FFXI veteran here too. Although the game has its floors I assume you know about all of these before you bought it right?
Glad I've left FFXI behind to be honest and am in the ground up version of SE's newest MMO, a big upgrade to FFXI and a game that looks like it is currently in a state of flux, is free to play and has a player base that, if they have stuck around this far, are generally enjoying it.
I have been working on a specific class and also spent time crafting, both of which I enjoy but are certainly a different experience from FFXI. Don't expect end-game content yet, or much quest based content other than storyline and class specific. Do expect to re-think how you create your 'job', re-think how you craft and look forward to what I believe will be great game in the coming months.
One thing, if you can find any of your mates, then join their linkshell asap. I think its even more important in FFXIV that you are part of a linkshell as it will be the people you meet there that will make the game more playable.
And to finally to answer your actuall post, do you not have your friends emails etc? If not you might find it hard to find them, even posting here. Plus don't forget that everyone now has a first and second name. :) Good luck with finding them and I hope you enjoy.
Edited, Dec 31st 2010 12:53pm by EdyNOTB