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Sunday, May 24 2015 @ 12:14 PM CDT

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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.

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My Comments as Posted to the UK Cabinet Office Standards Hub (now it's your turn)

OpenDocument and OOXML

Updated: The deadline for filing comments has been extended to 1700 GMT on Friday, February 28

Last week I highlighted the fact that Microsoft was urging its business partners to comment at the British Cabinet Office's Standards Hub on a standards-related proposal. That proposal would limit government procurement to office software that complied with the ISO ODF standard, but makes no mention of the ISO OOXML standard promoted by Microsoft. I also noted that anyone could comment on the proposal, and that the deadline for comments would close on February 26, Greenwich time. I closed by urging readers to let their opinions on the subject be heard.

Having so urged, I could hardly forego offering my own comments as well, and now I have done exactly that. What follows is the text I uploaded there, and perhaps it will help motivate you to contribute as well if you have not already done so.

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The Alexandria Project, Chap. 6: The Perils of Profiles

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

Our story so far: Our hero, Frank Adversego is trying to catch a hacker threatening the Library of Congress, whose motives remain obscure. But the pursuer is about to become the pursued. Read the first chapter here, and follow the Further Adventures of Frank on Twitter.

While Frank was enjoying himself spear phishing venture capitalists, back at the Library of Congress files were flashing out of virtual view like fireflies on a summer’s eve. One by one, documents important and banal, short and long, drifted silently off in the digital darkness to points unknown, leaving only Alexandria Project contribution screen code behind.

Thus it was that at 10 on Friday morning, Frank’s office phone buzzed, and he heard the receptionist say, “Your turn, Frank. Conference room two.”

Frank logged off his computer and stood up with a thoughtful look on his face. Just enough time for a little self-coaching as he walked down the hallway. Stay cool, he thought. Be calm. You don’t have anything to worry about, so just tell the news.

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Comment Deadline on UK Cabinet Office “ODF Only” Policy is February 26

OpenDocument and OOXML

Updated: The deadline for filing comments has been extended to 1700 GMT on Friday, February 28

As you may be aware, the UK Cabinet Office has been engaged in the long and careful development of an updated open standards policy to guide government procurement of ICT goods and services. A few weeks ago, a senior government minister received great attention when he announced that the Cabinet Office hoped to give preference in the future to purchasing open source office suite software implementing the OpenDocument Format (ODF) standard.

This intention, however, is not a done deal. Rather, the rules that would establish this preference are currently only in the proposal stage, and all elements of that proposal can be changed or deleted, based upon comments posted at the Cabinet Office’s public Standards Hub Web site by businesses, citizens and others. And the deadline for commenting on those proposals is fast approaching: February 26.

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A Formula for Launching the RedHats of the Future

Open Source/Open Standards

Last week Peter Levine, former XenXource CEO and current Andreesen Horowitz partner, wrote an article for TechCrunch titled Why There Will Never be Another RedHat: The Economics of Open Source.  In that article he makes a reasonable case for opining that the likelihood of another company achieving RedHat-scale success based on wrapping services around an open source offering is very low. Instead, he proposes that the model that can lead to significant success is to include open source components in a service that includes additional (presumably proprietary) functionality and/or services.

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Adventures in Self-Publishing: Using Social Media to Promote your Book

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Social Media Marketing, courtesy of Paola Peralta/Wikimedia Commons - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license Last time I promised to talk about setting up Twitter and Facebook pages. For many people this should be the easiest part of establishing a Web presence, since so many folks already use one or both services. If you’re one of them , the biggest challenge may be to unlearn existing habits and start using social media in a very different and more purposeful way than before (after all, unless your book is about LOL cats, pointers to their Youtube videos isn’t likely to help sell your book). If you’re not, the biggest challenge won’t be setting up the pages (which is easy) but finally taking the plunge into a bottomless pit that you may understandably have been scrupulously avoiding for a long time. Like me.

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European Commission declares itself an “Honest broker in future global negotiations on Internet Governance”

WSIS/Internet Governance

For more than a decade there has been active resistance in some quarters to the continuing custody by the U.S. of the root domain registries of the Internet. Those directories (which control the routing of Internet traffic into and out of nations) are administered by ICANN, which in turn exists under the authority of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Today, Neelie Kroes, the strong-willed European Commission Vice-President in charge of the E.C.’s Digital Agenda, has put the question of “Internet Governance” (read: control of these registries) back into the news. Specifically, Kroes announced in a press release that the Commission will pursue a “role as honest broker in future global negotiations on Internet Governance.”