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From always on to mostly off March 13, 2018

Posted by nicholas gill in addiction, mobile, productivity, thought leadership, Uncategorized.
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I can remember my first wireless mobile device. It was a BlackBerry. I got it even though officially my grade wasn’t high enough but because I had to deal with a range of clients and partners in the Wunderman network across Europe in person and across email and calls. A BlackBerry would help. And at the time I felt very smug and happy. Email on the go. Executive. Life was good. It was made better by the fact that the WPP email system at the time was bafflingly Lotus Notes; perhaps the most inefficient and incomprehensible email system ever. Inbox management using the BlackBerry was the only way to survive this terrible affliction. I only used Notes when sending or receiving attachments. So looking back, here’s where all the problems started. Thanks, Sir Martin.

You got used to managing your life on the go. Because it made your life better. And you felt important. Sitting in airport lounges in Köln for hours on end became sitting in Köln airport for hours on end reading and writing emails. We had to sit in Köln airport for hours on end because the agency agreement with the client was to fly super cheap so we had to get the 6am flight from LGW and then only ever the 9pm flight back. Even though the fortnightly meeting always finished just after lunch. Unless you wanted to brave GermanWings and then have the trauma of getting back from Stansted, by which time you’d be later than the original EasyJet flight home. Which was then another 2.5 hour drive home. So figure in a 3am start and typical 1130/midnight finish. There’s prudence… and then there’s madness.

I digress. You felt important though. And then there was that little red flashing light that told you there was a new email. It attracted you like a crying baby – you can’t ignore it.

And so fast forward some years and moving from BlackBerry to iPhones. The technology has changed but the problem remains. The flashing red light is now a fruit machine of notifications, noises and shouts for your attention.

Much has been made of the founders regret at causing anxiety in users needing the dopamine hit of instant gratification of their content and this Atlantic long-form read is fabulous.

But while acknowledging there is neediness built in, what can we do about it?

I flip-flop between addiction and abstinence but I’ve found the following tips/hacks/guidance work for me:

  1. Hard cover. I always thought these were crap. They got in the way of you looking your phone and then the cover flapped around when you were trying to make calls or take photos. But then I accidentally ran over my wife’s phone in our car one day (long story) and the phone survived. It was a heavy car at the time, a Ford Galaxy. Over gravel. Pretty impressive. So I ordered one. And then I realised that when you can’t see your screen, you stop looking at it. Stupidly simple.
  2. Turn off the sound. Beep! Bing! Or whatever alert sound there is, turn them off. I only have sounds activated for when the phone rings or text messages. Or vibrate on silent. Everything else is just a distraction.
  3. Turn off all notifications. All of them. Apart from calls and text. Yes, even WhatsApp; which continues to demand I turn notifications back on. Resist. In doing so you’ll also lose the tiny little number in a red circle that although elegantly designed, is designed to drag you back in.
  4. Airplane mode is not just for airplanes. Absolutely use at night. The only permissible function could be an alarm clock. And if you can’t trust yourself to not have a sneaky peak in the night, buy a damn alarm clock.
  5. Turn the screen to grayscale. It’s amazing how less exciting the world looks in black and white. You will spend less time surfing through social media and focussing on completing tasks. Intention trumps attention. It will also extend your battery life.
  6. Clean your screen top. Move everything into folders. Move all folders to at least the second page. Not seeing the glut of apps stops you. Adding friction to your experience makes it just that little more effort.
  7. Make eye contact with people, not pixels. If I had a Samsung phone, I’d be downloading this Thrive app.
  8. Break the habit. Stop looking at your phone first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Put it away. At least an hour before sleep.
  9. Delete apps. I killed Twitter in May 2017. Took a few days to stop looking at the cess pool but I don’t miss it all all. I managed to kill Facebook until we were trying to sell some old baby stuff. I only use Instagram to share micro-updates. I don’t follow anyone because otherwise I’d be looking at it all the time. Not following anyone avoids this temptation rather than some uber self importance statement. It may also be a short-term project.

What other tips do you have? Next time, let’s talk about email…

Photo by Rob Hampson on Unsplash


Smartphones for seniors April 17, 2013

Posted by nicholas gill in mobile.
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This is just such an amazing idea. Silverline: making smartphones for seniors to help them stay healthy and in touch in what can be a confusing, fast and quite often too nimble to operate world. It also happens to be a project that a long-time friend from way back when, Daryl Arnold, has been involved in. Take a look and be part of it.

Over the past 18 months, my team and I have been pouring our hearts into a new project called Silverline: Smartphones for Seniors. We recently launched worldwide to the public via an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. Now thousands of seniors can join the smartphone revolution – helping them stay healthy, happy, and connected to their loved ones.

headphones made for mac November 18, 2011

Posted by nicholas gill in a-Jays Four, brand experience, headhone, ipad, iphone, ipod, Jays, mobile, product review.
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The kind folk at Jays sent me some of their new a-Jays Four headphones made especially for iPhone, IPod and iPad mac stuff to try out. Which is incredibly timely as I have always hated the headphones that come with iPhones. They have poor sound, get tied in knots at the earliest opportunity and hurt your ears after more than half an hour of use.

The first major challenge with the Jays headphone are to actually get in the box. It’s like the Krypton Factor and I broke two pens getting into it. Not mine, Nick’s, who I share a desk with. Don’t tell him. Once in, the immediate thing you notice is that the wires are not wires at all. They’re more like ribbon which is designed to be pretty much tangle free. And after using them, stuffing them in my bag and pockets this week they haven’t tangled once. Hurrah. The sound quality is excellent. I have a pair of the big headphones at work, Panasonic ones, and the quality is on a par. But the Panasonic ones cost three times as much. Pretty impressive. The design deliberately follows the nuances of the iPhone 4 so Apple-ites will be familiar with it and the buttons work as you’d expect.

The second major challenge is the ear buds. This may be just me as I seem to struggle with keeping any in-ear elements actually in my ear. They slide out. A lot. Which is annoying as you can imagine. I need to play some more with the various size options which come with the pack but it’s pretty fiddly. I’m sure I’ll get there. I wish I had the black version though.

Jays developing a product especially for the iPhone is a smart idea. In their home market, nine out of ten phones sold are smartphones that always include free internet usage, so listening to music and watching video clips on phones is completely taken for granted. Having high-quality earphones that dramatically improve the listening and browsing experience for customers is now a necessity.

Header image source.

brands need to take the risk while embracing technology November 14, 2011

Posted by nicholas gill in advertising, analytics, brand experience, data, digital, integration, mobile, Technology Digital.
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Article in Technology Digital by me on why brands need to blend with other channels of interaction to create a bigger impact among their audiences.

Image also from Technology Digital

stuff and things 29.02.08 February 29, 2008

Posted by nicholas gill in active branding, advertising, blog, brand experience, ewarwoowar, fring, google ad sense, information architecture, lene, mobile, ogilvy, social media, web 2.0.
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bands and brands

How do you get to the kidz these days? Well, music is one way. And these chaps seem pretty good at it. But the user experience of this part of the site is phucking (see, down wid da kidz) dreadful. Not book at all. Scale? Pan the page around? Zoom in/out? Phuck me. How about a PDF download for those of us who can’t be arsed to spend our days working out your funky, new-fangled interface?

I find this amusing

Post from New Tee Vee on Google launching ad sense for video

f word bill

Never moan again in a restaurant or face getting a few F words on your bill

“Grab ’em by the balls and their hearts and minds will surely follow.”

Quote from BBC series, Life on Mars. Just thought you might like it.

Hurty brain blog. Emmel was keen to point out the very good Carslberg activity. I like the whole blog. And I was going to share the Diamond Shreddies focus group separately but now you might as well look at it on that blog. Hilarious how people will believe any old crap.


Are your boobs OK? Norweigian “pop star” Lene’s are. She even sings about them and has managed to top the Norwegian chart with this little ditty.

fring logo

I found the above while finding out about a competition for fring, a new mobile service being promoted by Ogilvy PR that lets you communicate with your fringsters for free.

quantum of solace first poster art February 22, 2008

Posted by nicholas gill in 007, james bond, mobile, quantum of solace.
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quantum of solace poster

Silly name but a big gun. “Walther PPK? Nah, need a bigger gun, like the one I had at the end of Casino Royale please.” Although dissappointed why the future availability (why not today, it’s not hard to do?) of the poster for mobile devices is restricted to US only. Pah! Bond is British!! I also trust a more engaging experience site will come soon too.

stuff and things 02.11.07 November 2, 2007

Posted by nicholas gill in advertising, blog, digital advertising, mobile, social media, social networks, strategy, thoughts, twitter, user generated content, web 2.0.
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twittering ninja

Informative post on Twitter & super users with lots of off-shoots to other conversations. Some great sound bites on Twitter and synergies between it and mobile for teen audience.

any question answered cocktail

Any question answered text service. It costs £1 a pop. Although having your URL as the SMS short code is a nice idea, it’s hardly memorable (especially when you see an ad on the Tube and cannot remember either the name or the short code) and you get a little lost with Google search results. Well, I do.

web 2.0 directory

A web2.0 directory. A different treat for every day.

5 social marketing tips you can’t ignore.

who writes this crap?

And who writes this crap? (source: popbitch)

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