Do You Know Where You’re Going To?

…because I most certainly don’t.

I really want to write something inspiring (or at least interesting) but my brain’s at a stage of tired shutdown that won’t let me do that, so this round-up might be less exciting than the others.

That’s one of the things they don’t tell you about living your dream life: it’s bloody exhausting.

Or at least, it is if your dream life involves travelling around all the time and doing several jobs at once.

So it’s my own fault, really, for having big dreams.

It’s great fun though.

I’ve been on trains and buses for so long that after a couple of days I just stopped trying to plan my itinerary. I’d get up in the morning, open my wallet, look at the pouch of train tickets in there, and if one of them had that day’s date on it, I’d obediently trot to the station and get on whichever train it told me I’d reserved.

It was actually a remarkably stress-free way of doing things, I might make it my go-to plan.

Right now I’m back in London, but earlier this week I was gradually making my way south.

The week started off in Lancashire. I was training someone for work, going over some social media guidelines as they’ll be running our client’s Facebook page for the next couple of months.

After that I stopped off to visit my mother and we wandered around Blackpool, which was surprisingly pretty. I prefer either the far south of the country (London, Brighton, Somerset) or the far north (Scottish highlands) and am a bit of a snob about all the bits in the middle, but even I had to admit that this beach was pretty.

Instagram @scarscarscar
Instagram @scarscarscar

I took advantage of the cheaper prices up north and stocked up on supplies for my trip to South Carolina, which is happening next weekend and I still can’t quite believe it. This time next week I’ll be sitting in a hotel room overlooking the beach, hopefully.

At half eight in the evening I hopped on the next train and continued my journey southward. The sunset through the train window was beautiful.

Instagram @scarscarscar

The next stop was a bookshop, where the head of my research team was launching his latest book. It’s called The Buddha Pill and it’s about a study he’s just completed in which he went around to different prisons with The Phoenix Project, which teaches yoga and meditation techniques to inmates, to see if there’s anything in the claim that these disciplines can help people in prison.

I’ve just started reading it and I’m already finding it interesting – as Miguel points out in the first chapter or so, it’s difficult to find research into yoga and meditation that’s actually been conducted scientifically (i.e. under experimental conditions, and with a large enough sample size), so it’s good to see that someone’s finally doing it.

It was a nice evening and I made a couple of new friends, but excused myself when everyone headed to a cocktail bar; by this point I was just desperate to see my house, my cat and my bed again.

I got home pretty late and was pleased to find that my housesitter had done a good job, as usual. The cat was fed and happy, the house was only falling down as much as it ever is, and nothing seemed to have gone horribly wrong.

Which is all I can ask for, really.

Then it was time to catch up on all the work I hadn’t been able to do properly whilst travelling, including:

Memphis The Musical - Photos 2015-05-24 13-49-18Memphis the Musical. I still can’t believe we landed this campaign. Beverly Knight totally slays it, and Matt Cardle’s joining the cast in early June. If you run a blog, email me and I’ll send you review tickets.

Luna Gale

Luna Gale at Hampstead Theatre. It’s the story of a social worker whose latest case is a pair of meth-addicted teen parents and their baby, Luna Gale. It deals with a huge range of social issues, including drug addiction, parenting, social workers’ workloads and the different motivations of people who, on the surface, might initially seem all sweetness and light. Again, email me if you want a review ticket.

RAThe RA Summer Exhibition. It’s happened every year without fail since 1769, and this year they’re having a special open evening for bloggers to preview the art. Interested? Let me know.

‘Clown Army support the Police’ from the Labofii G8 UK Tour 2005 - photo by Ian TehWe still have a few spaces left for bloggers at the opening night of 2 Degrees Festival, which uses the arts to talk about issues of climate change and social justice. It looks like a really interesting programme; you can find out more on their Tumblr, and email me if you’re interested in writing about it.

And we’re also still running a campaign for Shakespeare’s Globe’s summer programme, in which we’re offering tickets to see King John in early June. If you’re interested, let me know. There’s also free wine and a talk beforehand by someone from the Globe.

By the time I’d caught up on all that, it was the end of the day yesterday, and I curled up on the sofa and decided to watch CSI: Cyber. I interviewed Mary Aiken, the inspiration behind the programme and one of its producers, a few weeks ago.

There’s been quite a lot of snobbery in the digital forensics community about CSI: Cyber, though I’m not entirely sure of the reason behind it. I’d imagine it’s because we already have the ‘CSI effect’, a.k.a. the irritating thing that happens when people assume you can hack into government departments’ databases in five minutes because they’ve seen it on TV, but one of the things Aiken mentioned when I interviewed her was that she wanted to make it a little more realistic, or at least base it on real cases.

And yes, the effects aren’t what you’d see in an actual digital forensics lab. It’d be great to be able to teleport holograms of victims’ bodies to a lab and hover them in mid-air for forensic analysis. It’d be brilliant to have a magic tool that runs through source code for you and goes red when it sees malware.

Those things don’t exist,  by the way.

If only
If only

But CSI: Cyber is quite fun, and at least a couple of the scenarios I’ve watched so far are realistic. One of them is definitely based on a real case; another isn’t (to my knowledge) but is certainly feasible with the right amount of time and discipline.

The main misconception in these things is about timings, really. We probably could do a lot more of the things shown, given unlimited time and budgets, but in the real world we don’t have either.

I realised whilst watching it that I haven’t done an awful lot of forensicating, or even generic investigating, recently.

This is how freelance life goes, though: when one thing dies down, another thing increases. Right now I have a lot of blogger outreach projects on, and less forensic work. Later in the year, it’ll probably switch.

Plus, the week after next will be pretty much entirely forensics-led, so that’ll be fun.

I hope I’m not out of practice.

Luckily, I’m keeping up with things via the Forensic Focus forum, where digital forensics practitioners, researchers, students and law enforcement agents get together to talk about ideas and things related to our work.

My favourite thread recently (admittedly mainly because it just sounds really badass) is one in which we work out how to replicate a fingerprint to get into a Galaxy S5 Mini device that’s protected through biometric recognition. Here’s where we’re up to so far:

Graphite Fingerprint Reproduction

And now it’s today, and I started cleaning my flat and then decided to procrastinate instead and write this blog post, but I really should get back to it.

Stuff I’ve written elsewhere:

An interview with Elena Pakhomova, the co-founder of ReclaiMe.

A round-up of highlights from the Forensic Focus forum this month.

An overview of TSFIC, the forensics conference I’ll be attending in South Carolina next weekend.

Have a good week, everyone.

Until next time.


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