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intheventofire

The collected works of Mr Neil D Campbell

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Non Fiction

Stuff I didn’t make up…

How to spot a fake news story…

The internet has become the world’s most important resource for news. It has overtaken press groups and stock libraries to become the go-to destination for anyone wishing to know anything. Seconds after a world changing event, tweeted pictures and live streams bounce around the globe at the speed of fibre optic and nothing and no one is sacred.

Information Utopia at last?  …if only

The problem with this sudden availability of info is that it doesn’t serve those who seek to control the flow of news and those who have this power have a hidden ace… namely us.

The media only needs to let us poison our well and the sudden powerful access we currently share will be worthless… in short, we need to stop sharing crap.

I am writing this article because of the sheer volume of spin, nonsense and disinformation I have come across on the internet recently and we really need to sort out how we are using our new super power.

So how do you spot a fake news story?

The answer is surprisingly simple and here are some tips to prevent the flow of crud.

1. Google it – Yep crazy as it sounds typing the baby eating story into Google is often enough to separate the fact from the fiction. For deeper analysis use Snopes and hoaxslayer too.

2. Check the date – This year I’ve seen pictures from the 1960’s Woodstock festival masquerading as peaceful pipeline protests in Aug 2016 and four-year-old war reports from Syria pretending to be tales from the front line. Human beings have been around for a long time and if you look hard enough you can find an image or a headline to fit pretty much any idea.

3. The devil is in the details – Beware of sensational headlines with vague details. If atrocities occur at least allow the victims to be remembered. Don’t fall for ‘a man from a village was eaten by ISIS.’ People like Donald Trump need people to be scared of ISIS and by spreading these awful tales you are only helping him and others like him. When terrible things happen records will exist. Name, age and location or it probably didn’t happen.

4. Check the source – This can be tricky for a number of reasons.  For one it’s very easy for anyone to own a domain name and put up a slick looking news site and secondly, the state of the UK press means they are capable of just about anything. As a rule, crossreference the story. It’s unlikely that everyone bought it, so even if the BBC was daft enough to share it, Channel four or Reuters might have had some reservation.

5. Use your commonsense – We all have a built in bulls*it detector. If something is worrying you about a story, go with your gut and apply tips 1-4 until you discover the truth.

That’s it, go tell the world… the truth

*pic above creative commons

Fires I helped to start…

inthevent4

No not real fires… we’re talking  about spiritual, metaphorical and technological fires… In other words crowd funding projects.

Here are some in which I have played a part.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/cinder-iphone-6-curved-9h-gorilla-glass-protector

Cinder was my  first success had it been up to the PR firm the company had hired Cinder would have been called Curve and probably lost forever in the Search Engine Jungle… I  came up with the name, the pitch, the video concept and even the script…

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1726375706/efoldi-tm-the-most-versatile-personal-electric-veh?token=3e951af2

Efoldie is a great invention; I  worked a lot on the project and wrote a lot of the copy on the website. The Kickstarter above was cancelled, but only because the government made a u-turn on their promise not to tax the vehicle as a mobility aid. It later went on to smash over £100k on another crowd funding site.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1714346163/auravisor-virtual-reality-head-mounted-computer?token=bbd05b4a

I love the Aura Visor and it should be delivered any day  now. I had a hand in the name and the campaign and I can’t wait to see the finished version.

 

 

AbleCab on GoFundMe

ablecab5

I was fortunate enough to have worked on this project… It’s a new project promising to deliver a taxi  service for disabled users. I sincerely wish them the best

Long Overdue Update…

I am a freelancer, my roles and skills are many and varied and no two days are ever Groundhog Day.

Updating this site, sadly isn’t my one of my strong points so… in a bid to amend that, I am going to do a bit of catching up…

Firstly I have begun specialising in writing crowd funding pitches. I written about 20 now and they are a bit like snowflakes… no two are alike, some may vanish before the morning and others might be the start of a great avalanche.

Anyway I’ve caused two avalanches this week and I’m feeling a little bit tickled about it.

One of them is wrapped up in a 8 page NDA, but the other is here and as of this moment has just hit 57% funding in under 5 days…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/cinder-the-holy-grail-of-iphone6-glass-protection#home

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idBTyAbXYHU

I  wrote the campaign, came up with the name, the tagline, the video concept and I even wrote the video script. I wish them best of luck and I’m confident they will smash their target. (EDIT… they DID beating it by 200%)

The other (which I can’t name) netted its commissioners 2 meetings with world leading angel investors a day after they submitted and their future is looking peachy keen.

In other news, I have been working with Lewes based Specialist Language Courses on their medical based language course as producer and engineer. This time I take no credit for the writing, but merely the directing, recording and editing of course elements and of course the audio for the video which you can see here… (well I did the voiceovers at any rate)

The other bit of news this weeks was my Sci Fi fashion guide is finally in print in the wonderful Space  Monsters Magazine… here I am proudly clutching my copy.

spacemonsterneil

You can get your paws on one here!

I have also wandered into the world of memes and I shall be presenting them sporadically.

And I promise I will be better at updating my website…

And today is a day for Memes… I commissioned the first two and created the last  two enjoy…

Dame_Jarad_Average1

The-Screampiccard buttonfrench meme

Trade In Detectives…

Another Alter Ego
The Formidable Detective Maxwell

So here’s a new coup…

I am very pleased to present my latest work… The voice of Trade-in Detective Maxwell. This was a great fun project and I can’t wait to blow the old trumpet about it, but I believe there is a wee bit of an embargo on the website… so until they go fully public so all I can tell you right now is it’s going to raise some eyebrows… So if you’ve never read a website’s Terms and Conditions before, then I firmly recommend you start with these…

I’ll cut the cloak and dagger act as soon as I can…

So the Webite has gone live… Please have a look at…

http://www.tradeindetectives.com

My own column at last

Slightly Mad uncles Jacques
Advice from the sarcastic and insane is hard to ignore

This is Slightly Mad Uncles Jacques (aka me)

You can read his words of wisdom http://france.holidayhomeadvice.co.uk/french-lifestyle-tips-5-getting-to-know-your-french-neighbours-tips-from-uncle-jacques/

The brief was to write something witty and informative and well they loved the first one and commissioned a series…

We’re heading for a bad spell – The Rise of The Typo

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There was a time when making the front page really took something. I mean sure Jimmy The tap Dancing Squirrel might have had a look in on the slower of news days, but for the rest of us it would take something spectacular to make the headlines. Saving lives perhaps or more likely taking them, war, plague, and the other two horsemen would generally be enough and these days being Simon Cowell seems to count too.

Of course the front page that matters has changed and so too has the rite of ascension.  It’s no longer the front of the broadsheets and tabloid that we covet it’s the front page of Google that matters now and to claim your place in the highest ranks of the hallowed search engines you have to be clever.

Take the word internet, it only takes search engine royalty Google 0.15 seconds to find over 6,580,000,000 references…However misspell it, even by a fraction, and the odds may surprise you… Try Intrenet for example and Google will find just 620,000 and it has to think about it. Curiously it doesn’t even ask me if I meant the other word, it seems to know.

So what does it mean? Well it used to annoy me when bands misspelt their names or went all street and urban with Phat dis and sic that… but now it seems in the future we’ll all be at it…

I’m terrible for typos, only today I sent a nid to a friend and I am constantly saying sory for my typoing. But the real truth of it is we’re just more casual about our writing on the internet I mean FFS in my humble opinion we’re too busy laughing out loud to pay attention to spelling and even grammar.

The dyslexic in me rejoices a little at the thought of people unashamedly communicating without fear of either, but I also know that if there is to be a use for the typo, then the people who’ll use it most are the same folks that always find a use for such things first.  The marketing men…Soon my glitchy spelling and creative grammar could be the difference between page one and page five on Google and in the future that difference could be everything.  Let’s be honest we’re not known for our patience, in fact I’ll wager good money I don’t have, that somewhere on Google there’s stats from some psychologist or marketing mage to explain how many of you I have already lost by this paragraph.

I have no idea where we go from here but I predict that the typos that we were once so terrified about are not only going to be forgiven, one day they are going to be essential…

So enjoy what we have… before the AD men open their bottles of Shampain and tuck into their CavyR.

Captcha 22

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So I guess this is an open Letter to the folks that make these captcha landmines…

Before I start I want to say I understand why these things exist and I appreciate the work they do in saving me from Online Pharmacies, penis enlargers, Russian brides, and (never really) free I pads…

I just wish there were more ways round them for us special kids…

I have been stuck behind these diagrammatic nightmares for ten or twenty minutes before and the last thing you need after 30 minutes of data entry is a freaking hurdle. I don’t know what it is about these things.  In theory they are just simple pictorial puzzles, but in my mind they mostly look like those stupid 3d magic eye puzzles that were big in the 90’s and they only ever gave me headaches…

Now, I applaud the clever boffins who have added the Audio Captcha option, but some of us have been forced to learn our spelling phonetically, hidden away in our bedrooms terrified that someone will find out that we have problems reading… at least I did when I was younger.

My English teacher, who was what can only be described as a heartless black blooded witch, was completely unable to comprehend the fact that some words are not spelt the way they sound and therefore those of us forced to try fit the square peg in the round hole could never have used a dictionary to spell a word. She once belted me for my inability to  complete this simple task… I kept my head down after that…

The problem lies with phonemic awareness and if you have a problem with that then you’ll understand my issue….They call it a weakness, but come round my house for a game of scrabble or read any of my work and you’ll soon see that it can lead to a unique and interesting style and an unusually high vocabulary.  (Basically to avoid using words that we are unsure of how to spell, people like me will write themselves out of the corner in a thesauric display of literal splendidness.)

Anyway I’m getting off the track here… My point today is that as most of the world moves away from paper and on to the crystal clear retinal displays, we the dyslexics and co are going to get stuck behind these bloody indecypherable minefields… or worse yet we’ll just give up.

So… Dear Captcha, please can you make something on your devices that allows us left brainers to sneak past your little anagrammatical digital doors… Why not do little pictures? I could even draw you some. I mean sure eventually one’s mac book pro is going to get the logic to recognise a stick cow, but that’s years off. So until then, can we please have some indication that you are listening and want to help us get our downloads,  join those forums, or pay our bills. We’re not stupid, in fact think of us as Supermen and your little gatekeepers as kryptonite.*

*mental note funny how I can spell kryptonite first time, but I can never work out how many R’s there are in around…

PS. Please consider putting a little button on your captchas along the lines of…  “Having Problems with this Captcha? Are you dyslexic?” and then maybe a relevant link?

Anyway rant over…

Look Mr and Mrs Captcha my own version and you can use it for free!

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p.p.s. it’s a cow

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