Archive for September 19th, 2006

Growing up, moving on…

I knew, back in 2003, that going off to University would, nominally, at least, change me. And, to be fair, I wasn’t too phased by that; by then I’d undergone sufficient re-wiring of my basic character that I was fairly used to the idea.

And, even by this time last year, I knew I’d changed an awful lot – Hell, by this time last year I’d not only managed to loosen up a great deal, I’d finally realised that I’d needed to loosen up since 2000, when, with the ending of the Anslow Thing I’d decided that I’d sorted myself out and got over sundry emotional traumas (I hadn’t, mind you, but I didn’t realise that at the time).

And now I’m back in Newport, waiting to go back to Aber to get stuck in with Freshers’ and I’m finding myself wondering if I was ever like some of the people I appear to know from back here. Dan may be able to help me on this one, since I remember having conversations with him back when I was still on the edges of the Aber group, and nervous about making a mistake. (Actually, I was that until about this time last year, as well…)

Now there may (Although I personally doubt it) bew Newport-type people reading this, and that’s amazingly impressive, and congratulations on navigating to a web-page, even if you have done it in IE like a slightly nervous sheep…

…For those of you I know from elsewhere, let me give some background:

In Newport we have a sort of mailing list. It’s more a “cut ‘n’ paste lots of addresses into the ‘To’ bar list,” but it gets the job done, as long as you can conceal the full headers, and it’s not too bad. It is, however, full of hotmail addresses.

Now I don’t, in theory have a problem with hotmail addresses. I have one Hell of a problem with hotmail accounts, but that’s a different matter. Lots of people have hotmail addresses. I have a hotmail address, although I haven’t looked at it since October 31st 2004 or so…

Recently, noticing the large number of hotmail accounts on this list, I offered to send people some invites to Gmail, so they could have a look, and give it a go. Nobody wanted to.

Now that, in itself, I find very odd; I’m not someone who lives in social groups where people say “D’you want a Gmail invite?” and people don’t say anything, not even “Nah, I’ve already got a hundred to give out myself, thanks.”

And so I began to wonder: Just who are these people? And who on earth was I when I met them?

This week, it’s all flared up again, when Statto removed two of his e-mail addresses from the cut ‘n’ paste, and said so, explaining that ones like “msn@[statto’s website]” were the addresses he uses for instant messaging, because hotmail is rubbish. He then made another plug for Gmail, and then things went a bit weird.

Now I appreciate that Gmail isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and that some people might give it a go, and say “Actually, this isn’t for me.” I’ve no problem with that, since, as most of us know, it’s not always the easiest thing to try something and then have to stand up and say it isn’t what you expected, and that you don’t think what it actually is is right for you. In fact, just by doing that, I’m inclined to give you a small bag of points.

What I don’t understand is when people refuse, flat out, to try something like this, in a situation where Giving It A Go doesn’t cost anything, and there’s no chance of negative repercussions.

My argument to people wondering if they’d like to give Gmail a go runs something like “It doesn’t cost anything, it takes five minutes to set up, and you don’t have to use it, if you give it a go and find you don’t like it.”

Specific arguments with regards hotmail point out that you don’t have to delete e-mails (Hotmail had got to the point where I was having to throw away e-mail every couple of weeks, which was both a pain in the arse and tiring, as I’d have to keep sifting through things I’d already elected to keep in five previous sortings).

I also tend to point out that, for no good reason, Hotmail deletes all your emails, if you don’t log in for thirty days. This is not at all helpful, and there’s absolutely no reason for it. Sure, you can pay them to not do that, but d’you pay postmen to not sneak into your house if you go away for a month and burn all the letters they’ve ever shoved through the door? Of course you bloody don’t.

I’m not going to list the continuing failings of hotmail, not least because (I hope) telling them to the readers of my blog would be something of a “coals to newcastle” scenario; I’m just listing some of the reasons I’ve suggested people try Gmail for a bit.

I even suggested people could create a Gmail account and then forward such e-mails as they don’t wish to lose to the Gmail account. Important messages are thus kept pretty much forever, and the people doing it don’t have to suffer the embarrasment of trying to explain why they’ve stopped following the herd that is the rest of the Users they hang out with.

What I do not expect, from the people I find interesting, is that, at this point, they should flat out refuse to give it a go. Especially not with arguments like “You’re fools” and “I’ve got 2Gb with Windows live mail”

That’s like saying “You’re stupid to be looking for a new job, I’m making £4.00 an hour just eating poo in the elephant section of the Safari Park, why would I want to read a jobs page?”

Now there was – and I know there was – a time when I had a talk with Dan about the use of MSN and such, and he made some very good points, in consequence of which I began to try Gaim. I don’t do instant messaging much, these days, but when I do, I use Gaim.

That’s because I didn’t lose anything by giving it a go, and then I found out that it was actually much, much better than MSN. I didn’t, you’ll notice say “that’s stupid,” or “I can’t be bothered,” or even “I’m getting a mediocre service now, and I don’t believe I might deserve better,” which is basicaly what the other two boil down to.

Not everyone, I know, is happy with the idea of taking the side of a computer, or re-installing windows, or turning on “show system files” or whatever it is in the view>folders menu. That, more or less, I can understand. After all, people shell out between 500-1000 quid for the average home PC, and they don’t know how it works inside, and they don’t want to. Taking the cover off is like showing a 35mm film to the sun; it might ruin everything, and you didn’t design it so you’re going to leave it alone.

That’s not really my approach, mine being more the trial-and-error-and-abort-undo-quit variety (I was eight when I first attempted to create enough space on the computer to install a new game – I did it by deleting a pile of things called a “.bat” file, which sounded rather silly and pointless, and the whole thing started to come to bits rather spectacularly), and sure, I do things some people wouldn’t, like trying Linux for a bit (not that I ever booted into it very often, not enough games).

But trying new e-mail programs isn’t really the same; it’s all remote and away from you, and there’s no chance you’re going to fuck up. And yet I find people I used to be reasonably good friends with recoiling in horror at the prospect of something new that they might try. Much better stay where we are.

Fire? Pfah. Sure, there’s a burning tree over there, but we’re in the cave right now, and those guys waving lumps of deer at the burning tree can’t be waving us over just for the sake of it, there must be some catch… Let’s stay here until the sun comes up and we can see again. Bloody cave, why doesn’t it stay light in here for longer?


I’m left wondering if I was ever like these people, but I think the answer’s “probably not;” I’m not desperately adventurous in many ways, and I know I worry about things more than the average 21-year-old, which I ascribe to having gone through rather more than the average 12-year-old in such a manner as to make me aware that bad things happen fast.

But really… I didn’t think, back in 2003, that I would change as much as this. Is it, then, not that I have changed very much in essentials, but that they’ve changed? Or were we all always like this, and just thrown together by the circumstances of being in Newport?

I can’t tell which of those three options I’d preffer, to be quite honest; and – and this doesn’t apply to all of the people back here, although I notice I’m still not getting any applications for Giving It A Go – I really don’t think I’ve changed very much in this respect myself. Yeah, I used to use hotmail and MSN, but when people suggested I try something else, I tried it. And I gained a lot from it…

…I guess I’ve just got enough self confidence to not worry too much about trying something new, huh? Or, maybe, it’s not that, but that I’m not too scared to try something new in case I have to go back to the old thing afterwards, but that’s not something you should hide from; try it, like it, keep it, or hate it and go back to the old thing; at the least you can say “I have tried this thing, and it wasn’t for me” and, yeah, that takes guts, but it’s not as scary as saying “someone will fix things in due course, meanwhile I’m going to put up with this shit.” Follow that path, and you’ll be stuffed faster than you can say “I can’t be bothered to try…”


Reading this back I notice I’ve been remarkably scathing towards the Newport people. Uh. That would be because it’s stupid and annoying to say things like “Statto has been using Gmail for a couple of years, and he’s just spent six weeks working at Google in London – he must be being paid to offer us invites!”

Yeah, because all 26 of you guys are so crucial to capitalism that either Microsoft or Google will collapse in bankrupt ruins if you do or don’t switch your free e-mail provision within the next week…

Come on, guys, I’ve told yez where to find this entry, now either leap to yer own defence or ask for an invite and give the bugger a go. You lose nothing, really. And if you’re worried that the rest of the guys down here will say “Huh, they’ve got a new e-mail, well I’m not going to talk to ’em, anymore,” then for fuck’s sake, they’re not worth talking to anyway. We’re adults here, aren’t we? Not bloody-minded fourteen-year-old girls?

Seriously, I’m not trying to have a go, and I’m not trying to sound like an angry bastard (Really, I’m not, it’s just happening because I genuinely don’t get the refusal to try something where you can’t possibly lose).

I’m not saying “I don’t want to be friends with you,” either (See point about bitchy young girls, above); I’m just genuinely perplexed to find friends from school to be so different to, well, all my other friends. And I don’t know why that’s the case, and I’d really like to. So go on, leave a comment. The authentification isn’t great at maths, but it does OK.