Dark Market and DIG: A USA Network Event

Exciting times. My international thriller Dark Market has been chosen by the USA Network for it’s reading list to run alongside their new series DIG this fall (that’s autumn for my UK readers). Here’s the cover with it’s cool new sticker. More on the when, where, and how in the coming weeks along with how to get it in paperback at long last!

You can watch the teaser for the new series right here, check it out below:





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Kid Whispering…or is it hollering. The ‘art’ of public speaking.

Archibald Talk Frank Coles

Having fun on the arctic/desert talk. Not sure that jumper was a good idea. Shiny Frank.

Is there an art to public speaking? I’m not sure. All I know is Archibald High School in Newcastle Upon Tyne invite me back every year to do my arctic and desert talk with the kids. And it’s one of the highlights of my year. I love it. There’s nothing like making a bunch of 5-6 year olds really excitied.

When I told an ex-headmistress friend of mine that I would be doing these talks she warned me that I should not get them too excited too soon or too often. For the first 10 minutes at Archibald I kept it calm. Then I got them excited with stories and q and a. Then calmed them down; then got them worked up with the desert outfits; then calmed them down; then got them all a tizzy with the arctic kit… and so on. For a good hour or more.

I enjoy it so much and the kids inspire me so much that it may yet become my full time business. The photos of my last talk can be found on their webpage. And I hope to have some news later in the year when we trial our remote talks. Sahara anyone? [November this year]

If you’d like me to come and talk at your school, just get in touch. I hope to see you later this year Archibald.

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How do I pitch an article? Magazines, Newspapers or Websites.

The question I’m asked most often is: How do I pitch a….TV programme, an article, a book?

I’m asked so often I must have written out that short essay several times. For articles however, there is a book which I wish I’d had when I was starting out.

This one:

It’s comprehensive, yet concise. Written in plain English and is the kind of book that would have saved about three years of trial and error when I started pitching articles over a decade ago. I’ll write my own quick-start version here soon.

Well, rewrite. But trust, me that book’s a cracker.

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Streaming video with Google Glass via Livestream: Limitations and possibilities

For anyone thinking of streaming via Glass here’s the main limitation:
“Glass can record HD, it cannot functionally stream HD, the device would overheat so it does stream in a degraded quality due to this fact.”
That’s a quote from Livestream support, currently the only player with a streaming app on the device. The best overall resolution is rounded down (or is it up?) to 360p.
This will match some current low-res satellite news gathering but not anything more, not without the Glass battery melting your ear off!

The available Livestream streaming settings are:
Adapative: Changes bitrate according to network capacity
Low: 352×288 300kbps
Normal: 640×360 600kbps

You get far better quality recording to the device and then uploading, although obviously that isn’t live streaming.

Test videos:
1. LiveStream Let It Go Test[email protected]+ Upload connection.
Here’s a LiveStream of my boy singing Let it Go in the front garden to give you an idea of the quality and the resolution. (sign up required for Livestream)

Alt Youtube link (there will be some degradation however).

All video can be improved with a sunny day/better light source of course.

2. LiveStream Book test[email protected]+ Connection:

Alt Youtube link:

Shame it can’t stream at higher quality. For my purposes I’m not sure if the quality is good enough. But for news gathering a set of Glass, cell/mobile phone, and a good 3g/4g connection it’s pretty darn good. Especially as Glass weighs 43g and an accompanying phone, such as the Samsung S4 mini, weighs 107g. That’s a live streaming media solution that weighs less than 0.2kg.

If you going further afield you could also pair it with a BGAN explorer 710 terminal that will give you upto 650kbps satellite uploads. At only 3.2kgs that is the kind of set up you would previously have required an outside broadcast truck for.

That is really rather excellent, even if it doesn’t give me the full resolution I require.

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this a Medium copyright briefing – what’s the subtext?


The blogging platform Medium and it’s copyright terms. Originally posted here on the Medium website. In case it gets pulled here it is in full.

this a Medium copyright briefing
what’s the subtext?

I’ve not published here before. In a nutshell Medium is a blog aggregator with a super simple publishing interface for text stories with a giant photo banner at the head of the page.

Let’s have a look at their Ts & Cs and make sure they’re not grabbing your copyright like every other poorly advised Tom and Dick in the internet age.

So here’s what they say in their Terms of Service:

“ [1] You own the rights to the content you post on Medium. We don’t claim ownership over any of it. [2] However, by posting or transferring content to Medium, you give us permission to use your content solely to do the things we need to do to provide Medium Services, including, without limitation, storing, displaying, reproducing, and distributing your content. This may include promoting your content with partner companies or services for broader broadcast, distribution, or publication. “

Sadly this is the most common all-rights grab out there.

[1] is standard default copyright, you own your copyright unless expressly assigned elsewhere in writing.

[2] the you own it but we can do anything we like with it clause. This is a rights grab: archive rights, repro rights and syndication rights.

In a nutshell they might not charge for this but their partner companies might, or use the content to generate ad revenue.

You can find the National Union of Journalist briefing on this here:


Specifically points 3, 4, 5 and 6 and the extra uses section.

Shame I love the look, feel and usability of this site.

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None of the other parties…(are Google Glass with facial recognition.)

…bothered to post a Euro flyer through the door, so no 360 degree baloney detection for this election. However as a fledgling Google Glass user with an interest in deception and facial emotions this latest Glass product from Emotient could be a real eye-opener!


Although Google have said they won’t incorporate facial recognition features into Glass without strong privacy protections in place it surely must be a go-to piece of kit for those who can hit the privacy benchmark.

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Conservative political campaign – truth, lies or total baloney?

Conservative BSIAccording to deception experts the Ekman Group: politicians, like actors, are a social group that we permit to lie to us. So with a new round of tribal politics let’s try some critical thinking. Let’s examine each leaflet/email/TV ad that arrives and give the contents a quick reality check and score it, let’s give it a cool media-friendly name from Carl Sagan, let’s call it the Bullshit Index. The BSI for short. Let’s start with the first pseudo-newspaper and the lead article that makes the Conservatives’ case for election.

~ Stop already. The assertion that any party is Your Voice is nonfactual and simply presumptuous. They may be representatives of the majority of voters at some time in the future that is all.
BSI: 5/5.

Sub-head: A free newspaper sent to you by the conservative party at no expense to the taxpayer.
~ Due to the lack of transparency and the potential for corruption in the collecting of party funds it is debatable whether there will be an ‘expense’ or not. There is no cost of publication at point of sale.That bit is true.
BSI: 3/5.

Article: Real Change in Europe
By David Cameron

The European elections on Thursday May 22nd May are the most important for a generation.
~ Assertion of opinion, no reasons given why. It may or may not be true but no way to validate from this statement. Simple fear mongering.
BSI: 5/5.

Britain’s relationship with the EU needs to change – and only the Conservatives can deliver that change.
~Assertion of opinion again with no qualifiers followed by unprovable claim.
BSI: 5/5.

At home, the Conservatives’ long-term economic plan is working. The deficit is down and 1.5 million people are in work – that’s 1.5 million people with a job to provide for themselves and their families.
~ No source of data provided to fact check. If the 879,000 sanctions can be broken down further to distinguish who is/is not included in the figures it could make this claim very unreliable: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/stitching-up-claimants-part-job-says-3537051
Channel 4 show the long term figures are in the positive but there are questions over how people are categorized as employed/not employed and the willingness of all parties to cook the books on this set of stats. http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/unemployment-why-it-really-is-good-news/12810
~This is an ongoing deception that could be easily cleared up. A quote from a report from Sheffield Hallam University clarifies the muddy waters:

“For Britain as a whole in April 2012, the new figures point to more than 3.4 million
unemployed. This compares to just 1.5 million on the claimant count and 2.5 million
according to the Labour Force Survey – the government’s two official measures of
unemployment. The difference is attributable to extensive hidden unemployment.”

BSI: 4/5.

And with a stronger economy at home, we have renewed respect abroad to fight for real change in Europe.
~ An assertion with no benchmark figures. The unreliability of economic data is well known by all political persuasions.
BSI: 4/5.

Unlike other parties we don’t just talk about change – we deliver it. We vetoed an EU treaty that wasn’t in Britain’s national interest and cut the EU budget for the first time in history, saving British taxpayers over £8 billion.
~ It is in the nature of career politicians to instigate change for career purposes. Education is a clear example of overlaid legacy systems that do not necessarily provide the best return for pupils, teachers, schools or taxpayer across all administrations. Again assertions made without facts to backup are invalid. Cutting the EU budget claim for the good is a matter of opinion. The £8 billion saving is negated by the inefficiencies of the market system introduced to the NHS for example, an immediate annual £5 billion+ saving is an extremely conservative estimate just for admin costs let alone the usual wastage and commercial inefficiencies in the 10-30% range.
BSI: 5/5.

We’ll continue to stand up for Britain in Europe – fighting to bring power back home and away from Brussels, and securing more trade but not ‘ever closer union’.
~ Rhetoric and assertions with no basis in fact, Mike Sivier has some coherent points on his blog about this and what ‘real change’ really means. http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/tory-euro-flier-is-a-catalogue-of-failure/
BSI: 5/5.

And once negotiations are complete, the Conservatives will give you and in-out referendum on Europe before the end of 2017.
~ Fortune telling the outcome and linking it to promises that have been broken previously. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2166663/As-Eurozone-agree-bank-bailout-Cameron-says-doesn-t-want-referendum-Britain-s-EU-membership.html
BSI: 4/5.

Labour and the Lib Dems won’t give you a referendum, and UKIP simply can’t deliver one.
~ Partially true for the main parties: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/mar/13/lib-dems-ukip-labour-europe-nick-clegg. Totally false elsewhere: http://greenparty.org.uk/news/yes-to-an-eu-referendum-green-mp-calls-for-chance-to-build-a-better-europe.html 
BSI: 5/5.

So if you want real change in Europe and an in-out referendum, vote Conservative on 22nd May.
~ Repetition of message. Based on previous form this may or may not come to pass.
BSI: 4/5.

Fundamentally all this document states is that they will hold a referendum and the rest is either unverifiable or only half-true.

It’s lucky we have such noble ‘leaders’, sorry employees, at the helm. I’m interested to see what’s next through the mail box from the tribal opinion wranglers in suits.

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2014 – thoughts for the year ahead

I’ve got some work to do and some righteous playing too. Last year I stopped being just a writer, see this post, and this year I’ve got some interesting things planned. Some will pan out, some won’t and either result is good. Usually the things that do pan out don’t always look the same as how you imagined them anyway, and often for the better. So here we go.

1. Be lucky.
Seize opportunities, expect all conversations to go well, reframe ‘didn’t happens’ as lucky escapes.


An expedition like this perhaps? Or maybe something altogether different…

2. Plan an expedition for 2015.
Already planning one with an ex team-GB pal. Just in prelim talks and going to test out logistics and kit in Feb, April or both.

3. Pitch TED prize.
I found a useful piece of economic data that could change the lives of millions. I intend to research and confirm it and if successful pitch it to TED. Add in a social media and website home as well. Nominations for the 2015 TED Prize will close at 11:59pm ET on Monday, March 31, 2014. If anyone would like to nominate me ahead of time feel free: http://www.ted.com/pages/prize_nominate

4. Develop business
I’ve identified an education business that’s ripe to be explored. So first order is test the market to see how robust it is. Define what the product will eventually look like. Then if confirmed buy kit and test it in the field with a local, national and international trial.

5. Be away from the desk.
Simple really, crack on with logging the walks for my mountain leader qualification. Get on a couple of trips.

6. Talk more.
I love the presenting/acting side of my work and I love meeting people. Nurturing and taking opportunities to do both should be seized often.

7. Write up my PHD proposal.
I had to put this off last year due to family commitments. This year I just need to get it done. Actually there are two research areas, so write both and see which feels ‘right’.

If it isn’t working, it’s a sunk cost. Either fix it or walk away.
Go back to number 1.

That’s it. This time in 2015, I’ll do the same again and see how I’ve progressed.

Definitely less of this though:

What have you got planned?

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