Teaser Trailer for Batman: The Exorcism of Bruce Wayne

I am immensely proud to reveal the teaser for my forthcoming feature “Batman: The Exorcism of Bruce Wayne”.

As a not-for-profit fan-film, we will be looking to raise funds via Kickstarter to cover the cost of making the movie.

Triskelion has already put together a fantastic crew and a cast that features some familiar faces from both Offworld and popular web series such as “Whovians”. I’ve seen the audition pieces the cast put together and they are fantastic. I can’t wait to see what this team can do with the script.

For my part, I have been working on the script for a number of months, starting it whilst we were still putting the finishing touches to the “Offworld” script and I think, personally, it is one of the most fun things that I’ve ever, ever written. Some of my favorite Batman stories are those where he comes face to face with the occult and the supernatural and this movie is definitely in that vein. I won’t spoil the story but with a cast that includes Zatanna, Felix Faust, and the Joker, I hope you can get an idea of what direction we are moving in.

Plus, if you know your DC lore, you might be able to pick up a little bit of extra information in the teaser if you follow Zatanna’s advice and sdrawkcab ti ot netsil.

Till next time, Bat-fans.

The Duchess speaks – “It’s important to keep shouting about comics and comic creators!” Iz McAuliffe talks Cardiff Independent Comics Expo (CICE) – Pipedream Comics

This July the comic creators of Wales will all be congregating in the Masonic Hall in Cardiff for the annual Cardiff Independent Comic Expo (CICE). Alongside fantastic guests such as 2000 AD […]

Source: “It’s important to keep shouting about comics and comic creators!” Iz McAuliffe talks Cardiff Independent Comics Expo (CICE) – Pipedream Comics

Review for Shadows and Teeth Volume 2 at DLS Reviews

http://www.dlsreviews.com/shadows-and-teeth-vol-2.php

Man, don’t you just love it when an author’s imagination is able to conjure up something utterly unique from the most unlikely of places.  That’s exactly what author Chris Lynch has done.  Using Aleksey Tolstoy’s classic fairy-tale ‘The Giant Turnip’ as his inspiration, Lynch has taken the story further, wondering off the pathway of its theme, and plunging it deeper and deeper into the unsettling depths of horror.  The writing style remains true to its original incarnation.  Told from the first-person-perspective of our unnamed protagonist, the tale maintains a purposeful air of old school ‘storytelling’ about it.  Combined with the gradual creeping realisation of the horror nestled within, the outcome is nothing short of menacing.  Ingeniously imagined and expertly executed.  Chris Lynch is a writer I will definitely keep an eye out for in the future.

The Bat is out of the bag

The cat (or should that be bat?) is out of the bag. My next film project will be a not-for-profit fan film… BATMAN: The Exorcism of Bruce Wayne.

Hot on the heels of working with Terry, Adam, and rest of the guys at Offworld I am currently “on the home stretch” of completing the first draft of the script for the film. Production is being handled by Pete Kijek (OffWorld’s Shaun Kane) and we have already recruited some fantastic people both for the cast and for the myriad roles on the other side of the camera.

Although the film will be strictly not-for-profit there are expected to quite significant production costs and so we will be running a crowd-funding campaign in the near future to help us cover the costs of making the movie.

For more news and information, check out Triskelion Pictures on Facebook.

Get the RSA Fingerprint for a server

Coding an example SFTP client for a friend (using WinSCP) today, I realised I needed the 2048-bit RSA fingerprint for my server.

You see the fingerprint the first time you connect to a new server and, normally, you will save this locally so that you can verify the identity of the server next time that you connect to it. A changed fingerprint is evidence of a possible “man in the middle” attack.

I found a simple way to find out the RSA finger print of a server from the command line using nmap

nmap [SERVERNAME] --script ssh-hostkey

First impressions on Novlr

Novlr is a relatively “new kid on the block” as novel writing software goes. I’ve been tracking it for a while, watching the feature list expand and dipping in for a free trial from time to time. This month, I signed up for the pay-monthly package. As endorsements go, I suppose that’s the best one that I can give.

Although Novlr doesn’t have all the features that I want right now , it’s already replaced Scrivener as my “go to” writing platform for working on the next three books I’ve got in the pipeline.

Here’s why…

Why I’ve switched to Novlr

First and foremost, my writing life moved online in a big way this year. I needed to be able to write anywhere, not just on a selection of devices that I’d installed my software of choice on, and I needed to be able to write any-whennot only after my Dropbox had downloaded and synchronized all my files.

I also bought a Chromebook, which is probably the best laptop sized device I have ever owned, and this has meant dropping anything that doesn’t have a web or Android interface.

There are plenty of choices if you want to write online, so why Novlr?

Well, the software is good, there’s no denying that. The UI is minimal but has style, the editing environment is pleasing, it has some great import and export features, and it has the all-important outline mode that seperates a writing tool from a plain word processor. I’m not going to write a full “listicle” on their features, just go and look at the features list for yourself and, while you’re there, take note of the colour coding.

Yes, Novlr list a lot of features that aren’t out yet. I’ve been tracking their progress on these for a while though, and I’m very pleased to say that they are definitely delivering what they promise. I use a lot of “Software as a Service” and I advise anyone who asks to stay away from platforms that aren’t evolving. When you’re dealing with a small team of people, you should be expecting the software to evolve quickly. If it doesn’t then that’s a sign that either the team has lost interest or that things have gotten complicated and they are struggling to deliver changes to the software. In either case, save your money.

Novlr, by contrast, seem to be very active in talking to their users and in accepting feedback on the software. Their mantra of “by writers, for writers” seems pretty close to the truth from what I’ve seen so far. This is the first piece of writing software I’ve seen in a while that I can honestly believe comes from people who are writers and where I feel like everything is “right”.

And, if I had to pick one, my favourite feature right now? The little messages of encouragement that pop-up as you cross milestones. Your first 100 words of the day, your first 500, etc. It might seem stupid, but sometimes those little messages really keep me going.

Is $10 a month worth it?

I definitely think $10 a month invested in Novlr is worth it. When you consider that the alternatives, like Scrivener, cost significantly more “up front”, don’t have vastly more features, and don’t seem to be improving or evolving at all, I think it makes even more sense. You’re not just getting a tool – hopefully you’re investing in a platform that is going to grow and improve.

I’m actually very excited to see new features arriving and I’ve posted my first suggestion this week (status on chapters and work-count breakdown please guys!). So, I’m a proud Novlr subscriber – I think you should be too.

Cardiff International Comic Expo, July 8th 2017

Cardiff International Comic Expo is back in Cardiff’s Masonic Hall on July 8th.

With “comic” conventions increasingly dominated by movies, TV, and (weirdly) wrestling, it’s refreshing to have a convention that truly celebrates the comics medium and is prepared to put it center stage.

There’s a fantastic guest list, even with me there to drag down the average, and a superb list of exhibitors and indie publishers as well.

For my part, I will be bring Iron Writer back to the convention scene. Armed with my trust 1970s’ Contessa typewriter and my all new WHEEL OF RANDOMETRY, I will be writing all day long to raise money for Cancer Research.

If you want to make an early request, you will find the Iron Writer page here.

 

Casting Call for Triskelion Pictures

There’s a little over 24 hours left to make contact with the team at Triskelion Pictures if you want to audition for a role in the next feature I am working on.

“Exorcism of a Bad Man” is a code name – we’ll be revealing the actual title for the film soon!

The pace that this project is moving at is really incredible and there is a great team in place.

We’re selling a spaceship

With the cockpit/bridge shots behind us, the dauntless Team Offworld find ourselves in possession of a rather swanky looking spaceship set. And, a bit like when Han lost the Falcon to Lando, it can be yours.

We’ve made no secret of the fact that making a film is expensive and even with our generous Kickstarter backers giving us a far larger budget than we initially asked for, unexpected costs are still mounting up. We definitely need to get back to Parc Penalta to reshoot some scenes and post-production costs are mounting up fast.

To the best of our knowledge right now there’s no risk at all that the film won’t be completed; it’s all a matter of making it the very best film that it can be and repaying the faith that our backers put in us with their pledges.

With all that in mind, we’re putting the set for the cockpit scenes from the film up for sale. We’ve also agreed as a cast and crew to donate half the money from the sale of the set to a cancer charity here in the UK. So many of the cast and crew have had friends and loved ones affected by cancer, this seemed to us like an opportunity to not only support our film but also our wider Offworld family.

Terry has done a great job not only putting together the “walk through” video (above) but also giving a “warts and all” breakdown of what it will take for someone to not only buy the ship, but get it out from storage and get it installed in their own home. We’d by lying if we made this look or sound like an easy purchase – it’s not. But it is probably the easiest way you’re ever going to buy a complete spaceship interior.

Ever.

Strange Connections – My Tenuous Link to Game of Thrones

Science says I am no more than seven steps from Kevin Bacon. Science also says I am probably no more than ten feet from a rat whenever I’m in London. Life, like writing, is full of strange connections.

Writing is a predominantly solitary pursuit. Many writers, myself included, clearly feel this isolation. The hashtag, #amwriting, far from being a self-aggrandising statement of personal creativity is, I believe, a vital lifeline in the dark small hours when writers play God in made up worlds. We’re children, at heart, playing with our imaginary friends and feeling keenly, therefore, the need for real ones. Or maybe it’s just simply that misery loves company.

But, I digress.

Working on a low budget indie film has been the antithesis of the typically isolated writing experience. There are the obvious interactions – directors and their cohort asking for rewrites on scenes that are not deliverable on our budget; the long-discussed “wet script”; script read-throughs with actors, etc. But I’ve also found myself getting involved in other areas. Costumes, set building, location scouting, the relative merits of different catering options, and even how best to keep kids on bikes from cycling into shot when filming in a public park. Some of my “real world” skills have proved to be as useful as my writing, if not more so.

It’s certainly not the type of networking I was expecting, but it has been great fun never the less.

Most recently, I made a new strange connection – Games of Thrones actor Ross O’Hennesy.

Ross has very kindly taken on the role of “President of Earth” in Offworld, delivering an opening monologue that is crucial to setting the scene for the film. In just a minute or two of dialogue, Ross has to tell us the why, the when, the what of the whole piece, allowing us to jump straight onto the bridge of the Tantalus II (where the crew’s problems really begin).

We are very privileged to have Ross on board.

The opening monologue was one of the few scenes that Terry Cooper and I didn’t collaborate on – I wrote it as an add-on to the script after the first edit and a huge amount of time and effort went into it. Sci-fi films often start with an “info dump”; such as the Star Wars opening crawl or James Earl Jone’s monologue at the start of Mad Max. It may be a trope, but it’s a trope that works, and it’s one of the few places where I think breaking the cardinal rule of “show, don’t tell” works well.

Fingers crossed I’ve done the Offworld team justice on this one.

Did Microsoft have the WannaCry fix for Windows XP in February?

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/16/microsoft_stockpiling_flaws_too/

Microsoft have laid the blame for the WannaCry cyber attack on the NSA who they accused of “hoarding” software vulnerabilities and code to exploit them.

Information now coming out as Microsoft’s patch for the problem is analysed appears to show that Microsoft had the fix ready in February.

If this is true then it means that Microsoft purposefully witheld the patch for non-supported operating systems but released it for supported versions.

It also means they still have engineers and developers working on these old operating systems.

Is there a behind the scenes support deal, akin to the one the UK government dropped, still running? Is Microsoft sitting on “cures” for other possible “outbreaks”?

It’s a sinister proposition.

Updated: Microsoft shouldn’t complain about ransomware – it’s been holding the NHS to ransom for years.

Microsoft responded quickly to the WannaCry global cyber attack, releasing a patch for the defunct Windows XP operating system. Since then it’s focussed its attention to launching scathing attacks against governmental agencies, such as the NSA, who have been “stockpiling” software vulnerabilities for their own purposes.

There is a strong whiff of hypocrisy about this.

Microsoft created the concept of ransomware

Microsoft has been holding the UK government, in particular the NHS, to ransom for some time. The ransom demands began when it announced the end of life of Windows XP in full knowledge that there were huge numbers of users who would be left exposed to security problems without continued patching of the operating system.

Not unlike WannaCry, if XP was on your machine, you would need to pay to sort that problem out – with an expensive upgrade to Windows Vista.

Windows Vista had software compatibility problems that prevented many businesses and organisations from upgrading immediately. It also had significantly higher system requirements, meaning that hardware upgrades may also be required. And, most importantly, like all “even numbered Windows versions” – it was an absolute dog.

It’s no wonder that people chose to stay with Windows XP for as long as they could.

How the UK Government paid Microsoft’s ransom

When the deadline for Windows XP being de-supported loomed, everyone in the tech sphere was talking about it. Decisions that had been “put off” now had to be made and it was time to embark on the job of replacing Windows XP.

Or was it?

Smelling blood in the water like a shark who has just spent a week at a WeightWatchers boot camp, Microsoft offered the UK Government a lifeline – a £5.5 million lifeline.

Yes, for the meagre sum of £5.5 million a year, Microsoft would continue to support Windows XP.

On the date when the deal was struck it was a Hobson’s Choice for the UK Government and the NHS – either stick with Windows XP and pay Microsoft to support it or migrate users to the woeful Windows 8 with its confusing user interface and lack of backwards software compatibility.

Sorry, this all sounds like it’s the government’s fault – why are you holding Microsoft responsible?

I’m not holding Microsoft 100% responsible. Nor, however, are they 100% blameless.

Migrating NHS desktop computers to Linux would have enabled the NHS to move to a secure operating system using some, most, or even all of the hardware it had already invested in. Linux has far lower system requirements and works well on old machines.

Yes, some machines would have had to remain on Windows to run specialist software but machines used for general administration and to access intranet and cloud-based services could have been migrated.

Why didn’t the NHS consider this? The answer is that they did – and Microsoft deployed the full might of its lobbying arm to stop it from happening.

As far back as 2002, Microsoft was a major contributor to a shady group called “Software Choice” that hoped to slow or stop the adoption of Open Source by governments.

Between 2010 and 2014, the UK government/public services spend over £200 million on Microsoft Office licenses. In 2012, a leaked Cabinet Office brief documented Microsoft’s efforts to lobby against the Government expressing a preference for software that supported open standards.

In 2015, when the Conservatives announced that the document standard for the civil service would move from Microsoft’s .doc to the open source .odf, it was reported that Microsoft employees were calling MPs and threatening to pull Microsoft research jobs out of their constituencies.

Microsoft hasn’t kept its opposition to Open Source under wraps either. In 2014, a now missing blog post on Technet stated

“We believe very strongly that the current proposal is likely to increase costs, cause dissatisfaction amongst citizens and businesses, add complexity to the process of dealing with government and negatively impact some suppliers to government,

What Microsoft should have done

Microsoft don’t de-support products because they can’t support them anymore. They have proven that by delivering a patch rapidly for WannaCry on Windows XP. The reality is probably that the affected code is either not different/not that different in Windows XP to more recent versions of Windows or that the techniques required to fix it were essentially the same.

Microsoft de-support operating systems so that individuals and businesses will buy the new version of the product, no matter how terrible it might be (I’m looking at you, Vista, and you Windows 8). Microsoft de-support products in search of profit.

Microsoft knows how many operating XP machines there are out there. The operating system “reports in” to Microsoft for updates – updates that they have cut off.

As a technologist, I understand the economics of supporting old (or “legacy”) systems. A time comes when keeping them running is no longer cost effective. But, in this instance, there was clearly a business case for offering support. Governments were paying for it.

Microsoft could have continued to issue security patches until such time as the number of live machines dwindled. Microsoft could have played “white knight” and continued supporting the critical infrastructure services, like the NHS, that were using its software. Microsoft could have stopped this happening.

They just didn’t, because they couldn’t see a way that doing so would help them sell more copies of Windows 10.

WannaCry has played right into Microsoft’s hands – we’re about to pay hand over fist for Windows licenses to secure the system that they left broken in the first place.

 Update:  According to metadata in the Windows XP patch, Microsoft built this fix in February. 

 https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/16/microsoft_stockpiling_flaws_too/