Looking behind the curtain

It's time to take a look behind the curtain.

image by maxime amoudruz | unsplash

If you’ve seen the Wizard of Oz you’ll know about the man behind the curtain.

It’s a great visual reminder that things are not always what they seem on the surface.

Looking behind the curtain is an essential skill for anyone investigating a crime, and creating curtains is a fun game for crime writers.

It’s also an essential life skill if you don’t want to be taken in by appearances.

How often have you judged a book by its cover and been disappointed? And, how often have you judged a book by its cover and missed out on a great read because you failed to look behind the curtain?

You need to look behind the curtain in all aspects of your life, not just when choosing a book to read. Think about all that advertising you’re bombarded with and all that political spin. Think about what you’re being fed as news.

If you never question or examine what you’re told you’ll end up like the citizens of Oz: believing in a fraud.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

Digital libraries

40 years is a long time to live in one house.

It’s definitely sufficient time to accumulate a lot of books.

We’re moving out and going overseas for a while.

Photo_kazuend_UnsplashImage by: kazuend | Unsplash

We stood together in the library and looked at the seven floor to ceiling bookcases holding somewhere in excess of two thousand books, and at the six yellow containers of children’s books piled up between two of the bookcases.

The question on our minds – what do we do with all these books?

Our initial reaction to the question was a decision to store the library. After all, how could we throw away a book?

Then we realised that was an emotional response.

We spent some time examining what was on those shelves and in those yellow containers. There were books from our university days, books from our teaching days, even some books from our school days, and books that our sons had loved to death. There were books we knew we would never read again. Some were so dated we knew no-one would ever want to read them again.

We decided on a cull.

Now there is a large stack of books waiting for their final trip to the recycling depot.

When we finally decide on a new house, we won’t be needing those seven bookcases.

The cassette tape collection, which had been collecting dust since the advent of the CD, was not as fortunate as the books. It was added to the pile of stuff waiting to go into oblivion.

The CDs did better than the cassettes and the books. They have been boxed for storage. Who’s got time to review all that music? Some of the DVDs survived to be viewed another day, others are going to new homes to entertain other folks.

I’m not sure how many of the books and CDs we have retained will survive our next move but I do know that the majority of additions to our reading and recording libraries into the future will be digital.

The thing about digital libraries is they are stored in the cloud and copied to your device. They take up no space in your house; they do not require bookcases or any special shelving. You do not need to store them when you are between houses. You can access your libraries from anywhere in the world, as long as you can connect to the internet, and you can read or listen to the copies you have downloaded to your device when you can’t.

I suspect that we’re part of the last generation that will accumulate physical books into home libraries. But, who knows? Maybe the allure of the physical book will survive.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

Erasing your hard drive

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With the continual upgrading of operating systems, and all the other bits inside computers, there comes a time when the old machine has to go out with the recycling.

Unfortunately, simply deleting files before dropping off the old machine at the e-recyclers will not protect your privacy.

The delete function does not actually delete your files, and someone with the appropriate software can recover whatever you have deleted.

This might be great for forensic accountants and the like, but it’s not good news for the average citizen like you and me.

This week I needed to find a solution for this issue. There were several old computers with mechanical hard drives sitting around the house waiting to retire, and I wanted to act.

For my ancient iMac, which was operating on Maverick, I discovered that using the Command+R (restore) feature opened a list of options that includes access to the Disk Utility. This allows you to securely erase the hard drive. By securely erase, I mean delete and overwrite several times.

With the iMac done, I then had to find a solution for two laptops and a PC running on various versions of Windows from XP through to 7.

A Google search turned up a tutorial on how to erase your hard drive using DBAN. All I had to do was find a usb drive and follow the instructions.

It’s a three step process as you need to download the DBAN software, a program to burn that software to your usb drive, and then alter the boot order on each computer so that it boots from the usb drive instead of its hard drive. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. All the steps and supporting documents and links to the downloads are in the tutorial.

It takes up to 12 hours to securely erase a 500 GB hard drive, so patience is required.

I now have four clean drives ready to recycle.

I guess in a few years time I’ll be looking for a solution for solid state drives.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

A view from Australia

Leaves on pathAustralia is having an unusual double dissolution election, where every member of both houses of the Federal Parliament is up for re-election. Usually, only half the Senate is contested at a federal election. So, this one could be interesting.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived back in Australia from the USA on Monday, and watched the TV coverage in the lounge at Melbourne airport while waiting for my connection, was the difference in the tone of the campaign being waged here.

After listening to the candidates fighting it out in the presidential primaries in the US, it was refreshing to hear what, by comparison, seemed almost polite conversation, even when opposing politicians were bagging each other.

Hopefully, if we ever get around to becoming a republic, Australia will go with the Constitutional President model, similar to the Irish, and stay well clear of the Executive President model used in the USA.

I suspect the Australian Labor Party will come to regret Kevin Rudd’s parting gift: their leadership election process. From my perspective, the rules of their new leadership process look a lot like the rules of the process the Democrats use to select their presidential candidate. Facing the membership to gather delegates from a round of voting and then dealing with the super delegates – the elected members and the party machine. Bernie Sanders will tell you it’s rigged. Hilary Clinton will tell you it’s the way things are.

Whether it’s rigged or not, it’s ugly, it’s public, and it takes a long time.

In past leaderships spills in the Australian Labor Party all was resolved in the party room. It took a matter of days.

If Labor fails to get up in July we will, no doubt, be treated to the spectacle of another leadership election contest, as they sort out who gets to replace Bill Shorten.

I’ll be tuning out.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic and The New Girlfriend. He has also published colouring books and journals under the Sharing the Journey banner.

Project management secrets.

The secret to project management is working out what you have to do before you start doing it.

 

Everyday_Project_Man_Cover_for_KindleHow many times, when you were starting on a problem solving task, have you launched yourself into solution mode instead of analysing the problem, only to regret your haste later?

When you rush into a job, you often realise, after you’ve committed to one course of action, that there are other and better ways you could be doing it. Sometimes, you even discover that you’re working on a solution to the wrong problem.

Making sure you understand the problem, before you start thinking about possible solutions, is probably the most important part of project management.

Another critical step is developing a project plan – and writing it down.

Projects come unstuck when you either rush into them or fail to plan how you will go about doing the job.

It’s no good having the plan in your head either. Having a documented plan encourages accountability, and gives you a way to measure and report your progress – even when you’re working on a personal project.

If you’re new to project work or curious about how project management principles could help you get things done more efficiently, Everyday Project Management is an easy to read introduction to project management.

What does this crime writer know about project management?

Quite a bit, actually. I spent twenty years working on projects in banking and government before turning my attention to a life of crime, and I use those principles to manage my writing projects.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic and The New Girlfriend. He has also published colouring books and journals under the Sharing the Journey banner.

The secret of appreciation

The secret of appreciation

 

We are highly skilled at complaining about the things that are wrong in our lives. We all know what we don’t want or don’t have.

When was the last time you focused on the things that are working for you? The things that you have and want in your life.

The law of attraction

According to the law of attraction, you attract into your life those things that you put your attention on. If you want more good things in your life, appreciating the good things already present is one sure way of attracting more of them.

The flip side of the law of attraction is that if you put your attention on the things that you don’t want or don’t have, you will continue to attract more of those.

For some reason, we tend to take the good things for granted and devote our energy to bitching about what we don’t want or don’t have. Now that you know about the law of attraction, you know what that means, don’t you?

Actions to consider

By giving up the bitching, you can refocus your energy on appreciating the things you have been taking for granted. In other words, stop complaining and put your attention on what is working for you in your current circumstances.

Look around you. The circumstances of your life reflect what you have been giving your attention to. Okay, it might not be all that pretty but, if you’re reading this, somethings must be working for you.

Take a moment and identify the things, conditions, and relationships that support your wellbeing and prosperity. Acknowledge that you have attracted them into your life. Be grateful for them.

A few items that could be on your list of things to appreciate

The people that love and support you: lovers, parents, friends, children, people that you work with.

People that serve you: shop assistants, postal workers, public transport drivers, police officers, teachers, government employees, farmers, truck drivers…

All those things that keep your body alive: air, water, food.

Things that provide bodily comfort: clothing, housing, electricity, plumbing, warm bedding in winter, air conditioning, microwave oven, gas cooktop, refrigerator, freezer, hot and cold running water, inside flush toilet, shower, washing machine, clothes dryer, windows, lighting….

The job or profession that provides your income. Even if you don’t like your current job there is something about it that is working for you. Appreciate that part. That’s the bit you want more of.

The secret

The secret is to give your attention to the things you appreciate every day.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic and The New Girlfriend. He has also published colouring books and journals under the Sharing the Journey banner.

The New Girlfriend

Sometimes you need to allow a bit of space between completing a manuscript and starting on all the editing and proofreading required to prepare it for publishing. When I finished the final draft for Holy Death, the next title in the Inspector West series, I indulged myself by writing a short romance story: The New Girlfriend.

The story was inspired by the ‘new girlfriend’ adventures of a couple of my mates, and my reading of Transitions – making sense of life’s changes by William Bridges, when I was preparing to retire from the public service.

I had a lot of fun writing this one.

The New Girlfriend

The_New_Girlfriend_Cover_for_KindleFor reasons known only to science, there are men who believe they can’t live without a woman in their lives. Dave Chambers is one of them. Unfortunately for Dave, the woman in his life dies on him.

The New Girlfriend is Dave’s story of how he copes with that unexpected and poorly timed death, and meets ‘the new girlfriend’.

As any man can tell you, finding a new girlfriend is not as easy as it sounds when his friends, usually in a pub somewhere, are encouraging him to get out and meet someone new.

Like most love stories, Dave’s experience of ‘the new girlfriend’ is not all smooth sailing. It has some heartache, some funny moments, and a promising ending.

If you enjoy a light hearted look at life, even at some of its darker moments, you’ll enjoy The New Girlfriend.

Available from Amazon.

Who? Me?

When you’re aware of your behaviour – you can do something about it.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a criminal or a politician, if you have no awareness of how your behaviour impacts on your outcomes, you will continue blindly on your way to prison or losing your seat.

If you’re in a relationship, continuing to ignore that your behaviour is impacting the quality of that relationship is an almost certain guarantee that relationship will fail – particularly if the other party is acutely aware of your behavioural imperfections. By the way, it doesn’t matter whether the relationship is a romantic or a business partnership.

Self-absorption.

Most of us are self-absorbed, which I suspect is the default human position. Self-absorption allows you to look after your own interests, to push your own wheelbarrow regardless of the obstacles on your path. A little self-absorption is, no doubt, good for you. Total self-absorption is a recipe for disaster in a world based on relationships.

Who, me?

Image by rafael H. | unsplash.com

Slow down and observe yourself.

One way to become more self-aware is to slow down and pay attention to the way people respond to you.

Do people ignore you? Are they afraid of you? Do they resent your intrusions? These are not good signs if you notice them. On the other hand, if people welcome your participation, willingly work with you and want to be around you, it’s probably a good idea to continue doing what you’re doing.

It’s also a good idea to reflect on what it is that you are doing that elicits whatever response you get from others. A little reflective downtime can help you identify behaviours that work, and others that may need some work.

Ask questions.

Another way to get an idea of how your behaviour impacts others is to ask them.

If you manage other people, you know how easy it is to be critical of their behavioural shortcomings. Well, guess what? Other people have been making their own assessments of your behaviour. Asking them how they see you is one way of finding out if you need to consider making a few changes. This one requires a little emotional maturity and a willingness to be vulnerable.

You might get a shock or a surprise. But, it won’t kill you unless you choose to die of embarrassment.

In my opinion, it’s better to risk a moment of embarrassment than to continue blindly on being an embarrassment to everybody around you.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, and Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic. He has also published colouring books and journals under the Sharing the Journey banner.