Diary of a self-isolator: WTF would we have done without the internet?

When I hear people bitch and moan about being under lockdown due to coronavirus/Covid19, I think back to my dim and distant youth when the internet was no more than a twinkle in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye.

Telephone landline handsets from the 1960s and 1970s – now museum pieces as you can see.

Earlier incarnations had been trialled but mostly had hissy fits and blew up once someone actually input a little bit of content. It was only when Tim Berners-Price took hold of it all in around 1990 that they managed to make it work. As we know, that revolutionised everything. And even better, it can’t catch COVID-19.

Imagine,” I say helpfully between their bitchings and moanings, “what lockdown would have been like if we didn’t have the WWW?[Read more…]

Thank you for my life-transforming emails

Thank you for my life-transforming emails

Thank you for my life-transforming emails

A special thank you, and particularly to whoever shared initially this sad list of conclusions arising from the unbelievably stupid emails we receive throughout the year…

At this time of year, I want to thank all of you who have taken the time and trouble to send me your chain letters over the past 12 months. [Read more…]

SEO is dead: long live SEO

small__7460433450Google updates, whether we like it or not, usually have an influence on how and what we write – especially for business. To find out just what changes are taking place now, I asked digital business expert James Coakes to share his views on it and how it is affecting content creators…

The latest Google update has started to roll through the index and many are questioning whether SEO is dead. Some in the industry are removing SEO from their names (SEOMOZ became MOZ at the same time as Penguin 2 arrived). [Read more…]

How the Internet and WWW all began…sort of…

How the Internet and WWW all got startedMany thanks once again to my good friend Eleanor S. who has passed on this short historical document which explains everything. Well, nearly everything…(original author unknown.)

In ancient Israel, it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot. And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and
long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.

And she said unto Abraham, her husband, “why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent?” And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, “how, dear?”

And Dot replied, “I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price. And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah’s Pony Stable (UPS).”

Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent. To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew. It was known as Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures – Hebrew To The People (HTTP).

And the young men did take to Dot Com’s trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS.

And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land. And indeed did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates’ drumheads and drumsticks.

And Dot did say, “oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others.” Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel, or eBay as it came to be known and said, “we need a name that reflects what we are.” To which Dot replied, “Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators.” “YAHOO,” said Abraham. And because it was Dot’s idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com.

Abraham’s cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot’s drums to locate things around the countryside. It soon became known as God’s Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE).

That is how it all began.

Or something.

More smiles – and they’re useful, too:

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

“English to English: the A to Z of British-American translations”…more than 2,000 business and social terms from the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand

“The English Language Joke book”…hundreds of laughs about this crazy language of ours


photo credit: Deivis via photopin cc

The struggle against plagiarism

A guest post by Colin Ollson

A person who takes someone else’s work online without permission is stealing it.

The internet has made it easier to share information and communicate than ever before, but this easy access to content is a bit of a double-edged sword. Unfortunately, being able to share one’s thoughts and ideas freely in the electronic media also means that it is all too easy for people who either don’t realize or don’t care that copying the work and using it without attributing it to the original author is plagiarism.

Copyright laws give people who create blog posts, articles, e-books and other materials ownership over these items. The author has the right to sell or distribute his or her own work. A person who takes someone else’s work online without permission is stealing it.

How to find out if your content has been stolen

If you are blogging or sharing original content online, your first step in protecting yourself from online plagiarism is to be vigilant. Make a point of checking to see whether your content has been copied and posted on other websites without a link to its original source.

There are a number of websites which will allow internet users to check to see whether specific phrases appear elsewhere online. You simply copy and paste a sample of a piece of text into a search box and hit the site’s “Enter” key to find out whether it has been used elsewhere.

If your content has been plagiarized

Once you discover that your content has been stolen, your first course of action should be to contact the site owner directly. You may be able to resolve the matter at this level by sending a cease and desist letter. The letter should include the following information:

  • the specific blog post, article, or work you are claiming was stolen
  • what you would like the site owner to do (give proper credit to your content or remove it from the site)
  • a deadline by which you want the site owner to comply with your demands
  • what you will do if your demands are not met

Your next steps may be taking legal action against the site owner or reporting the fact that stolen content was used, to his or her Internet Service Provider. If the person either does not respond or refuses to deal with the situation, you will need to take the next step and find out the name of the site’s hosting company.

Hosting companies in the United States

If the hosting company is located in the U.S., it is under the jurisdiction of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This law requires hosting companies to either remove or disable access to content in instances where a claim of copyright infringement has been made. In most instances, the content will be taken down within 48-72 hours after you contact the hosting company.

International hosting companies

Not all Internet Service Providers are located in the United States, but that doesn’t mean that writers and bloggers don’t have recourse. There is no blanket law which covers copyright in all countries. Most countries recognize a content producer’s copyright, but the law varies from nation to nation.

Before you file a notice with a hosting company located outside of the United States, it’s a good idea to look up the copyright law for that country. If you can find a notice and takedown policy, then it’s easy to ask that it be implemented for you. In cases where the policy is not clear, simply explain the situation politely and ask for help on a personal level. The international hosting company may be willing to help if you present your case in that manner.

Protect your work online with a Creative Commons License

If you want to allow others to copy and distribute your work so long as they give you credit, consider getting a Creative Commons License for your content. This not-for-profit organization provides free legal tools for people creating content which needs copyright protection.

You can choose to add a license to your website allowing your work to be shared and re-used under terms which comply with copyright laws. The organization has different versions of licenses available, so users can choose the one which best fits their needs. These licenses have been prepared using language which can be legally enforced around the world.

Adding a Creative Commons License to your work does not mean you cannot sell or distribute your own work. The license applies to users, not the owner.

Taking action against online plagiarism when you discover that your work has been copied is the only way to stop others from benefiting from your work. It is a form of stealing, and should be dealt with promptly in each instance. 

Colin Ollson is a freelance internet marketing and content writer at PlagiarismDetect.com – a plagiarism detection system that helps you check if your text is unique.

Now, secure your  writing:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“How To Write Winning Non-fiction”…all you need to know to write a good non-fiction book and get it published

How to completely b*gger up some good writing advice

As always on the lookout for useful writing advice on the internet to supplement my own, I was attracted to this offering:

“10 Simple Tips To Help You Write Better Headlines And Make More Sales”

Away to the YouTube link I went and found a slideshow with some quite nice images and the script in reversed out type over the top. In the main you could read most of the words and there
were only a few mistakes in spelling and punctuation.

The advice was pretty good – focus on benefits and how your product or service solves your customer’s problems, make the customer see that you understand her and what she needs, define your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and bring it to the fore, grab them by the throat with a strong headline then carry on including fairly frequent cross-headings (also stressing benefits) to lead the reader through right down to the “buy” button.

Excellent. Well, apart from the occasional spelling goof, but you know how picky I am.

There was just one problem.

The voice over artiste they used came not only from another planet, but in all probability, another galaxy. Allow me to demonstrate:

How on earth could the nitwits concerned manage to ruin what otherwise would have been a fairly reasonable presentation? Had somebody’s brother –in-law come up with a whizzo idea for cheap automated V/Os and forced the program makers to try it out, not caring a hoot for the fact that it made the whole thing look like a very bad TV comedy skit?

Not the nicest of organizations, perhaps…

The link below the YouTube video takes you to a slightly smelly-looking squeeze page. Some kind friends of mine** managed to track down the background to this without my having to sign up and it turns out the organization behind it all is Netdigitalinc.com LLC, headed up by a certain Mr Chris Moran, based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

As you can see from this report, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, Netdigitalin.com LLC and Mr Moran are not the most popular kids in the playground.

blogging,writing,blog writing,business,newsletter,HowToWriteBetter.net,How To Write Better,Suzan St MaurThe next thing my evil little brain wonders is, where did that script on the video come from? Was it written honestly by Mr Moran’s own fair hand? Do you think Mr Moran is an expert at copywriting as well as being an expert in, er, dubious business deals? Watch this space … I may investigate further…

** My thanks to James A Zeigler, Peter Syme, Bernard Ramsden, Angie Wilkes, Adrian Higgs, Sally Church and everyone else in our excellent Facebook group who helped me track this story down.

Now – get yourself some unadulterated, good writing advice:

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English