Note to ego: I am a blogger, not a journalist

Last week I wrote about how I was expecting to feature in a couple of upcoming articles for Computer Weekly and The Independent. In future, I should remember that what is said to a journalist is not always the message that makes it to paper and what is written is not always what is published!

My part in Rob Griffin’s how to blog your way to fame and fortune article was short and sweet, but that’s fine – Rob was a nice guy to chat to and getting so much information into 1500 words is always going to mean that there’s only room for a small soundbites from the likes of me. I’m also a techie, whereas the target audience for the article was a typical consumer who’s heard about blogging and wants to give it a go. The original idea was that I might feature in a case study, but in reality I’m a small-time blogger who can cover his hosting costs and buy the odd gadget with his advertising revenue – nowhere near the £2000 a month that the chosen case study (Craig Munro) says is possible. In fact, whilst that figure is theoretically possible, most bloggers won’t get near that sort of income because it would be a full-time task (and someone who can write that much original content could earn more in a proper full-time job).

Computer Weekly’s pretty interfaces alone do not make a business case was slightly disappointing. I was asked to rewrite two existing blog posts into about 500 words for publishing in Computer Weekly. After a few hours of unpaid editing and redrafting, I submitted a piece entitled Windows Vista is finally here… but XP’s not dead yet; however editorial considerations have meant that just over 500 words became just under 300. I’ll admit that what was published was much punchier than my original submission, but it inevitably lost some of the background information and slightly distorted the message (this is what I actually wrote). Still, at least I got a link back to this blog from a well-respected publisher (which may help to drive traffic to the site – a cursory glance over my web stats reveals no evidence of that yet though).

So what should be learnt from this? Firstly, that bloggers are not journalists (at least most of us aren’t). Blogging is a time-consuming creative process that can be fun but is unlikely to make you a fortune. Secondly, print media is a hard world that takes no prisoners. If you submit something for publishing, expect the final result to differ from your original creation.

TalkTalk “free” broadband… here’s the catch

Carphone Warehouse subsidiary TalkTalk‘s free broadband has always sounded too good to be true to me.

Now, one of my colleagues has just alerted a large chunk of our company’s technical staff to the fact that TalkTalk throttle VPN access as if it were peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic. Powerless to cancel his 18-month contract, TalkTalk refuses to do anything to help my colleague as they state that VPN access is for business use and that they offer a residential service.

It seems to me that, for telecoms in general and specifically for broadband, you get what you pay for. I recommend PlusNet – not always great customer service (but not that bad either) but a reliable connection, both when I was on dial-up and since I switched to broadband a few years back. If all you need is a hosting provider, then get in touch with my friends at ascomi.

Anyone else having trouble with TalkTalk might be interested in the Less TalkTalk: More Service – unofficial, unaffiliated TalkTalk blog, although be warned that there are lot of frustrated (and some illiterate) people over there.

Media junkie… Me?

I don’t know how, but all of a sudden this blog has started to generate a lot of interest. I’ve been quietly typing away, on the train, in my spare moments, and often late into the night, for over two years now and what started out as a project to store my notes in a format that was accessible from wherever I happened to be working has become something that I can no longer devote as much time to as I would like. I try to leave tech news to other sites that are better able to cover it but I do occasionally write some opinion posts in between the technical discoveries and presentation brain dumps that I hope are useful to others too.

Quite how they found me I’m not sure, but two journalists have been in touch this week – the first looking for a Windows Vista opinion piece which will hopefully appear in next week’s Computer Weekly and the second writing an article on blogging for this Saturday’s Independent.

Of course, the articles might never appear (or I might not be quoted) but it’s good for my ego to have the occasional burst of minor fame (I was quoted in IT Week a couple of years back, although that was a deliberate PR exercise by my employer at the time), but sadly I won’t be giving up the day job just yet!