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The Belmont Blog

Keeping an Eye on the Internet for You, to make sure it doesn't MUCK ABOUT!

Follow Up your Emails with Landing Pages that Follow Your Customer's Thought Process (Part 2)

In my last post I explained why it's important to fit in with your reader's thought processes. I showed you an example of how not to do it (see previous post). If you break the flow of your reader's thought processes, you leave him confused, disappointed and irritated.

 

Today I want to show you how easy it can be to create a landing page that follows on from your email, keeping the flow of the conversation going.


The video below shows 3 easy ways to make the most of visitors coming from your emails. These 3 simple landing pages provide a way to turn the conversation with your reader into a sale. 


You will see how easy it is to avoid a mistake that could lose your business sales. Murray also talks about the importance of having a clear call-to-action, which makes it much more likely that your visitors will act and become customers.


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Follow Up your Emails with Landing Pages that Follow Your Customer's Thought Process (Part 1)

There's a common mistake that email marketers make. So common, in fact, that 44% of B2B emails make it.

It's all about what happens when your reader clicks on a link in your email. Before she opens your email, your customer is already having a conversation with herself. Your email must join that conversation.

When she clicks a link to find out more, the conversation must continue. If it doesn't, it's like you're turning around and walking away.

The experience from the reader's perspective is horribly disappointing. Watch this short video (<3 mins) to see this happen in real-time. Murray Cowell talks you through the customer's thought process whilst reading an actual email that he received.

You will see the very moment that the conversation ends. Murray describes his feelings from the customer's perspective. You'll see how this simple error ruins the customer experience. It's easy to see why this is so important.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 or this post. In it, you will see how easy it can be to avoid making this error. 

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What is Double Opt In?

Americans - Don't You Just Love 'Em?

Americans - Don't You Just Love 'Em?

A setting designed for US customers could be reducing your new signups by up to 50%.

 

George Bernard Shaw once said, "England and America are two countries separated by a common language."

 

Despite similarities, Americans can be very different to us. Or should that be "very different than us"?

 

Most companies that supply software systems for sending email marketing campaigns are American.

 

But Americans react very differently to (than) Brits when it comes to how they react to unwanted emails.

 

Their systems often have a default setting called "double opt-in" that isn't necessary in the UK. And that setting could be losing you up to half of your new signups.

 

To find out how to stop US systems from ruining your UK marketing, grab a Twinkie and a root beer and watch the 3-minute video below. It explains what double opt-in is, and why you probably don't need it in the UK.

 

You could double your volumes of new signups in the process.

 

What is Double Opt In?

How To Get A Five-Fold Increase in Results Without Any Selling

Sad SalesmanWhether your job is to sell physical goods, services or to get other people to implement your ideas, at some point you are probably expected to do some selling.
 
If you're like most people, that's not something you relish.
 
Even if you do enjoy it, it's harder to sell something than it is to simply let someone buy it.

Although I email my readers a lot, I rarely try to sell anything in my emails.
 
The reason for that is simple – they probably wouldn't buy from an email. And they'd soon get fed up of emails that did nothing but sell.
 
"Alright then," I hear you ask, "what's the point of email marketing if you can't sell in your emails?"
 
Watch this 2½ minute video which explains how not selling in your emails can actually bring you more business. 
 
It's the story of how one Belmont client got a fivefold increase in responses from his emails and several lucrative projects, without doing any selling.

How To Build Sales By NOT Selling
This is just one of the topics that I'll be covering on my free webinar, "Kickstart 2013 – Your Blueprint to Email Marketing Success". 

In the webinar, I'll be explaining how to write powerful, compelling emails that are easy to write and a pleasure to read.

Have you booked your place yet? Sign up here while there are still some places left.

Email Deliverability - How Spam Filters REALLY Work (And it's Not How You Think)

Anti-SpamAs email marketing specialists, we are as opposed to spam as anyone.

In fact, we're probably more opposed to it than most people. Spam gets email marketing a bad name, and reduces the amount of attention that people pay to their inboxes. It's the enemy of ethical email marketing, and it spoils things for everyone.

 

Spam filters only exist because of the large volumes of spam emails that are sent. But spam filters are fairly primitive.

 

They often get it wrong, and filter out genuine, legitimate marketing emails that your readers want to receive.

 

If you're a legitimate email marketer, you probably find this quite annoying. You put a lot of time and effort into your email campaigns, only to have spam filters block half your readers (or more) from reading them.

 

If that happens, you're losing half the sales that you would otherwise get from your email marketing. So improving your delivery rates will improve your profits.


You might be interested to know that there is a simple way to reduce the number of your emails that are blocked.

 

The trick is to help spam filters recognise that your email is genuine and you're not a spammer. You can do this if you know how spam filters really work, and what they are looking for in an email.

 

Most people think that spam filters score an email by how many spam-like words it contains. High scoring emails are then filtered out.

 

That's true, but it's not the most important factor that affects email deliverability.

 

So what is the most important factor, then?

 

This very short video clip explains how spam filters really work. It reveals the number one factor that will determine whether or not your marketing emails get delivered.

 

You might be surprised to discover what that is - it's probably not what you think. You might also be pleased to find out how easy it is to get spam filters to treat your emails more kindly.

 

Watch the video now - it's less than 5 minutes long, so no need to leave it until later.

 

You can spare 5 minutes to find out how to get more of your marketing emails delivered so you can make more money, can't you?

Worst Email of 2012?

Is This the Worst Email of 2012?

Click to Open

Could this be the worst email of 2012?

Even though 2012 isn't over yet, I doubt that this will be topped in the remaining few weeks as the most boring piece of email marketing I've received this year.

Leaders, a national chain of letting agents, just sent me this email to tell me that they're holding a Christmas Window Competition in their branches. Whoopee-doo!

They've  invited me to vote on which one I think is best. 

As they've got branches all over the UK, I haven't had time to check them all out, so I've randomly cast my vote for the St Albans branch, which I've never seen. I hope I win the prize hamper.

It makes you wonder what's going on in the minds of the people who dream up this sort of drivel, doesn't it?

There are at least 8 fundamental mistakes with this email - see if you can spot them all. At a later date, I'll discuss why this email won't work for Leaders, and how you can avoid making similar mistakes with your emails. 

Having said that, even bad email marketing is more effective than none at all. Even if the email has no effect, it's unlikely to do any harm.

So Leaders have succeeded in one way - they've got many of their customers to think about them.

How many of your customers thought about you this week? Email marketing is a great way to keep in touch.

Internet Law

Cartoon of a Lawyer saying Tomorrow, 20th December 2012, I am interviewing an Internet Lawyer. I want to find out what every business owner with a website should know about Internet Law.

I'd like to know what YOU think I should ask him  - so this is your LAST CHANCE to have your say.

If you're in business today, then you almost certainly have a website. You probably use email, social media and maybe SMS text messaging to promote your goods and services.

But how much do you know about Internet Law? What are your responsibilities and liabilities? Would you know what to do in the following situations?

  • The Information Commissioner's Office contacts you to say that they have received a spam complaint about one of your marketing emails. They threaten you with legal action. How much can they fine you for this? What can you say to them to stop them from prosecuting you?
  • Someone who has made an online purchase from you accuses you of making false claims on your website. At what point did you enter into a contract with this person? What can you do to establish the terms of that contract?
  • One user harrasses another user on your forum. What are your liabilities? How can you limit them?
  • A competitor posts defamatory statements about your business on dozens of other websites and forums. What can you do about it?
  • Your website has some unique images that you commissioned from a photographer. You find one of your images being used on someone else's website. What action can you take?
  • Someone registers a domain name very similar to the name of your business and sets up a website in direct competition with you. What can you do to get it taken down?

If you found yourself scratching your head over the answers to any of these questions, you might be interested to know that I am about to interview an Internet Lawyer, to get the answers to these and other questions about how to protect yourself and your business online.

An hour with an Internet Lawyer would cost you upwards of £150, but I'll be putting the interview on sale for just £14.95.

Better yet, you can get a copy FREE, simply by suggesting a question to ask. Take this short survey to let me know what you think. The interview is taking place tomorrow, 20th December 2012 - so this is your LAST CHANCE to have your say.

So do it now, before something else distracts you - it will only take 90 seconds.

What you find out could one day save your business.

HTML Email

Demonstration of How to Email HTMLIf you've ever wondered how to create HTML emails, you might be interested in a presentation that I did recently.

I was invited to speak at the Designers' and Developers' Fiesta in London a couple of weeks ago.

The subject of the talk was "Why Don't my HTML Email Look Right?" It was about how to make HTML emails that look good in any email client, no matter what device the email is viewed upon.

If your job requires you to know how to design HTML emails, then you will know that this task is not as simple as it seems.

Different email clients render HTML differently, and the result can be that your email, which looked great when you tested it, looks awful in Microsoft Outlook.

Fortunately, there are a few simple guidelines which can prevent HTML email problems. Once you understand these principles, your emails will look great first time, every time, in every browser.

If you would like to see a recorded webinar version of the session, you can view it on my YouTube channel. During the session, I also cover image-related issues and layout issues to ensure that your HTML emails get the best possible response.

It's about 50 minutes long, so grab a coffee or a light lunch, sit down and enjoy. Please let me know what you think of the video if you have any feedback.

If this sort of stuff interests you, you might like to check out my new website "Inbox Income". This site will provide a whole host of online learning materials about how to make more profit from your email marketing. Sign up on the site now if you'd like me to let you know when new content is added.

Watch the Video

6 Million LinkedIn Passwords Stolen - Is Yours Safe?

Last month a Russian Hacker stole 6m LinkedIn passwords and posted them online to prove it.

You may have seen a message from LinkedIn asking you to change your password - that's why. If you want to check for sure whether your password was compromised, security specialists LastPass have launched a service so that you can check.

In any case, it might be wise to change your LinkedIn password in any case.

This is all very embarrasing for LinkedIn, whose share price has dropped as a result of the security breach.

Heere's an infographic that shows the scale of the problem.

LinkedIn Password Hack Infographic

Apple Wins Injunction to Prevent Sales of Samsung Galaxy

An iPad - or is it a Galaxy? I can't tell, can you?

An iPad - or is it a Galaxy?
I can't tell, can you?

Apple has won a major victory in its battle against Samsung over similarities between the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy 10.1. After a prolonged legal battle, a US judge has granted an injunction preventing the sale of the Galaxy in the USA.

Samsung's case wasn't helped when one of their own lawyers failed to distinguish between the two devices in court when asked to tell them apart by the judge from 10 feet away. What a pillock.

The judge also granted Apple 27 patents covering such technologies as touch screen gestures. This will make it easier for Apple to claim that Samsung and other manufacturers are copying their technology and designs.

Facebook Sued - Lawsuit Alleges Misrepresentation in Share Sale

Facebook Icon and Scales of JusticeA class acton suit has been filed against Facebook and Morgan Stanley. The legal challenge alleges that Facebook witheld material information about the company's declining profits from investors. 

Facebook shares have declined steadily in value since the stock market launch on Monday. Some analysts estimate that the stock could be overvalued by as much as 300%.

Yesterday, a group of angry investors accused Facebook of instructing the lead underwriters of the sale to reduce their 2012 performance estimates for the company because of declining revenues.

More people are using Facebook on mobile devices, which means that not as many adverts are being displayed. This is where Facebook's money comes from, so fewer ads means less income.

Investors claim that Facebook deliberately kept these facts out of the prospectus for the shares, selectively revealing them only to favoured investors.

If this claim is found to be true, Facebook could be found guilty of misrepresentation and forced to pay millions, or even billions of dollars in damages.

A similar claim in the dot com boom of the 90's led to a $586 million payout to investors. One of the legal firms filing the action recovered $7.2 billion for Enron shareholders in 2008 in the largest class-action settlement in history.

A class action suit allows anyone who has been affected to join in and receive a share of the settlement, without having to contribute to the legal costs. Lawyers are inviting anyone who feels that they have lost out to contact them and join the class action suit. 

This can hardly be good news for the share price, and analysts believe that it will continue to fall when trading opens again on Monday.

If you bought Facebook shares and you want to join the legal battle for compensation, you can find out more about the case here.

How to Stop Spam Filters Blocking Your Genuine Emails

Belmont is Anti SpamNew spam filtering rules could block your genuine marketing emails, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has warned. You can avoid this if you follow the DMA's 10 Point Action Plan. I will tell you how to get hold of a copy in this blog post.

The amount of spam sent each day continues to increase. Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the companies that deliver your email, are constantly working to improve spam filters.

In the past, the focus has been on filtering out "bad" emails. But you've probably noticed that quite a few genuine emails end up in your spam folder.

So ISPs have been working on new ways to filter spam to avoid these "false positives". The focus is shifting towards rewarding “good” mail instead. ISPs are starting to use data about how you treat your emails to decide which ones you want and which ones you don't.

This will have a dramatic effect on deliverability for businesses that send out bulk marketing emails. Unless you follow the DMA's recommendations, you could find that fewer and fewer of your legitimate emails are received by your customers, as more and more of them go straight into spam folders.

Here at Belmont we welcome the new rules and we hope that they will make life harder for spammers and people who do email marketing badly. We really hate spam, because it gives legitimate email marketing a bad name. It gets in the way of genuine marketing emails that people want to receive.

Research shows that plenty of people want to hear from businesses by email. More people are opting in to email lists than ever before. If your customers want to receive your emails, it's important that they don't get caught up in spam filters. So you must act now to ensure that you are not caught out by the changes that are happening.

Belmont Mail customers don't need to worry about the technical aspects of ensuring good deliverability. The servers we use are powered by dotMailer, one of the UK's largest Email Service Providers.

DotMailer are at the forefront of email marketing, and help the DMA to devise the standards for deliverability. Their servers are already configured and optimised to achieve maximum deliverability.

However, if you're not yet a Belmont client, you would be wise to act now. The DMA has produced a White Paper on Email Deliverability to explain the impact of the changes.

It includes a 10 Point Action List which explains the actions you must take to make sure that your email deliverability remains high.

Download a copy of the DMA White Paper on Email Deliverability now.

Ticketweb Hacked - the Importance of Secure Email Marketing Systems

Ticketweb sell tickets for concerts and other eventsThe email database of UK online ticket seller Ticketweb has been hacked. Some of Ticketweb's customers received malicious spam emails as a result, although the firm moved switfly to close the vulnerability. 

This event underlines the risks involved in managing an in-house email marketing system. Even a large company with the resources of Ticketweb cannot keep their in-house system secure.

It is much safer to opt for a professional, dedicated email marketing system. The dotMailer system that powers Belmont Mail has never been hacked, and is managed by a team of highly experienced skilled technicians.

Find out more about our secure email marketing system.

Belmont Mail's ESP First to Meet New DMARC Email Standard

Major companies like Google, Microsoft and AOL are behind the new DMARC standard

If you watched CNN or the BBC last week, you may have spotted that a group of major tech companies including Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are creating a new standard in email protection that will help to safely reduce email abuse.


It’s known as DMARC, and we’re immensely proud to say that just 8 days after they published the first details about the standard, dotMailer, the company that powers Belmont Mail, has launched it throughout our system!


First in the game

We’re pretty sure that dotMailer is the very first ESP to have done this.


DotMailer has always made it their mission to be right there, up in front when it comes to deliverability and authentication standards, whether it’s SPF, DomainKeys or its successor DKIM, or ADSP and now DMARC.

As of this week, every Belmont Mail email address in the system is protected by this brand new DMARC standard.


What DMARC does for you

DMARC ensures that your identity as an email sender is fully protected from phishing attacks, and offers the chance of a deliverability boost to some of the biggest domains in the world such as Yahoo, Gmail and AOL.

Now that dotMailer have made Belmont Mail DMARC compliant there’s no need for you to do anything.

Just sit back and relax in the knowledge that your custom sent-from address is fully protected.

Apple's iBook Licensing Agreement may be Unlawful

Despite being touted as a "free" app that will allow users to create and publish e-books for the iPad for free through the Apple Store, the End User Licensing Agreement reveals a hidden catch.

Anyone who uses the app will be agreeing to "only distribute the Work through Apple", meaning that Apple will be the ONLY outlet for the publication. However, US legal expert Maxwell S Kennerly questions whether the EULA will be enforceable, because Apple do not have the right to place restrictions on a copyright holder's right to distribute the content. This will leave publishers in a strange legal stand-off with Apple.

This is another example of Apple's attempts to force users to use their distribution channels, whilst simltaneously portraying the company as a champion of open source freedom.

Meanwhile, in a single weekend almost 1 million iOS users decided to "jailbreak" their devices to free them from the obligation to use Apple's iTunes app store. It seems that users are not as keen on Apple's restrictive practices as the company would like them to be.

Internet Crackdown

The End of File Sharing Site MegauploadLess than 24 hours after Wikipedia's SOPA protest, the FBI closed down a file-sharing site, depriving legitimate users of their files in the process.

Megaupload, the 91st most popular site on the Internet, was notorious for allowing file-sharing of pirated content, but the FBI crackdown has led to tens of thousands of legitimate users losing their own content, perhaps permanently.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an international non-profit digital rights advocacy and legal organization based in the United States, has weighed in on behalf of users to try and negotiate the release of data from Megauploads server hosts, who have not been paid since the FBI freezed Megaupload's assets.

Apart from the obvious lessons learned about the folly of storing your files in the cloud without a backup, this raises interesting questions about the legality of this sort of operation. Already, there is talk of legitimate users taking legal action against the US authorities for the denial of access to their files.

The Megaupload takedown followed a public spat between the site and Universal Music after a video in favour of Megaupload's service featuring many prominent stars of US music including Will.i.am and Alicia Keys was published on YouTube. Universal successfully lobbied YouTube into taking the video down - even though there was nothing illegal about the video itself and it did not contain any pirated content.

It seemed that they were particularly upset to see such mainstream artists - the people that the industry routinely claims are most hurt by file-sharing - apparently endorsing the practice.

In a revenge attack following the demise of Megaupload, the hackers organisation Anonymous temporarily closed the websites of the US Justice Department and Universal Music with a "denial of service" attack. The websites of the FBI and the Motion Picture Association of America's websites were also attacked in what is believed to be the largest ever attack of this kind, reflecting the growing anger at the creeping censorship of the internet that is clearly underway.

This is the shape of things to come - even without the controversial SOPA and PIPA legislation, large corporations and US authorities are already collaborating to take down not only pirated content, but legitimate, lawful content as well.

Wikipedia Blackout in Protest at SOPA

Wikipedia Blacks out Home Page in Protest at SOPA and PIPAIf you have tried to use Wikipedia today, you will have found the site locked in protest at the proposed US SOPA and PIPA legislation.

 

Wikipedia are concerned that these two Acts, which are billed as anti-piracy measures, are drafted in a way that "infringes free expression while harming the Internet". 

 

In a protest aimed at highlighting the risks in the legislation, raising awareness and promoting discussion about the Acts, Wikipedia blacked out their website for 24 hours starting at midnight today. Instead of their information pages, they provided a link to an explanation of why SOPA and PIPA are bad news for everyone except big media companies, and urged people to contact their elected representatives to protest.

 

Other high-profile companies joined in the protest, including Google who self-censored their home page in the US and provided a link for visitors to sign a petition to Congress.

 

Even though this legislation is being proposed in the US, if successful it will have far-reaching implications for free speech on the Internet across the whole world.

Google's Self-Censored Homepage

 

Campaigning organisation Avaaz has already gained almost 1.5 million signatures on their petition against SOPA, which we urge you to sign today. Even if you are a UK citizen, you can call upon your MP and the Foreign Secretary to oppose this legislation. You can contact your MP very easily here, and send an email to William Hague here.

 

There is also a UK specific petition which you can sign to send your message of protest to the UK Government.

 

If you value the freedom and independence of sites like Wikipedia, Google, Facebook and YouTube, and your right to access whatever content you want on the Internet, then don't sit by and do nothing - take action and join the protest now.

Google Penalises Itself for Breach of Own Rules

Chrome LogoIn a bizarre but even-handed move, Google has demoted its own browser in search engine results as a punishment for breaching its own rules.

Google implements rigorous standards to ensure that the quality of the search experience of people using its search engine is as high as possible. These standards are published as Google's Webmaster Guidelines, and provide a detailed explanation of what Google expects from website owners. The guidelines are designed to prevent owners from obtaining artificially high rankings.

One big no-no is paying crappy bloggers to provide links into a website. Google's guidelines clearly prohibit this, and their blogger-in-chief Matt Cutts has also written about it. This sort of content is very low quality, and Google strives to remove it from search engine results. However, Aaron Wall of the search engine website SEOBook.com discovered over 400 blog posts this week which included links to Google Chrome and featured the wording “This Post is Sponsored By Google”.

Although Google denies authorising the campaign, it seems that it might have been carried out by a marketing organisation that Google had hired. After angry responses from many people who felt that it was hypocritical of Google to ban others from using this promotional technique whilst using it themselves, the company took the remarkable step of downgrading their own product in the results for the search term "browser". They issued this statement:-

"We've investigated and are taking manual action to demote www.google.com/chrome and lower the site's PageRank for a period of at least 60 days. We strive to enforce Google's webmaster guidelines consistently in order to provide better search results for users.

While Google did not authorize this campaign, and we can find no remaining violations of our webmaster guidelines, we believe Google should be held to a higher standard, so we have taken stricter action than we would against a typical site."

This isn't the first time that Google has displayed an ambivalent attitude towards affiliate marketing ........


Google Hates Affiliates.

Internet Marketing Infographics by SEO Book

Why US Anti-Piracy Laws are Everyone's Business

The Worst Part of Censorship is XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXThe US is proposing legislation that will undermine the freedom of sites like Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is the biggest threat to free speech on the Internet ever. 

 

SOPA would give US courts the power to take down any website accused of practicing or aiding piracy. Whilst this might seem like a good thing, critics allege that the legislation has been too broadly worded, leading to draconian shut-downs of any site that studios and record labels didn't like. 

 

The SOPA legislation is THE MOST EVIL proposal for the Internet since its invention. It would make all website owners liable for all content posted on their sites. That means that if someone posts a libellous Facebook message about someone else, Facebook would be liable. If someone posts an inaccurate Wikipedia entry, Wikipedia would be liable. If someone uploads a pirated YouTube video, YouTube would be liable.

 

This is like making the Post Office liable for what people send in the post, or BT liable for what people say on the phone. It's absolute nonsense. In the words of blogger "memcpy", who has written a summary of the SOPA legislation, "SOPA is disguised as an anti-piracy bill ..... The bill is, in actuality, designed to obliterate free speech on the internet and allow media publishing companies to commercialize everything." (You can also view a 2-minute video summarising SOPA here.)

 

The legislation means that if a website infringes copyright, ISPs will be required to return an empty response if the web address is entered into a browser. The risk of being taken offline and facing mutli-million pound lawsuits would mean that sites like Facebook, Wikipedia and YouTube would cease to operate as they do now. 

 

In their place, you can expect to see corporate-sponsored sites which replaced freedom of speech with marketing messages. Coming to a computer-screen near you in the very near future if this legislation gets through!

 

Many big names have spoken out against these proposals. In an open letter published in several US newspapers, the founders of Google, Flickr, Yahoo, YouTube, PayPal, Wikipedia, Twitter and eBay wrote that the legislation would "give the US government the power to censor the web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran". Facebook, AOL, Mozilla, LinkedIn, Sony, Electronic Arts and Nintendo also oppose the legislation.

 

You may think this legislation won't affect you because it's in the US and we live in Britain - but US prosecutors are already applying for extradition orders against British citizens for breach of US copyright. If they are successful, British student Richard O'Dwyer faces a five-year prison sentence.

 

Mr O'Dwyer hasn't been to America since he was five years old, his website was hosted in the UK and he has never posted any copyrighted content. But because his site allowed people to find copyrighted content on other sites, the US think that he should be sent over there and jailed. That is not even a criminal offence in the UK, the country of his birth where he lives.

 

SOPA would make breach of copyright a felony under US law, making such extradition orders easier to enforce. The penalties are completely disproportionate to the "crime". In 2009, a US court awarded $1.9 million in damages to record companies against a single individual for downloading 24 songs. It is inconceivable that the record companies suffered losses of almost $80,000 per song.

 

HERE'S THE MOST SINISTER TRUTH OF ALL!!

 

The media companies who have to date spent over $100 million lobbying in favour of SOPA have also been encouraging people to pirate their content, distributing pirating software and explaining how to use it to breach copyright for over a decade! This video makes very interesting viewing, if you can stand the annoying presenter (like Michael Moore on speed).

 

Yes, that's right, companies like CBS, Disney, Warner and Microsoft have been actively encouraging pirating of their own material for years. In some cases, they were simultaneously suing other organisations whilst using their pirating services. CBS even has a website, CNET, which promotes downloading MP3s and has a search engine that enables users to do it.

 

Why would they do that? Firstly, because they have made hundreds of millions of dollars from doing it, and secondly because it enables their lobbyists to create the impression with US legislators that there is widespread copyright infringement in order to gain control over what is broadcast on the Internet.

 

There is a glimmer of hope here - this strategy could just backfire, because by promoting the software to enable copyright infringement, the companies could find themselves liable, not only for their own copyright infringement, but for the loss of income to the artists whose content they were allowing to be pirated.

How Good is ICT Teaching in Schools? (And could a £15 computer revolutionise how it's done?)

Just what do they teach them in school these days? In the case of ICT, Information Communications Technology, you might well ask.

 

My 17-year old son recently told me that his computer wasn't working. He said there was an error message saying 'No Signal' on the monitor. He didn't realise that all he had to do was connect the monitor to the computer.

 

This would not be so unusual if it were not for the fact that this year he received his Diploma in Digital Applications, which according to the EdExcel website is equivalent to 4 GCSE's in ICT. That means that he is as highly qualified in ICT as it is possible for a lad his age to be. Yet he does not know how to connect up a computer monitor.

 

This is not a shortcoming in his school's performance or the skills of his teachers. Far from it. His school received an "outstanding" score from Ofsted for ICT and has received awards from Becta, the government agency leading the national drive to ensure the effective and innovative use of technology throughout learning.

 

The problem is that ICT teaching focuses purely on how to use computers, and not on how computers work. These are important skills, but very little is taught about what's going on inside the box. As a result, applications to study Computer Science at degree level have dropped by 50% in the past decade.

 

However, this may all be about to change with the introduction of a £15 computer, designed to be cheap enough that every school child can have one. The purpose is to introduce a new generation to the wonders of computer programming.

 

Maybe this device will allow this glaring hole in the curriculum to be filled, and allow the British to maintain our place at the forefront of computer technology.

 

Watch this 2 minute video to find out more.