Today’s topic…Know your shit! Do your research!
Let me tell you a story. I was following this author’s series. Wonderful books about romance, vampires, their soul mates, and saving their world against the evil vampires that wanted to take over everything. The books were good until the last twenty pages of the last book in the first series. In it, a girl/vampire went undercover and got into the bad guy’s server room, figured out their Public IP Address, and sent it home to the good guys before being caught.
The good guys “promptly” got into their servers, figured out their devious plan and stopped them in the space of thirty minutes. To which, I screamed, “BULLSHIT!”
After ten or more books, the author threw the whole damn thing away by not doing her homework. If she had bothered to talk to any techie for about five minutes, they would have told her that would have been impossible. As a techie, I was totally insulted that she didn’t do her homework and I haven’t read another book by her since. Let me explain.
Any company that has a website has what’s called a “Public IP Address” on the Internet. These are similar to telephone numbers. Each site is assigned a unique Public IP Address, no two are alike. Now, it’s very easy to figure out these IP addresses. One simply has to bring up a command bar and ping the company’s web address. Example below:
Yahoo’s Public IP Address is 188.8.131.52. However, knowing that will not immediately give you access to their systems. There are firewalls and routers that you would have to hack, not to mention, user names and passwords to their servers. It can take years to perform the hack and any company worth their salt makes it as hard as possible to access these by constantly blocking unused ports, upgrading equipment, and using sophisticated passwords. So while it isn’t impossible, as many know from listening to the news these days, it takes time.
So going back to the book, there’s no damn way in hell the good guys would have been able to access the information they needed to stop the bad guys in a space of thirty minutes or less. I was insulted by the author’s lack of professionalism and pissed that I had invested so much time reading her books. The author is no longer on my list of people to buy new books from. By not doing her homework, she lost a fan.
In conclusion, today’s writing tip is to do your research and know your shit. If you’re going to write a book about the FBI tracking down a serial killer, then you damn well better make friends with someone from the FBI to find out how they do that, because I guarantee you that someone will read that book and be insulted if you have it all wrong. They will bitch and complain (as I did) about the book/author and you could easily lose many fans by not knowing your shit before you write about a topic. Don’t be a sloppy or lazy author. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right! Know your shit!