Anyway, the acronym I’ve come up with is LYNDA HOGS, which is easy to say and memorable too. LYNDA HOGS stands for “Leave Your Network Device At Home Or Get Sacked”.LYNDA HOGS will, of course, only apply to my laptop. As far as she’s concerned, my Appel iPak Tablet Retino Airbag Turbo Scrotum 3 will be just fine as it spews its unencrypted data onto the pavement. But that’s just the kind of girl she is. Genre fiction is really not my bag, but one of my most satisfying guilty pleasures of this job has been getting absorbed in a good old tartan noir yarn. I may sometimes be disparaging about the UK literary scene, but Scotland’s output of quality writers over the last quarter of a century has been astonishing.The likes Irvine Welsh, Alan Warner and Laura Hird in literary fiction and crime writers such as Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre and Ian Rankin seem to have developed a sub-genre of their own. All are very prolific and consistent at turning out high quality pared down writing with downbeat heroes and a grim sardonic underlying humour.Dead Girl Walking is the sixth novel by Chris Brookmyre to feature Jack Parlabance, an investigative journalist who seems to be living on borrowed time after obtaining a general’s laptop by nefarious means. The authorities, to quote our protagonist are “dangling the electrodes pretty close to my bollocks.”
He gets a call from Mairi, a dead mate’s sister who now manages up-and-coming indy rock act Savage Earth Heart, whose frontwoman Heike Gunn has disappeared. Parlabane is engaged to find Heike.The story is told via two narrators: Parlabane, and the tour blog of Monica Helcrow, Savage Earth Heart’s fiddle player, whose story unravels parallel to Parlabane’s investigation. These two angles combine to deliver a realistic and downbeat account of the touring musician’s life. Throw in some *** trafficking, prostitution and the rather obligatory Slavic gangsters and we’re all set for much derring-do.Dead Girl Walking is a blast. It’s slick, fast paced and superbly crafted. There are some great pearls of wisdom, like the protagonist’s advice to his imaginary son: “Beware the woman who sees you as a work in progress.” Conversely, the muso girls agree amongst themselves that “men talk about their feelings like they talk about their periods”. The legendary Hunter S. Thompson misquote is appropriated too: “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs… there is also a negative side.”
No doubt more by accident than by design, Dead Girl Walking also has almost the lowest body count possible in a book of this genre and with this title. I know that it is considered bad form to divulge too much of the plot in tales of this nature, but I will say I found the rope descent wearing Louboutin heels unfeasible – though, not having tried this stunt myself, I can neither verify not deny its possibility.In a strange case of life imitating art, Brookmyre includes these lines about the iniquities of middle age: “The old fart made to sit three rows away from junior and his mates even though he was the one driving them home after watching Slipknot or Korn or whoever.”A flatulent friend of mine went to see a double bill of both of the above on a family outing three days before I read Dead Girl Walking, only he chose to sit down as he was too old and knackered to mosh.Brookmyre’s twentieth is as good as Val McDermid’s thirtieth and the flood shows no sign of relenting. This is probably the best crime novel you will read – until one of those clever Scottish people writes another.Roundup The trial of accused Silk Road ringleader Ross Ulbricht continued despite inclement weather in New York City this week, with prosecutors seeking to rubbish Ulbricht's attorneys' earlier claim that someone else ran the darknet drugs souk.
On Monday, Gary Alford, a special agent with the US Internal Revenue Service, gave evidence linking Ulbricht to accounts on Bitcoin and drugs discussion forums where he allegedly advertised Silk Road, describing the site as an Amazon.com for drugs.Alford testified that in one post from October 2011, Ulbricht said he was looking for an IT pro to help with the site and asked interested parties to contact him at his own Gmail address, the Financial Times reports.Later in the week – following a break because of the snowstorm that threatened New York City on Tuesday – the jury heard evidence that agents found a treasure trove of more than 144,000 Bitcoins on Ulbricht's computer, an amount worth approximately $16m–$18m at the time of his arrest.They also heard from Michael Duch, a convicted drug offender who testified that he sold as much as $60,000 worth heroin per month on Silk Road because the site offered a perceived level of safety and anonymity.Another government witness testified on Thursday that Ulbricht allegedly tried to arrange the contract killing of a Silk Road user who went by the alias FriendlyChemist because Ulbricht believed the man was preparing to give information about Silk Road to police.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Brian Shaw, a tech who helped the government decipher the information recovered from Silk Road servers, testified that in one message Ulbricht allegedly wrote, In my eyes, FriendlyChemist is a liability and I wouldn't mind if he was executed.The government has previously alleged that Ulbricht tried to arrange as many as six separate murders-for-hire. Nobody actually died, however, because the contract killers Ulbricht allegedly hired were actually undercover agents.Ulbricht's lawyers had earlier sought to block prosecutors from introducing evidence about the alleged murder-for-hire plots during the New York trial, saying it was irrelevant to the drugs trafficking, money laundering, and conspiracy offenses with which he is charged.But Judge Katherine Forrest disagreed, saying the murder-for-hire evidence was admissible to establish that Ulbricht was Dread Pirate Roberts, the alias used by the person who publicly claimed to own and operate the Silk Road site.Last week, Judge Forrest also declared much of the evidence presented by Ulbricht's attorney Joshua Dratel inadmissible after the fact because it was mainly composed of hearsay and supposition by government witnesses – a move that caused Dratel to complain that his defense strategy had been completely eviscerated.
Once the prosecution has rested, however, Dratel is expected to argue that while Ulbricht admittedly created Silk Road, he later handed control of it to another party who was the real Dread Pirate Roberts.Dratel has previously suggested that the real mastermind behind the site was Mt Gox founder Mark Karpeles, a charge that Karpeles denies. But whoever ran the site, Dratel is expected to argue that Ulbricht was no more than its landlord and therefore is not responsible for his tenants' criminal actions.Analogously, no landlord has been prosecuted under the federal controlled substances statutes for renting an apartment to a known drug seller, Dratel observed in a pre-trial motion.Dratel may also attempt to argue that Ulbricht can't be found guilty of money laundering because the Bitcoin digital currency in which Silk Road traded is not actual money – a line of argument that the court has viewed with skepticism in the past.
Dratel is expected to begin presenting the meat of his defense next week. Shaw is the last of four witnesses the government is expected to call in the trial, and his testimony will continue on Monday, after which Dratel will be able to call his own witnesses. Intel is pressing onward with its line of fifth-generation Core processors, with the general availability this week of versions of the chips tailored for enterprise customers.The chipmaker launched its Broadwell-U line of Core chips earlier this month with a set of 14-nanometer CPUs aimed at mainstream desktops and laptops. Those chips were successors to the earlier Broadwell-Y parts, which made it to market under the Core M brand.With the launch of the next phase of its Broadwell rollout on Thursday, Chipzilla has released versions of both the Core and Core M processors that include its vPro package of management and security features.Intel says the new chips deliver similar improvements in performance and power consumption as the earlier Broadwell units, while providing a feature package that's attractive to businesses.Businesses can choose from a variety of never-before-seen PC designs across 2 in 1s, Ultrabooks, ultrathin clamshells and mini PCs that offer up to twice the battery life and more than twice the performance, enabling form factors that are up to three times thinner and 50 percent lighter than a laptop PC from just four years ago, the company said in a press release.
The vPro features of the new chips include the hardware-enhanced encryption for Intel solid-state storage devices, hardware support for two-factor authentication, and remote management capabilities that are accessible even when the device's operating system is down or the device is powered off.Even more than vPro, however, Intel is touting the new wireless technologies available in the new chips, including support for Intel Wireless Docking and Intel Pro Wireless Display (WiDi). The latter includes wireless channel management and the ability to update wireless client adapters remotely.With new devices based on 5th generation Intel Core vPro processors, we aim to transform the user experience by helping them compute from virtually anywhere without the clutter and burden of wires, said Intel Business Client Platforms veep Tom Garrison.Intel says 12 PC makers have already launched devices based on fifth-generation Core chips with vPro, including Ultrabooks, ultrathin clamshells, mini-PCs, and two-in-one devices, with more to come later in the year.What's not entirely clear, however, is how the delayed rollout of the Broadwell line will impact Skylake, Chipzilla's upcoming processor refresh. Like Broadwell, these sixth-generation Core chips will be based on a 14nm process and they are expected to launch at some point during 2015.