Thursday, 29 September 2011

Facebook and your personal privacy.

I found this cartoon - thanks to failbook, I had to post and comment on it because it is just so astute.

So true! I have certainly noticed over the past year or so how aggressive Facebook, Gmail, Blogger and many other sites have become at asking for more private information from me "to benefit my experience of their site'.

I don't know about you, but I like Facebook. I can briefly glance at the page and find out what my friends have been up to and lessen my guilt at not calling enough of them to catch up. But why would I want my phone to msg me every time someone wants to make public that they are going out and can't decide whether to go formal or casual. (All they really want is for me know they have been invited to some big do.... knowing this vital information can wait.)

The problem is the explosion of cold calling pollsters has diminished lately because of sites like facebook, amazon, ebay, etc. Every time we do anything on-line the information becomes theirs to sell and make more profit on top of the ads they now run. A friend of mine made a very funny comment about Sarah Palin on Facebook a while back and within a week started getting updates from the Palin camp. There is only one way this can have happened - a program that scours the pages of Facebook to categorize everything written into groups that can be sold off for profit to people who are looking to hit you with ads to buy things or support causes. That's why my phone number and facebook will never meet.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Trip to Thailand

I spent August in Thailand and loved every minute of it. While I was there I got news about being a finalist in the Global E book awards for Inner City.

I went for a holiday between scripts for television shows I'm freelancing for and while there, instead of relaxing 100% of the time, I spotted the Scriptapalooza TV competition and being such a fan of 30ROCK and feeling I'd never get a chance to write for them - I did a spec script for the show as an entry. Pretty simple - think up a story - match it to the characters and make it funny. Of course how do you write as funny as someone like Tina Fey? Almost impossible... Her list of past presidents from Jack Donaghy's mouth are: President Reagan, President Bush, President Intra-Bush, President W Bush. That line still makes me laugh!

The entry was a fun thing to try and when it doesn't place I will stick it up here on this blog for everyone to read.

But Back to Thailand - I promised to put up pictures of my trip. Here they are:

The view from my condo

 My new friend - San.

 I travelled to Roi-et and Mukdahan on the boarder with Laos. San took me to his parent's farm and on the way I saw miles and miles of rice fields and wandering buffalo.

 Photos from one of the many temples. I am sure this one was in Roi-et. I won't go on a rant about religion because each to their own - but sometimes I think religious leaders should also go to business school. Having collection tins and 'relics' for sale at every turn gives away the main objective.

 Outside Roi-et. Looks like a twister to me - but we just kept driving towards it. Why not - what's the worst that could happen. Duck - flying monk!

 Shame this has no scale to show just how big it was. All the bugs and insects in tropical countries seem larger to me.

Original artwork now hanging on my condo wall. I bought this from a local artist. It had been hanging in his gallery for a long time and I spotted it high on a wall. I paid a deposit and came back to pick it up a few days later. I handed over what I owed and the artist told me to be careful with it because the paint was wet. I asked how and why the paint was wet - because that was weird - and he admitted - on looking at it again so long after finishing it - he simply wasn't satisfied. How great is that?! A true artist! He had to fix what he saw as wrong - even though he'd already made the sale.

 A 180 degree view from my condo.

 How it began the day I bought it.

Just concrete, bathroom fixtures and a smoke detector.

And all finished.

If I could have my way I'd be out on this balcony with this view writing happily away all year around.
One day - hopefully.

World War 3

This is something I've had rattling around in my head, probably since the huge bailouts occurred in the US way back in 08. To me it's clear World War 3 is well and truly under way and thankfully for all of us, it's financial and not a physical war of blood and bullets.

The irony is, America, a country that, regardless of what anyone tries to say, has been the world leader for almost a century, exporting 'American' democracy and more importantly, American culture and thinking across almost every country in the world, has almost neutered themselves as a significant force in this economic war because of the obsession to remain the world's strongest physical power.

In short - they spent all their money going to the gym and building themselves up and the other guys studied hard and saved and now have enough money to get a date with anyone they want.

And yet the arguments continue against raising the higher bracket tax rates that are at historical lows (1900-1912 excluded) - a move that would fix so much so quickly.

I understand no-one wants to pay more tax.

But with the uber wealthy coming out and declaring this is needed and what they themselves want - and with others like Gates and Buffet donating more money than anyone in history to the third world or lower socio economic groups - what is going on and who is it that is so tight fisted they aren't willing to fight/fix for the economic health of the country that made them so privileged?


I guess it is easier to send a young man or woman to a foreign country to risk their lives with a gun than it is to prise a dollar from the fist of a wealthy man.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Dan Poynter's Global Ebook Awards

I'm a few posts behind because of my trip overseas. I arrived back home last week and then got struck down by the worst flu I've had in years. I don't know if I caught it off the plane or I brought it back with me. Anyway, on the 17th of August I was emailed that INNER CITY had been judged a finalist in Dan Poytner's Global ebook award.

The winners were announced on the 20th with all finalists invited to USA to attend the awards ceremony. Wow - talk about needing to be in the Amazing Race just to make it there.

This was the first year of the awards so I thought I'd put down my thoughts about the experience I found from entry through to finale.

Firstly let me say I am no writing award virgin. I have a Writer's Guild award for theatre sitting on my shelf, I was nominated for another in TV. I was a finalist in the Southern Cal independant film festival, in the screenplay comp in 2009, Scriptapalooza finalist for a Reality TV concept and an AFI winner as Script Producer for Neighbours way back in the late nineties.

There are a huge number of competitions for writers to enter - all ask for entry frees of between 30 and 75 USD. If you're a writer and want a fast easy and comprehensive way to know when how and which to enter... check out and join 'Withoutabox'

So back to the Global Ebook awards - any award helps a writer - so I hesitate to go negative. I'm sure some readers will come to Inner City as a result of being named a finalist.

But I did have a few concerns so will simply list them...

First, Inner City seemed to be nominated because it was entered. It was certainly listed as nominated before I sent a copy of the book in. I may be doing them a disservice - someone may have gone to the provided link to the book, read it and decided it had merit, but it seemed quick.

Next I noted an email asking for people to act as judges a good time after I had been listed as a nominated entry.

Then my announcement as finalist came 3 days before winners were to be announced at a big ceremony. And finally, promised feedback from judges hasn't eventuated.

So where do I sit about this competition and whether or not it is worthwhile... I would say too early to call. Ebooks are so new that it's a great initiative and may well turn into something really important. I am on the fence because it's a first year and I applaud their effort to get something started. But with anything, prestige comes by high standards. It shouldn't be easy to be nominated, or listed as finalist or to win. Judges need to be in place and respected people in the community - they need to be listed as part of the reason people should enter in the first place - not be wrangled into place at the last minute.

And finally, the campaign of publicity for finalists and most importantly winners should be awesome and ongoing. It is now 10 days after the competition has ended and my inbox should be filling up with notifications of interviews and links that have been made, forged, found and created to help get the winning books out into the Ebook reading community. To date I have had 3 emails - 2 offering to make me trailers for my book at a cut price and one to let me know if I haven't received feedback to date - probably not going to happen.

So should you enter next year - I will again. But if some of these things are not improved as the competition moves into future years, I'd be tempted to give it a miss.

UPDATE*** I've just received 7/9/11 an email from the competition offering a guide to help self promote my book. I'll have a better look at it when I have time - but it looks like some fairly interesting tips towards self promotion and this was also part of what was promised for winner/finalist in the competition. It says it's the first of more - just letting everyone know - they are certainly trying to make the awards more than just a entry fee/scalping exercise so good for them! I'll keep you updated.