Hi there. You’ll notice the blog looks a little different, which would be because we moved to a new website by way of BlueHost.com. I’m figuring out how to manage the blog’s appeareance now and I’ll be adding more links to books and so on as the days progress. Bear with me…I’m getting it done.
A neat bit of news: I’m moderating some guest Q&A panels at AetherCon VI, which is in full swing now.
AetherCon is an all-online convention where participants can roll from one panel room to another, visit events, and partake in moderated gaming sessions with game masters from every time zone.
In my case, I’ll be talking to representatives from some really neat game manufacturers. There will be five separate Q&A sessions:
Guests: Mortis Logan, Paul Reid
Guests: Chris Garland
Guests: Josh Harrison, Andrew Ragland, Mary Harrison
Guests: Rodney Sloan, Bob Storrar
Rising Phoenix Games (South Africa)
Guest: Justin Andrew Mason
I’d love to see you there!
Disclosure: I’m a rabid fan of the MCU. I love the acting, the writing, the sets, the costumes, the whole shebang. But other than a brief flirtation with the New Mutants in the late ‘80s, I’ve never really collected Marvel’s comics. I know the characters and I followed the grand story arcs, but I’m not feeling the burn the way I did when I was in college.
So when editor Steve Beaulieu asked me to write a story for his superhero anthology, Collateral Damage, I accepted.
[book_cover not_author_book=”collateral-damage-superheroes-and-vile-villains-3″ align=”right” size-keyword=”medium”]Then, I panicked.
I thought: what am I doing here? I don’t know superheroes! I can barely read the print in a comic book any more. How do you write a story about…?
Wait a minute.
As I thought about it, I realized something: Maybe I can’t write about a superhero. But I can write about the people who deal with them. The normal people. The humans. Even the supers who never made the grade.
And that’s what I did.
My story is titled “Fixing Sniper Girl” and it’s a bit of X-Men meets Gunslinger Girl. A dude with language superpowers retires from active duty, to be called back when his old team—a real super-group—is unable to deal with a high tech assassin. It was terrific fun to write and it’s available from the Amazon store right this minute. Pick up a copy of Collateral Damage if you feel so inclined, and a review would not go amiss. And if you’re really looking for a good time, pick up a copy of HaHaHa! the supervillain companion volume. Above all, enjoy!
Since the subject of international border crossing shenanigans for travelers has come up in the news, I found this tidbit on Boingboing.com:
How to legally cross a US (or other) border without surrendering your data and passwords
The combination of 2014’s Supreme Court decision not to hear Cotterman (where the 9th Circuit held that the data on your devices was subject to suspicionless border-searches, and suggested that you simply not bring any data you don’t want stored and shared by US government agencies with you when you cross the border) and Trump’s announcement that people entering the USA will be required to give border officers their social media passwords means that a wealth of sensitive data on our devices and in the cloud is now liable to search and retention when we cross into the USA.
On Wired, Andy Greenberg assembles some best-guess advice on the legal and technical strategies you can deploy to maintain the privacy of your sensitive data, based on techniques that security-conscious travelers have arrived at for crossing into authoritarian countries like China and Russia.
The most obvious step is to not carry your data across the border with you in the first place: get a second laptop and phone, load them with a minimal data-set, log out of any services you won’t need on your trip and don’t bring the passwords for them (or a password locker that accesses them) with you, delete all logs of cloud-based chat services. I use POP mail, which means that I don’t keep any mail on a server or in a cloud, so I could leave all my mail archives at home, inaccessible to me and everyone else while I’m outside of the USA or at the border.
Call your lawyer (or a trusted friend with your lawyer’s number) before you cross the border, then call them again when you’re released; if they don’t hear from you, they can take steps to ensure that you have crossed successfully, or send help if you need it.
One thing Greenberg misses is the necessity of completing a US Customs and Immigration Service Form G-28 before you cross the border. This form authorizes an attorney to visit you if you are detained at the border, but it has to be completed and signed in advance of your crossing. It also should be printed on green paper. The current version of the form expires in 2018, so you can complete it now, file it with your attorney or friend, and leave it until next year.
Remove any fingerprint-based authentication before you cross and replace them with PINs. Greenberg’s experts recommend using very strong passwords/PINs to lock your devices. I plan on a different strategy: before my next crossing, I’ll change all of these passwords/PINs to 0000 or aaaaaaaa, so that I can easily convey them to US border officials and they can quickly verify that I have no sensitive data on any of my devices. Once I have successfully crossed, I’ll change these authentication tokens back to strong versions.
It’s up! it’s live! It’s for sale as part of Nick Webb’s insanely popular Legacy Fleet series on Amazon’s Kindle Worlds!
As I mention in the Author’s Notes section of the book, Legacy Fleet: Colossus was of a universe that I spent a lot of time in many years ago: Palladium Books’ Robotech RPG. While writing those books was a ton of fun, I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters and situations I’d built after we parted ways. I wanted to write more, introduce new characters, cooler ships and gear, and come up with extended stories. Sadly, that door closed. But the ambition never stopped.
So when Nick Webb made his Legacy Fleet series available for new contributions via Kindle Worlds, I knew I could finally bring all those ideas back to the front burner. Colossus is the result.
10 Investigative Reporting Outlets to Follow
January 13, 2017
This post first appeared on BillMoyers.com.
We’ve just started a new series highlighting some of the best, in-depth investigative journalism that is uncovering real news, revealing wrongdoing and fomenting change. As a compendium, here are 10 investigative reporting outlets that are worth following if they’re not already on your radar.
1. ProPublica — Founded 10 years ago by a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, ProPublica is a nonprofit investigative news site based in New York City. In 2010 ProPublica was the first online publication to win a Pulitzer Prize and has earned two more since, as well as a long list of other prestigious awards.
2. The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) — An early player in the nonprofit investigative space, CPI has been around for close to 30 years. Its reporters have won dozens of journalism awards, including a Pulitzer in 2014, for its investigations of money in politics, national security, health care reform, business and the environment.
3. The Center For Investigative Reporting (CIR) — Founded 40 years ago in the San Francisco Bay Area, CIR is a nonprofit that has partnered for years with other outlets to reach a wide audience in print, on television, on radio and online. It collaborates with PRX Radio to produce Reveal, the investigative radio program and podcast. The Reveal website is now home to all of CIRs investigative content.
4. Frontline — Launched more than 30 years ago, Frontline is television’s most consistent and respected investigative documentary program. Its documentaries are broadcast on PBS and are available online, along with original reporting.
5. Mother Jones — Mother Jones, founded in 1976, is a reader-supported, nonprofit news organization headquartered in San Francisco with bureaus in Washington, DC and New York City. The site includes investigative reporting as well as general reporting on topics including politics, climate change and education.
6. The Intercept — The Intercept is a news organization launched in 2014 by legal and political journalist Glenn Greenwald, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras.
7. Real Clear Investigations — Real Clear Investigations, which launched last fall, is the new nonprofit, investigative arm of Real Clear Politics. It is mostly an aggregator of investigative reporting, but has also begun conducting original investigations.
8. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) — ICIJ is a nonprofit offshoot of the Center for Public Integrity that began 20 years ago. It is a global network of more than 190 investigative journalists in more than 65 countries who work together to investigate cross-border issues including crime, corruption and abuse of power.
9. Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) — IRE is a grass-roots, nonprofit, membership organization that has been providing tips, training and conferences for investigative reporters since 1975. Its blog, Extra! Extra! showcases a wide variety of watchdog journalism.
10. BuzzFeed — Whatever you think about its decision to release the Trump dossier earlier this week (journalists are divided in their opinions), BuzzFeed has a growing investigative team and body of work worth attention, but it’s not always easy to find on the site. If you want to know what the team is up to you can follow its editor, Mark Schoofs, @Schoofsfeed on Twitter.