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Sunday, May 24 2015 @ 02:11 AM CDT

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VC Madness Redux: Stop them Before they Kill the Economy Again

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

Courtesy of Spechtarts via Wikimedia Commons,  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Austria license. Heaven help us all, they’re doing it again. The “who” are the venture capitalists, and the “what” is super-inflating another start-up company bubble. Consider the following valuations, as summarized by Steven Davidoff-Solomon in this morning’s New York Times: Instacart, a same-day grocery delivery service (remember WebVan?) wants to raise $100 million at a $2 billion valuation. Too modest? How about WeWork Companies (why not share your office space the way Uber shares cars?), which closed on $355 million at a $5 billion valuation. And then, of course, there’s Uber, with a $41 billion valuation, but only a modest share of the $7 billion a year people spend on cabs.

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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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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 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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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?”