Ur was a city in ancient Mesopotamia. That's the first thing I think of when I see 'ur' in a text message or email. In high school we had a passionate Ancient History teacher whose name escapes me, but I can see her now, small and dark, vigorously gesturing as she spoke about Ur and the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. She could see them in front of her, smell the smells, feel the desert heat, and she tried her best to bring it all to life for a classroom full of vaguely disinterested fourteen year old girls. So. I was fourteen and ur was Ur. Pronounced Err. If I wanted to abbreviate the word 'your', I used 'yr'. 'Yr' was used extensively by Jack Kerouac and the beat generation in the late 50s, and the use of 'yr' for 'your' goes back to the late 1700s. Confusingly, 'yr' is also a modern abbreviation for 'year', but unless you are extremely thick, you'll realise which context of 'yr' people are using when they write to you. I confess to using abbreviations such as LOL, BRB etc on Facebook and social media. Heck, I even speak LOLspeak, that feline language created by the Cheezeburger people. The English language is forever changing (unlike French, which is strictly controlled by l'Academie Francaise), and the way we speak and write reflects that. I'm happy to embrace change, but to a point: I have never used 'ur' for 'your', and I never will. I just find it offensive to my psyche. I'm a dinosaur. I suspect in fifty years time spelling and even grammar won't matter for the majority of people; we will be a society dependent on computers who will happily spell and correct for us. If I'm still around, you can bet I will still be resisting using 'ur'.
this article by Spencer E Ante in The Wall Street Journal. Mark Ferdman, who runs Pushkart (which offers discounts for local merchants through an application for the iPhone and other smartphones) bit a chunk out of Apple, saying "Steve Jobs has done a great job of creating a marketplace that is unnecessary." The dinner in question (fettuccine with duck confit anyone?) was a semi-regular movable feast called Mobile Mondays, the second MM to be held in New York. At the dinner NYC entrepreneurs chewed the fat (indeed the duck confit) about issues they have in common. They're passionate about their geographical location and wouldn't dream of moving to Palo Alto, California, to start up and run their high-tech businesses. The statement about apps is interesting and thought-provoking. Apps were developed to make the smartphone experience easier. A fair percentage of them don't rely on you, the user, having 3G access to use them. So if apps gradually fade away in favour of websites (how full circle is THAT?!), you'll have to be connected and drawing on your data limits all the time. I wonder if Mark Ferdman has shares in a major telco? 🙂 In an ideal world 3G access would be cheap as chips and you'd never be without signal. But our world is far from ideal. OK, over to you. Are apps dead or dying? Would you prefer to use a dedicated app on your smart device or mess around with a website? Share your thoughts below.
an interesting article by David Frith in the Australian's IT section this week. It's all about switching off occasionally - turning off your mobile phone at weekends, distancing yourself from your social media network when you're not in working hours. I've always been a champion of work/life balance, of having time to yourself where work just doesn't intervene. Like, for instance, weekends. But now I think about it, I can't remember the last weekend in which I didn't do some kind of work. Update someone's website, respond to work emails... if you're like me you know how it is. The last few weeks have been super-hectic for me. I've been working late at nights and working weekends to finish tasks for people. I've been available and 'switched on', and realistically it's taking a bit of a toll. I woke this morning stressed out because I realised, late last night, I'd left my phone switched off all day. I'd been in a meeting the afternoon before and switched it off, because I didn't even want disturbance on 'silent' mode. I'd left it switched off for the drive home as I hate the phone ringing when I'm driving. I won't answer it because I find talking on the phone distracting when I'm confronting Sydney traffic, and if it rings a portion of my mind is wondering who rang and what they want when I should be thinking about the idiot in front of me with a penchant for not using his indicator. So my subconscious took the matter in hand for me, and neglected to remind me to switch the phone back on. As a result I had a reasonably stress-free day yesterday. My interruptions were minimal, and I got a ton of tasks done. I did wonder why several people emailed me asking them to ring me, and didn't find out why until I went to put the phone on charge that night. Oops! My subconscious had the right idea, though. I needed a day to catch up. I'd been making mistakes, not doing updates for people which I said I'd do, rushing jobs and making typos. Not good. Not professional. You might say switching off the phone isn't professional either, but if it gives you the breathing space to do good work, then it's a good thing. I switched the phone on this morning and collected my messages and thankfully I'd addressed most of them in the course of yesterday's work day, so the stress levels dropped quite a lot. Remembering how grumpy and stressed I was over breakfast, worrying about how many people might be chasing me, and how relieved I was at realising it wasn't as bad as I thought when I switched the phone on afterwards, has rung some warning bells. It really is important to take time for yourself. Perhaps not switching the phone off for a working day, but switching off at dinner time and not turning on until the next day - switch off the phone, don't be tempted to access your emails, forget tweeting about business stuff. I've been a bear with a sore head for more than a week as I haven't been having enough 'me' time. There's a novel calling my name, and I'm off to read it now and indulge in some necessary escapism. Don't feel guilty next time you want to do the same.