It's TMI Tuesday, and in a wonderful break from tradition, I'm actually doing it on the correct day! The questions are all about super secret special skills. I don't really have many of those apart from being able to hold my breath for about two minutes if pushed, hold a note for an inordinately long time and list all the chemical elements in a rhyme. None of those are in here, but let's do the questions anyway.
1. Do you know how to pick a lock? Have you ever used this skill to gain unauthorised access?
No. And no. My fingers are skilled, but I'm not sure I'm either dexterous or devious enough to pick a lock. I'm pretty sure it's really difficult - although what I have done at one point was jimmied open the holder of a pair of binoculars at a theatre because I was too tight to shell out 20p. That's kind of like a lock. Alohomora!
2. Do you know how to open a safe with a rotary combination lock? Have you ever used this skill to gain unauthorised access? What did you find?
No. But I've played enough third-person-perspective point-and-click adventure games to be able to understand the theory. I'm sure with a stethoscope I'd manage it eventually. Which may come in handy if my parents die in a freak yachting accident, because their wills are in the safe upstairs and I don't know the combination...
3. Have you ever made a copy of a key you were not supposed to have? Did you use it to gain unauthorised access? What were you looking for? Did you find it?
Not entirely. I was sorely tempted to make a copy of the master key to my university's halls of residence. I'd declared myself king by that time anyway, and nobody minded, so I'm sure strolling around with a master key would have been the bee's knees. But I never managed to hold onto one for long enough.
Being lent a master key for a few seconds gave the the crazy idea to write, direct and star in a film about a university student who became obsessed with taking, or making copies of, the keys to everyone's room, and eventually becoming the undisputed ruler of the campus. It'd be a black comedy and incredibly popular. Needless to say, I didn't even begin to write it, but I have the film poster in my head. I'm probably too old to play a university student now, though.
4. Have you ever stolen or guessed a password? Did you use it to gain unauthorised access? What did you do?
Yes - at one of the places I used to work. I was in a library and the computer was locked. I typed "library" as the username and then just guessed "books" as the password. Guess what? It worked! How original.
5. Do you know how to get data from a computer that requires a password you don’t know?
No! Although it should be something I actually know how to do, being a geek and all. But I've never actually managed it. I guess the closest I could get is hammer F8 really fast when a computer turns on and copy files via the command prompt. Do new versions of Windows even still do that? See, that's how quickly I keep up with technology.
My new job took three days to sort out a Windows password for me. They made a system one really quickly (my name with a number after it - wildly original), but didn't realise after I explained it to them in a very loud, slow voice that without access to Windows, there wasn't any point giving me a system password. Turns out the Windows password is really easy to guess. I'd probably have got it eventually anyway.
6. Do you know how to record a telephone call? Have you ever done so secretly? Did you hear anything interesting? What?
I don't technically know how to do this, but I know where the speakerphone button is on my 'phone, and I know where the record button is on my dictaphone. The only call I've ever actually recorded was a job advisor one, where I was about to 'phone to get some "free" CV advice. 47 told me that although it was free, they'd only advise you once and you'd have to pay to hear any more. It was worthless advice, but I recorded it anyway.
Of course, answering machines used to use microcassettes, which could be fun, as you could line those straight into an audio jack and record them onto your PC. Mane's little brother used to make rap electronica tracks with the intros to songs remixed with repeated lines from the tapes. "This is Steve, Steve, Steve Mack, calling for Si-si-si-si-simon, mon, mon Hick," and stuff like that. Amazing.
7. Have you ever used a webcam or nanny cam to photograph someone secretly?
Nope. And I don't even know what a nanny cam is.
8. Have you ever used an infra-red camera to photograph someone secretly in the dark?
What is this, Kaori Shimizu's Semen Game of Death?!
9. Have you ever learned anything important by deliberate eavesdropping?
Yeah - loads of things. I've had the feeling that my parents are talking about me a lot of times, and most of those times, they usually are. It's not always very kind but I can eavesdrop really easily by lying on my stomach on the stairs. To be perfectly honest, though, if I want to know what my mum's really thinking about me I can read her diary. I know she thinks I don't know about it but she leaves it lying around. It's a list of things that she's "grateful for" and I rarely ever feature.
10. Do you know how to hot-wire a car?
Nope. I've seen it in movies and stuff but I'm really unsure exactly how it works.
Bonus: Have you ever been paid for your sexual skills? What skill(s) did you perform?
I actually had to think about this one. No, I've never been paid for my sexual skills, nor have I paid to use them, before you ask. I mean, I've used them on people for free. I'm just that nice.