Robin Brown

Doing journalism. Teaching journalism.

Archive for the ‘Other stuff’ Category

Blocking people for using auto-follow software

without comments


The internet, like real-life society, only really works if people refrain from behaving badly; if people are prepared for a little give-and-take, a little co-operations, politeness and common sense.

When they don’t the internet doesn’t work – or you get these ghastly corners of the internet like Comment Is Free, The Huffington Post or Youtube comments section. Revenge porn websites, hate-filled fora and, perhaps worst of all, those people who spam Twitter with proclamations of loyalty to Justin Bieber (as an aside, could Justin Bieber seriously mobilise an army to mount on attack on a government of his choosing?).

autofollow 3

Twitter is often the battleground of choice for outbreaks of bad behaviour on the internet. Spam is hardly unknown on the platform, it frequently degenerates into a bitchfest in angry 140 mouthfuls and it’s full of shameless self-promoters (I’m definitely one of them, but it’s cute when I do it).

The most egregious thing on Twitter, however, is the rampant use of AutoFollow technology. The concept is fairly simple: you give your Twitter login details to some dodgy plugin, set your parameters and fire it off, like a chain letter wasting everyone’s time, patience and goodwill.

The idea behind this is that people will be flattered by the follow from someone they’ve never heard and follow back. So far so harmless? Well, perhaps, but it also reduces Twitter to a pointless scrum to gain followers for virtually no reason whatsoever: followers gained like this haven’t been earned, they’ve no loyalty to you or interest in you and will be disinclined to click on your banal links to get-rich-quick schemes and marketing wibble. They’re fundamentally followers that have no value to you. What’s more it reduces your stream to total nonsense – a cacophony of incoherent babbling. So it renders Twitter fundamentally useless to autofollowers as a communication tool.

autofollow 5

It get worse, though. If you don’t follow back within a certain period of time you will be probably be automatically unfollowed; there’s a good chance you’ll be unfollowed even if you do follow back. It’s taking without giving.

The reason for this virtual arms war is simply to get as many people to follow you as is humanly – or robotically – possible, so you can wave your Twitter count at the ingenuous like an artificially-inflated virtual willy. This is frequently for reasons of simple vanity, but it’s also used to fool other followers into thinking you’re important – and this is where it becomes obnoxious – as opposed to simply idiotic, selfish or a bit rude.

There are a lot of people who have no idea how the Internet works. And that means there are vast markets for the unscrupulous, the bullshitters, the snake-oil sellers and the fast-buck merchants. I have been asked by many PRs and marketing execs whether I can give them some tips on getting ‘a Twitter’ or on getting to the front page of the SERPS (‘being high up in Google’ in their parlance).

autofollow 4

I have, on occasion, run social media campaigns for clients, but it’s always come with the proviso that it needs to be part of an overall, long-term digital strategy that includes some genuinely useful and engaging content and is run in alignment with existing on- and offline strategies. People rarely like to hear that something is difficult and could be expensive, which may explain why I’ve never made a career out of it.

Making a career out of this axis of nonsense where SEO, digital marketing and social media intersect would be a piece of cake however, as there are simply so many companies out there who have a vague idea that they need to spend money in this area, without the slightest idea of how or why. Where there are clueless CEOs there are fat cheques for doing fuck all.


Which is where autofollow technology comes in. People who don’t understand Twitter may be impressed that you have 30,000 followers; they may believe that it shows that you know what you’re doing. “We want 30,000 Twitter followers,'” they think. “Perhaps @SEObiz2013 is the person to get me there; then we will have a Twitter and sell many more industrial heat-exchangers.”

Needless to say, this is totally bogus reasoning. But in the kingdom of the blind the 30K-Twitter account is King. And now that the arse-end has fallen out of SEO as the online chancer’s favoured hunting ground, the untapped landscape of social media is next up.

Blocking autofollowers

That’s why I will be blocking anyone I suspect of using autofollow technology. It reduces Twitter to a pointless popularity contest where everyone follows everyone and no-one interacts meaningfully any more. It ruins something that I happen to believe is a potentially brilliant medium, far more than Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest or many others at present.

There may be reasons for using autofollow plugins on Twitter, but I can’t think of any good ones. Some innocents may get blocked in the process, some people who might genuinely be interested in what I have to say and share on Twitter might miss out – and I might miss out on whatever they have to say – but that’s what the thoughtless deployment of these witless widgets do. They ruin the internet for everyone.

Want to join in? Have a look below at how to spot people using autofollow technology – I recommend that you do the sensible thing and give them the virtual finger. It’s the only language they understand.

Follow these simple rules and we can make Twitter a better place for us, our children, our children’s children and… well, you get the idea.

How to spot autofollowers on Twitter

Never interacted with you

Excessive use of hashtags in bio

Excessive blind links in bio

Keywords in bio likely to include SEO, SEM, content marketing, content strategy, digital strategy, online marketing, maven, networker, hero, incubator, investor, guru

Closely similar amount of following and followers OR vast discrepancy between follower and following

autofollow 2

Tens of thousands of tweets

Post links to vague ‘how to’-style videos or articles

Links posted are often via share buttons direct from websites, rather than manually entered

Use Twitter client to autopost, generally on the hour

Banal positive-thinking quotes posted on daily basis

Unlikely to have significant interest in what you’re tweeting (ie. they’re a Californian tech gadge tweeting about marketing, start-ups and their coffee; you live in Sunderland and tweet about football and TOWIE)

Live in a different country

Don’t interact with followers

Tweets include many variations on sharing the same link multiple times

Follower count at or around large round number (eg. 1,000 or 10,000)

No mutual followers

Dull logo, obvious stock portrait or Californian sunset as avatar

Header or background = generic aspirational image

• The images used in this article are from genuine Twitter accounts who recently followed me (apart from the one at the top) and I suspect of using autofollow software. No further implications are intended. It’s also come to my attention that there’s an actual website under the URL – no association intended there either.

Written by Robin Brown

April 23rd, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Posted in Other stuff

Tagged with

Embedding tweets: Ed Balls

without comments

I love Twitter as a platform, though I occasionally despise the way that people use it. Still, I find it a fascinating and genuinely useful platform and have been evangelising to my social media students on its uses recently.

Let me count the ways: As a means to source opinion, quotes and contacts; as a platform from which to broadcast; as a much better replacement for RSS readers; as an unparalleled and unprecedented forum for following news and events live (more quickly, even, that 24-hour news channels); as a jumping-off point for all sorts of ideas for blog posts and articles.

Twitter is pretty open about sharing and its API allows for all sorts of uses – as a result there’s loads of functionality – embedding tweets has been quickly taken up by all sorts of news sites. I’ve previously used Hootsuite to embed searches, but Twitter also allows users to create a widget for particular phrases.

I couldn’t remember how to do it today, so thought I’d look it up. Here’s a Twitter search for #edballs using Twitter’s proprietary widget, followed by the Hootsuite widget:

Embarrassingly, the Twitter widget doesn’t work and the Hootsuite widget does. Moreover the Hootsuite widget is easy to create and the app even gives you prompts to save your searches as a stream. So, while I take my hat off to Twitter for allowing people to use data in this way, the Twitter client is far more user-friendly.

Browser software? Flash issues? Incorrect mark-up? Who cares? It doesn’t work. And who can be bothered to figure out why something isn’t working in these impatient interweb days? Not I. The moral? Use Hootsuite.

Anyway, why this search term? Well, I don’t think I’ve laughed quite so much at a tweet as the one below, released into the Twittersphere by the Shadow Chancellor today. Epic.

Written by Robin Brown

February 23rd, 2013 at 1:26 am

Posted in Other stuff

Tagged with

Twitter: A parliament of tits

with 10 comments

I find myself making an effort these days to use Twitter. I never used to. Twitter used to be something I did so I didn’t have to do something else; work, take the bins out, confront terrifying existential angst, that sort of thing.

But the novelty has worn off, partly because so many people use it now. Watch sporting events and you’ll get the Twitter handles of presenters and commentators popping up on screen in much the same way that other unwelcome and unnecessary things pop up on screen. Red button alerts, adverts, Piers Morgan.

And not just in sport. Newsreaders ask us to follow or tweet them our news. Question Time wants us to hurl abuse at the goons on its panel. Things reached an absurd low recently when the Twitter handle of Batman massacre perp James Holmes was flashed up on screen whenever court reportings featured him on the news (that didn’t actually happen).

So, there are many more people on Twitter these days than there ever used to be. And Sartre tells us about other people. As Twitter’s usage has exploded, its IQ has imploded. Idiots like Chris Brown are routinely retweeted by thousands of people. A wife-beating, woman-hating, talent-free wankstain has a team of people bigging him up for any conceivable action – walking unaided, respiration, continence etc – ensuring that his every move is broadcast to millions of others who have no interest in him whatsoever.

Elsewhere a man who has been in a film has been cheated on by his wife, who is also in some films. Hence thousands of people who have never met them, and never will, firing invective at one another, and their respective idols, as a kind of surrogate poison dwarf.

My most recent experience of Twitter idiocy was a lot closer to home and on a rather smaller scale. In a moment both awkward and clumsy, a Scottish man known for running quickly and inventing lycra in the 80s made a reference to his skin colour in front of a man of a different skin colour.

I’m not quite sure what made Allan Wells, completely unprompted, observe that he was the last white guy to win the men’s 100m in the Olympics (back in 1980 in Moscow with no Americans around). It was a bit odd and understandably felt a little weird, especially with Johnson sitting alongside him.

But there are very good reasons why he might have introduced the topic, which is central to the modern paradigm of sprinting and athletics. Black men rule sprinting and have done since Wells’ victory 32 years ago. More and more research has come to light about the physiology of black athletes of certain origins that suggests an unusual biological quirk that concerns things like fast-twitch muscle reflexes and the like. Put simply, if you’re black and carry certain DNA you’re a lot more likely to be able to run fast than a little Scottish feller.

I thought it possible that Wells was referring to this – “It was very special,” he said; “You’re in a very select group,” replies Gaby Logan, which is surely the piont he was making; Michael Johnson doesn’t bat an eyelid – and was making his statement as a source of pride: I am biologically inferior to the best black sprinters, as are most white men, but I nicked that one.

Wells’ Olympic gold may also be seen as the last hurrah of an era of athletics where people became sprinters almost by accident. No widespread funding for athletics; no wide take-up of the sport in certain parts of the world; no modern training, facilities, dieticians or biokinetics.

Like with many things, TV brought fame, money and professionalism, for want of a better word. The game changed. The best physical specimens in the world were genuinely competing against one another after 1980. Look at Alan Wells, a quiet bloke from Edinburgh and then look at his successor as Olympic champion, Carl Lewis. The difference between them is symptomatic of the enormous change between athletics in the 70s and the 80s.

I find it not unreasonable that Wells may have been attempting to invoke this paradigm shift in the history of sprinting. Either way it was clearly not malicious, pointed or prejudicial. Did Twitter consider these inflections, these subtleties, these shades of grey and give Wells the benefit of the doubt? No, there was a deluge of sniffy, disapproving tweets, many of which essentially claimed that Wells was being racist.

Wells did not help himself when he later appeared to call a Chinese weightlifter ‘horrendous’, but it was again unclear what his intent was. On rewatching it it sounds like he’s claiming that receiving a massage from the weightlifter would be ‘horrendous’ – a reference to the fact that she is very strong, in all likelihood.

Yet the die was cast. Wells was not only making racial comments, he was a misogynist too! Complaints would be made; blowhards apologised to Johnson on behalf of Brits everywhere; the Twitter frenzy was upon us once again.

This is all rather boring and a little depressing. The faux outrage, the smug sniffiness and willingness to judge was insufferable. And worse, the other side defending Wells for his glorious ‘un-PC-ness’; revelling in what they took to be a blow for outspoken iconoclasts (translation: racists).

The whole affair made me question what I get out Twitter. But it made me feel sorry for Wells too; a man who, I suspect, would be mortified by the way his comment was taken by both sides. A man who – like sprinting when he was at his peak – is of a rather different time and may speak artlessly about race and more besides, but without any prejudice or intent whatsoever.

Hell may be other people, but Twitter is the dimensional aperture beaming it into our homes. And what a terrible vision it is. A cacophony of nothingess. A chasm of self-satisfied yawning. A parliament of tits.

Written by Robin Brown

August 6th, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Posted in Other stuff

Tagged with ,

How to exclude images from a gallery in WordPress

without comments

Having just had what I was determined to the last ever battle I ever have with WordPress over excluding certain images from a gallery that I wanted to embed in a post I went and looked it up.

Why on Earth WordPress, which has my unstinting support in every other regard for its brilliant platforms, still hasn’t addressed what amounts to the biggest ballache for me (any many, many more gathering from a quick Googling) is beyond me – and their support forums are full on inane ‘how to create a gallery’ videos or baffling technobabble, assuming they’re not telling people to go ask their questions somewhere else.

So, having twatted around with this for absolutely sodding ages, here’s my tutorial:

  • Upload all of your images – galleries and non-gallery images
  • Insert the gallery link
  • Preview the post – then mouseover the images you want to exclude (put your cursor over the offending images until a pop-up, er, pops up.
  • Make a note of the number that pops up – it should be a number between one and whatever you’re up to on numbers. It’s not the name you gave the file, or the name the image had before you downloaded it. It’s a numerical, plain and simple.
  • Insert this code: [ gallery exclude=”your number here,your second number here”], remembering to include the numbers of the images you want rid of. If there’s just one then just exclude that one. (Remember too to close up the space between the opening bracket and the ‘g’ of ‘gallery’ – or it won’t work).

Jesus, why is this stuff so hard?

Written by Robin Brown

February 27th, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Other stuff

Tagged with

Cameron addresses UK riots

without comments

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 Other stuff

Tagged with

Are attention spans waning – even on Twitter?

with one comment

I noticed a splurge of new followers the other day, and a few new messages from people telling me their experiences of Twitter.

This sort of thing happens every now and then when something I’ve written on the subject gets shared by a social media maven, or whatever they’re calling themselves nowadays.

Sure enough something called Tweethelper and then TweetSmarter had sent the link to my really, really simple guide to using Twitter out into the ether, where it got retweeted another 80 or so times, probably more, and often by people with six-figure follower, er, followings.

So I dived into Analytics, expecting a deluge of traffic and some high bounce rates. The bounce rates were certainly there but the traffic? Around 600 hits that appeared to come from the shared Twitter links. 600 hits from 80 retweets? And, at a guess, a potential audience of around 200,000? Not a great return.

What does this say for Twitter’s ability to generate traffic? Not much. Could it be that, since businesses and spammers took to Twitter there’s a spot of link fatigue going on? Was it ever that useful?

I’ve become more and more sceptical about the ability of Twitter to generate significant traffic unless, perhaps, you have large, targeted followings already and really hammer the links.

Perhaps it’s another sign that people don’t really want much more than the usual internet diet of celebs, free stuff and sex – even on Twitter. And, already, people have started to filter out the stuff that’s not immediately of interest to them, like they did with display adverts.

So, if 140 chars isn’t enough for WILFers, where do we go from here?

Written by Robin Brown

May 9th, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Posted in Other stuff

Tagged with

Yahoo’s axing of Delicious leaves a sour taste

with 3 comments

So Delicious is off to the land of defunct social networks. This annoys me as it’s the best pure bookmarking site on the web; frankly I find Stumble Upon too gimmicky – and curiously hard to use – while the likes of Reddit and Digg are just popularity contests these days.

On every computer I work from, there’s a Delicious applet that automatically populates my Delicious account with the meta data from whatever page I’m bookmarking. I add a couple of tags and I’m off again, safe in the knowledge that I can easily find the page again when I need it.

For reasons best known to itself – at a guess something like Delicious is pretty hard to monetise – parent company Yahoo! is set to wave off the bookmarking site into the sunset, according to a leaked screenshot detailing strategies for the company’s sprawling, fragmented, declining empire.

Yahoo! has form with simply trashing stuff it fails to make anything of, with its complete binning of Geocities, and I fear a similar fate for Delicious, rather than let it continue under someone else or release it to open source.

Frankly, I just don’t know what Yahoo! is for any more. Ten years ago, in the era of homepages and mail and search engines, when people like MSN and AOL built up massive online footprints – cars, celebrities, news services, videos – and started acquiring start-ups like Delicious and Flickr, Yahoo! at least made sense within that landscape.

But five years ago everyone realised that, no matter how many news channels you opened, people just weren’t using the web in the same way any more. Google put paid to the other search engines, then slowly took over email, and people began to realise that you might as well get your news from a newspaper than a portal.

Facebook has started its cannibalisation of the web and is well on its way to becoming a true portal – the only page anyone needs to visit on the interweb. Another death knell for the horrifyingly busy, crowded, redundant Yahoo! and MSN homepages.

In this context, satellite services like Flickr and Delicious seem to make even more sense to me. Data is valuable; everyone takes photos; professionals and geeks like to share information; niche services become important in their own right.

Most of the freshest bookmarks on Delicious are users discussing the site's impending demise

The real value of Delicious, to me, was in a massive peer-reviewed repository of the valuable stuff on the web. In amongst all the self-serving newsletters, Twitter feeds and artificially-inflated search-engne rankings – Delicious offered the best of the web filtered by people who worked within the same industries that you did and could be trusted to share the really good stuff. Those delicious web bites that can get lost on the cess pool that is the modern internet.

Whenever I need to research something in journalism, social media, marketing, PR or anything else in the technical realm I turn to Delicious. I dare say coders, techies and a variety of other professionals do too. In this way Delicious was almost an uber search engine; no-one tried to game it like they do Google, Digg or Reddit so only the really good stuff was in there.

I doubt many people used Delicious in the grand scheme of things, but that made it all the more valuable (and I can’t understand how it could possibly cost much to run); and Yahoo! should have been able to make something of that, particularly when they own so much other ancillary real estate.

I never saw, for example, a way to integrate Delicious with my Yahoo! email account. Sure, there’s probably a way to do it, but it was never offered to me. Similarly, why not cross-reference Flickr and Delicious? Or introduce a nominal annual fee and stick some bells and whistles on it?

That Yahoo! doesn’t see the value in retaining Delicious just says, to me, that the company doesn’t really understand what it’s there for any more, that it’s lost sight of how to leverage what it has and make sense of those who continue to use their services.

There’s an online campaign pinging around the other social networks at the moment to save delicious, which indicates the depth of feeling among users. Will it work? I hope so, because Delicious may just be one of the more valuable online repositories of peer-reviewed knowledge in existence. If no-one sees the value of that I despair.

Written by Robin Brown

December 17th, 2010 at 10:00 am

Posted in Other stuff

Tagged with , , ,

2010: My year in status updates

without comments

Is there anything remotely fascinating about other peoples’ status updates? Probably not, but the ability to track your own life story using Facebook’s pithy snippets, like a personal dot-to-dot connecting different moments in time, is an interesting one to my mind.

Looking back over my own, I remembered some things that happened this year that I’d completely forgotten about, and a few that amused me due to the responses they elicited or events they concerned.

It’s curious that we all leave a personal data trail across the web these days. Via Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Youtube, Flickr and blogs, you’d probably be able to determine where I was and what I was doing on any given day this year.

There’s a train of thought that maintains that this is a horrifying release of personal data, but I’m quite amused by the idea that Russian internet mobsters are trying to make sense of the numerous pop-culture references, puzzling over pictures of my cat or exchanging bemused hypotheses over my infatuation with something named the ‘Baltic Fleet’.

Anyway, here’s my life in status updates. It’s not Shakespeare, but it all means something to me, and perhaps quite a few friends. In the absence of a diary, it should keep me amused or remind me of cool things I did in a few decades’ time too – assuming the ants haven’t taken over.

I don’t want to go (David Tennant relinquished the keys to the TARDSI)

cat’s turning his nose up at roast beef, the little bollocks!

Milk was a bad choice (Ron Burgundy reference)

It’s not too late to be reinstated (Shack reference)

Frost on beard (January was horribly cold, leading to chaos in Liverpool)

“Much more fortunate than the millions who’ll wander sightless through the smouldering aftermath. We’ll be spared the horror of survival.” They don’t make kids’ films like they used to (from War Games, one of my favourite films)

WHY HAS MY HEAD GONE NUMB? (Withnail and I reference)

Actual headline: Man with genitals in pipe cut free (He ‘gave no explanation’

Ian McNiece and Robbie Coltrane is the same scene? Why it’s fat English character actor heaven! (In From Hell)

Has never seen anyone as upset over a game of Connect Four as Iwan (I beat my housemate at online Connect Four, having listened to him extolling his abilities. I promptly retired from the game forever)

Where’s the white going? WHERE’S THE WHITE GOING? (ref. John Virgo)

Alien Cat People versus America in Space was excellent (Avatar)

Distraught at losing darts, Iwan has logged on to get a Connect 4 win under his belt to end the day on a victorious note – and been hammered three times (January was a bad month for Iwan’s games ability. I crashed out of the darts at the quarter final stage but returned to voice Sir Roger Moore in a pre-match vid))

Back from monster trip. Huskies, igloos, barn owls, ice driving lunacy, five airports in three days, Hitler’s holiday home and a blazing row with a Sun journalist (went on the adventure holiday of a lifetime, courtesy of Volvo)

Me: Yeah, QED – Quite Easily Done. Bowser: [Beat] Is that what QED means? (This conversation actually happened)

Midnight rockers, city slickers, gunmen and maniacs (ref. Massive Attack)

God, it would be awful if Ricky somehow got hold of this videotape… (ref. Eastenders – Bianca’s loose tongue causes problems)

Though your world is changing I will be the same (ref. Bryan Ferry)

Should I buy Beyond the Valley of the Dolls on DVD? (I didn’t)

is watching reruns of Babylon 5 (ref. Spaced – but also true)

goes ding when there’s stuff (ref. Doctor Who)

Javagal Srinath (Indian cricketer, possibly the best name ever)

Clone Stamp and Smudge Tool (twatting about on Photoshop, probably on Creature Features

Is the guy on Masterchef who’s a pediatrician being referred to as a ‘children’s doctor’ in case people think he’s a paedophile? I like Masterchef, especially the facial expressions

Yo Yo Ma! (ref. Curb Your Enthusiasm)

I had part of a slinky… but I straightened it (ref. Ghostbusters)

I am the dog that ate your birthday cake (Mark Linkous killed himself)

What a day. The Citroen DS3 is good. The C3… not so good. Huddersfield, mainly depressing (some driving stuff)

DJ Falcon (returned to Chibuku for the first time in five years, felt old)

One of your friends became a fan of Seeing The Shape Of A Girls Ass Through Her Leggings (baffling Facebook stuff)

Society’s a weak excuse for a man (ref. Slick Rick)

Parting Shots: Michael Winner, Chris Rea, Peter Davison, Diana Rigg, Felicity Kendall, John Cleese, Ben Kinglsey, Trevor Baxter, Olly Reid, Gareth Hunt, Nicola Bryant in a bra. Quite the worst film ever (terrible, terrible, terrible)

Along you came, and right away I’m stung. Sweet words I long to whisper, but you paralyzed my tongue (ref. Simpsons)

You’ve Been Framed=Idiot Painful Comeuppance Half Hour (I like You’ve Been Framed, especially the ones where people deserve it)

I’m poppa large, big shot on the east coast (ref. Ultramagnetic MCs)

I couldn’t fuck a gorilla… (ref. The Man With Two Brains)

Ooh, try a little harder, You’re moving in circles, won’t you dilate, Baby try (ref. Kajagoogoo)

Funniest Ever You’ve Been Framed followed by Best Ever TV Burp. Is it my birthday already? (Two shows I love)

Beloved ****? (ref. Curb)

Bought an organ, a bike and a Terrahawks DVD (birthday presents to self – see my huge organ here)

Hopelessly Panglossian (ref. The Duckworth Lewis method)


Had a mouse for dinner, and a mole for dessert (ref. Paul Barman)

Ohh, Eggheads, what hilariously irrelevant banter will you come up with next? (I dislike Eggheads)

Mazda MX-5 on a sunny day in the countryside (driving the little roadster on a sunny day was great fun; excellent car)

Watching people do ‘Meow Meow’ (it didn’t look good)

I’ll tell you what’s worse than going back to work after two weeks off, you sodding part-timers, not having two sodding weeks off in the first sodding place! (whinging public service staff)

Morny Stannit (ref. Morecambe and Wise)

When this baby hits 88mph, you’re going to see some serious shit (ref. Back to the Future)

Saw a heron and two swans making a nest in Sefton Park. And a moorhen moodying a swan. And a rat. (the varies fauna of Sefton Park)

I live among the creatures of the night (ref. Laura Brannigan)

Coming soon to a newspaper near you: LFC fans give warm welcome to Russian oil oligarch (the 2009 LFC soap opera

Venison fillet, red wine jus, crushed new potatoes with with garlic flowers. Excellent (I picked the garlic flowers from a wood in Masham)

Adrian Chiles ordered to shave bear (for some reason the title cut off here in WordPress stats for the Adrian Chiles ordered to shave beard story)

Most troubling opening line in pop? ‘I was 37, you were 17’ (ref. Heaven 17)

Leveraged the shit out of some synergies today (spent a lot of time at work devising strategies for several content channels)

‘A woman from Devon has begun speaking with a Chinese accent after suffering severe migraines’

Gordon Brown! (ref. Adam and Joe)

Managed a run-out in a Rover 623 SLi today – great fun. It actually crossed my mind to buy it. (I didn’t, but I thought about it – photos)


I can see you got a solar report (ref. The Charlatans)

There’s a lot of produce here (Gordon Brown’s comment on a supermarket during the election campaign)

I warn you not to be ordinary, I warn you not to be young, I warn you not to fall ill, and I warn you not to grow old. (ref. Neil Kinnock)

Kelvin MacKenzie has promised to leave the UK on a one-way trip to Belize if there is a hung parliament. Do I need to say anything else? (I loathe Kelvin MacKenzie)

Overheard: Greggs minion to builder: ‘How many sugars love?’ Builder: ‘Five please’ BROKEN BRITAIN (I loathe the Broken Britain meme)

Randomly bumped onto half a dozen people I know whilst wandering around town. I love Liverpool for that (on one my infrequent Sunday gallery tours)

Two games of cricket, two knackered fingers. By July I’ll be typing with my nose at this rate (I developed two new cricket injuries this summer)

Doctor Baker phoned me in the morning (ref. The Beta Band)

On balance I prefer the Jaguar XJ to the Kia Rio (two cars I drove in quick succession, I preferred the Jag)

Someone on this bus is absolutely blasting the acid tweaking funk mix of higher state of consciousness. And a fat dooby. (the two so often seem to go together)

Bored of zombies now. Can we have a zombie amnesty? (2010 was the year of zombie overload)

I have a bacon sandwich in my pocket (must have been a good day)

Overheard outside: (Girl answers phone – shrilly) WHA-? What’s the matter? Proper shit meself there, I thought something was the matter…”

Don’t get this thing of asking how much people ‘want’ something in reality shows: ‘How much do you want this?” “I really, really want it” (ref. Masterchef, X-Factor etc)

Jests at scars (ref. Shakespeare)

Blow in her face and she’ll follow you anywhere (old-skool cigarette ad)

Mein Fuhrer… I can walk! (ref. Dr Strangelove)

Time is an illusion; lunchtime, doubly so (ref. Douglas Adams)

Could have sworn I just heard a bird tweeting Higher State of Consciousness (somewhere on Saddleworth Moor)

‘He got his finger out, but didn’t put it up’ (ref. cricket)

My actual instinctive reaction to news of Gary Coleman’s death: ‘Aw, poor little fella’. Even in death he’s patronised (poor little fella)

A routine malaise (ref. Grizzly Bear)

To the break of dawn (ref. Bad Lieutenant)

Hmm, was Sex and the City ever any good? I mainly remember a lot of muff jokes and bitching about men (The new SatC film got bad reviews)

Do you respect wood? (ref. Curb)

Sevenstreets (SevenStreets finally launched)

Just saw a chicken escorted off the premises at old Trafford. At least he had his dignity (at the Old Trafford Test against Bangladesh)

Wrath of the Math (ref. Jeru the Damaja)

If there’s nothing missing in my life, then why do these tears come at night? (ref. Britney Spears)

ladies and gents watches, a toastie machine a microwave oven, a pine dresser and upright turbo cleaner have just been gambled on bullseye. They didn’t look overly delighted by the holiday to Thailand though (shit telly)

Vworp Vworp (ref. Doctor Who, specifically Target)

I have to return some video tapes (ref. American Psycho)

Michael Douglas’s mirrored sunglasses (ref Neon Neon)

Is playing the part of a real trouble-maker (ref. The Passions)

Dismayed by my pudgy face on Granada Reports. Disgracefully, Iwan’s shit wicket was broadcast across the north-west (at the brilliant Sefton Park Solstice Cup match)

Just remembered extraordinary sight from yesterday AM: Huge vortex of thousands of seagulls swarming around Africa Oye site (feasting on curried goat, no doubt)

Liverpool abolished as part of Budget (austerity budget announced)

Pretty disappointed by Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (not one of the Everymans best, in what’s been another great year for the Liverpool theatre – review here)

I’m a cop, you idiot! (ref. Schwarzenegger)

Tesla girls, Tesla girls, I’m in love with Tesla girls (ref. OMD)

Radiates like it’s ’88 (ref. Paul Barman)

Today I will mostly be creating robust strategies, identifying key influencers, working with cross-organisational stakeholders, creating brand outposts, plan distribution strategies and increasing brand equity. And to think I dreamed of being an investigative journalist. (spent a lot of time researching social media in business)

‘Question of the Week: Which web/marketing analytics tools can’t you live without when measuring your inbound marketing programs?’ In what sort of crazy world is this ‘question of the week’? (Someone replied: ‘In your world, Brown’)

Explosive water pipe failure in living room. Cue ten minutes of frantic slapstick (Paul, the most useless plumber in the world showed up on time for once)

Fig rolls (I like fig rolls)

When I see your eyes arrive, they explode like two bugs on glass (ref. Mercury Rev)

Jam Up and Jelly Tight (ref. Tommy Rowe)

Enjoying the high bombardment of positive ions in the atmosphere (ref. The FIve Doctors)

The quest is the quest (ref. Doctor Who)

I see Channel 4 is doing another boobs and cocks programme and passing it off as educayshun (Channel 5 will always win in this battle)

Recommended Pages: Sleeping Many who like Drinking like this <last ever Big Brother)

Staff cuts have socked up the overage (ref. REM)

Marmite – Many who like Tony Hart like this Aviator Hotel, courtesy of Saab)

Ah, Fucking You Tonight – Biggie Smalls’ irresistible exploration of the quid pro quo of courtship in the modern age (ref. Biggie Smalls)

What would Avon off Blake’s 7 do? (ref. Blake’s 7)

l33t supa h4x0r (ref. leetspeak)

Northumbria Uber Alles (ref. Dead Kennedys)

there’s only two ways you can injure your neck (ref. Curb – a car accident and oral sex)

Peking Homonculus (ref. Talons of Weng Chiang)

Imagine a world where shoes are not your friends (can’t remember where this comes from)

KBO (ref. Churchill)

‘Every girl’s given someone a blower’ – Big Brother enhances all of us (lovely, uncomplicated Josie)

Let’s get this straight iPhone, if I want to say ‘twat’ in a text I’m damn well going to say it. Not ‘teat’, not ‘test’. Twat (amusing site here)

Dear neighbour, your folky summer jamming session is very nice, but shut the fuck up you fucking hippies (they moved shortly after)

I didn’t make it sugar, playing by the rules (ref. Marvin Gaye)

Been eatin’ pineapple (ref. Scarface censorship)

I’m with Morse. I don’t drink because I enjoy it, I drink so I can think. Though I also enjoy drinking (I like Inspector Morse and drinking)

Everybody spread the word. I live in my sister’s basement! (ref. The Wedding Singer)

dab of oppo (ref. Sniff Petrol)

‘Cake is sexy bread’ reveals the great bake off. Now got to religious persecution of cake. Utterly futile programme (a silly show that also saw Mel Or Sue refer to eggs, flour, butter and sugar as ‘the Fab Four’)

That time of the week when I allow myself a solitary draught of laudanum

I wish they all could be double-barreled… (ref. Top Secret!)

You would make a fantastic booby (ref. John McCririck)

Give me convenience or give me death (ref. Dead Kennedys)

If there’s one thing on my mind it’s gettin downstate (ref. Aim)

I could make you cry in three minutes (drunken threat to best friend)

No diggity (ref. Blackstreet)

I hate Sebastian Coe! (ref. Brass Eye, though I do hate Sebastian Coe)

Vanessa Felch (nickname given to a barmaid I used to know)

Baking a pie. I’ve been away too long (it was steak and kidney)

Cafe au lait… pour vous (ref. Shaun of the Dead)

Nice and sleazy does it (ref. The Stranglers)

Tweedle Twat (ref, Science, Big Brother)

Right, off on holiday to the Dales. There will be sausages (there were, in Masham)

Carwash cunt (ref. Curb)

Picking out a thermos for you… (ref. The Jerk)

Worst Goal of the Month music ever. Bring back Life of Riley (ref. Match of the Day)

Stop saying things are ‘cheeky’ (eg cheeky Volvic)

What’s that brain? You’re feeling creative? Well fuck you, you’ve had all day, I’m off to bed (bloggers curse)

Watching a game of park footy in Preston. Precocious dribbler rounds three men on his way towards goal. A shout rings out: “bring him down Legolas!” (livened up a day of driving Vauxhalls)

Here hare here (I cooked a hare casserole, it was tough but tasty)

17,000 more sleeps til I’m dead (according to some online generator thing)

Mmm nice marmot (ref. The Big Lebowski)

Just heard a classic ‘Eee! Are you messin’?’ in the office (classic Liverpool)

Nothing makes me more pleased to be European than seeing some of the frat-boy dicks in the crowd at the Ryder Cup #getintheholeball (the goodies won)

**** your ****ing ***** off you ****! (ref. The Inbetweeners)

Young, gifted and Brown

Dear Mr Hicks, please will you fuck off and leave LFC alone so I don’t have to listen to whining Reds bleating on about it all the time. Cheers, Robin (tiresome LFC soap opera rumbles on)

Some guy on twitter is trying to get me to listen to his mixtape, which includes a song called Damn It Feels Good To Be A Scouser (I didn’t listen)

‘scenes of animal mating’? (since when did viewers have to be warned about animal mating?)

What’s wrong with being childish? I like being childish (ref. Doctor Who)

Right. Your help please. Is it ‘briefcase wanker’ or ‘briefcase mong’? (both, apparently)

People searching for ‘blackman and robin’ on the culture blog always makes me nervous (see why for yourself – Blackman and Robin

Last night I dreamed had a scouse accent (a nightmare)

Maybe you’re my puppet (ref. Solaris)

This is definitely Laphroaig weather (I like Laphraoig)

Suddenly forgotten a keyboard shortcut I use 100 times a day. Another ‘is this the inevitable onset of senility?’ pang of fear (senility and arthritis, great mix)

Good God, George Osborne has a grotesque little face (I hate George Osborne

It’s not the way you look, it’s not the way that you smile (ref. A Flock of Seagulls)

Noticed the ‘Safe Zone’ in Brunswick station is now called ‘Safer Zone’. Perhaps an acknowledgement that painting a yellow line around something does not make it inherently safe (probably now called ‘slightly safer zone)

Because I once commented on an article called ‘video games are no better than pornography’, my Guardian profile now lists ‘pornography’ as one of my key interests (now changed to ‘commented on’)

House****ing (the C word – I didn’t enjoy looking for a house)

Would you call your first-born Citroen Berlingo Multispace for a million quid? (I had recently driven said car)

Wage rates in Peru, James Burke, Finnegans Wake, all the bloody irish, the dog in Blue Peter, Brian Clough, and especially James Henry and Clive and Australian barmen, ecologists, semiologists…the Guardian Women’s Page, the Bible, Reader’s Digest Special Price Draw… (all the things Philip Marlow finds boring)

The cat tolerated my over-enthusiastic, drunken greeting, but I could tell he was secretly irritated (he’s usually irritated)

That old ‘is it a powercut or have the fuses gone?’ chestnut. Spose I’d best dig out a torch. Hope they’re not my last words. (power cut, though this led to the fuses blowing and detouring to the missus’ house for a shower for two weeks)

Halloween, perhaps the best horror film ever made, coming up on BBC4 (I like horror films)

You don’t know how to play the game/You cheat/You lie/You make me wanna cry (ref. Godley and Creme)

So very close to referring to a sliding car as an ‘ungainly fuck on a frozen pond’ in an article (Volvo XC60 I think)

Aksidenz Grotesk (I like fonts)

You’re just going to have to turn this opportunity YES (ref. Sexy Beast)

wore a suit for nothing. pfft. (for a meeting with GM that didn’t happen)

Kazakhstan is the greatest exporter of potassium, all other countries have inferior potassium (ref. Borat)

Savaged by a turbot (ref. Blackadder)

A translation error at a UK prison labelled an exercise yard as an “execution yard” in the draft of an information booklet for Russian inmates (genuine BBC story)

Ten per cent of robins will die at the hands of another robin (chilling birdlife fact)

A merciless thunderbolt (no idea)

Finding it hard to escape the feeling that the world would be a slightly better place if Dappy from NDubz was dead (I hate Dappy from NDubz)

Shane Warne: My mates are great – thanks for that Shane, you pudgy Aussie twat (I dislike Sky’s cricket commentary)

Nice beaver (ref. Naked Gun, Leslie Neilsen died)

Mention the Lord of the Rings just once more and I’ll more than likely kill you (ref. Half Man Half Biscuit)

what a great start to the day. Aussies 0-2 (Aussies totally outclassed in Ashes 2010

Overheard, coming from direction of workmen: ‘there’s Brownie, the SHITBAG!’ (not sure if this was directed at me, I didn’t look back)

The fact that you don’t understand, casts a shadow over this land (ref. Billy Bragg/Dubstar)

…a twist in the fabric of space in which time becomes a loop (ref. The Orb/Star Trek)

However, the culture secretary’s patience was tested further just after 9.30am when Marr hosted a discussion about the Freudian slip as a follow-up to his colleague’s mistake. “We’re not going to repeat in quite the terms it happened,” Marr promised, before repeating exactly the same mistake Naughtie had made. Marr quickly corrected himself and apologised, saying: “It’s very hard to talk about it without saying it.” (hilarious ‘cunt’ antics at the BBC)

Sacked chimney sweep pumps boss full of mayonnaise (Day Today reference)

• If you want to know how to harvest your status updates from Facebook, I recommend an app called Status Statistics as it lets you do whatever you want with them, rather than the crap My Year in Status, which doesn’t even let you have access to your own status updates

Written by Robin Brown

December 11th, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Posted in Other stuff

Tagged with ,

Crowdsourcing: Tim Loughton #endof

with one comment

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton was just one of the Tories at the Conservative Party conference asked about controversial cuts to child benefit today, and hit upon a novel, and some may say wizard, wheeze to avoid answering any of the questions the millions of people affected by the cuts may have had for him.

Toeing a furious ‘tough but fair’ party line, Loughton decided that the best way to head off any awkward questions was simply to say ‘end of’ repeatedly; like a youth announcing that further discussion is unlikely to bear fruit, after stating his intention to avoid cleaning up his room.

Quite what Dave Cameron, trying his best to put an end to the public image of Tories as arrogant – nay ‘nasty’ – politicians, makes of it is anyone’s guess.

It’s a little more imaginative – not to say rather more out-of-place – than John Nott’s response to Robin Day’s assertion that he was a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ sort of politician, which was to walk out of a live interview, but not much more.

Unfortunately Twitter wasn’t around 30 years ago, so we’ll never know what the Twitterati would have made of that historial broadcasting spat.

Luckily for us, the response of dozens of voters on Twitter to Loughton’s bizarre performance, can be enjoyed again and again.

Here’s the video, scroll down for Twitter judgement.



ColRichardKemp: Tim Loughton, Children’s Minister, to BBC on child benefit: “End of, end of, end of.” Astonishing arrogance from one who is paid to serve us

That was “street” innit !RT @ColRichardKemp Tim Loughton, Children’s Minister, to BBC on child

Tory Minister Tim Loughton – most entertaining piece on @BBCNewsnight for some time “end of, end of, end of” – what a twat #toryfail

Tim Loughton MP… You completely arrogant prick… “end of…end of…” we’re paying this guy to be a Minister? #Timloughton

*End of, End of, End of* – Tim Loughton says. Just what Ive been thinking about you. Sorry but you’ve never been an asset #ukpolitics

#tim loughton#newsnight….end of, end of, should have been a cue for a cameraman to banjo him

Tory Tim Loughton MP, Children’s Minister needs to widen his vocabulary and get a bit of media training! #ChildBenefit @Newsnight

Convenient that Tim Loughton is Childrens Minister. His ‘Thick of it’ style interview on #newsnight was reminiscent of a small child

Tim Loughton sounds like such a knob bleating ‘end of’ on #newsnight

tim loughton got a scratch? #endof

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton, defending Osborne child benefit cuts, says “end of” 3 times, Bizarre. Like a yoof saying “fiddlesticks!”.

Conservative Tim Loughton MP. His view of fairness as a tradition of the party END OF.

Tim Loughton MP thinks he is on The Jeremy Kyle Show. End of.

Tim Loughton is an arrogant prick. “End of”.

I can’t believe Tim Loughton just used “end of.” – repeatedly on the news. What a smug little cockdribble

Rt Hon. Tim ‘end of’ Loughton says Child Benefit ‘sorted, nuff said alrite geez’

Written by Robin Brown

October 5th, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Posted in Other stuff

Tagged with , ,

Twitterrific: Hero to Zero

with 2 comments

In the grand scheme of things, what Twitter client you use on your mobile device is small beer by anyone’s standards, but it’s recently become a big deal to me.

Having taken the plunge with the iPhone, the search was on for a decent Twitter client so I could enjoy sitting in pubs, ignoring my friends and e-wanking away on my shiny new Apple thing (shamefully, one of five products I now have from the company).

Hootsuite, which I use on my computers, was discarded as being rather too clunky and busy: Echofon, used previously, didn’t do it for me either. Having asked on Twitter – where else? – someone suggested I use Twitterrific.

It was by far the simplest and most user-friendly of all the applications. It looked nice; it was simple; you could change the font sizes and themes; you could have multiple accounts; it made a tweeting noise when it updated. I particularly noticed that.

There were problems. The Twitter API seemed to be at lunch half the time, and this became more and more of a problem as Twitter began cutting back on third-party app API use.

Then, without warning, Twitterrific just stopped working completely. It said my login details were incorrect, but I re-entered them several times to no avail. I noticed an update, but that didn’t help either.

So I went to Twitter – where else? – to see what was wrong and learned there was a new version. They’d simply switched the old one off. Pretty poor, I thought to myself, but hey ho.

I downloaded the new version. But it looked confusing: I couldn’t change the font size; I couldn’t add more than one account; and I couldn’t work out how to do anything. It still made the tweeting noise, but that wasn’t quite enough to swing it.

I browsed the reviews on the new application to see a column of one-star reviews. And what made it so frustrating was that everyone, like me, loved the previous version.

The new version costs £2.99 but that doesn’t bother me in itself. If it was as good as the previous version, with a few more bells and whistles, I’d have gladly swallowed the expense.

But the way the previous version was simply turned off annoys me, and I’m not the only one. Have a look at some of these reviews from iTunes.

People who used V2 of Twitterrific loved it. They were classic brand evangelists; people who would recommend an app to someone else simply because they really liked it.

With its cack-handed upgrade and attempts to monetise the new version, Twitterrific has gone from a social media success story to a villain almost overnight. Those evangelists have lost their faith, and they’ll be more than happy to tell you about it.

Written by Robin Brown

September 6th, 2010 at 9:32 am

Follow Robin

For 140-character asides on media, journalism, cars, HE, politics, cricket and Doctor Who, follow Robin on Twitter .

Powered by WordPress Popup