Wednesday, 20 January 2010

My Thoughts on iTrust

A little piece in the Guardian yesterday caught my eye and the concept has been rattling around my head since.

There is now an iPhone app called "iTrust" which is designed to keep people from reading their partner’s emails. According to the article the application was written by 26 year-old Bob Nerberg from Oslo with help from his girlfriend. He insists that it will make relationships stronger and says, "It's something everybody thinks about in a relationship – is my partner reading my texts and emails? Now you can be sure."


So what type of relationship does Bob Nerberg have with his girlfriend? Okay, I don't want to know that or really care to conjecture. But what does downloading this application really say about you and your relationship?

This application is great if you are a cheating philanderer or involved in any other dodgy type of business that you want to keep secret from your partner. Now I'm not saying that you should be open to your partner about EVERYTHING. It is, after all, rather nice to keep some sense of mystery in a relationship. But, aren't relationships meant to be established on trust? If you really feel that you must hide something from your partner because it may hurt them and/or possibly ruin your relationship, then you need to re-examine yourself and your motives not download an application that assists your unscrupulous ways.

This application is great if you don't trust your partner or are paranoid in general. If you are convinced that your partner is reading your texts, checking your Facebook account, etc., then by all means download this application. It will confirm one of two things: 1) your partner is a snooping busybody who either doesn't trust you or is out to get you or 2) you are troubled person with such an overinflated sense of self-importance you actually believe that people (your partner in particular) care enough about your business to read through your personal messages.

In a solid, healthy relationship you would have nothing to hide from your partner and would trust that they won't look through your phone without your knowledge.

So if you're in an unhealthy relationship, by all means download this application. It will make the dishonesty and lack of trust in your relationship even stronger and you can live unhappily every after.

One thing "iTrust" as confirmed for me is that I wouldn't ever want to date Bob Nerberg.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Internet Dating and Job Hunting: The Same Techniques May Yield Successful Results

About five months ago I was sitting in my friend Marianne's garden relaying my tale of woe about the current state of my love life. "Have you thought about a dating web site?" she asked me. I groaned. Had I thought about a dating web site? I'd been there, done that and now owned a few tee-shirts. I really didn't want to go there again. "You should give it another go if only just to realise that there are loads of men out there and to get out of your rut." And with that she took my hand, dragged me into the house and sat me down in front of her computer.

It is here that I should mention that Marianne is a career coach and a damn good one too. She writes an informative and entertaining blog about making career changes and runs her own coaching business. As we sat in front of her computer with her giving me advice on how to create a profile that captured the essence of me and was tailored to finding my ideal man, Marianne kept chuckling and pointing out how this was very similar to what she does for a living. Then it hit me. Internet dating is a lot like job hunting and frankly you'd rather be in the perfect job than out there looking it for it. So maybe the key to finding the right person online is to approach your search in the same manner you would when looking for the perfect job.

1. Your CV (that's resume for my fellow Americans)
When you're looking for a specific job- that perfect job- you want a CV that stands out among all the rest and shows off your skills, experience and even in some cases your personality so your future employer notices you, wants to know more about you and contacts you for an interview. (As an aside Marianne has written a great blog post on CV and cover letter writing.) This is just the same as an internet dating profile. You want to show off how great you are without boasting and at the same time you don't want to ramble on in great detail about yourself. That will just bore any prospects. Why would they want to know more about you if you tell them everything straight away?

You want your profile to reflect the best side of you, so for pity's sake CHECK YOUR GRAMMAR! This is just as important in internet dating as it is in job searching. If you use text speak in your profile, you will come across as lazy. If your profile is riddled with grammar errors that any primary student can spot, you will look illiterate. Do you want a lazy and illiterate partner? I don't.

Put up a few nice photos. This is a must and is an area where a dating profile is different than a CV. You want at least one nice attractive photo of yourself up there. Profiles without photos usually do not get noticed. Choose your picture honestly as well. Don't select a picture taken ten years ago when you were two stone lighter, but instead choose one that was taken within the last two years. If you end up on a date looking significantly older than or nothing like your profile pictures, at the very least your date might not completely trust you and at the worst no longer find you attractive.

Remember that it is also YOU who's looking to 'hire' someone. What type of profile grabs your attention? What type turns you off? Apply these preferences to the profile you're creating. At the end of the day we want a partner who compliments our personality and is drawn to the same things that interest us. If you don't want to read your own profile, who else will?

2. The Cover Letter
So you think you've found your perfect match online and want to make contact? This is just the same as finding the right job and wanting to be selected for an interview. Make your contact and make it personal. This is the same advice Marianne gives to job hunters about writing cover letters. You don't want to be the typical introduction email or you will just be set aside in the same way employers will bin letters and CV's that are just a repetition of the status quo. I once received a long introduction message that read as if it could have been copied and pasted and sent to many women at once. A friend of mine was on the same site and received the exact same message from the same man. Needless to say, neither of us got back to him and we had a good laugh about it. Really read the person's profile and say something directed towards them, about them and go beyond the trite, "I enjoyed reading your profile and think we have a lot in common." Mentioning a common interest or playing on their sense of humour is a good start. You want give them an intriguing taste of who you are so they will want to know more about you. However, don't be too wordy. Again, you don't want to bore your potential date or give too much away about yourself in one go. If you are the one making the first contact, your introduction message is meant to have your readers want to go back and look at your profile and your profile is meant to leave those readers wanting to know even more about you.

Oh and again you're putting your best face forward here, CHECK YOUR GRAMMAR!

3. The Interview
So you've made contact, spoken a bit and now it's time for that first date. First dates and job interviews are very similar and if you're a naturally introverted person, both job interviews and blind dates can be horribly intimidating. Marianne has yet another terrific blog post about introverts and interviews. One of the keys to success in an interview is preparation and that goes for first dates as well. Re-read your date's profile. Think of some interesting questions that would stimulate conversation and allow you to discover more about your date. However, before you even get to the point of having a first date with someone be sure that you really want to be having that first date with that someone. Get to know them a bit. Exchange a few emails and chat on the phone. Granted some people are not good on the phone and you might not be either, but speaking before your date can give you a good idea of what the date might be like. So give them a ring just to confirm the date and you can at least hear the sound of their voice. In the end the more you know about the person you've just met online, the more relaxed you'll be when you meet them in person.

Once again remember that you are doing the interviewing too. This holds true for job interviews as well. You don't want to find yourself in a job that you despise just to get by much like you don't want to be with someone who annoys you just to have a partner. On the other hand, don't be overly judgemental. This is, after all, just a date and chances are high that the person you meet will be just as nervous as you are. So if you both just relax and enjoy the moment all should go well and if it doesn't and is awful, you don't have to see that person ever again.

4. Don't Give Up
As I said a the start of this internet dating, like job hunting, is not easy. That's not what the internet dating sites would have you think, however. On their introduction pages and in their advertising they show happy couples or cute little animated couples having the time of their lives. They don't show you the amount of time you spend reading profiles, the disappointment of not being written back or how frustrating it can be to go out on a date that you think went well only to never hear from the person again. But, don't let this get you down. Internet dating is certainly not the only way to meet people but it does help in many ways. For starters the not-so-fabulous dates can be seen as flirting practice. You might not meet the right person, but what's stopping you from practising your verbal banter on those you do?

The best way to keep the roadblocks you may stumble across during the beginning of internet dating from getting you down is to not take them personally or seriously. You'll find yourself just giving up on dating completely and losing all desire to put yourself out there if you do. It may not be easy, but perhaps you should approach it in the manner that the internet dating site marketing team would have you believe it all is, light hearted and fun. You need to keep your eye on the prize with an optimistic attitude.

So where am I now with all this internet dating stuff since Marianne put me back online? Well, I must confess that once I realised how similar internet dating and job hunting were I backed off and crawled back into my very dissatisfying, but comfortable, rut. This is quite similar to those people who stay in their mediocre jobs and not seek something better because it is just too much trouble. However, with the new year comes a new frame of mind. It's time that I really got out there and found the satisfying, loving long term relationship that I'd really like. Internet dating may not be the answer, but it is a means to an end. And, it's one I'm going to approach a bit more seriously.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Citrus Glaze for Scones and Other Yummy Things

I tried my hand at making scones today. The recipe I used was okay, but frankly not worth mentioning. I'll probably search for another one. However, I decided they could do with a bit of a glaze, so I went seeking one out in cyber space. (It's interesting that I didn't just consult one of my 3 million cookbooks, but there you go.) Unfortunately I discovered as I read through a few recipes that I was missing ingredients here and there, so using what I had seen and what I had available in my kitchen, I made one up. And....

It's REALLY yummy. As I said, the scones themselves are just okay, but after eating 4 of them (oink oink), I've decided that it is definitely my improvised orange glaze that made them yummy. So, here you go...

3/4 C (98g or 175ml) confectioners sugar
1 tsp (5ml) orange peel zest
1 tsp (5ml) of vanilla
3 tsp (15ml) milk

Whisk all the ingredients together and drizzle on scones. Wait 10 minutes and eat.

I'm hoping this year brings me more yummy improvisations to share.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Start out as you mean to go on

Happy New Year!

Normally at this time I reflect upon the year and what I learnt as it progressed. Instead of writing a long detailed soppy post about all I experienced this year and the knowledge gained, I'll just sum it up in a list. Major events of 2009 included the following: a break-up, finding a lump in my breast that ended up being nothing but gave me a week of grief, having a long standing debt repaid and a friendship restored, painfully discovering what I thought to be a true and lasting friendship to be a sadly superficial one, passing the Life in the UK test and being granted Indefinite Leave to Remain, Dave and May's fabulous wedding, teaching a new year-level and receiving top marks and accolades in a rather challenging course. Not all of these received blog posts, but they're worth mentioning when summing up the year as a whole.

Now a new decade has arrived and as such I believe it deserves 10 resolutions. I started to tweet them as I came up with them, but decided to just lay them out in one neat blog post rather than just tweet away. So here they are in no particular order.

1) I will take better care of my plants.
I've been a horrid plant caretaker this year and have killed two plants due to my negligence. I've been a better caretaker of plants in my past, so I will do my best to rectify that and return to my good nursing ways.

2) I will buy a new electric kettle to replace my broken one and make coffee at home instead of buying pricey lattes.
Kettle has been purchased. It's actually kind of sexy. Is it wrong for me to think of a kettle as sexy?

3) I will make more and buy less.
I mean this and have started to do so with Christmas gifts this year.

4) I will keep a tidier flat.
No explanation needed here.

5) I will set aside at least 30 minutes five times a week to write for my own purpose.
It does not necessarily follow that I'll be blogging more, but I do intend to take my writing a bit more seriously than I have done in the past.

6) I will cook more and eat out and get takeaways less.
When doing this I will endeavour to be healthy in my meal choices.

7) I will work out at least 3 times a week for one hour.
It may be going to the gym. It may be running. It may be cycling. Whatever it is, it will happen for at least an hour 3 times a week.

8) I will put less effort into obvious superficial friendships and put more effort into the real and lasting ones.
Putting it mildly it's no fun when you realise that you're in a friendship that's a one way street and you've been kind, patient and giving only to receive little back. Or, possibly you are belittled and patronised by someone you once held dear. Both of these things happened to me this year and sadly more than once. Yet, I was forgiving and opened myself up to have it happen again and again. I am fortunate to have some wonderful people as friends and I shall keep them close and treasure them. Certain others I'll just leave be and respond politely to when contacted. No use ramming my head against a wall any more, even if I was wearing a helmet.

9) I will not repeat old mistakes.
I know what I'm talking about here. That's all that matters.

10) I will set my finances in order so I can buy a place.
I hate thinking about this stuff, but I need to and I need to do it now.

So, there we go. Ten (not so) little ways which I will change. And with this blog post, I hope that I'm starting out as I mean to go on.

Now I've got some cooking and tiding up to do.