2017 – Making Many New Connections

2017 seems to have gone ferociously fast. It seems to have barely started and now we are on its last day already. However when I think about it more, a lot of great stuff has happened this year for me. Most of it is on the professional level as a tutor. And for that I have already done a Year in Review 2017 on my tutoring blog post. As I have become much more dedicated and driven for tutoring I tend to blog there a lot more. Nonetheless this is my personal blog so I am glad to be reviving this 🙂

So like last year I am going to do my year in review in bullet points:

  • I say it every year but this year was my most successful tuition year ever! I am amazed by how far and wide I tutor now, from the islands in the Caribbean, India, Indonesia, Bermuda, US, Canada..the list could go on.
  • I have arranged a load of tutoring based communities on Facebook, in real life meetups and on group video calls. I have also been to maths teacher conferences. All in all I have met more people in education this year than ever before. I won best online tutor of the year award and got featured on two blogs.
  • I got kicked out of my flat in Old Street in the summer. It was tough at the time but this has given me the drive to save money and buy a flat on mortgage. I viewed a load of flats this summer with a view to buy and get an idea of the property market.
  • 2017 marked 20 years since I bought my first and only electric guitar. Many people say it looks barely an year old. I wrote about my beloved electric guitar and our 20 year anniversary on this post.
  • 2017 was the 30th anniversary of two of my most favourite albums. The Joshua Tree by U2 and Appetite for Destruction by Guns ‘ N Roses. In the summer I saw both bands and for G ‘N R it was a real special moment catching the (nearly) original lineup. They were truly epic and memorable gigs.
  • I performed very regularly at open mic nights in Battersea until about May this year. Loved the staff and the venue. Yet with DonkeyBox I only played one gig the entire year. Our least busy year ever. I hope to revive this next year.
  • I played at two large summer festivals as a solo performer. This was not something I had done before and it was quite a thrill.
  • Sadly I lost my uncle, my dad’s younger brother in rural India. He had a two year struggle fighting TB and my cousin’s family is in a state of mourning still. It bought home to me that in the village he lived in healthcare is still very poor.
  • I traveled to India to visit family after a really long gap of three years. It was amazing to see the progress made there in the village where my family is from and in general. I am so happy I went and reconnected with my roots again. In retrospect a 2 week trip was too short, but hopefully I can go for longer next time. I missed the weddings of two of my closest cousins.
  • There was a cracking reunion of the Tribology lab. I met with fellow researchers and colleagues from my student days from the early 2000s. It was amazing to reconnect and catch up with everyone. It made me appreciate how special that place was and all the things I learnt during my PhD both academic and life in general. I really did make the most of my time at Imperial College London.

The one thing that I have done a lot less of in the second half of 2017 is to perform music and play live. It has practically ground to a halt as I have moved further East and I am so busy with tutoring and tutoring communities. In 2018 I hope to rebalance that as at heart I am a musician who needs to create and express.

2017 has been an year of connection and a lot of things falling into place for me as a career. I have earned more this year than any year before and that gives me a lot of confidence and self assurance for the choices I have made career wise. The Western world has been tearing itself apart this year but hell, I have sure had a great time. Bring it on 2018!

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20 Years of Playing (my one) Electric Guitar

Atul you’ve got a big box in the post today, it is by the phone waiting for you.

My flatmate of 1997 informed me on a cold November evening somewhere in Hammersmith, London. I had spent £340 on this big box, which in those days for a 3rd year undergraduate was a lot of money. The delivery was for my first ever, and the only electric guitar I have owned, an Epiphone Les Paul (licence by Gibson, yeah that Gibson reference is important!).

Atul Rana Les Paul Guitar

Cleaning up my guitar headstock. Sometime in 1999 before a party.

1990s Indie rock ‘n roll kid..sort of

Ah 1997, the height of Indie rock music in the UK; The Verve, Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene, Kula Shaker et all were where rock music was at. Yeah sure Barbie Girl by Aqua and Britney Spears were the new sensation but I was all about geeeeetaaaar and rock! But Indie rock is not what inspired me to buy my electric guitar. I was more wowed by the guitar sounds of Aerosmith, Guns ‘N Roses, Def Leppard, U2 etc.

It took me a very long time to decide on what guitar I was going to buy and consulted quite a few friends at the time who also played electric guitar. I had already been playing acoustic guitar for a year and I managed to fight with it enough to play a few riffs. When I say fight it, that’s because acoustic guitars are hard to play for a beginner and I had overcome a big hurdle by playing a bunch of chords and riffs on it. I had also just spent the Summer of 1997 in Newcastle where I met my long term friend Zaff. Zaff was an incredible guitarist and musician and in him I met a true friend and musical mentor. He taught me quite a few things about music in those early days. And I had got to play his electric guitars a lot during the summer of 1997 in Newcastle.

Dilemma : U2 sound or GnR?

My big dilemma for a guitar look and sound boiled down to basically two opposing soundscapes.

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Gold top

The Edge sound (U2) vs Slash (Guns ‘N Roses). Those bands are well and truly epic and the guitar sounds could not be more different. Edge with a rythmic, delay soaked chime and Slash with his blazing thick riffs and long melodic solos. I wanted both but alas could only buy one guitar. I went for the Slash option in the end, and quite literally bought the Gold top colour guitar that is part of his signature look. I figured that The Edge did ocassionally use Les Pauls and you could get a good enough U2 sound from a Les Paul. But you can’t get a Stratocaster to sound like Slash. So that was it, I ordered my first electric guitar on the internet by a phone call made on a landline. And as for that guitar not sounding like an Edge type, well I got pretty close to it in this cover I did, shown in this glorious video recording.

At the time I wasn’t sure if I was going to be a guitarist or a singer and being in a band was still very much a dream. My guitar playing progressed very slowly from 1997 to 1999. Between 1999 and 2000 I lived in Aldershot with some art students. Somehow they really appreciated my guitar playing and I first started performing in public then at campfires then later at house parties and jam sessions. In early 2000 my friend Zaff was in a band in Newcastle, I went to see him perform and for the first time ever I got to learn how things work in a band from him first hand. I was impressed and decided I wanted to be in a band too!

2000 : I join my first band

As soon as I started my PhD at Imperial College I auditioned to join a band, and I had decided it was going to be as a singer who played guitar rather than the other way round.

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The Guns t-shirt and guitar 🙂

I joined my first band Melodion and my guitar playing progressed fast, my singing progressed even faster. The discipline of band practice, being forced to learn entire songs from start to finish, keep in time with the drummer and band *and* to deliver great vocals and a performance was frankly a lot to take on. I rose to the challenge and thankfully Frank the lead guitarist of Melodion (my first band) really encouraged me. My identity of a singer who also played guitar was being reconsidered as I was far better at singing at that point than guitar. In fact with covers like Creeping Death by Metallica I couldn’t play and sing at the same time, and with Under the Bridge by Chili Peppers only one guitar was needed. However other covers like Cats in the Cradle and Britney Spears’s Hit Me were truly enhanced by two guitar parts. I refused to let go of my guitar and continued to play and sing.

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DonkeyBox featuring me and lead guitarist Matt Jones in 2002, both with Les Paul guitars at the time, rock!

It took a good 6 months before I hit the stage with a full blown gig with Melodion. We had started going on stage as a band for jam nights. When I wore my electric guitar on stage live I became larger than life, I became an extension of who I am and I could break out of the shackles of the shy and quiet guy. Sometimes I felt out of place playing guitar and singing live, yet I also felt like it helped me release an inner intensity and energy in a way I never was able to before. With the years I got more used to being on stage and my identity as a live rock and punk guy.

2002 onwards – DonkeyBox days

The most I have used my electric guitar is with my band DonkeyBox. From 2002 to now in 2018 it is the only electric guitar I have used. In 2000 the lead guitarist of Melodion Frank realised that both our guitars were sounding ‘bad’ at higher volumes. We didn’t know much about tone but we did know to get the same quality at higher volumes we needed new guitar pickups. Frank was doing a PhD in Electrical Engineering so I trusted him on this. He went to New York on holiday and got me some brand new guitar pickups. Two DiMarzio’s – Super Distortion for the bridge pickup and Norton Air for the neck pick-up. Apparently the guitar dude in the shop recommended these in the NY shop for a heavy rock sound.

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Wearing that guitar on stage makes me come alive as the gods of rock power me up.

And boy were these pickups spot on. They utterly transformed the sound of my guitar. The guitar sounded fresh, large, lively and clear both in clean and distored settings. Over the years I have got my distortion out of the Metal Zone MT 2 pedal. My tone tends to be a little more abrasive with a AC DC feel to it. The lead guitar tone in the band is a bit softer as that tone can cut through guitar solos. We found the perfect tones between the two guitars in DonkeyBox.

Open Mic Nights : The Rise and Fall of Les Paul

Can there be too much of a good thing? I started playing open mic nights and started performing solo in 2010. It was terrifying at first, even more terrifying going on stage with a band for the first time. I had nothing to back me up and my voice and guitar tone would be standing out completely on their own. I performed open mic night after night, more on stage in them than with my band in total.

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I loved playing open mic nights.

In 2014 I had to retire my Les Paul from open mic nights and got a brand new electro acoustic. The electric guitar wasn’t great for solo accompaniment for the type of songs I was playing. The guitar was mostly plugged through venue PA systems and sounded horrific through them. I got a joyo pedal to simulate the sound of an amp but still it never really cut through. The set up with an electric guitar and solo vocals was simply out of place. So as much as I had to detach from my identity and look with my trusty gold top Les Paul, I did so in 2014. The Les Paul is saved for what it does best…rock ‘n roll in a band or studio setting.

Should I get more guitars?

I’ve had a remarkably monogamous relationship with my electric guitar. Once I had my guitar and had the new pickups installed, it really worked like a dream for me. I had developed my own tone and playing style on it. Both the clean and dirty sounds work brilliantly for me and I have never felt the need to buy another electric guitar.

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At open mic nights, giving it all even with very few people in the audience.

However as I get older and listen to more subtle tones in guitar I am tempted to finally get ‘The Edge’ guitar aka a Stratocaster too. But then there is also the Telecaster option, and a PRS and why not Ibanez (by my fav guitarist Joe Satriani). I can see why many of my lead guitarist friends now have more than 5 guitars! The electric guitar is a beautiful and iconic instrument, the wood ages and the tones improves. So I look forward to the next 20 years of service from my trusty old Les Paul.

Moving Out of Old Street Flat

This by far has to be the longest gap in my personal blog updates. As 2017 ends a short Christmas break gives me a chance to reflect on some of the key events of my life in 2017. This blog has always been a place where I can express myself and gather some of my own thoughts together and I am glad to get it going again after so long.

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Walking by the canal in Hoxton/Shoreditch. Only a 5 mins walk from where I lived, absolute bliss 🙂

Ah what a location!

So in October 2014 I moved into a small flat in Old Street/Shoreditch in London. It was a big move for me at that time, initially a very difficult move but eventually one that bought about an exciting new phase in my life of independence. While I only intended to stay in my flat for a year, somehow the year stretched out to nearly 3 years and I only moved out in July this year (2017). I absolutely loved the location as it was in the heart of the city in zone 1. I could walk to Moorgate, Liverpool Street and Bank easily. With a bus stop right outside my flat and Old Street tube station 10 minutes from the flat I was incredibly well connected to practically anywhere in London.

Cod and Chips at Fish Central restaurant near Old Street London.

Cod and Chips at Fish Central restaurant. An absolute delight.

And the location sure paid off, quite literally. A council estate block amongst many in that area, it meant I could get the place for a lower rent. Before I lived in zone 4 East on the central line, far far away from my London tutoring clientbase which was mostly in Tooting, Clapham and Wandsworth. And at the time I tutored a lot in North Yorkshire for residential tutoring (living and tutoring for 2 to 3 days). As such I commuted via Kings Cross station during all half terms and school holidays. Kings Cross was only 2 stops on the tube so that was handy.

Me and my ex-flatmate made a snap decision to pay the deposit for the flat when we viewed it along with more than 10 other groups. We simply offered a slightly higher than the asked for rent and got the place. As such I had no idea about how far the gym would be or any local amenities. It turned out that the gorgeous Shoreditch Park was opposite the road I lived, not only did it have a gym right next to it but also the best health centre I have been registered with. Perfect for running as well since I run regularly.

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Nestled among council estates, the gorgeous Shoreditch Park. I went for many runs here in all seasons.

No more travelling tutor

In Autumn 2014 I stopped taking extra work on in Yorkshire which was a tough decision as I had secure work there and not enough secure work in London. I had to expand my client base in London as I knew the way I was tutoring was unsustainable and regular ongoing consistent work in London is what I needed for a more sustainable career. I joined a few London agencies and one agency got me some absolute super clients. Two homeschooling gigs at close commuting distance gave me a big boost in income and confidence. And I went full throttle with my Wandsworth/Clapham clientbase as they recommended me to other families in that area.

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Waiting for the night bus at a quiet and serene London Bridge on a midsummers evening.

The gamble to refuse work for remote work in favour of making space for London work well and truly paid off. Within months I was starting to earn much better tutoring income than ever before. I had 7 years of tutoring experience and that wealth of experience added with the confidence of client testimonials really spurred me on.

The Rise and Rise of Online Tutoring from the home of UK tech

It really was onwards and upwards all 3 years from there. My identity as a tutor now is that of an online tutor of course and that came about after that first year of tutoring in Old Street.

Rooz Studios.

Band practice at Rooz studios. Literally walking distance for me!

Old Street is the home of U.K. digital tech and known as Silicon roundabout, an inspiring and energising place, it has tech startups and many arty types. I fell right into place (skinny jeans yes, but long beard no) and started networking online with other online tutors. I had come into Old Street with a business gamble and seeing the absolutely vast possibilities of online tutoring it was time to take the next gamble. The biggest one of all so far. Fueled by simultaneous technological advances in broadband speeds, professional social networking on LinkedIn and the rise of video calling technology on computers and tablets my next step was to go fully into online tutoring. And in the 2015-2016 year I achieved that.

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Vocal recording in my old room in Old Street.

In fact half way through my tenure I had outgrown the need to even live in Old Street in terms of a career. I could live anywhere I wanted to with no work commute! I had doubled my income in one year after my first year in Old Street. I knew then that my next move out of Old Street had to be out of the rental trap and into buying property. This is still what I’m aspiring to albeit no chance of buying in most of London, so the outskirts of London it will be where prices are more affordable. A part of me even wonders if I should still be living in London or even in the UK given that I can earn UK money from anywhere in the world. That is a longer ponder however.

3 years too long, time to move on again

My room was large but the kitchen was tiny and the bathroom had no shower so we got one of those low pressure plastic attachments. The landlord was horrific at repairing anything, we went by without a fridge for nearly a month. The flat was right outside a main busy road and I wore earplugs at night to sleep properly. All in all it felt like a temporary student flat. I had lived in better student homes in fact.

Towpath Cafe by the canal, coffee with breakfast.

Breakfast at Towpath Cafe by the canal. Absolute delight.

After my first set of flatmates left 2 years in, I became pseudo landlord and had to manage the rest of the flat. It was no easy job and complications in deposit and lack of tenancy agreements from the landlord to the new tenants made the whole stay very uncertain for me. The new flatmates were not bad but were frankly a pain to manage and things got cliquey. I wasn’t able to find a replacement flatmate when one of my new flatmates decided to leave this summer and that was it. The housing market in 2017 was down on 2016 and the landlady decided to knock the kitchen down and make improvements to the flat. I wasn’t ready to move out this summer though. Luckily I had finished tutoring for the year so I moved to my family place in East London without much pain. Most of my things are still packed up in boxes as I wait for my final move to a new property that I will hopefully buy on mortgage.

A few snippets of the good ‘ol times

  • The stunning canal walk and the little Towpath Cafe I used to eat at and relax. I went for many walks there in all seasons.
  • The many times I went for a run at Shoreditch Park, all seasons and a getaway from my life at the computer. And the many times I just went to the park to relax, lie down and occasionally meet up with friends there.
  • Fish Central – A 10mins walk from one of the best Fish restaurants in London. I had many meals there and it was an oasis on a cold winter day when I craved some fish.
  • I did tons of open mic nights, particularly at The Grove Pub in Battersea.
  • I loved hanging out in Islington, especially Upper Street. Initially because I had clients there but later because I liked the restaurants and cafes there.
  • I arranged loads of tutor meetups, starting off a small in person tutoring community that spun off a larger Facebook community. Eventually I was running video call based tutoring communities including a weekly call. This is growing and growing as the ball is well and truly in motion.
  • Visiting my then girlfriend who also lived in central London and exploring the area when I first moved there.
  • Band practices were ace. I have never lived so close to a band rehearsal studio in my life. As a result I had band practice walking distance from where I lived, so convenient. I will miss this :-/
  • The EU Referendum and two General Elections in my short tenure of less than 3 years. Boy the world changed so much so quickly.

Despite the location of Old Street as a party place for nightlife I didn’t really go on many night outs there at all. In that way I underused my location but hey ho I am no longer in that stage of my life being all that bit older.

I’ll remember my three years in Old Street fondly, it gave me new vigour and direction in life and I look forward to living there again once I am a tech millionaire and can afford to live there again…well one can hope 😉

2016 – An Epic Year of Growth

New Year’s Eve is mum’s birthday. We all get together to have a double celebration as the new year starts to set in, and this year is no exception. Personally for me 2016 has been an epic year. Video technology has radically changed the way I tutor and also how I’ve bought my music out to more people, friends in the US and cousins in India included. I’ve focused a lot more on tuition this year and most of the first half I was pretty much doing that 7 days a week. Here’s a few awesome things that happened in my life this year:

  • Most successful tuition year ever. After 2015 I realised I need to move my tuition online. That I did, and it paid off as I earned more this year than I have ever earned in one year, all on my own terms doing what I love doing for “work”. It has been a real confidence builder for me. And there was one particular band gig in 2016 in which people from all aspects of my life, from tutoring, music, family to uni friends bought it home for me.
  • This year I hit my 10 year anniversary of tutoring. There is a saying that overnight success takes 10 years.
  • Tuition was a lonely job so I started organising meetups to meet other tutors late 2015. Within a few months I became part of some tutor Facebook groups and very quickly I launched a group video call group of my own. I now have plenty of “work colleagues” to collaborate and discuss ideas with. I also run a Facebook group and am part of a worldwide group of international online tutors. In January 2016 I barely knew any tutors, in less than 12 months I literally know tutors across the globe. It has been so awesome to chat on video to Margaret and Holly every single week since the Summer. And to have met others, special mention to Henry.
  • I am now tutoring students in the US, Russia, Switzerland, Germany and the UAE.
  • I re-vamped my tutoring website in January 2016 and started blogging there instead, which is why my personal blog has gone a bit quiet. It paid off as my previously static website has now become dynamic. I get customer enquiries directly from it, it is true e business now.
  • I started tutoring for Dyscalculia. This has been a much harder journey than I thought it was going to be. Each student has been unique and much of the regular techniques that worked for tutoring didn’t work. Thanks to training courses, books and meeting other specialists I’m learning about this field very fast and intend to be a big contributor to it in the near future.
  • Facebook Live meant I was streaming gigs to friends and family globally who have never heard me perform live. It’s been exhilarating to do this. It was 20 years ago in 1996 when I bought my first ever guitar.
  • With my brother’s wedding we had the first big family event. It was a month of build up and celebration. It was a beautiful wedding, I was best man and we really partied.
  • I turned 40 this year and was glad to throw a party for that.
  • I got in touch with a friend that had not been in contact for 2 years. Things happen for a reason, and it has been great to be in touch again.
  • It’s been 25 years since my family moved to the UK. Wow, where has that time gone?

2016 has been a real year of growth, self reassurance and knowing what I stand for and where I am going in life. 2017 is going to be even better. Happy New Year!

My previous years in review : 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010

How I Started Tutoring 10 Years Ago

How have we ended up in this situation?

I said to my brother outside a flat somewhere in Stratford East London. It was mid Summer 2006 and we were both in our t-shirts, on the other side in London from our home in Kilburn Park in West London. I had finished my PhD for over a year, still had no job, was in debt, had lost my father from a sudden death a few months ago in Nov 2005, my mother was now living with us, my sister was in hospital for a month and had been diagnosed for a brain tumour, and to top it all off our landlords in Kilburn had given us notice to move out within a month. I was out there with my brother viewing a property so we had a new flat to move into. That was probably the only time that year I took check of what was happening in my life, otherwise things were simply too busy to take stock and feel sorry for oneself.

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Visiting my sister in hospital in 2006, while I am pondering about my future no doubt. It turned out ok!

The landlord must’ve taken pity on us as they let us stay longer so things started to get better. I got some summer work as a researcher in my old lab at Imperial College and I also got some work as a marker at Edexcel. The money didn’t last and I had to take my sister to her radiotherapy treatment daily. I couldn’t afford the travelcard so I cracked and decided to sign up on benefits. My Engineering job search was disappointing, I was filling in forms, attending job fairs but just wasn’t even getting to interview stage. I was never great at job applications and interviews. Even most of the small oddjobs I was applying for didn’t yield to anything, including being a library assistant for a small private library. I failed their spelling test! One such odd job I had also applied to was for a tutoring agency. My friend Tim knew that one of his friends was making decent money from tutoring so he suggested this to me. I had an interview with the agency and like pretty much any other job interview I never heard from them again and assumed I didn’t get the job.

Almost 6 months later in November 2006 I got a phone call from the agency putting me forward to a job. AS Level maths at £25/hr. This was a really decent amount of money for just one hour’s work. I had never been paid this type of hourly rate in my life before and I was really excited about this. My luck was about to turn. I took the job on, it turned out I was a natural teacher from day 1. The rest is history really, I did a good job with my first student and within 2 weeks I now had 3 students. I was able to pay my rent money just from tutoring. Soon I was off benefits and on my own two feet. Things improved for my family too, my sister’s radiotherapy went well and she leads a healthy, normal life now.

I now blog about tutoring on my own tutoring website where I also mentioned my 10 years of tuition. I am so glad I found this profession, and every year has just gotten better and better. I have made such amazing friends with students, families and other tutors. I have earned more money than I ever did and I have become an independent, self assured person. I have many many tales to tell of amazing people that I have met, and place I have been to. You will have seen some of these in my blog posts over the years. Here’s to another 10 years!

10 Years on Facebook

It is hard to imagine life without Facebook. Wait, one of my best friends is still not on Facebook so maybe it’s not that hard to imagine it after all! Anyway, earlier this year in about May time, Facebook alerted me that I have been on Facebook for 10 years. A whole decade on Facebook, so many wasted hours of my life I thought, but so many other connections too. It really feels like yesterday when I writing about my 5 Years on Facebook.

When I joined back in 2006, Facebook really was a niche network, just available to University students, you simply could not have an account on it without a university email address, it was a closed network and only available to that university. A directory of students for Imperial College only with the wall, groups and photo sharing. There was no newsfeed, no elaborate status updates and obviously there were no smartphones at the time, so it was a desktop version only. In April 2006, it came to Imperial College and spread like wildfire at the tech savvy campus. Soon my hockey team was on it, and so was my music club. Facebook was all student banter at the time, a safe place away from the rest of the world.

It was a big company in its own right at that stage, but early social media wasn’t really mainstream then. Although I have covered what it was like in the early days in my 5 years on Facebook blog post, looking back here are the big changes Facebook has gone through over the last 10 years from my own memory.

  • Opening Facebook to schools as well, in addition to universities – Uni students were not happy about this.
  • Joining the closed university networks into one – This killed off the internal privacy universities had, and Imperial Students could see the groups of say, Harvard. This was a pretty cool move actually, and I made a lot of friends in the US that way. In fact in 2014 I visited the US and met one of them in person. And some have been to London and I have met them.
  • Mini feed – Students hated this one initially, no one wanted what they were writing on other friends walls or pictures they were uploading plastered for everyone to see. It was even called “stalkbook” by students for a while. It is hard to imagine Facebook without its newsfeed now, but believe it or not there was no newsfeed once upon a time.
  • Opening up Facebook to the rest of the world – To students this was the ultimate betrayal, and watering down of Facebook. Facebook was no longer there for student banter, and everyone was in on this now. This happened in 2007, and Facebook started to appear in mainstream newspapers by then.
  • Facebook going mobile – No doubt this has caused the biggest growth for Facebook. The addictive power of Facebook on mobiles has killed off countless hours for its users.
  • Ditching Forum Type Discussions and Facebook Pages – Facebook ditched posts with subject threads, and went all out for the timeline only option for its groups. It also launched Facebook Pages.
  • Timeline – Old posts were getting buried deep into Facebook, so Facebook smartened up and re-organised all the data in organised year by timelines on profiles and pages.
  • On This Day – Old items were buried in the past. On this Day has been a clever way of bringing out old posts and reviving them.
  • New Newsfeed – Facebook learnt from twitter and introduced a new newsfeed and with @ type mentions. Replies also became embedded within the wall. Before that in order to reply to someone else you would have to go to their wall.
  • Facebook Livestream –  By far the coolest thing Facebook have done for me. They took a leaf out of Google Hangouts books and introduced real time video livestreaming for anyone. This is brand new for 2016 and Facebook have really pushed this hard. Not many use it, but I do, especially to livestream my own gigs and my band gigs.

10 years in the world of computing is a huge amount and Facebook has become a global phenomenon in its own right. It has poltical clout and has no doubt affected politics around the world. For me, it remains an awesome new way to keep in touch with old friends and continuously make new ones. Its addictive power can be problem however, and it is best to consider it as part of a real social network. I am glad I was part of this right from (nearly) the very start. Looking forward to what lies ahead!

Brexit Shambles

Goodness me, it is nearly the end of 2016 and I have not updated my blog a single time this year. 2016 started off with some celebrity deaths, David Bowie being the most notable one, and it seems to have been a dark year in many respects. The darkest event being for me, Brexit.

No one in Britain can miss the disaster that has been Brexit. I remember it clearly, it was the morning of the 24th June, I was in Copenhagen Denmark and I was with a friend at a rock festival those days. We had been out the night before at the festival, and stayed up until 3am Danish time watching BBC. My friend who worked for a bank had already been called to work at 6am local time weeks before the result was going to be out to handle the uncertainty of the result. At 3am it was already looking perilously close and I could not seriously believe what I was seeing. I went to bed and woke up at 7am, I swiped the news section of my iPhone, and I was aghast at what I saw. We had actually decided to leave the European Union. This seemed like a scene from a horror movie, but this was for real!

I honestly still can’t believe that Brexit has happened. London and Scotland were the only regions in the UK that overwhelmingly voted remain. It was an issue that divided families, cities, regions, age brackets and more. My borough in London, Hackney voted around 80% in favour of remain. I was living in a bubble.

When I got my British citizenship back in 2011, I was so incredibly happy to be able to freely travel in Europe. Before that I had to get a visa for every country I visited. But not only that, Europe had a lot of meaning to me, my first girlfriend was Spanish. I visited Denmark when I was at school, I had French room-mates in my first year, I had a Swedish bandmate, and later two Polish bandmates in DonkeyBox. Europe has been intimately linked with life for me, and to lose it like this feels like a massive loss, with a sense of emptiness I can’t put in words.

I regret that I was living in a bubble, and wish somehow I could have convinced more people to have voted remain. I barely knew 2 or 3 people who were going to vote leave anyway. I saw a tweet the next day, which to me perhaps at best explains what might have happend, it simply said “The British are bl**dy minded, and won’t be told what to do”. Well, it seems enough of us were exactly that. I am so disappointed with the 52%. The only way I can express my frustration is through one of my band songs called “Out of Power“.