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New poems wanted

January 25th, 2011 by Jean Rogers

After that very early winter, and the heavy snow of November, I probably shouldn’t be hoping for an early spring. But when not one client but two launches a demand for new poems, something must be stirring…

I’ve just updated the Diamond Twig website with an invitation to new women poets to send in poems suitable for International Women’s Day, so that we can celebrate March 8th with a feast of fresh poetry (and maybe even repeat the success of Diamond Twig’s previous set of postcards for Women’s Day. (And this is only the first of Ellen Phethean’s plans for the Diamond Twig site – but that would be telling…)

And for poets who don’t meet that description, or whose creativity doesn’t respond to that challenge, maybe the Biscuit Poetry Challenge will be more in your line. In addition to the 2011 Short Story competition (which is still open to entries), Biscuit is holding a fundraising poetry competition in aid of the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline (CCLL), which will enable a group of children from Chernobyl to visit Northumberland this summer, for a much needed break and some medical attention and healthy, uncontaminated food and air. Details of the competition (and the charity) are on the Biscuit website.

Snow News: guest post

December 9th, 2010 by Jean Rogers

I wrote recently to Mel Gibson about an update to her comics resources web site, and I must have complained about the weather, because she replied "Currently leaving the house to feed the horses around 8 am, so we are now expert at digging out the car, then the stables! It takes 4-5 hours a day to sort the horses out and get home again." That’s impressive! And Mel has given me permission to share her explanation here:

Ach, our horses cannot fend for themselves at the moment, as the land is so frozen that there is minimal food to eat (grass popsicles do not offer much nutrition). We have to break the ice on all water supplies to ensure they get to drink. The hours are needed to ensure they are healthy and get to socialize, as they are lost without contact with the herd. I wish it were easier, but the weather has been exceptionally challenging.

In the spring and summer, when there is grass to eat, they can do without humans and just trot over to see how you are and have a ‘chat’. They typically then suggest to you that eating grass, or simply hanging out with them is an excellent way of spending the day. If you seem unwilling to participate, they wander off to see their pals again. At that time of year, if you can convince them that you should be allowed to get on them and ride then you both have a lovely time. Riding is always a negotiated experience. However, right now they need as much hay as I weigh, each day, and David and I need to supply it.

Not so much what we do for fun, more that once you have a horse in your life you are responsible for them. They are a kind of midway ‘tween dogs and cats, being clever enough to suss there is a problem, but not clever enough to manage to sort it out on their own.

Hooves a total swine regarding leading an independent life. Paws a great thing re the same.

The shoemaker’s children

December 1st, 2010 by Jean Rogers

There’s a saying that "The shoemakers children always go barefoot": you might expect professionals to prioritise doing for themselves what they do professionally for others, but it doesn’t work that way – work for yourself goes to the back of the queue. Which is why the webmaster’s blog is the last to be updated.

But on a shoemaking theme, I’ve just added December’s Poem of the Month to the Diamond Twig website: Making Clogs at Gallowgate by Catherine Graham, a vivid description of one very specific workplace based on her mother’s recollections.

To blog or not to blog?

July 12th, 2010 by Jean Rogers

Some days I think that everyone should have a blog – after all, I have more than one myself! And I enjoy writing these posts, nothing formal, nothing fancy, whatever’s on my mind or that I’d like to share.

Sometimes I tell a prospective client that actually they don’t need a web site at all, what they need is a blog, which – if they don’t mind using an off-the-peg design and address at one of the major blogging sites – won’t cost them anything, and will fit their particular needs.

But sometimes, when a client tells me that the marketing department has advised them that what they need is a blog, but they aren’t sure, and how much would they have to write, and how often…? Well, on those days I want to advise them not to do it, don’t get a blog.

The simple truth is that if you enjoy blogging, it can be made to work for you (Julia Darling’s blog kept her in touch with friends and readers through her final illness, and after her death became a play on BBC radio); but if you really hate it, it tends to show.

A blog which is frequently updated is a cheap and easy way of keeping a web site fresh and up-to-date; but nothing looks staler than an abandoned blog.

The 'Losing It' blog

These aren’t new thoughts. But I thought them all over again yesterday, when I found this blog, set up to promote a collection of stories for teenagers, called Losing It: "If you’re a teenager," it says, "we want to hear your views! So tell us -" And there’s nothing else but a big white space.

The thing about blogs, you see, is that you have to write them.

Beware of cold call scammers

July 5th, 2010 by Roger Cornwell

There is a plausible story on the Register website this morning. “Malware-pushing scammers appear to be stepping up their use of telephone-based pitches, resulting in an increase in reports from the UK of high-pressure cold calls designed to trick people into installing rogue antivirus products and other nasties.” I say “plausible” because the reporter names names of people who have received these calls. The caller says that they can check over the phone whether your computer is infected with a virus. In fact they ask you to check for the presence of a perfectly normal, legitimate, file, and tell you it’s a virus.

If you receive one of these calls, ignore it, and don’t get into a conversation. Otherwise you could be charged up to £79 to have rogue anti-virus software installed on your PC, and then suffer the difficulty of uninstalling it.

Double congratulations!

June 30th, 2010 by Roger Cornwell

Following on Valerie Laws’s commendation in the Poetry Society National Poetry competition comes the news that two of our clients have books shortlisted in the London Festival Fringe New Poetry Award 2010. The Coffee House Poetry website has broken the news that both Breath by Ellen Phethean (Flambard Press) and Even the Sea by Eleanor Livingstone (Red Squirrel Press) are in the running for this new £2,500 Award for 2010’s Best New Poet.

In total there are 15 books on the shortlist, selected from the 77 submitted. Our congratulations to both poets, to both publishers, and fingers crossed for a result when the prizewinner is announced on August 16th.

Our friends in the North

May 26th, 2010 by Jean Rogers

Ten days after Cornwell Internet’s return from Fair Isle, we are beginning to feel that the work is under control and some, at least, of the holiday photos are sorted. Time for a quick report back – and by now some of the work has been done for me!

The purpose of – or excuse for – the trip was to help Ann Cleeves celebrate the completion of her Shetland Quartet of crime novels with a party at the location where the fourth novel takes place, back at the Bird Observatory on Fair Isle where Ann’s love affair with Shetland began. Here is Ann’s account of how things didn’t go exactly to plan – but everyone had a great time all the same!

The idea had been that we would be a houseparty at the newly refurbished Observatory, but as the work was not completed in time, we all stayed at different locations around the island. Roger and I were at the South Light House:

Breakfast at the South Light

it’s a tiny island, nowhere is very far from anywhere else, and we were very comfortable down on the southern tip of the island. Besides, as our host pointed out, Ann’s novel Blue Lightning may be set at the North Light (where, for the purposes of the story, Ann has located the Bird Observatory), but it is the South Light which appears on the cover. Our fellow guest there was Douglas Barr, who actually appears in the book, having won the prize in an auction in aid of Vaila’s Fund!

The actual party was, as Ann says, a tremendous success. Everyone on the island was there, from grandparents to babies, including two children whose birthday it was and a quartet of knitting enthusiasts who had booked a holiday on Fair Isle without realising there was a party going on. Ann and fiddler Chris Stout reprised the presentation they have created together, which they had performed the previous week in Lerwick (we later read an account in the Shetland Times). And there was food and drink and music. Local photographer Dave Wheeler took photographs which capture some of the atmosphere.

Back on Shetland Mainland, we were amused to see that Ann was not our only client to feature in the Shetland Times that week: the New Rope String Band had been in town for the Folk Festival, and had received a glowing review – that doesn’t seem to have made it onto the web site, but The Scotsman described them as "hilariously deranged".

Good advice from unexpected quarters

April 24th, 2010 by Jean Rogers

Yesterday’s Guardian film & music section carries an interesting article about website design. It begins:

In the mid-noughties, Northern Irish power-poppers Ash were signed to a major label and had the website to prove it. "We had a fancy flash site that looked great," says singer/guitarist Tim Wheeler. "It was set up to launch an album, but there was no way of maintaining it or updating it regularly ourselves. It was frustrating because we had to go through webmasters. It was one of those sites you look at once and think, ‘Oh, very good, but why am I here?"

The writer argues that bands need web sites (and, interestingly, that MySpace and Facebook don’t meet this need) and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Regularly changing content is essential ("The worst thing a fan can see when they visit a website is the same thing they saw last time"). Beyond this, go for a style that suits you: don’t feel pressured to be more formal – or more informal! – than is comfortable. A site that reflects your personality is more likely to appeal to your fans.

“Intellectual Property” scam

April 14th, 2010 by Roger Cornwell

Within the past week two customers have received remarkably similar emails from Asian companies which say that they have received an application to register a domain name which is the same as the main part of your domain name (eg, in our case it would be cornwellinternet). They may mention trademark and anti-cybersquatting issues. They ask you to get in touch quickly or they will go ahead and register this domain name which is similar to yours.

This is a scam and you can safely ignore these emails should you receive one. That’s the short version. There is more information here.

And while I’m on the topic of scams, people with international domains (.com, .org) are still receiving letters from Domain Registry of America, Domain Registry of Europe and similarly named enterprises, usually just less than six months before the domain they mention expires and offering to renew it. These too are a scam, see this article. The main give-away here is the 4½pt small print on the back of the letter. Most of our customers let us handle the domain renewal and this is something we do in the three months before expiry (unfortunately we cannot do it any earlier than that). The cost in included in the annual fee.


April 1st, 2010 by Jean Rogers

…to Valerie Laws on her Commendation in the Poetry Society National Poetry Competition for her poem Lifting the Lid.

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