Am sat here by my computer, it's late on a Saturday and I know any minute it will strike. At first it was just the odd advertisement, then it moved to my computer, facebook account and twitter.... now it's on my phone. It has systematically invaded every corner of my life without restriction and now I live in terror.
Alas, this isn't the outline for a new book (which incidentally sounds like a really good story). I'm referring to that Game of Thrones inspired Game of War app. At first, the rather attractive model used to sell said app, namely the aesthetically pleasing Kate Upton, appeared on TV and at the Cinema. I didn't think much of it back then but soon she was on my PC... erm okay, still not interested in downloading this App. Then she appeared on my phone in the App store... okay I can accept that, surely the best place to stick an ad for an App is on the App store. But then it got sinister.....
It was a Tuesday afternoon, my phone was slowing down and thanks largely to a number of Apps I praised in an earlier Blog, I had the means to close unwanted Apps and return efficiency to my phone. Suddenly, mid cleaning, she appeared. Beautiful.. yes, dramatic... yes but somewhat unnerving that it had appeared on my screen without any direction from myself. It was also unnerving that this App was a mere two clicks from being instantly downloaded to my phone.
It felt much like the salesman who refuses to take no for an answer but this time instead of no, it was a case of the salesman inviting himself into your home, emptying your fridge and moving in despite the number of times you said "no thank you", "please leave now" or "I'm calling the police, please f$$k off!".
Whilst attempting to sell my novels, I've learnt much about marketing. One of the key rules is to not become an annoyance. Occasionally flash your ad to a new audience and engage. Simples really. But Game of War appears to be in defiance of this rule. It has become annoying and successful, as oppose to being annoyingly successful.
I fear for the future now as technology slowly infiltrates our lives. 20 years ago, it was a fun thing to have a phone, the Nokia 3310 which you could make phone calls (imagine that), send text messages and play "Snake", now it is a necessity with dynamic opportunities and flexibility... but with that comes advertising space. But what next? Google Glass, now this attractive App can be flashed directly into your eyes.... And after that, Google Contact Lenses? Now shutting your eyes won't be enough.
There will likely come a day when advertisements can be beamed directly into our minds whilst we sleep. Perhaps a company in the future will make a fortune from selling dreams... hey there's another idea for a story. Am sure Game of War will be one of the first of many to infiltrate our dreams and weirdly be downloaded directly into our minds. Scary.
And as if by magic, there it is on my TV now.... Game of Bloody War. I think I'll live in the shed.
Everyone loves conspiracy. It's a simple fact of human nature that we must assume that there is some greater plot or meaning behind pretty much every event in human history. Hell, I love conspiracy theories and, let's face facts, so do you!
However there are some conspiracy theories, and when I say some I mean most, which are a little too wild. Clear signs of insanity with access to the internet.... which is also a conspiracy if you didn't know (world wide web, WWW. W is the 23rd letter, 2x3 = 6. 666. Ergo the internet is actually a demonically possessed creation of Lucifer himself).
In my travels across the net, I have happened upon may outlandish theories. Here are a few of my favs...
Back to the Future... A fun action packed adventure through Time or something a little more Sinister?
People look for conspiracy in everything, movies being no exception.
Back to the Future is one of my all time favourite films. The formula was simple, young kid with a crazy scientist for a friend ends up 30 years in the past, meets up with his parents and nearly prevents his own birth. The effects were fab and the script was awesome. It's an automatic BluRay purchase.
However, the Conspiracy community seems to believe that BTTF contained so many hidden messages that it would have been simpler for Steven Spielberg and Bob Zemeckis to have simply called the firm "Conspiracy Central". Everything from Grey Aliens, Illuminati messages and even a warning about 9/11 seems to have been embedded in the film series.
Here are two of those videos.... the extent to which they draw their conclusions is impressive.
Pretty Much Every Denomination of the US Currency Contains Hidden Messages
Money is generally at the root of most conspiracies (either that or some ruthless New World Order plan to enslave humanity). However, did you know that money itself (the actual physical note) has been the focus of many conspiracy theories. The US dollar is usually targeted by conspiracy theorists, and to be fair some of the theories are quite entertaining. I wonder if those responsible for the general design of the dollar actually have a competition to include as many hidden references as possible (now there's a job I'd love... I'd stick "Where's Wally" on the $1 bill).
I've linked two videos on this one. The first is rather outlandish with multiple references to 9/11 predictions (basically fold your notes like a copy of Mad Magazine and whoooo scary references). The second is one of my favourites, these are actually images hidden away on a standard $1.
2012 London Olympics... and the Illuminati?
At the expense of billions and exposure to the entire world (live), it seems that those wacky Illuminati lot have been at it again by hiding messages within the Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies. At least that's what the hardcore Conspiracy community believe.
Everything from the floodlighting to the Olympic mascots have been linked to some strange Illuminati symbolism. It really is an entertaining watch. I wonder if the organisers hadn't have included so many hidden messages if the opening ceremony would have been over in 5 minutes.
The Simpsons... and the Bloody Illuminati Again?
They've been at it again?? The Illuminati have apparently infiltrated Matt Groening's prized TV show and splattered the world for decades with subliminal messages. The all seeing eye is a frequent visitor to the show, as are mysterious hand gestures.
I seriously doubt we have much to worry about from the Illuminati camp, I mean they spend so much time putting hidden messages in TV shows and movies that they can't have much time to plan the New World Order.
The sad fact for many is that these Conspiracy theories will stay just that, theories with no real foundation. We'd like to believe that there is some greater mechanism working away in the background and that there are secrets around us just waiting to be discovered.
The sadder fact is that it is usually terrible world events which seem to attract the majority of these nonsensical theories. 9/11, the deaths of Diana and JFK, even the loss of MH370 have been the source of so many crazy theories, each one designed to be more fantastic and unbelievable than the last.
I hope you've enjoyed this article, please feel free to leave a link to your favourite Conspiracy Theories.
I don't like spending money.... it takes me ages to make it and I lament parting with it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not tight. I'll always be first to the bar and last out of the taxi. I'd just rather not be taken for a ride.
On the other hand, I love technology. I embrace the latest tech and revel in the revelations of the likes of Samsung, Apple and Microsoft at the latest tech shows. However, I don't like spending money... one can appreciate the paradox which befalls me whenever my mobile phone contract comes to an end and predictably my phone appears to have reached the end of its effective life. Upgrade now to the latest machine and you're old phone will look like it's got a dead hamster for a processor... at least that's what they (the big phone makers and network service providers) want you to think.
I once said that my HTC Desire S (my first Smartphone) had reached the end of its usable life. Modern apps were too demanding in both size and processor demands. She had 2 years of good running before she became unusable. Now, I have a Samsung S3 and that too is being tested by the demands of modern apps. However, I began to look into this problem... had I been taken in by one of the greatest scams of the digital era?
I took it upon myself to investigate, what I found has given my S3 a serious boost....
IFTTT... Reinvigorate your wall paper with a funky new pic!
I bore quickly with the look of my phone's wall paper. The thing is, I struggle to find anything I like enough to stick on my phone. IFTTT is an app which can give your phone a fantastic new look everyday! IFTTT is like a macro system, you can assign it a task when an event occurs. In this case, when NASA produces a new image of the day (and they are always stunning) you can assign that image to your wall paper.
It's really not hard at all... IFTTT is programmed in a very logical manner. If "x" occurs, do "y". The wall paper is the tip of the iceberg with IFTTT. You can assign it to perform tasks on twitter, facebook, email and at a push manipulate your home heating system.
Clean Master... Your one stop system manager
Internet usage and surfing facebook is fun but costly in terms of memory. The issue is that the phone doesn't automatically clear out that data when you're done. This means that your system will start lagging. Clean Master is a great little app that cleans up your system resources and takes care of your phone. There is even a CPU cooler... not sure how effective it is but it has a pretty picture. If you're phone is slowing up, push the widget (a clever rocket animation) and seconds later the phone is significantly faster.
You can go deeper and clear up old files (photos and movies), if you feel the urge.
Not a pro with your phone and find yourself running out of battery? Then Battery Doctor is for you. At a single press, the app will diagnose your phone and identify which settings are draining the most amount of power and which apps can be shut down. Another press and it will carry out every operation to extend the battery life. More settings can be accessed to further extend the amount of time between recharges.
I found the S3 ran out of juice after 4 hours (that's using Napster, internet, whatsapp and youtube) but after using Battery Doctor that period extended to nearer 10 hours.
CM Browser... The Faster Browser
Not all Browsers are the same. The standard Internet Explorer is good but sometimes takes a while to access a site. CM Browser seems to be a little more efficient in this respect. I've found it to be quite a bit quicker than any other Browser I've tested.
Do something useful with your phone when you'r not using it... like Cure Cancer!
No idle boast. You can help with efforts to cure diseases like HIV and Cancer by not using your phone. BOINC has been around for more than a decade now. Most will remember their first venture with the SETI screensaver, the program used your processor to trawl through data when you weren't using your computer.
Today, BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) use the same tech to more useful ends. They've produced an app which sits on your phone and anytime the screen turns off, the app turns the CPU into a number cruncher. The second you turn the screen back on, the app suspends operation and waits until you stop using your phone.
Now, this does chew up a bit of memory and battery but you can set rules like "only run when battery is above 80%". It is free and the data can save lives.
Now, these are just helpful little apps to help promote the life and usefulness of your phones. My S3 is still suffering but now she seems to have a bit more life. The lure of new super smart phones is compelling and with xmas around the corner deals will be plenty.
However, consider this.....
The new Samsung Note 4 has a fantastic screen, processor and memory. By itself, it costs somewhere in the region of £600. With a deal, about £33 per month (24 month deal) with £129 upfront for the machine.
GiffGaff offer a £12 per month deal without a phone that rivals most of the "Big" deals. Here's the proof!
Here are the sums,
A deal with phone = £129 + 24x33 = £918 (ouch)
Sim only + Get the phone independently = £600 + 24x12 = £888 (ouch but less so)
My contract concludes this month. I'd love a Note 4 but not enough to justify the better half of a grand. By revitalising my current phone with these apps, killing features I don't use and giving it a fresh look everyday I am happy to just keep using this phone until the cost of the Note 4 unit becomes a little more digestible.
Okay, I may find myself waiting until early next year, but at least I'll still be first to the bar without feeling my phone burning a hole into my financial security.
You can find all these apps using your local app store, for Android they are free!
I'D BUY THAT FOR A DOLLAR DEAL!!!!
All, in 1 week both Dispatchers and Serpent of the Tyche will be at the bargain bucket price of $1 (or £1 in the UK).
This deal applies to the ebook formats and (unfortunately) applies only to the US and UK Amazon pages.
If you haven't downloaded them yet, next Saturday is the time to STRIKE!
Serpent of the Tyche can be downloaded HERE!!
Dispatchers can be downloaded HERE!!
Due 2014 - Project 14.2 Synopsis (AKA Dispatchers Book II: Infinity & Oblivion)
Three years after discovering his secret abilities, Marcus Townsend has joined Spectral and begun training to exploit his supernatural skills. Despite his commitment, he’s frustrated by Spectral’s inability to locate the Darkling Jobe, the evil Dispatcher he deems ultimately responsible for his parents’ deaths. His frustrations have manifested themselves as violent tendencies and a desire to hunt Darklings without Spectral’s approval.
After being framed for murder, Marcus becomes a hunted man. Accompanied by a rogue Dreadnought Knight, Marcus’ only hope to clear his name is to locate the elusive “Equinox” and uncover the truth behind the “Imprax” – an ancient and powerful order of Dispatchers hell bent on World domination.
In charge of the man hunt is Marcus’ close friend, Captain Zach “Bax” Baxter of Spectral’s Wolf Guard Order. Determined to bring him in alive, Bax uses the Spectral’s technical might to pursue his friend but finds himself drawn into a twisted trail of corruption leading to the very heart of his beloved Wolf Guard.
As both Marcus and Bax close in on the truth, it soon becomes apparent that Bax isn’t the only one on Marcus’ trail.
Dispatchers Book I: Vengeance of the Dark can be downloaded onto your Kindle Friendly Device CLICK HERE
There are very few events which secure a global position in the calendar. Christmas, Valentines Day, Halloween.... but Star Wars may perhaps be the only one based on a film, a fictional film not even set in our Galaxy.
We have to ask what it was about this seemingly low budget film with only a handful of recognised faces (Peter Cushing & Alec Guinness) that elevated it to near religion status. It wasn't the script (Harrison Ford himself was once quoted "George, you can write this shit but you can't say it.") and it wasn't even the special effects, as ground breaking as they were at the time there have been plenty of films since which have moved the yardstick for special effects (Aliens, Avatar, Independence Day) yet none of them have a global remembrance day.
It was the story, sweet and simple. A young man sets out on a quest to save a young princess and overthrow a domineering empire. Along the way, he will meet memorable characters; the lovable rogue, his bear-like but loyal side-kick and a wizard who is knowingly on his final quest. Against him is the Empire led by a crazed but calculating overlord and his lead henchmen, a man closely linked with the young man's own past.
Simple and effective, it gets too complicated and that's it, the audience is lost. I hope JJ Abrams takes this into account when developing the next three Star Wars films. My friends will know that I have been critical on his first Star Trek film, and I stand by my comments, but I have to admit that Star Trek into Darkness was a fantastic addition to the Star Trek franchise.
Please Mr Abrams, keep Star Wars 7 onwards simple and involving. Don't overload us with CG, even George Lucas pointed out back in the 70's that special effects were a tool to tell a story, not the story.
Anyway, here's a mate of mine celebrating Star Wars Day in suitable style, you're a legend Dave! PS, Darth Vader is in the driving seat.
Hi all, sometime ago I was asked to review an item I bought from Amazon. The item description wasn't brilliant so I decided that it needed a bit more "selling".
What can I say, I had some time and I wanted to help. Enjoy,,,,
"For years, my life was missing something.... organisation. I was in disarray, a shell of a man.
Then I found the Little Birds Wooden Key Rack.
Like a wave of relief, my life was suddenly blessed with organisation and freedom from the perpetual worry of the proximity of my keys.
Thanks directly to the Little Birds Wooden Plaque, I have the freedom to focus on all the other aspects of my life. I have become a stallion lover, a Nobel prize winning Physicist and a bestselling author.
I would highly recommend the Little Birds Wooden Plaque to anyone who seeks to better themselves."
If you want one of these fine keyholders, you can get one just like mine from Amazon... CLICK HERE
In my quest to become a professional author, I am perpetually searching for the wisdom of those more established than I. Thankfully, the internet has made it possible to pick the brains of the experienced without stalking them.
I stumbled upon an interview with Cynthia Hartwig about her top 5 marketing tips for authors (@cynthiahartwig) . I found the interview to be really very informative and presented a common sense approach to establishing oneself as an author.
I've put together an Author Central Profile on Amazon (which I invite you all to take a ganders at) and begun building this blog. Basic stuff really, but very effective.
One thing Cynthia did suggest is to take advantage of the growing audio book market. I'd never considered the audio book market and promptly investigated the subject. "Interesting...." I thought. "I could produce my own audio book!"
Brilliant, so I tried with Faulker Surprise (my short Horror novel - http://bit.ly/1hBUsRG). I really enjoyed reading it and it didn't take very long to complete. However, when I played it back I was met with horror. I have perhaps the least exciting voice ever. I seem to have two tones, boring and boring with bass. I am the kind of person who would go on X Factor thinking I had a great voice only for Simon Cowell to scowl and unleash a verbal volley at me which will simultaneously boost his ratings and reduce me to tears. Ah well, I have to accept that I haven't the sexiest of voices.
Anyway, Cynthia's interview can be read in its entirety at http://tinyurl.com/msftpgr.
It's an incredibly proud moment when you get the first proof copy of your novel. You've spent years working on it and now the first version is finally in your hands... Then you realise the monumental mistakes you made.
It's not a terrible story, quite the opposite. The ebook has been praised for its original stance on Greek Mythology, the use of Genetic Engineering Warfare and the introduction of a Were-Rhino.
It's the small things you start to notice. Serpent of the Tyche was subjected to 6 re-reads and edits before its official ebook launch (lessons learnt from Dispatchers) but then when you finally have it in your hands that you start thinking "Maybe there is a better way of saying that" or "I could have mentioned something else there".
Am not going to dwell too much on it. I don't think I would ever publish anything if I kept second guessing myself.
Serpent of the Tyche is available in ebook from now (follow the links in the "My Stuff" page). Paperback will be launched Mid-May.