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About the Author

Christian Cawley

The Finest Chocolate Brownies?

I’ve never really fulfilled a stereotype. I was never a nerdy Doctor Who fan, a geeky IT support guy… my wannabe rock star days involved very little in the way of drugs and women (and too much alcohol and cigarettes). Perhaps at school I was as awkward and bewildered as any teenage boy, but I think there were some worse off in that regard than myself.

However since becoming a freelance writer, I have spent an inordinate amount of time in coffee shops – privately owned and chains – in what seems to have developed into a quest to find the greatest chocolate brownie ever created.

It is a quest that perhaps originated in childhood.

Continue reading “The Finest Chocolate Brownies?”

Next eBook: Research Your Family Tree Online

I’m delighted to say that I’ve started work on a new eBook for MakeUseOf, currently titled Research Your Family Tree Online!

Continue reading “Next eBook: Research Your Family Tree Online”

My Latest Ebook: From Print To Kindle And Beyond

I’ve just discovered that my latest eBook, From Print To Kindle And Beyond, has been published. Available through MakeUseOf and on Amazon for Kindle devices, the book draws on my experiences writing and publishing Ultimate Regeneration in 2010-2011.

Your Guide To Self-Publishing. From Print To Kindle And Beyond by Christian CawleyFor me, the process was a massive learning curve.

Continue reading “My Latest Ebook: From Print To Kindle And Beyond”

Should I Use a Resume or Not?

This week I’m planning on finding additional freelance work, preferably monthly and in print rather than online.

As preparation for this I spent an hour or so organising some old files and my CV – resume if you’re in North America – and it struck me: do I actually need one?

After all, I already have a portfolio here, and my LinkedIn page is pretty well populated, and regularly updated – perhaps more than my CV.

This might be why I’ve rarely been asked for a CV since going freelance full-time.

While I’m going to keep using the one I’ve just updated with new achievements and so on, I’ll be counting the number of times it actually gets requested or viewed…

Catch My Contributions to Android Magazine!

Although my updates here have been sparse of late – something I hope to remedy soon – I’ve been busy elsewhere.

One organ that has seen several contributions is Android Magazine from Imagine Publishing. I was lucky enough to be contacted by editor Andy Betts through this very website and I’ve been fortunate enough to contribute tutorial articles to issues 23 to 29 to date.

Continue reading “Catch My Contributions to Android Magazine!”

Edit Images with Microsoft Picture Manager

You don’t need to employ expensive image editing packages for simple tasks like resizing and cropping images if you own a copy of Microsoft Office 2010 – the included Microsoft Picture Manager can do the task for you.

To begin, find the image you want to adjust in Windows Explorer (this might be in your My Pictures folder, for instance) and right-click to select the context menu. Use Open with > Microsoft Office 2010 to launch the application.

Continue reading “Edit Images with Microsoft Picture Manager”

More from Elite: Dangerous

Now halfway towards the massive total of £1.25 million needed to meet the development costs of Elite: Dangerous and with just under a month still to go, if you haven’t checked out the videos on the project’s Kickstarter page, you’re missing out!

Elite: Dangerous can be backed on Kickstarter

The project appears to be as ambitious as hoped, with the Kickstarter page playing host to a variety of movie clips and stunning stills (like the one above).

Developer diaries, interviews and podcasts are all present, and things are looking extremely exciting – but the project still has only 50% of the required funding.

“Elite: Dangerous” is the latest installment of a long series of epic space games, starting with “Elite” – one of the most successful games of the 1980s.

Fight, trade, hunt your way across a giant galaxy of billions of star systems, starting with a basic starship and a few credits. You can make money from trading goods between the many star systems, by destroying pirate ships (and collecting bounty), or even by attacking traders and collecting their cargo (which in turn will get a bounty on your head!). There will be missions too, and exploration. Most people will do some combination of these things. Upgrade your ship and specialise in one activity – have a trader with a huge cargo bay, or use the space for weapons and maneuverability.

Real Freedom – Go where you like, be what you like – pirate, bounty hunter, trader, assassin, or some mix of all of these.

Trade – Buy low, cross dangerous space lanes, evade or destroy pirates en route, then sell high, if you make the journey!

Fight – Take on the pirates or be one yourself

Progress – Get your pilot rating all the way from “Harmless” to “Elite”

Explore – Head out to the far reaches of space and discover amazing sights

And the best part – you can do all this online with your friends, or other “Elite” pilots like yourself, or even alone. The choice is yours…

The details above paint a picture of a much-wanted update to a much-missed game (responsible for the loss of many hours of many a teenage lad’s life), and the various rewards such as digital newsletters, in-game decals and Commander name reservation (not to mention a copy of Elite: Dangerous) that are available for the sub £30 pledges are certainly worth having.

If you’re interested in seeing a classic game brought back to life, please head over to the Kickstarter page now and help this dream become a reality. We have, because we really want to play it – you should too!

Game Sales Dip – Not the Beginning of the End

Consumer research firm NPD has revealed that annual US video game sales have dropped, despite the strong showing of the latest Call of Duty and Halo sequels.

Call of Duty: Black Ops - massive sales couldn't help the games industry in 2012

According to NPD, the overall drop is due to lower sales on less popular titles.

“Despite an overall retail video game decline of 11%, November had the smallest year-over-year decrease we have seen for dollar and unit sales so far this year,” it said in a statement.

“Overall entertainment software units decreased by 15%, however, when comparing the performance of the top five titles from this year to last, we see a rise in unit sales of 5% – games outside of the top five sold less, leading to overall declines.”

On top of this, November 2012 saw fewer releases than the same period in 2011. However, all is not lost – this isn’t the end of digital gaming, despite what some doom mongers might be claiming. NPD don’t include figures for Steam and mobile gaming, while general belt tightening and high unemployment in the USA could of course be contributing. Add to this the recent release of the Nintendo Wii U potentially holding off potential purchases to gauge reception and even the expected release of the new PlayStation and Xbox consoles in 2013, and you can see that it really is business as usual.

After all, Activision reports Call of Duty Black Ops 2 sold over $1bn (£624m; 773m euros) copies worldwide during its first 15 days of release. And hasn’t the way we play games changed anyway?

Homemade 3D Printed Motorized Transformer!

I’m a big fan of Transformers, ever since I was bought an original Bumblebee back in 1984 and received Hound for Christmas a few months later.

Over the years I got progressively larger Transformer toys, more and more often, a bit like a drug habit, always chasing the next fix. At one point I even owned Trypticon (a rare motorised Decepticon) and have a version of Optimus Prime that features some automation.

However, I was always intrigued by the possibilities of motorized transformation, but it wasn’t something that Hasbro seemed able to bring to the range with any confidence.

Fortunately, I no longer have to imagine what it would be like – thanks to this guy and his 3D printer, neither do you…

Amazing stuff. Altogether now: I want one!

If this doesn’t convince you of the power of 3D printing, nothing will…

The Death of the Kin – On Film

Remember the Kin? Of course you do! No, really, you should – it was the original Windows Phone, Microsoft’s first attempt to redefine mobile phones after Windows Mobile was pushed face down in the dust by Android and iOS.

However, the platform died a death very early (making webOS look positively ancient) and Microsoft quietly swept it away, under a big carpet. Visually it was an interesting device, but the real problem was that it just didn’t work, for one reason or another.

Wired have recently released these videos of the Kin being tested. It’s not pleasant.

It seems that even dialling – that most basic of phone functions – was difficult:

The lag wasn’t limited to fialling, either….

Somehow the Kin was launched, despite the evidence seen here – to pretty poor reviews. The evolution of the Kin is a little convoluted – it’s inspired-yet-flawed social networking integration would be removed, downgrading the phone to a feature phone – but essentially it didn’t live long past the summer of 2010, existing in the wild in its original form for about two months.

Of course, there is a happy takeaway from all this – without the very patient testing group, Kin wouldn’t have been dropped, and I wouldn’t be sat here with a nice new Windows Phone 8 😀

(Via the wonderful WPCentral)