Saturday 9th October 2004

My weekend had until Friday been planned out for me. This had meant I would miss the England game. I was disappointed but knew a job had to be done and these sacrifices have to be made for the greater good. It was some consolation, that I would at least be able to get home in time to catch the Azerbaijan on Wednesday evening. At the drop of a hat, or rather the *ping* of an e-mail on Outlook, it all changed. The weekend work was cancelled and I was free. Not a minute too soon, I had loads of things to get done on Saturday and giving my blog some much needed tender loving care was high on the list. But, now as Saturday evening slowly drifts away, I have time to reflect and put things into perspective. Not something many of my peers will be doing at this time of the week, rather they will be trying their utmost to place everything out of perspective and look at everything as if it were a dream.

My love for England internationals stems for a great belief in getting behind our sportsmen and women, regardless of contest, as they fly the flag. This has topic has been covered at length over the past few months in my blog. Sometimes, my patriotism, gets in the way of my love for football, but never overshadows my enjoyment of the game. This week, is a case in point. In the past, the built up to big international matches, would see me drowned in the pre-match build up for days on end, with coverage in the media (mainly the television and newspapers). My working pattern has made me immune to this now. Of course, there is the Metro which I pick up now religiously every morning at Marylebone before heading to catch the Tube. What I do not like about this free morning daily? It only contains the bare facts. There is never any analysis. While some may enjoy this minimalist approach to journalism, I find it patronizing. But that is beside the point. In my previous walks of life, I would be bombarded with coverage of the up coming football game and the constant hype. While I personally do not find anything wrong with this, it has been a change, a welcomed change to not have to deal with all this. At times, I do consider myself living a rather solitary existence, if only Monday to Friday. While some would rebel against becoming a social outcast, I am enjoying the anonymity it gives me. I am a strange in the shadows, a nameless face in the crowd. Well at least until I arrive at work. But even then, I am very much left alone to my own devices.

A popular topic for discussion (well for the late 1990s, at least!) which I have been meaning to include in my blog for over the past month will now be finally be added. There are two reasons for mentioning this now. Firstly, there are a group of blog’s which I read on a daily basis, as part of my daily dosage of the internet. Of these, Diamond Geezer is always my second port of call after reading the latest news on the Gooners from ArseBlog. In an entry towards the end of August, entitled, “Ringing the Changes”, our faithful London commuter described his recent mobile phone upgrade. This got me thinking. I really need to put my own personal mobile history on my blog. This become very much a passing thought, until in mid September, I actually noted down those important dates, times and model numbers. That was as far as I got. Then, one lunchtime, as I was returning to the office, I noticed something really strange. As you already know, my lunchtimes are frequently spent, with the towering shadow of St. Paul’s bearing upon me, with the Millennium Bridge to my left. The whole area is being regenerated to give, Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece the surroundings it has deserved. Not to worry, only 300 years late, but the scene of a major Pillow Fight on Wednesday. Back to my story. I was heading back to the office, and noticed a smartly dressed man heading towards me. Nothing strange or peculiar in that, I hear you cry. Of course, I can expect to see millions of the same throughout this part of the city. This was an encounter with a difference, for I noticed the glimpse of the phone he had held in his hand, deep in conversation, and I smiled, a broad smile of satisfaction and fond memories. Where will these fond memories take me? To a different world. Let me set the scene. It is Tuesday 22nd September 1998. Having recently started college, a few friends had arranged to go down to Adam’s Park (now the Causeway Stadium) to watch Wycombe Wanderers play in the League Cup (then sponsored by Worthington’s) Why had we come? It was not the lure of my local second division side at all, but the promise to see on my heroes, if what at the twilight of his glittering career play. (A special dedication to my favourite England number 8 will be included at some point in the future.) Unfortunately, this was not the talking point of the evening. There was someone far more important on the lips of my friends. It seems very superficial now, looking back but at the time, I was over ecstatic. The day before I had got my first mobile phone. The top of the range 6110 was way ahead of any of the rival models and a leap forward for mobile phone technology. For once, I was the first. The first of my peer group to take the leap into the mobile phone market and it felt great. Of course, this novelty feeling did subsequently die down. Though for a few months at college, while the rest of the students carried around bricks manufactured by some third rate manufacturer in the Far East, I had the best model. The Finns have made a bigger contribution to the world, than you will ever know. From that day forth, I promised myself something. I swore an oath of allegiance to Nokia. Never would I purchase, upgrade, steal a phone from any other manufacturer. Regardless of what happened in the future. Have I stuck to my promise? I am a man of my word. Of course I have. Indeed, it would be three years before I upgraded my handset. A lifetime in the telecomms market. However, that is not to say I did not make other decisions to fine tune my phone usage. When I started University, I noticed (with heavy damage to my pocket) that I was sending an extensive amount of text messages. Something had to be done, a solution needed to be found. We are in the cold winter of December 2000, with my life taking on a new meaning as my first semester at De Montfort University draws to an end. Of all the friends I had made at my Halls of Residences, some friendships are built for the marathon that life throws at us. Sippy (blog coming very soon, I am confidently informed!) had been looking up various deals for SMS on the internet and came across an amazing offer from Genie. This name should be familiar to you, as it was backed by BT Cellnet before becoming what is now known as O2. (Note the clever link to Middlesborough). The deal at the time was out of this world. Unlimited text messages. Yes, you heard me correctly. Unlimited text message for the small fee of topping up with a minimum of £10 a month. Originally I was going to port my Vodafone number across to the Genie package. But I, along with my friends, kept failing the credit checks. I recall one evening, calling the call centre, to listen to an amateur phone operator (most likely in his first job) apply for the mobile, by accessing the exact same website, as I would. Sippy, had similar problems, being told that the main reason for failing the credit check, is for having insufficient funds in your bank account. I tried again, thinking a change of bank account would make a difference. It did not. So I took the plunge. Before I left Uni for the Christmas break, I ordered, at great expense my new Pay & Go 7110. In terms of phone technology, this was a giant step (rather than leap) forward from my previous phone. However, I now had a dilemma. Two mobiles, two numbers and twice the aggravation. My phone arrived the day I returned home, and I was eager to try out this new WAP feature. The thing you have to understand, is I am dismissive person when it comes to technology, but one click and I am hooked. This is similar to my relationship to the Wireless Application Protocol. Before using it, I felt it was a silly gimmick which I would struggle to find uses for. Within a month, I was logging onto the Genie service, on a daily basis. One of the greatest features, was being able to enter in two postcodes and be given directions from one to the other. Fantastic. There was also chat feature, checking my Yahoo! Mail while on the move. It also had a built in modem, which was listed at 14.4bps but would only give an output of 9.6bps. I recall, with a smile and hint of frustration, linking the mobile to my PC in halls and downloading my mail via the infra-red port I had purchased. One of my favourite memories of University, which just happens to be mobile telephony related, is the return. When I returned to halls, in January, I had just about learned how to make a call on my new Nokia. Then, a few days later, Sippy arrived. It was like God returned to the Pearly Gates after an extended holiday. He had downloaded all the software, ring tones, operator logos. Very much a late Christmas present, that was well worth waiting for. My love affair with my new phone lasted only a year. It was time to move on. But if the last upgrade, or rather additional phone purchase had been a big jump, the next would seem a big disappointment.

Another a conscious decision was made toward the end of 2001. A year which changed the world forever. It was time to begin living my life. It was time to upgrade my phone every twelve months. It was time to take life by the scruff of the neck. My friends had by now taken the initiative but also lost the importance of brand loyalty. Purchasing the ‘deal’ rather than phone for the long haul. They had gone from the Sagem or worse still the operators own branded equipment. I stuck to my guns and even by some strange act of fate (or God?) kept to the same family of phone. (This will become more apparent later.) Next on the Teg wish list was the 6210. In reality, this was just a slight remodeling with all the features of the 7110. So I had to after, 3 years give up my first mobile. It was sad day and I wish I could say that it went to a happy home. Rather, I sent it to hell. Funny how some people don’t look after mobile phones, or any of their possessions. The next upgrade was exactly a year later, when I took the leap into technicolour, with the 7210. The wireless technology had been improved and now used, GPRS which I was to learn later is used on the Blackberry. The mobile tones had also gone from mono to polyphonic, with the inclusion of Java games that knock the socks (visually at least) off Snake (a download you won’t be able to resist!) and the hook for all this? A major media campaign focusing on picture messaging. Once again, I never thought I would want to take photographs. With a phone? Please! But, I did receive a few picture messages on my phone from friends and although I never purchased the camera attachment, the ability to view images and transfer to/from the PC, did come in handy.

In good fashion, that brings us today. Which phone do I have now? Well, that shall be a point for my next entry, because yet again, there is another story to be told and to be frankly honest, a story that can wait for another day. For the time being, I am going to re-issue two questions which I posted at the end of last month. I had only one response and feel that my readers need more time to come up with some suggestions. If you can recommend any computing or internet magazines, please get in touch. If you can recommend an original naming convention for my home network, I would greatly appreciate your input. So far the only suggestion has been the Hobbit network, featuring Frodo and Sam. For further details on this and my other request, go to September 2004.

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