Who"s davidlian?

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davidlian is an ultra-geeky chinese dude that works for a technology PR agency. He loves fiddling with techno-toys, plays Warhammer 40K, and shoots pictures wherever he goes. Here, he rants about PR, Technology and anything else. Don't expect balance and un-biased, he ain't no journalist. Anything said on this blog are solely davidlian's personal views. Don't confuse them with company mantra, client's views or views of any organisation he may be part of.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Warhammer 40,000 5th Edition Video!

Just saw this from someone elses blog. It's coming, and I'm quite, quite excited.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What? You mean what I'm consuming isn't mainstream (media)?

There was a bit of interesting banter on Episode 139 of This Week in Tech revolving journalists who do shows on the internet (like on TWIT or Cnet or Tech TV in the old days) jumping over to "mainstream" media to make it big.

But would folks like Veronica Belmont necessarily need to get a job as a CNN anchor to make it big? I thought CNet and Revision 3 was as big as they come!

Though this has been discussed much, it still struck me that these were the shows I am listening to or watching more and more of, to the detriment of the more "mainstream" TV3 or newspapers. An oxymoron perhaps? Or is "mainstream" changing?

Not too long ago, it was widely considered by marketers that your average working class adult would consume media on a daily basis at routine intervals. The morning paper. 7:00 - 10:00 p.m. prime time TV. The breakfast show on the way to work. Sticking an ad into any of these slots would cost more simply because the stats show more viewers were consuming media at these time-slots.

Personally, for me, this has changed. Yes, I still read the papers every morning (to keep up with current trends, for job's-sake) but that's about it. I hardly watch TV anymore. Instead, my morning drives to work are dominated by catching up with the latest tech news, miniature gaming news or world news via podcasts. When i'm bored, I surf the internet with RSSed links to sites like Soccernet. More and more, I'm building an echo chamber of the news that I'm interested in and filtering out everything else.

I wonder how many people out there are like me? I'm guessing few, but growing.

Here's why:

1. Content Syndication technology (RSS)
Thanks to RSS, content delivery can now be automated, giving rise tonew forms of media like podcasting (sticking an Audio file to an RSS feed) that give people access to timely information that can be consumed at their own time. It's like choosing the channels you want to watch, and then watching them at your own time. The bad thing is, you'll be limiting yourself only to the type of news you want to hear.

2. More personal media players and multifunction devices.
All the best content in the world isn't going to do you much good if you're going to be stuck at home on the computer to consume it. The good thing is, more and more people are now carrying portable devices that are capable of playing media. It could be your phone, your MP3 player, your PDA. The option is now there for you to sync your favourite RSS-delivered content and consume it wherever you are.

3. Mobile internet getting better and better.
People a long time ago predicted the death of the newspaper thanks to the internet. As it turned out, those predictions were unfounded mainly because people didn't want to be stuck at home reading the newspaper on their computers. They rather prefer to read it in their toilets.

However, if you take my two points above and mesh it with the fact that now you can get a decent 3G / WiFi connection in the toilet and your mobile phone / device is most likely with you. Heh. You can easily see how a small device can replace that paper you used to hold in the toilet.

So, how much do you consume "mainstream" media?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ever wondered what Homer Simpson looks in real life?

Okay, this unToon has been going around for sometime and the bloke that does this over at http://pixeloo.blogspot.com does some really fine work.

The latest Jessica Rabbit unToon brings back fond memories. Still, my favourite is Homer:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

So I've decided to buy an Eee PC 900...

Yup, you're reading the post right. I was really going to wait until Intel Atom UMPCs started appearing, but I guess the itch couldn't wait to be scratched fast enough, so I've actually gone placed an order on a Black Eee. Mmmm....

Asus Eee PC
Couldn't find a press picture of the black Eee, so the white one'll have to do.

Not that my Thinkpad's going to get any less love now, but I really see the Eee as an alternative carry-around computer for those computing needs that fit somewhere between my Nokia N95 and Thinkpad.

Web-browsing, RSS-reading, the occasional document editing, and possibly loading Baldur's Gate for another run through.

Right now, I'm still mulling over which operating system I should slap onto it. I have an old copy of Windows XP lying around which is no longer installed on my desktop (since I upgraded to Vista). I could possibly slap that on.

Or I could keep the Xandros (Linux) installation intact and work from that.

But what's really piqued my interest at this point is the thought of putting the Mac OS X onto an Eee.

Ah, choices, choices.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Blogging: it's really social

Firstly - I'm back from Kuching! Really missed MSN and felt much much disconnected.

Well, surfed onto Innit today and wham!


Notice that all the top 10 posts on Innit share the same name (almost)? So I investigated by talking to David and Nigel.

In the abridged and summarised words of David Cheong (Not me, so if I got this wrong, don't blame me):

Basically, it started with this blogger pamsong blogging about a movie meetup for bloggers and everyone could self-invite. People started commenting and RSVPing to meet up and then the day came, they had 17 bloggers all come together to watch the movie Definitely. Maybe. Coming off the movie, this blogger Yatz (you know, we've met) came up with an idea that these seventeen bloggers go online, post about the meetup with small variables in the name of each post. Come today, the whole (innit) world knew they had gone out to have a quick meetup and this Definitely Gang, Maybe Bang has become sort of a little tighter group. About over 400 emails exchanged already on mass email chat.
What really piqued my interest was just how much social interaction is generated by this exchange that culminated in a real world physical outing. Being the social media freak that I am, I spent a while trying to figure these things out, but sometimes, the most important lessons are the most obvious ones.

The blogosphere (s) is social. And publicly social. What I mean by public in this last phrase is that virtually anyone and everyone can join in the conversation. The social part means you're stuck on the same rules like IRL when dealing with people. Different interests, different goals, different views, different personalities - and always that little potential for a little human chemistry.

Not to over-analyse a little get-together, but I'm just quite excited about the potential of communications here. Good job guys, you people are all inspirations.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Twitter makes the world go round - literally

Here's a riddle: what's got funny, colourful cartoon avatars and spins around and around, is tilted at an angle of 23.44 degrees and spouts speech bubbles that aren't chronologically coherent?

Give up?

Surf over to www.twittearth.com and check it out. Found this courtesy of my colleague Rony. Basically, it's a location sensitive Twitter visualisation that let's you see other twitters from all over the world. Yes, it's just eye candy, but somehow, I feel it adds an additional dimension to the plain ol' text of Twitter.

Oh, and if you've longed for a fancy screensaver, there's a download on twittearth that lets you use it as a screensaver. Walk away long enough and tweets from around the world will keep that globe rotating and your screen 'saved'. The only problem is, install it and you might just be inclined to keep walking away from your PC when you're supposed to be doing work.

Dear Mas, where's the plane?

Where's The Plane?

The picture probably says it all.

It's past the fifth hour I've spent sitting in Kuching International Airport. I've tried various outlets to kill time - doing work, staring at too-expensive toys, eating KFC and sleeping on extremely uncomfortable chairs.

My neck now aches and I'm in a whingy mood. I'll only rant short to keep this blog from turning into a whinge-fest. And I promise to put something thoughtful up soon.

-start of rant-
What's with Malaysia Airlines and all it's broken down planes? For the fee customers pay, you should at least be able to keep your planes in running shape.

Add insult to the injury, hey... the Air Asia flight back to Kuala Lumpur just took off. On time.
-end of rant-

YouTube Karaoke

I think I've just discovered YouTube's killer app. Karaoke!

Spending this evening right here in Kuching makes for quite some boring time-passing. A random chat with a pal turned up this excellent time-waster.

So I've spent about the past two hours or so searching YouTube for all and various Karaoke tracks and then singing some to myself. You know what? It was fun (edit: Hmm...this sounds lame, in hindsight).

Thus, ladies and gentlemen, may I present you with my pick of Karaoke tracks from YouTube to sooth your lonesome nights alone. (Just don't laugh at my playlist!)

7. Celine Dion - My Heart Will Go On

6. Westlife - Uptown Girl

5. Frank Sinatra - My Way

4. Back Street Boys - As Long As You Love Me

3. Ronan Keating - When You Say Nothing At All

2. Josh Groban - You Raise Me Up

1. The Beatles - Yesterday

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'm a 3rd Level True Neutral Cleric?

Found this on Erna's site. Something's gotta be wrong with this test.

Being an avid D&D player (or GM) I've always thought of myself as an Chaotic Good Wood Elf Ranger (22nd Level). How'd I end up just a 3rd Level Human Cleric? Come on!

Anyway, take the test. The questions are a laugh a minute. For example (and credit goes back to www.easydamus.com), one of the questions asked:

The following statement most accurately describes my athletic ability.

  • I was picked to play for a professional sports team.
  • When being picked for a team, I am always picked first when others know of my ability.
  • I have some athletic ability, but it isn't noteworthy.
  • When being picked for a team, I am always picked last when others know of my ability.
Guess which was my answer? ; )

---My Results---
I Am A: True Neutral Human Cleric (3rd Level)

Ability Scores:







True Neutral A true neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. He doesn't feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most true neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil after all, he would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, he's not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Some true neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. True neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. However, true neutral can be a dangerous alignment because it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Clerics act as intermediaries between the earthly and the divine (or infernal) worlds. A good cleric helps those in need, while an evil cleric seeks to spread his patron's vision of evil across the world. All clerics can heal wounds and bring people back from the brink of death, and powerful clerics can even raise the dead. Likewise, all clerics have authority over undead creatures, and they can turn away or even destroy these creatures. Clerics are trained in the use of simple weapons, and can use all forms of armor and shields without penalty, since armor does not interfere with the casting of divine spells. In addition to his normal complement of spells, every cleric chooses to focus on two of his deity's domains. These domains grants the cleric special powers, and give him access to spells that he might otherwise never learn. A cleric's Wisdom score should be high, since this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Getting on. Getting off. Going nowhere.

So we were supposed to take off at 10:05 a.m. (that’s what our boarding pass suggested), and as of time of writing at 11:41 a.m., I’m now still sitting in KLIA tip-tapping away on my Thinkpad with a thirst swelling at the back of my throat.

Waitin' to get on the plane

The view wasn't worth the wait.

We have just gotten off the plane; The Client, Libby and I.

More than an hour ago, we were all boarded and settled in on MH 2564 bound for Kuching. Yes, there were some problems with the plane and we boarded 15 minutes later than expected. Yes, I’d prefer that we waste 2 hours rather than crash land somewhere on the Pentas Sunda. But, could this have been done in a better way? Yes!

Just a suggestion for MAS in case you have people who monitor non-consequential blogs like mine. I think it would be good if you showed some token of remorse or at least appreciation for the inconvenience caused to your passengers by giving us some food and drink vouchers, or maybe some RM 20 in-flight shopping vouchers (good that it does us) or some other nice touch. Not a lot, but you know, the guy next to me missed an important meeting just because of the delay.

Addendum at the end a long day that seemed longer than it should have. 6:52 pm:

Dear MAS,

Also, please do at least have the decency to realize that when you shift a two-hour flight to 12 noon, that the meal on-board should be lunch – not a fancy croissant and some yoghurt. My stomach rumbles.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I *heart* our Income Tax Department

Okay, I never thought there'd be a day I'd say this but as of now, I absolutely love our Income Tax Department. Great job guys!

Now, before the cynics come in, let me tell you what this is about.

Firstly, our income tax e-filing has got to be one of the simplest, easiest to use, online systems out there. No hassles, just keying in the numbers from your EA form, your book receipts, your insurance, your recently bought computer and you're done.

Just print out the statement that you've completed and no Income Tax Officer is going to harass you for late submission.

And, what I like is that they printed my special PIN onto the personalised Income Tax Returns form that they send me every year. Saves me the hassle of going to the Income Tax office to get it.

Secondly, after coming home from a long day at the office, guess what I found? My income tax refund. Funny, I've never gotten a single income tax refund before even though I mark it in my form that they should bank it directly to me. Well, probably my fault for never chasing, but this year, the Income Tax folks must take the cake for really upping the standard and becoming so efficient. Kudos!

On a side note, is this a sign of good things to come since the election?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Is an open Mac a Mac?

Thanks to the job, I've been too busy to post these past couple of days. Hope you've not stopped reading?

While I was out of action, there was a pretty interesting story that came thru the regular tech news channels about a company that offered customers to build a PC that could run Apple's Leopard (OS X) operating system. Essentially a Mac that's not a Mac.

Psystar's Open Computers can be ordered with Mac OSX Leopard pre-installed

Of course, the question that's being bandied around is whether or not the End User License Agreement (EULA) which states that Leopard could not be installed on any machine except a Mac, would hold up in court.

Personally, the more important question is - if I could get a PC with Leopard installed that wasn't made by Apple, would I? The answer for me was yes.

Don't get me wrong, there are a great many things I love about Windows Vista (especially that I can play so many games on it) but if I had to dream up the ideal personal laptop that I could carry around and do web-surfing and the occasional document editing, it'd be an Eee PC with Leopard installed (yeah, impossible currently, but why not in the future?)

What I really want is for Macs to be cheaper (and for it to come in the size of the Eee PC, the Macbook Air has too big a footprint). And for Macs to become cheaper, someone else needs to have the chance to manufacture them (so competition in the Mac niche market exists) as well.

But, if anyone could just bang together some hardware and sell it to you with the Mac OS pre-installed, wouldn't you then just call that a PC? And wouldn't the Mac OS, instead of being this integrated part of the Apple experience, be just another OS competing against Windows and Linux for your attention? Could this be the future for the Mac? It could.

Just like the PC, a separation between the Mac OS and the Mac hardware would mean a new and open market for third-parties who could come in create their own "packages" of hardware and software. Like the PC, this would mean cheaper Mac OS systems. Like the PC, this could mean more market share for the Mac.

Do I want a cheaper Mac? Yes.

For this reason alone, I'm hoping that regardless of whatever happens over in the US with Psystar, some third-party manufacturer in Taiwan, China or even here, picks up on this (Psystar's) idea and we start seeing the oMac (Open Mac) in LowYat Plaza.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Come. For. BigGER. Camp.

This ad for my Church's Youth Camp Transformation 2008 was done by the amazingly talented Yvonne Yong:

Camp Transformation Ad

That's right, this is an advertisement! We're having a splendid Youth Camp where we will be doing all sorts of fun youth things and acitivities that really challenge and build character. Must not forget, there will be liberal teaching from the Bible.

The details:

Date: 30 May - 3 June
Venue: Eagle Ranch Resort, Port Dickson
Cost: Just RM 120!!! (For Students) If you're working, add RM 15.

That's right! Only RM 120 for 5 days and 4 nights at a Resort! Facilities include paintball, horseback riding, archery, jungle trekking, a football field, swimming pool, basketball court, beach volleyball and more!

Wanna come? Ask me. :)

N-Gage Screens and my catch of the day

So I spent a good chunk of my morning snapping screenshots of N-Gage games from my N95
so media could use it (disclosure: I work for Nokia. But no, no one paid me to write this). They turned out quite nice and I thought I'd stick'em up here.

N-Gage Interface - Dashboard 1
This here's the 'dashboard' where at a glance, you can see yourself and a summary of all the information.

N-Gage Interface - Games
The games tab lists the games that you've downloaded and can play.

N-Gage Interface - Rankings
The rankings tab gives you more information about your reputation (I'm nil!), your friends and how many N-Gage points you've scored through playing offline or online. There's also a friends tab which lets you message online friends or leave them offline messages. You can also hook up with them to start multiplayer games.

N-Gage Interface - Showroom
Finally, the Showroom tab lets you download games (you can play the trial versions for free) and purchase them subsequently. I bought my first game (yes, bought you people), Creatures of the Deep, for US$ 7.99 which I didn't think was too bad a price. Creatures of the Deep people - fishing is fun.

Creatures of the Deep - why I like fishing.

Kel told me he thought this game was meh and no one would be patient enough to patiently sit by waiting for fish to bite. Especially not in a virtual simulator. I still wanted to try it out and after a couple of passes with the Trial version (they let you score points even with the trial version) I was hooked (no pun intended). This ain't a review, it won't be fair, but I just wanted to share a few screens.

Creatures of the Deep 1
I love the loading screens. Fun quotes appear with each screen.

Creatures of the Deep 2
The world map and the fact you can travel to different locations to fish I thought was fantastic. Being an RPG nut, I liked that you could level up and upgrade your equipment. Level 10 fisherman anyone?

Creatures of the Deep 4
Every little resort has a shop where you can upgrade your gear to catch bigger fish. That piddly beginner's rod you start with won't catch a shark.

Creatures of the Deep 5
Fishing starts with you clicking on a power button to cast your line. The further you cast, the more you'll have to reel in, but also, the better chance of a good catch whilst you're reeling in.

Creatures of the Deep 6
Once it's cast, you have to wait a bit. Urm...to be fair to Kel, this is the part that I find a bit tedious. But I'm not the patient sort anyway.

Creatures of the Deep 7
A bit of smart tapping, and soon, you get a hook! Start struggling to reel it in. Too fast and the line breaks. Too slow and the fish gets away.

Creatures of the Deep 8
Of course, once you've reeled your catch in, you're told what it is and given some experience points (to level up). In this case, my expert skill means I caught a 66.3 KG Yellowfin Tuna.

Creatures of the Deep 9
And made it to the media. :)

FIFA 08 3
And I'll even sneak a screen of FIFA 08.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

All my posts are belong to me

There was a mini debate last week discussing blogging ethics following coverage in the Star over the PRCA Malaysia forum last week. Here's my personal viewpoint on the issues raised that have attracted more than a little discussion.

But before I proceed, I'd like to just remind everyone it's just this - a debate. There's no definitive guide to blogger ethics yet published, though I tribute Ed Bott's post on the topic as instrumental to helping me form my own views and approach - especially when relating public relations to bloggers.

All my posts

Advertorial / Editorial

I was having a discussion with a blogger just last weekened about the issue of placing advertorials in blogs. Like any convention that's inherited from the institutionalised media, the concept of 'advertorial' has a rich history and many, many decades of refinement to reach the state it is today. Still, most print publications will still have varying interpretations as to what constitutes an 'advertorial'.

To save myself space (and not turn this into a lengthy article), I'm going to suggest you read the Wikipedia entry on this if you want to get the long explanation. I'm just going to borrow a couple of excerpts:

An advertorial is an advertisement written in the form of an objective opinion editorial, and presented in a printed publication — usually designed to look like a legitimate and independent news story.

Most publications will not accept advertisements that look exactly like stories from the newspaper or magazine they are appearing in. The differences may be subtle, and disclaimers—such as the word "advertisement"—may or may not appear. Sometimes euphemisms describing the advertorial as a "special promotional feature" or the like is used.

Many newspapers and magazines will assign staff writers or freelancers to write advertorials, usually without a byline credit. A major difference between regular editorial and advertorial is that clients usually have content approval of advertorials, a luxury usually not provided with regular editorial.
I'm going to summarise it this way: advertorials look exactly like editorial pieces except for one point: control over the editorial content is given over to the advertiser in exchange for payment. The advertiser gets to dictate what is said and the words used, and in return, the publication gets fair payment. With this in mind, most (but importantly, not all) publications insert the label 'advertorial', 'special feature' or 'promotion' with paid advertorials being published.

What about bloggers?

My personal conviction is that if I'm going to hand over editorial control of a certain article to an advertiser, I will mark that article as an advertorial. If I was pitched a review and given free rein to write whatever I want, then, even though I'm writing about a product, it won't be labeled advertorial. It really comes down to who has the control over how the article is written.

The case for credibility

Of course, the reason why many publications would place the label 'Advertorial' on an advertorial is to safeguard their credibility.

Back in journalism school, I was taught that the single most important value a journalist needs to adhere to is independence. My lecturer used to say: people read newspapers to get the truth - the unbiased truth.

Naturally, if newspapers or any printed publication start passing off paid-for advertorials as independently generated editorial content, the expected scenario is for that newspaper to lose credibility and readers. Why? Because those readers purchased the newspaper or magazine expecting to read the journalists unbiased report or opinion.

In the same scheme, tabloids don't get the same scrutiny broadsheets do simply because their expectations of independent reporting, source-confirmations etc. are set much lower than the daily broadsheets.

So how does this translate into the blogosphere (or the web 2.0 at large)?

Your own voice, your own space

I believe that credibility is still an important currency in the online world. But, in a peer-to-peer communication world where any consumer can communicate, credibility is going to mean a thousand-and-one things to a thousand-and-one different people.

Take a walk down the world-wide-web. We have on one hand, the institutionalised media - The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal - and they are the bastions of credibility. People expect to be given an unbiased view when they surf over to www.wsj.com.

On another hand, you have topic / product / brand-specific blogs where you can surely expect reporting to mirror to the disposition of the writers. I'll just reference two here: www.thenokiablog.com and http://www.applefanboyz.com/.

Then on your third hand (what? no third hand?), you have personal blogs or social blogs where the bloggers freely express their own views and opinions, unfettered. I think I'll just reference mine. (ed: on second thought, I think I'll just stick Ee May's blog here too.

The point is: all these blogs have a good amount of readers (except mine) but not all of them follow the same conventions of 'credibility' outlined above. Does this mean credibility is no longer consequential?

The short answer is no, it still is. The long answer is that it really depends who you are and what you're blogging about. I know bloggers who couldn't care less whether people think they are credible and I know some who'd pull an article if credibility was suspect.

What's important to you as a blogger becomes measured and balanced against what's important to your readers. If disclosure is a personal conviction for you, like me, then great. But if you have a different set of views and disclosure is really secondary, then that's great too. In the end, readers will read what they want from sources they trust.

Bloggers, on the other hand, will have the freedom to write what they want, disclose as they see fit, and basically own their own posts. Of course, the law of the land applies, and what's illegal offline is surely illegal online. But what I'm saying here is that each blogger as an individual will continue defining his / her own code-of-conduct. Some of these may be close to how journalists would act. Some of these may not.

But in the end: the key message is, all my posts are belong to me.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thought I'd share...

So yesterday night was kind of the first time I was gallivanting outside of KLCC with a workable camera (on my N95), and so this is kind of the first photograph I'm snapping of KLCC at night since it was built.


Awesome building, right?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Twitter today, gone tomorrow

Hello! I've just spent the last eight or so hours sitting in on some really interesting discussions with senior Text 100 leaders and one thing our CEO said really hit me.

When asked about what challenges PR professionals face in today's world, given the advances in technology, she simply responded that technology today is moving really fast and platforms change very quickly. We just have to be on our feet at all times.

Twitter Today

Pause and think a little on that, the depth of this simple statement is amazing. Just yesterday, I was debating with Kelvin Lim on the use of Twitter as communications and we both realised that there's obviously a use for it and we're still figuring it out. Even more PR people are figuring out how to use blogging, podcasting, viral videos and social networking as effective components of their PR programmes.

But that's still what we're doing - figuring it out. Some people get it more than others, granted, but in this world of technology, I'm figuring that we'll never truly have the time figure everything out about a new communications platform.

By the time we do, people would have probably moved on to the next.

So what's a poor, beleaguered PR person to do? Get on wit' it, that's what. It's really a challenge to keep in touch with all the latest communication platforms, but understand the fact that you'll always be playing catch up and communications is about making the best of catching up.

You've got to experiment. If the idea is sound, chances are it might work. And who's to say it won't?

Monday, April 7, 2008

I hate the 'power' button.

So I'm furiously working away on my lap-top. Typing about 75 words a minute when I ter-press the wrong button...

Power Button

*computer shuts down*

Does anyone else have this same problem? Will people designing keyboards stop putting a power button on the keyboard? With the one-touch off power buttons on most computers today, why do we even need this?


Oh well, back to work.

Blogs won't wipe out Newspapers

I've just read the Eric Alterman's fantastic treatise on the future of the American newspaper, conspiciously titled "Out of Print", and one particular phrase really piqued my interest.

Alterman writes:

It is a point of ironic injustice, perhaps, that when a reader surfs the Web in search of political news he frequently ends up at a site that is merely aggregating journalistic work that originated in a newspaper...
I thought: "Hey, that's me!"

What Alterman is pointing out is that the very bloggers who are being hailed as the successors to the established media institutions are in fact reliant on the very media they are tipped to succeed. But the gaping, unanswered question is - what happens when print goes?

The assumption is most bloggers (myself included) are not news generators, merely aggregators. The modus operandi is to reference other news sites or articles found in newspapers and add an opinion. But if newspapers were not to exist anymore, where would this primary source of news come from?

"But," you say, "didn't this last elections demonstrate the fact that people trust online media and blogs more than the established institutions?" The answer is yes. But the rebuttal is that political news is not all the news there is in the world.

If I were to stop reading The Star, NST, The Sun, Harian Metro or any of the mainstream papers I read everyday, I'd never hear about the plight of a lorry driver, or reusable rubber gloves, or even the Sufiah Omar story which was broken by Britain's biggest-selling newspaper.

Which blogger is going to have the 1) organisational support structures 2) clout and 3) access to contacts in order to generate these news stories? Not every blogger is going to be invited to press events. Not every blogger is going to be able to wave a press tag and get clearance to check public records (investigative journalism, does it happen here?). Not every blogger is going to have their work checked and edited several times to ensure factual accuracy or quote multiple sources. Not every blogger is / was a journalist.

This is, of course, a generalisation and there are going to be exceptions. But, generally-speaking, if the newspaper disappears, so does the organisation that serves as our primary news source. And I'm predicting that can't happen.

We still need proper reporting (the lead story, quotes from multiple sources, verified numbers and facts). We need wide reporting (coverage from top political news, all the way to those human interest stories you know only a select few will read). We need a news vehicle that will push us news outside our interests (so we are exposed to the reality of the world around us).

This doesn't mean media organisations won't change. They have to, this much is clear. In this age of instantaneous reporting, expect to see the established media institutions using the online medium more and more. Expect to see some blogs (like Gizmodo) become media institutions (e.g. Gawker Media) in their own right.

Don't expect to see newspapers becoming blogs (though some blogging may happen). Blogs won't wipe out newspapers.

Friday, April 4, 2008

NGage is live. I'm going fishing.

Yeaps. That's right. Surf over to www.ngage.com to download. The official blog posting is here.

As for me? I'm going fishing. Oh, and if you fancy testing your fishing skills against mine, add me as a friend on NGage. My handle is darthpoke (don't ask why.)

Creatures of the Deep on NGage

Happy gaming.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Silly eyes (Testing Ovi)

This is really just to test out Share on Ovi.

Lydia and I came across some silly, silly eye-glasses near Christmas last year. I posted them up on Ovi. Best. Have a laugh, at my expense. :)

16122007073 - Share on Ovi

16122007072 - Share on Ovi

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Intel Atom! My EeePC put on hold

I'm officially putting my project to get hold of an ASUS Eee PC on hold after Intel's introduction of the Atom today in China's IDF. A journalist was MSNing me live from Shanghai, and giving me the details:

[censored] said: eh you should see the new intel atom platform devices
[censored] said: they run vista, etc. and can fit into n800 profile
davidlian said:
davidlian said:
Got pics? I want...
[censored] said: 3W power consumption
[censored] said: you can run quake iii on it
[censored] said: lol
[censored] said: quite powerful processor
[censored] said:
Got heaps!
davidlian said:
email me
[censored] said: soon la
Then the bloke goes running out for another briefing. I was piqued, but curious to see what devices actually looked like.

Surfing Engadget later in the afternoon and, Bingo! Lenovo Ideapad U8 (my client, but this post isn't fixed). Looks like this:Picture via Engadget

Lovely right? I'm just wondering if there'll be a version that looks closer to a mini-laptop (like the Eee PC). I'm told there are many various devices with many different form factors. I'm also told that they'll come pretty cheap (Eee PC range?). Guess I'll wait and see now.

Creative: Fixed drivers, broken PR

A post on Wired yesterday brought to public attention a story on Creative Labs (Creative) that had been simmering for about a month on PC Audio enthusiasts forums. Interestingly, it also highlighted for a PR person like me the dynamics of technology PR in the connected age.

First, a summary of the issue:

  • The launch of Windows Vista saw many Creative soundcards (and some high-end recent models) having capabilities "reduced" due to driver issues. Creative didn't fix all the issues leaving its customers with essentially worse sound quality from its products than if they had just stuck to on-board audio.
  • Enter Daniel Kawakami (known as Daniel_K on modder forums), who in his own free time, takes the Creative drivers and modifies them to enable most of the features (like Dolby Surround) for Windows Vista. Many people download his drivers. Daniel_K starts asking for donations.
  • Creative decides to crack down on this via a post on its own public forum and deleting Daniel_K's post. The main points for the "cease-and-desist" post are that Daniel_K shouldn't be soliciting donations to "profit" from Creative's IP and that he shouldn't be re-packaging the software for use with products it was not originally intended to. The original post was subsequently deleted thanks to public outcry, but can still be found here. Granted, the language seemed carefully thought-out and I think the reaction was a bit harsh on what was essentially a measured response.
  • This led to Daniel_K's response. He also raises some valid points about the Creative approach which he calls "threatening me on a public forum", "removed everything I posted on the forum" etc. etc.
  • Creative apologises and removes Phil O' Shaughnessy's post, with a much friendlier tone from moderator Dale (whom board members have come to love and respect.)
Okay, you can probably add up a lot more detail to my summary, but what I'm really interested in pointing out is the way the PR game has changed especially with digitally-connected audiences.

When I first read O' Shaughnessy's response, I found it really acceptable (and forgive me for examining the dude's grammar), I thought it was measured and concise. However, putting it up on a public forum is akin to the old media tactic of faxing statements like this out to every news media there is. And it smacked of arrogance to Daniel_K, and not just Daniel_K, but the rest of the loyal Creative modding community.

Observation#1: Don't talk to customers the same way you'd talk to the media.

I wonder if Creative could have used friendly moderator Dale as the official mouthpiece for this right from the start - perhaps having Dale private message Daniel_K about Creative's concerns. Why Dale? Simple. Dale's built traction, trust and credibility with forum-goers throughout his tenure over at the Creative boards. If you compare his message to Phil's you can see how the difference in tone of voice (from corporate swinger to friendly neighbourhood mod) makes all the difference in how the community talks to you.

Customers like to be addressed personally, by a friend if possible. A mass statement makes you sound like a distant corporation out to make money. A personal contact point through personal communication means gets you closer to the customer's real issues.

Observation #2: Customers talk back - in a BIG way!

Uh, yeah, obviously. Customers have always been talking back to companies - whether it's the silent protest of boycotting products or giving earfuls to customer service reps. But they have perhaps never been as easily mobilised or united as the customers on the internet today.

What this means is companies need to be prepared to have a conversation. And there is no "I win, you lose" outcome. If that's the goal, then the company has already lost. There has to be genuine consideration for the points and issues raised by the customers and not blissful ignorance that they exist.

As a Creative customer (yes I am! Dave's laughing.), I would have loved to get all the nice extras I plonked RM 400 for with my soundcard. Otherwise, I would have saved that RM 400 and stuck to my on-board sound. If that's my issue, how can Creative solve that? Maybe...uh... just leave Daniel_K's mods alone? Wouldn't people actually buy more Creative soundcards now that it would actually work better in Vista?

Observation#3: What's posted on the internet, stays on the internet.

I was having a discussion with Dave on this and we both agreed its practically useless trying to control information on the internet when you've published it (posted on a forum, blog etc.). Why? At the very least, search engines would have indexed your page and kept a cached copy of it. And that's if no one else has copied your content and posted it on his site lock stock and barrel (like how I retrieved Mr. O' Shaughnessy's statement).

Yes, there might be a small window of opportunity to delete offending posts before they get indexed, but we're talking about the 2 - 3 hour window before the feedback starts pouring in.

Lesson? Think very,very carefully before you put what you want to say online. You can't take it back.

That's it, just three short points. Personally, I'm hoping Creative gets back on its feet and that this will spark a series of initiatives to win back the modding community. Full functionality of old products on Vista is surely a good thing for the customers, and in the long run, the company.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Human-powered search?

Nearly a decade ago, Google brought innovation to the words "internet search" by using pigeons to sort out good search results from the bad ones.

Fast-forward to this decade, and pigeons have evolved to human beings. Enter human-powered search by Mahalo. Though I've known about Mahalo for a while now (thanks to Buzz Out Loud and Jason Calacanis appearing on TWIT every so often!), I've only recently begun to actually start using it, and I'm quite, quite loving it.


Let me start by saying, Mahalo isn't Google. Yes, they are both search services, but Google's a bit more "engine" and Mahalo is a bit more "service."

You see, Mahalo actually pays human beings to write up search entries, and still relies on aggregating search engine results from Google, Yahoo!, del.icio.us and more to give you results for any searches they don't have entries for.

So, say, if you were searching for "Barack Obama" you'd end up with a great looking page full of links, video and information on Mr. Obama like this:

Barack Obama - mahalo

But let's say you were looking for a lesser known somebody, oh say... davidlian... you'd just get a bunch of google links like this:

davidlian - mahalo

Of course, if i was a bit hardsell, I could put in a request for Mahalo to write an article about my search topic. This is a bit of interesting interaction that I really found to be unique about Mahalo. Teams of real people would be putting together pages for specific topics and so it ends up becoming a little bit of a cross between Wikipedia and Google. And, if you wanted to be one of those people, its pretty easy to sign up here and get paid.

If you just wanted to get casually involved with the search community at Mahalo, you could alternatively sign up as a member and volunteer links. Each search page entry gives you the option to volunteer links that are relevant to the topic and will be vetted through by Mahalo's team to ensure a better search result for everyone.

I still use Google an awful lot (though I'm more and more going back to Yahoo! now), but Mahalo is also one of the great sites I check out on a daily basis to see the pulse of the internet. The front page changes everyday and though it's a far cry from the minimalistic design of Google, Mahalo manages to deliver important topics on its front page without the clutter of sites like Yahoo!.

More interestingly, I love how Mahalo tries to be more than just a search engine. Stuff like the Mahalo Daily Show by Veronica Belmont means there'll always be meaningful content to discover on Mahalo.

The only drawback is, I can't get over how everytime I punch in David Lian, this dude called David Binn keeps popping up.