Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Justifiable Skepticism

Or, "Perchance it Pays to be Paranoid'"

I received an e-mail this past weekend with the following text:


Your photograph was forwarded to us as part of an article we are publishing for our December edition of Total Business Monthly. Can you check over the format and get back to us with your approval or any changes? If the picture is not to your liking then please send a preferred one. We've attached the photo with the article here.

The article was signed, "Kind regards," and included a person's name, as well as an online business website.

A .zip attachment titled "Article + Photo" was attached.

Since my website offers several articles for editors to freely use, and also includes photos for the media, I wasn't sure if this was a bona-fide e-mail or not. I checked out the website listed (Total.Business.com), and was satisfied with the quality of articles I saw there. I would be happy to have mine be a part of their information exchange.

I am extremely reticent, however, to open attachments from places that I do not know. Especially .zip attachments. In this world of computer viruses, worms, Trogan horses, and other things that go "CRASH" in the night, I treat attachments from unknown sources with extreme respect, kid gloves, and large quantities of disinfectant.

I sent a reply e-mail to that effect. I also said that if my approval was required for something, I would prefer to proof it either online, or have it included as part of an e-mail text.

The e-mail address that I replied to, however, was not valid. Hmmmmm.

So I wrote to one of the contacts listed on the bona-fide website. I told them of the situation. I said that if this had been a legitimate attempt to contact me and get my editorial approval, several things about it raised some red flags. If not, I thought they should be aware that someone is using their business name in an unethical manner.

(I haven't heard from them one way or another. It's possible that I'm just intrinsically paranoid. But paranoia can be a valuable thing. I mean, just look at those sub-human cretins who try to get you to twiddle with your PayPal or eBay accounts, using e-mails that look so authentic. There is a special circle in hell reserved just for phishers. It's even worse than the circle set aside for spam mail originators and perpetrators. But I digress...)

On a better, more positive note, I was happy to learn that Absolute Write will feature one of my articles the week of December 14. Absolute Write, for those of you who don't know, is a writer's website dedicated to educating and improving the craft of writers of all abilities, genres, styles, and experience levels. I'm quite honored to have them publish my work.

Besides, I know they're legitimate -- they only send me things I've signed up for (their weekly newsletter is full of useful information). And they never include questionable files.

Geoff's Book Update
I spoke to the editor and publisher of Geoff's book yesterday. The book is in layout, and will soon be ready for our approval. In the meantime, she wanted me to take another look at, and re-think the captions for about 10 of the photos. When she explained what she wanted, it was easy to see where the text was wanting. Fixing that to everyone's satisfaction is the first order of business today.

We also discussed titles. The editors at Trafalgar Square have suggested several good ones. I'm going to run some of the more promising ones past Geoff and see what he thinks. It's a bit daunting, when you consider that -- adages aside -- people really DO judge books by their covers. What's worse, people judge books by their titles.

No pressure. None at all...