9 April 2009

The Cassandra Complex, Wired UK and More Mortal Remains

I simply cannot be trusted to write blog entries on anything even remotely resembling a regular basis. It isn't necessarily anything to do with my commitment, dedication or self-motivation, but rather my constant wavering journey between 1) thinking I have something worth saying, and 2) thinking I have nothing of interest to impart whatsoever. In the spirit of conscious denial, I'm writing this anyway. Buggeration to the lot of you.


Got back from Cardiff yesterday where I spent a pleasant few days involved in work activity. I'm a security advisor by day, but am unable to name my employer due, rather obviously, to security reasons.

It was, on balance, a positive few days but I do get a little frustrated by the apparent inability of people to understand the basic concepts of security no matter how hard I try to explain them.

For instance, a question that I'm often asked is this: "We've got security guards on the front door and a lock on the office door, so why do we need to lock our papers away?"

"Well," I helpfully reply, "security is all about defence in depth or, if you prefer, the 'onion skin' approach. It's important to have layers of security protecting a particular asset so that if one of those layers fails or is ineffective against a certain threat, there will be other layers in place to provide continued protection."

They look at me blankly.

"Here's an example. If someone forgets to lock the office door, then an opportunist could get into the room and would then find a lovely selection of sensitive documentation strewn about the place. That would be a failure to protect the asset."

Glazed looks of incomprehension punctuated with the occasional nose-pick or arse-scratch.

"Don't forget, of course, that not only do we have to try and reduce outside threats, but also inside threats. It's widely acknowledged that approximately 80% of theft is committed internally. In other words, by people who actually have a right to be in your work area."

"What, like the cleaners? But aren't they security cleared?"

"Yes, they are security cleared depending on where they work, but that doesn't provide protection, it is merely one layer, a single countermeasure. We need to make sure those other layers are in place. Security clearance doesn't mean that we can trust that person implicitly with every piece of information we have. It's merely a general indication."

The blank looks resume.

"And remember, it isn't necessarily the cleaners that steal things. There are lots of other people who may have access to the office - the security guards, maintenance men, IT specialists and, of course", I take a deep breath, "your co-workers."

The blank looks dissolve into puzzlement, anger and incredulity.

Yes folks, when you explain to a roomful of people that their colleagues may want to steal things, they don't take it particularly well.

"Would you give your ATM card and PIN to a colleague and trust them with all your money? No, probably not. So why would you leave sensitive customer information, which they have no need to see, on your desk overnight? Treat assets as if they were your own personal property."

By this time, it's too late and the damage is done. Certain people finally understand it, but there is a stubborn hardcore who absolutely refuse to buy into what I'm telling them, even though it's common sense, purely because I'm part of management and, therefore, a demonic mouthpiece for "The Man" who clearly has no idea how things operate in the real world.

Sadly, they've never seen the scores of security incidents that occur nationwide across our organisation on a daily basis. If they did, then maybe it would open their eyes somewhat.

This, my friends, is the Cassandra Complex in action. I know the risks, I know the reasons for the countermeasures, but nobody is quite prepared to believe what I say.


See this it what happens when you don't follow simple security procedures. An Assistant Commissioner for the police gets out of a car holding a secret document, the media snaps a photo of him and are able to identify the contents of the document, and a major operation is temporarily put in jeopardy.

It really can be the most simple of errors which fucks everything up.


Recently bought the first issue of Wired UK, a magazine about, well, The Future.

It was a good read, but I can't help feeling slightly disappointed in it. I was expecting cutting edge technology, rampant futurism, an in-depth examination of future society, future psychology and future interaction. And yes, although those things were present, they seemed to be in relatively small numbers and sandwiched between articles on how to make the perfect espresso and what Sackboy would look like if you stripped off his skin and looked at his internal organs.

It seems that the magazine is trying to be everything to everyone, but only succeeds in looking a little bit confused and uncertain of its identity.

Also, it has a rather strange, visually busy format which means that sometimes you look at a page and just don't know where to start with it. Almost as if they've modelled the look on a webpage, with clusters of information here, there and everywhere. I still think it's a rather good publication though, so shall persevere with it anyway.

Oh, and according to page 36, Twittering and Steampunk are 'tired', and blogging and zombies are 'expired'. Great, so four things that I actually rather like are now unfashionably twee and deserving of nothing more than hearty guffaws and smirky finger-pointing. Bastards.


Mortal Remains update.

The meeting last Saturday was a big success. I sat and explained my new script structure, the plot points, the new characters, the new central location, etc, and both of my writing partners really liked it. One of them, Mike, is the original author, so his stamp of approval was excellent. The other, Simon, is not directly involved in this rewrite but his opinion is always gratefully received. A few suggestions were made, much discussion ensued, and it was a hugely successful evening.

Simon, incidentally, seems to want to move into writing for television, which is a career path that I'm not particularly interested in. However, I think he'll make a good fist of it. Indeed, I fully expect that he'll probably be the first one of the three of us to gain some commercial and critical success. I just hope he remembers his friends on the way up the ladder. And by 'remember' I mean buy us some beers with his extravagant BBC pay-cheques when his boat comes in.

So Mortal Remains is now underway and I must begin the painstaking process of transferring my basic structure into actual scenes, ideas, snippets of dialogue, etc, and sort the whole wretched mess into something that resembles a logical journey.

Time to crack out the index cards and put some serious thought into how the hell I'm going to make this work.


By the way, Tweetdeck is a bit fucked. Just downloaded an update which now gives me the functionality to put my tweets on Facebook, which I rarely use, and now the damn thing keeps crashing.

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