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Let me ask you a question

14 Aug

One of the many things I do to scrape a living together is survey design (because for all the jokes about becoming like J K Rowling, writing is not a lucrative profession). For a very reasonable fee, I either build people a survey from scratch, or tell them what’s wrong with their own one. And often there is plenty wrong.

Just as my work as a proofreader means I can never simply read text without picking out all the errors, so my work as a survey designer means I can never take an online survey without going “that’s ambiguous”, “you should allow more than one option here” or “this matrix is far too big”, and so on.

These things are not just annoying for the people taking the survey; if you ask the wrong questions, or provide the wrong answer choices, you end up with unreliable data, or your respondents give up halfway through, both of which rather defeat the point of sending out the survey in the first place.

But rather than try to explain what I mean in this post, I’m going to invite you to take a survey I have specially designed to be as useless and annoying as possible. SurveyMonkey rates it as ‘great’, by the way (see the picture below), which just shows why you need to apply human intelligence to these things.

What a wonderful survey I have designed, according to SurveyMonkey!

I won’t be held responsible for any damage to your phone that occurs from throwing it across the room in frustration.

I only have a free SurveyMonkey account (because the paid ones are so ludicrously expensive) which means that only the first 100 people to click the button will be able to take the survey. If the maximum has already been reached, drop me a note in the comments below and I’ll see what I can do.

And if you are now in awe of my survey design skills, you can hire me on PeoplePerHour. Or just consider this your free tutorial in how not to design a survey.

Pester Power

20 May

You may have seen my earlier post on reducing my use of plastic personally. However, that’s only half the story. Businesses and organisations have to play their role, too. If there’s no plastic-free option available, then you can’t choose it.

So I’ve been utilising the still-useful skill of letter writing to try and encourage companies I use to join me on this quest. Below are some letters (OK, emails) I have sent, and the responses I got. Continue reading

Let’s play Hyndland bingo!

26 Apr

It probably says a lot about the neighbourhood of Anniesland, in Glasgow, that after spending a month here I am writing a post about Hyndland. Anniesland is a bit betwixt and between, both in a literal sense (its main landmark is Anniesland Cross, a major junction between roads that run west out of Glasgow and south to the Black Hole and the Death Star (as I like to call Govan and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital) and also in terms of character. It’s kind of west end but not posh, a bit down at heel but not cheap, not that far the city centre, but not actually close. Continue reading

Are you feeling lucky, punk?

31 Oct

Because if you are, you could enter my Twitter prize draw to win a copy of Why Everything You Know about Robin Hood Is Wrong before it’s released! And five runners-up will win an .epub copy. Enter by retweeting this tweet and following @kcmurdarasi. See the terms and conditions, if you’re having trouble sleeping.

On the other hand, if you’re not feeling so lucky, there’s a more certain way to get your hands on a copy. Everyone on my mailing list will receive an .epub copy when the book is released on 22nd November (or as soon after that as I manage).

But what if you don’t feel lucky and you still want a paperback copy? Then you can pre-order it, like everybody else, can’t you? Do I have to do everything for you? ūüėČ

The wonderful, awful business of being an author

8 Sep

As I obviously have oodles of time on my hands, trying to finish a novel (The Sarcophagus Scroll) while simultaneously preparing a non-fiction book for publication (Why Everything You Know about Robin Hood is Wrong), this must be the perfect time to host a question-and-answer time on AMAfeed (Ask Me Anything).

Anyway, whether I am superhuman, or thrive on challenge, or am simply mad, I have scheduled the Ask Me Anything for Tuesday 11th September at 2.30pm, UK time. You can post your questions before then (and I can answer them), but they won’t show up until Tuesday afternoon.

If you know anyone who’s curious about the business of writing professionally, encourage them to pose a question for me. If it throws up anything interesting, I may post the link again once the Q&A has closed.

The opposite of writer’s block

5 Sep

As usual I have to apologise for not writing ¬†a new blog post for ages, but unusually the excuse is not just that I’ve been insanely busy (which I have) but also that I don’t know what to write about – or more accurately, I don’t know¬†which thing to write about.

I have jotted down a few ideas for posts (I do this – I have an extremely rubbish working memory, so scraps of paper and memos on my phone serve as an alternative) but don’t want to write about all of them (if I wrote three posts in a week you might worry that I’d been replaced by the body snatchers!) and if I try to space them out over the next several weeks I’ll forget, or they will be out of date, or something else will come up.

So it’s over to you, patient readers who have just slogged your way through two one-sentence paragraphs. Do you want to read¬†about my summer in Greece and Albania, with reflections on different culture, the changing face of Albania, and possibly language learning? Or would you prefer to hear about my beautiful new budgie, Gatsby? (I may become a bit of budgie bore, I’m afraid. He’s so cute!) Or would you like to hear about lactase? No, I’ll not tell you any more; if you’re intrigued, vote for it.

The survey should be showing below. (If it’s not, click here.) I look forward to getting my writing orders!