Amazon Prime Day on 15 July

I think I’m recommending this, I think I am. It’s going to be like Amazon’s lightning sales where the fun, such as it is, in seeing what they offer next. This time they’re going to be offering, I think, seven major items on this Amazon Prime Day of 15 July 2015.

Seven major items spaced out through the day and then – have I really got this right? – new lightning sales every ten minutes.

But.

You only get this if you’re an Amazon Prime member. That’s the big benefit for Amazon, pushing this service. I have no trouble with that because I can see many situations where it’s a bargain for us. I don’t use Amazon enough that the Prime membership’s free postage makes enough of a difference but if it does, you get in there. If you want to watch Outlander, too, that’s a TV show that is exclusively available on Amazon Prime in the UK.

Plus, you can sign up to Amazon Prime now and change your mind. I presume being a member on 15 July counts even if you cancel your membership on 16 July. And you can: sign up for a free trial now and cancel it before the end of the period.

Can you tell I’m on the fence a bit here? I don’t want to be persuaded into spending more money than I need but also I do like online sales where you get some new deal every so often. I’ll be looking into it at least so I wanted to be sure you knew about it too.

Here’s everything Amazon is saying about Prime Day. Presumably it’ll be updated more and more through the week.

Writers: don’t accept this

Nobody else would do what we are prone to do and what we are expected to do – working for free or preposterous rates.

Blimey: Microsoft gives unlimited OneDrive storage

Today, storage limits just became a thing of the past with Office 365. Moving forward, all Office 365 customers will get unlimited OneDrive storage at no additional cost. We’ve started rolling this out today to Office 365 Home, Personal, and University customers.

OneDrive delivers unlimited cloud storage to Office 365 subscribers – Chris Jones, OneDrive Blog (27 October 2014)

It’s only about a heartbeat since they upped the free storage to one terabyte. Read the full piece for who gets this and when.

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It is not true that I used my iPhone 33 times today

There’s a new free iPhone app called Checky that counts each time you tap your iPhone awake. It is fun and a bit sobering but unfortunately it’s also wrong. Listen, I’m not in denial here. I noticed around 1pm today that it reset to 0.

Go grab Checky anyway. It’s free and if you’ve just got an iPhone 6 or Plus, it might give you a sense of your new-toy addition.

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Get this right now, right now: 1Password for iOS goes free

I believe this is unheard of and I believe you should be getting it now rather than reading this. Get it now. Hurry.

1Password-4-LogoLook, I got my copy in a sale several years ago and it was a bargain price but it was still a price. When I learnt that it was free, I actually didn’t believe it. You know how the App Store doesn’t show you a price after you’ve bought something? It only and forever shows the word ‘Open’? Often I like that, especially if the app was expensive and has now dropped a lot in price. But it means it’s quite difficult to check these things out to be sure that they’re true.

Listen to me, I sound like I still don’t believe it. To put this in one perspective, free is just a £6.99 drop. But to put it in another, I’ve used 1Password a minimum of once every single day – every single day – since I got it around 2009.

It’s a password manager that creates strong passwords and then securely enters them for you. So on the one hand you’re never going to use ‘123456789’ as your password. And on the other, going to websites and logging in to them is now very fast. One tap and I’m at the BBC Radio Previews website, 1Password is popping my username and password in, and I’m off to the races.

That’s a feature that is going to get even better in iOS 8, which arrives today, and the new version of 1Password which will arrive at about the same time. That’s going to be a free upgrade for me, as an existing user, and it will be a free upgrade for you as an existing user – if you go get this bizarre free offer while it lasts.

MyScript Smart Note free (briefly)

That’s script as in handwriting, not script as in coming soon to a cinema near you. MyScript Smart Note is for handwriting on iPads and I’ve no compulsion. Again, I enjoy typing.

But this isn’t really a sale as I think for it to be called that, the maker has to be selling it for something. And at the moment, MyScript Smart Note is free. Take a look on the App Store.

Don’t trust public wifi

You’ve done this: you’ve seen a public wifi and you’ve glommed onto it with barely a pause to send silent mental thanks to the shop that is providing it.

Fine.

I do exactly that.

But I won’t log on to any site that way. The login details are not safe because there could well be something watching that apparently free wifi signal.

If it sounds like I’m building up to saying you should always pay for you wifi, I’m not. I’m building up to saying this: if you’re on your iPhone or Android device and you use a free public wifi, come off it to do anything sensitive.

Just tap the Wifi button off and your phone reverts to 4G and away you go.

Switch back to the free wifi to download something big or just browser faster. And if you do this a lot, consider paying for a VPN.

From today’s The Blank Screen workshop in Newcastle

I do this Blank Screen productivity workshop a lot but I particularly enjoy doing it for the Federation of Entertainment Unions. They hire me occasionally to speak to members from their four associated unions: the Writers’ Guild, the Musician’s Guild, the National Union of Journalists and Equity.

It’s very special talking with these because all of us in the room are working full time in our creative fields. It’s especially exciting for me because actors and musicians have different needs to writers, journalists and authors so I work to find out what they need and how to help them.

I should say: to help them with this business I do of remaining the creative person we are, yet becoming a lot more productive. It’s not about knocking out work faster, it is about handling your time so well that you can do much more. That’s a subtle but an important difference.

But whatever group I talk to, there seems to be a collective mood. There’s so much in the workshop, especially the full-day version like today’s, that I spend some time at the end getting the attendees to recap. I think it helps them focus on what they’re going to take away but I know it helps me see what’s worked best.

Today what went down the best was a thing called Bad Days.

This is all about the worst times you get in our work, the time when are overwhelmed. That can be because you have too much to do, it can be exactly the opposite: you have nothing going on and have to pick which project to kickstart.

I actually have a solution. I’m proud of this and I’m proud of how the Bad Days chapter has been the most popular one in that first book. I’m fascinated by how I wrote that chapter right there during a really bad day. It was like I was writing live from the scene. The text is a little painful for me to read now: it’s clear and makes sense and does its job but I can feel the undertow.

But, hey, I’m a writer: nuts to my being uncomfortable, I’m simultaneously proud that there is an undertow.

I don’t want you to have bad days. But I do want you to have Bad Days, the chapter. Everyone I worked with today will get a copy of that via the FEU and I want you to have it too. It’s a single, blunt chapter from The Blank Screen and a PDF of it is all yours. Have it for free, use it, share it around if you think it will help people, and you’ll make me very happy.

Download it here.

I would be happier still if you fancied getting it in the book as I hope there is a huge amount of other advice in there that will help you. But the Bad Days PDF is the thing.

Write for free and you take us all down

There is a catch in your voice when someone asks you what you do and you answer that you’re a writer. And the catch is that everybody thinks they can write. Most can’t but that’s okay, I’ll never score a goal at football or successfully tie my shoelace, I don’t beat myself up about it. I also don’t go selling my services as a shoelace advisor. But enough of the not-we advertise themselves as writers that they damage what we do. And because they cannot, literally cannot, distinguish themselves in any way but price, they go hell for leather in distinguishing themselves on price. You want a 5,000 word article for 20 cents? I’ll do you 10,000 for free.

You will never find a shortage of people foolish enough to hire people for free – it’s a core tenet of how the UK government believes everyone but themselves should be volunteers – but you could ignore that. It’s harder to ignore the line you get that writing for free will be great exposure.

The Freelancer by Contently argues this week that this could be true. The full piece is centred on Lisa Earle McLeod who writes for Huffington Post for free and says that her articles there are responsible for “nearly every major sale” her company has made. But:

McLeod recognized lawyers and physicians don’t give their work away for free. But she said her business model isn’t based on writing. Writing is a means to an end, a strategy for generating more work in other areas.

“My business model is speaking and consulting. Why wouldn’t I write for free?” she said. “Now when people call me, I don’t have to establish credibility.”

Writing for Free Can Pay Off. But Only for a Select Few – Gary M Stern, Contently.net (27 August 2014)

Let’s see her speak and consult for free, then.

Productivity tips from The Blank Screen in your mailbox

The Blank Screen email newsletter is sent free every Friday morning with a key productivity tip, a lot of news and advice, plus recommendations and deals of the week.

There’s also a bit where I own up to what I’ve been working on all week but that’s more my using you as an accountability partner, the way that I now know if I didn’t do anything, I wouldn’t have anything to say. So thank you for that.

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