Tag Archives: online

More play time for writers :)

My thanks to Dancingpalmtrees for introducing me to this fun app:

https://www.plot-generator.org.uk/m1bt/curse-of-surreal-pipe.html

The example you see there was created by Dancingpalmtrees, and she kindly gave me permission to use it to show you what the app does. 😀

To give it a try yourselves, just scroll down a little until you reach a big green button that says ‘Write a horror plot like this’.

That button will take you to a kind of form where you simply fill in the blanks with whatever takes your fancy. When you’re finished, the app. will scramble it all up and create a ‘story’ out of the elements you’ve provided.

Alternatively, you can scroll all the way down to the bottom of the screen to a button that says ‘Create New’. Clicking this button takes you to a screen where you can choose to create something in sci-fi, romance, like the Bronte sisters etc, etc. Select whichever options appeals to you, click it and you’ll get the same form. Just fill it in and sit back to have a good giggle.

Go on, give it a go! You’re welcome. 😀

cheers
Meeks


My new obsession – #jigsaw puzzles

I play games because I hate being bored, but sometimes the opportunity to be bored only lasts for a few minutes – that’s where these super-small, online jigsaw puzzles come in:

jigsaw fox up the tree

The one you can see in the screenshot above is called ‘Fox up in the tree’, and you can find it at the following link:

http://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=0f689df1af8e

The #FREE jigsaw puzzles available on Jigsawplanet.com range from 300 pieces to just 4 [perfect for little kids]. The Fox puzzle shown in the screenshot is made up of only 12 pieces and took me just 36 seconds to complete…and I’m about 3 times slower than the people with the best times!

Another nice thing about Jigsawplanet is that you don’t have to register to do the puzzles. The only time you have to go to any effort at all – and that’s not much – is if you want to create your own puzzles. Yes, your own! My effort is not going to win any prizes but it was fun :

jigsaw alpacas

Basically, you:

  • sign up to jigsawplanet.com
  • click on ‘Create’
  • select a good quality photo from your computer
  • upload it to jigsawplanet.com
  • select the type of cuts you want – i.e. shapes – and how many and…that’s it. 😀

The very nicest thing about jigsawplanet.com, however, is that all the puzzles are created by ordinary people so the variety is never-ending.

If you have a few minutes to spare, try it out.

cheers

Meeks


Canva for ebook covers

Never heard of Canva? Don’t worry, neither had I until this morning. Canva is a [free-ish] online graphics program? facility? that allows us cash-strapped writers to design our own ebook covers. It also allows us to do a lot of other things, but I only needed an ebook cover so that’s what I played with.

After doing the 2 minute tutorial, I spent about an hour playing with the graphics and, I have to say, I am very impressed. The image below is a draft of the cover I came up with for Innerscape:

innerscape cover draft

The cross hatching is part of the watermark [along with the name CANVA in the middle of the image]. The reason for the watermark is that I chose 2 non-free images for the cover – the landscape and the picture frame. Each image costs $1 – yes, that was not a typo, just one solitary dollar – for both personal and commercial use. So all up, my costs would have been $2.

I was very tempted to just pay my money and be done with it, but they have a special deal whereby you can buy 11 images for ten dollars, and I thought ‘oh, parts 3 & 4, and 5 & 6….’.

-cough-

Anyway, a bit about the design. The final, ‘real’ cover will have a different graphic on it, but for the moment I like the idea of mirror images and worlds within worlds and the visual tension of seeing the title as a not-so-subtle price tag. Paradise is only for the rich, after all.

Of course that could all be a bit of BS – there is a reason why I’m a writer not a graphics designer. -sigh-

Once you are ready to download your newly created image/cover, you are given the option of either paying for any non-free images you have used, or downloading a draft. I haven’t tried the paid option but assume it is the same as the draft one – you get to choose between downloading a 70 DPI resolution image or a 300 DPI pdf file.

DPI stands for dots per inch so 70 DPI would give you a reasonable resolution [as in my cover image] but nothing great. The good thing about it is that it doesn’t chew up your bandwidth. My image weighs in at about 75 kb, which is next to nothing. When I downloaded the 300 DPI pdf however, it took quite a while to download and was HUGE. Well over a megabyte of data.

I would use the 300 DPI for actual print covers but not for ebook covers. Finding the right balance for the cover image will require a bit of trial and error so that it looks good but doesn’t take half an hour to download.

Oh and one last thing. I converted the 300 DPI pdf file to a more reasonably sized jpg file but discovered that my version of the software didn’t include the fonts used by CANVA. My app substituted similar fonts but you can see that they do not look quite right. Next time I’ll either use fonts that I know I have, or I won’t mess with the image. 🙂

And for those who might like to play with CANVA themselves, here’s the link to a great Indies Unlimited tutorial on how to use it.

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2015/05/11/canva-for-free-ebook-covers-and-more/

Comments? Please feel free to let rip. I haven’t paid for anything so you’re not going to hurt my feelings or my wallet. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


Real stats about online harassment

We all know that statistics can be twisted to prove just about anything, so the first thing I do when I stumble across any research is to check its provenance [as much as possible]. In this case, the stats relating to online harassment come from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. They claim that they take “…no positions on policy issues related to the internet”. I’m not sure I’d accept that statement at face value from any organisation, but in this instance, I can’t see the point of any bias.

In terms of accuracy, I’d be more inclined to question the survey technique itself as it relies on ‘self assessment’ rather than some kind of objective observation. Nonetheless, with a large enough sample size, statistical trends about what we think we feel/know/experience tend to be more accurate.

Gah, enough caveats; on to the data itself. You can find the full report on the Pew Research Centre website :

http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/10/22/online-harassment/

For me, the points that made little bells go off in my head were these :

“Fully 92% of internet users agreed that the online environment allows people to be more critical of one another, compared with their offline experiences. But a substantial majority, 68%, also agreed that online environments allow them to be more supportive of one another. Some 63% thought online environments allow for more anonymity than in their offline lives.”

The researchers do not connect the dots, but I find it hard not to do so. Anonymity is the digital equivalent of wearing a mask, or a balaclava; it allows us to indulge the parts of ourselves we usually hide.

In the real world, we have to be diplomatic in order to get on with others in our families, friendship groups, work groups etc. Online, however, anonymity allows us to vent the thoughts and feelings we usually censor. Why? Because we can get away with it.

By the same token, people who do not hide behind anonymous identities online may feel the need to be ‘nicer’ than they might be in real life. Why? Because their online reputation filters back to real life, and no one wants to be seen as ‘nasty’ or ‘selfish’.

[Does that mean I’m nastier in real life than online? Gawd, I hope not, but I probably wouldn’t admit to it even if it were true…]

Whether your views on human nature are as cynical as mine, one thing does stand out from the data – there is an awful lot of nastiness going on. Have a look at this graph:

anonymity stats 2

 

Now I don’t want to flog a dead horse, but the scale of the problems caused by anonymity really is huge. And we have to do something about it.

Given how inventive we humans can be, I hope that we can bring civilisation to the internet whilst still protecting those who genuinely do need to remain anonymous, but long term, our behaviour must have consequences or we’ll destroy the very thing that makes the internet so wonderful.

My thanks to the Passive Guy for spreading the word about this research.

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 

 

 


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