Monday, 31 May 2010

Twitter Censorship

An amazing consequence of the Israeli State killing 10 civilians on the Turkish relief flotilla to Gaza is that Twitter appears to be taking action to prevent the use of the keywords "Israel", "Flotilla", "Gaza". If you enter other keywords in Twitter you get a response fairly quickly. If you try to use "Israel", "Flotilla" or "Gaza" there is no response on the Twitter Search. 

Coincidence? Other people are noticing this. Here and here, here, here


Sunday, 30 May 2010

The consequence of false fears

The Chief Scout of the UK Scout Association, a TV adventure presenter, Bear Grylls is running a series of events to encourage adults to volunteer to take part in leading tween and teen children in adventurous scouting activities. It seems that the Scout Association is having problems recruiting enough adults interested in leading Scout Troops. 
From my view point, one of the main contributory factors to this reluctance to take part in leading scouts is the attitude of of national and local government officials. Regulation after regulation has been introduced which treats any person showing an interest in leading children as likely criminals until proven innocent by a series of intrusive and ineffective official examination. Add to this this risk averse nature of officialdom where simple activity plans have to go through layer after layer of stifling and unnecessary evaluations. In essence, voluntary youth leaders are treated with a barrage of mistrust and a lack of respect.
I used to be involved in the Scout Association many years ago, but no way would I involve myself to the indignities of the present vetting procedures. This is not really the fault of  the Scout Association. It is the poorly thought-out legislation introduced by the recent Labour government and also nameless jobsworth officials in the various unelected Quango's and local authorities. They love to exercise authority, but shirk the responsibility of causing this negative atmosphere in the youth leadership environment.
The insurance companies also bear some of the responsibility. Their risk averse approach leads them to placing unnecessarily high insurance premiums on any activity that is not padded in cotton wool.
I'm a responsible person, I've raised a family and guided my kids through University and they are on their way to raising their own families. It is ridiculous that people like me would be treated with suspicion if we offered to help out in the youth community. It is in essence disrespect of elders.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Further drain on UK economy

It is interesting to see the rumours that Infosys, the giant India based offshoring company is proposing to buy the UK IT Consultancy called Logica. Apparently the large government departments are now not keen to be seen to "Offshore" work to companies like Infosys. 
It is sad really, I remember working for a Logica Consultant, who was embedded in the UK Civil Service, on a major government project over 40 years ago. This is more evidence that these India outsourcing companies are draining the UK economy of skilled job.
It is amazing that the previous Labour government used to promote offshoring as good for the UK economy. 

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Low cost e-shop options.

Most authors rely on their publisher to handle sales of their books, but circumstances may arise where the author wants to be able to offer their books for sale on the Internet. One method of achieving this is to rent a “Shopping Cart” service from an ISP. This is then tied into some form of Credit Card acceptance which is activated on the shopping cart. The process of initiating the on-line shop is not terribly complicated, but one can easily end up paying $30-$60 a month in service fees.
Nowadays there are some cheaper options:
If you open a business account with PayPal there is no regular fee for their basic service. It allows you to send payment requests/Invoices to anyone with an email address. The addressee can then settle the payment, either through their existing PayPal account or using a Credit/Debit card without having to register for a PayPal account. One benefit of PayPal is that they handle foreign currency conversions. Their fee is in the region of 3.5% per transaction.
A standard PayPal business account allows you to generate shopping cart “buttons” to embed in your website (or email). If you know some basic HTML coding, you can set up a shopping cart in less than 20 minutes. Finally add a “checkout button” using the code automatically generated by PayPal and you are in business.

I’ve added some examples in the previous blog entry. In the next blog post I'll demonstrate how to use Google Forms to capture Sales orders. If you want a preview have a look at my site.


PayPal coding examples

Here's a cart button:

Here's a checkout button:

These took just 10 minutes to set up on the blog page; and they are Live!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

The theme for Book 4 of the Adam Cranford Series?

I think I've found the theme for Book 4 of the Adam Cranford series. Whilst each of the books has action adventure there is an underlying plot for teenagers (and adults) to consider.. In Teen Valour I touched on population control. In Company Mole it was illegal drugs. The recently written Dangerous Donkey mentions the issue of green fuels.

For the fourth book I'm thinking about looking at the issue of global water shortages and what mankind can do to recover water in the planet. As part of my initial research I came across a video on Re-greening the desert. It is fascinating stuff. It shows with a little knowledge and some physical effort it is possible to fight back against desertification. Here's another link from the same source. My wife would kill to own this garden,

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Technology Clash

We use Adobe's InDesign CS4 to prepare the books I write for publishing. The process is a bit counterintuitive, but produces good results. Imagine my feelings when I discover that having used InDesign on my PC yesterday that the prouct no longer works on the same PC. It would not load.  After much experimentation I uninstalled and reloaded the software. The joys of finding the original DVD's last used a couple of years ago. Then finding the earlier software for the serial number because CS4 was an upgrade.

I rebooted the PC - InDesign would not restart!  To cut a long story (5 hours) I tracked down an obscure reference on the Internet. My PC also has Rapport software provided by my bank to protect my web browser connection when using on-line banking.

Removing Rapport cured the problem. 

Monday, 10 May 2010

Dangerous Donkey is at the Editors

I've just released the manuscript to my editor Autumn Conley. She's a treasure! Here's an extract from the start of the book.

Dangerous Donkey Technology

In writing the Adam Cranford books I always try to research a lot of modern and exotic technology and incorporate it within the story. I try not to put too much detail and thus bore people, but I provide enough hints to encourage people to do some research on the internet. Many of the technologies mentioned are likely to have a significant effect on people's future lives. I well remember watching a (now dead) presenter called Raymond Baxter on a BBC television programme called Tomorrow's World. He was demonstrating a technology where he had two small sheets of glass about 15 cms square, the glass sealed at the edges contain a liquid. He was demonstrating that it was possible to change the light transmission ability of the fluid by applying an electric current to wires attached to the glass. He told us the technology was called Liquid Crystal. My reaction as a young boy was "huh, so what?" If only I'd known then that the technology would be developed to have a major impact on our lives, such as the LCD screen I'm using to display the text I'm typing now!
There is a lot of fascinating technology research happening right now. It will have a similar impact on our future lives. I just hope that somewhere there will be a boy or girl who reads my books and as a result gains interest in this new research. Maybe they will go on and develop great uses for the technology.


Saturday, 8 May 2010

Finished at last

I've just finished the first draft of the third Adam Cranford book. The provisional title is Dangerous Donkey. I'll have to go through all the editing of course, but I'm quite pleased with the ending of the book.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Book 3 Adam Cranford series

Today I shall sit down and sort out the title for the third book. I'm writing the penultimate chapter so soon I'll have to track down my hard working editor Autumn Conley to knock the narrative into shape.
If anyone wants to have a peek at the new book, please get in contact.

Published Author Network

I've just transferred over from to the Publisher Authors' Network. It is set up by Shelagh Watkin's who is an author and editor based in the UK.

It seems reasonably active so let's hope it goes well.


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Westminster Equities

I just had another unsolicited phone call from Westminster Equities. Their caller Id was withheld and the person on the other end of the line had a mid-atlantic accent. The usual noise of a call centre in the background. These people always claim to have a previous association with me and then go on to try and push some kind of "Research Report" on equities in my direction.  I always tell them never to call again, but they come back with monotonous regularity. I wonder if these are the same people who are listed by the FSA as a boiler house operation.
I regard Boiler Houses as being the financial equivalent of Pubic Lice (Crabs). A blood sucking irritation that can be difficult to remove.
I suppose that they must be legit (ROFL) because they list as clients: Rolls Royce, BP, Carphone Warehouse, Cairn, Sibir, Vodafone, Volkswagen, Nokia. I wonder how those robust organisations would react to that news.