Monday, June 30, 2008

Tech Trends 6/2008

I just read a great technology report ppt by Morgan Stanley. Lots of very interesting tidbits about the market and up-coming trends. I would definitely suggest it to anybody who is a technology analyst, looking to learn the technology landscape, or really seriously got nothing to do.

Download here

Sunday, June 29, 2008

the Holiday

"I understand feeling as small and as insignificant as humanly possible, and how it can actually ache in places you didn't know you had inside you, and it doesn't matter how many new haircuts you get, or gyms you join, or how many glasses of chardonnay you drink with your girlfriends... you still go to bed every night going over every detail and wonder what you did wrong, or how you could have misunderstood, and how in the hell for that brief moment you could think that you were that happy. And sometimes you can even convince yourself that he'll see the light and show up at your door. And after all that, however long all that may be, you'll go somewhere new, and you'll meet people who make you feel worthwhile again, and little pieces of your soul will finally come back. And all that fuzzy stuff, those years of your life that you wasted, that will eventually begin to fade."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Deadpooled before it climbed out of the soil

I want to share another project of mine which entered the deadpool today.

For the past 2-3 months, I've been working on putting together an 'Edutainment' online game for Chinese kids to learn English. I won't go into the details of why I think this is a good idea (I still do), but I finally decided to bury this one yesterday.

Here are the reasons why it made sense:
- Flash & Audio, two main requirements for the design was that the game client is accessed via a website and English speech is complemented throughout the entire game. What this meant was that the game would be built with flash, and that either I streamed A LOT of custom pre-recorded dialogue or I used text-to-speech (TTS) technology. Both of these solutions were thorny and resource driven.

- Marketing and Sales, the distinction between user (child) and customer (parent) is an important one. It meant that my sales channels would be offline for the most part. For e.g. tutoring workshops, schools, kid education stores, etc... This was not something I would have the resources or skills to be any good at in China.

- People and Skills, I was looking for a resident Smartfox pro guru. This was somebody who understood SFS pro, flash, databases, and systems architecture. Right...

- Competition, it was Eddie Cheung, CEO of 北京国天科技有限公司, who put the nail in the coffin for me. He was nice enough to invite me to his office to chat about his similar company offering. I saw it and I was like that's what I had in mind...

Its definitely been a good learning lesson. It seems like I wasted a lot of effort in this project, but I think the truth is that the planning and research had paid off. Better to know it's time to call it quits now than 1-2 years later. Plus, I met new friends and leveled up on the way.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I've been working on this new project. It's too early to tell if it'll go anywhere, but I've been pretty psyched about it and have been throwing myself at it lately. I would really like to share it on the web, but I don't think it's okay to end up "anywhere" just quite yet. A good idea needs to be in stealth, I wonder if mine is any good.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I want the noodles on the left...

Louis Vuitton Sound Walk

I want to see this but am not going to pay for it...

Louis Vuitton has partnered with Soundwalk to produce a series of surreal audio tours that whisk listeners through some of China’s most well-known cities: Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. The tours offer a strange and captivating mix of music, sound effects, and narration that are sure to enhance any traveler’s visit to the country. Listeners stuck at home can enjoy the tours as well - simply relax and watch the stories through your mind’s eye.

Three of China’s most well-known actors (Gong Li, Shu Qi, and Joan Chen) supply the narration, which blends instructions (walk down this road, open the door) with heartfelt and nostalgic story telling. Each city essentially serves as a stage for a different tale of love and longing that helps bring the tour’s destinations to life. It sounds weird, but it works.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Learning to get Lost (cont'd)

I decided to step up my game and take the bus home from 中关村 today.

Wow. Now that was a trip. Total 'ask passerby for directions' tally was 22. The best thing was that nobody had the same answer (or at least most of them didn't). I swear a few of the directions were so bad even I knew better ways to get home without consultation ; why would I want to travel further away from home so that I can get back home? I think I ended up doing pretty well (very luckily), just one bus change from 中关村 mall to 光华桥.

I'm going to know Beijing at the back of my hand soon.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dancing with Robots

~~~ NERD - Sooner or Later ~~~
~~~ NERD - Happy ~~~
~~~ Eagles - I can't tell you why ~~~
+++ Coldplay - Viva la Vida +++
+++ the Dodos - Visiter +++

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Learning to get Lost

For those who know me, it isn't new news that I have a thing for exploration (or as some like to describe it as 'getting lost'). I think it is the way I learn most effectively. I learn through doing and adjusting to the feedback I receive from doing.

I recently got back into the gear of exploring, and it has served me well while I adjust to Beijing. I have walked home from all the nearby subway stations, wandered through random streets and paths, and peeked around street corners just to see what's happening. Those experiences have all been incredibly rewarding in this city. And more so than my experiences in Shanghai I might add.

Back to learning through getting lost, one of few actually useful ways to get around which has worked like a charm for me in the past is to ask passerbys (compared to deciding based on intuition). Though, I've found that the method has required a bit of tweaking lately. I have received contradicting directions from the locals multiple times and have unconsciously begun to ask different groups of people at once to get a consensus. Maybe it seems like the right thing to do, but imagine an idiot like me walking up to each person and hawking for directions while they all wait at the same crosswalk...

SYNTHETIC TIMES – Media Art China 2008

I visited the National Art Museum of China earlier today to check out 'Synthetic Times', a digital media exhibition.

Being a little bit of an artist and a little bit of a techie, I've always been fascinated with mixtures of these two fields. I think it's because technology always evolves while art takes a big role in making history.
As usual, there were hits and misses throughout the exhibition. The good news is that most of them were fascinating in at least one way or another (otherwise I would be blabbering only about a certain piece).
I was surprised to see a lot of old Chinese people at the exhibition; I wouldn't have any idea what is going through their minds at the time. It must have been quite weird for them; to see computers and electronics put to artistic uses. But then again, maybe they're already used to seeing radical changes given the speed and amount of change that has taken place in China over the last 10-20 years.

You can find out more about the exhibition and the works on display via the link above.

NBA Finals 2008 Game 4

The Celtics are up 3-1 against the Lakers this series.

Who is to blame? Lamar Odom.
I've been following the entire series so far, and the one only game Odom has put up anything on the stats board is game 4. Oh, and did I mention that was throughout the first half of game 4 when the Lakers were comfortably up 10+,20+ points. Where was he during the 2nd half? The answer is nowhere to be found in action.
Kobe is super-human, I think most of everybody will agree with me on this fact. This makes MVP of the year well deserved, but MVP does not equal a championship. And in my opinion, no team can win single-handedly with just a MVP. The rest of the team needs to step up. Gasol has played his part clogging up the lanes and grokking points in the paint. Fisher and Vujacic have made big shots between them.

What has Odom done (supposedly the 3rd best player on the Lakers)? Absolutely nothing. Nothing come clutch time. Watch the video above and notice Odom throughout the Celtics comeback.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Frozen Yogurt Recipe to Rival Pinkberry's Recipe

Vanilla Frozen Yogurt Recipe

First off, remember it is important to use good-quality whole-milk yogurt. This time around I skipped out on the vanilla yogurt, opting for straight, bright white yogurt with the sweetness playing off the tang of the yogurt. I also used slightly less sugar than called for here, more like 2/3 cup - but you can go either way depending on what you like.

3 cups (720g) strained yogurt (see below) or Greek-style yogurt
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Mix together the yogurt, sugar, and vanilla (if using). Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

To make 1 cup (240g) of strained yogurt, line a mesh strainer with a few layers of cheese cloth. then scrape 16 ounces or 2 cups (480g) of plain whole-milk yogurt into the cheesecloth. Gather the ends and fold them over the yogurt, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours. So, for the above recipe start with and strain 6 cups of yogurt.

Makes about 1 quart.

Thanks Heidi at I must go buy an ice cream maker....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ark, Ray

I ripped these dual L'arc~en~ciel albums into my nano lately. They definitely stand their test of time; both incredibly good albums w/ great singles.

+++ N.E.R.D - Seeing Sounds +++

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

10 Mistakes from My Last Startup

This post has been running through my head for a while. I think it's time...

1. At work too often too much
- since the first day we took BPG seriously, we never took "working hours" seriously. We worked 14-16 hour days 7 days a week. We definitely got a shit load of work done, but we started to fatigue 12+ months later. And since we were so used to working all day everyday, anything less than the 14-16 hour days started to make us feel like we were slacking. It was not healthy culture.

2. Not hiring with my instincts - I made the fatal mistake of making a blind hiring decision. Not only did I make a mistake, but I ignored the problem until it was way too late. The team is a priority, it was written in stone since the very beginning of the mission statement (when we were still joking about snorting coke and hookers in a garage) and yet it was ignored. The mistake cost the entire venture.

3. Delegating leadership too early - it seemed to me at one point that one of my goals was to instill leadership among the partners. That was a great idea at the wrong time and possibly the wrong people. The startup was not in a position to pay for those lessons yet.

4. No concrete analytics - We had a good idea where users were funneling out of our product, but we never had numbers to demonstrate it. If we had better analytics in place, we would have been able to prioritize and focus on what mattered to us most. As a startup, we have to be as efficient with as resources as possibly possible.

5. Not learning from version1 - I'm not the techie of the bunch so I can't say for sure, but I feel we were making technical decisions without enough information. In hindsight, I feel we made the same mistakes on version 2 of the product as on version 1. It was not my decision, but it also wasn't impossible for me to seek consultation from outside (especially when version1 was trouble).

6. The business world is relentless - businesses are about profits, advantages, cunnery, pros and cons, etc... The business world does not give a f*ckin shit if you are left to die on the streets. They will con you to put themselves ahead.

7. Surround oneself with those in the know - consultants, experts, advisors, mentors are all incredibly useful resources. They are wisdom and expertise you do not have the time and resources to pay for (otherwise you are already a millionaire). Get one get many, I realized this and took advantage too late.

8. Technology can never be perfect - we spent so much time and energy chasing the perfect technology. There will always be something better, and your team will always find out there is something better out there that we has missed out on using when it's already too late.

9. Business research - Would things have changed if we had performed more business research? Probably.

10. Goodwill only brings you so far - our company was idealistic. Not a bad thing if you're Google and already incredibly profitable. But we weren't and it didn't matter we had built up plenty of goodwill that was worth nothing at the end.

I feel like i'm at the end of my wound licking. They say entrepreneurship is like learning to ride a bicycle, I guessing I'm stubborn enough to keep trying. I tell myself it's okay as long as I spend the time to reflect and not fall for the same traps in the future.

Monday, June 09, 2008

the CCTV station is huge when seen up close...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Dining @ Ushi-ya in Beijing.

Here's a random pic of some huge okami-styled painting on one of their walls. They also served home-made sake tonight which was pretty good.

My first mobile entry

Live art from the ed banger show

Monday, June 02, 2008

20 Things I Wish I Had Known

If you don't want to live life with regrets, digest the link above.

+++ The Avalanches - Since I Left You +++

I've been learning how to play 'Stop this train' by John Mayer lately. I saw him at the Coach party last weekend where he played a few songs from the side. He's great on a record but overrated live. I don't think he really gives a shit; I wouldn't if I were him.