitting at his kitchen table, tapping away at the cramped keyboard of a cheap netbook connected to a neighbor’s unsecured WiFi network. Even this was risky, he reminded himself, so this brief session would have to be his last until he moved on.
 
A few taps more and he had logged on to the bank account of the Pangloss Game Company. Mentally crossing his fingers, he clicked on the link for an account that simply read “iBallZapper.” When the new view displayed, the number that immediately caught his eye was in the balance column, and that number was $247,396.78. A slow smile of victory spread across Frank’s face as he hit the refresh button. The number jumped upward by another $1,238.42. It seemed that his plan was unfolding nicely. 
 
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It’s Document Freedom Day 2014: What Does that Mean for You?

OpenDocument and OOXML

If the question posed in the title to this entry puzzles you, consider the following: yes, it’s reasonable to assume that you will be able to open a document tomorrow that you create today. But how about opening that same document ten years from now?  Here’s a hint: have you tried to open one you created ten years ago?  Maybe that didn’t work so well.  Twenty years ago?  Not a chance. 

Get the idea?

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The Alexandria Project, Chap. 10: Good Boy, Carl!

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

 New to the Alexandria Project?  Find the first and later chapters here.  You can also follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter.

Alexandra Day's cover illustration for her classic children's board book, "Good Dog, Carl"“Oh, good morning Agent Cummings! Mr. Marchand would like to speak to you.” The normally sullen receptionist smiled brightly at the handsome young agent.
 
“That’s nice. I’ll get around to it.” 
 
“Oh, but he said right away – just as soon as you arrive. He’s in the conference room right there.” Mary pointed to the door at her right.
 
Carl gave a nonchalant smile and walked on. Who was George to be telling him what to do?
 
Ten minutes later, coffee cup in hand, he strolled past Mary again, rewarded her with a smile, and opened the conference room door without knocking.
 
To his surprise, he saw his CIA boss sitting next to George, and next to him, the head of the CIA’s cybersecurity division, Michael Armstrong. He got a much bigger surprise when he heard Armstrong call George “Sir.”
 
Carl slipped quietly into an empty chair and decided it was high time he started listening more carefully to what George had to say. 
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The Alexandria Project, Chap. 9 – You've Got Mail!

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

 Our story so far:  Now under surveillance, Frank begins to plan his escape.  Read the first chapters here, and you can also follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter.

Arriving at work on Monday, Frank found a Post-it® note on his monitor with three words:  See me – George.  It looked like the week was about to get off to an interesting start.  The question was how?

When Frank arrived at George’s office, his boss motioned him to sit down.  Then he slid a single sheet of paper to the edge of his desk.

“This arrived in the mail on Saturday.  Be sure not to touch it.  I don’t want your fingerprints on it.”

Frank recognized the logo at the top of the letter immediately: a tall, ancient looking building that might be a lighthouse.  Startled, he looked up at George.

"Read it."

Frank pulled his chair up to the desk, leaned over, and did as he was told.

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The Alexandria Project, Chap. 8 – Face Off with Fearless Fosdick

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

Our story so far:  Now under surveillance, Frank begins to plan his escape.  Read the first chapters here, and you can also follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter.

To Frank’s disgust, it was love at first sight for Lilly when Carl Cummings arrived to collect Frank’s passport.  But Frank’s distaste turned to glee when he realized that the CIA agent hated dogs.  Frank stepped back to better appreciate Carl’s futile efforts to fend off the obese corgi’s surprisingly energetic advances.

Predictably, Mrs. Foomjoy  popped just then like a jack-in-the-box out of her door across the hall.  Frank thought she looked magnificent in her full regalia of housedress, fuzzy slippers and curlers, as she fiercely admonished Cummings for his lack of appreciation for canine perfection.  With an effort, she pushed past him and snatched Lily up, lighting into the startled Cummings with a vengeance all the while.  And then, as suddenly as she had appeared, Frank’s apparition of a neighbor disappeared with Lilly behind her energetically slammed door.

The agent turned to Frank, a helpless look on his face.  But Frank simply smiled and tucked his passport in the agent’s pocket.  “Sorry for my bad manners, Carl.  Next time I’ll introduce you.”   He closed the door gently in the bewildered agent’s face.

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Adventures in Self-Publishing: Rediscovering GoodReads

Adventures in Self-Publishing

One of the frustrating things about learning your around the self-publishing landscape is that there’s a flood of data but no way to qualify it. Given that for every possible category of interest (print on demand publishers, community sites, promoters, and on and on) there are many, and in some cases even hundreds, or alternatives, that’s a real problem.

As a result, when I started down this path I engaged in the time honored custom of throwing mud against the proverbial wall to see what might stick. The problem is not only that this is indiscriminate and time consuming, but most of the time there’s no way to tell which mud might actually be clinging and which not, since there’s usually no way to track positive results back to the source.

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The Alexandria Project Chap. 7: What a Difference a Day (and a Decision Tree) Makes

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

Our story so far:  At the end of an “interview” with a CIA agent, Frank realizes he may have become the prime suspect in the investigation of the ongoing hacking of Library of Congress.  Now what?  Read the first chapters here, and you can also follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter.

Decision Tree - public domain -  Thanks to PolyextremophileFrank struggled to organize his thoughts as he left the fiasco of an “interview” he’d just endured at the hands of CIA agent Carl Cummings.  Time to be logical, he thought, not emotional.  If he didn’t start getting a hold of himself, at this rate he’d find himself in jail. 

So what should be at the top of the decision tree, he asked as he walked back to his cubicle.  Well, the first gate appeared to be whether Cummings really thought Frank was the culprit.  If no, then Frank could relax, but if yes, then Frank could be in real trouble.  Frank weighed the possibility that Carl was just jerking everyone around, to feel self-important.  Negative, Frank decided.  Everyone else thought the disappearing documents were part of a test, not a real exploit, and Carl would have wanted to keep it that way. 

So that means I’m in trouble, Frank told himself.  See?  I'm making progress already.