Robin Brown

Journo. Editor. Tutor. Dour northerner.

Archive for the ‘Photoshop’ Category

Cameron addresses UK riots

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This is a riff on the MyDavidCameron meme I contributed some posters to last year.

Here’s the others I did:

Berk and Hair

New Forehead, New Danger

Written by Robin Brown

August 10th, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Posted in Photoshop

Tagged with

20 things you shouldn’t do on Twitter

with 12 comments

I do like Twitter. I use it every day to learn, to broadcast, to share and to enjoy.

But Christ it can be annoying. To an extent this is the same with any new platform – familiarity breeds contempt after all – and in these times of decreasing attention spans and tolerances it’s easy to get hacked off by simple, and essentially inoffensive, things.

I think there are a number of things that apply across the board on Twitter that are annoying or inappropriate in most cases – particularly if you blur your social life with your professional life on Twitter, which I’d guess a majority do.


I’ve personally met about ten per cent of the people who follow me, and unless you’ve met someone in person I think you need to reflect on whether your Twitter followers want to hear about your personal life, sex life or toilet habits.

The banalities of your exercise regimen, diet, daily routines, coffee preferences and fluctuating mood are hardly of interest to anyone either – do it on Facebook if you must do it, at least those people know you personally.

Different, but just as inappropriate, is ignoring netiquette – that series of fluid and informal rules that just make the web a nicer place to be. They apply to Twitter too, just in subtly different ways.

None of this is a catch-all; not all of it will apply to everyone; and I probably indulge in a few myself. Nor am I setting myself up as some kind of expert, or arbiter of how to behave on Twitter.

I’m just someone who uses Twitter a lot and gets irritated easily, so I reckon the following list of what not to do on Twitter will serve most people well.

It won’t help you get 10,000 followers, but it might stop you looking like a bit of a dick.

20 things you shouldn’t do on Twitter

• Don’t DM unless you have a good reason – or you know someone personally

• Don’t set up an automated DM to new followers – sheer, pointless irritation

• Don’t announce you’re about to unfollow a load of people before you do – it’s pretty offensive to those about to be unfollowed

• Don’t unfollow genuine friends, no matter how annoying – it’ll bite you on the arse

• Don’t furiously live blog events you’re watching – keep it to a reasonable frequency

• Don’t set up a feed to churn out more than one link at a time – modify your application to spread them out

• Don’t automate more than a handful of tweets a day – you’ll get unfollowed

• Don’t tweet about your sex life or personal life – or apply a little common sense

• Don’t tweet random banal headlines – other people know how to use the internet for themselves

• Don’t ignore your followers – you’ve got to follow at least some people

• Don’t simply tweet your inventory if you’re selling something – it’s pointless

• Don’t slag off people you know – this isn’t Bebo

• Don’t slag of organisations you may work for or with – that tweet could come back to haunt you

• Don’t post orphaned links – no-one knows where they may go. That’s annoying

• Don’t post NSFW links, unless properly highlighted – even then, don’t (probably)

• Don’t use caps – it’s ANNOYING

• Don’t ask for followers or RTs – by and large

• Don’t cross-post between social networks – it’s a wild goose chase for everyone involved

• Don’t overdo services like that send out the same message to a number of platforms. What’s right for Facebook may not be right for Twitter

• Don’t be a dick – what’s true for the real world is true for the virtual

Feel free to let me know if I missed any obvious ones out below

You should follow me on Twitter at RobinBrown78

Written by Robin Brown

February 23rd, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Tories aren’t funny

with 5 comments

There aren’t a lot of right-wing comedians, and of those right-wing comedians I can think of very few that are funny.

It’s long been a source of debate as to why this is the case, but the last few weeks have, I believe, provided the answer.

The battle ground has been the MyDavidCameron posters spoofing Conservative Party posters that have variously displayed an uber-Photoshopped Cameron, a gravestone implying a £20K Labour death tax, and a number of demographic groups explaining why they’ll be voting blue this time around.

The spoofs were pretty funny, with some genuinely inspired political satire. Crucially, it was all rather gentle too – a spot of light-hearted rough and tumble at a time when political campaigning seems genuinely vicious.

It was a spot of typically British lampoonery, with Dave Cameron copping it for his smooth brow, well-to-do background or his silly soundbites, as well as some comment on Tory policy.

Labour had the sense to generally stay out of it, and social media and politicos with a touch of Photoshop skills did the rest (as an aside it’s also interesting to ponder the political make-up of social media and geeky types, but that’s another article).

Inevitably, the right starting coming out with its own versions. Only this time there were two crucial differences: the spoofs weren’t funny; and they were often plain nasty.

Among the hilarious efforts at the MyLabourPoster blog were pot shots at immigrants and those on welfare.

But almost every single one displayed a kind of grammatical, political or – more to the point – satirical illiteracy.

They’re clearly created by people with little understanding of politics, and no comprehension of comedy. And if they have been through an editorial filter, it’s a remarkably inept one.

Spite and bile are the key drivers behind the MyLabourPoster images, and they provide a valuable insight into how necessary the filter used by the My DavidCameron team was. They kept it sharp, funny and civil.

And raising the bar was a charming effort from an artist called Louis Sidoli, which mocked up Brown as Hitler.

Explaining his reasoning, Sidoli offered the following:

These images tell you all you need to know: ‘This is Gordon Brown – the facts are staring you in the face – vote for someone else’

So, there’s no double meaning, innuendo or twist in the tail here, what you see is what you get – Brown is like Hitler.

Proving he is no student of satire, history or politics, he goes on to explain:

Of course it is provocative, but if you think about it, there are strong similarities: Both started out as chancellors, both bullied their way to the top and seized power without being democratically elected, both tried to rig the electoral process, both prone to flying into uncontrollable rages and both caused huge economic damage to our country etc…

In another piece, called Psychologically Flawed, Brown gets the ‘satan treatment’:

[the] demonic lurid green face clashing with bright orange background, which hints that this person is truly diabolical! The red hand and cufflink symbolises the budget deficit / the red hand of socialism or ‘being in the red’.

Iain Dale defends the posters, with a rather pathetic ‘the Left did worse in the 80s’ line that echoes the way the Right in the US justify anything that’s beyond the pale, though he doesn’t even acknowledge that the posters are vague and unfunny, regardless of how offensive they are.

I genuinely don’t think those on the Right that have lauded the anti-Labour posters get this.

Their response has said far more about those backing the Conservative party than the MyDavidCameron images ever did.

I can’t image Cameron, doing his best to bury the image of the Tories as the nasty party, can think them helpful.

After the Conservatives’ own misfires with the tombstone-death-tax poster, the spoofs have raised some rather ugly truths about many who are anti-Labour.

The anti-Europe, anti-benefits, anti-immigration undertones to many are an ugly reminder of persistent elements of Conservative policy and the mindsets of certain supporters.

Moreover, it reveals how basic the thinking of those agents of the Right out in the web is on social media, engagement and, yes, humour.

Clifford Singer, behind the MyDavidCameron site and arguably an agent of Left, has devised a well-conceived and executed viral marketing strategy that is plainly successful in its reach and its impact.

It’s hard to see who the tory posters will appeal to, beyond people who already share the same views. That’s a massive social media, marketing and satire fail right there. I’d hazard a guess that they could even end up backfiring on the Right, so nasty are some of the examples.

Singer goes on to include a summary of the lessons learned from the experience and an explanation of the thinking behind the site.

Lesson Five is ‘Political satire is hard’. Indeed satire is hard, particularly if you don’t really understand what it is.

Fox comprehensively proved this a couple of years ago with its appalling and short-lived 1/2 Hour News Hour – billed as the Right’s answer to the likes of The Daily Show and Colbert Report.

Timing, an eye for the absurd, an understanding of the form and a knowledge of the audience are all required for the successful lampoon.

Which is why Singer is retiring MyDavidCameron before it gets tiresome or simply unfunny.

Because there’s nothing worse than an unfunny joke missing the mark. Just ask the Right.

• Full disclosure: Two of my own posters are on MyDavidCameron

Written by Robin Brown

February 21st, 2010 at 11:23 am

MyToryTombstone: Berk and Hair

with 3 comments

This is my poster for the MyToryTombstone site that’s ripping the new Tory attack ad, a fairly distasteful and disingenuous effort that makes out that Labour will slap a £20K death tax on everyone who karks it.

That’s not really true, of course, and smacks rather of desperation to me – a return to the Demon Eyes school of political campaigning.

Anyway, here’s mine. It’s pretty rough and ready and the reference may be a bit obscure. WIth any luck they won’t swap my joke with a less funny one this time, assuming they do use it.

Written by Robin Brown

February 11th, 2010 at 7:02 pm

New forehead, new danger

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This is my entry for the David Cameron – Airbrushed for Change website, which has been busy adapting Conservative Party print and billboard ads that showed a somewhat digitally-enhanced Cameron. The spoofs picture Call-Me-Dave Cameron next to a series of doctored slogans unlikely to feature in official Tory Party ad campaigns.

A slew of spoofs have hit the web to mock Cameron and Tory party policy, though it all seems to be in good fooling. Gordon Brown certainly seemed to think so when he unexpectedly slaughtered Dave over the poster on PMQs.

Those with a spot of historical election knowledge will spot the reference in mine to Saatchi & Saatchi’s infamous Demon Eyes ad from 1997. It seemed appropriate to adapt that original Conservative attack ad in having a pop back at Dave.

What your WordPress home page probably looks like…every day

with one comment

I’m a big fan of WordPress. It’s by far the best blogging platform, in fact it’s by far the best CMS I’ve ever seen by a mile. And it’s free.

There’s a plugin for everything you could possibly need, and if you’ve got a fairly new computer it’s so childishly easy to host your own blog there’ll probably be a precocious baby on the new Microsoft advert extolling the virtues of WP.

But there’s one thing about WordPress that really irritates me. It’s the recommended blogs on the home page. They’re always childish, banal or right-wing and generally utterly rubbish.

I suppose there are several obvious reasons for this. First and foremost, WordPress displays VIP blog entries on its homepage.

These are blog posts from WordPress’s many customers who opt for a premium WordPress experience, and get their rubbish promoted on the WordPress homepage as a result.

Annoyingly, these posts always seem to be from the online loony bin that is Fox News’ blog, usually slamming Obama, Meghan McCain or other Democrats.

If not a political blog, it’s likely to be some tedious gubbins from a self-proclaimed tech expert musing fruitlessly on some aspect of the new iPhone. Boring.

The next staple is American gossip and ephemera. This may not be quite so intolerable if it were UK gossip and ephemera, but when the upskirt in question is from some previously unheard-of American Idol contestant there’s not even the morbid curiosity of peeking at the genitals of someone you’ve actually seen on the telly.

The fourth that I’ve identified is cute stuff. Lolcats, cute animals doing tricks, bearded babies, a cat with its arm round a duck. That sort of thing.

Presumably the rankings are driven by popularity, so every now and then there’s something totally random. As I type there’s a picture of a dead Tamil Tiger; an apparent scandal involving ‘Maricar Reyes and Hayden Kho’; a post called ‘Feisty Mom Comes Out Swinging — A Lovely Read’ on a blog called Free-Range Kids; an incomprehensible manga spoiler that reads like its a sequel to ‘All your base are belong to us’; and some more US ephemera.

If there’s some aspect of popularity to these community posts it seems a bit churlish to complain, but when Hot VIP posts is pushing a picture of Gwen Stefani’s baby’s mohican on a blog called Celebrity Babies I’m far from convinced that this is worth my, or indeed anyone’s, time.

I can only boggle at the possibility of Ann Coulter being papped exiting a taxi while conducting a phone conversation on some absurd new telephone with a cat in a fishbowl. The blogosphere would explode.

I really should reiterate that WordPress is almost faultless, and it’s really good. This isn’t any kind of serious attempt at a critique. It’s just that I’m really grumpy.

Anyway, here’s my take on the WordPress home page. Click through for a larger version.

Wordpress home page

• Two caveats. I may have inadvertently included the gravatars of some identifiable individuals. This is accidental and no association nor implication is intended.

Additionally, I’m only taking a pot shot at certain looney tunes Americans, namely one particular news channel. I like most Americans.

Written by Robin Brown

May 20th, 2009 at 9:28 pm

The Secret Chamillionaire

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Another daft ‘What if…?’ mock up.

Chamillionaire about to donate £5,000 to a youth club in Swansea

Chamillionaire about to donate £5,000 to a youth club in Swansea

Written by Robin Brown

April 20th, 2009 at 10:46 pm

Obama appoints William Shatner as new GM CEO

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This is my April Fool’s Day post from I expect I’ll have to take it down before long, so I intend to have it on here in perpetuity.

Shatner is new GM boss

Following the departure of Rick Wagoner as General Motors CEO and Chairman, US President Barack Obama has moved quickly to appoint actor William Shatner as new GM boss.

Shatner is known primarily for his acting and singing career, and has no known experience in running global automotive OEMs.

Obama said the 78-year-old Shatner had the ‘right stuff’ to take GM into the future, and backed the former Star Trek actor to rescue the General from the edge of bankruptcy.

“William Shatner is an American hero whose appeal transcends political, religious and cultural boundaries.

“His ingenuity and calm head in difficult situations is well known to Americans, and I know Mr Shatner has the right stuff to turn around a global behemoth with $100bn of debt and transform it into a formidable enterprise.”

In his inaugural address as new GM CEO, Shatner gave a lengthy and detailed explanation of GM’s proprietary Voltec powertrain technology, outlined a 15-point plan to return GM to profitability within twelve months and attacked former Star Trek co-star George Takei.

“I spent most of the 70′s living in a truck thanks to typecasting,” laughed Shatner, adjusting his hairpiece. “I know the car industry inside out.”

Shatner went on to field questions from the press regarding next-generation battery technology, the intricacies of the VEBA agreement with Chrysler, Ford and the United Auto Workers and his memories of the Columbo episode ‘Fade in to Murder’, in which he guest starred.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” mused Shatner, before leaving for the Renaissance Centre.

Written by Robin Brown

April 1st, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Posted in Automotive,Business,People,Photoshop

Tagged with

What would my Twitter page look like if I were a social media evangelist?

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I get a lot of social media evangelists following me on Twitter, presumably because I’ve got ‘SEO’ and ‘social media’ in my Twitter bio.

They usually unfollow me within hours as I never follow them – a common trait of social media evangelists. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against them but I can’t believe many of them make a lot of money and most of their advice amounts to stating-the-bleeding-obvious posts on basic SEO and social media etiquette.

So I got to thinking, what would my Twitter page look like if I were a social media evangelist?

The result is below, with a few important points to explain the nitty gritty.

Twitter evangelism – some basic rules:

• Numbers of followers and following almost exactly the same. The social media evangelist refuses to follow anyone who does not follow back.

• Link to website that dispenses weak and generic advice on SEO, marketing and social media marketing.

• Likely to come from exotic location.

• Photo is either black-and-white professional or sun-tanned relaxation.

• Must include at least one quirky activity or like. Children’s books, something new age or ironic film/pop culture genre.

• Follows most Twitter celebs, and desperately tries to gain attention of said celeb. Often includes @wossy replies that are not aimed specifically @wossy, just in case @wossy notices.

• Website/ebook logo and contact information partially obscured by the bit where updates go. All writing slightly bitmapped.

• Updates number in tens of thousand. All rubbish.

Social media evangelist on Twitter

Written by Robin Brown

March 30th, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Posted in Photoshop,The web,Twitter

Tagged with ,