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, September 25, 2008

The real deal?

Spending some time musing about brand-building and it occurs to me that good brands almost always have some kind of "very similar imitators."

The question is, is an "imitator" necessarily of inferior quality?

25/09/2008 - Share on Ovi

Me, I'd stick with Cheezels.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What would happen if I pulled the plug?

I just snapped this picture last night of my brothers - three brothers, three PCs, all online at the same time.

My Brothers - Share on Ovi
Of course, this is worth some sort of social discourse about the changing habits of people and how screens (your TV, computer and mobile device) and the internet are impacting the way we communicate and view the world around us.

What would happen if someone pulled the plug? Or in this case, if I did it?

I'll leave that as a hypothesis, and for you to make your own conclusions. But for now (to borrow a too-often used cliche), I thought the picture itself is worth a thousand words.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Impressions on the new Windows Live Messenger Beta

I think I've unravelled the analogy between Churros and Microsoft - it's their design language for their new products! Moist and chewy, if the new beta for Windows Live Messenger is anything to go by.

MSN Chat.jpg - Share on Ovi

Go download and install it here and you'll immediately notice the difference. Everything gets bigger!

New MSN 1.jpg - Share on Ovi

Literally. In fact, the fonts have become so big you can't even see my full name on my bar. The new Messenger beta has also become kind of "more social." You can choose a select few of your chat-buddies to become "favourites" (wow, what a ground-breaking feature) or add them to groups (kind of like how your phone's contact list allows groups).

Then there's that ticker at the bottom that collects all the subtitles from your friends' names and displays them like like a news feed. It also collects changes in your friends profile like "Mr A just changed his profile picture..." and feeds it to you a la RSS. This feature I like. It shows Microsoft's really been paying attention to how consumers are using their features. When Heath Ledger passed away, more than half my contact list turned up with "RIP Heath" messages.

New MSN 2.jpg - Share on Ovi

One thing I didn't like was the fact the large fonts and layout made for a very short list of friends and a lot of scrolling. So much so I've started making use of the search function now.

New MSN 3.jpg - Share on Ovi
The best function has got to be this though - the fact you can map emoticons to profile pictures and change them according to your "mood". For example, if you use the smile smiley, your profile changes to a picture of you smiling. Of course, you have to setup the pictures first, and I don't get why they couldn't just let you upload various pictures for this instead of forcing you to use that "Wizard" that requires a webcam. Not so smart eh?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

In case you thought I went missing

Sorry folks, I've been seriously ill - near bed-ridden - for the past few days. Thus, naturally, as much as I would have loved to, my fingers just didn't agree that I should be spending the little energy I had on chronicling the possiblities of the million-joint-aches on my blog.

The good news is, that's now past. Expect service to resume as normal.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pushy 1.0, Polite 2.0

One of the things that struck me when installing Chrome was how it actually asked me: "Would you like to keep Yahoo! as your default search engine?" (I'll grab a screenie when I can)

If this was Microsoft, there would have been no question at all - just Live Search as default - and that annoying pop-up everytime that asks you - "Would you like to make Internet Explorer your default internet browser?" No such thing from Chrome, it just sits quietly as my non-default browser.

Which brings me to my point on the evolution of technology in the social dimension. The old Web 1.0 method was when the technology vendor would sneakily and pushily switch all your defaults and settings to favour its own applications and programmes. But that's not working anymore today. So much so that PC vendors like Sony are giving vendors the choice to not have "pre-installed, value-added applications and tools" on their brand-spanking-new machines.

For this reason, I think Google's nailed it. In the new Web / technosphere, the audience is increasingly resistent to the "push." We'd much rather be treated as intelligent people who know what we want and where to get it.
"You don't have to keep asking me if I want Internet Explorer as my default browser, I'll set it as such if I want it."
There's a keen lesson for companies to learn here - not just for technology outfits. In communications, its no longer safe to assume the public is ignorant and that the company knows best. Instead of just thinking of what the company says (message), what's more important is going to be thinking about how the company behaves.

After all, no one likes a pushy door to door salesman that takes every opportunity to push his product onto your face. Even if its a good product.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Beta Testing the new Maybank2u

Maybank2u is getting face-lift, and if you're lazy to read further - I'm just going to say it here: I like it.

Maybank2u version 1 - Share on Ovi
Cluttered, unappealing - but works.

And then to this:
Maybank2u version 2 - Share on Ovi
Tabs remind me of Chrome, Firefox and Facebook - what's there not to like.

Here's the long story: recently, I was invited to preview and take for a beta test the new Maybank2u website and post my feedback. Why I was selected befuddles me, but hey, I do use online banking facilities, so maybe I can comment as a customer.

Being a beta test, I can tell you the site's still plenty buggy and a couple of other people experienced the site crashing a couple of times with a dump of text we didn't understand, but I guess that's not important.

What's more important is the design and layout of the site which I think has improved by leaps and bounds. If you surf over to Maybank2u today, you'll see a veritable mess of clutter, clutter and more clutter than you need for a lifetime. In fact, it's one of the great turn-offs that's put me off being a Maybank user for a long time.

Which brings me to the new interface. From the screenie above, you'll see its been cleaned-up and tabbed-up. I love the way the new tabs help organise the many, many options you'll see on screen. It's much easier on the eyes. For once, someone gets the value of empty space instead of just fillin'er up with "information."

The second most important thing to me was the almost zero use of fancy flash animation. That's right, zero pretty flash that clogs up your memory and causes crashes - sometimes. I'm here to do my banking, so let's just leave it at that.

On the overall, I do like the new Maybank2u interface and it seems to be on-par with other more famous sites - like Citibank and HSBC. I think while the change has been a long-time coming, its better late than never. So, two thumbs up to Maybank. Here's hoping your customers like the interface as much as I do.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Chrome still not for my Eee PC

As much as I like the swish interface, and have been won back over by Google's correction over that EULA-from-the-abyss, I still have to say that Chrome still isn't something that's for my Eee PC.

Chrome - Share on Ovi

The problem? Well, I was told that Chrome was design ground up for multi-core processing, something the humble netbooks have yet to achieve (yes, Atom isn't muti-core, as much as its hyped.) Apparently, it's also somehow tied to how Chrome opens a new process each time you open a new tab.

The result? Everything on my Eee PC slows to a crawl when I turn on Chrome. So, for the time being, I'm sticking to my trusty 'fox.

Friday, September 5, 2008

New Microsoft ad debuts - what does it mean?

Maybe Microsoft is trying to tell us that its smarter than us, because I just can't get this latest ad campaign that's been highly anticipated as the campaign to take on Apple's swipes at Microsoft.

I'm sorry to say, as much as I like Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld, I just don't get it.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe its a tactic by Microsoft to confuse Apple, before sneaking in the sucker-punch. Maybe Apple should be quivering in its shoes right now.

Somehow, I don't think so.

Are we cramping our kids' childhood?

One of the fondest memories of my childhood was that every Sunday, as a treat, we'd go to my grandparent's place for lunch. And after lunch, my granddaddy would take us (my brothers and I) for a little stroll down the road to the kedai runcit (sundry shop) and let us pick anything that cost RM 1.00.

I'd almost always pick Ding Dang:

Taken from http:\\www.flickr.com\photos\21392015@N062198187890 - Share on Ovi
Photo taken from helmy murad at his flickr page

Yup, do you remember the time when the advertisements were splattered all over TV - a bunch of kids running around blowing bubbles, shooting water guns, playing with jumping frogs? "Tora datang lagi..." was always the opening line.

Well, remember them well because those days are almost gone if FOMCA have their way. I couldn't help but feel the front page of today's NST was a bit unfair:

Here's an excerpt:
Sha'ani said it would also lobby the government to adopt the International Code on Marketing of Foods and Non-Alcoholic Beverages to Children, which had been submitted to the World Health Organisation. 

Among the code's guidelines are a ban on radio or TV advertisements of unhealthy food from 6am to 9pm, ban on the inclusion of free toys or cartoon characters in food packaging and a ban on using new media, such as the Internet, and text messaging to lure the children.
I understand why people are up in arms over the marketing of unhealthy food to children but have you ever seen the smile on the child's face when he's just been given a McDonald's Happy Meal? I have, and I've been the one smiling thanks to my brand new Grimace race car.

Or what about the Hello Kitty craze? I heard adults were the ones queueing up for those.

The problem here isn't advertising. There's nothing wrong with allowing companies to promote their products with cartoon characters especially if it puts a smile and injects some fun into the kid's childhood. If anything, the key concern should be clamping down on false advertising and emphasising responsible parenting.

Growing up to Ding Dang ads everyday didn't make me an obese adult. I doubt it affected many of my friends at all. And it's not like fastfood wasn't just as ubiquitous in the 80s. So, why clamp down now?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Financial freedom is to spam people?

I've had enough of this. Everyday without fail, some random person will spam my Skype with promises of Financial Freedom. Hello, if I don't believe Amway what makes you think I'll believe you - Mr. Random Spammer?

Spam - Share on Ovi

Some how, when they pitch: "Work from home is the best solution, can avoid traffic jam, Earn unlimited profit, Just in the comfort at your home."

I read: "Come join us and be a spammer like me. Just sit at home and use your internet connection. Spam people and earn money as you go. Unlimited potential because you can spam the same people again and again and we'll still pay you money."


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

And we shall all live on clouds...

The thing that struck me about Google’s announcement of its new-fangled web browser Chrome wasn’t the inward groan of “do we really need another browser?” No. It was a sneaky confirmation of the suspicion that one day, we will live on clouds. Cloud computing, that is.

Clouds above - Share on Ovi

If, like 90% of the world’s population, you’ve not really bothered to stay up to date with the latest in geekspeak, “Cloud computing” is the lovingly coined term that describes the storing of data, applications etc. on servers connected to the internet, as opposed to on your friendly hard disk (C: drive, for the uninitiated).

Basically, this covers storing your photos onto online services like Flickr, PhotoBucket or Share on Ovi, running Google Docs off the Google server via a JAVA shell, or even, just posting on your blog. Why Cloud? Because your data is not stored on you hard disk, but on the sprawling morass of the internet.

Innovative companies like Adobe and Microsoft have started jumping onto the bandwagon with platforms like Adobe Air and Silverlight that allow you to run web applications when not connected to the internet even. Google Gears also lets you run Google Docs offline.

But none of these platforms are as ubiquitous as your browser. Thus, I’m seeing Chrome as Google’s play to get its platform on the desktop / laptop PC /Mac. To simplify the thinking, as Cloud Computing takes root the web browser will become more and more important, and the actual Operating System becomes less and less important. Think about it; the FireFox Foundation doesn’t care whether you run Windows or Mac OS, so long as your browser is FireFox.

So if you get to a point where the first thing you do is log-on to your browser and surf the internet, would you really care to splash RM 580 for Windows XP when free Linux builds (like Ubuntu)will give us just as good an experience? What if Chrome launches as a shell on boot, cleverly disguising Mac OS, Windows XP or Ubuntu with a swish Google interface?

Of course, there are challenges roadblocking this dream and I just want to point two out:

Security and privacy:
With your home computer, it was your responsibility to ensure you have all the requisite firewalls, antivirus, antispam and what-nots installed to safeguard your data. When all that data goes to the cloud, I wonder what level of liability / responsibility on the providers (like Google) to ensure our (mostly private) data is safe and sound. Sure, they have privacy policies, but when your emails actually get stolen, what’s the recourse?

The other thing about putting all your stuff on the cloud is that like information then gets clumped together. Hackers who want to steal lots of private emails just have to target Gmail. Similarly, targeting Facebook will net you lots of private contact information.

Online all-the-time:
The second obvious challenge is that when more and more gets put on the cloud, the more you’ll need that internet connection everywhere. Obviously, there’s need to balance between what you put on the cloud and what you store locally, but being online and connected is intrinsic to cloud computing.

This challenge is actually an opportunity for mobile because cloud computing basically plays on the strengths of mobile and covers its weaknesses. With mobile technology on the up and up (WiMAX, 3.5G), full internet web-browsing on your mobile etc.), what you can’t store on your mobile you can easily pull off the ‘cloud’.

There’s an awful lot of potential in the clouds.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

PR people smile too much?

Was just having breakfast with an editor friend this morning and somehow, the conversation turned back towards work. My friend (let's call him D for dude), said something about PR people being all the same that kind of struck a chord with me.

PR people smile too much? - Share on Ovi

As best as I can recall, that part conversation went like this:

Me: So how's are you finding the PR agencies in XXX country?
D: Well, they are all the same lah.
Me: What do you mean?
D: Haha... all PR people always come across as happy, chirpy people who smile too much and sound too cheerful.
Me: Ya what, what do you expect them to do?
D: Well, it does make sense as its part of their job, but this means everyone sounds the same.
[Me, thinking: This is food for thought]

Which is what got me to this point. Are all of us PR people just too generic-smiley? Should we throw a dash of a frown somewhere? Or a bit of a consternation-type look?

In truth, there are off-times when you can catch PR people in their most honest of expressions. By far, the best comment I got from a journalist about another PR person, was: "Why does (he / she - gender unspecified to protect the innocent) always look so constipated?" See... we do know how to have another expression other than "smile."

So here's another leaf to go into my retirement plan, one day once I'm out of this industry, I'll write a book titled "Wipe that smile off your face - how PR people can use facial expressions other than smiles to communicate."