Procedures = Time wasting (Shutterstock, Adobe, this means you.)



Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam CO2Who are the fools who are adding any number of procedures and steps to basic processes? A basic upload or download is core business for everyone. If you do as much work as I do, it’s very hard to appreciate the extra steps.

I was just using Shutterstock’s new mega size pictures. Hadn’t used them before, and wanted to resize. So; try to resize, and what do I get? A dialog box, telling me to do something with the client’s license, which I can’t, and wouldn’t, do.

The extra steps story

The extras DO affect productivity:

  1. Download time matters. Long downloads of ridiculously oversized pictures for basic online publishing are absurd at best, infuriating at worst, and totally counterproductive. The need is Click/Done/Next job.
  2. There is no working theory which supports the need for multi-MB sized pictures. Shutterstock has prospered happily without these monster-sized non-events. Why start now?
  3. It took me over an hour to do a job which should have taken no longer than 15 minutes.

Any theories on why this might be a bad idea? Who benefits? Not me. Not my clients. Not their clients. Not the readers. Not the people viewing the pictures. Not Shutterstock. It’s a ridiculous situation.

Now, the other serial offender, Adobe:

Paul Wallis books, sydney media jam

Fear of creativity is the sure sign that you should be a publisher. Read this, and you’ll never need homicidal maniacs again. Maybe you should also hire useless idiots to make the entire process as cumbersome as possible? Nah, could never happen in publishing, could it?

Adobe Illustrator is a pretty good overall package. It is hopelessly spoiled by endless clicking on different functions. This is another multi-step process which achieves very little at the consumption of enormous amounts of time overall. I can do 10 frames an hour on I’d be lucky to do 1 per day on Adobe Illustrator because it’s so damn overloaded with clicks.

I mention Adobe because Shutterstock has come up with something that looks very like Adobe in its edit screens. That reminded me of the many issues created by the “click everything” procedures of Adobe.

To clarify:

  • NOBODY needs more steps in any process. Nobody has the time to waste, except, apparently, the geniuses who invent these nuisances.
  • There is no commercial value to anyone in endless new procedures of any kind. Unless there’s a meaningful audit or some other value, it’s ridiculous to add more steps to any simple process.

Less politely –

Sack anyone who justifies their existence by inventing these idiocies.

Adobe, stop screwing up the world’s ideal graphics software with ridiculously complex, slow, and excruciatingly irritating, counter-intuitive, steps.

Shutterstock, kindly have sufficient respect for your clients to cease with the multi-stage downloads and these pointless extra stages of editing. Anyone can resize an image and do the dpi to their tastes. No need to add to that.  Also be aware that licensees and their contractors can’t drop everything and try to figure out a new license issue.

Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam, Paul Wallis books

The idiocy of adding chemicals to nicotine products


Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam CO2The sheer scale of grotesque materials added to nicotine products like cigarettes and and vaping is astonishing. It’s even more astonishing when you realize these things add nothing at all to the product. It’s also absurd, and dangerous. Chemicals include arsenic, lead, and a particularly nasty, and useless, compound called Butadiene.

Why are these things tolerated in any product containing nicotine? In any other class of product, they’d be considered absurd – and illegal.

To explain:

  • The active ingredient in tobacco and vaping is nicotine.
  • The tobacco plant produces the nicotine.
  • Tobacco plants can be cured with sugar and water, and processed without the need for any other materials.
  • Other materials are in effect totally unnecessary added costs.
Paul Wallis books, sydney media jam

Fear of creativity is the sure sign that you should be a publisher. Read this, and you’ll never need homicidal maniacs again.

The theory of adding chemicals to nicotine has never had a leg to stand on. The original theory/excuse for additives, adding petroleum compounds to make smokes burn better, doesn’t stack up at all.

Tobacco has been a global commodity for hundreds of years. At no time in the history of tobacco did anyone feel the need to add a vast library of chemicals to the raw product, until the 20th century.

In fairness – All consumer commodities, like illegal drugs, are usually cut or diluted with something. There are very few pure products around unless you eat them straight out of the ground.

The up to 4000 chemicals found in cigarettes are a lesson in total incompetence. The 4000 chemicals link contains some useful information from the Quit side. (With one caveat – Carbon monoxide is produced by burning anything containing carbon including wood, paper and just about any type of food; it’s a primary oxide created by burning. Plant tissues contain carbon, hence the presence of carbon monoxide in tobacco.)

Wanderlaugh, Paul Wallis books, Amazon

My books are set in the England of the immortals, not some dreary little off license. Wonder why? No.

The point here is that NONE of those chemicals need to be there. NONE of these chemicals are in the raw product, or shouldn’t be, notably pesticides, which should be eliminated at the curing stage or by better agricultural practices, like hydroponics.

Why the hell would cyanide be a requirement? Naphthalene is used in moth balls. What’s it doing in cigarettes? Do tobacco companies have some raging need to add costs to their own production? Or is it just plain sloppy manufacturing?

Call me cynical, but I’d say that given that the original plant shouldn’t contain anything BUT plant materials, the smoking gun, excuse the pun, is squarely in the hands of the manufacturing process.

Vaping, nicotine and risks

Vaping is a game-changer. You can use pure nicotine, with no additives at all, in a safe solution like say peanut oil or something 100% harmless. This is no-brainer chemistry. It’s also no-brainer business, reducing costs and risks.

A vaping company called Discount makes a point about the risks and safety of vaping, at its own expense. This company even goes to the extent of questioning silica in vaping wicks, a valid point.

The big argument about vaping worldwide currently based on the issue of “not knowing” what’s in vaping fluids. It’s a stupid situation; there should be no doubt at all what’s in ANY consumer product at all, nor whether it’s safe. An epidemiological no-brainer, in fact.

It’s a pity that the pro and anti lobbies have been so maniacally effective in obscuring real research. Research designed to produce a pro or anti finding is highly suspect, and certainly no help to the credibility of the pro and anti arguments.

Nicotine delivery, explained

This is the case with all drugs: A delivery system should be measured, straightforward, and there should be minimal risks of contamination. Nicotine is a fast acting drug, analogous to vitamin B3, aka oxidized nicotinic acid, according to my Penguin Dictionary of Chemistry.

Hence the addictive properties of tobacco. You simply can’t get addicted to anything unless there’s a body chemistry analogue. Morphine, for example, is a close analogue to endorphins, etc. That’s why any addictive drug which also acts as a carrier  for hanger-on unnecessary chemicals needs to be closely quality controlled.

The contaminated products also deliver any old thing in those 4000 sloppily manufactured chemicals, fast. It’s hardly surprising that toxicity is so high.

Therefore – It is nothing less than chronically, certifiably, insane for tobacco products NOT to have all contaminants excluded. Smokers won’t mind if their smokes or vapes aren’t full of garbage. There’s no sales resistance to a better product, after all.

(Before non-smokers get too smug – Those same 4000 chemicals are also at saturation levels in the highly polluted air. You’re smoking the equivalent of a few packs a day yourselves just by breathing. Your car puts out a fair percentile whack of the same chemicals, every X miles or so, by the kilogram, not the micrograms in cigarettes. Thanks to our irresponsible, anti-everything governments and their slack, lazy enforcement of pollution laws, you’re all now global heavy passive smokers.)

A suggestion or two about nicotine

Nicotine is historically used to relieve stress. It was actually prescribed by doctors in the mid-20th century to reduce stress. In a stress-addled world, it has a role, provided it’s safe to use. A deficiency of B3, in fact, is a medical condition called pellagra, and the symptoms of pellagra include delusions and death. So a fast delivery system for a close B3 relative might not be all bad, particularly if you don’t like delusions and death as part of your life’s itinerary.

Another issue – B3 is a water-soluble vitamin, and B3 levels are negatively affected by, believe it or not, sugar. Given the sheer toxicity of high fructose syrups, super-sugars in water-based products, (for which there are no dietary precedents in human history), maybe a B3 analogue isn’t such a bad idea, if fructose reduces B3 levels? Don’t worry, epidemiologists, I’ll charge you for this information later.

The suggestions:

  1. Decontaminate all nicotine products to reduce obvious risks.
  2. Stop being coy about why nicotine is addictive.
  3. Don’t ignore the de-stressing capabilities of nicotine; it may just be a way of doing something about this hideously stressed-out world of ours. As a medication, it may be very valuable, and more importantly, very effective, for chronic stress.
  4. Just make it compulsory for any nicotine product to be ONLY nicotine, with no additives at all.

I’ve now been saying this for 20 years, so it’s probably due to become a public issue sometime. Moralize all you want, but chemistry is chemistry, business is business, and health is health. Just get all three right, and there should be no problems.



Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam, Paul Wallis books

3D Flooring – Living spaces beyond minimalist dullness at last?


Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam CO2I loathe minimalism. I draw the line at being expected to worship laminates.  3D flooring may be the answer to the minimalist design desert.

I’m as fond of “spaces” as anyone, in fact. I love them, but there is definitely a point at which turning interior design in to “how to create a bland, meaningless hole” is unacceptable. Minimalism has had 20 years of fawning acceptance, and it’s time to go.

Nor would giving minimalism the boot do much damage to good designers. The only ones at risk would be the true crap artists. There are bacteria with more design credentials than that, and these sheep definitely won’t be missed. It might actually be more humane to put them down. How bad can it be if your claim to design talent is a bit of utterly ignorable white surface? Death or release into real design could only help these poor bastards.

3D flooring basics

3D flooring, picture of bed above blue sky and clouds


Flooring of pinkish scarlet flowes in bathroom

Source: Heaven 3D Interior

Beach shallows image 3D flooring

Source: Design Swan

Living room setting with water flooring and coastal motif wall showing small islands on the horizon.

Source: Imperial Interiors

Bedroom with large Earth surrounded by stars, with sun breaking over the eastern horizon and moon on the other side.

Source: Custom Star Earth design

The idea of 3D flooring is so basically good in so many ways. The floor is the largest contiguous area in any architectural space. It’s a great way of adding color and motifs.

3D floors are basically polymers, epoxy resin, tough as nails, and easy to clean. You could put these things over practically any surface. Obviously, there’s no guarantee against scuffing, but most damage would be pretty minor.


This is the natural development of split levels – split dimensions and perspectives. If these early designs are just that, imagine the possibilities, like Gothic themes, H.P. Lovecraft… favorite movies, meditation rooms….anything, really. Talk about a merchandising dream, but there are huge artistic possibilities here.

3D walls are also arriving, if less dramatically. Thank god for high definition and good vectoring, is all I need to say. You could outdo the Baroque period, with a bit of thought, and if you’re bloody-minded enough, add real Baroque stuff to totally confuse everyone, including yourself.

Every living space IS different. Making that space nice and liveable, however, is very much a matter of individual preferences. Some of the 3D ideas are quite elegant, and if they owe a bit to 1940s-50s modern abstracts, (the pre-pop art stuff) that’s a good pedigree for any design.

One thing I notice about 3D is that you don’t take long to say Yes or No. The visual impact is such that you either love it or want to go around it.

I honestly don’t think this is a fad. I think it’s the beginning of a new, more visually intensive, but in many ways more advanced living aesthetic.

Humans always try to create good life spaces for themselves. Pity they don’t pay more attention to the hideous life spaces they often create for others, but when it’s your home, it’s personal. The level of care about design goes up enormously.

You often, in fact monotonously, hear about “conversation pieces” in design. These floors could be called “consciousness starters”. People naturally adjust to new environments. It may well be that one reason so many people are so utterly unaware of their environments is that so many modern environments are all so

Classical living room, with water feature floor design in pale blue with coral, dolphins, fish, etc.


similar.  New, unfamiliar environments may be just what’s needed to kickstart the human brain.

Anyway, I want the cloud bed flooring. I like the idea of going to bed above a serene sky and waking up to something that doesn’t scream “Clean me!”, too.

For more fabulous 3D flooring, check out this link.

Please note – All 3D flooring pictures shown on this blog are copyright properties of their respective owners. I do not claim to own any intellectual property rights over these pictures.  The images are used here under terms of Fair Use, solely for the purpose of commentary.


Readability – Nitpicker’s heaven, or is Yoast losing it?



Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam CO2I’m always fascinated by the theory of readability, the pedants, and the total lack of interest in actual content requirements. Yoast is no exception. Check out this, based on my “future of books” blog:

  1. Bad SEO score2 of the subheadings are followed by more than the recommended maximum of 300 words. Try to insert additional subheadings.
  2. Mark this result in the text Bad SEO score The text contains 3 consecutive sentences starting with the same word. Try to mix things up!
  3. Mark this result in the text OK SEO score 29% of the sentences contain a transition wordor phrase, which is less than the recommended minimum of 30%.
  4. Mark this result in the text OK SEO score5% of the sentences contain passive voice, which is more than the recommended maximum of 10%. Try to use their active counterparts.
  5. Good SEO score The copy scores 64.6 in the Flesch Reading Easetest, which is considered ok to read.
  6. Good SEO score None of the paragraphs are too long, which is great.
  7. Mark this result in the text Good SEO score3% of the sentences contain more than 20 words, which is less than or equal to the recommended maximum of 25%.

Note the minute deviations like 29% instead of 30%. No bandwidths. Not also the emphasis on “too long”, etc.

  1. …Yet the overall SEO score was “good”.
  2. 3 sentences on the same subject starting with the same word? The subject was “books”, so the subheads included books.
  3. A transition word or phrase: Transition words include “and”, “probably” and “maybe”…. So bloody what? These things are used in syntax, too. Or is syntax another subject never to be mentioned?
  4. Passive voice: Did an entire blog which scored 100% passive voice, and 98% readability. Tell you anything, pedants? Reading is about readability.
  5. Readability on Flesch is 64% but the overall rating is bad?

Do style guides have a clue?

In so many words, no. They’re a nitpicker’s heaven. The people who have nothing to do with generating content can sit there with a readout like this and pronounce judgement.

Passive voice is also usually narrative, the required, and largely unavoidable, story telling information between quotes, active voice, etc. Narrative, strangely, occurs in scientific papers, news articles, and reportage of anything. It even occurs in conversations to tell people what the bloody subject of the story is. No narrative? Gonna be some fabulous bit of communication, eh?


This is “narrative”, according to Google:

  1. 1.
    a spoken or written account of connected events; a story.
    “a gripping narrative”
    synonyms: accountstorytalechroniclehistorydescriptionrecordportrayalsketchportraitstatementreportrehearsalrecitalrendering

    “a chronological narrative of Stark’s life”
  1. 1.
    in the form of or concerned with narration.
    “a narrative poem”

I won’t even begin to get in to the technical issues. Some content is written for timing, for perspective, contrast, or simply to add poise to a sentence. Written content isn’t the same thing as a bloody shopping list, clowns.

There are supposed to be a few things in any decent text:

  • Expression
  • Emphasis
  • Modes of speech
  • Syntax
  • Context

Without them, you’ve GOT a shopping list:

  • Now’s the winter of our discontent.
  • Made glorious spring.
  • 500g butter
  • Bread
  • Doritos

Try getting that delivered – Or getting someone to read it. Point made?

Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam, Paul Wallis books

The future of books



Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam CO2The subject of the future of books keeps coming up. E-books, whatever media, the inevitable move to rethinking the whole idea of a book would happen anyway. It’s a bit like saying “nothing will ever replace stone tablets”.

This subject came to mind as a result of reading the saga of the demise of Gould’s Books, a big Sydney book shop where I’ve been going for decades. I met Bob Gould a few times in a “G’day” sort of way, never got to know him. He was a passionate believe in the classic “educate the masses” ideals, and he did just that, for all those years.

How books created the future

In fact, whether anyone likes it or not, that was how modern ideas spread.  From pamphlets to the Rights of Man wasn’t that much of a step, at least physically. Mentally, it was a gigantic leap. The tidal surges of progressive writing for the last 400 years or so are indicative. From serfdom to well, a complete social elsewhere, in fact.

Books have written as much real history as their writers. In China, the rise of books gave birth to the scholar class which was to dominate ancient and even modern China. China without its literature would have been impossible. In Europe, Gutenberg lit the fire which never went out. In the original Islamic world, modern science found its origins in book learned disciplines, which then spread around the world. Continue reading

The never ending American Civil War vs Earth


Paul Wallis, Sydney Media Jam CO2The American Civil War didn’t end in 1865. It simply revised its methods. It’s an interesting fact that whatever is center stage in US politics devolves back to this one very basic Civil War dichotomy.

The Civil War had many different original sources. Slavery vs abolition was one of the catalysts, but it also reflected the very different economics and mindsets of the two sides. The war came and went, but never left American politics.

Mark Twain, in his Life on the Mississippi, mentions that in the South, every conversation in his day turned to the war. In the North, it was just an occasional topic. Not much has changed. The Civil War restructured America in to a more or less permanent adversarial perspective.

American ValhallaThe Civil War was America’s worst war. 3% of the entire population were casualties, dead or wounded. Today, that’d be 9 million people. Roughly 10% of the population served during the war or 30 million today.

Talking about monuments to human suffering – After it ended, Robert E Lee was asked by a woman what to tell her sons about the war. His reply was succinct: “Tell your sons to abandon their antagonisms! Teach them to become Americans!”

It was good advice, and like most good advice, it was ignored. Just about all of America’s internal disruptions and dysfunctions ever since could have been avoided if that advice had been followed. Continue reading