Friday, 29 January 2010

Up Norf for this helping of Gentlemen's Spice



Up north (well technically south for myself) for this helping of Gentlemen's Spice, which you can read .... here

 You may also be interested to know, that Rotherham United FC holds the record for the highest pie consumption.  With a rate that is 40% above the football league average.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Can we reclaim the following ten words please


Better

Is not the definition of taking an existing idea, adding your brand to it and over charging the odds for it.

Charity

Jumping on the bandwagon of a  major incident and trying to promote yourself or your products along the lines of "You might have never heard of me, because I haven't done anything noteworthy,but I will donate $1 dollar to the appeal if you buy my crap"  does not appear to be listed here.

Everyone

Just because you and your mate were talking about it down the pub, that doesn't mean the rest of the world cares.

Expert

Knowing how to google something, does not make you an expert, nor does, surprisingly simply declaring yourself to be one.

Fact

Just because some conservative redneck has edited that article on wikipedia, does not make it fact.

Help

Does not involve giving away a copy pasta ebook, which you claimed to normally charge 29.99 dollars for, nor does it involve putting your picture next to everything and telling the world how awesome you are.

Pandemic

I've checked several dictionaries and none of them define Pandemic as;  four people in Croydon who have a cough and a runny nose.

Quality

Does not involve copy pasting things you don't really understand, whilst declaring yourself to be an expert. Nor, does it involve coming up with as much said copy pasta material as you can in a given day.

Reputation

Is not something that has been replaced by a profile, a tag line and a dynamic photograph of yourself.

Theory

Is not a cue to start spurting nonsense and running around like a headless chicken.



Photograph by David Singleton taken from wikicommons under a creative commons 2.0 licence

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Ring Of Bright Water




It is funny what you remember, the last time I watched this film before rewatching it on sunday night, was on a television which had a busted RF socket. This was from plugging in and removing the ZX spectrum 128K too much. I had fixed up (with a lot of solder) a crude way of connecting the aerial - which sometimes worked.

Though it had been a long time since I saw the film, it was a film I remembered fondly and for sometime I have been meaning to re-watch it.

The film is based on the life of Gavin Maxwell, who was a scottish naturalist and author who worked with otters. The film stars Bill Travers and Virginia Mckenna, and whilst made in 1969 it hasn't aged badly at all. Indeed, some of the busy London street shots, with the black cabs, could of been shot yesterday.

The main star of the film is Mij the otter,who is bought by Graham Merril(Bill Travers) in a London pet shop. After Mij creates havoc in Graham's London flat, they head (both escaping) to a rustic cottage on the west coast of Scotland.

At the cottage, against a backdrop of fantastic scenery, Graham makes acquaintance with Dr.Mary, and Mij makes acquaintance with Johnny - Dr.Marys Dog. The story then begins to unfold.

I had a quick look at some other reviews for the film before writing this, and a couple mentioned the film suffered from "romanticism" well, pfffffft. No its not a serious documentary, nor is it packed with CGI and action shots. It is a film where we get to watch a delightful (real) Otter for a good hour and a half and enjoy his escapades as both him and his owner, find freedom. If it is indeed an act to indulge such suffering, then you better lock us up with the rest of the romantics.

The scene in the aftermath of the ferocious attempt at capturing a basking shark is probably what I had remembered most originally, and it lost no charm watching again.

The film does have a sad happy ending, but that should not put you off. A great film for a rainy day.

Ring of Bright Water - Amazon Link


Monday, 25 January 2010

How to Make your 'State The Bleeding Obvious' articles better




Hello, its Paul o'Shit here again, SEO Bollocker for Clog the Internet PLC. I hope you are looking at the picture and thinking - gosh Im SEX in my new clothes, and how successful does that Jacket make me look!

Well, firstly you are AWESOME for noticing my new robes, more awesome than a van load of CHEERLEADERS and a week supply of VIAGRA.

After the popularity of my How to write the How to, How to. I thought I would share some of my more AWESOMENESS with you, because did I mention? YOU ARE AWESOME! By the time you have finished reading this article, you'll be even more AWESOME!

The following are 6 SEO secret tips on how to make your 'state the bloody obvious' articles more awesome:
  • People love being told that they are on the internet. Before you even start the main bulk of your stating the obvious article, you may want to remind your readers of this fact. Try the following:
    • Comprise a list of 10 signs that your readers are on the internet.
    • Point out they are not reading this in a newspaper or watching it on television.
    • Comment on how awesome they are for going on the internet and reading this post.
  • I'm going to let you in on a secret here, possibly the most powerful way to get the bloody obvious across, is to pretend its a big secret in your ramblings and then reveal it at the end. Do not forget to comment on how your revelations will make your readers more AWESOME. Scorn on those who have already got it in the first sentence.
  • Trust me when I say this, people love reading long lists, especially when you manage to repeat what you are saying again and again. Look how well this SEO expert managed to repeat herself an incredible 80 times ! The more tedious the better, if you want to be AWESOME in the field of stating the bloody obvious.
  • Readers like having explained to them, that they are browsing the internet when reading articles. Try the following on yours, so your readers know you are AWESOME! 
    • Pull together a list of signs that your reader may be on the internet.
    • Note the fact that they are not reading this in traditional print, or watching it on the television box.
    • Tell your readers they are awesome for managing to click on a link to your piece.
  • There is a secret in the SEO world, that many SEO experts do not want you to know. But as you, my readers are awesome and only poo poo heads do not get this; It is to pretend the obvious is a big secret, and then reveal it at the end. Do not forget to remind how much more awesome your readers are afterwards. 
  • The more you can repeat your bleeding obvious statements in one article the better. This SEO has set the bar at 80! - Remember to change a word here and there, and swap a sentence or two. Remember, the more tedious the post, the more awesome the post. 
You have been AWESOME for reading this.

Coming up next, How good content doesn't matter. Readers want Keywords, Keywords, Keywords.

Cheers


Paul O'Shit 
Clog the Internet PLC
(Paul o'Shit whilst making millions from his SEO advice, would like to ask for donations to help him buy this weeks groceries. Naturally, you will be awesome if you do donate) 



Sunday, 24 January 2010

How to add a Retweet button to Blogger, and My top ten posts - so far....


As you can now see, there is a shiny retweet button at the bottom of my posts. This is courtersy of Tweetmeme

I did find the instructions on their site, here, a bit crap and instead followed the instructions over here at Blogger Resources

One thing I would add, is make sure, you add <br> in edit html to the natural end of your posts, so it displays correctly. I am not going to go back and do this for all ninety posts on this blog, but I thought I would make sure, my ten most popular pages were formatted correctly.

[EDIT]
 Check the comments for some advice on how to place this in the date/comment section


Add the following line

tweetmeme_source = 'tweetmeme';

Replacing tweetmeme with your twitter username, so the posts come up @yourusername when tweeted.

Out of interest, here is the countdown to my top ten posts - handy if you are after some hang over sunday reading.

10
Leeds Victoria Hunslet Mill
9
The Bhagavad Gita
8
Mazz in Leeds New Logo
7
Round House Leeds - Anyone Chuck any light on this ?
6
Shout out to my Fellow Brit FridayFlash'rs
5
A Bit of a Waffle on Twitter Followers Part II
4
The Grammar W'nker
3
A Bit of a Waffle on Flash Fiction
2.
A bit of a Waffle on Twitter Followers Part I
1.
How to Write the How to How to

Saturday, 23 January 2010

A bit of a Waffle on The Evolution of 'Google it'


Google does not have a soul. Nor does it have any reasoning ability or any... well sense at all. It does not have the wisdom of experience, nor is its entire contents peer reviewed. I am also pretty sure, that it is not the all knowing, all mighty. So, why do we trust it so ?

'Google it' over the last year has been entering more and more into everyday (offline) conversation. It is a phrase, in someways I detest ,and it got me thinking the other day, how did it make this leap? I now, present to you, my waffle on the Evolution of 'Google it'

Whilst message boards are still around, I think that phrase hammered at least 3 nails into the coffin into their slow demise. I also believe message boards to have been the perpetual grow bags for this ideology.

I would put it, that around 2005/2006 that his phrase began to appear, predominately on technical forums. I would say what happened, was technical forums went from being communties which grew at a steady pace, and where people knew (even just by handles) who each other was, to becoming influxed with new users hungry for information.

This new generation of message-boarders, were not prepared to spend their time navigating the pathways of knowledge that the old generation had laid down. Their posts were short and sharp.

"How do I do this "

At first the old generation, took the time to point to older posts, explain the rules of their ways to the new generation and tried to get along. In fairness, some took it on, but! As the numbers of this new generation began to dwarf the elders, the elders became tired and impatient. Their replies simply became:

"google it"

In this new dawn, in the era of 2007 AD, as the tribes of the elders vanished to the fringes. This new generation created new city states. Their marble built academies began to teach what they had remembered learning from the elders:

"If you want information, you need to Google it."

What the ancestors had spent many generations on building was now being ripped down, as 'google it', spread from technical forums to the social forums. Where once, posts in these forums, use to go on into their hundreds and opinions exchanged freely. They could now be bought to a crashing halt.

"Can anyone recommend a... " - google it
"Whats a good ..." -google it
"what did you think of..." -google it

The elders had respected the gods of wisdom and knowledge and devoted time to their study and preservation, now these old gods were being cast aside as in the dark of 2008, rose the light of the "Cult of I"

The cities became influxed with soothsayers from the land of Wikipedia, and found work aplenty with those who were members of this cult. No longer was study, education,verification needed. Many members of this cult lapped up the services of the soothsayers and then claimed themselves to be all powerful, all knowing. They were never short of an audience, for the mob knew no different. They only knew how to ask 'Google it', and cheered and roared when those of the "Cult of I" awnsered them.

As 2008 passed into 2009, the once safe offline world began to be infiltrated by the false demi gods of Iphonus and Androidus. Some refer to them as the angels of death, for the once passtime of solving the problems of the world at the pub table, became replaced with someone consulting one of them. As did the phoning a friend for input, or simply having a good old guess.

There are still those, in fact some who run the city state, who remember the elders and respect their old ways. But instead of reviving, promoting and expanding them, they fear the power of the mob. They are afraid they will tear apart this treasure trove and so instead, look for ways to protect it, control it, or even hide it. Some talk of introducing a state religion, others of hiding the words of the elders into tongues, so only the enlighten will find it.

A traveller from a distant land, looks at the ruins of the messageboard's, now overgrown with  'Google it' and feels as if they talk to him. They say

 "Look on my works ye mighty and despair"

But that is not the only voice. In the streets of the city, there is a murmur, a whisper. For 'Google it' is built on weak foundations, the strains and crack come more visible every day. There are those who are fed up, when contacting the "Cult of I" priests, find that they keep been given pages, that seem to serve no other purpose then to sale something. Others howl in despair when searching for enlightenment, to instead only find a Brazillian porn star, who they are not sure is male or female.

Their numbers are small, but they are growing. It has to remain a whisper otherwise the mob would lynch them; For they say there is one, who is probably no more than fouteen or fifteen, who is their saviour - the prophets already walk amongst us.

This one is unaware of it now, but spend their time at the screen, questioning why we use information the way we do. Whilst the way of the messageboard belongs in the past, they also believe the search engine belongs in the past. When they get to college, this idea will start to turn ino the apparatus that will bring down the oligarchy of Google, just like the barbarians of Microsoft was crushed.

"Vivat Respublica" they will cry when this promised day comes and a new age will begin. I know this to be true, for my rune stones tell me.

--000--

I'll end this waffle with this thought; We may read of the ancient Greeks consulting Oracles, before making decisions, or for seeking guidance and wisdom and laugh, but we ourselves seem to becoming more and more reliant on google to provide the awnsers.

Before some smart alex says it; yes google is just a search engine - my point exactly.

New Drawings and Rebooting the Leeds Sketchers



It's coming up to a year since I started my drawing blog, so I thought I would start revisiting some drawings I did back then.

From January 2009, Here is my drawing of the tendons on the finger


And from January 2010, Here is my drawing of the tendons on the finger




You can view them full size and the original posts, by clicking here .

In other news, I have taken over the reigns of the Leeds Sketching Group, which sadly has been a bit dead for the last few months, but I'm hoping to reboot it, and get some life back into it. Our first new meeting is next sunday week. If you are a sketcher in Leeds then come along! details here 

Friday, 22 January 2010

The Nth Page of Henry Lamberton's Journal


Henry Lamberton first appeared on the  DAC with an entry in the last page of his Journal . I have bought him back this week with the Nth Page in his Journal...


[SPOILER ALERT!] I would recommend reading the stories first, before continuing with the below..[/SPOILER ALERT!] 

I made a comment, where I wrote about the Bhagavad Gita ,  how you sometimes read a New scientist article(several times!) and though you don't understand it, you enjoyed reading it. I remember one such article, about three years ago, about Quantum Mechanics. I think through the tons of text, the point they were trying to make, was it was all well and good, but they don't know if they are looking at things the right way up - They don't know how to tell up from down.

This got us thinking, and I made a post in a forum afterwards along these lines
'
If im walking past a person in the street who i have never met before , then that night i have a dream where that person who i passed is in it.

That Person who i dont know now exists in three states.

There is there real state - which I dont know
There is the state where I passed them
There is the state where I dreamt them


Now Say that person who I passed did exactly the same thing. I now exist in three states except I know my real state and they dont...

Original post here

And this is the starting point of Henry Lamberton's tale. I rewrote it first just to make if from his point of view. The first draft, after feedback came across a bit illogical,  so I went off and watched quite a few videos on youtube about quantum mechanics. I was interested more in the language, than the science and I think the main theme I picked up on  was about Observation.

For example, Here is Dr.Quantum explaining the Double Slit experiment


It does seem observation, plays a lot in Quantum Mechanics , another example is Shrodingers Cat . So I went through and put the focus on observation. I am most annoyed, that due to the 1000 line word limit on flash fiction, I could not work in the paragraph where I explained about the restrictive observation point of Victorian gentlemen, due to over starched collars - Hence why he can not verify his existence in the first state.

The other, and more harder thing, was Henry Lamberton's world is a pre Einstein world and he has a chip on his shoulder about Newton. I tried to make this piece sound if it could come from someone whose view of the universe is Newtonian based. I will know if this has worked, if anyone picks up on my Relativity joke in the piece.

To end with, Here is Dr. Quantum explaining entanglement - just to confuse your day




Thursday, 21 January 2010

Favourite #FridayFLash from Week 34



Now listed on my Friday Flash Page; 

3 entries this week and 3 new authors added to my list - check them out

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Coming soon on the DAC


Just finished the draft for this weeks upcoming #fridayflash. Why is that blog worthy I hear you ask ? Well I will be returning to the very first Billiard Room tale I wrote

"The Last Page Of Henry Lamberton's Journal"

I may, or may not be answering whether did he go ahead with his experiment in the end and if it worked. I may drop a hint, that maybe he decides to take on the academy to get the funding - armed. Or I may be making all of the following up.

Find out on friday.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Custom Google Maps




Been editing today, and in those render times have been playing around with google maps. I've created a map for The Dead Adventurers Club which you can see by clicking here

So, if you ever wondered where Tiberius exactly bought those smugglers to justice, now you can find out.

Its not the most fluid of processes to create a custom map, if it wasn't for the fact that I have had all these windows when waiting for rendering to complete, then I wouldn't of bothered.  There are a couple of glitches with size and images for starters.

You can also see the map here where you can subscribe to the URL feed for it  and also open it up in google earth. 


Round House Leeds - Can Anyone chuck any light on this ?


I came across a newsreel on the pathe website from 1939, which shows a round concerete house, situated somewhere in Leeds. Sadly, not much google-able information is given, especially as the family at the house have the surname Smith. 


I have asked over at the secretleeds site, but that has drawn a blank there. Can anyone shed any light on it ? especially where it was and what happened to it. 


Click here to play the video 




A Shout Out for my fellow Brit #fridayflash'rs


Firstly, I apologies if I have missed anyone off. If I have, please leave us a comment and I will update this list.

Secondly, there are three Brits from this list, nominated in the readers choice awards for the Best of 2009  I recommend you head over there, have a read and cast your votes! Voting ends saturday 23rd January



Twitter
Website
@mazzz_in_Leeds
http://mazzz-in-leeds.com/
@skycylcer
http://skycycler.com
@FutureNostalgic
http://future-nostalgic.blogspot.com/
@petherin
http://mainlyfiction.blogspot.com/
@adastrapoetry
http://adastra-poetry.blogspot.com/
@EmApocalyptic
http://www.enewman.co.uk/
@MoxieMouth
http://moxie-mouth.blogspot.com/
N/A
http://barryjnorthern.blogspot.com/
@CliveM
http://biddingforbusiness.blogspot.com/
@ExisleMoll
http://sulcicollective.blogspot.com/
@davidmasters
http://truantpen.blogspot.com/
@danpowfiction
http://www.danpowellfiction.com/
@Saffy
http://magenta.monsters.wigglypets.co.uk/

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Some Definitions from the 1811 Vulgar Dictionary



The below are taken from the 1811Vulgar dictionary, and you can find an online version created by myself over here http://1811vulgar.com/

I find it a handy resource, when looking for antiquated slang terms when writing, and there are some real gems in there to be found...

To Shuffle

To make use of false pretences, or unfair shifts. A shuffling fellow; a slippery shifting fellow.

Hodge

An abbreviation of Roger: a general name for a country booby.

Black Guard

A shabby, mean fellow; a term said to be derived from a number of dirty, tattered roguish boys, who attended at the Horse Guards, and Parade in St. James's Park, to black the boots and shoes of the soldiers, or to do any other dirty offices. These, from their constant attendance about the time of guard mounting, were nick-named the black-guards.

To Null

To beat: as, He nulled him heartily.

To Snite

To wipe, or slap. Snite his snitch; wipe his nose, i.e. give him a good knock.

Buff

To stand buff; to stand the brunt. To swear as a witness. He buffed it home; and I was served; he swore hard against me, and I was found guilty.

Scut

The tail of a hare or rabbit; also that of a woman.

Air And Exercise

He has had air and exercise, i.e. he has been whipped at the cart's tail; or, as it is generally, though more vulgarly, expressed, at the cart's a-se.

To Wiredraw

To lengthen out or extend any book, letter, or discourse.

Guts

My great guts are ready to eat my little ones; my guts begin to think my throat's cut; my guts curse my teeth: all expressions signifying the party is extremely hungry.


Saturday, 16 January 2010

The Bhagavad Gita




I decided to read the Bhagavad Gita, as I've been reading up on breathing, and several times, whilst researching this, I have come across the word Yoga. I have to admit, I was pretty ignorant to what Yoga actually is, I knew it was not what you see advertised at the gym, which along with Tai Chi is turning our OAP's into a lean mean fighting machine.

The Bhagavad Gita talks of Yoga as a unified outlook, serenity and the freeing of the mind. I will admit, that if you were to ask us down the pub to explain it, I would be hard pushed to. I do however, have the feeling that I have the starting sentence, and I look forward to completing the paragraph at a leisurely pace.

The book is one of the most sacred works in Hinduism and is consider to be one of the most important philosophical classics ever written.  I am actually finding it quite hard to type an introduction to the contents, not because of the subject matter, but because I feel I would need to provide several descriptions and footnotes to the names and places.

If I was writing this about the Iliad, I'm sure most of you would have an image in your mind;when I start mentioning the Trojan war, Achilles and the Trojan horse - even if it is the film with Brad Pitt ( for my sins I actually worked on that).  I'm sure this is true of many of us in the west, that you'll probably draw a blank at the mention of Krishna, Arjuna and the Kurukshetra war.

The copy of the Bhagavad Gita I bought  came with a glossary at the back and a handy commentary to each of the eighteen chapters.  There is also an excellent written introduction by Eknath Easwaran who translated the work.  Dirty Filthy Hippy Writers take note, as he mentions some of the problems translating the work, which I found to be quite interesting.  I would say the introduction is worth the price of the book alone, but pleased to say you don't need to spend anything, as you can read it online here. Without the glossary, and introduction I would of been lost.

The bulk of the text is a conversation between Arjuna and Krishna, with Arjuna about to go into battle, and he is asking Krishna about... Well everything really, the whole kit, cosmos and caboodle.

There are two themes covered in the book which appealed to myself, the first is the notion of knowledge and more specifically the right knowledge. This is a theme I touch in a 'pop' way in my film Mortus Illumina and is common in quite a few of the worlds religions and philosophies.  This gave the book a welcoming feel of familiarity to it. The second was consciousness, energy and the cosmos. I will go out on a limb here and say, that I think part of what it is saying, that they are essentially the same thing. I do have to admit, I got a bit lost on the concept of duality. It reminded me a bit, when you get an article in New scientist and you spend an entire hour reading it, and in the end, you still have no idea what they are talking about but you enjoyed it. This is then normally followed by discussing with the true experts of the world, your mates down the pub till you eventually achieve a definition- right or wrong. 

In all, I found it a very enjoyable read, as someone who has read a great deal of western classics and very few eastern, it made a refreshing change.

I wrote down a few quotes when reading it, which are below, for a variety of reasons. I think 2.22 maybe the basis of a future fridayflash and if 11.32 seems a bit familiar, that is because it was muttered by Professor Robert Oppenheimer after the first atomic bomb tests.

Underneath this, is a few few definitions I copied from the glossary when I was reading it, in the hope that it will save you you a bit of page turning.

One final thing that I feel I should mention, this book was the "personal guidebook" for Mahatma Gandhi who lived his life according to its principles. Considering this was a man who freed an entire nation and bought down the British Imperial rule without firing a shot, I think that is a pretty good seal of approval.

The Bhagavad Gita (Classics of Indian Spirituality)   - Amazon link
The Bhagavad Gita - online version

Quotes

2.22 As one abandons worn-out clothes and acquires new ones, so when the body is worn out  a new one is acquired by the self who lives within.

2.27 Death is inevitable for the living; birth is inevitable for the dead. Since these are unavoidable, you should not sorrow

2.52 When your might has overcome the confusion of duality, you will attain the state of indifference to things you hear and things you have heard.

4.19 The awakened sages call a person wise when all his undertakings are free from anxiety about results. All his selfish desires have been consumed in the fire of knowledge.

4.38 Nothing in the world purifies like spiritual wisdom. It is the perfection achieved in in time through the path of yoga, the path which leads to the self within.

7.4 Earth, water, fire, air, akasha,mind,intellect, and ego - these are the eight divisions of my prakriti

8.17 Those who understand the cosmic laws know that the Day of Brahma ends after a thousand yugas and the Night of Brahma end afters a thousand yugas

11.32
I am time, the destroyer of all; I have come to consume the world. Even without your participation all the warriors gathered here will die.

16.21 There are three gates to this self-destruction hell:lust, anager and greed...

Definitions

Dharma:"That Which supports" The essence of the thing, its virtue, what makes it what it is. "Harmony in the universe"

Karma:"Something that is done" ie deed or action, cause or effect. Every act has consequences, not just physical action, but mental action as well... Basically put, the law of Karma says that whatever you do will come back to you...*

Guna:Quality;specifically, the three qualities which make up the phenomenal world; sattva law, harmony, purity, goodness, rajas, energy , passion; and tamas, inertia, ignorance. The corresponding adjectives are Sattvic, rajastic, and tamasic

Arjuna:One of the five Panava brothers and an important figure in in Inidan epics and legend. He is Sri Krishna beloved disciple and friend.

Ákasha:Space, sky;the most subtle of the five elements

Pakritti:The basic energty from which the mental and physical worlds take shape. Nature.

Brahman:The supreme reality underlying all life, the divine ground of existence, the impersonal godhead.

Yuga: An age or eon. In Hindu cosmology there are four yogas, representing a steady deterioration in the state of the world from age to age. The name of the yugas are taken from a game of dice. Krita Yuga is the age of perfection, followed by Treta Yuga. The incarnation of Sri Krishna is said to mark the end of the third yuga, Dvapara. We are living in the fourth and final yuga, Kali, in which the creation reaches its lowest point. The world goes through 1,000 such yuga-cycles during one kalpa or Day of Brahama

Kalpa:A period in cosmic time equalling one day of Brahama or 1000 great yugas. A total of 4320 million years.

Purusha:["Person"] The soul; the spiritual core of every person in the Gita, the terms Atman and Purusha are virtually interchangeable 

Atman:"Self", the innermost soul in every creature which is divine.

Mantram:[or mantra] a holy name of phrase, a spiritual formula.

Sankhya:
One of the sixth branches of Hindu phillosophy. Seeks to liberate the individual purusha(spirit) from the pakritti (mind).... Unification of everything, mind, energy and matter. Purusha is the knower of this field, but belongs to a different order or reality. Purusha is conciousness... not just mind.

*deliberatly cut short as there is a lot more to it than that



Bit.ly - a few features you may not know...


This post isn't a review about bit.ly, but if it was, then I would sum it up with two words; "Its great".  For those of you not familiar with bit.ly, all it does is shorten url's, which is most handy when using services such as twitter. Eg. (can you start a sentence with eg? -Ed)  the link to this weeks story from the DAC is


Through the power of bit.ly it now becomes


May we all dance a thousand dances in awe of this magic. I think one of the things that stand out about bit.ly is, that the interface is clean, concise and easy to use - so much so, I've never really poked around, what else bit.ly can do, until now.

Did you know you can have more than one twitter account associated ?

You can associate accounts by clicking on the account link in the top right corner. When you associate more than one account, when you shorten a URL, you get the choice of which account to tweet it from.

Did you also know, there is a plugin that allows you to shorten URL's form your browser toolbar ?

 You can find this under tools, as well as a tool for tweetdeck and twitterfeed.

You can also share which links you have shorten, if you have the make link history public option switched on (its under account options)

There are two ways in which you can share this information, firstly via a url which you can find under your account settings.


Or, by a RSS Feed, which again you can find, under your account settings

http://bit.ly/user/recent_rss/chance1234

Finally, and most interesting, you can reverse search a bit.ly link. There is the option to search twitter for a specific bit.ly link. You can find this under tools and it will show you, who has tweeted the link and associated traffic.

Much easier than using the search tool, is to add the word 'info' to a shorten url eg.

http://bit.ly/info/70owk3

WARNING! This can be used for good and evil





Friday, 15 January 2010

New Tale From Tiberius O'Donnell




The Complexing Conundrum, which you can read here 

 The Action takes place deep in the Tuscany countryside in a village called Montespertoli, which was a place I visited last year  where I stayed on the most delightful vinyard Podere Dell'Anselmo. I hope they see this plug and send me a bottle of their great wine ;-)


Talking of drink, As its the sixth Tall Tale from Tiberius, and we all know Tiberius likes one. I thought I would produce this handy Drink A Long list;

The Despicable Beast of Marrakesh 
Red Wine
The Backstreet Berlin Brawl
Cognac
The Dabble With The Occult
Champagne
The Most Blasted Blizzard
Bourbon
The Foreign Looking Fellow
Cider
The Complexing Condundrum
Gin & Tonic

* The above picture is of a Murgese Horse, which I rode when I was there, it seemed fitting to place this story here because of the association with the Horse.  Also of note, after you have read the story, is we did indeed meet a Bavarian called Hermann whilst we were there.  Some more photos I took, over here



Thursday, 14 January 2010

Breaking News On The Latest Financial Meltdown


The Worlds Stock Market was in financial meltdown this monday morning, after a wave of panic selling which started late friday afternoon, continued to show no signs of stopping. On the trading floor of the Dutch Second Bank, traders who normally execute buy orders, sit by their phones, which have yet to have ring since the crisis started. On the other side, where the sell orders are exectued, it is bedlam as brokers clammer over each other and runners fail to handle the large volume of calls - a scene repeated across investment banks around the globe.

620 Billion has been wiped off the Dow Jones, 74 Billion from the FTSE and they continue to plummet. Looses not seen to this extent since the black monday of 1987, though experts have ruled making direct comparisons as the situation is vastly different.

It will be many days, if not weeks before the full impact of this crash will be felt. The government in response today issued an emergency 50 billion government bond in the hope to turn the tide of selling into buying.Many will question however, is it too little, too late ?

It seems also, we have learnt little from the recent sub prime market crash. As details of the of the current crisis, becomes more apparent:

Historically, the price of treacle has been linked with that of tuppeny rice, with approxiamatley three pounds of Tuppeny rice being worth one pound of treacle. This morning, the price stands at half a pound of tuppeny rice, half pound of treacle.

The cause being the complex financial instrument which is the Weasel. The Weasel was introduced initially as a safeguard investment, in the case of failed rice crop. Many saw an easy profit in these Weasels and they were sold and exchanged across the market without regulation. Some institutes, such as the now collapsed Barkmen Brothers took on so many other peoples weasels, they literarily "popped"

And that is how, when in years to come, when we ask what happened to our pensions and saving, is the only response we can give, as it the way, the money went.



The above was done for an exercise set by the Leeds Writing Group which was to take a verse of a song and write it as a serious bit of journalism. I had in mind a news broadcast when writing this, so its probably a bit comma heavy. If stories in finance are your thing, here is a piece I wrote a looong time ago, entitled Investment Bank Wo's

PlugIn for 301 Redirections for WordPress


As mentioned previously in this blog, where I moved my smokeback.com site from blogger to wordpress, I had a ton of crap left over .  This plugin was exactly what I needed back then, it allows you to redirect wrong URL's . I would say this is a must have for anyone moving form blogger to wordpress on the same domain.

Plugin website

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

MYSQL and PHP, how do I show a random group of records where count >1


I've just added to my favourite #fridayflash list , a featured Author selection. Where I have been adding stories each week, there are naturally several authors appearing more than once. What I wanted to do, was feature one of these author on the page, by random selection, and list their stories.

I apologies if the language might seem a bit funny in this post, but from trying to do it, it was not what I quite expected and took a bit of googling. I am typing this post this way, in the hope someone with the same problem finds it easy on google.

Firstly my data is stored in the following table structure.


CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS `fridayflash` (
  `sID` int(11) NOT NULL auto_increment,
  `week` int(11) NOT NULL,
  `sortA` varchar(1) NOT NULL,
  `title` varchar(200) NOT NULL,
  `author` varchar(200) NOT NULL,
  `twitter` varchar(200) NOT NULL,
  `link` varchar(200) NOT NULL,
  `review` varchar(200) NOT NULL,
  `notes` varchar(200) NOT NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY  (`sID`)
) ENGINE=MyISAM  DEFAULT CHARSET=latin1 AUTO_INCREMENT=45 ;

The first thing I needed to was find out all of those authors who had more than one entry in the database. My SQL looked liked the following *

SELECT author
FROM fridayflash
GROUP BY author
HAVING COUNT( sID ) >1



The next thing, was to limit by select one of these records by random. To achieve this, I added the following two lines to the bottom of the query. 


SELECT author
FROM fridayflash
GROUP BY author
HAVING COUNT( sID ) >1
ORDER BY RAND( )
LIMIT 1



I now then wanted to select all the stories by my random selection and this is where I began to run into problems.  Firstly approaching this as if i was using Oracle of SQL Server and using nested queries, HAVING or WHERE. I ran into the error

'This version of MySQL doesn't yet support 'LIMIT & IN/ALL/ANY/SOME subquery'


I found my solution here on this article on sub queries  and got the required result, by using the following SQL

SELECT *
FROM fridayflash
INNER JOIN (

SELECT author AS b
FROM fridayflash
GROUP BY author
HAVING COUNT( sID ) >1
ORDER BY RAND( )
LIMIT 1
) AS c ON fridayflash.author = c.b



I then created the following PHP Function **
function FeaturedAuthor()
{
$counter = 1;

$sql = &quot;SELECT * FROM fridayflash
INNER JOIN (
SELECT author AS b
FROM fridayflash
GROUP BY author
HAVING COUNT( sID ) &gt;1
ORDER BY RAND( )
LIMIT 1) AS c
ON fridayflash.author = c.b&quot;;

$result = mysql_query($sql)
or die(mysql_error());

if (mysql_num_rows($result) == 0)
{
echo &quot;&lt;em&gt;No created.&lt;/em&gt;&quot;;
} else {


while ($row = mysql_fetch_array($result))
{
If ($counter == 1)
{
echo &quot;&lt;h1&gt;&quot; .&quot;&lt;a href=http://twitter.com/&quot; . $row['twitter'] .&quot;&gt;&quot;. $row['author'] . &quot; &lt;a&gt;&quot; .&quot;&lt;/h1&gt;&quot;;
}

echo &quot;&lt;p&gt;&lt;a href=&quot; . $row['link'] . &quot;&gt;&quot; . $row['title'] .&quot;&lt;/a&gt; &quot; .
$row['review'] . &quot;&lt;/i&gt;&lt;/p&gt;&quot;;

$counter = $counter ++;
}
}


}




And you can see the result on the #fridayflash list page of my site, just under the Most Recent stories added. If you hit F5 you will see the featured author change.

*Yes, I know using author name is not an ideal key :-p, let me tell you sometime of a horror story involving a developer being allowed free roam on the company servers without any DBA's to distract you.
** I'm very slowly learning php, I am not happy with the use of the counter in the above to make sure the author name is only outputted once.  Suggestions ? 








Wordpress on LinkedIn and LinkedIn on Wordpress


If you want a wordpress blog to appear on your linkedin page then;

Log into LinkedIn. Along the top menu bar, you will see a menu marked more. Click on this, and you should see the option 'Application Directory'. Open this up and their is an application called wordpress.

Add this, and you can the URL of your blog. Your blog will now appear under your profile.

If you want a LinkedIn Badge on your wordpress blog, then do the following.
Log into LinkedIn and go to Edit Profile. Edit Public Profile Settings. You will need to look for this, as it is not clear, but under Public profile there is a link to promote your profile with  a customised button. Click this and you will have the code you need, which you can then copy paste.

PlugIn for Posting Code on a WordPress Blog


Firstly a rant. 


IF YOU WANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY AS A PROGRAMMER THEN;


Make sure you keep all your historic projects in check. Whether that be, making it clearly marked that it is abandoned, removing all instances of it from the web, or updating documentation/websites and pointing past users to newer versions. 


rant over. 


I have been helping out on setting up this wordpress blog for a Leeds based IT contractor who is posting up code samples amongst other things.  It has been a real pain finding a plugin that works (see above rant) and in the end, the blog is using Syntax Highlighter Evolved. I honestly couldn't tell you whether it was the best, because I gave up going through them, when I found the first one that worked. 







Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Mazzz In Leeds New Logo


@Mazzz_In_Leeds asked us to come up with the logo for her new shiny website, which you can see in situ here

Firstly I should really mention the star of the logo, the Magnum .44 or to give it, its proper name: Smith and Wesson Model 29.

It's a pretty useless weapon at the end of day; Its certainly not light, easy to conceal and smooth to handle, but it does look pretty damm cool. If you want to blow a large hole in a car door from about 12ft away, whilst waking the dead, I can't think of a better choice of weapon.

I wanted to give the logo a quite rough and ready appeal, there is very little photoshopping on this, apart from a bit of noise, joining up the separate scans of the gun (it would not fit on my scanner in one go!) and I had to duplicate one of the Z's

For about four weeks before starting on the logo,  I was on the hunt for suitable letters from magazines. Z proved to me the most difficult, until thankfully The Leeds Guide did a review of a pizza restaurant. The L is also from the front cover of this magazine.

One final thing to mention, is Mazzz In Leeds is up for the readers choice award, head  over to there, have a read of the stories and make your vote.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Rock Porn

I've just updated my smokeback site, with a few new drawings. There is a Posterior View of the Cranial Nerves  and a Anterolateral View Of The Inner Ear to tickle your fancy.

The real treat is however, I have retired my one arm manikin and have a new model , "Latin Rock" which is a piece of Hematite I picked up from Mt.Revelstoke in Canada. Whats interesting about Hematite I hear you cry ?  Well lots actually, but taking a guess at my current readership of this blog, I think you will appreciate this little fact

In 2001, Egyptian government archaeologist Zahi Hawass was the first to enter a previously undisturbed tomb, believed to be that of an ancient regional mayor, in the Bahariya Oasis below the town of Bawiti. Upon entering the burial chamber, Hawass discovered a booby trap consisting of 8 inches of finely powdered hematite dust covering the floor and sarcophagus.[ When disturbed by a tomb robber, the sharp, metallic dust was intended to become airborne and irritate the skin, eyes and mucous membranes, eventually causing lethal siderosis if exposed for long enough. The archaeological team was forced to retreat and don full body suits and respirators in order to confirm the identity of the mummy. Hawass cites the ancient Egyptians' experience with powdered hematite as a paint pigment as proof that they were aware of its irritating properties.[6]

Now onto the Porn, here are some photos from a cheeky photo shoot I had with Latin rock earlier today.


Phwoooarrrr



Coorrrrr!


Naughty!


Sluurrrrpppp

and Im spent....

Sunday, 10 January 2010

A bit of a Waffle on Twitter Followers - PART II.


Link to Part I



In part I of this waffle, we looked at paid for follower services and how they could work. One thing I did get wrong was, I stated that followers were removed by random, which from the comments, In the case of TwitterAdder, is people are unfollowed within a time frame if they have not followed you back. What surprised me, looking at the TwitterAdder site, is compared to some of the other services out there, they are surprisngly open in what they do. In the FAQ, you will even see how their software circumnavigates the twitter ratio rule. That is not to say their site isn't filled with the usual marketing hogwash. I especially like the 'Voted Best' statement - voted by who I ask ?

I type this with my mouth slightly raised at one side, as I say lets be honest for a second, as I know that some people reading this may need a little prompt. The vast majority of people who have signed up on twitter, have done for the soul purpose of promoting either themselves or something they have made or do. Most twitter traffic is to this effect, indeed, most of the traffic to this article is coming from twitter as surprise, I have posted links to it and a few good folk have also retweeted it.

I also haven't written this article out of love, to push forward mankind or any other noble purposes. I have written it*, in the hope that you find it interesting, that you may add me to people you are following, and ultimatelyin turn increases my readership of my short stories on "The Dead Adventurers Club" and other projects I pursue.

Social Media, by its very nature is extremely egocentric. The moment you sign up to twitter, facebook etc, You are starting your own cult of I. So was I wrong to use words such as spam in part I? Was I wrong to belittle the use of such marketing services ? This is after all a level playing field, as all users who sign up to twitter start with zero followers. Do we all not ultimately not want to get more followers, and as we are promoting ourselves, what is wrong with others using tools to achieve this ?

The first response springs to mind that its bloody annoying, but I think what is interesting and to expand out in this article, is the notion of Quality over Quantity, as it is where the Cult of I has to awnser to we, the mob.

The first question is;What is a Quality twitter follower ?

It seems there are plenty of articles out there on what bad twitter etiquette is, and list upon lists of reasons that will get you unfollowed.

But very few, and I am hard pressed to come up with a definition myself on what makes a good twitter follower. I was going to post up some of the people I follow and go into depth about why I follow them, but felt this was fruitful as there was nothing concise I could draw from it.

So maybe a better way to look at the question, is what do you want from a follower ? Remember we are being honest here, and not talking about following.

Someone who RT's everything you ever post and basques in your eternal light in a 140 characters and less ?

I guess for some, the above is correct and for others the below is true:

Enough followers, so when I post a link, X percentage will click through and make that advertisement paid per a click worthwhile.

For me personally, I would say, someone who is real, someone who is going to engage with myself, and I will not say no to the occasional RT or two.

Engagement does seem important to a lot of people, also the fact that people who are following you, are actually interested in what you are doing.

In this attempt to define a Quality twitter follower, it is interesting to note how the we (they, the mob) keeps coming back to I.

Why should people engage with you ? Do you engage with other people ?
Why should people be interested ? Do you do anything interesting ?

This then leads us to; The point (which sadly has been mutated and minefielded by the marketing moo's) that if you give quality, then you will get quality. I would therefore conclude that if you want quality twitter followers, then you need to look at what you are doing. Which would of been a nice way to end this waffle - but I don't want to end there

I mentioned further up, the cult of I and the we, the mob. There is a trend that I have noticed occurring, its subtle but its growing.

I have been surprised on several occasions that someone I follow, seems to knows XXX - whats special about that, I hear you ask ? Well, its what I refer to as a second leap. Two main areas of my interest, Filmmaking and writing, it is not surprising to find someone in the filmmaking lot, who knows someone in the writing lot. After all, scriptwriting marries the two. What I am surprised to find, is someone from my archeology lot, who follows a filmmaker I know and the two of them are several thousand miles apart in both geography and subject - I am not the link before you say.

I don't really want to be a social media commentator, for I don'l like wearing tight jeans and t-shirts, so I will keep this short; I do believe twitter has given a glimpse of how the web is going to evolve and whilst the cult of I will ,alas for good or bad be always there, its in the we, the the mob that is going to rule.

I believe this is down to the fact, that as we engage with other people on twitter, over time we begin to form a certain trust. What I am writing here is, in some ways is nothing new, but when those people we trust post "check this link" we do and, if its good we will more likely RT it.

What is forming on Twitter, whether it be highly visible, such as #fridayflash ( a group of writers who post flash ficiton on friday), or subconciously where we add people, of whom we consider to be our equals, or simply adding people with similar interests. We are effectively forming clans for the want of a better word, and many of us belong to several clans. The power of the mob comes within these clans eg.

@Joe123423 regularly tweets about humourus vintage books he picks up from junk shops. He has a certain wit to his blog posts. One of the hashtags he tweets under is #funnyOldBooks and one day he posts a humorous write on a book about the Vickers Aircraft. Quite a few people find it an absolute hoot and RT it.

@sid12312 who is an aviation expert, regular keeps an eye out for any tweets mentioning certain aircraft. One post marked vickers and the hashtag #oldfunnybooks doesnt really register, but because several people have RT in through out the day, he decides then to takes a look. He finds it amusing, RT's it to the #aircraft clan and is picked up by @Mick444 who shares it with his wife, the well known chef specialising in Ham @Julie2334, who always like a good quip and adds the original author to her followers.

So because the people of the #OldFunnyBooks who got behind @Joe123423, at the end of the day, his audience has jumped and expanded - 'A second leap' as @Julie2334, is also friends with @billy29, who whilst doesn't post under the #oldfunnybooks tag,  is friends with @Joe123423. All three of them share a love of quips and wit and indirectly,  through the we, the mob they have been linked.

Its this we, which needs to be embraced more. It is why I have mentioned people I follow in this waffle, it is also why I keep things such as the list of my favourite #fridayflash stories, and something I intend to do a lot more of .

If the number of followers is an important issue to yourself, then start looking at who you follow and what you can do to promote them - even if its just a simple tweet with "Top Lass @Angie4324 I recommend you follow her", but please note I said the word embrace, not exploit.

Finally to end,

I deliberately tweeted the first part of this waffle with hashtags such as marketing, twitter and also under some trending topics.

I got 22 new followers, of which 20 of them fit the ratio mentioned in part 1 and two of them seem to be genuine. Guess how many I have chosen to follow back ?

On the other side, to give some of my photography chums a shout, if they recommended to me, someone to follow, then I would, without giving it a second thought.

@Capn_B
@the_rts
@IcemanUK


* I should also note that part of the reasons, I write these waffles and rants on this site, is Im trying to mantain writing 500 to a 1000 words a day. If im not posting here, then Im writing something for the DAC or struggling with my archeology papers.


Saturday, 9 January 2010

A bit of a Waffle on Twitter Followers - PART I



I've been meaning to do this waffle since about early December, and the exact contents of this waffle have been constantly changing. This does seem, something of a hot topic at the moment across the Twittersphere and  several People I follow, have been posting various bits and pieces of fuel to the fire from all sides of the fence.

@WizardGold (Highly recommended following, especially if you are a filmmaker or mac user) posted a review about a paid for service to add more twitter followers (sadly I cannot find the link to the podcast). A couple of weeks later @JoePritchard a software developer and author from Sheffield posted an article entitled The Social Media Number Game.  Inbetween and even as I write this post, there have been several links tweeted to articles quoting the "importance of twitter numbers" to the "importance of quality over quantity". Fnally, for this introduction, I tweeted out "What people thought about twitter follower numbers", whilst typing this up and got the following response from fellow #fridayflash author @TonyNoland

@Chance4321 Followers <40? New (or v passive). 40-400? You engage. 400-4K? You're good. 4k-40K? V good. >40K? Follower whore.

I really like WizardGold podcasts and youtube videos that he posts, and as mentioned I recomend following him. I hope he doesnt mind me saying, but I think on paying for a paid service is, in my opinion a wrong move.

I do hate to admit it, but my past is tarred with having dabbled in computer programing at one point, and what  got me thinking about these paid services is how they might work;
   
Phantom followers. 
Company X has a piece of code that generates random twitter users. For effect, they mimic the tweets of real tweeters, and to avoid detection they take their source tweets from several tweeters. When you sign up for Company X, they simply add their phatom followers to your account.

I do think the above takes place, but not for the purpose of twitter followers, I think it is more used for unloading fake viagra and giant pianists from Russia. I'm sure, we all on twitter have had @Kate23456 follow us, whoes tweet history reads

"OMG! Great Link http:///...."

"Auzzie rules footbal is great"

"Excellent link, try http:///....

"The hot glass expands to easily if you are trying that, #glassmaking.

"You must try this link, its really funny http://"

Normally this account is associated with a profile picture we have seen somewhere else before. What do we do when we come across followers like this ? We  hit the spam button - which is why I do not think that this method would be suited for the follower scam.

Pyramid Scams.
This method, I do know to exist (Twittertain I believe to be one example). Normally it involves either signing up and receiving a list of people you need to add to your followers, who in turn, you have to supply 40 odd users to follow etc etc.  Sometimes they are more cunningly disguised;Maybe they ask for you to form lists of people with similar interests, or ask you to rank pointlessly, other twitter followers. Essentially at the end of the day, it is just the old pyramid scam recycled - the maths doesn't work.

Related Words
This is how I think most of the schemes work (If I am wrong - then please comment below). You sign up for one of these services (normally a monthly subscription) and they ask you to fill in some keywords, either under the guise of "topics you tweet about" or something along those lines. I should note, at this point that the site you are subscribing to, is filled with marketing hogwash, phoney statistics and articles which have the editorial content of the "How to How To".  A lot of it is there for smoke and mirror purposes,  I advise you to stop and actually read the contents of these sites before making any decisions.

Now that you have signed up,  company X has a list of keywords which they can match to other users in their database, but much more importantly (its a number game) is this. They harvest the Twittersphere for those keywords (hash tags or keywords)  and add you as a follower to the person who posted under that hashtag or keyword, in the hope, that that person in return follows you back.

But it doesn't end there; Twitter has a Follow to  Follower ratio to stem such things.  You can read about it here from the official twitter help

To get around this, the service you subscribed to, unfollows x number (at random) to maintain this ratio.

I base this on the following

1) When you signed up, you were asked if you grant permission for company X service to access your twitter account.  There is something called the twitter API; To cut a long explanation short to you non programmer readers, this is essentially a way a programmer can do all sorts of tasks (in the relation to twitter, ie add followers) without having to use the normal web page. Instead they can do it via code or script. To write a script to search for keywords, would be extremely simple, to write a code to add/remove followers based on a ratio - again extremely simple. 

2) I back point 1 with the words of the author of Twitter Karma,( a service which allows you to remove people you follow, who do not follow you - again I question what value this service has to you).  under the donate button which mentions authentication data (effectively your permission) in the same blurb as followers and following.

2)In my inbox, I have a twitter filter for all my emails which alert me about my followers. Several names are repeated saying they are now following me, which indicates they have gone through a pattern of "Follow/Unfollow/Follow etc." Whats interesting is the numbers, if i take one example at random.

5321 followers Vs 5234 following
6144 followers Vs 5830 following

5321/5234 = 1.01
6144/5937 = 1.02

A uniform growth in the space of a month. Just to compare, is three sets  of numbers from new followers which seem to me, to be suspiscious as to why they are following me.

3398/3298 = 1.03
14598/12840 = 1.13
7506/7011  = 1.07

And as a final comparison, 3 sets of number from followers chosen, unscientifically at random.

618/683 = .9 @LeedsLibraries - The clue is in the name
1081/426 = 2.5 @philkirby - Leeds Based Author
341/483 =  .7 @BritMic - Outlaw filmmaker

In fairness, the numbers are indicative and not conclusive. I do ask however, next time you get a new follower out of nowhere, to look at the number of followers vs the number they are following.

I would like to end this first part with the following point.

Have you, or have you  known anyone, who has ever been paid to follow someone, or been offered any other benefit ?  If you are tempted to sign up for one of these services, stop and think where your money is going and what you are paying for. Then think about how you could probably spend that money on either a more traditional way of promotion, or simply go down the pub and enjoy yourself and not worry about your number of followers.

Continue to Part II

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