I’m not even sure where this week went

I know I spent most of it working. In the early part of the week I designed a survey which is going to be sent out to digital forensic investigators. It includes a couple of questions that relate to some research I’d eventually like to do on the psychological effects of working full-time (or part-time, or at all) in a role that requires you to see some of the most awful things humans do to each other.

My job’s a bit of a conversation stopper. When I say “forensic investigation”, people generally think it’s incredibly cool. When I specify “computer forensics” they make reference to Garcia from Criminal Minds, or (if they know me well enough) to Lisbeth Salander.


When I say “child protection” they usually start asking questions and then the conversation sort of peters out. I haven’t yet worked out how to make this more comfortable. Perhaps it shouldn’t be comfortable.

A lot of them ask how I can bear to do it, whether it affects my day-to-day life, stops me sleeping.

Short answer: no, it doesn’t. I can (and often have) participate in a child protection investigation and then go home and get a full night’s sleep without having horrendous nightmares. But then I’ve always been good at compartmentalising and I’m just not a very emotional person in general.

Working with other people in the industry, however, I have had conversations where people said they felt like this too, until they had children of their own. I don’t have kids myself, but I can see how that might affect things. So I want to study these effects eventually, but first I want to do a small pilot study via a couple of preliminary questions to gauge interest.

And then I’ll pitch for funding. Which is always the fun bit.

On Friday I worked on two machines simultaneously (i.e. one with the left hand, one with the right hand) for the first time in several years. It wasn’t a massively complex job – loading web pages and updating a spreadsheet – but it was quite fun, and I like to challenge myself to do things like this occasionally.


Then I transcribed a webinar and went to bed.

Saturday was my friend’s birthday party. I’d pre-booked the train tickets a month in advance, but when it got to yesterday I didn’t have enough money to get (a) from my house to the station, (b) from the station to her house at the other end, or (c) either of those things on the way back.

This is the thing about being a freelancer: finances never work out how you want them to.

I’m finally earning enough to consider myself financially stable, and yet I still find myself in these positions from time to time. And I wasn’t going to blog about it, but then I realised that one of the problems with freelance life is that people don’t write about this stuff, so when it happens to you, you feel like you’re failing/doing something terribly wrong, when in actual fact you’re just having a representative experience.

But I was determined to go to her birthday. I don’t see her very often – I lived just down the hill from her when I was in Brighton, but now I see her only about once a quarter – and I’d had the date in my diary for weeks. Plus, the middle bit of the journey (which is also the most expensive bit) was booked already, so it would have been a waste of money to not go.

So I sucked it up and walked to Victoria station. Which was actually quite pleasant, because Hyde Park is pretty. It was really hot though.

At the other end, I stood under the bridge by the station and busked for two hours. This raised me enough money to get the bus up to her place (people were in a stingy frame of mind, evidently).

I saw my friend, met some new friends, hung out, ate sandwiches and caught up. It was a very pleasant afternoon.

Then I walked a couple of miles to George Street, which is a quiet street in Hove that’s often underrated for busking but is actually brilliant, and spent about another hour busking there. This netted me the money to get the bus to the station in Brighton, and also to get the bus home from Victoria.

I’d write more about busking but I’m saving it for a busking diaries post at some other point.

Suffice to say, when I got home I was exhausted. I slept late this morning and have spent most of the day sitting around massaging my tired muscles and pinning inspiration for my house renovations on Pinterest.

Now I’m going to bake a camembert, pour some wine and sit down in front of Star Trek for a couple of hours, and then get an early night. Cuz I’m a badass like that.


Interesting things around the interwebs this week

The paper on car hacking by Roel Verdult, Flavio D. Garcia and Baris Ege, which was suppressed for ages, has now been released.

Intel have open-sourced Steven Hawking’s speech system.

Lots of people got their GCSE results, and the Telegraph ran an article about how England’s 500 top state schools are now outperforming the 500 top private schools. My favourite quote from the article was this one:

I am living proof of the above, and have spoken at length and in various media (blogs, websites, newspapers, radio, events…) about how my fortuitously good choice of state secondary school both saved my life and secured my future.

My friend and occasional (espresso) drinking buddy Cosimo Anglano has released a new paper on the forensic analysis of WhatsApp on Android phones.

A man built a real-life control panel for his computer and it’s very cool.

Some interesting stuff has been happening on the Forensic Focus forums this month.

If you’re going for an interview soon, please try one of these tips. But please don’t hold me accountable for what happens.

Side story: A friend of mine once sent in a CV with a black bin bag stapled to it to the company she wanted to work for. Her cover letter included the sentence “I’ll tell you what the black bag’s for at the interview.” They invited her for an interview, asked her what the bag was for, and she replied “It’s for all the other CVs.” She got the job.

This tweet made me smile:


As did this Instagram post, which mixes two of my favourite things:

View this post on Instagram

Star Trek Mean Girls

A post shared by Steven (@superfunhappyguy) on


And finally

Someone tweeted this picture and I think everyone needs to see it.


Until next time.


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