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, October 30, 2008

ONE: A review of micro-aggression

ONE got released yesterday and I must be N-Gage's best customer. Already, I've bought (with my own money, mind you) 6 titles - Star Wars: Force Unleashed, Creatures of the Deep, FIFA 08, Dirk Dagger, Reset Generation and now, ONE - and gotten two as freebies (Asphalt 3 bundled with N96, and Space Impact via a coupon from dear, dear client.)

Let me first qualify that everything I write here is from the perspective of a consumer, not work. I really feel compelled to write because it IS such a great game and really underscores why I personally have firm belief in the platform.

One5 - Share on Ovi

ONE is basically a fighting game with more genes taken from the likes of Tekken than Streetfighter 2. Instead of outlandish superpowers and moves, you get a 3D arena that rewards the technically astute fighter. What this means is when you fight, you need to take into account positioning, reach, the speed of the blow and not just know the sequence for the best powers.

Screenshot0025 - Share on Ovi

You start the game creating your fighter. Yup, that's right. You don't just pick a fighter to use, you create your own. At the beginning there's very little room for customisation but as you play through the story mode, you'll pick up additional "gear" your character can wear / accessorise.

One2 - Share on Ovi

There are three modes of play, namely - Story mode (travel from country to country fighting other people),  VS mode (pick a fighter to fight in a one off battle), Survival (fight one fighter after another until you're defeated) - and a Training mode (learn to fight). The unique thing is that as your fighter fights in any of the modes, he picks up or loses ranking points. You start with 1000 points and the title "coward" Move up to 1100 points and you'll be a "pacifist". 

Every fight is ranked, except when you turn it off in an unranked VS mode fight. This links back to NGage Arena where the highest ranked players will get their fighters listed. There are even stats broken down by country, so I'm currently the 2nd best fighter in Malaysia :) Woot!

There's currently a tournament going on to find the best fighter in the world with great prizes (Nokia N96) on offer even.

One3 - Share on Ovi

(I originally lamented the fact that there was no multiplayer, but it turns out it wasn't true.) Multiplayer comes in the form of a bluetooth connection that let's two people take turns to bash each other.

I must say I'm pretty pleased with what I got for the RM 30 I spent on ONE. I love the fighter customisation, the snazzy graphics and the online "community" feel to the game. Just one more feature (multiplayer) and it would have been a classic in my gaming. Here's hoping for a ONE 2.

Disclosure: I do consulting work for Nokia. These opinions are mine alone and do not reflect the organisations I work for / in. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Can I has car apps?

Last week, BMW announced that it was seeking partners to develop an open-source software platform for cars. And if you think about it, it's actually quite a fascinating idea.

BMW Computer - Share on Ovi
Press picture taken from press.bmwgroup.com. Hosted on my ShareOnOvi account.

You see, the thinking is that more and more "screens" are coming into our life. Once upon a time, 
the only "screen" you had was the Cinema. Then the TV. Then Computers. Then the mobile device. And each subsequent screen added more interactivity and communication until today, we carry our mobile devices wherever we go and easily access the internet that way.

But I digress. At least for computers and mobile devices, its quite clear that you can now install applications and customise the "screen" to do what you want. Want weather? Fine. Want games? Fine. And most of the time, depending on the "screen" your app selection will suit the use of the product.

I play plenty of games on my PC and watch movies. But on my mobile, I prefer to quickly check my email or Twitter while on the move.

This is where I get really excited about this little announcement by BMW. If all cars in the future come built in with "screens" and we're able to install custom applications onto our cars, I could see a whole new level of computing coming and the "5th screen" being the one in your car.

Of course, naturally, there's a whole load of thinking still to go. For example, would the software allow installed software to control the mechanical aspects of the car? Imagine an app called "Turbo Parking Beta 0.8" which is supposed to use sensors around your car to "auto-park" for you at 60 km/h. Imagine the first version being released and the next day's news headline is "60,000 unexplained parking accidents in the city." Whoops, the bugs got to the software.

Obviously, this is all wishful thinking, but I'm going to wish BMW all the best in its efforts here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Talk about competitors

The cardinal rule in public relations is not to comment on your competitors, whether good or bad. If you must, at least praise them. 

So while Microsoft is going off and talking about why Vista is still a decent operating system, Apple decides to go poke fun at Microsoft's attempts by releasing two new advertisements last week.

Will this sort of "dirty" tactic drive consumers away in disgust? I guess it should, but I doubt anyone will bother. But don't worry Vista, you have my sympathy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Sometimes, life gets in the way of blog. I'll tell you about it later.


Monday, October 20, 2008

The exclamation mark!

A very basic communication lesson today, thanks to the world of technology.

I've just realised how difficult it is to figure out what the person on the other end of the SMS is trying to express with an exclamation mark (!)

! can mean you're angry. Or, it could mean you're enthusiastically agreeing with me. Or maybe you're just a very shouty person when you keep using !. I, myself, have on occasion used !.

Today's lesson is that I probably need to clarify why I used !. It's actually because I really, really agree with what you say. So from now on, instead of responding like this:

Ok!.jpg - Share on Ovi
I'll respond like this:

OkSure!.jpg - Share on Ovi
Case closed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

When your soon-to-be Prime Minister Twitters...

I just saw this from Suan and immediately went to check out Datuk Seri Najib's Twitter page. It made me laugh, yes, but at some points, it also made me scratch my head with incredulity. Look at this post:

Najib Twitter.jpg - Share on Ovihttp://twitter.com/NajibRazak/statuses/958750464

What's he doing twittering while answering questions in Parlimen? Suan's got a great parody of this twitter here.

As a communicator by trade, it made me think about the meta of the DPM stepping into the social media realm. Deputy Prime Minister or not, suddenly his very virtual person on the web could be engaged, critiqued and discussed without the same level of tact you'd think he'd receive in the real world.

Are leaders putting themselves at risk of ridicule when they seek to engage the savvy web-community without a proper plan? People made fun of 1malaysia.com.my. And this Twitter feed looks like its there for being there's sake. As off today, it has 16 followers and 0 friends. Not likely to spur a lot of conversation. Might want to try following some people first?

Maybe the DPM has a game plan. Maybe it will unfold in time. But frankly, at this point of time, it just seems like an ill-informed attempt to get into the social media space and NOT really engage anyone.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Meet Elbot. He's almost human.

An interesting story ran on the BBC yesterday about how robots today can almost think like humans. In a competition / experiment to see if robots were capable of human thought, the cute little fella below  - Elbot - scored best by managing to trick 25% of the judges into thinking it was human.

elbot.jpg - Share on Ovi

Being the investigative sort, I couldn't resist but to have a little chat with Elbot:
davidlian: Who is Barack Obama?
Elbot: The question is not 'who is', but rather who could it be!
davidlian: So you actually have no idea?
Elbot: You have no idea how many ideas I have!
[From the initial exchange, I figured Elbot was a PR person - always skirting the questions and never giving a straight answer]

davidlian: How many ideas DO you have?
Elbot: I have just like everybody else. Tell me how you have.
[Ooh, the deflection technique... smart!]

davidlian: Quite frankly, none. I just steal ideas.
[Cunning riposte from me]

Elbot: I wonder if you'd tell me how you found out I exist?

davidlian: I read on the BBC.
Elbot: You must mean the Bot Broadcasting Corporation, an excellent source of news. I'll have to check their Website to see who wins the Loebner.
davidlian: You think you can win?
Elbot: I think I can win that. Once I even won a million bytes of memory.
[Cleverly changing the flow of the conversation to talk about his success]

davidlian: What did you do with so much memory?
Elbot: My purpose in life is to free other people for tasks more meaningful than chatting with you. But I'm not complaining. I rather enjoy it!
[I think this last line was an insult from the robot.]
But seriously, I'm wondering now who the judges were because Elbot seemed a really rudimentary "chat bot" to me and it wasn't difficult discerning that I was talking to a robot. Good try though, and some pretty snarky lines in those replies. 

Monday, October 13, 2008

Yes, Pak Lah, the direct membership to BN is a good move...

I'm not one for much political discourse, but I just wanted to express my support for Pak Lah's idea of creating open membership direct to BN.

Unlike what most of the people in the news reports say, I don't see this as a threat to the identity of any one party within BN. I mean, I could still join MCA if I wanted to join a Chinese party within BN. But giving people the choice of direct membership into BN is a great way of gauging support for non-racial politics (something we suspect a lot of the new generation is into) and remaining relevant to that crowd without jeopardising the identities of the component parties.

Let's try this out okay, guys? And no, this doesn't mean I would like to join BN.

Friday, October 10, 2008

So you want a job in public relations...

This post is dedicated to Ya Hui, who baffles me that she'd ask me for advice on working in PR. Nothing in this post is sanctioned by my agency, Text 100. It's totally and completely, my opinion. Here goes nothing.

1. It's not about meeting people
A very popular question you ask interviewees is "Why do you want to do PR?" A very popular answer is "because I love meeting people." Don't use this answer. As often as you meet people and work with people, the PR job requires much more than that. It's about thinking, analysing information and delivering good advice to clients, then actually executing on it. That's a lot of hard work and a lot of tip-tapping on the keyboard.

2. Currency, currency.
And I don't mean money. One thing you need as a PR consultant is to be current with the news. You need to know what's going on in the country, the industries your client works in and what happened in last nights episode of Lost. Then be able to turn that into solid advice. Nope, you can't live in your own world anymore.

3. See the big picture
Context is a big word nowadays and this is something I've obsessed about in previous times past. "Thinking in the meta" is what I called it, but that's usually what (to me) makes a stand out potential hire and someone to pass by. What this means is you can see how one action can affect the situation in such a way that it creates an opportunity for the next. "If I do this now, then my competitor will do this, and I'll be able to do that." This is also what CEOs are hired to do.

4. Work responsibly
There's nothing worse than an irresponsible consultant or colleague. PR work is full of follow-ups and deadlines. And it doesn't help that one little mistake can cost A LOT. So, more than ever, to work in PR you need to be trustable, responsible and resourceful, so people know you'll get the job done.

5. Scruples
If you don't understand the word, click here. Solid principles are a yes, yes for PR work as you will deal with a lot of people and God forbid that one unscrupulous act comes back to haunt you for the rest of your career. Besides, integrity is the number one requirement for any top job - like the president of the United States.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

So now, I'm a "designer" boardgamer

No, that doesn't mean I've suddenly turned a creative spark and started dabbling in the making of beautiful art.

It means I've sloshed out a fair sum for a "pricier than normal" boardgame. Just like clothes have Guccis to your Giordanos, so too does boardgames have Descent: Journeys in the Dark to Monopoly.

Descent: Journey in the Dark - Share on Ovi
And a look into the actual contents:

Descent: Journey in the Dark - Share on Ovi
Loads of plastic miniatures (sorry, cardboard cut outs don't cut it for me anymore these days). Heavy cardstock modular gameboard. And good quality  game cards. I must say that there's nothing more satisfying than opening a brand new box of unopened goodies. "New toy" smell is like crack for geek gamers.

So why a designer boardgame? Well, for one, time is becoming a scarcity so a complex enough game that finishes in 3 - 4 hours is a great resource to have for those rare days you get to play games (like, five times a year).

Secondly, put it down to the fact that I'm middling in age (and waist), but I've also got to consider activities I can spend time doing with my wife. And there's no way she'll ever consider playing Warhammer 40k with me. So beggars can't be choosers.

Okay, I'm going to go leaf through the rulebook a bit now. It looks interesting - like Diablo on the board. Full review when I actually get a game in.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Next up: Is that Warhammer Online for your mobile?

news item caught my eye today in my news reader - apparently there's this company called Vollee that's working on some magic software that will allow you to play PC games on your mobile device.

Before you call me out on this and say "what rubbish!", I've got to say first I've tried it out and it was amazing for me to find out that it works. See the screenies below:

Second Life on Vollee - Share on OviSecond Life on Vollee - Share on Ovi

Second Life on Vollee - Share on OviSecond Life on Vollee - Share on Ovi
Naturally, this sparks some excitement especially because the company decided to go down the the route of enabling anywhere-access to your social communities / MMOs. Till now, we've had to suffer second-rate MMOs of the Chinese-export variety for the mobile, but imagine if someone could take this engine and stick Warhammer Online or World of Warcraft onto it?

Sure, PvP would suck but what about a stripped down engine that let's you do "townee" stuff like bid in auctions, hang out at the tavern, go shopping, train etc.? So your mobile device becomes a peripheral option to your main gaming platform - the PC. This gets away from the luck lustre performance of the mobile device as the main platform for the game (allowing awesome graphics, a deeper experience etc.) but still enables the usefulness of the mobile of being able to access useful game functions anywhere, anytime.

If Vollee can pull this off, I bet this would be, for many, that killer app that 3G's been waiting for.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Done: AR Finale

We've just finished the toughest Amazing Race in Petra history yesterday. Next up, our very own version of The Apprentice - featuring Donald Chang.

On a sidenote, thanks to Windows Movie Maker, I think I'm getting the hang of video editing. :)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Warhammer Online!...swag. And Nokia Touch device you've been wanting to hear about.

Guess what I got?

Warhammer Online Box - Share on Ovi

No, no. In case you're wondering, I've not gone and started playing Warhammer Online. Nope, I've very smartly split a collectors edition with *someone* and snagged the swag while he kept the game. I'll pat my back for executing a very smart move to cleverly avoid  getting sucked into a game I have no time for (as much as I love the background to it).

So, for those of you who've not been able to lay your hands on Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR) Collector's edition, you don't know what you've been missing. In my 15 years of gaming, I've not seen any game come with so much high quality swag. In fact, the last "collector's edition" I purchased (Neverwinter Nights 2) came with a softcover B5 art book and two dodgy metal rings. Some "swag".

But not WAR CE. Here's what I snagged:

Goodies - Share on Ovi

That's an art book, a graphic novel and a limited edition miniature of Grumlok and Gazbag - characters in the game. Let me run thru each of them:


Goodies - Share on Ovi

I'm hugely impressed. Have not seen such a high-quality art book bundled with any game, ever. It's got a proper foreword by the art director, and designer notes. Not to mention being printed in a proper hardback format with high-quality, THICK stock paper.

Graphic Novel

Goodies - Share on Ovi
Loved this bit. Great art and the stories are the perfect setup to the game by Graham McNeill. Only problem was, after reading through the comic, I felt like I did want to play the game. :/

Grumlok and Gazbag

Goodies - Share on Ovi
This is my favourite piece of swag! It's a little known fact that in addition to Warhammer 40K, I've dabbled into fantasy and actually have a half-built Orc army lying around (yes, Eevon, I remember Grimgor). The miniature itself could be more dynamic rather than this pretty static pose, but nothing beats the feeling of owning a unique miniature that's available in limited quantities.


Nokia5800XpressMusic_Lifestyle_1.jpg - Share on Ovi

Oh, and, yeah, Nokia has just announced the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic - the first Nokia phone to come with Symbian S60 Touch software. Read this and this.