Category Archives: Guest Authors

These are articles that have been written by guest authors, who have been invited to write articles for our site. We hope you find these of interest.

From Restraining The Deranged To Killing Giant Octopuses

No, I’ve lost neither my mind nor my morals! I’ve recently blogged about common English errors on blogs and I was making some additions. I was looking at strait, straits and straight and wanted a picture of a stretch of water to go with strait. Off to Wikipedia and a look at the first strait that came to mind – the Cook Strait, flowing between the North and South Islands of New Zealand, connecting the Tasman Sea with the South Pacific.

I’m not into show tunes but I do love myths and legends so I followed up on the Maori history. They believe Cook Strait was discovered just over a thousand years ago by Kupe, a great chief of Hawaiki and great navigator. He’d tried to bump off his cousin, kidnapped the cousin’s wife and set sail. Along the way he sailed through the Cook Strait when chasing a giant octopus named Te Wheke-a-Muturangi. Eventually Kupe killed it by chopping off its arms with an adze. James Cook in 1770 was a mere parvenu and a bit boring after attempted murder, adultery and killing a god’s pet octopus!

Restraining the deranged? Some of you will be ahead of me here – straitjackets. I was disappointed to learn that “straightjacket” is acceptable – it just doesn’t look right. Consolation came with the finding that the plural word “straits”, in the watery sense, is one of the few English plurals which take a singular article. A bit anorakky of me, I admit, but I do love words and their quirks and peculiarities.

So, a little bit of free-ranging word association and a good half hour filled with things that weren’t the things I should have been doing. And the next time Microsoft Project seems a little uninviting there’s the further adventures of Kupe to look out for.


All of you bloggers and lovers of correct English, please have a look at Common English Errors and let me know if I’ve included all you think should be there. Comments and suggestions are welcomed. So are corrections but I’m hoping there won’t be many of those!

IT Product News: Vocalisation, Talk 2.0.

Software giant Microsoft announced today a new venture, code-named Vocalisation ™. Bill Gates said “we’re delighted to announce a new communications paradigm based on Talk 2.0 enabling realtime information exchange with minimal expenditure on new hardware.”

The product is set to rock the world of mobile communications and email. To utilise it, two users agree a language protocol and then exchange messages in an unstructured model that is being called a “conversation”.

“We’ve been working on this for a while” said Gates, “and we believe we’ve ironed out the early problems. We haven’t established a pricing policy yet but we’re excited about the worldwide possibilities. In the same way that two US citizens can converse in English, so two Chinese citizens can use a Cantonese protocol with no need for extra hardware or language plugin. The flexibility is astounding.”

The Twitter world gave a mixed reaction but several thousand Vocalisation-related pages have already been started on Facebook. A video of two babies Vocalising has gone viral on Youtube though industry leaders have warned that there is as yet no business application.

News just in: third generation e-Readers may be a radical departure from the current implementation. Manufacturers are examining a naturally occurring non-volatile storage medium known as “paper”. Researchers are working on combining thin layers of paper into stacks known as books.

Apple: too fruitful?

Apologies for a horrible pun but i’ve been pondering Apple’s latest financial pronouncement. They counted up the cash in their piggybank and found they have the small sum of $76.2 billion floating around! This is more than enough for a good night out and a cab home, this is riches bordering on insanity.

To put it into some perspective, $76.2 billion is more than the GDP of 126 countries. Ecuador, Bulgaria, Sri Lanka and Costa Rica all do less well than Apple. Greece’s latest huge EU bailout is not far off the same amount.

What could Apple do with the money? Huge dividends for shareholders? Endow chairs at MIT and Cambridge? New internal research labs? Hire a few accountants to look into not accumulating so much money? Bring down the price of their products? Not much chance here – if people will pay hundreds of dollars for a mobile phone with facilities they don’t want, and then pay more for apps to try to justify the hundreds of dollars purchase price …

One suggestion that won’t be featuring too strongly in the business media is that they could do something about the awful conditions endured by workers in Chinese manufacturing facilities. Cut the working day to just twelve hours perhaps, or add a second fifteen minute break. Increase their wage to something that a kid with a paper round wouldn’t spit at. Return some jobs to the USA?

I vote for giving millions in dividends to billionaire shareholders. You know they need it more than others…

Fake Job Offers By Email

A sly little twist on the fake job offer scam This used to be a promise for a job after payment of an “agency fee”. Now there’s a new technique.

Find someone looking for a job – plenty of ways to get details, often illegal but who ever gets prosecuted? Send them a nice personalised email promising a job in their home town, so they think it’s kosher. Get them to do an online IQ test or something of the sort and give you their mobile number. Then send them several reverse charge texts (£1.50 each) about their test results.

The poor mug will usually accept the texts as he needs the score to complete the application form. If he’s unemployed and desperate he’s even more likely to accept the costs even if he’s less likely to be able to afford them.

That’s the scam being operated by best-jobs-today.com Their domain records are hidden, the office address on their website has never heard of them. Hopefully you never will again.

It’s easy to get confused when you’re hitting lots of sites; keep records of the ones you’ve applied to. Preferably only use sites that are recommended to you by trusted sources. Don’t assume an ad is kosher just because it’s in a newspaper. Read terms and conditions before signing up. Don’t go with anyone who says they may pass your details on. And don’t accept reverse charges on a mobile, or call a number you don’t recognise.

For more information on how to avoid the crooks, see Avoiding Fraud And Scammers On The Internet

Another DotCom Bubble On The Way?

Pandora, the music streaming company, has just floated a small percentage of its shares and seen its valuation soar to $4.2bn in the first hour of trading on the New York stock exchange. Pandora has lots of users and loses lots of money.

The company reported revenue of $51m, with a net loss of $6.8m in the three months to the end of April. Most of its revenue comes from paid advertisements.

As a long time internet programmer who would love to come up with an idea like Google or Pandora or Facebook, my first reaction is “lucky beggars”. Then reality hits and I ponder my pension fund and a share-based bond I have – neither is doing particularly well and I suspect both are investing in stocks like Pandora. Wise or not? I’d say the answer is “not” unless you sell at the right time.

Look at the Pandora business model, translate it to the real world. I sell shirts. I don’t make them, I buy from other people (Pandora paid $29m in music royalties in three months to the end of April). All I do is buy in the shirts and sell them on. Now I’m going to start giving them away. Each one will come in a bag with an ad on it. I’ll also start a premium members club where, for a very small fee, you can get extra shirts and ad-free bags.

Sounds daft, doesn’t it? But here’s yet another technology offering defying all the laws of sensible economics and the pension funds and loads of others are piling in. I suspect the wiser people took a quick profit and sold after a couple of hours. I also suspect my pension fund will still be holding the shares when the world realises the emperor has no clothes and consigns Pandora to the pit where so many other technology companies go.


See my technology blogs at Internet Marketing: Avoiding Scams and Fraud and Review Of Five Internet Gurus. On a lighter note, try Web Designer versus Client.