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I still love my job…

February 29th, 2012 by Jean Rogers

…even though of late it’s been keeping me too busy to write about it!

One of the things I love about it is that there’s always something new to do. Today for the first time ever, I defined a piece of text as a span in which lang = "sq".

That is, I defined the language of a line of text so that voice browser software (the stuff that reads the contents of the screen to non-sighted surfers) would know that it wasn’t in English, and pronounce it accordingly.

But what language is represented by the abbreviation ‘sq’? Well, here’s a clue: I’m working on an update of the website of sociologist Beryl Nicholson.

Taking to the (air) waves

September 8th, 2011 by Jean Rogers

Mid-September is Cornwell Internet time on Radio 4 – though as always, it’s not about us, it’s about our brilliant and talented clients!

First up is Jenny Lewis, who has just learned that her poem Pushkin is Everything (from her collection Fathom) will be read on BBC Radio 4’s Poetry Please on Sunday 11th September at 4.30 pm, repeated on Saturday 17th at 11.30 pm and available on BBC iPlayer for a while after that.

Meanwhile, on the afternoon of that Saturday (17th September, between 2.30 and 3.30pm), there will be further opportunity for new readers to meet Shetland detective Jimmy Perez when Radio 4 repeats the adaptation by Iain Finlay MacLeod of Ann Cleeves’s Raven Black, the first of her quartet of Shetland murder mysteries – and presumably that, too, will remain available on the iPlayer.

Two treats not to be missed: but since good things are supposed to come in threes, I’m wondering what will be next?

A scammer hangs up

August 8th, 2011 by Roger Cornwell

Yesterday I had an error on my PC where the anti-virus program crashed just after start up. The advice – to reboot – just led to another crash. Fortunately something very similar had happened about 20 months previously and I  managed to resolve it this time by deleting three files, as I had done before.

This morning I had a call from an international number. A woman told me she was from the Windows Support Centre and had I been having problems with my computer? They had received error messages.

“Why yes”, I said, thinking of the previous day’s problem “I have been getting the message TPSrv.exe has requested the runtime to terminate it in an unusual way.”

She then terminated the phone call in the usual way.

That is the second time I have received this type of scam phone call. Even if I weren’t naturally suspicious, it has been the subject of numerous articles, like this one in The Guardian. But people do continue to fall for them, unfortunately.


July 19th, 2011 by Jean Rogers

Earlier this year, Brian Lister of Biscuit Publishing asked us if Cornwell Internet would help out in a fundraising venture. Biscuit regularly runs competitions to discover the best new writing, but now he wanted to do something a little different. He planned to hold a poetry competition on the usual lines, but with the entry fees going to a charity which brings children from Chernobyl for a holiday in Britain. We agreed that, like Biscuit’s printer and typesetter, we would donate the work involved in running this competition on Biscuit’s website.

Today Brian invited us to join him and the children on a visit to Beamish Open Air Museum:

We meet the visiting children

So we’ve taken this morning off to go to Beamish, which is always a pleasure. And the group of children seemed to be enjoying themselves, but they took a break from their picnic to thank us – by performing a song for us (to the tune of a music track on their interpreter’s telephone)! It’s a novel experience to receive a thankyou serenade, but a very pleasant one, and if I didn’t understand the song itself, I understood the ‘Spasibo – thankyou!’ which followed it.

Sometimes you wait all year for a competition…

May 10th, 2011 by Jean Rogers

…and then three come along together!

Since I sometimes post about how very varied my work is, I’m amused to see that today there’s a definite theme.

First I updated the National Crime Writing Week website with news of the shortlisted entries to the Young Crime Writers’ Competition – some very intriguing titles among them.

Then at midday I closed the two competitions run by Biscuit Publishing, one for poetry and one for short stories.

And tonight we’ll be joining Red Squirrel Press for the announcement of the winner of the second Annual James Kirkup Memorial Poetry Competition. Last year’s winning poem was Lesley Mountain’s The Timewasters – it’s going to be a hard act to follow!

What the Poet Laureate is for

April 12th, 2011 by Jean Rogers

Saturday’s Guardian published a poem by Carol Ann Duffy in which she hits back (with a little help from Louis MacNeice’s Bagpipe Music) at the recently announced cuts in Arts Council funding. This would be cheering enough in itself: a Poet Laureate defending poetry, instead of writing pointless verses for pointless royal occasions. A sample:

It’s no go the pamphlet, the gig in Newcastle no go.
All we want is a context for the National Portfolio.

Three little presses went to market, Flambard, Arc and Salt;
had their throats cut ear to ear and now it’s hard to talk.
They remember Thatcher’s Britain. Clegg-Cameron’s is worse., the least of which is verse.

That’s what we call ‘going out in a blaze of glory’, I suppose; but not going out would be better still…

The other award

April 5th, 2011 by Jean Rogers

For over fifty years the Crime Writers’ Association has been awarding its Daggers for the best crime writing of the year. Of late this has been a glittering occasion, with high profile guests, champagne and television cameras in attendance. But the CWA has another, less public, award, given for services to the CWA itself. In autumn 2007 it presented this award, then known as the John Creasey (after the CWA’s founder) to Nicholas Rhea, the author of the books behind the Heartbeat tv series, to mark his retirement after twenty years as Convenor of the Association’s Northern Chapter (read the full story on Nicholas Rhea’s website).

Roger Cornwell and Jean Rogers were presented with a Red Herring award by Tom Harper, retiring Chair of the CWA

This was not at all on my mind last Sunday, when Roger and I went to Darlington to talk the the Crime Writers’ Association conference. We were simply keen to take advantage of the conference being held at a location which was convenient for us, to talk to members about how they could use the promotional features of the website, and to hear from them what more they would like it to offer. We were surprised and thrilled when Tom Harper, retiring Chair of the CWA, presented us with our very own Red Herring, as the award is now known – and if you look at the picture, you’ll see why.

Thank you to Tom and all at the CWA; we are delighted that you are pleased with our work, and you could not have found a nicer way of saying so. And thank you to Claire McGowan, the CWA’s new Director, who took the picture.

Everybody’s got a blog!

March 20th, 2011 by Jean Rogers

I’ve just been adding a couple of links to the website of poet, theatre producer and journalist extraordinaire, Peter Mortimer, and I don’t know which of them best illustrates how widespread blogging has become: this description of Peter’s latest production in the blog of the Ambassador to the Republic of Lebanon, or the fact that Peter himself, a notorious luddite, is now blogging about the production’s progress

Admittedly, Peter’s play Croak the King & a Change in the Weather starring the children of Camp Shatila, is a pretty extraordinary production… (and now you don’t need me to explain why, you can read about it in the words of people who were there).

Celebrating International Women’s Day

March 8th, 2011 by Jean Rogers

Diamond Twig press launched its Poem of the Month feature in September 2003, with Joanna Boulter’s astonishing, shocking, magnificent Still Life with Figs. I won’t claim that we’ve never missed a month since, but we haven’t missed many, and the archive is a store-cupboard full good things, (mostly) new poetry from (mostly) women writers, some better known than others, on topics from the first breath to Judgement Day and from fury to jelly sandals.

2011 marks the centenary of International Women’s Day, and Diamond Twig’s Ellen Phethean has celebrated by choosing not one but five new poems: read them on the Diamond Twig website.

The nineteenth century internet

February 13th, 2011 by Roger Cornwell

One of our clients is the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, founded in 1813, Its learned journal, Archaeologia Aeliana, started with Series 1, volume 1, in 1822. And I have just been reading it on the web. How come?

Harvard University has a copy, and as it is well out of copyright, it has been scanned by Google and uploaded to the Internet Archive, (aka the Wayback Machine) for all to read.

And indeed, you can have it read to you; a bit mechanically (rather as if Stephen Hawking had taken time off from the day job) but quite a boggling technological achievement (go to read online then click on the loudspeaker icon). Optical character recognition is now so well advanced that something printed nearly 200 years ago can be scanned in and recognised, and then interpreted by a voice synthesiser.

And now the Newcastle Antiquaries have linked from their web site to these resources, so that you can read the earliest volumes of their journal.

I’m impressed.

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