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.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

PacketOne to launch WiMAX service tomorrow?

Update: I guess I should've updated earlier. Apparently what happened at PC Fair was PacketOne talking a about their 'upcoming' WiMAX offering. Speculated launch date August 19? Why does it keep getting pushed back?

I've heard murmurings from more than one very reliable source that PacketOne will launch WiMAX tomorrow at PC Fair as a service to replace attempt to replace Streamyx.

Yeap, you heard me. Replace. (ed: in case you don't get it, this is wireless technology trying to take on the wired.)

Personally, I'll believe in the wonders of WiMAX when I see it because we've had many other alternatives that have come and gone - anyone remember Webbit? How about Izzi? Not to mention the latest drives by Maxis, Celcom and DiGi to get you to use USB 3G / EDGE modems.

Who wants to share Assault on Blackreach with me?

Okay, listen up 'ere boyz.

Da Waaagh is comin' to town an' da Deffkoptas are skreamin' da skies. Dis 'ere's da Assault on Blackreach.
Assault on Blackreach Big - Share on Ovi
Yeah, Games Workshop is releasing the boxed set for the latest 5th Edition Warhammer 40,000 ruleset. Comes with two half-sized armies at a very cheap price of US$60. Here's the deal, two boxes will net you a decent 1,000 point army for either side, but I'm only interested in Space Marines.

So, does anyone want to purchase the box set and split with me? I'll buy one and you buy one and I'll swap you all the ork stuff for all the space marine stuff? I'll even throw in a walkover for our first game together. Any takers?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Move over Google, here comes Cuil

Cuil (pronounced simply as "cool") launched just a couple of hours ago and already, the internet's abuzz with it.

Cuil - The new Google? - Share on Ovi

Now, you can read in-depth about Cuil and its history with Google (the two founders are from Google) here, but I just wanted to share here briefly why in my 2 hours of using Cuil, I'm now a firm believer we may be seeing the next evolution in search.

Google made huge impact with the geek crowd when it presented a minimalistic front-page (as opposed to Yahoo's) with nothing more than a search bar. Cuil does the same, why move away from a proven formula after all? Where things start to get different is after you've typed in your search and are whisked away to the search results page. To put it shortly, Cuil makes searches more organised than Google ever did.

Cuil - the new Google? - Share on Ovi

Instead of line-after-line of search results, I really love the 'categories' tabs that Cuil organises your search results under. For example, when I searched 'Bangsar', the search results page lands me to a neatly arranged two-columns of search results but with a 'category' sidebar that suggests I 'explore' categories like 'Kuala Lumpur', 'Towns in Selangor', 'Shopping Malls in Kuala Lumpur' and other relevant categories. Clicking on the category sidebar gives me even more specific options - like expanding 'Towns in Selangor' you can get 'Ampang'.

What this then creates is the opportunity for you to simply discover more relevant information on things you might be interested in discovering. Seamless. Another example here is that when i key in 'Miniatures' I get a category tab that lists down various boardgame companies, or miniature wargaming companies which I might not have been aware of.

Cuil - the new Google? - Share on Ovi

The secret is in Cuil's search algorithm. That's right, the fundamental component to all search engines. While Google uses the very well-analysed PageRank system, Cuil introduces a more 'contextual' approach to search.

Basically, Cuil's search algorithm creates relationships between certain words - for example it recognised for me that 'Bangsar' was in 'Kuala Lumpur' and in the country of 'Malaysia'. Hence, I not only got results that contained the word 'Bangsar' but also a whole set of 'categories' that were built closely around the context of my search.

I like this method of search (often touted as 'semantic search') and clearly, this is going to be the future of what we want from our search services. Of course, sometimes, our own success can be our downfall as was the case when Cuil.com went down for a bit earlier today. I guess the biggest challenge isn't going to be winning over the Google crowd (they've won me over!) but in ramping up infrastructure to cope with the mass traffic they will get when people start hopping over in droves.

Oh, one last thing, if you were wondering how to add Cuil to your search bar (instead of using Google as default) in FireFox, just surf over to the Cuil webpage and scroll down to the bottom of the page. Click on the link right at the bottom that says 'Add Cuil to Firefox' and you're all set.
Cuil - the new Google? - Share on Ovi


Friday, July 25, 2008


testing out

testing in

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ubisoft stealing from the (alleged) pirates. Haha!

I thought you should know.

There's a little irony when you read about how a big name computer game company takes code from an (alleged) hacker / pirate group and tries to pass it off for their own "patch."

(picture from www.arstechnica.com)

Shame on you Ubisoft.

The story goes like this: If you've played games on the PC, you'll be familiar with that annoying pop-up that tells you to insert your [original] CD-ROM into the drive to play. The reason companies make you go through this hassle is so they can verify that you indeed paid good money for their software.

Of course, the only people they are hassling are the people who've been faithfully paying for original copies as savvy pirates will easily download "cracks" (or replacement files) that allow them to circumvent this annoyance.

The crunch came when Ubisoft's put its game Rainbow Six Vegas 2 on sale through direct download and users who had downloaded and installed the game were told to "insert your CD", but handily had no CD in hand! For a quick fix, some Ubisoft employee posted up a "patch" which, when opened through a hex editor (screenshot above) was actually a copied "crack" from the group Reloaded.

The "patch" has since mysteriously disappeared from Ubisoft servers. Oh, the irony!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What's the point?

Today I had another random person follow me on Twitter.

Obviously intrigued, I clicked on her profile page to see what she was about and got a profile where her wallpaper was a scantily clad lady (alarms go off). She's followed 1,848 people and is being followed by a grand total of...66 people (and counting, hopefully).

Now, I don't want to devolve into a discussion about the ethics of adding people in Twitter, so at this point, I'll say the next thing that caught my eye was that her tweets were actually links to various blogs:

"Hey, what do you think of [########.blogspot.com]?"

"I read this [#### blog link], what's your opinion?"

Of course, being an impulsive link-clicker, I clicked on those links and where did that land me? To pages like this and this. Sorry, did I just waste your time too?

Health issues and CEOs

I used to subscribe to the school of thought that CEOs were possibly the most powerful tool for any communications programme. When you look at icons like Donald Trump, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Jack Welch, you can't help but imagine how wonderful it would be to work in their companies or to be led by such a powerful leader. Respect.

Of course, my first client - a big name automotive brand - held the exact opposite philosophy. The CEO talks only when its appropriate for him to talk and his wardrobe is certainly not going to be pitched as a news story. I questioned the wisdom of that - isn't it pretty incredulous that you don't make your CEO out to be a thought leader and visionary? I mean, he is, after all a pretty smart guy.

My views today are much changed and I see the wisdom in my client's PR guidance toolkit. Especially when seen in the light of this story about speculation on Steve Job's current health.

Really, when your CEO is seens as that critical to the company, it's not wonder shareholders and pundits would be very concerned about the company should anything happen to him.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Best customer service ever!

I had a pleasant surprise when I reached home today. Just last week, my inspired determination to assemble my Sisters of Battle Exorcist Tank came to a standstill when I discovered I had a part that didn't fit.

Faulty Exorcist Tank part - Share on Ovi

So, I wrote to Games Workshop US over the weekend and after checking details for two days, they replied - "sure, no problem, we'll send a replacement" on Thursday last week.

Today, I had found this when I reached home:

Exorcist Tank - Share on Ovi

Okay, I was impressed by the quick delivery to me and the (expensive!) use of Fedex But, imagine my surprise when I actually picked up the box and it rattled. My jaw dropped when I opened it and found this:

Exorcist Replacements. Great! - Share on Ovi

Yes, that's a whole set of kit for a brand new Exorcist tank. Wow! I ask for a part and they send me a tank! If GW is in a fix over its financials at the moment, it touches me greatly that they aren't being miserly over customer service. Not only does their customer service guy John Spencer deserve a raise, I think the whole company's just reinforced to me just what a great company they are.

Kudos GW! You've won this customer for life.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Come back up already!

Twitter Down (again) - Share on Ovi

Yeah right. You've been down for five hours now.

This WiMAX thing... and the quest for broad(er) band

Unless you've been hiding under a rock somewhere, you're probably sick of hearing about WiMAX for these past 2 years. Indeed, the initial euphoria seemed to have died sometime mid-last year.

Yet, shouldn't we get excited again as we stand on the cusp of a WiMAX launch very, very soon?

Well, I was at a briefing recently by one of the WiMAX licensees (I've been asked not to reveal the company name, but it should be Pretty Obvious since they get coverage in the media almost every week) and hearing the WiMAX plans does make me excited to a certain extent.

Mainly because, if everything goes according to plan, we'll have a viable alternative to TMNet's Streamyx. If not, we'll get this.

Here's a run-down of facts I heard and saw (on the presentation):

  1. The WiMAX provider will not compete in the mobile space (as in mobile internet like 3G) but be based off a box and targeted at home connections - a la Streamyx.
  2. Speeds and packages will vary from 400 kbps to 2 Mbps. These are theoretical maximum speeds and actual usage experience may vary, but the company says it will do better than Streamyx in making sure you actually get performance that's very close to the package you bought.
  3. There will be a one time installation charge (or not, if you don't need technical help to setup the box) and monthly subscription with a contract minimum of two years. No details on pricing were revealed except that it's "very competitive" to what's on the market. My guess is anywhere from RM 68 to RM 120.
  4. There will be a return policy (i.e. "guarantee"). If you don't like it, you'll get to return the box within 45 14 days and cancel the subscription. You lose an RM50 processing fee because of the now "used" status of your box. Refunds should be disbursed within 45 days. Here's hoping this policy doesn't land the provider into trouble like Izzi.
  5. There will be a "Fair Usage" policy - (i.e. manipulation of bandwidth) - to ensure everyone gets a fair amount of usage and an equal usage experience. This kind of throttling has never been admitted by Streamyx although many people have suspected its happening. This provider gave a very specific account of the policy. Packet shaping won't happen until a user has exceeded 30GB worth of traffic, so I guess it's pretty reasonable. However, the other issue altogether is the fact that many companies (yes, including Streamyx) advertise "unlimited" access whereas in the US, throttling is actually seen as "limiting" access. So, whether it's credible for any ISP (Internet Service Provider) to say they offer "unlimited" access really depends on what you consider "unlimited". For more info on this issue, read this.
  6. Will signals deteriorate if it rains? The answer was "well, it should have some effect, but testing shows that bandwidth did not go down. Not by much."
So, will WiMAX be your life-saver? Well, I'm actually for it as any alternative to Streamyx is a good thing. Yet, with WiMAX services now only being rolled out, and with the strategy being to make it a home based service, I have my doubts as to whether any wireless-based technology will be adequate in the near future for home broadband access.

What I'm saying is that already around the corner is Fibre To The Home service which will net us at least 10 Mbps in speed (yes, now we know what those Japanese people are enjoying). On the very high end, you'll get 100 Mbps even. In fact, this should be the news story as the government is investing heavily into ensuring we get fibre-optic services by 2010. Don't forget LTE (the next step from 3G / UMTS) for the mobile too.

On this backdrop, it does seem that WiMAX will have to make the most of this two year lead over FTTH to consolidate its position in the home market. More importantly, plans should already be afoot to move WiMAX out of the home market space, to the mobile market as I would think once Fibre comes in, it would be basically no-contest for WiMAX.

But the question ultimately boils down to this - "should I get WiMAX?" The answer is: depends on where you live and if the signal's good enough. Also, how angry has Streamyx made you?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Notes on Corporate Blogging: MAS' Blog

Read this story yesterday in The Star. So what did you think about our national airline launching what's possibly the first local company employee advocate blog in Malaysia?

MASBlog - Share on Ovi

Sounds like a step in the right direction for the corporate acceptance of new media if you ask me. But a closer reading of The Star's headline "MAS blog to push sales" is more telling than perhaps its meant to be.

The following is just my two sen as a consumer and I'd doubt if it was sage or expert advice. I couldn't help but notice how most of the posts seemed to be about:
1. Rising costs of living - thus tied to how MAS is helping people save money.
2. Internal programmes and how helpful and interesting they were.
3. A post about MAS' current promotions

I'll say this as constructively as I can: As a reader I felt that the content on the blog (which may have really jsut been honest postings by MAS staff) sounds like cleverly orchestrated topics meant to tell the story that MAS would like to tell.

Now, that's not a wrong objective to begin with; in fact, that's precisely the point - the blog is an outlet to tell consumers your story and make us understand you better. But I'm trying to say it reads like it was cleverly orchestrated and not organic enough.

Why? Because your average reader doesn't want to hear how fun an internal training programme was. We want to hear views on issues, internal programmes that translate to external results, sneak peeks of your upcoming products etc. etc.

Secondly, I would also like to see comments turned on with minimal moderation (except for abusive flaming).

In both respects, I think Dell does a great job with its direct2dell blog. For one, focuses on the people inside Dell and gives them a free-hand in posting topics that don't necessarily relate back to the companies' products. Of course, when it does have to do with products, we get additional thoughts and notes on Dell's thought process. More importantly, consumers have the opportunity to write back to the company and have Dell respond directly on the comment threads. To Dell's credit, they've not deleted many posts (evidenced by some nasty comments still online).

I particularly like how Dell responded to a rumour that it was phasing out its XPS line of gaming PCs earlier this year thru using the blog. Very web 2.0. Though I must say, Dell could do better in actually responding to the comments.

As more and more companies start adopting blogs and the like to engage customers and the public online, I think the early forays have taught us at least one thing. The blog is a big opportunity to actually engage consumers in a conversation; that means information flows both ways. Many corporates are still iffy on this as the possibility (and inevitability) of nasty comments are always present, but I'd say don't be put off. If people aren't complaining on your blog, they sure are complaining in other online forums. Ignorance isn't bliss. So kudos on MAS for the blog, but let's have some comments enabled!

Triple dose of Warhammer 40K goodness

It's been a while since I've blogged about Warhammer 40,000, so today's three good things for you to enjoy.

1) Dawn of War II Video out
If you even remotely enjoyed Dawn of War (quite possibly the best Warhammer 40K game to date, ever), then you need to check this out. It's quite the awesome video of what's to come in the gnarly sequel.

In case you missed the link, here it is again.

2) Games Workshop Design Studio podcast!
I'm especially pleased with this. I listen personally to a glut of good gaming and tech podcast on a daily / weekly basis and I'm quite pleased that Games Workshop has decided to embrace the social and be a lot more open with the thinking behind the games.

The first episode is pretty good with Alessio Cavatore talking about 5th Edition and what he was thinking when he was designing the thing. Kudos to Games Workshop, a very good PR move indeed.

Grab it here.

3) My Eldar Avatar

Eldar Avatar - Share on Ovi

Here's my latest (un-finished) painting project. It's got about a week's worth of painting on it (whenever I can squeeze a bit of time) and I'm pretty pleased with the layering and blending on it. My best so far.

The technique I used was pretty simple, just watered down Scab Red to wash over the black undercoat and then progressive layering with 50-50 mixes all the way up to Blood Red. I'll post the finish pic once I finally get around to finishing it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sickness super-drug

Drugs are the best tech the world can produce. And the best of the lot is probably:

Redoxon - Share on Ovi

Yes, despite the fantastic premiere of The Dark Knight yesterday, I guess age is catching up and running late night events followed by early morning ones do not agree. Nevertheless, thanks to wonderdrug above, I hope to be back up and kicking tomorrow!

Don't worry, this isn't going to turn into a medicine blog (do those exist?)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Flackery or real conversation?

As both a guy with a blog and a PR dude in real life, I've had the incredibly joyful experience of pitching and being pitched to. Of course, I don't understand why some companies would want to pitch to a small fry like me whose got absolutely no theme to his blog, but, "hey!" if its an interesting product or thing, I'll listen.

The thing is more companies are beginning to see the importance of the blogosphere for their political marketing campaigns, thanks (in no small way) to March 8. But the attitude and reaction many marketers are taking towards engaging bloggers is summarised by the GMOOT syndrome - in the words of AdAge columnist Scott Donaton.

To paraphrase Scott, GMOOT is short for the "Get Me One Of Those" syndrome that company heads adopt when they don't really understand the new-fangled trends but want in on it for marketing gain anyway. Read Todd Defren's post on how dangerous but widespread this syndrome is.

But my point is this: more and more companies are now looking to reach out to bloggers. Each is doing this in a vastly different way and there are definitely more than one way to succeed. But then, you start coming across posts like this, this and this.

Did we miss the point?

So I was having a conversation with someone who works admittedly closely with the local blogging scene and he's adamant that blogs are the "new media." And that marketing efforts should be directed at bloggers as this is the new channel for clients to get the message of their products and services out. After all, teenagers a reading less and less newspapers these days (yes, US stats I know).

Yes, I'd agree that we should be talking to bloggers, but I'd also disagree that we see bloggers for anything less than what they are - people. Blogs aren't just a "communications channel". They aren't just media for you to push messages thru. They are people who have something interesting to say, the right tools to say it (the blog) and the audience who's interested in hearing what they want to say.

When I get pitched, I'm really interested in starting a conversation. I'd like to know what's great about your product or solution and why it would matter to me or people like me (who, coincidentally, might read my blog). I don't want to be pushed information and be expected to "publish." That's just flackery.

Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean you shouldn't email me about your interesting product. It just means that you should:
1. Talk to me as a human being. Don't expect a bot on the other end that auto-publishes news releases as they are sent across. I've got feelings too. I've also got a healthy dose of opinion and common sense.
2. Understand what I write about and my motivations for writing. Don't assume. If after reading a couple of my posts you're still unsure, hey, just ask :)
3. Be prepared to dive into the conversation. Because what I'm going to want, if I'm interested in what you're saying, is to actually talk and discuss the subject matter with you.

If you're reading this and you've pitched to me before, I assure you, I don't mean you in particular. This post is a summary of interesting experiences past, present and possibly last week. Please do pitch to me again and let's have a proper conversation this time round.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Busy. Busy.

I'm a bit overwhelmed at work at the moment. Will come back and post shortly, have lots of things to share including:

1. Warhammer 40,000 5th edition
2. Painting projects
3. Geek cred
4. An interesting conversation I had about blogs, marketing and conversations
5. Gaming on my Eee PC.
6. Moving to Share on Ovi.

But work beckons. Please wish me well as I try to survive these next few days.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

davidlian live on lively!

Exit Second Life. Enter Google's Lively.

My Lively Island - Share on Ovi

So Google launched it's Second Life would-be challenger Lively yesterday to much aplomb. I've taken it for a spin and I must say, it's actually pretty darn good. Leaps and bounds over the experience I had with Second Life in my first hour.

But whilst people are comparing Lively to Second Life, I actually wonder - is Lively more akin to The Sims Online (now called EA Land)? Simple interface. Effortless item placement and ready-made building templates. Numerous ways to connect with people and zip from room to room (so long flying). And thousands and thousands of people just waiting to be talked to (or not) and whom you'll meet just but once in your lifetime.

But by far, for me, the winning feature has got to be the fact you can install a widget to the side of your blog, and have people visit your effortlessly from within the same page as your blog. This has got to be the killer feature for Google.

Why? Well, quite frankly, because I've always hated booting up a programme to log-in to virtual worlds (life Second Life). Now that I can do it from the convenience of my own blog (or anyone elses blog for that matter), I AM fascinated by what virtual worlds can do. The number one hurdle has been cleared.

Am I singing too much of Lively's praises? Well, yes. I reckon as with any interesting new toy, the novelty will wear out soon and problems will surface. But for now, one hour's passed and I'm still loving it. That's quite a record, really.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Bottle Neck

There was a famous old saying in the tech industry: "Design the software, the hardware will catch up." Hardware used to be the bottle-neck for computing. Processor speeds weren't fast enough, RAM wasn't enough, powerful computing was the size of a classroom.

Today, IMHO, there's a new bottle-neck: internet speeds. Think of the wonders we could achieve. We dream of so many applications - live-streaming video, hi-definition movies, instant download services etc. etc.

Dreams. But the reality is we're stuck waiting 45 minutes to download a 60 MB patch. I'm just waiting for another solution to come along so I can ditch Streamyx already. (And I heard, an alternative might soon be on the way.) :/

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

All about Lydia

*Addendum* - this post should have gone up yesterday, but for various technical reasons (i.e. the lousy connection I get from TMNet Streamyx at home), I wasn't able to post.

Today Yesterday, is was Lydia and my first anniversary together, so I thought I'd post a couple of pictures throughout the year to remnisce and share with you a couple of great moments (well, every moment was great actually) together:

843745002_0e6bb31d67_o - Share on Ovi
Lydia and I waiting to get onto our plane to Cambodia for our Honeymoon.

894916763_23e93f1e34_o - Share on Ovi
At the Angkor Wat in our Honeymoon. Seeing ruins wasn't as exciting as we thought, we got bored after the first three temples. But it did make us feel like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider.

1654746718_157cb0ab2e_o - Share on Ovi
Together at church for one of our Petra Youth meetings.

1158317239_4d76ad3c25_o - Share on Ovi
At Seng Wai and Wai Chin's wedding dinner. Yes, we attended very many wedding dinners last year.

2264448457_f5253fa89f_o - Share on Ovi
On Valentine's Day, our treat was Carl's Junior. A RM 50 meal too! Okay, so we're not that big spenders...have never believed in giving free money and profits to restaurants who cash in on "celebrations" like Valentines Day.

2583687946_1f68d76781_o - Share on Ovi
Us, going to the Gold Coast!

2587721168_33368df9bd_o - Share on Ovi
We took a picture with Sylvester the Cat. Shame about Tweety though, we really wanted to take that picture home.

2587691704_56f66e52be_o - Share on Ovi
And again, with Batman and friends.

980599333_e67d8799af_o - Share on Ovi
So this is a solo picture, but one I can't resist putting up! Lydia chomping on insects in Cambodia.

Happy Anniversary, dear! Here's hoping for 70 more years just like this one.

Friday, July 4, 2008


Brand new global campaign from the client. I like. Go to www.themapsters.com.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Micro-hoo rises from the dead

It seems that the "We're done" remark from Steve Ballmer WAS a ploy to get Yahoo! back at the table at a lower price after all. I reserve the right to use the phrase "I told you so" with all unbelievers. It walks!

This Wall Street Journal story was one of the most entertaining and informative I've read all week, and you'd do well to just invest 5 minutes into reading this article.

My favourite line was:

During the meeting, Mr. Ballmer, who prides himself on his math skills, wielded a long spreadsheet and questioned Mr. Yang and other Yahoo executives about their analysis of Yahoo's value and future prospects.
Mr. Karnitschnig does have a sense of humor.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The day an opposition rally made front page

Correct me if I'm wrong but today's made media history by my calculations. Here's why, the Malay Mail arrived at our office just only and I saw this:

Today's Malay Mail - Share on Ovi

Yes. The photo isn't doctored. That's a picture of a big 'ol opposition rally on the front page telling you that there's a 15,000 strong turnout. Previously, big opposition rallies have never been picked up by local newspapers, let alone having the numbers confirmed. Only place I ever saw those pictures was on the internet. (Click here for a video)

So what does this mean?

Firstly, I'm pretty sure the fact that The Malay Mail is now owned by Blu Inc has something to do with this. But more importantly, there does seem to be a trend where the national newspapers are opening up and covering the opposition more and more.

The question is, how much more? And are they being covered in context?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A brilliant idea

Notice how irresponsible parkers love to park at parking lots reserved for the disabled? Some parking lot in Bangsar had an innovative solution:

Disabled parking - Share on Ovi

And for a closer look:

Disabled parking - Share on Ovi

Problem is, I'm just wondering how the disabled person is going stop the car, wheel down to remove the skittle (with one hand, while wheeling with the other) and then get back onto the car to park.