08 July 2006

More thoughts and questions

Here's my latest continued list from the spreadsheet on S&E questions and thoughts.
  1. Something has to enable Dag to ethically dispose of the money that he discovers without returning it to the company it was taken from. I believe that this requires uncovering that Simon has been laundring money for a non-legitimate concern and has been skimming from it. I think that he might even have been in the process of disposing of it himself with Angel's help. This could introduce the criminal element that Dag is confronted with that results in one of (perhaps the last one of) his perilous conclusions.

  2. If we have Dag forced to give up Simon's computer, perhaps that would be part of what releases him from obligation to divulge the computer as evidence. His mirror of the harddrive cannot be admitted as evidence.

  3. If a computer forensics expert is asked by an enforcement agency to test a computer for one crime, say child pornography, and during the course of that he uncovers evidence of another crime, say tax evasion, is he obligated to provide that information to the agency? Is it even legal for him to provide it? What are the limits on a search warrant for computer data?

  4. Simon and Angel have matching or complimentary tatoos that put together form the key to another stash. What are the tatoos? A bank account number? Is there an extra password hidden in Simon's files?

  5. What is the process for waiting for a heart transplant? At what point would the doctors simply hospitalize Dag and keep him in bed? What medications is he on that he can't be without?

  6. How much can I do to conceal information on my laptop that someone with skill can/can't undo? If I erase all the files on a disk can I get them back? What about if I reformat the drive? What are the chances of recovering and breaking into an encrypted file? How do I recover a password? What other methods of protection could be used that can be broken?

  7. If I recover an erased disk, what are the chances that I could use the disk to access a network that it was formerly active on?

  8. Dag needs to take Riley to some event at a Swedish cultural thingy in Ballard sometime during the story. This is important as a setup for what Riley needs to do in the next book, but also gives a little color to Dag and to the relationship with Riley. What is the event? Where is it held? Who do they meet?

  9. Bradley looks like a big tough guy, but he's really a wuss. Riley drops him with a kick to the solar plexus. "If I'd wanted to hurt him I'd have kicked him in the balls, but it was too smal a target."

  10. Does Bradley get killed? What is the mob's response to him?

  11. Does Bradley set Dag up when he goes to Chicago? Does the info that he gives Dag lead him directly to the place where Dag least should be?

  12. What is the nature of the mob that Dag encounters? Bradley and Simon are laundering money for them, where does it come from? Is there an ethnic nature to the mob, or just a generic bunch of bad guys? Where do they get the money?

  13. How does money laundering work? At what point in the process could a person embezzle money in the scheme without it being obvious that they'd been dipping into the pot?

  14. Does Dag routinely help people get a heart ahead of him, or is it a one-time thing? One-time thing, he gives up his life on the spur of the moment. Routine, he pushes his luck one notch too far. Which is it?

  15. How much do your lungs hold? What is the cubic inch capacity when fully expanded? In other words, if you sucked in one breath that was actually water, how much water would you have just inhaled?

  16. When does Mrs. Prior come into the picture?

  17. When do we see Maizie do more cute tricks?

  18. Where does Dag stop for coffee in the mornings?

  19. The Chicago gangster is Earl Smiesen, compliments of VI Warshawski. Earl runs a little import/export business on the docks of Lake Michigan. In reality, he's hired muscle. The real gang is somewhere behind him, once removed from Simon's operation. This will be another setup for the next book. Who is behind the big money?

I'm sure there will be more later. Soon, more chapter synopsis.


Anonymous said...


Wow, good question.

To my knowledge:
Private forensics experts have no legal OBLIGATION to report evidence of other crimes they stumble across while doing their job. However, 4th amendment restrictions generally do not apply to them. They are free to provide police with the information if they choose, and the police can respond accordingly. That evidence will be admissable in a court of law, EXCEPT if the computer search was illegal (i.e., no valid warrant + computer owner had a reasonable expectation of privacy).

As far as search warrants go: courts are split as to how broad computer searches can be. Some courts hold that a right to search one specific part of a computer hard drive entitles a searcher to search the ENTIRE hard drive. Other courts hold that a search should be only as narrow as the specific part of the hard drive where the information is believed to reside. The Supreme Court hasn't ruled on this yet, to my knowledge.

I hope this helps somewhat...

Jason said...

42: the tattoos are hexadecimal representations of each person's half of either a decryption key, account number, or whatever is most plot-appropriate. Only, the halves aren't first half/last half. Each half is the length of the entire key, but they are XOR'ed together to form the whole key. Together they contain all the information about the key, but apart, they are absolutely no use whatsoever.

44. It totally depends on how hard you're willing to work at hiding your shit, how much difficulty you're willing to endure in order to access your shit, and how much you're willing to spend (either in terms of your own time or in $$). On the lazy/cheap end, you'd use a freeware PGP-based file encryptor, relying on high-bit-length RSA encryption. Which, honestly, would be a reasonable bitch to crack. On the high end, you'd layer many different encryption/obfuscation methods on top of one another, and probably pay some hotshot CS grad student to write you a custom file system driver which implemented all that stuff in order to create an ultra-secure lockbox on a separate disk (or partition). Being realistic, though, these days it's reasonably easy to encrypt something with a strong enough key that Dag would basically be dead in the water. I think your most plausible tack is to have Simon using some sort of tricks which he thinks are secure, but which (he not being an expert) are really not very secure at all. Like, for example, encrypting plain text files with XOR... :)

45. If it was merely erased/reformatted with the operating system's native tools, then your chances are excellent. Most such tools don't bother to erase the actual data blocks on the disk, they just erase the file system's organizational blocks, leaving the data present but essentially un-indexed. Tedious to find stuff on such a disk, but far, far from impossible. If the disk were erased with a better tool (e.g. one that repeatedly writes random data to every block on the disk) then (contrary to what you see on Alias all the time) I think Dag's screwed again.

52: Oe time thing. If he does it regularly, that calls into question Dag's state of mind, his degree of desire to keep living, and why he bothers to do stuff like run a business.

says that average adult lung capacity is about six liters (which is a lot more than I'd have guessed), but I'll bet that in drowning situations one would instictively stop inhaling once the water hit the lungs and you'd get a lot less than that in there.

55. As seldom as possible. Personal bias--I just don't dig plot points that hinge on what animals do/don't do.

56. His kitchen? Anyplace else is too far.

57. Jimmy Hoffa. Sorry, couldn't resist.