Facebook down – worldwide panic

Laughing at some of the tweets this morning since Facebook went offline for half an hour. It’s like the world doesn’t know what to do with itself.

Is it a bad habit to check your Facebook page first thing in the morning rather than, say, reading the news? I tend to have a quick look to see if anything interesting is happening locally and then go about my day.

Today though, I wasted an hour of my time looking at Twitter and Google and ITV and BBC and The Guardian to see what was going on with the Facebook outage. Ridiculous. I see a few people suggesting that productivity will go up when in fact it gets worse since everyone’s racing to Tweet about it instead.

facebook-down

Twitter screenshots facebook down

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Teeline for journalists – still going strong

It’s good to see this Teeline for Journalists book is still in use, after my trials and tribulations with the journalism shorthand module. It even comes with a CD – mine was second hand when I bought it but I don’t remember having a disc included or if it existed in the older editions.

Teeline for Journalists

I suppose it’s a bit like school dinners, but I feel a bit nostalgic about it. Maybe someday I’ll go and learn it again – just for fun!

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A 2014 update

I had forgotten that this blog existed!  When I set it up way back when I had intended, of course, to keep regular posts going and no doubt got sidetracked with other things (studying, getting a job, running a part-time business and all that).

I’d never used WordPress when this started and now that I’ve been building fully-fledged websites with custom themes for a few years, it feels weird to figure out the limitations of wordpress.com as a simple blogging platform without any domain name attached to it.

Thinking back, I remember being frustrated that I couldn’t position an image properly or change the styles or anything else that involved CSS so it will be interesting to see what you can do now on the wordpress.com pages.

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Summer jobs for students and minimum wage

As a “mature” student and having worked for many years in a large organisation, getting a summer job was going to be a piece of cake.  Just about every suitable job I’ve seen advertised offers the lowest hourly rate possible while many of them ask for qualifications in this, that or the next thing.

Is it that I don’t have enough experience?  Not according to the info on my CV.  Could it be that I have too much experience?  Possibly, but since we’re only talking about temporary jobs for a few weeks it would seem unlikely that this would be an issue.

Each day I open my inbox with hope, perhaps today will be the day.

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Teeline torture: Teeline equals shorthand for soul-destroying times.

Now I’m not picking on Teeline particularly, it’s just that it happens to be the thing that’s currently destroying my will to live. I’m equally sure that any form of shorthand, whether Teeline or otherwise would be just as much fun. Since I’m told that any journalist who wants a job these days needs shorthand, it is essential that I pass the exam.

Using Dawn Johnston’s Teeline for Journalists, I was doing reasonably well at a steady pace. The book comes with a CD full of dictated passages ranging from 40 wpm to 80 wpm. But its a different story when you have to take down shorthand at 100 wpm for the exam, and with a 90% accuracy rate to pass. Yikes! With only three weeks left it’s starting to look like an unlikely prospect. Perseverance and practice is apparently the key to success with Teeline shorthand though.

Teeline for Journalists had been my bible for the last few months, but now that I’m starting to copy down short reports from the TV news and other programmes, I’ve come across a lot of words that I’m not sure of. Teeline is based on the alphabet so you can, in theory, write any word once you know the letters. The book, while being great for learning the theory, doesn’t give you all the words so sometimes I struggle with things like “F” written up or down, or some of the word endings. Using the Teeline Gold: Word List has helped a lot, as it gives lists of many common words.

However, to get any speed in the Teeline shorthand I’ve found that practising the word groupings and blends are the best way to achieve this. Teeline Word Groupings gives a comprehensive list of the most widely used – and some of the not so common – word groupings.

Although three weeks doesn’t sound like enough time, I believe there are some people who have mastered Teeline shorthand in something like 200 hours. So if I was starting from scratch I’d need to do just under 10 hours a day for the next three weeks. But since I already have a reasonable grounding of the theory, and a speed of between 50 and 80 wpm (depending on how difficult the words are), it must be possible to reach the magic 100 wpm in 21 days.

Well, it remains to be seen when the time comes. Meantime, it’s practice practice practice. Teeline torture indeed!

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Journalism and article writing

Since starting the journalism degree I’ve realised that writing SEO articles and newspaper pieces have a lot in common. Every word is precious, there’s a specific focus and the content must be attention grabbing.

My news items so far have received good feedback, and a couple of stories I submitted to my local paper were published with just a minor edit (unfortunately making the sentences look wrong!).

One thing about writing journalism pieces is that everything is done in accordance with the style book. So you have to stop and think if a word is too flowery, or too dramatic. People are not dead (woman found dead at home), they die (woman dies at home). Cars don’t crash into lorries, they collide with lorries. Kids don’t get rushed to hospital, they get taken.

While this is all very well, going back to writing web articles means switching the brain back to that kind of style. Depending on the subject, these often require a bit of drama. Internet marketers would not be too pleased with a sales letter saying their latest ebook was simply interesting, it has to be amazing, powerful or absolutely fantastic.

There is however, some resemblance in the language – tabloid newspapers still use “sensational” on screaming headlines!

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Quality Articles

A few months ago I started writing for internet marketers, mainly SEO articles as well as the odd web page and sales page. Having had my own (unrelated) successful business for many years, I’ve been writing newsletters, web content, reports, advertising and fundraising requests amongst other things. All of this has been an essential part of my business, but not something that I ever really thought about, it just came naturally although I didn’t realise this until very recently.

My eyes were well and truly opened when I first started writing articles for other people! As a newbie, at least to the SEO side of things, I did a fair bit of research on the writing styles and content on article sites such as Ezine and Go Articles. I was, and still am astonished at the extent of the low quality on these so called articles. Bad grammar; terrible spelling; poor style; even content that makes little sense, it’s all in there.

Now I realise of course that not everyone is born to be a writer, and while you can learn correct grammar and spelling, a decent acceptable writing style is something that I believe comes naturally. I understand why internet marketers, online magazines, blogzines and many others choose to outsource writing work to freelance copywriters. They need content for their websites, SEO articles, sales pages, blogs and so on. Until recently, I would have assumed that finding decent writers shouldn’t be too much of a problem – how wrong I was! Unfortunately there seems to be a deluge of very poor quality writing on the internet today, made worse no doubt by the need for mass SEO articles, sales pages and marketing ads.

The good news, thankfully, is that there are plenty of excellent writers. I’ve had a look around in the interests of research and found prices ranging from $10 to $40 per hour for basic copywriting. While this may seem a little high to some of you, consider the fact that these writers are good at what they do. Take a look around Go Articles and Ezine and you’ll find countless examples of terrible content – probably written for $3 each. When you do come across the better ones, those with solid style, good spelling and grammar, or just readable you can easily see the difference.

As the old saying goes “you get what you pay for”!

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