Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Too much material

Now that I’ve pulled together most (not even all!) of the material on which I was planning on basing the book on, I find that I’ve way too much. The first cut was nearly 400,000 words but ruthless weeding has taken that down to a mere 170,000 although that’s before I’ve started to collect together some reference information which will likely add another 50k words or so.

In that the collection process could take forever, I’ve decided to make a small start on the writing more as a trial run to see just how much of the material that I have would fit into the book format. So far, it looks like there won’t be a whole lot taken piecemeal and it’s more likely to be a reference for the material that I’ll be writing for the book. That should make the book fresher than it otherwise would have been which I’m sure is a good thing.

Still, at least I’ve made a start now.


Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Finally starting to work on the book: Living in France without a TV crew

We’ve been meaning to settle down to write our book for years now but have only just gotten going properly on the initial stages of it over the last week or so.

Our working title is that of the original incarnation of this blog: Living in France without a TV crew. We figured that we needed at least a working title to focus our attention on what material would go into the book and what wasn’t really that relevant.

We’ve even got a very broad provisional structure:

  1. Choosing a place in France, of which we’ve nothing formally written yet;
  2. Moving in which’ll likely draw mainly on the articles here from 2004-2005;
  3. Some chapters looking in more detail at various aspects eg learning the language, education, etc.;
  4. Moving back, which raised more issues than you’d expect.

To see what we’d already written, I’ve been pulling together the relevant posts from 2004 through to 2009 which, even after loads of deleting, amounts to 322 pages and 180,000 words ie we’ve loads to work with.


Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Happy new decade!

Of course, for the pedants, the new decade actually starts on January 1st 2011 but, as with the millennium, I guess we may as well take the opportunity to celebrate twice.

What a decade we’ve had, eh?

Financially, the first one of the 21st century has been very much a rollercoaster  ride for the world and many of the people within it. The 21st century didn’t start overly well and the last decade finished on the worst downer for many a year. The last time it was so serious was way back in the 1930s and that took the 2nd world war to pull the world out in the end. This time, supposedly, we know better and have had loads of time to develop economic theories which’ll pull us out. Sounds good, but the minor fly in that ointment is that we went into this depression with those theories in place and they obviously didn’t work too well, did they?

Technologically the 21st century has been a major disappointment. Not only do we not have the promised flying cars predicted (well, not yet) but we’ve lost supersonic commercial travel, almost lost the hovercraft, lost the amphibious cars that we had in the 1960s and still don’t have a moon base. On the plus side we do have a space station, the beginnings of commercial space travel and the Mars mission is back in the frame. Electonics-wise the computers are lots faster, the storage lots bigger and we think nothing of “image processing” these days because even the cheapest digital camera does much more of it than the NASA computers ever did for the moon shots. From the science fiction world we can buy the Star Trek communicators for virtually nothing and the PAD (ebook reader) sales are finally taking off. Yet to come are things like warp drive (several theories postulate potential ways of doing it but it’s on the distant horizon) and the transporter (one that seems to have all kinds of theoretical and ethical problems at present).

Socially, we have all the tools in place from 1984 and have only the totalitarian state remaining to complete the picture. That’s perhaps the most worrying development in many ways as the technology making the 1984 scenario possible seems much more effective than the version sketched out in the novel would ever have been. On more positive fronts, the derogatory “self-publishing” of yesteryear is now everywhere and so widespread that we don’t even have a collective term for it these days.

So what’s likely to come up during the coming decade? All being well financially things will get back on an even keel though somehow I suspect that it’s likely to be past the mid-point of the decade before we can truly say we’re getting through to the promised land. We still won’t have a base on Mars but at least we should be seeing the first stages of serious design for the mission well before 2019. Computers will, as always, be a whole lot faster and the storage will fill up just as quickly. Somehow I can’t see us going for the 300 megapixel cameras that would be doable by 2019 but I imagine that 3D ones will be the order of the day by then. Books may well have bitten the dust by then as the ebook readers should be in full colour and probably 3D capable by 2019 with a price close to that of a single hard back book. Time travel seems to be gaining a growing interest so perhaps we’ll even see the earliest developments on that front during the decade which is the one thing I reckon would spur on the first contact with aliens (sorry guys, but warp capable civilisations would present virtually no danger compared to those that could travel in time).

What about moi? Well, James will have gone through primary school and be close to starting university by 2019 which is a whole heap of changes to think about. Assuming that I continue on my present rambling journey through the OU I will have clocked up at least one more degree and perhaps getting around to settling down to do a doctorate by then. Dear knows where we’ll be living by then. I’d be betting that it won’t be France but aside from that who knows? Work-wise, it’s hard to believe but I should be within spitting distance of retirement by that point.

So Happy New Decade! Here’s hoping that the new one will at least finish much better than the last one did.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

The McDonalds approach to blogging

Thanks to the free wifi service offered in McDonalds it seems to be attracting an increasing number of itinerant bloggers.

Almost every time we’ve been in lately (and, yes, we’re one of that band of McD bloggers whilst we wait for our ADSL connection) we’ve seen someone whipping out the laptop in a relatively quiet part of the restaurant. Thus far, our record is four separate surfers but I’m sure that’s a record that’ll soon be broken.

It’s not really surprising that they’re attracting these folk: after all that word “free” is quite a pull. What is more surprising though is that the majority of these people are lugging around full size laptops rather than running with the likes of my trusty Aspire One. After all, at under £200 for quite a usable machine it’s not out of the question to buy one pretty much just for the holidays and these days you can even get them “free” with some broadband packages.

Is it a worthwhile marketing strategy for McD though? Well, in that the restaurants obviously need a connection of some sort for their credit card machines it’s largely a no-cost service for them so there’d appear to be no downside in offering it. Moreover, few of the itinerant surfers leave without buying something so it would appear to be all upside for McD at the moment. Whether that would continue to be the case were significant numbers of surfers to start using the stores is another matter. It certainly works fine if there are a handful of people using the service but if there were, say, 10 or more then a) the seats are going to be taken up and b) the service is going to slow down. Still, at the moment, it seems like a great idea.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Now that Nightjack’s blog identity has been sprung and bloggers are no longer anonymous anymore, perhaps it’s time to “out” the anonymous newspaper correspondents and sources too?

Thanks to the Times it seems that bloggers no longer have the priviledge of anonymity. To be fair in the case of Nightjack the police who he worked for were closing in on him and would probably have worked out who he was fairly soon even without the aid of the Times.

However, now that the Times have removed the anonymity for bloggers, perhaps it is time that the same cloak of anonymity was removed from newspapers too? After all why should the foreign correspondent who wished to remain anonymous be allowed to do so by the Asia Times (no relation to the London Times as far as I know)? Sure, chances are the Chinese would have thrown them out of the country or perhaps something a little less subtle, but after all if Justice Eady can “blogging is essentially a public rather than a private activity” how much more so does that apply in the case of newspapers? Can we take it as read that the practice of having anonymous columnists will be ended forthwith?

Now, I’ll grant that there were special circumstances in the case of Nightjack in that Richard’s blog was a little too real and appears to have compromised some cases that he talked about but that’s a separate issue. The key think is that Justice Eady’s comments are way too far reaching. Taken to their ultimate conclusion and you could easily see the end of criticism in totalitarian states which, thanks to blogging, was finally finding a voice of sorts where previously it had none. The situation of newspapers is no different: why should their sources be protected any differently? After all, they’re talking to a news outlet so why should they have any expectation of anonymity?

Why should newspapers be allowed the protection of anonymity when bloggers have lost it?

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.