The latest malicious email warning got me thinking. As an author, writer and blogger, I read articles that discuss how to get people to visit and then read my content. In the world of ghost-writing blog articles for people, the trick is to find what’s trending, then write about that, or use it as a hook into whatever your subject matter is. For those who are into the sketchy world of email marketing, the subject line and first few opening sentences should hook the reader’s attention, often through use of trending news or topics of widespread interest.
In this way, spammers and cyber-criminals regularly get people to click on their emails simply by tapping into the trending news of the “day”. The trending news right now is the launch of Microsoft’s Windows 10, their latest and they hope, greatest operating system to date that will promise interoperability among devices like never before! Capitalizing on this is news that cyber-criminals are already sending out rogue emails claiming to be official notices from Microsoft that a person’s upgrade is ready to download. As noted in a short article on CTV News recently, there are just a few problems with this notice:
1) There is an attachment. Microsoft does everything through the windows update interface or their app store now. There is NO attachment required for the Windows 10 upgrade!
2) As is typical of so many spammy, rogue and malicious emails, there are grammar and spelling mistakes! Those are a dead give-away that the email is far from being official and should be deleted immediately.
3) Unless you are in a location where the Internet is not readily available on a consistent basis, you will NOT receive an email from Microsoft! They will give you an update notice on your computer screen instead.
These points were put together by Cisco Systems Security Researchers just a few days prior to this particular author’s thoughts being written.
But as I said, it got me to thinking. While I don’t agree with click-bait, I do agree with honestly and engagingly capturing people’s attention. This requires putting on your creative thinking cap however, and asking how your content can be presented in light of trending topics on the Internet and in the news.
As a Christian, I’ve seen some pretty creative uses of technological terms employed to present life as a believer in Christ.
Every single person alive is born with a faulty Operating System. It’s faulty because the primary VPN connection to the Programmer has become corrupted and won’t function properly anymore. It hasn’t functioned properly since the early days of infrastructure development. Workarounds were developed for those who really wanted to restore communication with the Programmer, but they were prone to failure and had to be repeatedly done for any kind of communication to exist at all. Eventually, the Programmer sent the Computer Repair Tech to show the users how to repair their VPN connection permanently. Unfortunately, his methods were so unorthodox that those he was sent to help hung him out to dry! A few people actually listened, and even after he returned to Headquarters (HQ), they continued to teach other OS users how to restore their VPN connection to the Programmer. What they learned was this:
1) Disk drives regularly fill up with junk that must be cleared out so the OS has room for its paging file to grow and shrink. If the drive fills up and isn’t cleansed on a regular basis, the OS will begin to falter and various functions such as the VPN may cease to work properly.
2) The physical components of the system need dusting regularly, or dust build-up can cause over-heating, forcing the system to shut down more often, hindering efforts at communication again. The internal workings of the system must be blown out periodically to prevent unscheduled shut downs.
3) The username and password for the VPN are only known by the Programmer, and must be entered by the Computer Repair Tech only! If the user tries to figure out this combination, the VPN will be locked by the Network Administrator and communication hampered.
In order for unhindered communication between the user and the Programmer, the Network Administrator must have administrative access to the Operating System at all times. The Computer Repair Tech must be allowed to maintain a clean-running system in cooperation with the user, and the user would be wise not to fill up their hard drive with unnecessary junk that crowds out the intended functions of the OS. Only in this way can communication with the Programmer be maintained.
The above illustration will only be understood by those who know Who I am referring to. For the sake of those who are neither tech-savvy, nor followers of Christ, the analogy is as follows:
1) The disk drive is your heart and mind and can get cluttered up with the things of this world very easily, crowding out any room for God and making it difficult to live a life pleasing to Him.
2) The physical components refer to your mind, soul, and body and they need to be regularly examined to be sure unnecessary build-up of proverbial cobwebs, materialistic tendencies, etc are blown out so as to allow for unhindered communication between you and God.
3) The VPN, or virtual private network, is used to represent your communication with God in prayer, Bible reading, listening, and spending time with Him either in the still moments or throughout your day.
4) The Programmer is God the Father, the Creator of the World and the One Who created YOU!
5) The Computer Repair Tech is Jesus Christ, God the Son, who came to show us and become the conduit through which communication could be restored with God the Father.
6) The Network Administrator is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) is the third member of the God-head, and who is responsible for guiding us through our journey of faith as we prepare for the time when we will live with God forever and ever. He facilitates that ongoing connection with God, and nudges us when we need to let Him refresh it.
The issue these days, isn’t so much that every person has been born with a faulty OS, but the fact that the great saboteur (satan) has come up with competing OS’s that he encourages users to install, telling them these replacement OS’s are actually better and will run smoother than the one built into them by God Himself. So now when the Network Administrator shows up to offer repairs via the Computer Repair Tech, He finds that he must first remove the imposter OS and install the God-given OS instead. Users can be stubborn people as you know. So occasionally, after the Computer Repair Tech has done His work and the user has tried to use it for a while, they discover that they actually preferred the imposter OS and try to overwrite the God-given one again. This act of overwriting rarely results in anything good, and when they finally admit to their failure and agree to a complete overhaul, God has to send in the team to wipe the slate clean and install from scratch!
Those who stick with the process will occasionally see stop codes, error messages, and warning messages. These should never be ignored and should be looked into as to what is causing them and how they should be dealt with. Warning messages will pop up when the user is about to do something contrary to the OS’s primary function. Error messages will occur when users ignore the warning and attempt the action anyway. Stop codes are God’s way of encouraging the user to stop what they were doing, take a moment of examination and evaluation, and check their VPN connection. God may have designed, programmed and implemented their primary functioning OS, but He also wants one-to-one uninterrupted communication over lines free of static and dusty build-up.
Other users may come along and criticize OS users who don’t have all the updates and patches yet. When this happens, it’s always wise to flash up the notice, “This page is under construction, please come back later”. At times, a loading screen may be visible as God is preparing a particularly large program for launch. Other times, a progress bar may be visible showing that no matter how fast or slow it is moving, God is working in that person’s life.
Every user’s OS comes with an hourglass. Unlike many OS timer features, this hourglass tends to only show up at seasonal moments or at the launch date of the user and denotes how much time is left before they are called back to the lab. At some point in time, every user will get called back to the lab where God will sit in His Programmer’s chair, demanding to know how the user took care of the OS and how productive they were with it. Those that tried to ignore it, box it up and throw it in a corner, or outright replace it with another OS, will find themselves relegated to the smelter where systems go to be melted down. Those who looked after their OS, welcomed visits from the Network Administrator and listened attentively to do all that the Computer Repair Tech recommended, will be welcomed into the Programmer’s mansion where they will be given the best system available! However, the choice is made before that hourglass loses the last of its visible grains through the bottle neck.
What does all this have to do with Windows 10? Very little except for the fact that as a writer, if I put my mind to it, I can find a way to capture the trending topic of the day and work it into a writing piece that will grab attention. In this piece I used the trending topic to launch into my own analogy of the Christian’s response to God’s gift of Salvation and eventual eternal destination. I am a computer repair tech myself during the day, so the analogy was a relatively easy one to write. But there are other ways this topic can be capitalized on as well. I could have written about awareness of the enemy’s tactics in spiritual warfare, likening them to the tactics used by cyber-criminals as they seek to scam you out of your hard-earned cash. I could use it as a jump-off point writing yet again about the need for user vigilance behind the keyboard, only clicking on things that are safe and deleting those that are suspicious! I could write about the need for antivirus software updates, and sharing tools that I use to help others stay safe. I’ve written about these topics already via my business fan page on Facebook.
I admit that I don’t often spend time thinking about trending topics and how my writing can be used to tap into them. But I’ve read many articles on the subject saying that by doing so, blog writers in particular have increased their readership in droves! Authors of books can use this tactic as well in their promotional campaigns by tying in their subject matter with what’s trending at the time they wish to launch. This goes for non-fiction as well as fiction-based authors. Some would say this is easier for non-fiction writers than fiction writers, but even fiction writers can find some event in their novel that is similar to the trending topic of the “day” and link it in to grab reader attention.
I really should be more intentional about doing this!