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Web content writing: ActiveDad

by Dean on October 11, 2010

This blog is now part of The Good Content Company. Thanks for stopping by!

gocart27 Web content writing: ActiveDad

I’ve recently been doing some work on ActiveDad, a new blog by Republic Publishing. It’s a parenting blog, but not in the traditional sense. So you won’t find any advice about potty training, pregnancy or how to deal with temper tantrums from a two year-old.

Instead, it’s about ways that dads can give their kids an exciting childhood. Ideas for great days out with your kids, science experiments, toys, games, adventures, hobbies and advice. It’s about tree houses and go-karts; balloon rockets and scalextric. Here are just some of the articles that I’ve written for the site so far:
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The SS Great Britain in Bristol

by Dean on August 3, 2010

ss great britain The SS Great Britain in Bristol

Here you will find an extract of a feature article (entitled “Incredible Journey”) written for Heritage magazine.

The article takes a look at the SS Great Britain attraction in Bristol, the ship’s long and often surprising history, plus why it’s a great place to visit…

Visiting the SS Great Britain today it’s hard to imagine the rusted hulk that was rescued from the Falklands. The 322ft-long ‘grand iron lady’ has been painstakingly restored to her former glory and is presented as she would have looked on her launch day.

Rebuilt, repainted and seemingly afloat on a glass sea, which allows visitors to take a stroll around the ship’s hull, the SS Great Britain represents a significant turning point in maritime technology. It boasted the biggest iron hull ever built, a revolutionary six-bladed propeller instead of paddle wheels, unsinkable lifeboats and the world’s most powerful steam engine. Think of her as the Concorde of the 19th century.

She was the embodiment of Brunel’s grand vision. Working for the Great Western Steamship Company, his idea was to extend the reach of the Great Western Railway to New York. Passengers would be able to travel from London to Bristol by train, stay in a hotel overnight, before boarding the luxurious SS Great Britain for the transatlantic journey the next day. All on just a single ticket.

Sadly, the SS Great Britain never carried passengers from Bristol and was never quite the success that Brunel or the GWSC hoped for. Instead, the SS Great Britain sailed from Liverpool between 1845 and 1846, before running aground off the coast of Northern Ireland and bankrupting her owners. Stranded for almost a year, Brunel’s leviathan ship was finally refloated and sold on to Gibbs Bright & Co who had very different plans for her…

The full article was published in the July 2010 issue of Heritage magazine.

Photo by markpeate

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Recent book reviews for SFX magazine

by Dean on July 9, 2010

book reviews sfx Recent book reviews for SFX magazine

In addition to my work for Orange, the National Trust, TechRadar and others, I’m also an occasional book reviewer for brilliant sci-fi/fantasy mag SFX. My recent reviews have included:

City of Dreams and Nightmare

On a foolhardy mission to reach the roof of Thaiburley, trespassing street-nick Tom witnesses an ambitious arkademic murder his rival.

Shrugging off magical attempts to restrain him, Tom flees down through Thaiburley’s Rows towards his home turf in the City Below. He’s pursued by Dewar, an assassin, and Tylus, a flying policeman with a cape that acts like a stunt kite…

Ambassador’s Mission

Reading Trudi Canavan’s newest fantasy novel is like wrapping yourself up in a towel that’s been left on the radiator overnight. The Ambassador’s Mission has a warm, satisfying cosiness to it, wrapping you up in the continuing story of Sonea and Cery from Canavan’s earlier Black Magician trilogy.

Of course, this familiar feel doesn’t mean that it’s a great towel. To be honest, it’s a little thin. As the opening salvo in the new Traitor Spy series, you can’t help feeling that there are better towels to come.

The Griffin Mage trilogy: Books 1 & 2

Like an old Hitchcock movie, Lord Of The Changing Winds starts surprisingly quickly, confidently and revs into second gear before you’ve had time to put your feet up. By page 26, in fact, when a young farm girl named Kes is abducted from her village by a shape-shifting griffin mage…

Black Lung Captain

For anyone who hasn’t read Chris Wooding’s rip-roaring Retribution Falls, try to imagine Firefly meets Pirates of the Caribbean, a light-hearted dose of steampunkery that mixes cutlasses and grog with giant airships.

The sequel, Black Lung Captain, continues the tale of freebooting, quip-happy Cap’n Darian Frey. Also returning is hiscrew of rough-hewn characters who the description ‘rag-tag’ fits as snugly as ‘Shiver me’ does to ‘timbers’.

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national trust Web content and UAT at the National Trust

Since January I’ve been working at the National Trust HQ in Swindon, helping the Digital Media team revamp and relaunch its website.

The National Trust owns over 400 heritage properties in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. These include historic castles, manors, halls and houses, landscape gardens, mills, woodland, parks, areas of coastline, even a whole village*.

The work has been a mix of writing/subbing, content optimisation and ongoing User Acceptance Testing (UAT) of the NT’s new CMS and next-gen website features.

The writing work has predominantly covered filling in the editorial blanks on hundreds of their UK property pages, updating and generating appropriate copy, editing and subbing existing text, uploading images, not to mention adding captions and metadata for SEO.

You can see the results at: www.nationaltrust.org.uk

* The village of Lacock in Wiltshire, UK. Just in case you were wondering.

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18 iPhone apps for 3D artists

by Dean on June 28, 2010

sketchbook mobile 18 iPhone apps for 3D artists

The title here pretty much gives the game away. 3D World magazine asked me to:

“find and summarise/review a selection of practical apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Ideally, these will feature a 3D aspect – such as sculpting or viewing meshes…”

The brief asked for copy that briefly explained what each featured app attempted to do and an opinion of whether it achieved its aim.

In short: was the app useful? Could it potentially boost your productivity? Or was it just eye-candy software with some short-lived novelty value? [click to continue…]

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Building the ultimate media PC

by Dean on June 27, 2010

ASrock S330 case Building the ultimate media PC

PCs and the living room have had an awkward relationship over the years because of one thing: noise.

But no more: new advancements in technology have produced quiet machines that still have the grunt needed to handle HD video streaming and more…

In this technology feature for PC Plus (republished on TechRadar.com), the brief was to pull together a list of cutting-edge components for the ‘ultimate TV PC’, along with the software that would bring it to life.

The result? A compact, whisper-quiet mini PC based around an Zotac Ion N330 Ion ITX-AB motherboard and a Compucase Mini ITX (8K01) casing.

Read the full article here: Build yourself the ultimate media PC.

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Learning new skills

by Dean on March 8, 2010

Post image for Learning new skills

Have you ever turned down a job because you didn’t have the necessary skills?

Clients are increasingly expecting more from freelancers as new design projects criss-cross different media platforms. It’s why many illustrators and designers are keen to boost their creative know-how by trying out new things such as animation, 3D modelling and web design.

This typically means jumping in at the deep-end with new software, such as Cinema 4D, Maya, 3dsMax, After Effects, HTML or Flash. But it’s not as hard as you might think and the long-term rewards usually outweigh any short-term pain.
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Freeview HD: 10 things you need to know

by Dean on March 6, 2010

Post image for Freeview HD: 10 things you need to know

Freeview is easily the most successful digital TV technology in the country.

We’re a nation of telly-watchers who generally don’t like to pay a monthly subscription to watch EastEnders. That’s what the BBC license fee is for.

So forget about Sky+ HD, there’s another way to get your high-def kicks without a direct debit. Freeview HD is incoming and here’s all you need to know…

1. Freeview HD is already broadcasting
Freeview HD transmissions were switched on in December 2009. But the availability of the service was limited to the Winter Hill TV transmitters in the North West (covering Preston, Blackburn, Bolton, Manchester and Liverpool) and the Crystal Palace group in London.
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The tech to expect in your next TV

by Dean on March 4, 2010

cinema 219 The tech to expect in your next TV

Everybody is talking about 3D TV.

This year’s CES was buzzing about it. Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba and LG all showed off 3D-capable HDTVs, some with 2D-to-3D video conversion technology that claims to add depth to existing content on the fly.

More recently, Sky made broadcast history by showing Arsenal vs Manchester United in 3D. Later this year, Blu-ray 3D will bring high definition 3D movies into your living room. A 3D revolution looks inevitable, albeit slow to unfold.

Of course, 3D is also a convenient way for manufacturers to sell more HDTVs. Plummeting telly prices continue to benefit consumers – you can pick up a 5-star rated Samsung LE32B550 for less than £400.

But cheap HDTVs have also dented the profits of the big hardware manufacturers. It’s why they’ll be trying to convince you that your current HDTV is already out of date. Yes, it might have optimised gaming modes, DLNA connectivity, LED backlighting and internet widgets. But we bet your HDTV doesn’t have…

You can read the full article on Techradar.com, which goes on to talk about Organic Light Emitting Diodes, quad pixels, multi-core processing power and lenticular lenses.

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Website copywriting: Real Success

by Dean on March 4, 2010

real success website copywriting Website copywriting: Real Success

Working in association with MSE Design in Birmingham, I was commissioned to rewrite the copy for the new Real Success website.

Real is a performance coaching business providing mentoring, training and support. Its services are all geared to helping individuals and businesses grow and to realise their full potential.

The brief was to edit down the content, get the core benefits of the business across quickly, and make the copy more “web friendly”.

You can see the results at: www.real-success.co.uk.

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