“Where the hell is that Whatley guy?”

The short answer? Namibia (and more).
The longer answer is tad more complicated…

Some of the more observant Really Mobile followers out there may have noticed of late that Sir Ben of Smith has been running around keeping the lights on for all and sundry. While he has delivered some spectacular posts, it’s about time we pulled our socks up and got our hands dirty again.

Oh Hai!
Oh Hai!

Vikki laid the smack down yesterday with her ode to the Eseries (while giving the E75 a firm ‘thanks, but no thanks’ along the way), but now it’s time for yours truly to step up and take his true mantle today, on this day, Whatley Wednesday.

So, where have I been?

If you read my personal blog or if you heard the recent All About Symbian podcast, you might know that this Summer is going to get very busy indeed for the chap tapping the keys right now.

Very, very busy indeed.

Basically, I’m off around the world to cover the ‘Lucozade Energy Challenges‘ from a social media perspective. This means that I’ll be uploading photos, videos and blog posts for the next few months while at the same time tweeting my little heart out from the most remote of destinations.

I am taking a huge sack of equipment with me, a few things I’m going to list for you now…

First of all, what phone?

Given the nature of the project, the choice was simple: the Nokia N86

Yes I know that I’ve been fighting with Ben about how good the N97 is, but really, when it comes to creating content (video and/or photos) – the N86’s 8MP camera leaves the rest standing. A fantastic piece of kit that – so far – has managed to survive the heat of the Namibian desert as well as the danger-filled madness known as ‘the inside of my rucksack’.

Very, very impressed indeed. So that’s the handset sorted, but what about network? Well, the answer is two-fold.

In the areas that I actually had signal I switched between ‘NAM Cell One’ and ‘MTC Namibia’, neither of which allowed me to dial out using the Voda PAYG SIM that I was armed with. The former allowed me to use their data, and the latter I could at least send text messages, vice versa was not possible.

The second part of the ‘staying connected’ aspect of the trip came down to this bad boy –

The TT Explorer 500 BGAN Terminal Satphone.

Quick! The Satphone!
Quick! The Satphone!

According to the website:

“This high-bandwidth, highly portable device, weighing 1.3kg and measuring 218 x 217 x 52mm, is ideal for either mobile or semi-fixed use by individuals or small teams. Over a standard IP connection, it connects at up to 464kbps in the receive direction and 448kbps when sending. Streaming data is available at speeds of 32kbps, 64kbps or 128kbps for both send and receive. The terminal connects to a laptop computer via USB, Bluetooth or Ethernet. Voice is delivered via a standard desktop phone or a Bluetooth handset.”

Awesome.

Here I am, in the middle of the desert – Damaraland, Namibia to be precise – four hours drive from any kind of hint of civilisation and… I have Internet connection!

Look, there I am.

This thing is bad-ass. A snip at £2,276.64, the TT Explorer can get you an Internet signal pretty much ANYWHERE in the world and (according to my sources) only has real problems when it’s placed near the North or South poles.

However, if you think that the price stated above is too high then you can rent the satphone at the following rates.

Sent from the middle of NOWHERE
Sent from the middle of NOWHERE

Short Term Satellite Rental:

£20 a day or £500 per calendar month
Data costs are £7 per MB
Voice calls are £1.20 per minute

Compare this to, I don’t know, say Vodafone for instance and you get the following:

£35 per calendar month
Data costs are £10 per MB
Voice calls are £1.65 per minute

Admittedly you don’t have to pay the huge rental fee for a normal networked handset, but still.
If a satphone can beat the data costs of the Vodafone – especially when I’m pointing the damn thing at an actual satellite, then surely something must be going wrong somewhere, no? **

Not the good radiation either
Not that good radiation either

We’ll leave that one to the comments shall we?

The point of this post is that, thanks to some rather awesome technology, yours truly is going to be filing his Really Mobile postings from some very far flung corners from the world indeed…

If you have any questions, now’s the time to ask them…

I may be some time 😉

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**that is of course forgetting the small matter of the radiation.

What a Beautiful Day

September 10th, 2008.
08:24

One year, to the day that I started my employment with a little company called SpinVox and… Wow, what a journey it has been so far…

The view you see before you is the view that I have right now, as I type this post from the departure lounge of Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 1, (looks familiar huh?). As you know some time ago I got ‘the call‘ and lo and thusly I am on my way to Finland.

But we’ll come back to that…

What I want to talk about, if you’ll indulge me for a moment, is the amazing journey that I’ve been over the past year. Personally, professionally and of course geographically.

Working backwards, I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever been so well travelled, (although quite how you can be less travelled I don’t know – heh), with my work so far taking me to such places Barcelona (beautiful) San Francisco – twice (one of my favourite places in the world and a potential base for me the future for certain), Las Vegas (ugh)… and, as we speak, Helsinki.

There of course being no rest for the wicked, straight after this trip I’m headed out to New York then onto Las Vegas once again and by the looks of things Frankfurt too before the year is out.

I used to mock my friends when they used to get the work trips abroad, accusing them of ‘going on a jolly’ and basically being a bunch of work-shy sun-seekers. But guys, if you’re reading this, I take it back. I now know… It’s relentless! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it – wouldn’t change it for the world in fact. But jeeez… talk about taking it out of you! This time round I’ve prepared. Both physically and mentally.

Bring. It. On. 🙂

Which dovetails nicely back into the professional part of my journey. So, as I said, one year ago I joined SpinVox. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready for whatever they had to throw at me.
Having initially secured the interview after being told by a recruitment agent that I was ‘definitely a SpinVox person’ I was taken onboard to apply some ‘Digital Native’ thinking, if you will, to an already rock solid proposition…

Six weeks later I was on a flight to San Francisco after launching Social Networks through SpinVox.

Awesome.

I’ll never forget rocking up to my first CTIA in torn jeans, flip flops and my now trademark MASSIVE white sunglasses adorned across my brow and being told almost immediately:

“Oh, you’re ‘The Web Guy’. You’ve got the look for sure.”

HA!

You’ll be pleased to know that I’ve since smartened up my act somewhat (although the Sunny Gs remain) and I’m now ‘The Social Media Guy’.
Which kind of, in a sense, further demonstrates the journey: Starting with Social Networks through SpinVox, then getting Big Talk (the SpinVox Blog) off the ground, working on and around the digital propositions…
All of which meant that in February of this year I was part of the team that flew out to Barcelona to represent the big SV at Mobile World Congress (MWC – previously known as 3GSM).

This is when my entire world changed.

Suddenly, almost overnight, there was this paradigm shift in how I saw the industry around me… and it was changing. Mobile is my first love and always will be, but in Barcelona the power of Social Media and what it actually means really hit home.

Walking the floor at MWC, finally meeting some of the big names in blogging face to face… Shall I list them?

Nah. If you’re reading this and I shook your hand in Barcelona, then I’m talking about You 🙂

I was saying; Meeting you guys and gals face to face made me understand the enormous sense of community that lives and breathes in this new world of ours… and the enormity doesn’t just stop there either, it also applies to the immense importance that we place on this community as well.

We, you, me, them, us… We are right here, right now. Carving out and pioneering a new digital age for our children to grow up into. What you think and say about this whole space will define how the rest of the world interacts with their digital media for the next 10-20yrs, if not more.

Social Media ‘happened’ (for me at least) this year; I’m going to be able to look back and say ‘Yep, I was there’ …well, you were there too. It’s happening Right Now.

And listen, without getting ranty, understand this – what I said up there – is paramount to any and every business today. It really is.

Arriving back from Spain after the conference finished, with the support of my boss, I got to work on a Social Media Strategy doc that, with the help from the team, would define how SV as a business and as a brand would operate in this space… and so far, it’s playing out nicely.

So yeah, we’ll see on that one shall we? 🙂

Building that thing up and playing it out through the year as we have has been an awesome experience. Learnings on the way of course – some things took a while, some things took off straight away and some things you just can’t predict..

Hence the journey I guess. But I tell you one thing, in this job I don’t think I have ever been happier.

And in fear of being a complete link-monkey, ‘not ever being happier’ leads me quite perfectly into the “Personally” part of this little trilogy.

A few of you reading this may follow me on Twitter or even chat to me on Jaiku, in which case you know that most of the time I am of quite a cheery disposition and I take pride in the fact that I truly enjoy life to the fullest. Now I’m not big on sharing personal stuff online.
Not at all.

Gotta keep something back, y’know?

But anyway – the fact of the matter is, right now, for the first time in a long time I am happy.
Truly and utterly.

And I love it.

Thanks to you guys, for all of your kind words, support and just general awesomeness over the past year.
I’m looking forward to the next one with immense relish and I’m rubbing my hands with glee…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Bring. It. On.

😀

Thanks for reading…

Oh yeah – and there was that small matter of being in Finland.
Guess it’ll have to wait until my next post, (tomorrow – promise).

😉

P.S. It’s taken me all day to get this post up, I’m now in Helsinki and a very happy Whatley indeed.

September 10th, 2008.
20:49

More Photos from Me!

My mate Dean and I brushing our teeth.

A daily ritutal.
Next, this photo of Glastonbury really doesn’t communicate the overwhelming sprawl of the place.

Cloudy weather, which made a change. Most of the time it was either rain or shine.
Rarely anywhere in-between.
This next one is of me and my bamboo.

And then finally… This very random front-end of a plane.

Which made up a long bar… With 50’s music and dancing.. Lots of fun!
And it’s only Thursday!

MIR: Walking with Normobs – A Response from our man Whatley

Been a bit busy of late folk, hence the absence of my regular Whatley on Wednesday slot.

Been a bit busy of late folk, hence the absence of my regular Whatley on Wednesday slot.

Trying to get down for the weekly podcast mind…

But yes. Reading the site with interest as I often do, I really enjoyed Tuesday’s ‘Walking with Normobs‘ piece.

So much so that I stirred from my blogging slumber and decided to join the debate…

First off, I totally agree with where you’re coming from. I do. Terry. I do.
But you need to look ahead.

The Normobs of the future will be at the early adopter stage we’re at now.
Underestimate them at your peril.

Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited along to a Nokia End User group test thing wotsit.

On the N81 8GB.

Yes – the same device that I reviewed way back when and the same device that my esteemed colleague Ben Smith lavished hatred upon recently also.

This is no strange thing. I often find myself in these kinds of focus groups.
Why?

Well I’m one of those people. One of those people that when asked:

“Would it be ok to contact you in the future?”

I say “Yes”

If I’m not busy, and if I have the time, then I’ll gladly offer assistance. From big companies like Vodafone and Nokia after some customer insight or for a friend’s friend whose N95 keeps breaking because her firmware is ‘stuck on v10’.

I like to help.

Anyway – off I went to this group gathering – just off Carnaby Street, and lo, as is the norm with these things, I entered a room full of folk from all different walks of life/areas of London.

In fact – one guy had such thick urban ‘accent’ that the gentleman running the session actually found it difficult to understand at times. Love it.

I digress.

The point is, Terry, these kids – I was, it seemed, the oldest chap in the room, (quite refreshingly so too). These kids knew their stuff. We had a mechanic, a trainee IT bod, a couple of students and an accountant… and me, obviously.

As I said – these kids knew their stuff.

They knew about firmware updates, they knew about downloading games (N-GAGE or otherwise), they knew about all sorts of stuff.

I was genuinely impressed.

They referenced other devices in their analogies. They reminisced over handsets of yesteryear when articulating their complaints.

They. Knew. Their. Stuff.

You and me, Terry? We’re the old men of tomorrow.
Our kids? What handsets will they be concerned about getting us?
We’re early adopters now. Our kids will be too. Their kids. And so on.

The normal mobile users of tomorrow will be using the products you and I use today.
You make valid points about Skype as a service. Skype is a different way of making a phone call, branded. Tell your Dad to make a phone call by pushing the Skype button, and he will. Tell him to make a call over Skype? He’ll look at you like you’re from Mars.

Similarly with other naming conventions/terminologies: Podcasts vs Radio Shows. Blogs vs Diaries.
And so on…

Of course we’re not expecting our folks to go out and start making VoIP calls tomorrow.
But that’s not the point.

I’m pretty damn sure that the big guns aren’t really concerned about the Daily Mail reading, Marmalade eating Normobs taking up their services. Of course, it’d be lovely if they did! But I doubt very much they EVER will. The Daily Mail will die out as new generations come forward with new ideas and thoughts. Challenging the way we think and the way we view the world.

I read recently on a blog in Clay Shirky’s Book “Here Comes Everybody” about a little girl who, on a recent trip to see some family members had, on arrival, taken one look at the television, screamed and then run behind it suddenly looking for something…
The reason?

She was looking for the mouse.
The girl in question had never seen a screen without one before.

These small changes in behaviour and expectancies of ‘the norm’ take generations to change. Sometimes things go faster, but often things move a lot slower.

There is a particularly fond day dream of mine, where all of us geeks are sitting round at dinner late into our 70s and there we are still moaning about the lack of X and how Y never really did turn up etc etc…

And our kids?

Well they’ll be doing their equivalent of blogging and moaning about the lack of parent-friendly services/devices on the Market I’m sure.

Cheers.

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..

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And as an afterthought, going back to that focus group for a second, maybe those kids in the room weren’t that savvy after all.

Maybe it was just that bloody device that made them get online and learn something.

Heh.

Balls to it! (a Whatley rant-a-thon) Part 3: What the hell is Facebook for anyway?

Well – a few things come to mind and it’s probably a mixture of these things… (and this is good that I’m writing this down actually because I’ve been meaning to shoehorn this into a project at work for bloody ages now) …right so:

Facebook – and I loathe that I’m dedicating blogspace to the ubiquitous behemoth that it is – but I need to:

There’s the facebook fiends that go round collecting friends like I collect socks (and I do – H&M is my best friend when it comes to socks). Like those people I know from school who I never spoke to, who in fact probably wouldn’t actually spit on me if I was on fire back then… They have NO PROBLEM with hitting the ‘add friend’ button on my profile! WTF?!

WHY?!

Were we friends at school? No – scrap that – ARE we friends NOW?! No.
(on this – have any of you hit the ‘ignore’ button on a friend request yet? Do it. It is SO empowering)

Maybe facebook needs to bring in hidden ‘layered’ friends:

  • Friends who I know and love and see/speak to regularly
  • People I work with
  • Some bloke I met down the pub last night
  • You who’s name I don’t actually remember who sat four tables away from me in Science class.

And YES I know that facebook has just introduced that stupid friend grouping thing etc but that’s not the point.
Maybe it’s my definition of the word ‘friend’ which – between you and me – I don’t bandy about lightly…

Right so yeah – Facebook fiends. Adding friends like it’s some kind of race. Well it ain’t. So you lose.

Then there’s the facebook address bookers. Now these people I don’t really mind that much. Having read about them online a fair bit of late… these folk actually use the ‘social tool’ (that’s right – it’s a TOOL not a NETWORK, but we’ll come back to that) for a single purpose and that is: As a very active contacts list.

What do I mean?

Well – instead of searching my contacts in outlook or in my N95 et al – I can search my ‘friends list’ on facebook and immediately glean a whole bunch of info about that person.

Email (do people still use this medium socially? I think I read somewhere that in 2007 email usage went down by about 80%. I think that figure could be wank rubbish. But still, food for thought) addresses, phone numbers, current status etc… ie: “Steve is planning beers tonight..” that there is a reason for me to call him.
Plus it gives you reminders about upcoming birthdays and events and such like as a personal contacts/diary would do so… but oh look.. We’ve come back to the walled garden thing again.
Grrr…

Ok – moving on from them – there’s folk like me. The sharers. I’ve built my social network up around me using facebook and now I use this tool for one function (as I am growing to dislike the site somewhat of late) and that is to share cool things I find online with my non-geeky friends.

I mean – I can share links through my Google reader to the 10 or so people that care to read or I can send a TinyURL out to the 50 or so people who are following me on Twitter… OR I can use my Jaiku to do something similar but ultimately – by using the social tool of choice (facebook) – I can share anything cool I find with over 400 of my friends/acquaintances/business contacts/etc… so of late, that’s all I’ve been doing. Sharing.

Incidentally –

‘Share’ is going to be THE theme of 2008.

In every sense of the word. That’s what I think anyway.
This is based a whole bunch of shit great stuff I’ve seen happening in ‘007 and in the first ten days of ‘008.
I’ll prolly expand upon this another time – already I feel like I’ve written bloody loads. But who cares… it’s my first proper post of the year – allow me a little self indulgence already!

Ok – coming back to the thing about facebook…

Conc in Part 4

SMS Text News – UNLIMITED DRINKS

Me and and buddy from Team Mippin went to this lovely little soire last night, and very good it was too.
Ewan and his team from SMS Text News were great hosts and it was fantastic to meet them all at long last.

They’ve already said “Thanks for coming!” and there’ll be a main review coming later I’m sure…

😉