When do harmless mistakes matter?

harmless mistakes matterThere’s little surer way of asking for trouble than arguing about rules that are routinely ignored by the masses. A mixture of ignorance and apathy can lead to the dismissal of all sorts of rules in life – some that don’t warrant attention, others that, if you really think about it, should be upheld. This is as true with the English language as anywhere else – where there are mistakes which matter and mistakes that don’t. A recent trip to a bar and restaurant highlighted the difference for me. Continue reading

Introducing the Grammar of Word Order and Sentence Structure

sentence structure guideEver wanted to brush up on all the basics of how a sentence fits together? My grammar guide, Word Order in English Sentences, can help. I’ve been spending less time publishing things online recently as I’ve been working on improving this as one of my earlier works, and preparing it for publication in print. It was originally designed as a brief guide for foreign students of English, but has a practical application for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of how sentences fit together.  Continue reading

60 days to raise £75,000…

crowdfunding campaignFrom January 25th, we have 60 days to raise £75,000. The goal? To bring Mifinder to market. The fund is being raised as a crowdfunding campaign, giving anyone a chance to get involved In exchange for a percentage in our company, Silicon Networks Ltd. It’s a project I previously covered in detail here, and in the time since that article we’ve had a soft launch which has already built interest. We’re jumping into the full public campaign now, so it’s time to make a bit more noise about it!

Anyone can be a part of this campaign, for as little as £11.16 – which buys you 2 shares in the company. Unlike a Kickstarter or similar ‘rewards’-based crowdfund, this one makes anyone who signs up a part owner of the company – meaning when we make money our backers will too. So now’s the time to get involved, and if you’ve already got involved thank you, and we’ll do everything we can to make you a return, but please do share the campaignWe’ll be seeking out larger investors throughout the campaign ourselves, but every little helps in raising awareness of what we’re doing.  Continue reading

Do you want to be a part of Mifinder?

mifinder crowdfunding campaignOur social support platform Mifinder is crowdfunding, and, being a public venture, I’d like to share what we’re doing with my network, for anyone who wants to get involved.

For the past few years I have been working with my friend and colleague Gabriel Saclain on Mifinder. It’s a free iOS app that connects people based on shared life experiences, to reduce isolation and build social support networks. An early test version is already available for free from the Apple store, we’ve built an excellent team of board members and advisers, and we are now raising funds to expand the service and bring the platform to market. 

Having already secured initial funding from angel investors, we are opening the investment opportunity to members of the public, in the spirit of community that the platform is founded on. Through the popular crowdfunding site Seedrs, we’re offering equity in the company in return for investment. Continue reading

Narrative Adverts: right and wrong ways to tell a story

narrative adverts right and wrongDuring frequent recent trips to the cinema, I’ve been inordinately exposed to the San Miguel advert that insists there’s a beer with an interesting story. It’s 29been bothering me for a while, but it didn’t bear dwelling on until I happened to be exposed to Johnnie Walker’s The Man Who Walked Around the World from some six years ago (while at whisky school, if you must know). That video shone a candle on everything that’s wrong with the San Miguel advert, and made me realise how much, between them, the two adverts say about a good narrative. Continue reading

The dangers of writing for mass appeal

danger writing mass appealBack in my fledgling days of writing blogs, I made a faux pas of giving a client’s (rather technical) article an overhaul into language that was light, readable and accessible by everyone. What was once a very niche topic could now be enjoyed by all. I was very politely told that no, they preferred the original version, to suit what people in the industry expect. The original, in all fairness, was not bad – it wasn’t unclear, or inaccurate, it just wasn’t something that could be read easily by all. I’d allowed myself to get so bogged down in the swamp of content sharing, awash with this style gets more readers, snappy headlines get clicks and the immortal keep it simple, that I’d forgotten that not all audiences are the same – and not everyone had to read this article, only the right people. Continue reading

Combating clichéd thinking – change your starting point

cliche writingGiven a fairly unoriginal brief, or a marketing stance that lacks certain imagination, it’s all too natural for clichés to start flooding your mind when you come. So what if you hit that terrible stumbling block when, for everything you try, you keep coming back to the same clichés? Consider that unoriginal starting point, that unimaginative bridge, and reposition yourself. Continue reading

How to justify expensive dining

expensive diningMy wife and I went to a cafe at the weekend, where they said the potato hashes were amazing. We’d heard about it from a few different sources. A cramped diner with plastic sheets, and a massive plate of basically all the component parts of a Full English breakfast mashed together in some magnificent mess. It was, as you may predict, amazing. It also cost £8.10. An expensive dining experience for what it was, if you consider that a bit of potato and some diced sausage probably amounts to a few pence of produce. Relative to a pleasant evening meal in Brighton it’s a pittance, but relative to similar experiences this was an expensive breakfast. And all value, after all, is relative. So why was it worth it?

Continue reading

Screaming for creative problem solving

screaming for creativitySomewhere down the road from me there is a woman who screams at her children every morning before they leave for school. For reasons unknown, they are never ready on time and seem to perpetually neglect the need to brush their teeth. So, like clockwork, we are blessed with the screeching alarm of a frustrated mother yelling “Do you teeth, NOW!” with the admonition “I will not be late for work because of you!” This morning, like always, such yelling did not appear to have the desired effect, as ten minutes passed and she was still shouting for the same thing. One of the children started crying, and a few extra phrases were thrown into her usual mix – “Shut up!” and “No, you should say sorry to me!”

It would appear that the very thing she’d hoped would spur these disobedient children along had actually made her more late than ever. Continue reading

How to Use Grammar to Rewrite Sentences

grammar rewrite sentenceA solid understanding of English fundamentals allows for some very flexible sentence structures. Rules can be bent, complex ideas rearranged, and ideas rewritten – either for variety, adding spice to your texts, or simply to restate something in a different way (useful if you want to regurgitate other people’s ideas, for example). This is a subject I’d originally focused on from a foreign learner’s perspective, but came to realise it’s something all writers in English might benefit from taking a closer look at. To explore it fully, I’ve broken down an example sentence to demonstrate ways that English sentences can be rearranged. Continue reading