Tag Archives: wtf

Are you using one of these crappy passwords?

locked mouseHow many times are we advised to use strong passwords to protect ourselves? So many times that we tune out the advice maybe?

Even in the face of multiple warnings and the occasional cautionary tale like Target getting hacked, people are still using easily guessed and insecure codes to protect date. Splashdata compiled a list of the 25 most commonly used passwords, and they got their data from stolen files offered for sale.

Are you using one of these? Or anything like them?

Rank              Password  









































































Well, stop it. Stop it right now. You wouldn’t put a front door made of tissues on your house, and that’s not too different from these passwords.

The issue with strong passwords is that they can be tough to remember, and that makes us a bit lazy.  Here’s some advice from Webroot about making something strong enough to protect you and easy enough to recall.

Don’t be the friend with the password so simple even *I* could crack it. Unless you’re my kid and it’s on your Facebook account.

Did I say that out loud?


Gutwrench and panic redux

frustrated young  woman.Remember I was talking about backups last week? About how your sanity might be saved by having multiple backups in multiple locations so that you won’t lose 3 nearly completed novels like that poor author whose laptop was stolen?

There are some things that are almost as bad to lose–they can be recreated at the cost of much hairpulling and many tears, and I was ready to yank and cry.

Who here backs up their email contact list? My hand is only up because of my ghastly experience this morning. I went to check email, and of the hundreds of contacts I’d gathered over the years, some family, some friends, some business, some fans even, six remained.  Six. Cue acid reflux.

Why would I back up my email list? Windows Live Mail syncs to Hotmail, right? Yes, it does, which isn’t a good thing now–if you’re wiped on the local level, and you open the mail program, your synced list just disappeared.  But Gmail saves contacts too, right? Only if the email came in on that account. Otherwise, that contact never existed.

Synching a new phone siphons all your numbers if they don’t exist as Gmail contacts. Ask me how I know.  I synched my phone to Gmail and whoosh! All those contacts vaporized. Which I didn’t realize. And then, tra la la, I go to check my email on the laptop. And Windows Live Mail talked to the server and decided I meant  to remove elebenty-hundred names and addresses.

Before I figured this sequence out, I immediately flipped, thinking I’d been invaded by malware and disconnected the system hard drive (no sense in having this spread), threw up, ran scans, threw up again, found nothing on scan, cried on Eden Winters, and then got my act together. Restore point! I went back to a point behind the sync, and  YAY! my contacts are back.

Why this worked I am not sure: restoring doesn’t promise to affect data. But it’s back, I am happy if empty, and I am taking some of those “horse is gone, time to lock barn” precautions.

I exported my contact list from Windows Live Mail (don’t judge, it’s a program I know how to use) as a csv file, which is a handy feature. Go into Contacts, and the ribbon at the top has an Export button.  Click that, choose the fields you want to export with the ticky boxes (I chose them all, my contacts are a messy lot), and it walks you through picking where to save. I now have the file on my hard drive, my thumb drive, my external hard drive, and my cloud storage. And should I ever experience this joy again, I can suck all that info back in from whatever form is handiest, using the Import button right there at the top of the screen.

Backing up my contact list is going to have to be a regular part of my maintenance, because I just demonstrated how easily I can foul myself up.

Of course! This makes perfect sense

redpen1I haven’t had a scam to dissect in a while: the filter is too efficient or the offerings too mundane. Millions of dollars are still to be moved from Nigeria or Burkina Faso but not with any help from me.

This person at least has a novel twist: I’ve been mistaken for someone who knows something about a highly specialized industry. Not.

The Project is about the exportation of 100,000 barrels of Light Crude Oil daily out from Iraq to Turkey through my client’s company in Iraq at the rate of $92.00 a barrel. This amount to $9,200,000 daily. I ask for your support as a foreigner to handle this business project with my client and you are not expected to invest in Iraq

If yes, let me know and we will discuss this project proper.



My name isn’t Exxon or Schlumberger or even Sinclair.  I have no knowledge whatsoever about what to do with oil in its crude state, but then, all I really need is to open my finances to a perfect stranger to put my hands into that money waterfall.

Someone, somewhere, is going to fall for this. That’s scary.

It’s all in the presentation

Return to the Mountain400x600 (2)I’m starting to get all nervous about my new release. Return to the Mountain will be available March 22, and the nail biting has commenced. So have pre-orders, for that matter. **bites more**

Because the romance is really all about “boy meets boy, boy loses boy, boy gains boy,’ right? I tried to wrap that framework in new and shiny clothing, to tell the sequence in such a way that it becomes a fresh, worthwhile read.

Gary and Seth’s adventure is unrelated to the other Mountain stories, although some familiar faces lurk within the pages in secondary roles. They play a lot of golf, a game that’s surprisingly popular in the Colorado Rockies, judging from the amount of municipal courses and championship courses dotting the mountains. After all, one has to do something when there’s not enough snow to ski on–or enough money for lift tickets. These two are mountain boys, from a small town where the biggest employer once was a molybdenum mine and is now the fancy resort up valley. Gary longs for a day when he and Seth can sit down and be served a meal, instead of serving it.

So with the details I hope to put a new spin on a familiar structure. We all like a happy ending, and we want our MCs to have the love they’ve sought. And the underlying plot is a comfort, not a drawback. The voice and details are what make the plot a worthwhile read, because there are only so many plots to use.

Think about it–Avatar and Alien are the same movie.

You won’t catch me writing a songfic

I know how to write a songfic. More than one song has caught my attention and set me plotting. But quite aside from the annoyance (mine, YMMV) of stopping the narrative flow for some lyrics every few hundred words, that kind of story is a landmine waiting to detonate.

Some songs are in the public domain. I used a pibrocht with words for O’Carolan’s Seduction, because I wanted Steven to get a message across to Hugh. The traditional piece dates back to the 1700s and is most certainly out of copyright. Steven sings a few lines in a session and then the narrative moves on; thus not a songfic. Let me do a little more editing and I’ll put the story back up so you can see what I mean.

Song lyrics are subject to copyright just the way books and short stories are. Someone holds the rights, and if you want to include all or part of the words in your fiction, you have to get permission. Titles can’t be copyrighted (a good thing or Edward Abbey’s literary executor would be having a few words with me, and you can bet I checked before ever submitting Fire on the Mountain) but the words are. The way to find out if you can use lyrics is by asking, and you must abide by the “no” if the terms can’t be met. Depending on who holds the rights, they might be anything from thrilled at the thought of being quoted to willing should your pockets be deep enough.

“Deep enough” can be pretty deep. The Rolling Stones think Coca-Cola and Microsoft have enough spare change to pay their price for commercial use, and they’d have to defend their copyright vigorously to make it worth the behemoths’ while to pony up for the Stones’ brand.

Which means that any stray author who thinks quoting part or all of a Stones song is courting trouble. Sure, the use may fly under the radar for quite a long time. Then again, it may not.

It doesn’t have to be a band as big and well-known as the Stones to make unauthorized use of lyrics unacceptable. It’s hideous irony for an author to want copyright and yet not respect it when it belongs to someone else. “Because I want it” is not a valid reason to trample on the intellectual property rights of others.

Tradpub keeps tame lawyers around to keep them from stepping into this sort of mess. One aspect of self-pubbing is that you have to do your own due diligence. The information isn’t hard to come by–if you don’t have an IP attorney in your hip pocket, there are still plenty of authors’ sites which discuss the issue. It’s pretty unanimous–Don’t quote, unless you have the permissions and license.

I’ve seen contracts from several small presses, and they all make it clear that if you cost them money by using something you don’t have rights to, they’ll come back at you. They might have been thinking of fictional universes, but song lyrics could fall under that umbrella too. This is one case where the ounce of prevention is easy, and the pound of cure could be ruinous.

I had to dig up references for a bit of doggerel for O’Carolan’s Seduction showing the poem that drove Hugh into the kitchen had been recited as traditional a hundred years ago. When I needed lines from ‘In Flanders Fields’ for Blood on the Mountain, I included the author’s name and date of death. (US copyright extends through author’s lifetime plus seventy years.) Offering the information to my publisher before they asked showed I didn’t intend to put them at risk.

Amazon takes a very dim view of copyright infringement. Their terms of service don’t make any secret of this–the issue appears several times. And if you do it anyway, the terms are such that you don’t profit from it. This is from the the publishing agreement I and every other other indie author bound ourselves with when we published through Amazon. The red is mine, and what I consider the most important bits.

5.4.7 Offsets, etc. We can withhold Royalties and offset them against future payments as indicated below. Our exercise of these rights does not limit other rights we may have to withhold or offset Royalties or exercise other remedies.
If we pay you a Royalty on a sale and later issue a refund, return, or credit for that sale, we may offset the amount of the Royalty previously paid for the sale against future Royalties, or require you to remit that amount to us.
• If a third party asserts that you did not have all rights required to make one of your Digital Books available through the Program, we may hold all Royalties due to you until we reasonably determine the validity of the third party claim. If we determine that you did not have all of those rights or that you have otherwise breached your representations and warranties or our Content Guidelines with regard to a Digital Book, we will not owe you Royalties for that Digital Book and we may offset any of those Royalties that were previously paid against future Royalties, or require you to remit them to us.

5.7 Rights Clearances and Rights Dispute Resolution. You will obtain and pay for any and all necessary clearances and licenses for the Digital Books to permit our exercise of the rights granted under this Agreement without any further payment obligation by us, including, without limitation, all royalties and other income due to any copyright owner.

5.8 Representations, Warranties and Indemnities. You represent and warrant that: (a) you have the full right, power and authority to enter into and fully perform this Agreement and will comply with the terms of this Agreement; (b) prior to you or your designee’s delivery of any content, you will have obtained all rights that are necessary for the exercise the rights granted under this Agreement; (c) neither the exercise of the rights authorized under this Agreement nor any materials embodied in the content nor its sale or distribution as authorized in this Agreement will violate or infringe upon the intellectual property, proprietary or other rights of any person or entity, including, without limitation, contractual rights, copyrights, trademarks, common law rights, rights of publicity, or privacy, or moral rights, or contain defamatory material or violate any laws or regulations of any jurisdiction; (d) you will ensure that all Digital Books delivered under the Program comply with the technical delivery specifications provided by us; and (e) you will be solely responsible for accounting and paying any co-owners or co-administrators of any Digital Book or portion thereof any royalties with respect to the uses of the content and their respective shares, if any, of any monies payable under this Agreement. To the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, you will indemnify, defend and hold Amazon, its officers, directors, employees, affiliates, subcontractors and assigns harmless from and against any loss, claim, liability, damage, action or cause of action (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) that arises from any breach of your representations, warranties or obligations set forth in this Agreement. We will be entitled, at our expense, to participate in the defense and settlement of the claim or action with counsel of our own choosing.

There’s more but it’s a bit dry to read, and this covers the salient points. Basically, you get your ducks in a row, and if you don’t, it’s your problem, not Amazon’s.

There’s a fair amount of weeping and gnashing of teeth going on around the internet right now regarding a very popular book, discussing returns and money coming out of the author’s pocket. Whatever the original prompt for the flap was, I couldn’t say, but copyright infringement is an issue with it now, and these are the rules she agreed to follow and remedies if she didn’t.  TL:DR isn’t an option for a legally binding agreement.

And if you find lyrics in any of my works,  the song is likely older than you and me put together.