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Tuesday 21 January 2014

Cool Criminal

According to the BBC, the latest distributor of internet spam uncovered by security firm Proofpoint was ... a fridge. No, that wasn't a typo. I didn't mean to type 'henchman from Sicily', or 'spotty teenager from Alabama', or 'Mr Big of Leeds' (no offence to Sicily, Alabama or Leeds - I'm sure there are no such miscreant inhabitants in your fair homes, but it's early and they were the first places that came to mind).

Now, call me old-fashioned, but my fridge is there to keep our milk cold. It has one cable, and that carries the electricity to keep the whole thing running. It doesn't have internet access. I don't want my kitchen appliances surfing the web. But it would seem that smart tech is starting to appear in even the most basic of homewares, and a lot of it hasn't been configured with security in mind.

So, if the doorbell rings and the internet police burst in shouting and hollering and waving warrants under your nose, try not to panic. They'll be there to arrest your sofa. Or your bath. Or possibly your toothbrush. And don't feel too sad as the offending item is carted off to jail. It was clearly a wrong-un to start with.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

IT Woes

An update on the web developer's software issue:

It's more complicated than feared. However, he who fixes the computer will overcome our current software issues, possibly through the purchase of an alternate package. This unfortunate circumstance may yet be avoided, as a search of various forums revealed that others are having similar problems. It's just possible that teams of programmers in a spartan office somewhere are beavering away on a solution as I write. I shall follow the standard advice in such situations and refrain from holding my breath. With my expert on hand, updates to the QT website are still possible, albeit via a route of such fiendish complexity that I shan't be trusted to undertake it myself.

Marvellous stuff this modern technology, isn't it?

Tuesday 14 January 2014

New Story

The web developers' software we use for managing our websites has recently been updated. They've improved it, so now it doesn't work. Well, it sort of works, but it doesn't actually like uploading data to the web, which is awkward. Even he who fixes the computer is stumped and is stomping around the house muttering between bouts of frantic clicking and typing. I have faith. He always works it out.

Anyway, this lengthy preamble is my convoluted way of announcing the arrival of a new story on the QT website (after a prolonged battle with the software). Inspired by a challenge set by Richard, this one is called Noah's Ark and tells the story behind the Ark of Kingston Green.

I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Lost in the Post?

Author and journalist Harry Mount recently tested the method of posting letters developed by P.G.Wodehouse whilst living in Cheltenham. Not wanting to traipse down four flights of stairs when he wanted to post a letter, the Jeeves and Wooster creator instead opened a window and threw his stamped letters down to the street. The good people of Cheltenham could then be relied upon to pick them up and carry them to the nearest postbox. Lazy, but effective.

So, Harry Mount left stamped letters in various places around the country to see if people are still as honest and courteous, and discovered that the West Country folk can still be relied upon to rescue 'lost' letters, whilst those closer to the great metropolis were more likely to walk on by.

I have in the past rescued a 'lost' letter and I would do it again, but these days I might spend a bit of time afterwards wondering if I'd done the right thing. After all, what if the sender had written an angry note in the heat of the moment and had then had a change of heart and decided not to post it? Perhaps the letter within, far from being a welcome contact with an old acquaintance, was hate mail, or something even worse?

Drat. Now I've confused myself. To post or not to post? Why do I always overthink these things? Curses! Nope, I'll take my cue from my adopted West Country home. I'll post your lost letters for you. If you've changed your mind about sending them then you shouldn't leave them lying in the street!

Friday 3 January 2014

Dream Workings?

Dreams have puzzled and inspired people throughout the ages, and yet nobody truly knows what they are, other than the brain sorting through the day's events. There have been times when the nocturnal administrations of my grey matter have inspired a story, it's true. Indeed, there have been occasions when everyone has been forced to stand aside as I've dashed from my bed to the computer to rattle off whatever idea the grey cells have formulated during their nightly sortings. But it doesn't happen often. Most of the time, my dreamworld is a lurid and peculiar place that I'm quite glad to escape in the morning. Last night's efforts are a case in point:

Following the welcome return of the dark and somewhat bewildering 'Silent Witness' we felt the need for something lighter-hearted to restore our emotional equilibrium. A quick search through our Yuletide recordings led to us watching 'Toy Story 3'. After that we read our books for a while before turning in. I'm reading 'Final Epidemic' by Earl Merkel. Currently the hero 'Beck Casey' is learning more than he wanted to know about Russian and American spies. Now, you may be wondering why I'm telling you all this, but the combination of the three goes some way to explaining why my dreams last night largely featured murderous, dark and nefarious characters, presided over by Toy Story hero, Woody, who I came to believe was a spy, probably for the US though I was unable to confirm that. It was, frankly, disturbing and clearly demonstrates the unreliability of my dream state for inspiring my writing. After all, I can't see Pixar being keen on seeing their eternal good guy, Woody, as a sneaky secret agent.

Or maybe they would?

Anyway, the writing shall resume as normal within the next few days without reliance upon dreams of any nature. I'm very close to the conclusion of Billy 3 now, although the rewriting, editing and proofing will consume the next few months. The final chapter of Billy's story is now, at last, nearly writ!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year.