05 June 2006

Quesitons on my mind

  1. Maybe the entire action takes place in November. It turns out she walks into his office on the first of November and everything else unfolds on the subsequent days of November with Dag signing off at the end of the month. Downside is no Mariners Tickets, but it does match each day's writing with the action that is taking place that day. That could be pretty cool.

  2. Simon embezzles a lot of money and has it in the form of securities? Bonds? Cash? Swiss Accounts? Offshore investments? How liquid is the money? Where is it? What is the form of its currency?

  3. Brenda knows Simon has been doing this and has even been covering for him, but he leaves her and she is pissed. She sends Dag to find Simon, but she really wants the money.

  4. Does Dag tell Brenda where he thinks Dag is hiding out and that he's on his way to get him? Does he see Brenda and become suspicious of her?

  5. When Dag finds Simon, he succeeds in finding the money, but how? Is it in a bank account? Back to where is the money. More key is how does Dag get possession of it without Brenda knowing?

  6. Presumably, Dag is able to get the money by using Simon's laptop computer. Why would Simon leave a computer behind without a) erasing the disk, or b) not having anything on it that Dag could use? Was he kidnapped? Did he go willingly?

  7. Who is Angel? Is she the stripper that could suck the chrome off a '57 Cadilac? Does Dag really look for banking information at the strip club called Stocks & Blondes?

  8. What is Dag's relationship with his secretary? She's just someone to watch the office and run errands? How about if she is a college student that Dag hires to give her a place to do her homework? "I don't pay you to play video games. Do your homework."

  9. Gabriella Priest or Prior is completely incidental to the story. She just adds an extra dimension to Dag and Maizie.

  10. Does Angel have a boyfriend who is implicated in the scheme? Is there a partner of Simon's who wants in on the deal or wants revenge? Who are the other bad guys/obstacles in Dag's way. If Angel were jilted by Simon, that would give her motive as well.

  11. Who else wants Simon dead? We have four possibilities at the moment: Brenda, Angel, business partner, Angel's boyfriend. Is there a gambling debt or blackmail going on as well? What kind of tricky business could he be involved in?

  12. Should Dag know his condition before the story starts? This would help compress the action timeline a bit. Detective mysteries typically take place over a couple days or weeks at the most. It would mean that he is already on the waiting list and push more stuff over to the reflections and remembering. Helps if Dag isn't always getting knocked out by the same person.

  13. If we follow that, there is the a new mission for the secretary. She's constantly trying to get Dag to take a pill, exercise, calm down, go to the doctor, etc. Dag on the other hand is calmly waiting for a new heart and going in every week for a checkup.

  14. Who are the potential villains? So far, Brenda, Angel, Partner, Boyfriend. Maybe there should also be a criminal element that is attempting to Phish the info out of the same org.

  15. 170 US orgs have lost over 83.5 million records in past year. 60% were stolen laptops. Dag can recite this as part of his spiel when Brenda brings him Simon's computer.

  16. Rules for privacy and security: 1) Don't store passwords electronically on any device. Keep them in your head. 2) Change passwords every 30 days. 3) Do not use "remember me" options on any sign-in for any purpose. That includes autofill in Windows. 4) Encrypt files with 128 bit encryption or higher. 5) Don't use the same password for all accounts. 6) Use biometric scanner for computer access. 7) No auto-sign-in to internet access.

  17. What is Dag's responsibility to report his discovery of embezzled funds to the FBI?

  18. What if Simon's "Partner" had actually helped him rip off a much larger organization that didn't even know it had been embezzled from? The partner then would want to find Simon, be angry enough to kill him, and want the money, without tipping off the corporation. Brenda might be playing both ends against the middle to try to get the money without letting the partner in on it.

  19. Did Simon and his partner work for the same accounting firm that Dag was formerly with? Then it is one of their clients that they ripped off, or even helped an exec rip off.

  20. "About file encryption and how to protect files: Protecting EFS Encryption Keys and EFS Guide

  21. The Vault in Dag's office looks like the wall behind his desk, but his security remote control (ADT wireless security system) has been modified to broadcast a signal to the latching system on the vault. So there is no keypad or visible latching system for the vault. It is entirely from a remote that looks like it controls something else entirely.


jason said...

2: it's probably in a Swiss account. I know that's cliche, but it's probably true. Make it a Liechtenstinian account if you want to be a little different. Here's an article nicely summarizing the pros and cons of offshore accounts:
Given that Simon knows he's planning on leaving Brenda anyway, the pros might outweigh the cons here.

Also, one thing about embezzling is that it is difficult to change the form of whatever you're embezzling without creating pesky records that can be tracked down. If you have access to paper cash (e.g. casino worker), then you can get nailed when you try to deposit all that paper in the bank to make it more liquid. If you're embezzling via some sort of electronic funds-transfer scheme, but you'd rather have the money in the form of diamonds or securities or something, then you'll inevitably have to create some sort of transaction record that will be tied to you on the purchase.

One thing that has always struck me about theft-oriented criminals (and especially white-collar ones, who you'd think ought be be smart enough to know better) is how often crime doesn't pay because the criminal is stupid. We had an incident at work a few years ago where an employee and his spouse both worked here, and she got busted for embezzling something on the order of $400k from the company. Caused him a whole pile of trouble from the corporate security folks, too, as you might imagine. One of the ways she got detected was the good old "living beyond your obvious means." I just couldn't figure out, if you're going to steal that much money, why you wouldn't at least try to keep a lower profile about it? I mean, just leave it in the bank, or move it offshore, or convert it into bullion and bury it in the back yard until ten years after you leave the company. Something! But for crissakes, don't spend it! Moron.

But, of course, an antagonist who is a moron is no fun to read about, you you'll need Simon to be smarter than that. Ergo, he can't be spending the money (or at least, not very much of it), he has to get it somewhere outside the reach of U.S. law, and he has to anonymize it to some degree. That all adds up to "offshore account" to me...

6: Of course Simon erased the disk. Maybe he even re-formatted it just to be sure. But, he's not a data recovery professional, now is he? Surely Dag has tricks up his sleeve to deal with such circumstances.

7: I thought the phrase was "suck the chrome off a trailer-hitch". :)

8: Some mixture of paternal/lost-puppy feelings from Dag towards a young, inexperienced undergraduate sounds good. Also, if she's that young, it gives you the excuse for her to mess something important up if you need to.

12: I don't think so. If he knows about it from the start, then you have to tell the reader right away, which signals to the reader immediately "oh, he's gonna die at the end." Because if Dag knows but you don't tell the reader until later, then when you do, the reader will be thinking "D'oh! Why didn't you tell me that sooner!" It will feel a little too "deus ex". But, if Dag finds out during the story, then the reader gets to discover that with him and you can explore the whole "seven stages of acceptance" thing. The trick with that is letting Dag find out in some sort of way that doesn't tip off the reader too bluntly. Dag's habit of quipping about age-related ailments could be your key there. Maybe his clue to go to the doctor is that he's finding himself more winded than he ought to be, which at first he puts down to age, and berates himself for getting out of shape. Then maybe he tries to get into shape, and finds out that he just can't do it, and then goes to the doctor. You'll figure something out.

16: 128 bit? I don't think that'll be secure for very much longer. Encrypt/Decrypt operations are tolderably fast now that you may as well go with a 1024 or even 2048 bit key. Biometrics? I don't think the technology is quite there yet. On the other hand, if you're willing to spend too much money (and Dag probably is), maybe there's some sort of mil-spec fingerprint or retina scanner out there that actually works. That could be kind of cool.

17: I know banks have some reporting requirements about unusual transactions, but I have no idea what a PI is required to do.

21: better if the remote actually _does_ control something else. Like a remote for a little TV in his office or something, but when you press 3+volume_up+power or something, then the door opens.