Becoming a Wikinutter.

So a few days ago, I decided to sign up to a site called Wikinut.  Wikinut is a website that you can submit articles on any subject  to and get paid for it.  It had got a four star review in Web User magazine and as someone who loves writing and has long wanted to make a career out of it, I joined it. I even had an idea of what I would write about for my first couple of articles.

A few days later, I still haven’t submitted those articles.

After an initial good start planning out my articles and what I was going to mention in them, I found the actual writing of the articles themselves a bit of a problem.  I could blame the fact that I kept getting distracted by numerous things (youtube, twitter, people around me, etc), but really I know I should blame myself for being so easily distracted. Not since the days I was at university have I really thrown myself into writing stuff (I know my blogs look like I’ve taken my time with them but believe me, they don’t take a great deal of effort).  I have tried a few times to get back into it since then, but lack of time due to one thing or another has prevented me for carrying on with the stuff I started. There’s quite a few notebooks in my bedroom filled with story ideas that have never fully materialised.

I’m hoping that it’s just a little bit of writers’ block that is hampering my latest efforts, but after getting half a paragraph down I fear I will end up ripping it up and starting again with another subject.  I probably won’t make a lot of money from it, but it’ll be good experience for me, I suppose.

“Oh my God, what have I done?”

Those were the first words I ever tweeted on Twitter. Yes I am sad enough to remember what they were.

It was on this day last year (the day being 6th February and the year 2009) that I signed up to the micro blogging phenomenon, after initially resisting the urge to tell the world what I’m doing in less than 140 characters. During that time I’ve tweeted about everything from my life to TV shows to news stories and just about anything that comes in my head. I’ve also got to know a lot of very nice people on there and had plenty of good chats with them. I’ve even had the occasional reply from the more well known people I follow.

Of course, I’ve also seen the not so good side of twitter – the trolls who abuse other users (especially the famous ones), the spambots (in particular  the infamous “Britney F****d”), the far right extremists and the generally all round horrible who get off on making nasty comments. Oh and I almost forgot the people who follow you and then unfollow you the second you follow them back (mean people). Still, the good things far outweigh the bad, and 12 months on I am still into regularly answering the question “what are you doing?” (or “what’s happening?” as they have recently changed it to).  Whether I can keep it going for another 12 months remains to be seen, but for now I’m still interested.

And I love it a lot more than Facebook!

Testing testing…

I am writing this blog post on Windows Live Writer. I downloaded it after reading about it in Web User magazine. I never did before, as (a) I thought you could only use it with MSN blogs (I did have a blog on MSN many moons ago) and (b) I thought I’d have to download other programmes as well as this (I didn’t want windows live mail or messenger and I’d heard that the photo programme was a bit cack).

Once I was confident that it was compatible with wordpress and I didn’t have to get the full software package, I got it on my PC. And I’m liking it so far. The fact that it automatically downloads the theme of your blog when you first set the software up is a good thing, as well as being able to post your entries directly to your blog from it. Hopefully you will be able to see this blog post after all I’ve said!

Bitten The Apple

I’ve done it. I swore I would never do it and I’ve spent years resisting the urge to do it. Until now that is.

I have bought an iPod. An iPod Touch, to be precise (otherwise known as the iPhone without the phone).  And yes, I love it. In fact, it’s made me wonder why I didn’t get one  the moment I realised I had the money to buy one.

To be honest, I’ve not always had a high opinion of Apple’s products. The first time I came across a Macintosh was when I did work experience for a local paper when I was 15. Back then (which I should say was not that long ago), they were ugly grey things with a really basic interface and seemed difficult to use compared to the Windows 95 – powered PCs I was using at school. I then fell in love with the iMac at university – me and my friends would spend time in the computer rooms watching film trailers on them (the experience was always better on them. Alas, I was never to get the purple and white one I wanted, as I simply couldn’t afford it. Plus my sister wanted one too.

When the iPod came along, I was initially fascinated by it.  However my interest was quickly lost when I found out the price of them, not to mention the fact that songs downloaded from iTunes could only be played on them. I stuck with my Sony Discman before turning to cheap MP3 players. It was when my current Samsung one started to go on the blink that I began to consider getting an iPod.

What’s surprising is that out of all the iPods, I chose the touch. When it first came out, I thought that while it looked nice the touch screen was too gimmicky for my liking. I even wrote on  Web User Magazine‘s Facebook page that I would “stick with my bog-standard MP3 player thanks” – a remark that was later printed in the magazine itself.  But sooner or later, I had to give in.

YouTube vs the PRS – A Music Fan’s View

I’d like to start this blog entry by saying a big “well done” to the bosses of YouTube. They’ve just blocked access to music videos on its British site, thus isolating the 95% of British users who don’t want to watch the effects of Mentos in bottles of Pepsi or need to see Robert Webb’s hilarious Flashdance parody for the 550th time.

For those who’ve been living on a desert island over the last few days, YouTube are currently locked in a dispute with the Performing Rights Society (PRS), the body that represents musicians and songwriters. YouTube had a deal with the PRS, in which YouTube paid royalties every time a music video was watched on its site. In negotiating a new deal YouTube’s bosses claimed that the PRS were demanding too much money from them, while the PRS said that YouTube’s offer was substantially less than what they were paying before. In any case, it seems like the big corporations are once again holding the little people to ransom, refusing to budge until they get their way.

For those of us who like to listen to music online, this is a blow. When you consider that there are very few decent music shows on terrestrial  TV these days (with the exception of Later and Channel Four’s late night 4Music output) and the music radio and TV stations seem to play the same ten songs all day, the internet is often the only option British music fans have. YouTube gives people the chance to watch music videos when they want to as often as they like. Their current actions are limiting people’s choices, not to mention limiting the amount of exposure an artist can get.

MSN have been quick to jump on the situation by advertising the selection of music videos available on its own site.  This would be fine were it not for the fact that MSN video is crap. The one occasion I tried to watch something on it, I was forced to install a plug in as I was using Firefox and not their beloved Internet Explorer. The plug in wouldn’t install properly and the only part of the video I saw was the annoying advert that came on before it.

YouTube’s bosses may feel as though they have the upper hand at the moment, but they are surely on course for a massive public humiliation the longer they continue their ridiculous stance. With the head of UK Music Feargal Sharkey already condemning them as bully-boys, chances are that it won’t be too long before other music industry figures, including many artists, are speaking out against them. In the meantime, I’m considering boycotting YouTube for as long as this goes on. If the visitor figures for the British site suddenly dropped,  they’d soon get the message.