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Freelance writing

The SS Great Britain in Bristol

by Dean on August 3, 2010

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

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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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.
[click to continue…]

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Freelance writing: Accounting Technician

by Dean on March 2, 2010

Sony Vaio P2 Freelance writing: Accounting Technician

Here are a few examples from the technology/gadgets columns that I’ve written for Accounting Technician magazine.

Sony Cyber-shot T90
Considering that the back of the Cyber-shot T90 features a 3-inch LCD, there’s very little extra room for traditional buttons. So this 12.1 Megapixel snapper is touchscreen-controlled, giving you quick and easy access to features such as enhanced face and smile detection. The T90’s optical SteadyShot technology minimises any image blur while the 720p movie mode is capable of capturing high definition (HD) video clips. It’s yours to own in black, blue, brown, silver or Barbie doll pink.

Sony VAIO P
Netbooks are typically pitched as cut-down, cut-price alternatives to traditional laptops. But, as the existence of the beautiful VAIO P-series proves, Sony doesn’t really do ‘cheap’. The stylish VGN-P11Z, for example, costs £750. But what you get for your money is an ultra-lightweight laptop with a fast processor, incredible 8-inch display, 2GB of memory and 60GB-worth of storage. Wi-Fi connectivity is supplemented by 3G mobile broadband. How small is it? Sony’s adverts show it fitting into the back pocket of a pair of jeans…

Sony Ericsson Satio
Poor old Sony Ericsson. Once a mobile phone colossus, it’s since been toppled by the likes of Apple, Samsung, LG and HTC. Hopes of a revival are pinned firmly to the good-looking Satio, a lightweight, touch-sensitive smartphone that boasts a 3.5-inch (640×360 pixel) display, 8GB of memory, built-in Wi-Fi and GPS.

Sony Ericsson is keen to emphasise that the Satio can provide the “ultimate multimedia experience”. So new music, movies, apps and games can be easily downloaded from its PlayNow arena online store. While the inclusion of a 12.1 Megapixel camera with Xenon flash instantly makes the Satio one of the most powerful camera phones around.

The return of 3D TV
While 2009 only teased the delights of 3D TV, this will be the year that stereoscopic technology really starts to fly. 3D has already been a big hit in cinemas, with Pixar’s Up and James Cameron’s eye-melting Avatar packing in the crowds.

Now it’s coming into your living room. Sky is planning to broadcast a mix of movies, entertainment shows and sporting events in 3D; 25 World Cup games from South Africa will be shown in 3D; while a new ‘Blu-ray 3D’ standard promises more jump-out-of-the-screen content this summer. Of course, you’ll need a 3D-capable telly. But LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, JVC and Sony will all be happy to sell you one.

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Freelance writing: Orange Exchange

by Dean on February 25, 2010

netting new customers Freelance writing: Orange Exchange

Over the past year, I’ve been a regular contributor to Orange Exchange, a magazine published by John Brown for Orange and aimed at their business customers.

Recent articles for Orange Exchange have varied from straight technology write-ups to more in-depth business features. They include:

Windows Mobile vs. Android

“Is an Android-powered smartphone better than a new Windows Phone? Or vice-versa? Discuss…” A short piece that looks at the strengths of both mobile operating systems and the benefits for business customers.

New accessories for Orange customers

Four of the best accessories for your Orange handset, including the Jawbone PRIME handsfree kit and Parrot in-car Bluetooth solutions.

Netting new customers

“A typical visitor to your website will decide whether or not they like it (and want to stay) in the first eight seconds. That’s eight seconds to fulfil a user’s search query; eight seconds to provide the answer to a visitor’s question; or eight seconds to make a sale. An optimised website is vital if you want to promote your business, engage your customers and encourage sales…”

Top 7 iPhone apps

From Facebook to QuickOffice and Nearest Tube.

How mobile working will boost your business

Why using the latest smartphones, laptops and mobile broadband technology, flexible working initiatives have the potential to slash office costs, improve morale and light a rocket under your productivity.

Orange Exchange also has an online version, so you can find many of these articles at www.orangeexchange.co.uk.

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Kimou Meyer (aka Grotesk) interview

by Dean on November 5, 2009

grotesk kimou meyer interview Kimou Meyer (aka Grotesk) interview

New York-based graphic designer Kimou Meyer also goes by the name ‘Grotesk’.

Below is a snippet of an interview with Meyer written for Computer Arts Projects magazine. It talks about Meyer’s design philosophy, his tenure as Creative Director at Zoo York and his plans for the future.

The name [Grotesk] is perfect for Meyer, who was born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland. He can trace his passion for art back to teenage days of spray-painting Genevan brick with local graffiti artist DEKA.

From there, he absorbed all that La Cambre art school in Brussels could teach him, before moving to New York to work for Base Design and Ecko Unlimited.

As a creative freelancer, he’s worked for big-hitters such as Nike, Uniqlo, Stussy and Virgin Records. Until recently he was the Creative Director of Zoo York, a feisty, East Coast streetwear brand heavily influenced by skateboarding, graffiti, hip-hop, punk and “everything inbetween.”

Like many graphic designers, the secret to Meyer’s success is a combination of raw talent and punishing hard work.

He describes his style as: “neo-retro sarcastic bold and minimal, with simple shapes and a straightforward message.” His work is edgy, urban and often provocative, featuring strong elements of satire and social commentary.

It’s an artistic approach that has its roots back in Switzerland, where Meyer says he grew up in a “socialist household with a mom heavily involved in politics.” But his inspiration oozes from New York (he currently lives in Brookyln), which Meyer describes as “like the entire planet in one city.”

The full article appears in Computer Arts Projects, issue 130.

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Review – PagePlus X4

by Dean on October 4, 2009

pageplus review Review   PagePlus X4

PagePlus X4 offers professional-looking DTP results without a hefty price tag. This is an excerpt from a review written for PC Plus magazine (issue 288).

PagePlus knows its place. Along with Microsoft Office Publisher, it shies away from targeting pro designers to pitch its wares at small business users and enthusiastic amateurs.

InDesign might be powerful, but it can also be notoriously unfriendly to new users. There’s not so much a learning curve involved but a sheer learning cliff face. Made of ice. If all you want to do is knock up a parish newsletter or car boot sale flyer, spending £684 on InDesign CS4 is overkill.

In comparison, PagePlus X4 ducks in well under the £100 mark. That makes it over £600 cheaper than InDesign, yet it never truly feels like a bargain-bucket DTP package.

Much of the same page layout functionality is present, enabling you to design brochures, business cards, flyers, newsletters, posters and even web pages. What makes PagePlus X4 stand out is its friendly usability. The learning curve here is a more of a gentle hill, well-signposted and with buses that run every half-hour.

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British design pioneers

by Dean on September 28, 2009

british design British design pioneers

Here are excerpts from four profile pieces written for Computer Arts projects magazine (issue 129). The brief was to focus on designers whose work is recognisably and quintessentially British…

Profile #1: Banksy

Everybody knows British graffiti artist Banksy. And yet nobody really knows him. He may (or may not) have been born in Bristol in the mid-1970s. He may (or may not) be the son of a photocopier technician. Only a few people have ever met Banksy. The Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone has, describing him as a cross between “Jimmy Nail and British rapper Mike Skinner”. While some artists revel in their fame, Banksy’s anonymity is a refreshing diversion in a culture obsessed with celebrity.

Profile #2: Jonathan Ive

Jonathan Ive isn’t one for speaking out. Shy and quietly focused, the senior vice president of Industrial Design at Apple is rarely interviewed. And even when he is, the British-born designer rarely gives anything away. He lets his design portfolio do the talking – the candy-coloured iMacs, iPods, MacBooks, Powerbooks and, most recently, the iPhone. Ive’s imagination is steered by a simplicity and purity that sits perfectly with Apple’s commitment to invention and innovation…

Profile #3: Matthew Carter

The Design Museum has called Matthew Carter the “most important typography designer of our time” and it’s easy to see why. His typefaces have defined magazines including Time, Newsweek, Wired and National Geographic; and newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post and The Guardian. He also developed the Verdana font for Microsoft, which revolutionised text display on computer screens. With over 70 fonts to his name, Matthew Carter’s typographical work has been viewed by billions…

Profile #4: Jonathan Barnbrook

The Design Museum proclaims Jonathan Barnbrook as “one of the UK’s most active graphic designers.” It says that he has pioneered the notion of “graphic design with a social conscience” and “makes strong statements about corporate culture, consumerism, war and international politics.” Barnbrook Design was founded in 1990 and continues to produce a steady mix of print and film work including CD covers, motion graphics, corporate identities, typefaces, magazines and books…

The full text of these profiles appears in Computer Arts Projects magazine, issue 129.

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