TaleCatcher™ News

October 2003  

Bill Neugent's picture

News and entertainment
for readers, writers, and cybersecurity geeks
from TaleCatcher.com and Bill Neugent

  You've Got To Be Kidding
  Treasure Hunt Clue
  News Headlines
  Whining and Dining


Autumn colors show how to end a season. I spent the month of October devising endings for presentations. See News Headlines for a link to the best three speech closings I came up with. One led to two sold-out booksignings, another to a mini standing ovation. Mostly, though, they led to follow-on bookings.

Yes, this issue of the newsletter is a tad (!) late, mainly because of the intense schedule of travel and appearances we had in early November. The good news is that, as a result, book sales remain steady.

Bill Neugent
The Amazon top-500 author of No Outward Sign

Buy the book on: Amazon.com or read sample news coverage.

You've Got to Be Kiddng icon

You've Got To Be Kidding

Can you imagine naming your organization the Department of Justice? Whoa. Any organization capable of such presumption surely could rise to other equally breathtaking acts. One need only watch and wait. In October, folks who’d been watching and waiting saw the Justice Department respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by posting to its web site a report on internal workplace diversity. Vast portions of the text had been blacked out, to hide information the department did not want released.

Several days later, as Kevin Poulsen of SecurityFocus reported in The Register, the full report--minus the opaque black rectangles--appeared on another web site. “It turns out the report began its life as a Microsoft Word document, and whoever was in charge of sanitizing it for public release did so by using Word’s highlight tool, with the highlight color set to black.” That Word document was then posted in Adobe's Portable Document File (PDF) format. Apparently the department presumed curious citizens could not crack the PDF file open and tinker with the blacked-out text. Bad presumption. Turns out such reverse engineering is not only possible, it’s easy, if you know what you’re doing, which explains the department’s gaffe. Turns out also that department sanitizers appear to have gotten carried away with their black highlighter and excised far more than they were allowed by law to withhold, such as the fact that department attorneys perceive racial harassment to be a problem. A Justice Department spokesman tried to comment on the story, but his words were muffled by black tape over his mouth.

You've Got To Be Kidding Archives

Treasure Hunt Clue icon

Treasure Hunt Clue

This month’s clue is illustrated by the difference between hate and heat or ate and eat. That is, the meaning derives from where the letters are placed within the word. Clues from earlier newsletter tell you exactly where the letters have been placed.

Wow, this is a huge clue. Time for a winner to step forward and claim the $1,000. As always, remember that this is a game of skill and no purchase is necessary.

News Headlines icon

News Headlines

Travels and speeches dominated the month of October, with major talks in Charlotte, Tampa, and Arlington. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte became a most-favored school by its purchase of 250 copies of No Outward Sign. The Tampa chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) became the first crowd in which, after my talk, a group actually leaped to its feet in standing ovation. Okay, only a dozen out of 166 participated in the leap, but that’s a start. In Arlington I chaired a two-day conference on cyberterrorism, after which the conference organizer wrote that, based on feedback from the evaluation forms, “this conference scored the highest of all my conferences… I would recommend you as a chair and a speaker to anyone.” All nice results.

Since speeches have been my best marketing tool, I’ve spent a lot of time crafting them and have learned much in the process. Most of my efforts have focused on the speech closing. For the benefit of others, I’ve prepared a guide on how to end a speech. It includes the three most effective speech closings I’ve used recently.

The newest addition to our promotion material is a life-size cutout of me, suitable for placement at a bookstore entrance. The idea is to delude people into thinking the store has been blessed with a visitation from someone of galactic importance. Our plan is to install the two-dimensional creature a week in advance with a sign announcing the grand date. For the actual occasion of my visit, we have a sign that reads, “Here Today Only! Author Bill Neugent.” Other new promotional items are a terrific series of bookmarks and a set of Signed By Author stickers, all designed by Jill.

For those of you considering your own life-size cutout, be aware of the effect such a thing might have on pets. Our cat Pippin is terrified of the looming presence and won’t go near it. In fact, he behaves toward it the same way he behaves toward me when I put on a hat and thus become a horrible monster.

Whining and Dining icon

Whining and Dining

When I’m on the road, I have this hang-up of dining in the hotel restaurant. The food may not be as good as at a real restaurant, but I give points for convenience. It is because of this quirk that I found myself in the Windham Westshore hotel in Tampa dining at a restaurant in which the menu was written on a football. Really. In retrospect, I’ve decided to list menu-on-a-football as one of the restaurant warning signs.

Okay, now I do want to be positive in my restaurant reviews, so let me say that Shula’s Steakhouse is positively the place to dine if you are writing a non-fiction book entitled How To Become Fat, especially if you’d like to include a chapter on How To Become Fat In Just One Meal. Shula’s is the kind of place where an appetizer would feed all of Hollywood for a week. I am happy to say that I did not join the 23,000 men and women who ate their way to membership in Shula’s 48 Oz. Club™. To join the club, you have to eat almost an entire cow at one sitting. If you accomplish that, you get a free picture of Coach Shula and your name is listed on the restaurant’s web site. You also receive the honor of qualifying to pay $120 for a football personalized by Coach Shula and containing your name and picture. One member, Taft Parker, has eaten over a hundred 48-oz. steaks. If you’re thinking of going up against his record, I suggest first you go to the restaurant web site and check out his picture.



Need a speaker? Find out why my cyberterrorism talk googles in first place in response to “cyberterrorism speaker” or “cybersecurity speaker.” The talk is Cyberterrorism; We’re Toast. John Bumgarner of Charlotte, NC, called it “the most entertaining presentation I have ever attended.” Patrick Murphy of Arlington, VA, said, “fantastic brief...I cannot recall when I have been so entertained and informed at the same time.”

The talk is in great demand and increasingly is being accompanied by large-scale book buys. So far, eight groups have bought or committed to buy 1,000 copies to hand out in association with the talk, and several other groups are considering purchases. Do you know of a group that might benefit from this opportunity?

Enjoying this newsletter and wish there were more to read? Try the novel. Several people have likened the writing style to that of Robert Ludlum.

Buy No Outward Sign


Copyright Information

© 2003 Bill Neugent, All rights reserved. You are free to use material from this TaleCatcher™ News eZine in whole or in part, as long as you include the following attribution:

From Bill Neugent's TaleCatcher™ News eZine. Please visit his web site at http://www.talecatcher.com for more news, tips, and entertainment.


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