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Blogging What?

I've been wondering lately what to write on the blog. I want to write but sometimes I struggle for ideas about what to write. As Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith said in 1949, “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”

If only it was that easy!

I suspect the majority of bloggers did the same thing I did and turned to Google for help. Searching for blogging ideas turns up pages of "101 best blogging…", or "35 Blog topics that work", etc. But mostly these are just the same 75-150 ideas reworded and regurgitated for people. Not much use if you want to create some content which isn't just a "cookie-cutter" blog, or marketing site disguised as a blog.

Any time spent on this blog will quickly show you that there is a variety of topics. Computer stuff, language stuff, writing, and so on. The reason is of course that I'm writing about stuff which interests me and things I do, or would like to do. This means that most of the "101 best blogging ideas" aren't relevant to me, and have no interest.

The only real "theme" for the blog, is I'm interested. So all the advice about stick to a theme for your blog, or keep on target, or determine your market, don't apply. If I'm interested in a topic, and I know something about it, or if I've just spent a lot of time learning about it then I write about it. This means a lot of readers get a bit of a shock when they come expecting a non-fiction writers blog, or a fiction writers blog, or a computer programming blog, or business management blog, or speakers blog.

A blog was originally "web log", and blog was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog. But the purpose is the same, to keep a log on the web. This blog harkens back to the original. I'm just keeping an online log of stuff which interests me.

This blog has sparked some other things which I've either written about or presented. In fact, I hope to be performing a presentation in Bratislava about demotivation and demoralisation. The idea for doing the presentation was a direct result of the blog (see below) and the research I was doing around the area of demoralisation when learning.

I wrote my "Plan for your unemployment now!" while unemployed. You can see these topics are focused around my life. So searching for "99 blog posts you can do", is just a waste of time for me.

If you've landed on this page because you were looking for "What to blog about" in your Google search then I'm afraid I've completely disappointed you. I don't have a bullet pointed list of topics for you to select from. But I do have some advice for bloggers. Stop being another carbon-copy cookie-cutter blog site and talk about yourself and what interests you. I don't know about everyone else, but I'm more likely to come back to read a persons blog, than an another marketing time sink website.

Oh, and if you're a mailing list subscriber, feel free to send me some topic ideas!


Language Learning On A Tight Budget

It costs too much!

One of the problems with learning a language is that all the courses seem to cost so much! You're not going to get a course for less than £40 or $50 in most cases. Tutors generally charge by the hour, and classes can be expensive.

Is it possible for you learn a language without spending a fortune on resources? It is possible, but you'll still need to spend a little money.

Learning on a budget?

Getting resources doesn't have to be expensive if you got a bit of time to search around for resources. There are some free courses you can get on the Internet, and you can often find books and resources cheaply in a charity shop. Where do you start, and what do you need?

All beginners need some or all of the following resources.

  • A course book, preferably with audio disks.
  • Some books in the target language.
  • Flashcards or some kind of Space Repetition system.
  • Access to some target language audio or video.

The great resource hunt.

In order to get resources for not a lot of money you need time. A resource hunt will take longer than if you just log onto Amazon and buy everything you want or need. But it will cost a lot less.

  • The first place to try to find language learning resources is your local library. If you have a library around you where you can checkout materials this is the place to start. Often libraries will charge if there is some audio or visual portion, but books are normally free.
  • Charity shops are a good place to look for language resources. Although they might not have the target language you want they do often get items for popular languages.
  • Online resources listed below will give you free access to many materials, and use of a search engine can often turn up even more.
  • The language learners forum has a "Master List of Resources" which gives links to huge numbers of both paid and free resources.

Other resources

The Internet is a real boon for language learners because you can get a lot of resources in your target language for free. Some of these include:

  • YouTube videos
  • Podcasts
  • Newspapers

The sheer volume of information being loaded up to the Internet is amazing and not all of it is in English. It is easy to find if you can just translate your search sentence into the target language and pop it into Google.

After you get to the point where you can speak a little you should think about doing language exchanges with someone who natively speaks your target language and who wants to learn your native language. Normally you can find paid tutors on sites like iTalki.com but you can also find people who want to do language exchanges. This is free and you can use free software like Google Hangouts, or Skype to connect and talk to native speakers.

A lack of money doesn't mean a lack of resources.

You can find a lot of resources for learning if you just think about it. If you're paying for Netflix or similar you can watch films and TV in a lot of foreign languages, so your target language might be among them.

Don't let a lack of funds stop you from learning!


Resolutions are a waste of time!

It is the first of January and I've not made any resolutions. I'm not going to bother with resolutions this year because it puts too much pressure on. This year I have things I want to achieve, goals really, but resolutions no. What is the difference? To be honest I don't know.

In my mind a goal is something which you work toward, but a resolution is something you deny yourself. Now this isn't always true, but most New Years resolutions are about losing weight, or getting fit, or doing something which involves denial.

A goal seems to me to be a much more self-affirming thing. It is movements towards something instead of movement away. Obviously, you can restructure a resolution to a goal. Change; "I'll never eat another chocolate bar." to something like; "My goal is to reduce the chocolate I eat by between 90-100%". It is different because it is a little more forgiving. If you eat any chocolate then you've killed your resolution dead, so might as well eat more right? But using the goal where you'd built in some slack, you'd say; Right that takes me down to 99.6%, but still within target.

But call them resolutions, or goals, or targets, whatever you want. If you are going to do them, then at least build in some slack. Another example might be if you are going on a diet and you're only going to eat 1500 calories per day. You should change this goal to something like, I will eat less than 11,000 calories per week. This is only a couple of hundred calories more than 1500 per day, but it means if you go out with a friend and over eat one day, you haven't "blown your diet", you simply need to make up the difference before the week is out.

We're all human, and we're going to mess up, so put that in your plans and give yourself from slack. Personally I think if you're moving in the direction of your destination, regardless detours, then you're doing OK.

Happy New Year everyone.


Are you demotivated, or just demoralised?

Recently, on the language learners forum I administer, the subject came up about learning a minority language. I didn't join into this discussion because, for me, the thought of learning a new language filled me with both dread and anxiety. Learning a language takes a lot of time and effort, and the thought of doing it again made me cringe.

This reaction was a little strange since I've long been a lover of languages, and learning new things in general. I've commuted to work on trains with 3-4 books in hand always trying to learn more. So this reaction took me a little by surprise. I sat down to analyse why I didn't have even the remotest interest in learning a new language. I carried out some research on my feelings and even went down to the library to do a little more research.

I also noted, as you probably did too, I was interested enough in learning why I had no interest in learning to learn. I stumbled across a discussion amount psychologists discussing children and motivation. Generally this appears to the parents as the child has lost motivation to go to school or do homework, etc. That is the symptom and the parents assume motivation is the culprit. It seems however that motivation isn't the problem but demoralisation.

What is the difference between demotivation and demoralisation?

Motivation is having a strong reason to act or achieve something, and so demotivation is the opposite. Not having a strong reason to act. Demoralisation is to be deprived of spirit, courage, discipline, etc.

There is a subtle difference here in human psychology. You could have the greatest motivation in the world. The example given in the thread I spoke of earlier about learning a new language was you'd be given a million dollars for every language you learned. A million dollars is a great motivation, a good reason to act. But a demoralised person wouldn't take up the challenge, simply because they don't have the spirit or discipline to achieve the task.

If you're motivated it is easy right?

Motivation sucks for long-term activities. Motivation is OK for something you can do in a short time frame, but for a complex task with lots of effort required the shine wears off quickly.

Learning a language is a long term objective. Forget about all those marketing blurbs that tell you that you can learn a language in three months, they are just marketing. To really learn a language well you're talking about years of effort, study, practice and work. Trust me, as a person who has learned two languages to a pretty high level, it is hard work.

Human beings want to do well. They want to be praised and recognised for the efforts they have put into a task and to get rewards for doing this. Adults and children are not different in this respect. Our ability to work hard, to sustain effort, requires a feeling of accomplishment or progress along the way. We also need to have some confidence in our eventual success. Long-term goals involve many instances of anxiety, frustration, and discouragement. Demoralisation is when you cannot bounce back from these setbacks and frustrations.

You may be frustrated, discouraged, anxious or angry in your long-term goal. There is a very good chance you'll become disillusioned, self-critical or pessimistic, and lose confidence in you ability to accomplish these goals.

This described me in a nutshell when I thought about learning yet another language. I had become demoralised.

Overcoming demoralisation

I've written a book about problem analysis and one of the major reasons for not fixing a fault, is we haven't identified the root cause of the problem. So if I try to learn a new language by giving myself more reasons to do it, in fact I would have made it worse. Why worse? Because I would throw on a ton of reasons I should do it, and therefore make myself feel even more guilty and anxious. I probably still wouldn't do it, because the root cause of the problem is demoralisation, so adding more motivators would just make the situation worse.

Demoralisation is really about failures and bouncing back. Psychology Today tells us that:

  • Failure distorts our perceptions of our abilities such that we feel less up to the task or less capable of reaching a goal than we actually are.
  • Failure distorts our perception of the goal itself such that it seems further out of reach.
  • Failure makes us believe that whether we succeed or not is out of our control.

Therefore, to escape the feelings of helpless and hopeless you need to regain control, and also have feelings of pride, accomplishment and usefulness associated with the long-term task.

For me getting control requires a number of steps, and your path may be different, but here are some starting points.

  • Review your thoughts about the goal and try to find over generalisations. When you use words like: Always, Never, Forever, etc.
  • Review your goal and list anything you can do now, which you couldn't do 1, 2, 3 years ago. In other words, list your accomplishments.
  • Admit that you might be mistaken about a pessimistic conclusion. Introduce some doubt.
  • Put your demoralised thoughts on trial. Write them down on a piece of paper, then become the solicitor who is going to prove the statement wrong. You’re not just playing the “devil’s advocate” here. Really look at the statement and find what is truly wrong with it. You have to believe and to know there is a mistake in the statement.
  • Review actual failures which aren't just pessimistic thoughts, and try to create workarounds for problem areas.
  • Scale back on you ambitions if required.

If your goal to large?

It is possible that you've picked a mountain to climb that might be too high. My goal for languages is to reach a fluency level of C1 in the language. C1 is Proficent User on the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_European_Framework_of_Reference_for_Languages][CEFR scale] but this goal might be too much. Or if I were to undertake learning another language I might want to set my goal to a much lower level. It might be that just having a low tourist level A2 might be fine.

Don't sell yourself short

If you're also in the middle of accomplishing a long term goal, you're going to be attacked by self-doubt and frustration. But don't let it lead to being demoralised. Try to keep it all in perspective and keep trudging on. Winston Churchill once said. "If you're going through hell. Keep going."


Do you listen? Or only hear?

Often people don't understand the difference between listening and hearing. I've been spending a lot of time lately undertaking lessons in French with tutors and the difference in my behaviour when speaking English and with French has come to light.

Hearing or Listening

When you are listening to someone you're paying attention to what they are saying. This is a pretty simple definition of the word and most people probably believe that when having a conversation this is what they are doing. However, in reality most people are hearing what is being said while formulating their next statement. They aren't giving the speaker their undivided attention. Most of their attention is focused on their own reply. I would call this behaviour more hearing, than listening.

True listening is when you give your full and undivided attention to the speaker. Thinking about what they are saying and being actively engaged in the listening process. In addition to giving your full attention you need to encourage the speaker, and concentrate.

I've recently noticed that I'd fallen into some old bad habits of not actively listening. I've had some training in active listening and knew what I should be doing, but over the years I'd fallen back into bad habits. The reason I noticed it was simple. I was trying to listen in another language.

Listening comprehension in a second language is one of the most difficult things to do. Firstly you need to parse and understand the words, and in some cases reconstruct it into your native language in order to understand. This means you have to concentrate on what the speaker is saying. You need to identify not just the individual words, but the meaning of what they are saying.

In a recent YouTube discussion I had with Dave Prine he mentioned he was always scared when he asked questions in a second language he might miss a negation word, like "don't" or "not" which would change the meaning of a sentence. My suggestion was to paraphrase the answer back to make sure that you had understood. Now this is a trick I learned from Active Listening class which I'd taken a long time ago. Even if you don't say the paraphrasing back to the person out loud and are paraphrasing in your head, it still means you are giving them your full attention. Because in order to paraphrase, you must understand.

When I'm doing a lesson or conversation in another language I have to actively listen. I thought I would mention some things I learned.

How to Listen

In order to listen you need to pay attention to the speaker, and one tip we've already discussed is listening to paraphrase what the speaker said. If you're unable to paraphrase something, then it means you didn't understand or hear it, so that is the time to ask questions for clarity.

When language learning you'll spend a lot of time asking for the speaker to repeat, or to say it differently if they are using a lot of unknown words or concepts. Don't interrupt to make a counterpoint or to argue, only interrupt if you need some clarification and have a question about what they are saying.

Engage in the conversation and give the speaker feedback such as nodding your head, using small verbal comments like yes, and uh huh.

Be respectful of the other person and their views. While you might have a personal reaction and find yourself responding emotionally to what someone said, say so, and ask for more information. It might be you've misunderstood.

Barriers to Communication

There are many things which can inhibit communication. The primary one is simply trying to listen to more than one thing at a time. For example, trying to listen to someone and also trying to listen to the radio station is a sure-fire failure.

Try to remove any distractions which might keep you from hearing and concentrating on the speaker's message.

You need to get interested in the topic, and listen with an open mind with no preconceptions or prejudices about either the topic or the speaker. Sometimes we can't listen to the message because we're distracted by the appearance of the speaker, or their voice or mannerisms.

Listening is a skill you need to develop

In your native language, or when using a second language listening is a skill which has to be developed and nurtured. You cannot assume you're a good listener. You need to make sure your fully in the moment when you're listening, and you're engaged and focused.


Writing a book in a month is too easy!

November has come to an end, and so has Nanowrimo.

If you're not familiar with Nanowrimo, it is a charity which tries to get people writing every November. They challenge you to write a book, or at least 50,000 words of a book, in the month of November. I participated for a number of years, and managed to complete a book a couple of times, and some years I failed. About two years ago I looked back at when I'd completed the challenge and when I didn't and discovered there were reasons why I succeeded or not. They weren't the same reasons, but they are related to each other.

The reason I succeed.

I "won" the Nanowrimo challenge just because I'd written down 50k words. But a review of these words showed me that even in the years which I'd won, I hadn't produced a book. I'd managed to get a lot of scenes with no coherent theme bolted together. I did go back and edit two of these horrible first drafts into a book. It took a lot of work, and a lot of rewriting, and I probably only managed to salvage about half the words I'd written during the challenge. So although I technically won the Nanowrimo challenge, I didn't have a book at the end of all that work.

The reason I won on word count was a simple single mindedness to write at least 1666 words every day of the month of November. I can type about 50 words a minute so this should only take me about 30 minutes to perform. But, it didn't just whip out 1666 words in 30 minutes, it would take me 3-4 hours to do this!

The reason it took so long, is one of the reasons I failed during the years when I didn't win the challenge.

The reason I failed.

The reason I failed some years, and the reason it took me 3-4 hours to accomplish what should have taken 30 minutes, was because I was staring into space trying to think of what happened next. In other words I didn't have an outline or a plot map for the novel.

There is a saying; Proper planning prevents poor performance. Also known as, the 5 P's.

With an outline you already know what is going to happen in that scene, because it is in your outline, so it is easy to sit down for 30 minutes and knockout the 1666 words you need.

Knowing what I know now…

I could complete the Nanowrimo challenge in the first week of November. In fact I figure I could write a book in a weekend if I wrote for 9 hours each day. 9 hours is 540 minutes. 540 multiplied by 50 wpm is 27,000 words, times 2 days, and you've won the Nanowrimo challenge.

At the end of it you'll also end up with a coherent first draft of a completed novel, because you've followed an outline. When I failed the Nanowrimo it was always because I started a novel with one scene, or one simple idea. One scene or idea will not get you to the end of 50k words, or the normal 75k words typically required for a full length novel.

To create the outline you'll need around 72 scenes of about 1500 words. Now a scene is roughly defined as where the action within a scene is ‘unbroken’ in the sense that it does not include a major time-lapse or a leap from one setting to another. So the characters might be moving from one place to another, but the action is unbroken.

If you did the maths earlier you'll know that 72 scenes of 1500 words would be well over the 75k for a novel, but some will be scenes short of 1500 words and some longer. Regardless a 100k novel is a good target to aim at.

So how to write the first draft of a novel in a weekend? Easy!

Outline 72 scenes in order, don't worry about chapter breaks. Write at least one paragraph describing the action of that scene. After you've got your outline, set a timer for the exact amount of time it should take you to type 1500 words. In my case that would be exactly 30 minutes. Then type like mad trying to complete the 1500 words, or the timer runs out. Take a couple of minutes to complete your target word count, or tidy up the scene. Take a 10 minute break. Repeat until complete.

I know that Stephen King doesn't use an outline, but he is Stephen King. I need the ticking of the timer to motivate me to write and to beat the clock. Also, don't worry about typos and grammar and other stuff, that is for later. Ernest Hemingway famously told a young writer named Arnold Samuelson; The first draft of anything is shit.

I know this method makes it sound easy, but actually it isn't. Writing is very hard work, but once you have a draft it becomes easier. It is much easier to polish something than to polish nothing.

Do I really use this method?

Yep! In fact, I'm currently writing a full length novel for my subscribers; only available to them. It will be a serialised novel delivered weekly, but I'll be using the outline method to make sure my first draft is smooth and conherent, then another 3-4 drafts to get it right for publication.

So if you want to see how this method works, then subscribe and see.


Plan for your unemployment now!

Who cares, I got a job.

You've got a good job, the company needs you, and everyone loves you. So no problem right? What are the chances of becoming unemployed?

Well in the UK, like most of the first world, your chances are about 1.5 in 100, on average. Which means about 1.5% of people who are in work right now will become unemployed every three months. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the UK calls this "the hazard of unemployment". This doesn't sound too bad right? After all, it is only 1 in every 66 people. But want to know the real kicker? The real problem is ONS calculate the chance of you getting back into work within three months is only 20-30%.

This means you've got a 1-in-66 chance of being unemployed, and you're not likely to get a job within three months time. People who are out of work for more than six months are considered the long-term unemployed, and they make up over 40% of the unemployed. The good news is if you have reusable skills in an industry with isn't downsizing, you'll probably get a new job between 1-6 months.

But can you last 3-6 months with no income?

If your answer to that question is; Hell no! Then you need to plan for your unemployment and start right now, today. Don't wait, you need to worry about this now, before you lose your job. So what do you need to do to plan for your unemployment? Well to start with you need savings. You need something to live on for the 3-6 months with no income, and you need a plan to get back into employment.

The Plan

[1] Determine how much you earn.

The first thing you need to do is to sit down and check your finances. Look at your payslip and determine how much money you are paid net. Gross income is the amount you earn before taxes and other payroll deductions. Net income is your take-home pay after taxes and other payroll deductions. You need to use the net figure. This is the amount of money you need save. Multiply that amount by three to get the minimum about you need to save, and double that to get the ideal amount. Remember you're only 20-30% likely to get a new job in the first three months, so six months money is better.

[2] Determine how much you spend.

Calculate the amount of money you spend each month, and write down what the money goes toward. If this is starting to sound like budgeting, you're right, it is. After you have a list of your monthly outgoings, and if you're like most people there is more month than money, you need to start making some cuts.

[3] Cutting back and saving. Emergency Measures.

The next step is the critical one. You need to go into emergency lock down on spending until you can get your emergency fund full. You need to involve your family, if you're not living alone, and explain that you're trying to get three months emergency funding in the bank. Then review your spending habits.

  • First cut out anything which is a luxury item. Gym memberships, sky sports TV, play groups, magazine subscriptions, morning Starbucks or anything which you can live without for a few months and isn't required.
  • Put at least 10% of your monthly income into a savings account. Every month, without fail. This is building your emergency fund, it isn't optional. Pay yourself first. It is easier to just have the money put straight in the account. If you consider it already spent, you'll manage. If you can't put in 10% then put in as much as you can, but ask yourself what you can cut back on to get that 10% next month.
  • Get control of personal debit. If you have credit cards with balances due on them, switch them to interest free for 12 month cards. Pick the debit with the largest interest rate, credit cards, store cards, personal loans, and pay that one off first. Make extra payments on the one which is costing the most, and minimum payments on the others. As soon as that one is paid off pick the next highest, put the money you were paying on the first debit toward the second and pay it off. If you follow this strategy you'll eventually pay them all off and can put more money into your emergency fund.
  • This should go without saying, but don't take on any more debit until you've got your emergency fund full.
  • Start a "side hustle". This is second income stream from something which isn't connected to your primary employment. Washing cars at the weekend, or refurbishing and selling toasters, selling crafts, babysitting. It doesn't matter what it is, there is surely something you know how to do, which someone will pay you for. Find it, and do it. Put that money into your emergency fund.

    Side hustles work best when they are mature. Don't wait until you're unemployed to try to build a side hustle business, do it while you can. Dig your well before you're thirsty!

[4] I have 3-6 months income saved, now what?

After you've managed to get your emergency fund full, then you can relax a little. But you should still keep saving, so that when life's emergencies come up, you have a savings buffer which you can pay with. So the car breaks down, you have some money saved. Never take your emergency fund below what you've determined you need. You might want two savings accounts in order to make this work.

The worst happens, you're unemployed.

You've lost your job. How doesn't actually matter, what matters is getting back on your feet. You need to get back into employment before your money runs out, and before you become long-term unemployed. It is much harder for someone who has a long break from employment to get a job.

You have a new job now, that job is finding another job.

[1] Sign up!

You need to get down to the job centre to sign on, or sign up for unemployment benefits. Whatever help is available in the country you're in, go and get it. You might think it is a stigma, or you are embarrassed, but get over it. It is money out of the system you've paid for and deserve. It will also slow the leakage from your emergency funding.

[2] Set a application target.

Don't putter about working in the garden. Don't watch TV. Don't sit around moaning about the last job. Like sales people you need a target, and finding a new job is a numbers game. Set a target for the number of applications you can make in a work day. Get up in the morning and work for 8 hours applying for jobs. In person, on the Internet, over the phone, doesn't matter how you apply, but do it.

When you first think of a target number of applications, then double it and add 10%. If you think you can only apply for 10 jobs a day, then double that number to 20, add 2 and your target is 22 applications per day. Don't stop until you've applied for 22 jobs or the 8 hours is up. If you consistently hit your target every day before the 8 hours is up, then double your target again.

Thomas J. Watson, CEO of IBM famously said: "If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate." In other words, if your not getting enough responses to your applications, then apply for more jobs.

[3] Work the side hustle!

You've got a second line of income, work it harder than you've every done before. If you didn't take the time to do a side hustle before, now is the time to start. If you did wait until now, you're not going to get as much money as you would if it was a mature hustle, but every little bit of income helps now.

You might find that your side hustle begins to make you as much or more money as the job you previously had. If that happens, then welcome to your new job. You can stop applying for jobs and start owning a business.

[4] Network

Networking with people you know, and telling them you're looking for work is one of the things everyone will tell you that you need to do. Personally, I don't think much of this plan of action. It might help, but I wouldn't depend on it. Applying for open, known positions is much easier and faster. In my experience networking is more useful for people who have a job and are looking to change.

If you have a job, then you're in a position to network more. Networking really is helping other people, meeting with them, listening to them. Not just handing them your card and hoping they have a job. Networking, like a side hustle needs to be done before you need it. You need to know a lot of people who would like to help you, before your unemployed.

I have a job and I have savings, I'm good right?

Well …

Another thing to remember is retirement is just another form of unemployment. If you want to have money in your retirement, then you'll need to save money for it now.

Retirement is just long-term unemployment without any intention of going back to work. However, in this day and age having money through your retirement can be a struggle. You need to plan for this type of unemployment too. The best thing to do is talk to an Independent Finacial Advisor, someone who can show you how to invest your money wisely.

But some measures I would recommend are:

  • Try to pay off your mortgage in advance. This is just like the strategy for paying off your debit, and this is likely to be your largest debt.
  • Try to invest in something which pays higher rates of returns.
  • Spread your investments around.
  • Pay into a retirement fund.

Good Luck!

I hope this brief post will help you to start thinking about the possibility of becoming unemployed and taking measures to prevent it from becoming a catastrophe for you and your family. If you liked what you read, please click-to-tweet this post.

Tweet: Plan for your unemployment! 1-66 people will be unemployed in the next 3 months. It could be you.

Price reduction on books to $0.99

I have reduced the prices on three of my books in order to gather some additional reviews of them. They are now down to $0.99 for the remainder of 2018, and after that we'll see. Below are the links.

Ignition, Book One of the Librarian Series

Wild Justice, Book One of the Frontiersman

African Extrication, Book One of Les Retraites

I've setup some quick Click-to-Tweet links below to share with your followers the reduced prices! Thanks for your help in spreading the message.

TWEET: Ignition is on sale now for $0.99, limited time offer! https://goo.gl/iCFwM
TWEET: Wild Justice, on sale for only $0.99 , limited time offer! https://ctt.ec/b1f81+
TWEET: African Extrication, on sale for $0.99, for a limited time! https://goo.gl/sr6K66

Updated the RSS system

I've spent a lot of time updating the system to give RSS notifications when there is a new blog entry. It is difficult to remember to come back to visit sites to see if there is a new entry or more information, so it is always useful to have the website "ping" you when there is an update.

Personally I prefer a free and opensource system called Tiny Tiny RRS for my own subscriptions, but there are many other. Now that I've managed to get the system configured I'll be sure to start giving better and more interesting content.

I'm also planning a lot more videos showing software and systems I use for language leanring or for just learning new things in general. I hope you'll have a look at the courses section of the website where I post my YouTube videos, or you can subscribe directly to the YouTube Channel.


First post on new blog.

This is my first blog post after my site was hacked a few months ago. I've decided to take the time to organise the site so that it is a static site with only html pages and no dynamic database driven content engine. If you're wondering what happened, it seems the hosting platform was compromised and some malware was attached to the top of the php pages.

With this iteration of my blog, I've turned off dynammic pages and done everything with a straight html, written in the emacs text editor with org-mode.

In addition to reworking the website, I've published my new book, African Extrication and I'm putting the finishing touches on the sequel Italian Detente.

I'll keep this short and sweet, since it is just an update on why the blog hasn't been available for a long time. I'm reserving the space to dig all the old posts out of the database and repost as static blog pages. This should be done in a couple of weeks.