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And he used to be such a nice, quiet boy

Twitter, a beginner’s guide

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Twitter is one of the most used social networking sites of modern time. Along with facebook it now has millions of users worldwide. Not only is it the forum for the average person, but als0 for film stars, celebrities, sports people, statesmen, journalists and activists.

It has become the must-have online accessory, everybody who is somebody has to have one, and use it at least ten times a day.

Not only that, it has had a powerful impact on public relations, leveling the playing field between celebrities and us poor folk. Suddenly we are getting their life stories, minute by minute, and usually straight from the horses mouth.

More Journalists are posting to their twitter account than going to the newsroom. On Sky News the other week they just showed a twitterstream rather than trying to describe the news in question.

(I will explain the twitterstream thing in a minute)

Twitter was invented in 2007 by a small brainstorming group from the podcasting company Odeo. The idea was to work on extra small, constantly updated blog posts that could work like a text message. A short message, or a ‘tweet’ can consist of no more than 140 characters, be they letters, or punctuation. They can also be used for internet links.

So to get started, type in www.twitter.com into your URL bar and follow the simple instructions. Believe me it is pretty easy.

Then what?

Then you have to find people to follow. They may be friends, relatives, football teams or celebrities. Use the search engine to find them. In addition, when you first join, you can use a feature to check your email address book for anyone with a twitter account, and it adds them automatically.

So how does Twitter work?

Imagine your town high street, completely empty. Now imagine someone walking down the street toward you. They may be a follower. If someone walks past you, up the street they are someone you are following. The more people you follow, the more people are likely to follow you back. Now the high street is filling with people all walking up and down the street. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the twitterstream.

How can it help you?

Well in lots of ways. You can use it to make friends and influence people, you can promote yourself, your products or your interests. Some people use it for flirting and dating, others have found a good support network in the twitterstream.

Where can I use Twitter?

Wherever you like, as it works via PC, Mac, iPhones and any relevant Apple technology. You can take it anywhere and it operates worldwide, 24 hours a day.

How do I post pictures?

You can use various other sites to post pics to twitter, such as moby.com or lockerz.com but in truth it is easier just to use twitter’s own photo uploader. All they ask is that you keep it tasteful and don’t post anything offensive.

How do I post links?

Knowing how to post a link to a website is a vital skill. It magically teleports people from twitter to your website, which should be your real shop window. To start, you have to have your web page up in a separate window. Then you copy and paste the link to twitter, write a brief description, and send the tweet.

Links can, of course, be very long so you can use the site http://www.tinyurl.com to shorten the URL which gives you more room to type a description.

What are hashtags?

They hash key looks like this # Before twitter is was one of the most under employed keys on the board. When twitter came along the hash key found itself in an exciting new role, as a digital sheepdog. On twitter, people talk about all manner of subjects constantly. To get people who want to talk about the same thing together you need a hash tag. For example, if a news story came up, and you wanted to tweet about it, you could type:

#News Has anybody heard anything about this?

Or if you wanted to talk to people about a programme on TV running live you use the name of the show as the hashtag:

#Frozenplanet Those penguins are cute, I want one.

Often they will now flash up the hashtag at the start of the show.

What is Follow Friday?

It is just a networking opportunity for people to meet more people to follow. Use the hashtag #FF or #Followfriday and type in the names of people you wish to include. They then do the same with people they want to include and you find new mutual friends to follow. It is like mingling at a party.

Is there much Spam?

Sadly there is an awful lot of people who want to sell you things, loan you money or get you to sign up to their site. Usually it will be a photo of a girl in a bikini with an absurd sounding name with four numbers behind it, this is the giveaway. Ignore this person completely, and block them.

Are there many stalkers about?

There are a few, so follow the online safety guide. Do not respond to provocative tweets, no matter how offensive. They just draw you into a stupid pointless argument.  For more information please watch this documentary by Richard Bacon of the BBC:

Is Twitter safe for kids?

In all honesty, I would not recommend Twitter to anybody under at least 16 years of age for the reasons I have outlined above.

So that is my starter’s guide, I hope it is of some use to you and any feedback is always appreciated.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

March 22, 2012 at 12:29 pm

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New Books Available for Christmas

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When you are stuck for a gift to buy a loved one it is worth remembering that you cannot go far wrong with a book.  So it is with this in mind that I present you with two books written by good friends of mine.

First of all may I present Miss Fabia Cerra.  She was last seen turning Simon Cowell scarlett on X Factor with her raunchy Burlesque routine.  Since then she has been busy as an ambassador for www.bodygossip.org and running her own Burlesque class at R&R Frontline Studios in Oxford.  Oh, and she just got snapped up by www.curvymodels.co.uk

She had two books up for grabs:  Her life story, In Two Minds, available in print, and Ciao Bella! her Bible of style and beauty, now available as an e-book.  It will be available in print in 2012, if you can wait that long.


Secondly, I would like you to meet top chef Mike Saxon, culinary Jedi and author of Chef’s Tales.  Now Mike is a chef who has cooked his way around the world.  His culinary journey took him from Yorkshire to Toronto, the Bahamas, the Phillipines and Malaysia.  Whether he was delivering room service to naked people in Toronto, fighting off Phillipine rats or dodging bullets in Houston, work was never dull.

He met weird and wonderful characters such as the mysterious Mr Teppenyaki. Then there was  the psychotic French chef who would chase people around the kitchen with a meat cleaver.  And a whole cast of mentalists who, in spite of, or because of their peculiarities, produced the most amazing food known to man.

Both are well worth a read and now available via Amazon.co.uk

Written by Nick Gilmartin

December 16, 2011 at 3:20 pm

The things ladies DON’T want for Christmas

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My last blog post caused a bit of a stir on Twitter, and prompted a lot of debate on what NOT to get the lady in your life for Christmas.  Surprisingly a lot of them came up with the same answers.  The good news lads and lasses is that they don’t want anything too expensive.  But, apparently we do need to spend a lot more time and thought into what we buy.

So the list as follows includes:

Cheap Gold Jewellery

Although the gypsy girl look may be the thing this season, this does not extend to looking like you take the money on the dodgem cars.  Gaudy, gold plated chunky jewellery is just an absolute no-no.

Any Practical Electrical Appliance

This includes vacuum cleaners, kettles, steamers, trouser presses, microwaves and so on.  A gift is supposed to be a gift. A token of love and affection, not a reminder that your trousers need ironing.  It is something you should want, and not really something you exactly need.

‘Sexy’ gifts

Or at least things we think are sexy.  This includes cheap, tacky underwear, sex toys, or other silly ‘erotic’ gifts.  The underwear thing seems to be the biggest bugbear.  I suppose it is better, then to get them a La Senza gift voucher and let them get on with it themselves.

‘Thoughtless’ gifts

Now this one is wide open.  It depends on how long you have been together I suppose and the gifts we buy are a measure of how much we listen to our better half.  Thoughtless gifts don’t have to be cheap, they can be expensive as hell, but even the things we want them to like just don’t tick the right boxes some days.  So the trick is this:  Pay attention to them, if in doubt, ask them what they want.  Good presents are rarely a surprise.

 

Written by Nick Gilmartin

November 29, 2011 at 6:56 pm

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What the lads DON’T want for Christmas

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Well we are barely a month away from Christmas, the time when we traditionally buy gifts for our loved ones and they return the favour.  But it is also a time when we show how little we really know each other and what we want.

So, after a lot of research on Twitter, this is the short list of the things men don’t want for Christmas.

Jack Daniels Merchandise

We like Jack Daniels.  A lot, don’t get me wrong.  But we don’t need the wallet, the coasters, the key ring, the mousemat, the playing cards or the poster.  We just want a proper 70cl bottle of the good stuff and a glass.  To get through the week we are going to need it.

Chilli gifts

We love a good Chilli con carne or a curry.  But we don’t need chilli oil (we still have a bottle from last year), chilli plants, chilli chocolate, chilli sodding roulette games, or chilli beer.  Please, for heaven’s sake, just give us the beer.  It goes down well with the Jack Daniels.

Ice Road Truckers/Top Gear DVD

Just because we watch it on TV during the day doesn’t really mean we like it, it just means there is nothing else on.  Channel Dave devotes hours to perhaps one or two episodes of Top Gear that it seemingly shows on loop.  But do we want a DVD about a bloke driving a truck in the snow?  Nay, lass.

Christmas Jumpers

I know it is a tradition, but it is a crap one.  We have a draw full of gaudy knitwear stretching back to the eighties that even Oxfam wouldn’t accept.  Please, no more.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

November 26, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Posted in Shopping

Shaving Tips from Bluebeard’s Revenge

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We are now deep into the season that hates our face more than any other.  Cold wind chafes and chaps our visage like never before.  In the dark, early mornings, shaving suddenly feels like the krypton factor.

So it is sometimes good to get back to basics with these things.  Fortunately our friends at Bluebeard’s Revenge have just the thing we need.

The short film was produced by Adelia TV, and stars Andy Dunn, a real bloke’s bloke and an expert barber, among his other jobs.

So check it out and keep an eye on the upcoming offers from Bluebeard’s Revenge range of gifts for Christmas.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

November 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Posted in Grooming

Birmingham Christmas Market

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Being the well traveled sort that I am it takes a lot to impress me these days.  When I heard that Birmingham was having a Christmas Market I was frankly expecting a dozen stalls manned by the Fair Trade set and a few bored students.  How wrong I was!

Now in it’s tenth year the Birmingham Christmas Market has grown to encompass a mile of pavement and incorporates crafted goods, gifts, a small funfair, and some of the most amazing food and drink this side of the Siegfried line.

It stretches from New Street shopping precinct up to the city square, and then through on to Broad street.  To see the place you cannot help but suddenly feel very giddy and christmassy.  It just oozes a certain charm, in contrast to the desperation of the “110% off, buy buy buy!” from the department stores around it.

The sounds, lights and above all, the smells, take you right back to childhood and much, much happier times.  For a few hours, please soak up the atmosphere and forget the recession.

Among the hand crafted gifts you will find Christmas baubles and decorations, toys for the children, ornaments and arts.

For me, the real reason to go is for the food, which is a post in itself.  The German’s specialize in street food, that can be eaten on the move.  Subsequently there are Frankfurters and Hamburgers galore in stall after stall.  Believe me, their burgers are a far cry from the ones you see in McDonalds.  Their confectionery is a wonder of colour and taste.  Not only that, they have huge Steins of wheat beer, warm cider and mulled wine.

Being central to Birmingham, it has excellent car parking, but it will cost you a fair price.  Avoid the Pallisades, aim a little further out and park up near the market where it is cheaper.

Please take extra care of your belongings, and be very aware of pickpockets in such a tightly packed area.  The city centre is well stocked with cash-points.  I did not note any first aid point in the area, but there may be one.  As far as toilets go, you may have to make use of the nearest pub/coffee shop/department store.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

November 23, 2011 at 11:02 am

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Birmingham Vintage Festival

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Last Saturday I took a day out to go visit the BirminghamVintage Festival, which was taking place at the Jewelery Quarter in Birmingham.

Rickie Josen, whom I have mentioned before,  is an organizer of many events in the city, including the Birmingham Writers Club and Jelly, an entrepreneur’s networking morning.

She had gathered together, in one urban space, clothes designers, artists, photographers, baristas and bakers alike.

By the time I got there I was starving so my first call was Chitty’s Cupcake company’s stall.  Rebecca Chitty has been supplying cakes to Birmingham’s hungry residents for quite some time now and her cake decorating classes have been a huge success.  For more details, check out her website.

While I was still licking the icing off my fingers I browsed through the art stall.  Art Angel sells framed sketches of the 1940-1960 period.  Marie Nemeth, originally from Rochdale, has a BA in fine art and made her name with small, simple sketches of film stars and celebrities of yesteryear.

Nearby Keith Bloomfield was snapping away with the biggest camera I have ever seen.  However, he said it only came out on special occasions.  His preferred camera of choice these days was his iphone!  Quite remarkable how mobile technology has become the choice of everybody these days.  To see more of his video art check out his website here.

Further back Bianca Rosa had a stall full of curiosities, jewels and gloves of all kinds.  They also do parties at Asha’s restaurant.

Last on my list were the lovely ladies of Dress Your Soul.  These fashionistas had stalls and rails full of dresses, furs, coats, hats and cushions.  All in ornate and pristine condition.  They liked to pick their items to sell by hand.  Also they had a good eye for future fashions and their astute eye for next season’s ‘must have’ item has served them well.

For the kids there was also face painting, courtesy of Midlands Face Painting.

Finally I caught up with Rickie Josen herself for a coffee and a chat about how it all came about.

I wanted something to happen in the Jewellery Quarter – on my doorstep, that highlighted the creativity and talent we have here. I’m aware of some ever increasing great Vintage events in the city but a lot of traders come from out of town. I want something that is predominantly West Midlands based, an event that promotes local traders and helps them succeed.

With BVF, my hope is that small businesses excel with repeat business and to this end I urge them to have their name displayed, have flyers and cards and generally let people know they have a lot to offer.

In addition to creating revenues for our local fledgling businesses, I want every man, woman and child to have a wonderful afternoon that takes them to a bygone era and the music theme plays a big part in this.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

September 29, 2011 at 1:24 pm

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