Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

When it's not just sexist

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I remember my initial sexism training when I was in the military, decades ago.

I remember people being "confused" about when a compliment was a compliment and when it was objectification. It got cleared up then, pretty handily.

I'm surprised that - again, decades later - we not only have a POTUS who hasn't absorbed that training, but people my age and younger who can't see the difference.

This recent example where Trump interrupted a phone call with Taoiseach (the head of the Irish government) to "compliment" a reporter.

TRUMP: We have a lot of your Irish press in the room... go ahead, go ahead, come here, come here. Where are you from? See, we have all of this beautiful Irish press.

PERRY: I'm from RTE News [crosstalk] Caitriona Perry.

TRUMP: Caitriona Perry. She has a nice smile on her face. So I bet she treats you well.

If you can watch the video, it's worth it for the eyeroll as she walks away.

It is always useful in such situations to flip things. If he'd called over a male reporter and say "He has such a nice smile, I bet he treats you well," would we think nothing of it?

No, of course not.

Originally, I thought this was just another example of listing a woman's appearance as the primary factor about them instead of whatever achievements or other qualities they might have. I thought that partially because I misheard Trump's last sentence.

What he actually said actually exposes a bias that's even worse: That a woman's qualities as a professional are based around their "niceness".

That's not just sexist. It's an alarming bias toward groupthink.

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I can save today. You can save the world.

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Because it's needed. For her today. For others every day. You are more awesome than you think, and a damn sight more awesome than those who would tear you down.

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Flash Challenge THIS WEEKEND! Get critique on your writing for free!

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Several of us have started our own, self-hosted, flash fiction challenge over at a website we're calling Obsidian Flash.  It's on a forum behind a password, so that anything you write and submit is considered unpublished.  Registration is quick, free, and pretty painless.

Here's why you should do it, especially if you haven't been writing for a while:

1. Challenges like this are great for stimulating creativity.
2. You don't have the time to critique yourself.
3. You'll get helpful feedback from published authors and editors like myself, Donna Munro, Anton Cancre, and more.
The next challenge is scheduled for THIS weekend.  The prompt will go up this Friday (TODAY) at 8pm EST.

Go sign up now at and we'll see you writing this weekend!

Here are the rules:

1. All stories should be complete, written and posted within 24 hours of the prompt being posted, and can be anywhere from one sentence to 1,000 words in length.  Typically the prompt is posted by 8pm EST on Friday, and stories are posted by 8pm EST on Saturday.  

2. You may choose to write your story in any genre.

3. Your story must be built around the restrictions—words, themes, photo prompts, word limits, etc.—provided by the Flashmaster at the beginning of the challenge.

4. Once the participants’ work is posted, the voting and comment session begins and continues until all votes are in. Time limit for voting will be determined on the spot, depending on how many people finish the challenge.  Typically this is within 24 hours of the end of the writing portion, or 8pm EST on Sunday.

5. The winner becomes Flashmaster and chooses the prompt(s) for the next contest.  Also, you get all the Internet Bragging Points you think you can get away with.

Don't wait - get going and register at right now and join us!

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You need a password manager if you want to be safe online - and probably one you control

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I heard one of the more ignorant things last week:  A guy told me that he preferred a closed-source, commercial password manager instead of an open source one "because [he doesn't] trust open source software".

Amusingly, he was saying this about the same time that the news that commercial password manager OneLogin was hacked and potentially stole sensitive user data.

I tend to trust open source (and community-supported) software more for two basic reasons:

1. The source code is available, and I could examine and compile it myself.

2. Practical experience - most notably the experience I had with seeing how fast patches for Heartbleed rolled out in 2015 compared to patches for Stagefright for Android.

Additionally, this is the risk you run whenever you store sensitive information "in the cloud" (and remember, "in the cloud" simply means "on someone else's computer").  Yes, this includes the syncing that both Chrome and Firefox can do.

My advice on making your online life more secure is still valid five years on.  I still use KeepassX (Win/Mac/Linux) quite happily. You can sync the password database to your phone using a commercial service such as Dropbox (using DropSync) or a self-hosted one like OwnCloud (use FolderSync) and then use the app Keepass2Android (offline version) to open that local file.  

Why is that better than trusting it all to a company like OneLogin?  Simple.  If my OwnCloud/Dropbox gets hacked, there's another completely separate password that's locked my password data file.

I'm not going to tell you that you have to use KeepassX. You should use whatever works with your workflow.  But you should make sure that you take your own responsibility for your online security.

One more addition that I'll make to my recommendations: Your password manager should have a "notes" area.  Use that so that your "security questions" can be completely random answers and still be accessible from your phone if you need them.

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