Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Baby You're A Firework!

Coding is quite amazing. I mean computer programming. Its part science. Its part engineering. Its part art. Its part mysticism. It can be both pragmatic and esoteric simultaneously despite the fact that in classical computing it is confined to the limits of boolean logic and the binary nature of computer gates, memory and addressing.

It is one of those things that many who are into it may find themselves doing until the wee hours once they've been bitten. It just seems to appear to that nature of our being and is for the most part something that people can do in their solitary moments that contribute to a bigger scope of things in the world.

During my time in the shelter system and homelessness for 8 years during the last 3 years of that time I spent much of it coding just to keep my sanity. I'd worked for the majority of my time homeless for about 6.5 years nearly 6 days a week. After numerous mishaps I managed to accumulate enough gear to start producing digital content on my own and that would keep me busy for the final stretch of my time homeless.

In fact of my days in the final 2.5 years of being homeless, I spent between 8 and 10 hours a day coding for a variety of projects. Ironically one of the pieces of music that used to keep me going was a song by Katy Perry called Firework (though I didn't know that was its name at the time). I'd heard the lyric many times though and it really gave me the brashness of spirit to roll with the punches and persevere through every challenge.

In fact, I was so intrigued by the song that I began working on a fireworks simulation myself around February of 2010 with the laptop I'd purchased from my prior years of hard work while homeless. I was living at Heyworth House at the time and fortunately they'd had a corner of the cafe area where I could setup nearly permanently with my gear and work on just about anything, and that's precisely what I did with most of my time.

Coding had always been an important calling to me, beyond that music composition and occasionally writing to which I'd returned after decades of not having written a thing. So between all of those activities that's how I kept my sanity and myself focused towards getting on my feet and in some ways it payed off, because somebody was paying attention. Perhaps not my mysterious benefactor but somebody knew that I was there at Heyworth House coding, composing, writing and doing many other things with the only tool that I had at the time.

In fact, I still have all of the code I'd written from that time including the Fireworks simulation project (which I'd written with Embarcadero Delphi as I do with most of my applications). Perhaps a handbag full of more than a hundred programming projects, some finished to completion and others half finished, they're still scattered throughout my programming project library on my new(erish) computer.

Satcom Connect: A fake application I wrote to trick those conducting 
illegal surveillance on my computer at Heyworth House in 2010 into believing 
I was communicating with the Federal Police through satellite systems. 
It helped me to track down and expose a whole criminal eavesdropping 
networking ring. The intel I gathered about the ring I sent to the Canadian Federal 
Intelligence community (for free).
In fact when I feared that I had criminals spying on my computer to steal my work and intellectual property from me, I even coded a fake satellite communications program that to anyone spying on my computer would make it appear that I was connecting to Government databases via satellite and old school modem equipment. It was so effective that these people doing the illegal spying on my were convinced that I was an agent or operative for the Federal Police, though I'd never made any claims of that nature. I just wanted to flush them out because there's nobody worse than the kind of person who'd steal your creations. Its like a child kidnapper. You spend a good portion of your life working on something and then someone comes along and in less than a minute takes away from you something you've invested years of your life into.

So I though the best approach to dealing with people of that nature was to fool them, and they'd each slip up one by one so that I'd eventually know who had access to such spying technology as I know it to be illegal in Canada. From there I could verify their affiliations with law enforcement and if they had none, I could guarantee to the reporting community that such a person was in fact involved in organized crime that involved computer or data theft. I don't like having to be that way, but life has taught me many hard lessons. Besides, I'm representing everyone else who knows how much effort it takes from you when you're creating something of that nature and just how ulcer inducing a feeling that must be when you watch someone else making money with something you created without any mention of your being nor reimbursement for your efforts. Just stolen from you. At the time I hardly felt that anyone would listen to me if I'd lost any of my intellectual properties being homeless and pretty much broke. That's when you're at your most vulnerable and there are people who will step on you even in that situation.

My Fireworks application with some added Graphics:
The Aerth Mother from A Lady's Prerogative (left).
The Butterfly Dragon's chest plate crest (rights).
For instance, there were many people who knew that there was a coder living at Heyworth House as word had spread amongst the people who were doing the spying and from there it appeared to draw lots of attention to the place and perhaps the issue of homelessness as there are many talented and discarded people in the homeless population that deserve that chance or break, myself included though I am no longer homeless but I still struggle dealing with issues involving illegal surveillance and the possible theft of things I work on, like my writing of A Lady's Prerogative (the books about the Witches that I started writing in 2010) and The Butterfly Dragon (the one about the troupe of Super powered Women, one a Genius scientist, one a Fashion designer, one a Model, the other a Corporate Analyst which I started writing between 2011 and 2012). So regardless I am and was very wary about losing my work in that way.

There's a lot of political issues when you deal with something of that nature because when someone is working drawing attention to that kind of issue, homelessness and the attention comes from the successful or rich, many of whom want to help change the face of the world and open doors for everyone. Perhaps there are some who feel a sense of guilt, like they don't deserve what they have when so many others working incredibly hard to succeed have literally nothing or sometimes less than nothing. Yet other people are aware of this celebrity wealth guilt and prey upon the successful for it likely as long as they can until such a person realizes that poverty is not their fault and that they shouldn't feel guilty for having found success though they should appreciate it and the immense responsibility that always accompanies it.

So when you have a poster child for homelessness that is producing a lot of content and attention, a lot of issues come into play from that perspective. The first is that the poster child might get all the help and when they're removed from the homeless situation, the attention will go with them meaning that the charities won't have or benefit from their poster child anymore. There's jealousy as other homeless people might feel that they are being ignored in comparison. There's the poster child, who for the most part is being exploited in the face of the wealthy to prey upon their sense of guilt for being successful so that they reach into their pocket books and write a nice healthy cheque of donation to the charity. That's part of the way things sometimes work and that's not so bad but it does come with some responsibility just the same as success does.

The problem is that when one person is cast as the poster child perhaps like I was but mostly for the fact that while I was homeless I was always productive and doing something creative or constructive. I'd go crazy if I wasn't and just like the movie Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come. In other words if you work on your life's passion when in the midst of even the worst storms, the people that can help you the most will likely show up in your life and might even get you a lot closer to success yourself so that you'll eventually feel guilty and others will see that in you and approach you offering their unique brand of guilt therapy which involves writing cheques. Its the responsibility and the way of things and I imagine that all successful people go through that phase and I'd bet that the needy can see a guilty smile coming from a mile away. That's survival I guess.

Most of the people that work for such charities really do believe in what they do, and that's what motivates them to do so. There are others for whom it is essential that they do their part in because its their job and if there's not incoming money, there's no job. So you could say that there are many people whose jobs rely upon the needy and thankfully the majority of these people believe in what they're doing but there's always a few whose intent is not so noble.

So in fear of losing their poster boy and the corresponding attention and money, such people would rather steal what that poster boy accomplishes and make it appear to be coming from somewhere it isn't so that the people without scruples can keep control of whatever is drawing attention. After all, if the poster boy gets a job offer, they'll no longer be doing whatever it was that garnered attention in the first place at the location of the shelter or charity, and that could mean bye bye to an important stream of money. So rather than let the poster boy find success, there are people who'd much rather steal what the poster boy did or does, and give it to the credit of someone they know that will not be leaving the shelter any time soon. Kind of like Rapunzel. Everything is alright as long as Rapunzel keeps weaving gold. If Rapunzel leaves, then trouble is certain to come. So what can happen is that some of these people can work together to sabotage that person from ever leaving. If they do, then several people might work together to steal that person's identity and to transfer it to someone else. So the poster boy (or girl) for all the responsibility with which they ended up and all of their efforts trying to get ahead, end up no better off at all in spite of their efforts and in fact end up sabotaged so that someone else can end up with their identity.

Maybe some of those people bearing the stolen identity or creative properties then approach these benefactors for bursaries and the benefactor thinking that they'r dishing out money to the original creator whose life driven by their work or such projects. Instead, a complete impostor is receiving the bursary and I'd be willing to bet that this sort of thing happens more often than not and likely much more. Some people believe that it is their blood, ie their proximity to other creative people that gives them the ability to create. In other words, the limits to creativity according to such an ideology are related to the superiority of some races according to people who operate that way, and quite honestly that is nothing but caca.

My point for bringing this issue up isn't about creating a bad name for charity at all. In fact I'm trying to reinforce people's confidence in charity by including some of the realistic concerns one who donates large sums of money to charity should have. That's because the people who conduct these kinds of scams are making a bad name for the good people really there to help the needy and who believe in what they're doing for the city, country and world.

There's nothing worse than when individuals within a charitable organization conspire to misuse the organizations resources to obtain money directly from benefactors who are trying to help a charity or sometimes are trying to sponsor someone in that kind of situation in order to get them back on their feet.

I can't be 100% certain, but I am very confident that I had such a benefactor who was ripped off by such people and that those people attempted to give that benefactor the impression that I received a large sum of money and blew it on drugs, which is not the case at all. I never once during my homeless received a large sum of money or bursary from any benefactors whatsoever. Every bit of money I had, I earned with the sweat of my brow or my mind and it wasn't much at all (less than $200 a week) but I was still grateful for every penny and the opportunity to earn it.

So if you're successful and are looking to fund charities whose goals meet the criteria of challenges which you'd like to affect positively in the world, please be careful about how you disperse such money and to whom. That's why I stick with a set of trusted charities (on my about page) that are tried and proven. Ensure you're dealing with a charity that has its tax status and operates with open  books such as the United Nations Foundation. The United Way World Organization. The Princess Margaret Foundation. The Sick Kids hospital to name a few.

If you're dispersing money to a benefactor or someone you're sponsoring, go through great lengths to ensure their identity and help them to prove as much as I've encountered identity scams in my travels which most people would not believe in how many people were involved and how elaborate they were. I'm not saying that I'm rich and that I donate money regularly but I do my best to bring attention to charities that do good work and to these specific issues that everyone who gives of their money should have some concern. When it comes to homelessness, I lived it first hand for 8 years, involving no substance abuse issues nor criminal or other sociological issues. I don't like seeing people get ripped off. Especially when they've hit the bottom and especially when they're so capable of reaching for the top. That's the time when you need to be resilient. We're in a different world than it used to be. Success for some is going to be a lot more difficult for some than it is for others thanks to hate groups and bullying and stalking gangs who just want to bring out the worst in other people. So keep that spark going because there's people in this world who will literally try to erase you from having existed and who will keep you in their personal prison and use your output to fuel their lives. I kid you not. I'm in the midst of busting up just such a ring now. I just like reminding them of whats ahead for them.

So today I spent a bit of time working on code care of They've come up with an encapsulated visual programming language that runs in your browser that makes it easy to combine code with animation and music to produce dance videos while teaching you some of the principles behind coding and computer science. If you are interested in programming I'd recommend taking a look at this as it is a lot of fun, even for an experienced coder (though it would have been fun if the visual editor was two way, that is if you could write the code manually and then see it as visual code). Its a great learning experience and its easy.

I'm turning 51 years old tomorrow having finished 50 complete years on this planet. I imagine I'll be celebrating it in some way, as I'm certainly not a member of any ideology for which birthdays would be a problem, no offense intended. I will however be posting some of the newest chapters to A Lady's Prerogative Book II: Wounded Aerth before or during the up coming weekend. The Butterfly Dragon II: What Different Eyes See will be appended not long after that, hopefully soon enough so that I can take a break before starting The Butterfly Dragon III whose details I'm still sorting out. With the third book in A Lady's Prerogative, I'll be stepping out into fresh ground as I've nothing ready for it but it will involve a massive turn of events that might make even A Lady's Prerogative Book II seem small by comparison.

Brian Joseph Johns