Sunday, 24 January 2010

Text Messages - the forgotten child of social media.


A few weeks back asked the question, to my boss, what were banks like before computers? I mean, were there just rows and rows of people "keeping books"? Did projects even exists? What did we do without powerpoint and spreadsheets? Anyway, after the slight chuckle, the response that I was to have was "different". Cant fault the honesty. However, I realised that I was not really asking one question about banks, I was really asking a much bigger question - what was my life like without computers and technology?

Over the last 15 - 20 years, the number of ways that we can communicate with eachother has increased dramatically - it is difficult to imagine staying in contact with my friends - JC (edinburgh), MP (manchester), PH/CM (Maidstone), C, K, CM (all belfast). Through facebook, mobile phones, emails etc they I never feel too far from any of them. Which is great. However, while in the shower, just after sending a text message, I thought about it. Blogs, facebook, emails are all hugely flexible - you can put up pictures, links, comments long or short, quiz's and so many other things. By comparison, the lowly text message seems a meagre offering for communication - I have heard of e-books, but no one yet has tried to market (as far as I am aware) a "text story" service where you get short stories sent out.

Anyway, while i washed my hair, I decided that this was something I should actually post about - usually i post about things that i find particularly emotive or interesting, but this is a rare opportunity to post about something I had barely registered a thought about before this morning. So, here I go...

1. The Joy of Text
I'll start with whats good. First of all, the convenience is obviously great - send them any time any where. They are also unobtrusive - someone can read them wherever the like. No shocks here.

However, something that I value more is that they are personal When I send a text message, I can imagine it being read in the most public of venues, but no one but the recipient reading it. In fact, I often say things in text messages that would be very difficult to say in person in public - for me there is something great about this. I rarely send a text message to anyone with out thinking where they may be when the read it - but that almost does not matter.

Also, another thing that I particularly love is the lack of context. More often than not, our conversations require some sort of context for them to be understood. By this I mean, we generally don't throw one liners into every day conversation with out making some sort of reference to what we are talking about. With sms text messages, all context often goes out the window. Because they are generally short (measured in characters, not words), I often forgo context and go straight to my point. Usually, some sort of comment or observation, generally unrelated to a previous conversation. The lack of context, often adds to the impact (humour, emotive, shocking) as it comes across as being out of the blue. This is very important to me - I like the fact that there is a medium available for me to communicate in that does not require me to be long winded.

2. But what do I use them for?
Including my work messages, about 20% of them are merely 'arranging' things. All I mean by this is meeting for lunch, confirming / rejecting some sort of meeting etc. The other 80% are usually me asking questions or giving an opinion. There is probably very little "fact" in a text message. Not that I am saying that I lie in them, but I dont use them to communicate the weather, time of day etc. I generally use them to express my opinion, emotion, feeling or, more often than not, some randon thought that flew into my head.

Again, what how would I have done this 15-20 years ago? Would all those random thoughts and opinions that I have and frequently send out to people have gone totally awol and never been heard? While that may be for the best, it would have been a shame had I not been able to send some of my more inspired messages.

3. Honesty is the best policy
Finally, the one big thing I get out of text messages is about how honest I get to be in them. The fact that I am usually restricted to a few hundred characters usually forces me to restrict myself to the truth. In a strange way, i find the restriction liberating. Combine this with the fact that I am usually not staring the person in the face when i send the message (ine recent exception to this - C!), it is easier to be honest. This is a reason why I feel, quite sincerely, that text messages is one of the most interesting and engaging way to communicate with people.


Bit of an odd post this one, but once I started thinking about text messages, it would not go away. The point that I am making is that there are few other ways I have of communicating with people who are important to me that allows me to be honest, personal, truthful and immediate as a text message. Why I didnt realise this before now is surprising - who would have thought I had such a love for the simplest method of communicating available. Even my old motorola phone could send a text message.

So, one cheer for the not so mighty text message.



PS I would also say that text messages are one of the more memorable types of message - I have plenty of memorable text messages, and not many emails.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Thoughts on Christmas

Hello hello,

This is my third and final (planned) post for the evening, and is probably going to be the most confusing / confused. When I sat down earlier on to think about what was on my mind, this consumed most of my thoughts. This christmas was realy, really interesting. gooes...

Week 1

Arriving home
I loved getting home - it was great. It felt really good to be back and see the family. I hadnt been home in 6 months, and it was genuinely good to be there. Not much had changed, save for the fact that G had done a load of home brew (top trumps!), but it was really good. I got a chance to see most of my good friends (KA, KF, CMC, the Boys, JM) and it was good to catch up. Hard to believe that there is only a 2 week window in the whole year that makes that possible.

X-Mas eve: The Landsdown
Some things DEFINATELY never change. Sure the landsdown is like a meat market on x-mas eve, the music is awful, actually having a conversation becomes difficult by 930 and everyone is rat arsed by 10pm, but, you know, that is the spirt of x-mas. sort of.

I think there are two things I love about the landsdown.

1. 30 Seconds: those 30 second snapshots you get of people you havent seen in years. It is like they view it as a window of opportunity to update you on their life. At least three people i spoke to started these with "I'm engaged". Honestly, I felt like saying "i was not chatting you up anyway". But, i chickened out. I mean, why the update on your sex life? Seriously, I am WAY more interested in what you have been doing in the intervening years and yet still end up at the same watering hole on X-mas eve. Also, those 30 second updates, its like speed dating with out the end game. All i can say is "thank christ i was not looking for a date".

2. The boys - : For one night a year we basically revert to what life was like 8 years ago. It is like a time machine. All the boys there have a good time, but it is literally like things just dont change. I even though BG looked younger (good lad - maybet that is what Manchester is doing to you). It just feels like a normal uncivilised start to a night out we used to have when we were 18. No better place for it.

X-Mas night
I am not really in a position to talk about this one seeing as my memory ends at approximately 12am, but I think a good time was had by all. The following things definately happened:

1. MR exceeded himself in making the most potent cocktail i have ever had. VA VA VOM
2. Alot of gambling took place on FIFA
3. The most obscene things were written on my white board, which my Parents, Granny and Uncle all saw the next morning.
4. Alot of Kings was played. I think we need to come up with a new, less devestating game.
5. Hugging - every photo i am in involves me hugging people. Apparently i was sharing alot of guy love.

Boxing Night
See above - i had the worst hang over of all time and did not make it out. I was in bed by 11 and slept for 14 hours.

Week 2

Drinks with an old friend over the whole week
I had the fortune of catching up with someone I had not seen in years - it was great. A little bit unusual for me, though I am a social person and I had a few interesting thoughts before hand (what if they dont recognise me). Needless to say that was not a problem - facebook has removed all anonmnity from my life. Turns out that 8 years is not as long as it seems :). A bit of a highlight.

Extended Family
Turns out that one of my family members is into (non erotic) pole dancing. I did not know this. Boy was that an interesting one to find out over xmas. As i mentioned, i have a 2 week window each year to cram in seeing my extended family and those i did manage to see, I had a great time with. That said, their 'young' children get tall very quickly. I had a really good curry and seeing my extended family always reminds me how important they are. Thanks R&P!

New Year
Probably the quietest new year that i have had, and I was certainly more sober this year that last (last year i brought in 2009 in shine). So when 2010 arrived i was able to be quite reflective and think about what was coming up. No new years resolutions mind you. I was more thinking about my flight the next day. It was pretty cool though - had a good, if tame, night.


2 very different at x-mas weeks, the first about drinking and reliving the old days, the second about thinking what 2010 will be like. Could not have asked for more, but it was very interesting, looking back, how both of the weeks at home affected me.

The first was letting my hair down, the second very much looking up and forward to the year. I really needed it after such a busy time in work.

The moral of the story? I think it is that going home makes me apprecitate what I have in London, and living in London makes me appreciate the best things about going home.

Rock on X-mas 2010.


Living away from home - round three

Hello again,

this has been on my mind now for some time and it is only today i sat down and articulated what I wanted to write about. For my reckoning, I have left home now 3 times...

1. Going to Uni
2. Moving in with JC and CMK in Belfast
3. Moving to London (randomly with MA)

Each of these have had their own experiences and all that jazz, but I wanted to reflect on my third move / attempt at moving. So, without further adieu...

1. Whats different?

There are a number of things different with this move than the other two. For a start, I was moving for a job - I had never done that before, but this in itself though up its own challenges initially. What if I hated the job? being the principal question. Fortunately, I did not, I actually rather enjoyed it, but more importantly never has me living somewhere been so inexorably linked to work. If I lost my job, I would almost certainly have to move home as I am totally reliant on the job to allow me to stay in London. Previously, I have never had that tie - as a student, you can pretty much do nothing for a year (or 4 if you are really smart) and still live free in a city (no council tax & and you get a student loan!).

This has totally changed my attitude to work - I know absolutely have to do it if i want to stay in London. Big deal you are probably thinking, but what this effectively means is that I am tied to a job so long as I want to live here. And this is something I swore i'd never become - tied to my work. In true Robert deNiro style I always aimed to have "nothing you couldn't walk away from in 30 seconds". That may work if you are a professional thief, but is surprisingly a difficult philosophy to live / love to. Turns out I couldn't have my cake and eat it. Big whoop.

2. My 2 year plan

In September 2010 I will have lived in London for 2 years, and my two year plan will have been complete. See, I had always said, when I was a student, if I ever got the chance, I would move to London, try get a chelsea season ticket for two seasons and then decide what to do with the rest of my life after that. Turns out thats happened, and I have about 8 months to work out what to do next. I never, for one second, thought that time could move so quickly. I think the saying is the "best laid plans of mice and men..." Well, my well laid plan some how came through, but this has created its own set of problems - that was the only plan I had. Sure , it was a damned good one but what next?

I have a hell'uva lot of thinking to do. The next 8.5 month's will be interesting. God knows what it'll look like after that.

3. Home?

My mum spent half of Christmas trying to convince me that 'home' was where ever her and my dad happened to be living at any one point. Convenient that. I mean, I've not had a proper bedroom in Belfast for at least 6 years - i get shoved into the small guest room (albeit mainly because i refuse to sleep in a huge room that is empty) and stay there for about 20 days per year. Is that really home?

Then again, I have moved house once since being in London. Moving from the most annoying landlord of all time into quite a nice house. But it is hardly as if I have "put down roots". I guess that the key is that I probably have 2 or 3 temporary homes on the go at any one time. Usually, when in Belfast I refer to 'home' as London and vice versa. The one anomaly in all this is edinburgh. When i visited JC up there I felt like i was back home. Nothing had changed (for better and worse), but it felt great to be back. Can a guy have 3 homes and only live in one of them? Possibly, but it is all a bit confusing.


Again, another slightly confused post, but it is my first in several months... I think the main thing for me is that I've a plan and a few places to go, but with September rushing at me in breakneck speed (time has a habit of lurching uncontrollably), it feels like I have a few 'big' decisions to make in the next 6 months. Maybe I'll make a plan - worked out okay the last time? But then, no guarantees of success this time

Things I like


It is has been a while since I posted anything and when I sat down today to watch the Arsenal game I decided to make a few notes of things that I wanted to write about. Interestingly, for me, there were 3 topics that I had an immediate urge to write about, and none of them were specifically related to the grad programme. So, with that in mind, i have had to expand the scope of my blog, and this is the first of 3 posts, and it is the most simplistic....

Things I currently like

1. Tea - what a great drink
2. Chelsea's 4-3-3 formation - lots of goals, cant complain!
3. Deadwood - makes me love the wild west
4. John Grays "Straw Dogs" - i agree with his conclusions but disagree with how he gets there
5. C - you know it!
6. Drawing - see above; got to love getting my drawing head on again after years out
7. Poker - good distraction
8. First run in 6.5weeks - felt good to be back!

Things i currently dont like

1. 350 miles - too far
2. X factor - permanently on any list of things i hate
3. the thought of a high school reunion - literally, what a horrible horrible horror show
4. Being paid a week early at x-mas - jan is a long month
5. Corporate wear - they dont make suits to fit me
6. My nokia phone - awful two year contract
7. People trying to turn snooker into something it is not - its not darts!
8. Doomswitches - they make you run bad

I dont think these two lists have anything in common (except that there are 8 entries)but for some reason they lept to my mind when feeling very reflective on a Sunday afternoon. Typical. I was drinking a cup of tea at the time, so that probably explains the first entry.

Next up... a post on Christmas.



Monday, 12 October 2009


I have also just realised that I have ONE follower! Amazing!

Absence makes the heart grow fonder?

It has been nearly two months since my last post. TWO months....well, I did say that I had three HUGE things coming up, so I knew it would be some time, but I at least thought I would have the chance to post in September. Well, I did have the chance, and, for a not great reason, chose not to. I chose not to as, for the first time in a year, I did not want to write about what was going on in my job. I am not really sure why this was (though I may hazard a guess a bit later).

Any way, the three things that were going to distract me were:

1. Going to Ibiza: This was amazing. 8 nights... probably about 8 hours sleep in total? it was a great holiday, but hardly the most relaxing. And, if you will allow me a sentimental moment, it was a great way to sign off my first year in the bank - bumpy ride (blame easy jet), often challenging (blame the Spanish language - duos cervezas pour favor was all I knew) and really rewarding (blame the night clubs - some of the most amazing places I have been). So, a good time was had by all....and I arrived back to...

2. Move flats: Not even I can turn this into something exciting. I moved flats. It was successful. Well, actually, there is a sort of exciting story about it, but I cant begin to relate it to business, so out it goes. I am now living 15 mins from work. This makes me happy! But, more importantly, I had one more big step to make...

3. New Job: Just like that, I started a new job. And I am now a month into it, but rather than be overly reflective, I am going to try and give belated first impressions. I wanted to write the post that I wished I had written about 3 weeks ago. So, please spare me a few indulgences if I am a little rusty....

a) Back to School: This was my first impression - it felt like I was back to square one. My new role was totally different than anything I have ever done, and in a different environment. Working in HO immediately felt hugely unfamiliar, but ultimately welcoming. In many respects, during my first two weeks I felt like I was back at Uni, in freshers week.

I dont know about you, but my freshers week was a moment of realisation - where I suddenly realised how little I knew about the whole business, challenges and expectations that were to be placed on me. The new environment was huge, but rather than lectures, I had meetings, instead of mad old philosophy lecturers, I had articulate, business focused colleagues and, instead of cheap university shops, I had amazing coffee for breakfast. How very strange....

b) But wait a moment! : Should I not have expected this? Well of course, I knew it was going to be different, but just like when I joined and moved to London, I didn't realise how different. This time round, I honestly remember thinking "I've been with the business a year, it wont be a big shock", but to be honest it was. The reason for this, I believe, is two fold.

First of all, I am still very new to the corporate world, and only have a limited understanding of what is really going on. Secondly, the one thing I did underestimate, or at least, misunderstand (or 'misunderestimate' were I G.W.B), was the magnitude of the change. In some respects, it can be more startling when you think you can anticipate the change, and then when you actually realise the change, you begin to think ' how could I have been so far out?'.

And when I say I underestimated the change, what I am directly referring to is the skill level required to succeed. All of a sudden, I realise that I have jumped into a pool with many people with skill levels and experience that far exceed my own. But, then again...

c) Nothing wrong with a challenge: This has to be a good thing. The best place to learn, is from people with more experience and more skills than you. And thankfully, I am surrounded by such people at the moment - what a genuinely rich environment in which to learn. The trick, is just to make the most of it.

The HO environment is genuinely interesting - from a people and work point of view it is is a fascinating place to work. The great thing is that this time round, I don't have the same shock to the system I had when starting afresh. Over the last year I have accumulated knowledge, experience and other tools that will hopefully allow me to succeed - this time round I am, hopefully, better equipped for the challenge. No time for being home sick - no time for mad land lords or rubbish letting agents - no need to start from scratch - just lots of opportunities and challenges ahead.

The only last thing to add about my first impressions is related to my first point, about being back to freshers week. The best thing about freshers week was the people I met. Indeed, the people I met at Uni were some of the most interesting I have ever met, and that made my university life enjoyable. Currently, I can say the same for the business, and that really encourages me.

Those are my thougts as of two weeks ago - things may have changed slightly, but I feel that gives a fair representation of my first impressions.

Last few things I wanted to say relate to a few random points that have come up over the last month... may as well throw throw them in!

1. Some have departed: I know some of the grads have moved on to full time permanent roles, SB and JB two I have spoken too - good luck and congratulations to both of you and everyone else who has departed!

2. A book is for life... Myself and two other fellow keen beans are currently involved in a sort of book reading / reviewing thing....if you are interested drop me an email....we generally aim for one book every two weeks and take it in turns to pick. This weeks read is "Let the Right one In" and we have so far read "Tuesdays with Morrie" and "The Perks of Being a Wallflower". I'll post the amazon links at the bottom if you are interested.

3. Old? No way Jose! I turned 26 in September (amongst other things). If any one has any advice on how to deal with the rate at which I appear to be rocketing towards 30, then please contact me.

4. MA presentations: These took place two weeks ago, but I plan to write a post on them, Maybe not as long as I would have originally thought, but I definitely have a few things to say.


Thats it from me....its been two months in coming, and I do plan to write monthly updates (at least) depending on how things go.



Sunday, 16 August 2009

This Month...

This month three things are happening to me...

1. I am moving flats.

2. I am starting my 3d placement

3. I am going on holiday to Ibiza

What makes this a particularly interesting month is that this is all happening in one weekend. I arrive back from holiday the same day I am due to move out from my flat and start my next placement the following Tuesday. Needless to say, this will be a really interesting weekend.Conveniently, as there are three things happening, three thoughts in particular occurred to me...

1. Having something to look forward to keeps me focused on the moment... Something that I respond really well to is having something to look forward too. I cant wait to go on holiday, and by and large, I think that the holiday has had a positive effect on my work. By having the "prize" at the end of the tunnel, I am willing to put in longer hours, inconvenience myself and generally take myself out of my comfort zone.

This I think is in part down to the fact that I know I have a full week out of the business coming up.There is one really interesting thing about this, for me anyway. We all get holidays as part of our contracts, so, technically we 'deserve' them (or at least are entitled to them).

However, I view them as a reward for the work I do - they are a motivation for me to work hard. The conclusion for me here is two fold. Firstly, I am motivated to work hard by the potential to not work. Just what this says about my job, I am not sure, but it certainly implies that I value my time off.

Secondly, being rewarded is important for me. While I may like to say that I don't need rewards or recognition from other people (and I do like to say this), it seems that I need at least some sort of recognition from myself. If I am motivated to work hard in order to enjoy my holiday, I at least need that "self recognition" that I deserve a break in order to fully enjoy it. This tells me a lot about how I view myself.

2. 3rd Placement...3rd time still lucky? This is more of an out and out question. So far, I have felt very lucky since moving to London. I have met some great people, I have developed a really good group of people I enjoy socialising with and, generally, feel accepted. My 3rd placement represents the 3rd time in a year I have changed job roles and work place (4th if you count my previous job), and I wonder, can the luck keep up.

I am really positive with regards the role and the people I am working with, but it will be interesting to see how this works out. Its not that I am pessimistic, but from experience, luck does run out.At which point you need to ask, was it good decision making or luck in the first place.

3. New Flat, New Flatmates, New Start? I am quite excited about moving flats. My family aside, I have only ever lived with 4 different groups of people (2 at Unit, 1 in Belfast and 1 in London) and living with another new set will be very interesting. My expectations are that everyone will keep themselves to themselves and it will be quite a quiet group of people, but I cant be sure (having only met one of them for 15 seconds).

However, what is interesting for me is that the people I live with have become almost an aside to my life.When picking a flat, I was more interested in the following 5 things:

1. Location (near work)

2. Location (near Stamford Bridge / central London)

3. Nice Room4

. Location (nice area - apologies for the cliché)

5. Football - local football!

Who I lived with was almost an after thought. Which made me think about my priorities in London. My priorities are definitely the following three things:

1. making a success of my job

2. enjoying myself physically (e.g. playing football)

3. having a good social life

This is the first time in my life where none of these priorities were directly tied to the people I lived with. To be quite honest, from some one who grew up with a quite close family unit, this surprised me that the people I shared my home with were almost an afterthought.


So, what does all this mean....well , I can draw three conclusions, then I am off to bed....

1. Priorities remain the same - I still want to be happy, have a fulfilling challenging job

2. BUT, what drives them change - I am now less concerned with my home and more concerned with my job / career. Who'd have thought it.

3. Time off matters - Basically, taking time off and time out makes me enjoy myself more and makes me more productive. Turns out, I am not the "machine" I once told someone I was, and those basic human needs surface at some point or another.--

I guess that this post was really about what is currently 'driving' me to work.

I've found this summer to be really tough for a variety of reasons, but what appears to be constant is that with good social life, challenging work life and something to loaf forward to, you can still feel pretty good about things.

Bring on Ibiza!