Friday, December 03, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I want to write a post about how growing up playing Mega Man recounts the tale of my generation's gamers. But not today...

Monday, November 08, 2010



Monday, November 01, 2010


in design.

Only until very recently I understood the power of simplicity in web usability. If you look at playing videos on Youtube, liking Facebook Likes, or searching via Google's search bar; the common theme strung throughout those popular services are their near-funnel-free usage mechanics.

It sounds obvious, but we can easily look at the variety of products and services we use everyday, and the truth is most of them are incapable and more inaccessible than the designer expected them to be.

The truth is that everyday user do not want to think. And designing products that don't require us to think is more difficult than it do we inform a user who doesn't think? Without thought, there are no rules. With no rules, it is difficult to provide a proposition of value to them. The key to designing mass-consumer products is to design for mental reflexes -'thought' is simply too big a barrier in conversion when designing for the masses.

For a while, I used to presume engaging products were about lots of connected features. But now, I think the key is simplicity.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Eric Lau

Eric Lau - For the D (feat. Guilty Simpson)

Eric Lau - Time will tell

Incredible Producer tip from Parker Fay. I love Eric's sound.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gameday Tycoon

Been mum all summer working on Gameday Tycoon, and I think it's finally ready to be shown off.

Gameday Tycoon is simply a game where you stay in the loop with your sports friends.

Granted the game could still use work (a lot actually), its been a long dedicated summer for Mahmoud, Fies, and I. Proud to have gotten thus far, but not yet proud to publish would be the most accurate statement.

Our two main hypotheses for the product are that 1)casual sports fans also need a place to re-engage with their friends, and 2)hardcore fans want to re-engage with casual fans outside their fantasy leagues.

I don't think the service will ever be perfect because Gameday is supposed to be a marketing engine. The critical innovations of Gameday Tycoon will come down to three things: 1)engagement 2)virality, and 3)user acquisition. All marketing engines require periodic oil changes, and Gameday isn't any different.

Its interesting how most people don't understand how/where sausages are made.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Not rocking but addicted to 2k11

Absolutely incredible. If I were publishing/developing NBA2k11, I would consider splitting it into two games. The number of features and bells & whistles on this product is amazing. You can play online, join a league, create a legend, play regular season/exhibition games.

The My Player mode is my favorite so far. Made for and by basketball enthusiasts. How many other games evaluate your player performance based on boxing out, opening the lanes on fast break, attempting steals/blocks at the wrong moment? Just incredible how far basketball games have gone since the early days of NBA Live 95.

Proprietary sports game engines are milking cows.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jimmy Eat World - Invented

Seeing them this weekend.

3 Years in 3 Minutes

It started on January 2007, when Parisian videographer Ramon captured the first image of the demolition work at Tour EDF. 45,000 photographs later, taken from exactly the same point with his Pentax K 110D DSLR, his work was done and a new building was in place. It was September 2010, three years later. That's an average of 42 images per day.

His patience paid off big time. The result is amazing.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

What Are You Going to Do With That?

By William Deresiewicz

The essay below is adapted from a talk delivered to a freshman class at Stanford University in May.

The question my title poses, of course, is the one that is classically aimed at humanities majors. What practical value could there possibly be in studying literature or art or philosophy? So you must be wondering why I'm bothering to raise it here, at Stanford, this renowned citadel of science and technology. What doubt can there be that the world will offer you many opportunities to use your degree?

But that's not the question I'm asking. By "do" I don't mean a job, and by "that" I don't mean your major. We are more than our jobs, and education is more than a major. Education is more than college, more even than the totality of your formal schooling, from kindergarten through graduate school. By "What are you going to do," I mean, what kind of life are you going to lead? And by "that," I mean everything in your training, formal and informal, that has brought you to be sitting here today, and everything you're going to be doing for the rest of the time that you're in school.

We should start by talking about how you did, in fact, get here. You got here by getting very good at a certain set of skills. Your parents pushed you to excel from the time you were very young. They sent you to good schools, where the encouragement of your teachers and the example of your peers helped push you even harder. Your natural aptitudes were nurtured so that, in addition to excelling in all your subjects, you developed a number of specific interests that you cultivated with particular vigor. You did extracurricular activities, went to afterschool programs, took private lessons. You spent summers doing advanced courses at a local college or attending skill-specific camps and workshops. You worked hard, you paid attention, and you tried your very best. And so you got very good at math, or piano, or lacrosse, or, indeed, several things at once.

Now there's nothing wrong with mastering skills, with wanting to do your best and to be the best. What's wrong is what the system leaves out: which is to say, everything else. I don't mean that by choosing to excel in math, say, you are failing to develop your verbal abilities to their fullest extent, or that in addition to focusing on geology, you should also focus on political science, or that while you're learning the piano, you should also be working on the flute. It is the nature of specialization, after all, to be specialized. No, the problem with specialization is that it narrows your attention to the point where all you know about and all you want to know about, and, indeed, all you can know about, is your specialty.

The problem with specialization is that it makes you into a specialist. It cuts you off, not only from everything else in the world, but also from everything else in yourself. And of course, as college freshmen, your specialization is only just beginning. In the journey toward the success that you all hope to achieve, you have completed, by getting into Stanford, only the first of many legs. Three more years of college, three or four or five years of law school or medical school or a Ph.D. program, then residencies or postdocs or years as a junior associate. In short, an ever-narrowing funnel of specialization. You go from being a political-science major to being a lawyer to being a corporate attorney to being a corporate attorney focusing on taxation issues in the consumer-products industry. You go from being a biochemistry major to being a doctor to being a cardiologist to being a cardiac surgeon who performs heart-valve replacements.

Again, there's nothing wrong with being those things. It's just that, as you get deeper and deeper into the funnel, into the tunnel, it becomes increasingly difficult to remember who you once were. You start to wonder what happened to that person who played piano and lacrosse and sat around with her friends having intense conversations about life and politics and all the things she was learning in her classes. The 19-year-old who could do so many things, and was interested in so many things, has become a 40-year-old who thinks about only one thing. That's why older people are so boring. "Hey, my dad's a smart guy, but all he talks about is money and livers."

And there's another problem. Maybe you never really wanted to be a cardiac surgeon in the first place. It just kind of happened. It's easy, the way the system works, to simply go with the flow. I don't mean the work is easy, but the choices are easy. Or rather, the choices sort of make themselves. You go to a place like Stanford because that's what smart kids do. You go to medical school because it's prestigious. You specialize in cardiology because it's lucrative. You do the things that reap the rewards, that make your parents proud, and your teachers pleased, and your friends impressed. From the time you started high school and maybe even junior high, your whole goal was to get into the best college you could, and so now you naturally think about your life in terms of "getting into" whatever's next. "Getting into" is validation; "getting into" is victory. Stanford, then Johns Hopkins medical school, then a residency at the University of San Francisco, and so forth. Or Michigan Law School, or Goldman Sachs, or Mc­Kinsey, or whatever. You take it one step at a time, and the next step always seems to be inevitable.

Or maybe you did always want to be a cardiac surgeon. You dreamed about it from the time you were 10 years old, even though you had no idea what it really meant, and you stayed on course for the entire time you were in school. You refused to be enticed from your path by that great experience you had in AP history, or that trip you took to Costa Rica the summer after your junior year in college, or that terrific feeling you got taking care of kids when you did your rotation in pediatrics during your fourth year in medical school.

But either way, either because you went with the flow or because you set your course very early, you wake up one day, maybe 20 years later, and you wonder what happened: how you got there, what it all means. Not what it means in the "big picture," whatever that is, but what it means to you. Why you're doing it, what it's all for. It sounds like a cliché, this "waking up one day," but it's called having a midlife crisis, and it happens to people all the time.

There is an alternative, however, and it may be one that hasn't occurred to you. Let me try to explain it by telling you a story about one of your peers, and the alternative that hadn't occurred to her. A couple of years ago, I participated in a panel discussion at Harvard that dealt with some of these same matters, and afterward I was contacted by one of the students who had come to the event, a young woman who was writing her senior thesis about Harvard itself, how it instills in its students what she called self-efficacy, the sense that you can do anything you want. Self-efficacy, or, in more familiar terms, self-esteem. There are some kids, she said, who get an A on a test and say, "I got it because it was easy." And there are other kids, the kind with self-efficacy or self-esteem, who get an A on a test and say, "I got it because I'm smart."

Again, there's nothing wrong with thinking that you got an A because you're smart. But what that Harvard student didn't realize—and it was really quite a shock to her when I suggested it—is that there is a third alternative. True self-esteem, I proposed, means not caring whether you get an A in the first place. True self-esteem means recognizing, despite everything that your upbringing has trained you to believe about yourself, that the grades you get—and the awards, and the test scores, and the trophies, and the acceptance letters—are not what defines who you are.

She also claimed, this young woman, that Harvard students take their sense of self-efficacy out into the world and become, as she put it, "innovative." But when I asked her what she meant by innovative, the only example she could come up with was "being CEO of a Fortune 500." That's not innovative, I told her, that's just successful, and successful according to a very narrow definition of success. True innovation means using your imagination, exercising the capacity to envision new possibilities.

But I'm not here to talk about technological innovation, I'm here to talk about a different kind. It's not about inventing a new machine or a new drug. It's about inventing your own life. Not following a path, but making your own path. The kind of imagination I'm talking about is moral imagination. "Moral" meaning not right or wrong, but having to do with making choices. Moral imagination means the capacity to envision new ways to live your life.

It means not just going with the flow. It means not just "getting into" whatever school or program comes next. It means figuring out what you want for yourself, not what your parents want, or your peers want, or your school wants, or your society wants. Originating your own values. Thinking your way toward your own definition of success. Not simply accepting the life that you've been handed. Not simply accepting the choices you've been handed. When you walk into Starbucks, you're offered a choice among a latte and a macchiato and an espresso and a few other things, but you can also make another choice. You can turn around and walk out. When you walk into college, you are offered a choice among law and medicine and investment banking and consulting and a few other things, but again, you can also do something else, something that no one has thought of before.

Let me give you another counterexample. I wrote an essay a couple of years ago that touched on some of these same points. I said, among other things, that kids at places like Yale or Stanford tend to play it safe and go for the conventional rewards. And one of the most common criticisms I got went like this: What about Teach for America? Lots of kids from elite colleges go and do TFA after they graduate, so therefore I was wrong. TFA, TFA—I heard that over and over again. And Teach for America is undoubtedly a very good thing. But to cite TFA in response to my argument is precisely to miss the point, and to miss it in a way that actually confirms what I'm saying. The problem with TFA—or rather, the problem with the way that TFA has become incorporated into the system—is that it's just become another thing to get into.

In terms of its content, Teach for America is completely different from Goldman Sachs or McKinsey or Harvard Medical School or Berkeley Law, but in terms of its place within the structure of elite expectations, of elite choices, it is exactly the same. It's prestigious, it's hard to get into, it's something that you and your parents can brag about, it looks good on your résumé, and most important, it represents a clearly marked path. You don't have to make it up yourself, you don't have to do anything but apply and do the work­—just like college or law school or McKinsey or whatever. It's the Stanford or Harvard of social engagement. It's another hurdle, another badge. It requires aptitude and diligence, but it does not require a single ounce of moral imagination.

Moral imagination is hard, and it's hard in a completely different way than the hard things you're used to doing. And not only that, it's not enough. If you're going to invent your own life, if you're going to be truly autonomous, you also need courage: moral courage. The courage to act on your values in the face of what everyone's going to say and do to try to make you change your mind. Because they're not going to like it. Morally courageous individuals tend to make the people around them very uncomfortable. They don't fit in with everybody else's ideas about the way the world is supposed to work, and still worse, they make them feel insecure about the choices that they themselves have made—or failed to make. People don't mind being in prison as long as no one else is free. But stage a jailbreak, and everybody else freaks out.

In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce has Stephen Dedalus famously say, about growing up in Ireland in the late 19th century, "When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets."

Today there are other nets. One of those nets is a term that I've heard again and again as I've talked with students about these things. That term is "self-indulgent." "Isn't it self-indulgent to try to live the life of the mind when there are so many other things I could be doing with my degree?" "Wouldn't it be self-indulgent to pursue painting after I graduate instead of getting a real job?"

These are the kinds of questions that young people find themselves being asked today if they even think about doing something a little bit different. Even worse, the kinds of questions they are made to feel compelled to ask themselves. Many students have spoken to me, as they navigated their senior years, about the pressure they felt from their peers—from their peers—to justify a creative or intellectual life. You're made to feel like you're crazy: crazy to forsake the sure thing, crazy to think it could work, crazy to imagine that you even have a right to try.

Think of what we've come to. It is one of the great testaments to the intellectual—and moral, and spiritual—poverty of American society that it makes its most intelligent young people feel like they're being self-indulgent if they pursue their curiosity. You are all told that you're supposed to go to college, but you're also told that you're being "self-indulgent" if you actually want to get an education. Or even worse, give yourself one. As opposed to what? Going into consulting isn't self-indulgent? Going into finance isn't self-indulgent? Going into law, like most of the people who do, in order to make yourself rich, isn't self-indulgent? It's not OK to play music, or write essays, because what good does that really do anyone, but it is OK to work for a hedge fund. It's selfish to pursue your passion, unless it's also going to make you a lot of money, in which case it's not selfish at all.

Do you see how absurd this is? But these are the nets that are flung at you, and this is what I mean by the need for courage. And it's a never-ending proc­ess. At that Harvard event two years ago, one person said, about my assertion that college students needed to keep rethinking the decisions they've made about their lives, "We already made our decisions, back in middle school, when we decided to be the kind of high achievers who get into Harvard." And I thought, who wants to live with the decisions that they made when they were 12? Let me put that another way. Who wants to let a 12-year-old decide what they're going to do for the rest of their lives? Or a 19-year-old, for that matter?

All you can decide is what you think now, and you need to be prepared to keep making revisions. Because let me be clear. I'm not trying to persuade you all to become writers or musicians. Being a doctor or a lawyer, a scientist or an engineer or an economist—these are all valid and admirable choices. All I'm saying is that you need to think about it, and think about it hard. All I'm asking is that you make your choices for the right reasons. All I'm urging is that you recognize and embrace your moral freedom.

And most of all, don't play it safe. Resist the seductions of the cowardly values our society has come to prize so highly: comfort, convenience, security, predictability, control. These, too, are nets. Above all, resist the fear of failure. Yes, you will make mistakes. But they will be your mistakes, not someone else's. And you will survive them, and you will know yourself better for having made them, and you will be a fuller and a stronger person.

It's been said—and I'm not sure I agree with this, but it's an idea that's worth taking seriously—that you guys belong to a "postemotional" generation. That you prefer to avoid messy and turbulent and powerful feelings. But I say, don't shy away from the challenging parts of yourself. Don't deny the desires and curiosities, the doubts and dissatisfactions, the joy and the darkness, that might knock you off the path that you have set for yourself. College is just beginning for you, adulthood is just beginning. Open yourself to the possibilities they represent. The world is much larger than you can imagine right now. Which means, you are much larger than you can imagine.

William Deresiewicz is a contributing writer for The Nation and a contributing editor at The New Republic. His next book, A Jane Austen Education, will be published next year by Penguin Press.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Keeping up with Music

Following the trajectory of an artist and their albums is one of those simple things in life I love to do. There are two awesome websites I use to make sure I stay up to date with the scene: - It's pretty simple. You upload your iTunes library and create email notifications or a RSS feed to notify you when your favorite artists release a new album. - It would be great if this website also allows you to upload your iTunes library, instead you need to manually enter in your favorites. What bandsintown does is help you discover who is playing in town in the upcoming months. It's also great for traveling when you want to check out whose playing this weekend. The band tag cloud they offer is pretty useful as it indicates which bands are popular.

Punk’s Influence on Design

Punk Lesson 1: Don’t Sit on Your Ass: Go Forth and Design For Others
As the “social design” movement seems to be kicking into high gear, I’m very excited that we have the power to “be the change we want to see in the world” (quote by Gandhi, the punkest of them all, who gave a big pacifist-fuck-you to the status quo.) and while the rest of the world starves, dies from Malaria, hides from genocide, and is tricked into slavery, I sit in the comfort buxom of America writing about design. But, “I recognize the irony that the very system I oppose affords me the luxury of biting the hand that feeds. But that’s exactly why priviledged fucks like me should feel obliged to whine and kick and scream- until everyone has everything they need.” (quote by Propagandhi, the second punkest of them all.). Which is why designers should all use this given freedom and luxury to create solutions to make the world a little bit better. It’s punk to challenge the luxuries of our world and use our power to bring design to the global masses.

Punk Lesson 2: Without the good idea, the design is shit.
I can sum up the four years of my $160,000 education in one line from a song “Good frames won’t save bad paintings” by The Refused. What this meant to me is that the Concept is the most important ingredient in a design. Regardless of how “good” something is, whether its aesthetics, function, ergonomics, etc, it won’t save a bad Concept. It’s all about the Concept.

Punk Lesson 3: What You Love Is the Most Important
My last day at Nissan, instead of a thank you/goodbye/keep-in-touch email, I sent the lyrics from “South East First” by Hot Water Music to all the departments I worked with
“it never mattered who you were or where you worked
it never mattered who you were or what you earned
what mattered was what you gave and what you loved
what mattered was what you gave and what was learned”
Design needs to know what matters and this quote says what does, and does not matter.

Punk Lesson 4: Play at Eye Level
Punk is about equality. Elitism isn’t tolerated and icons and heroes are to be scoffed. There is no distinction between audience and musician, which is why they play at the same level, and not up on a stage (the real deal anyway). Inaccessible design or elitist design is never going to be for the masses. Keep it at eye level, on equal footing.

Punk Lesson 5: Design Is Not Design Without Ethics
Fugazi/Minor Threat was never a fan of capitalism and so has never made merch to sell at shows. At the request of loyal fans, they reluctantly pressed music and sold their music, but they didn’t want to be owned by some record label so they started their own. They were a large part of the DIY movement of today which combatted mass commercialization and the removal of ethics that was inherent in mass-consumed goods. DIY went hand-in-hand with a set of ethics. Now the ballistic Etsy missle, is full charge ahead raising craft DIY WITHOUT the ethics. Individual copycats galore, trying to make a quick buck, undermining the design process. Design without an infusion of ethics will be guaranteed to do humanity an injustice.

Punk Lesson 6: Design for the Unpopular
Glen E. Friedman and Ed Colver are a couple of the most prolific photographers of our time. Glen Friedman photographed portraiture for unknown musicians like Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, Ice-T, Black Flag. Ed Colver captured the rising culture of the punk rock shows of the early 80′s. They became popular in the 90′s because they did stuff that no one bothered doing at the time. Design things that you love, though it may be unpopular, the world will appreciate it later. Unpopular design won’t make you famous, it won’t make you rich, but you won’t regret it. As HWM said, “Live your heart and never follow”.

Punk Lesson 7: Stop Being Sarcastic and Ironic
Punk always gave a big ol’ middle finger to the mainstream media so it’s no wonder that every flyer was a mishmash of cut-up clippings and text from existing media. Your punk rock friend at Kinko’s would make your photocopies a thousand times for you, free of charge. The master of this art form in the visual scene was Art Chantry, who made flyers for Nirvana, Mud Honey, and every other punk-grunge band of Seattle. In music terms, Girltalk’s work is totally punk. Mixing up things you’re not supposed to mix got pretty popular in design but it came out as Ironic-Williamsburg style. That’s not punk. If you’re going to do it, mean it.

Punk Lesson 8: If You Are a Designer, You Are Automatically Not Special
So the urban legend goes that a few friends just stole some band’s gear that they left outside. The friends took it home and sat on it for a while and then thought “we have all this music equipment, we should make some music”. The Sex Pistols was born. The point of punk was that ANYONE could play the songs, and it’s still true today. I can teach you how to play pop-punk Blink or GreenDay songs in one sitting. Just like punk, anyone can design. Design is accessible to anyone. Design can be done by anyone. Design IS done by everyone. So I never think I’m all that special being a designer.

Punk Lesson 9: Do not $ellout
Don’t do things for money. It keeps it authentic. Do take money if you think you deserve it.

Punk Lesson 10: Change Starts with the Consumer
By the time I got to Nissan, they’d already been talking about building an Electric Vehicle. Consumers wanted it and so the market responds. I had protested and faught against corporate designs that were oppressive like child labor by Nike in the 80′s and 90′s, or biodesigned foods. I never quite gauged how effective protests and consumer opinions were. So I thought I could make a bigger difference from the inside creating great designs that helps people and participates in the market-game. The truth is that both is important. You need people on the outside raising awareness and desiring good and ethical designs. Then you need the people inside to design it and convince the business-types “hey, the consumers really want this”. Business isn’t evil or good, it’s just devoid of ethics. Design and Research is where you can infuse the humanity. Companies sometimes try to slow down individuals or groups, but they can’t stop a movement. They’re smart, they always join the winning team.

I want designs to have the Punk attitude. It’s rare that I see a design that makes me grab my hair in utter confusion and ask “WTF!?” Designs, so good that it brings me to tears. I want designs like that. That emotion, the rawness of punk, is what’s missing in my designs, and am working to acheive.
- Ko Nakatsu

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Linkin Park - A Thousand Suns

We were not making an album.

For months, we'd been destroying and rebuilding our band. The experiments that resulted filled the studio hard drive with diverse, abstract sounds. Amorphous echoes, cacophonous samples, and handmade staccato merged into wandering, elusive melody. Each track felt like a hallucination.

We didn't know if any of those unorthodox ideas could be incorporated into a traditional album, but we knew we didn't want our next album to be predictable. Sitting together in the same studio where we made our first album, all six of us voiced a commitment to going out on a limb, to making something truly daring. We asked ourselves: were we all earnestly willing, more than ever before, to abandon the precepts of commercial ambition in pursuit of what we believe to be honest art?

The inclination to begin writing conventional songs for a conventional album came and went. The temptation to adjust our creative vision to fulfill expectations beyond our studio walls yielded to the audacious ambition of what we hoped to achieve as a band. The two years of making 'A Thousand Suns' marked our exhilarating, surrealistic, and often challenging journey into the creative unknown.

On the eve of its completion, this body of work, assembled through unconscious inspiration and unmitigated exertion, has revealed to us notions both stirring and surprising. The album's personified imagery is neither dogma nor political premeditation. The emergent themes and metaphors illuminate a uniquely human story.

'A Thousand Suns' grapples with the personal cycle of pride, destruction, and regret. In life, like in dreams, this sequence is not always linear. And, sometimes, true remorse penetrates the devastating cycle. The hope, of course, springs from the notion that the possibility of change is born in our most harrowing moments.

Enjoy the music.

Linkin Park

Co-produced by Rick Rubin and Mike Shinoda.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Most of all successful businessmen have an adeptness for what sells. Sometimes they don't even understand the product/service they are selling, but they just know how to sell it.

Ray and I were having this discussion about the genius of marketing while we were at Tsinghua. Back then, I remember stating something along the lines of how "marketing is arguably the most difficult aspect of a business operation."

I still stand by that point. Now I'm not talking about marketing in the sense of using resources to buy your eyeballs (like buying keywords or print/tv ads.) But actually coming up with effective and efficient solutions to reach your customers.

In this world today, you would think coming up with interesting marketing ideas and implementing them is easy enough with all the social media tools around... I'm not so sure about that.

Pretty Lights - Total Fascination

Tipped by Franzi - Download Pretty Lights music free at

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

Are you good?

Next time someone asks whether you're good at something, just say "I enjoy it."

Being good at something is what most people only care about. Either you play the guitar and you're good, or it's not important. Somehow being in the pool of mediocrity and having a good time at something is not worthy enough. In the case of zero sum games like most sports, there can only one winner -do we seriously only care about winners?

Being a participant should be equally worthy. We can't all be winners of a marathon, we should respect everyone for finishing.

True winners enjoy the process.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Airbourne Toxic Event - Sometime Around Midnight

And it starts
Sometime around midnight
Or at least that's when
You lose yourself
For a minute or two

As you stand
Under the bar lights
And the band plays some song
About forgetting yourself for a while
And the piano's this melancholy soundcheck
To her smile
And that white dress she's wearing
You haven't seen her
For a while

But you know
That she's watching
She's laughing, she's turning
She's holding her tonic like a crux
The room suddenly spinning
She walks up and asks how you are
So you can smell her perfume
You can see her lying naked in your arms

And so there's a change
In your emotions
And all of these memories come rushing
Like feral waves to your mind
Of the curl of your bodies
Like two perfect circles entwined
And you feel hopeless, and homeless
And lost in the haze
Of the wine

And she leaves
With someone you don't know
But she makes sure you saw her
She looks right at you and bolts
As she walks out the door
Your blood boiling
Your stomach in ropes
And when your friends say, "What is it?"
You look like you've seen a ghost

And you walk
Under the streetlights
And you're too drunk to notice
That everyone is staring at you
And you so care what you look like
The world is falling
Around you

You just have to see her
You just have to see her
You just have to see her
You just have to see her
You just have to see her

And you know that she'll break you
In two

Monday, August 09, 2010

Friday, August 06, 2010

Monday, August 02, 2010

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Vox VT15 Tube Amp

Starcraft 2 might just need to move over now. Since having gotten re-acquainted with my electric earlier this month, I've had no gear to practice on. Today I added a VOX VT15 Valvetronix tube amp to my rock inventory.
Doing what you love is freedom, doing what you love is happiness.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Starcraft 2

arrives July 27th.

This is a big deal because:
  • Starcraft's popularity resulted in Guinness World Records awarding the game four world records, including "Best Selling PC Strategy Game," "Largest Income in Professional Gaming," and "Largest Audience for a Game Competition"
  • Starcraft has been the subject of an academic course; UC Berkeley offered a course on theory and strategy in Spring 2009
  • Starcraft is televised on 3 national TV stations in S.Korea
  • Starcraft was released 12 years ago in 1998

Friday, July 23, 2010

Zero 7 - Record

Compilation of Zero 7's best music (or most of it). Perfect record to get an introduction to these guys.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How Will You Measure Your Life?

This article is probably more than the average reader wants to read. But it meant enough to me to make sure I have a copy here to review later in life...

by Clayton M. Christensen

Before I published The Innovator’s Dilemma, I got a call from Andrew Grove, then the chairman of Intel. He had read one of my early papers about disruptive technology, and he asked if I could talk to his direct reports and explain my research and what it implied for Intel. Excited, I flew to Silicon Valley and showed up at the appointed time, only to have Grove say, “Look, stuff has happened. We have only 10 minutes for you. Tell us what your model of disruption means for Intel.” I said that I couldn’t—that I needed a full 30 minutes to explain the model, because only with it as context would any comments about Intel make sense. Ten minutes into my explanation, Grove interrupted: “Look, I’ve got your model. Just tell us what it means for Intel.”

I insisted that I needed 10 more minutes to describe how the process of disruption had worked its way through a very different industry, steel, so that he and his team could understand how disruption worked. I told the story of how Nucor and other steel minimills had begun by attacking the lowest end of the market—steel reinforcing bars, or rebar—and later moved up toward the high end, undercutting the traditional steel mills.

When I finished the minimill story, Grove said, “OK, I get it. What it means for Intel is...,” and then went on to articulate what would become the company’s strategy for going to the bottom of the market to launch the Celeron processor.

I’ve thought about that a million times since. If I had been suckered into telling Andy Grove what he should think about the microprocessor business, I’d have been killed. But instead of telling him what to think, I taught him how to think—and then he reached what I felt was the correct decision on his own.

That experience had a profound influence on me. When people ask what I think they should do, I rarely answer their question directly. Instead, I run the question aloud through one of my models. I’ll describe how the process in the model worked its way through an industry quite different from their own. And then, more often than not, they’ll say, “OK, I get it.” And they’ll answer their own question more insightfully than I could have.

My class at HBS is structured to help my students understand what good management theory is and how it is built. To that backbone I attach different models or theories that help students think about the various dimensions of a general manager’s job in stimulating innovation and growth. In each session we look at one company through the lenses of those theories—using them to explain how the company got into its situation and to examine what managerial actions will yield the needed results.

On the last day of class, I ask my students to turn those theoretical lenses on themselves, to find cogent answers to three questions: First, how can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career? Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness? Third, how can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail? Though the last question sounds lighthearted, it’s not. Two of the 32 people in my Rhodes scholar class spent time in jail. Jeff Skilling of Enron fame was a classmate of mine at HBS. These were good guys—but something in their lives sent them off in the wrong direction.

As the students discuss the answers to these questions, I open my own life to them as a case study of sorts, to illustrate how they can use the theories from our course to guide their life decisions.

One of the theories that gives great insight on the first question—how to be sure we find happiness in our careers—is from Frederick Herzberg, who asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements. I tell the students about a vision of sorts I had while I was running the company I founded before becoming an academic. In my mind’s eye I saw one of my managers leave for work one morning with a relatively strong level of self-esteem. Then I pictured her driving home to her family 10 hours later, feeling unappreciated, frustrated, underutilized, and demeaned. I imagined how profoundly her lowered self-esteem affected the way she interacted with her children. The vision in my mind then fast-forwarded to another day, when she drove home with greater self-esteem—feeling that she had learned a lot, been recognized for achieving valuable things, and played a significant role in the success of some important initiatives. I then imagined how positively that affected her as a spouse and a parent. My conclusion: Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team. More and more MBA students come to school thinking that a career in business means buying, selling, and investing in companies. That’s unfortunate. Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people.

I want students to leave my classroom knowing that.
Create a Strategy for Your Life

A theory that is helpful in answering the second question—How can I ensure that my relationship with my family proves to be an enduring source of happiness?—concerns how strategy is defined and implemented. Its primary insight is that a company’s strategy is determined by the types of initiatives that management invests in. If a company’s resource allocation process is not managed masterfully, what emerges from it can be very different from what management intended. Because companies’ decision-making systems are designed to steer investments to initiatives that offer the most tangible and immediate returns, companies shortchange investments in initiatives that are crucial to their long-term strategies.

Over the years I’ve watched the fates of my HBS classmates from 1979 unfold; I’ve seen more and more of them come to reunions unhappy, divorced, and alienated from their children. I can guarantee you that not a single one of them graduated with the deliberate strategy of getting divorced and raising children who would become estranged from them. And yet a shocking number of them implemented that strategy. The reason? They didn’t keep the purpose of their lives front and center as they decided how to spend their time, talents, and energy.

It’s quite startling that a significant fraction of the 900 students that HBS draws each year from the world’s best have given little thought to the purpose of their lives. I tell the students that HBS might be one of their last chances to reflect deeply on that question. If they think that they’ll have more time and energy to reflect later, they’re nuts, because life only gets more demanding: You take on a mortgage; you’re working 70 hours a week; you have a spouse and children.

For me, having a clear purpose in my life has been essential. But it was something I had to think long and hard about before I understood it. When I was a Rhodes scholar, I was in a very demanding academic program, trying to cram an extra year’s worth of work into my time at Oxford. I decided to spend an hour every night reading, thinking, and praying about why God put me on this earth. That was a very challenging commitment to keep, because every hour I spent doing that, I wasn’t studying applied econometrics. I was conflicted about whether I could really afford to take that time away from my studies, but I stuck with it—and ultimately figured out the purpose of my life.

Had I instead spent that hour each day learning the latest techniques for mastering the problems of autocorrelation in regression analysis, I would have badly misspent my life. I apply the tools of econometrics a few times a year, but I apply my knowledge of the purpose of my life every day. It’s the single most useful thing I’ve ever learned. I promise my students that if they take the time to figure out their life purpose, they’ll look back on it as the most important thing they discovered at HBS. If they don’t figure it out, they will just sail off without a rudder and get buffeted in the very rough seas of life. Clarity about their purpose will trump knowledge of activity-based costing, balanced scorecards, core competence, disruptive innovation, the four Ps, and the five forces.

My purpose grew out of my religious faith, but faith isn’t the only thing that gives people direction. For example, one of my former students decided that his purpose was to bring honesty and economic prosperity to his country and to raise children who were as capably committed to this cause, and to each other, as he was. His purpose is focused on family and others—as mine is.

The choice and successful pursuit of a profession is but one tool for achieving your purpose. But without a purpose, life can become hollow.
Allocate Your Resources

Your decisions about allocating your personal time, energy, and talent ultimately shape your life’s strategy.

I have a bunch of “businesses” that compete for these resources: I’m trying to have a rewarding relationship with my wife, raise great kids, contribute to my community, succeed in my career, contribute to my church, and so on. And I have exactly the same problem that a corporation does. I have a limited amount of time and energy and talent. How much do I devote to each of these pursuits?

Allocation choices can make your life turn out to be very different from what you intended. Sometimes that’s good: Opportunities that you never planned for emerge. But if you misinvest your resources, the outcome can be bad. As I think about my former classmates who inadvertently invested for lives of hollow unhappiness, I can’t help believing that their troubles relate right back to a short-term perspective.

When people who have a high need for achievement—and that includes all Harvard Business School graduates—have an extra half hour of time or an extra ounce of energy, they’ll unconsciously allocate it to activities that yield the most tangible accomplishments. And our careers provide the most concrete evidence that we’re moving forward. You ship a product, finish a design, complete a presentation, close a sale, teach a class, publish a paper, get paid, get promoted. In contrast, investing time and energy in your relationship with your spouse and children typically doesn’t offer that same immediate sense of achievement. Kids misbehave every day. It’s really not until 20 years down the road that you can put your hands on your hips and say, “I raised a good son or a good daughter.” You can neglect your relationship with your spouse, and on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t seem as if things are deteriorating. People who are driven to excel have this unconscious propensity to underinvest in their families and overinvest in their careers—even though intimate and loving relationships with their families are the most powerful and enduring source of happiness.

If you study the root causes of business disasters, over and over you’ll find this predisposition toward endeavors that offer immediate gratification. If you look at personal lives through that lens, you’ll see the same stunning and sobering pattern: people allocating fewer and fewer resources to the things they would have once said mattered most.
Create a Culture

There’s an important model in our class called the Tools of Cooperation, which basically says that being a visionary manager isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s one thing to see into the foggy future with acuity and chart the course corrections that the company must make. But it’s quite another to persuade employees who might not see the changes ahead to line up and work cooperatively to take the company in that new direction. Knowing what tools to wield to elicit the needed cooperation is a critical managerial skill.

The theory arrays these tools along two dimensions—the extent to which members of the organization agree on what they want from their participation in the enterprise, and the extent to which they agree on what actions will produce the desired results. When there is little agreement on both axes, you have to use “power tools”—coercion, threats, punishment, and so on—to secure cooperation. Many companies start in this quadrant, which is why the founding executive team must play such an assertive role in defining what must be done and how. If employees’ ways of working together to address those tasks succeed over and over, consensus begins to form. MIT’s Edgar Schein has described this process as the mechanism by which a culture is built. Ultimately, people don’t even think about whether their way of doing things yields success. They embrace priorities and follow procedures by instinct and assumption rather than by explicit decision—which means that they’ve created a culture. Culture, in compelling but unspoken ways, dictates the proven, acceptable methods by which members of the group address recurrent problems. And culture defines the priority given to different types of problems. It can be a powerful management tool.

In using this model to address the question, How can I be sure that my family becomes an enduring source of happiness?, my students quickly see that the simplest tools that parents can wield to elicit cooperation from children are power tools. But there comes a point during the teen years when power tools no longer work. At that point parents start wishing that they had begun working with their children at a very young age to build a culture at home in which children instinctively behave respectfully toward one another, obey their parents, and choose the right thing to do. Families have cultures, just as companies do. Those cultures can be built consciously or evolve inadvertently.

If you want your kids to have strong self-esteem and confidence that they can solve hard problems, those qualities won’t magically materialize in high school. You have to design them into your family’s culture—and you have to think about this very early on. Like employees, children build self-esteem by doing things that are hard and learning what works.
Avoid the “Marginal Costs” Mistake

We’re taught in finance and economics that in evaluating alternative investments, we should ignore sunk and fixed costs, and instead base decisions on the marginal costs and marginal revenues that each alternative entails. We learn in our course that this doctrine biases companies to leverage what they have put in place to succeed in the past, instead of guiding them to create the capabilities they’ll need in the future. If we knew the future would be exactly the same as the past, that approach would be fine. But if the future’s different—and it almost always is—then it’s the wrong thing to do.

This theory addresses the third question I discuss with my students—how to live a life of integrity (stay out of jail). Unconsciously, we often employ the marginal cost doctrine in our personal lives when we choose between right and wrong. A voice in our head says, “Look, I know that as a general rule, most people shouldn’t do this. But in this particular extenuating circumstance, just this once, it’s OK.” The marginal cost of doing something wrong “just this once” always seems alluringly low. It suckers you in, and you don’t ever look at where that path ultimately is headed and at the full costs that the choice entails. Justification for infidelity and dishonesty in all their manifestations lies in the marginal cost economics of “just this once.”

I’d like to share a story about how I came to understand the potential damage of “just this once” in my own life. I played on the Oxford University varsity basketball team. We worked our tails off and finished the season undefeated. The guys on the team were the best friends I’ve ever had in my life. We got to the British equivalent of the NCAA tournament—and made it to the final four. It turned out the championship game was scheduled to be played on a Sunday. I had made a personal commitment to God at age 16 that I would never play ball on Sunday. So I went to the coach and explained my problem. He was incredulous. My teammates were, too, because I was the starting center. Every one of the guys on the team came to me and said, “You’ve got to play. Can’t you break the rule just this one time?”

I’m a deeply religious man, so I went away and prayed about what I should do. I got a very clear feeling that I shouldn’t break my commitment—so I didn’t play in the championship game.

In many ways that was a small decision—involving one of several thousand Sundays in my life. In theory, surely I could have crossed over the line just that one time and then not done it again. But looking back on it, resisting the temptation whose logic was “In this extenuating circumstance, just this once, it’s OK” has proven to be one of the most important decisions of my life. Why? My life has been one unending stream of extenuating circumstances. Had I crossed the line that one time, I would have done it over and over in the years that followed.

The lesson I learned from this is that it’s easier to hold to your principles 100% of the time than it is to hold to them 98% of the time. If you give in to “just this once,” based on a marginal cost analysis, as some of my former classmates have done, you’ll regret where you end up. You’ve got to define for yourself what you stand for and draw the line in a safe place.

Remember the Importance of Humility

I got this insight when I was asked to teach a class on humility at Harvard College. I asked all the students to describe the most humble person they knew. One characteristic of these humble people stood out: They had a high level of self-esteem. They knew who they were, and they felt good about who they were. We also decided that humility was defined not by self-deprecating behavior or attitudes but by the esteem with which you regard others. Good behavior flows naturally from that kind of humility. For example, you would never steal from someone, because you respect that person too much. You’d never lie to someone, either.

It’s crucial to take a sense of humility into the world. By the time you make it to a top graduate school, almost all your learning has come from people who are smarter and more experienced than you: parents, teachers, bosses. But once you’ve finished at Harvard Business School or any other top academic institution, the vast majority of people you’ll interact with on a day-to-day basis may not be smarter than you. And if your attitude is that only smarter people have something to teach you, your learning opportunities will be very limited. But if you have a humble eagerness to learn something from everybody, your learning opportunities will be unlimited. Generally, you can be humble only if you feel really good about yourself—and you want to help those around you feel really good about themselves, too. When we see people acting in an abusive, arrogant, or demeaning manner toward others, their behavior almost always is a symptom of their lack of self-esteem. They need to put someone else down to feel good about themselves.
Choose the Right Yardstick

This past year I was diagnosed with cancer and faced the possibility that my life would end sooner than I’d planned. Thankfully, it now looks as if I’ll be spared. But the experience has given me important insight into my life.

I have a pretty clear idea of how my ideas have generated enormous revenue for companies that have used my research; I know I’ve had a substantial impact. But as I’ve confronted this disease, it’s been interesting to see how unimportant that impact is to me now. I’ve concluded that the metric by which God will assess my life isn’t dollars but the individual people whose lives I’ve touched.

I think that’s the way it will work for us all. Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people. This is my final recommendation: Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Concept: HTC 1

Usually, I don't give a shit about technology-based concept designs. Designers don't understand technology (such as what is possible and what's not). But this concept from 18 year old Andrew Kim is just awesome.

Check out the entire design

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On why we post/stream/tweet

We're soon approaching the ten year anniversary for this blog. I don't think many people can claim a ten year blog. I still remember it was my boy, Andrew Lin, who got me started.

Over the years, I've struggled with why I blog. Sometimes its my diary, some other times I just need to rant/say something cool, and most recently, I've tried to share interesting tidbits. I decided to opt-in Google Buzz and not plug-in into Facebook. And after all of this, disappointingly, I don't know the answers to why I do this.

I did read an interesting article a few weeks ago about the psychology of posting online (particularly, on social networks):

Maybe I should just get back to work...

Tablets are the future

I'll buy a tablet when it runs Android.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ad lib from Vancouver


Rhythm Guitar - Longine Chung
Lead Guitar - Erik Chan

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What's Next

Two graduate degrees under my belt, and I'm back out in the real world. I enjoy learning, but maybe just not within the confines of academia...

I've been fortunate enough to piece my dream job together, and have started working on a new venture here in Cambridge. Sure, I'm far from home, but I would choose to do this over anything. I want to do something meaningful.

Sometimes it bothers me to hear other people talk about starting a company. More than half the time, it's just talk and fantasy of a life they think is cool/easy. Luck always plays a factor, but I can be sure to say opportunity arises with those who are committed. I think it's often the difference maker, we don't fall into dream jobs and we don't start companies by accident.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Design with Intent

The design with intent toolkit is nearly everything one wants to know about designing for behavior. Dan Lockton, the author of the toolkit, created it as part of his 'Design for Sustainable Behaviour' doctorate. The toolkit consist of 101 simple cards, each illustrating a particular ‘gambit‘ for influencing people’s interactions with products, services, environments, and each other. Dan simply describes it as:

The intention is that the cards are useful at the idea generation stage of the design process, helping designers, clients and – perhaps most importantly – potential users themselves explore behaviour change concepts from a number of disciplines, and think about how they might relate to the problem at hand.

Download Design with Intent

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Monday, June 07, 2010

Friday, June 04, 2010

I idolize this guy.


Freshman year of college at Johns Hopkins, Gary and I were complete jackasses.

I don't remember the exact count, but I remember we hid 40 something ice cream bars in our super baggy pants leaving the dining area one night. And somehow, between the two us we ate them all in the next 2-3 days.

There was also a week where we lived inside our room and did nothing but play Shenmue on the Dreamcast. We made it a point to finish the game without fully realizing/caring Ryo Hazuki's journey was 50+ hours long. We literally spent the week playing as soon as we got up and until it was time to go back to bed.

Gary and I also had two other suitemates, Jason and Jeff. I'm pretty sure they hated us for blasting music every other night. I think Gary spent more time getting to know them, but I can't be for sure. Maybe Jeff, but Jason wasn't exactly the most popular dude in the suite. He was pretty straight edge, Christian and everything, but he was definitely more mature than Gary and I.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why the Celtics are Winning

The Celtics are not winning in the playoffs this post-season because of talent. They've come to beat LeBron (and most probably Dwight Howard) because of team. The Celtics have been winning as an organization like all championship teams have done in the past.

All great organizations train their people. It's about making everyone better and not just the star players. Making everyone better begins with process. Rondo is an all-star in large part being surrounded by incredible work ethic and excellence brought by Garnett, Piece, and Allen over the years. Same for Perkins and Davis, with good training and coaching, the extra value-add from each player is tremendous.

Similarly, at the Lakers organization, most to all players under Phil Jackson's coaching have significantly improved themselves in comparison to the rest of the league. This has been a recurring theme for many ex-Lakers: Horry, Fisher, Fox, George.

How to get ahead of your competition: your organization itself.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Kanye's Pad

Someday somehow...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

a Marketing Run

I've been working on my marketing skills lately. With strong recommendations from Amazon, I started off on two Robert Cialdini books:

The word "persuasion" in the book titles make them sound more self-help than anything. But maybe the author was trying to make a point here?

I enjoy consumer behavior marketing. It's evil.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fed chief tells Graduates

"We all know that getting a better-paying job is one of the main reasons to go to college. ... But if you are ever tempted to go into a field or take a job only because the pay is high and for no other reason, be careful!" Ben Bernanke said in his commencement address.

"Having a larger income is exciting at first, but as you get used to your new standard of living and as you associate with other people in your new income bracket, the thrill quickly wears off," he said.

Studies found that just six months after winning a large lottery prize — even in the million of dollars — people reported being not much happier than they were before winning, Bernanke said.

Other findings: Happy people tend to spend time with friends and family. Happy people tend to do what they love for a living or a hobby. Happy people tend to feel in control of their lives.

- USA Today

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Another Chapter

One more month of school left.

Time will get crazy again with another venture. It's looking like I'll be in Boston for the foreseeable future.

I am as prepared as I can be.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Acceleration of Information Technology and Paradigm Shift

According to Ray Kurzweil, all industries employed by information technology will continue to grow exponentially.

This is some serious stuff. If we simply looking back at the evolution of computers, internet, and other applications over the past few decades, you can see that technology has progressed more quickly over the past few years than it did 2-3 decades ago.

Supposedly biotech is going to be the next big thing. Too bad I'm not interested.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Make something that just works

Third Eye Blind

is possibly my favorite band.

Maybe it's because I've been listening to 3eb since I was a kid twelve something years ago, but I'd like to think its more than that. I think it's their sound I've gotten to love -it's so San Francisco.

I saw a 3eb show at Providence last week and they weren't quite what they use to be (new band members). I'll settle for a record I can listen to over and over again.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Social Games

are part ingenious part scam.

Social games and virtual goods are designed to click and whirrrr consumer behavior out of us. My appreciation for them is awe because they are designed right down to its core essence -pushing our behavioral buttons. Those are some lean digital bits being pushed back and forth to make a business out of.

Maybe I'll take back what I said about social games being a scam. Games do provide some value.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Every so often I find myself a victim of not being focused enough.

I do, however, think I am better at it than some of my peers. I've come to notice lately a few friends having trouble with career focus. One year is this, next year is that. It's like playing in the sand. I say go lead a path you want to live.

Having a long-term perspective of focus is so important.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

El Ten Eleven

Dammit I missed them last week at the Middle East.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


has now officially been milked dry by its executives. With such ridiculous fees, sellers no longer have much or any incentive to sell on their site. Somehow somewhere Ebay executives decided it deserves a bigger cut on each transaction. I think they hired too many MBAs.

The cost of posting something online is near-free, I anticipate Ebay will be upset by a startup in the future. The web has now matured to a point where we now have dinosaurs like Ebay, AOL, and Yahoo on the verge of extinction.