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, November 26, 2009

Sorry sir, we don't spin.

I guess it takes silly statements from government officials to rouse this blog from its comatose slumber.

Our Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim today said that our country needs better "Spin Doctors."

The Star says: "He also proposed that local public relations practitioners use blogs to compete with local bloggers who spin stories on all sorts of issues."

Alright, what does our dear Minister know about Public Relations? Our job is to compete with bloggers?

I'm sorry sir, you've got the whole point of having a public relations department all wrong. It's about being transparent and truthful. It's about authenticity and genuineness. If you think PR is spin-doctoring, and you're representative of our whole government's mentality, then it's no wonder the government is the way it is. Flash not substance, perception not reality.

PR's job is to correct misconceptions, not create wrong perceptions that deceive people. Sadly, yes, there are those who get this the other way around. They think PR is a tool to cover-up their mistakes, hype their shoddy products and misinform the public. Those people aren't PR practitioners.

Another quote that really riled me was:

“The more influential they are, the higher their paychecks. It’s time for Malaysia to have public relations practitioners who are well trained and knowledgable.”

Well, sir, actually we do. I've met people who are really good, skillful PR people. They know how to bring up issues, and correct misconceptions with some really brilliant communications campaigns. They know how to change sentiments and build communities.

Oh, did you mean "political" lobbyists? Err...which kind were you referring to? The kind that (does whatever it takes) to push through a favourable resolution for the client?

Friday, November 20, 2009

PM improving on Twitter. Okay, just a little.

Perhaps we've been cruel in laughing at our PM's twitter account. Arguably, it's justified. Following only one twitter account. Not engaging people. Tweeting his schedule and generally nonsensical stuff no one's interested in listening to.

Today, I'm pleased to say he's improving. At least he's started replying people.

NajibRazak - Share on Ovi

Monday, November 2, 2009

At the risk of becoming a daddy blog...

May I present you with the second ultrasound picture of The Kid:

The kid. 12 1/4 weeks. - Share on Ovi
(Click on picture to see it bigger.)

Yes, it's two posts about The Kid in a row. Yes, I know, we need to get back technology, social media and some snarky social commentary at some point. But if you were in my shoes today, you'd understand too.

So let me give you the run-down of the report:

Head. Checked - it's that large oval thing. Little feet and hands. Well, you can't actually see them. Normal spine - the doc did something interesting that X-rayed the kid, and showed us the spine. And yes, a brain too.

Kid, if you're reading this sometime in the future, congratulate yourself. Your dad has a sense of humor.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The post where I announce...

...that I'm a dad-to-be.

The news broke over Twitter a while a go and I made an announcement so at least "some" people can hear it first-hand for the first time.

So the vital facts are as follows:

  • The kid is about 10 - 12 weeks now.
  • Expected to be delivered in May. If we can hit May 22, then s/he'll share my birthday.
  • Names? We kinda like Josiah for a boy. I wanted to give some bimbo name like Tiffany if its a girl, but the wife violently objects.
  • Some people have been suggesting names though. Percival, Bambi, Optimus - and other wierd un-nameables coming up.
  • What if I just named he/she "Ah". Full name on passport? Ah Lian.
I've also started thinking up some goals for my kid. Serving God in church is a given, but here are some other goals / ideals all parents surely come up with:
  • If he's a boy, I'll introduce him to his first space marine when he's 6. By 7, we'll be playing chess with space marines and orks and he'll learn to hold a paint brush. I promise not to laugh at his pink space marines.
  • If she's a girl, I'll introduce her to her first space marine when she's 6. By 7, we'll be playing chess with space marines and orks and she'll learn to hold a paint brush. I promise not to laugh at her pink space marines.
Yeah, I have very varied goals for my kid.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Welcome Windows 7

Win7 Desktop - Share on Ovi

That's right. That's a brand new shiny install of Windows 7 on my desktop. I got a copy of Windows 7 64-bit in advance from a source that wishes to remain unnamed (and so shall he be.) Let's just say its amazing how friends from 20 years past can become a valuable tech resource.

That said, I am excited to get my grubby hands on this latest version of Windows and you can expect a bit of a review and thoughts of Win 7 on my blog soon. First impressions are that it boots up amazingly fast compared to XP or Vista and even Ubuntu. I didn't do a timer test and am too lazy to reboot now, but suffice to say, it felt superfast.

In any case, look out for a review in coming days. Oh, there are also a couple of contests running for people who want to get Windows 7 eventually. Check out http://www.win7.com.my as well as The Star In.Tech who will soon be giving away 5 copies of Windows 7 Ultimate Edition.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pimp my broadband - an actual idea!

Disclosure: I have previously worked on projects with DiGi prior to this, including the launch of DiGi Broadband earlier this year. They are not currently a client at the time of this writing.

So, then why am I writing this? Because a good friend of mine asked me if I'd share an opinion about how I think broadband can be improved and submit it for this contest. And I actually have a pretty good idea (so I think). Also, I AM extremely tempted by the prizes offered in the pimpmybroadband contest, so... consider this an entry!

In case you don't get it, what I'd like to have to pimp out my broadband is ONE service that covers both my mobile broadband needs and desktop / laptop broadband needs. So, I don't have to pay for one service to get the convenience of the dongle, and one more for my mobile. If you really want to do broadband right, give us this option (soon, I hope!)

Would you like a service like this too? Vote for me! :)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Maxis & Rapidshare: Communications in the thick of real-time

In case you've not been keeping up, there was some (nearly) major drama that ensued with Maxis 3G / Broadband over the last 36 hours.

It all started with MyTechNewsInfo's post on Twitter:

Complaint1 - Share on Ovi

And he continued to substantiate the claim with a couple more posts: here, here and here. In a matter of moments, the twitter-sphere exploded with @khawchiahui, @derekw, @ben_israel, @andrewkjs, @icednyior, myself and others starting to comment.

For those of you not in the know, rapidshare is a popular file-sharing site where users can post up big files for friends to download. It is also a popular way to distribute (for example) free maps from malfreemaps (ed: thanks MyTechNewsInfo). The common theory (for lack of a direct explanation) was that Maxis had started blocking Rapidshare downloads as the traffic was getting too heavy and starting to strain bandwidth.

The main sticking point was censorship. What right did Maxis have to censor the internet, regardless of whichever site it is? (In my own opinion, if they do want to block traffic-heavy sites, they should clearly state up-front in their Terms-of-Service and let the customer decide.)

Naturally, we netizens don't take kindly to censorship and Maxis had a mini-mob in their hands. Crisis-time.

At least four of us sent notes to Maxis' official presence on Twitter @maxiscomms asking for an explanation:

DL1 - Share on Ovi

The first response was less than inspiring. Instead of taking the issue head-on with the main complainants, @maxiscomms posted a general tweet about Maxis Broadband's fair usage policy! Two mistakes here: 1. @maxiscomms did not address the issue to the concerned audience (in this case, @mytechnewsinfo et al). 2. @maxiscomms posted an irrelevant response. What does a Fair Usage Policy have to do with the simple question "are you or are you not censoring Rapidshare?"

MaxisResponse1 - Share on Ovi

People obviously weren't too impressed by the response:

13 - Share on Ovi

12 - Share on Ovi

In the following hours, @maxiscomms then adopted a different tact - getting people to DM (direct message) itself directly instead of putting it out in the open. This is a legitimate tactic, and at least addresses some of the concerns above, of ignoring the audience and broadcasting an irrelevant message:

Response2 - Share on Ovi

So I DM'ed @maxiscomms a simple complaint: "Maxis broadband users can't download files from www.rapidshare.com, is maxis blocking the site? Answer appreciated. Thanks." It was 10pm that night already so I didn't expect an answer till the next day.

And as you would have it, the next morning, @maxiscomms got back to me with a simple message acknowledging the complaint and saying they would get back to me. Another couple of hours later, I was sent a direct message:

Response - Share on Ovi
So I tested Rapidshare and, sure enough, it worked. This news deserved to be spread and so, a quick tweet out:

DL2 - Share on Ovi

Was greeted with testing from @mytechnewsinfo and others, who found the same to be true. The conversation turned for the better (for Maxis) and the earlier audience that complained now went back to telling @maxiscomms "Good job".

I thought to share this case as its reflective of the communications (and I don't just mean advertising) industry today. There are a couple of things I'd have done differently from @maxiscomms:
1. I'd have avoided posting the first post in the first place - it just drew more ire from Netizens.
2. When asking people to DM directly, I would have DM'ed them directly first.
3. I'd actually preferred to follow-through with a proper explanation and clarification as to why Rapidshare was blocked in the first place (technical mistake, or policy mistake?)

To their credit, @maxiscomms kept a cool head and avoided hostile remarks and responses that would have drawn further anger from the Twitter-verse.

But the one question that's keeping me thinking now is the expectation of response time and what communications departments / agencies and even the entire company needs to consider as we shift into the world of constant-internet. Consider this summation from @mytechnewsinfo:

Lesson - Share on Ovi

I'd argue to cut @maxiscomms some slack as most of the most scathing discussions took place after work-hours. Complaints actually flowed in at about 6 pm on 3rd December. My DM to them was sent around 10 pm. And, understanding the communications process, I'm quite certain @maxiscomms ended up needing to put in some extra hours after work to get responses approved and to get to the bottom of the issue.

He / she probably needed to wait a while for someone who knew the actual situation (policy maker in Maxis / technicians) to brief him / her and then to work out how to communicate and what steps should be taken to rectify. This is a time-consuming process - but the internet keeps on clamouring as you're working it out.

So maybe the process isn't good enough. In the age where mass communication is more real-time than ever, and more important than ever, companies need to rethink the entire communications flow to match the age we live in.

Arguably, the process should have begun before the crisis started. I'm not sure how the process took place, but if an internet-savvy communications person at Maxis was told about the decision to block Rapidshare and asked for his / her opinion before any action was taken, I'm sure the crises would have been averted - simply by Maxis NOT blocking Rapidshare.

Communications people should now be part of business decisions at the earliest possible stage and before any concrete action is taken - especially when those decisions affect customers. Why? Because communication is real-time. It gives you a chance to avoid a communications mistake before you make it. Because you'll face an up-hill battle trying to clean-up after.

In the aftermath of Rapidshare-gate, I'm sure some of us will be sympathetic to @maxiscomms, but the question surely lingers on - why did Maxis try to censor Rapidshare in the first place? And, was it a legal move?

Update: Corrected Malfreemaps example on downloading from Rapidshare. @derekw twittered a response that while whether blocking sites at ISP level is legal is up for discussion, it certainly contravenes the MSC's Bill of Guarantees.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Social media is just another channel"

Okay guys, tell me, how many times have you heard PR consultants tell you this? Or seen this statement in a slide? Deep down inside - somewhere - I cringe everytime I hear a PR consultant waving off social media saying: "Social media is just another channel."

Social media is the channel - right. The message is still what matters - right. But wait a minute - don't you think it lends a bit of credence to say that the way you deliver your message (or even your message itself!) changes when your channel changes?

Just a couple of random thoughts I had when I was sulking in the corner and thinking a bit more on the subject:

Does a change in "channel" represent a societal change?
Someone needs to help me back this up with historical data, but we've often credited the Reformation to the invention of the printing press. Also, not too few civil revolutions. The written form of languages have evolved thanks to the printed press (Simplified Chinese anyone?) You also don't have to be too much of a sociologist or historian to observe major changes in the values and acceptable norms in our society over these couple of years.

So, if society is changing, shouldn't messages change also to resonate more / be more relevant to the audience? The channel is just indicative of a wider societal change. If anything, internet culture is a good indicator of how society is changing / modernising.

Just another stray thought here: it's really difficult to say if technology is impacting the way society evolves or if society is evolving independent of technology, but is being made much more apparent thanks to technology. It is, however, clear that both are closely-linked; as-if con-joined at the hip.

I'll just close off this post with three key things I think communicators need to note about their audience:

Your audience wants things straight.Cut the willy-nilly small talk and get right to the point. Positioning should happen in five words or don't bother. Too many tagged-on adjectives and superlatives spoil the broth. Sadly, this is easy to observe and say, but very hard to practice.

Your audience wants more than you can give. I think since the advent of the internet, companies have started getting more questions than they care to answer. There's never a product announcement from a major tech company that doesn't attract open questions / discussion on the internet. Which GPS chipset do you use? What are your margins? Do you plan to support this product the next 5 years? It's the age of the specialist-highly-detailed question. Do you have an answer?

Your audience wants to talk back, so listen! This was one of the first lessons I learned about using today's "channel". Feedback is an incredibly component. More so, oftentimes, than "messaging". The fact you listen is an incredible message in itself. Today's audience pay attention to those who listen first. Useful thought, no?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Slowly slipping to communism totalitarianism

I'm reading with concern the The Malaysian Insider's report on plans for a "Malaysian Green Dam". Apparently, there are plans to implement an internet filter in Malaysia. Tender documents seen by The Malaysian Insider say tenders are:

  • to evaluate the readiness and feasibility for the implementation of Internet filter at Internet gateway level, through assessments on the existing infrastructure and existing products in the market.
  • to evaluate and estimate costs for the implementation.
  • to study the existing legal framework in addressing content filtering and no censorship issue, including the impacts that are caused by the implementation to Internet users and the Malaysian economy.
Sounds like gibberish? Here's the Cliff's Notes version: The Malaysian government is planning how it can best censor the internet.

As @derekw points out, this is in direct contradiction with the MSC's Bill of Guarantees which promise "no internet censorship."

Now, the discussion can easily devolve into politics and speculation on what the government is actually trying to block. But even before that, the fundamental questions is: "should censorship come from our government?"

Sure, the excuse could be to "block undesirable elements" from our society. But the government should govern, not play the parent. The key difference being parents are given the uni-lateral right to decide what's right for their children while the government decides according to the people's will.

And I hardly see any people's will decrying the "harmful elements" of the internet. And if there are, isn't it the responsibility of the parents to block it? Isn't it your responsibility to surf only to the clean sites? Isn't it your responsibility to sift thru the lies and get the truth?

If the government dictates what we can or cannot see, are we slowly slipping to communism totalitarianism? Are the communists totalitarians winning after all, after all these years?

*Note: Edits made to this post after useful and sound feedback from StefStefStef and Jia-Yi. See the comments for more info. Thanks guys.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Was that your "publishing" voice or "conversation" voice?

Perhaps plugging nicely to the post just below, Mashable posted a story about a woman getting sued for $50,000 for a tweet. The Twitterer was Abonnen and she had 22 followers.

The offense? She was tweeting to a friend:

"@JessB123 You should just come anyway. Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay."

Sounds like a tweet you could have written? Yeah, me too. Apparently, though, Horizon Realty thinks this was tantamount to defamation. Is it? That depends on the context of the word "moldy" and what Abonnen meant by saying "Horizon realty thinks it's okay."

It's like me telling my colleague: "You sure you want my moldy old sandwich in the fridge?" when factually, there really isn't any mold on the sandwich and "old" refers to the sandwich having been in existence for the past 5 hours.

What I'm alluding to is the tone and manner by which we converse on Twitter. Do we think of what we write in a "publishing" voice (the same way we might in a blog or an article) or do we write in a "conversational" voice, like how we'd talk to a friend and insert contextual quips.

You don't talk to your friends the same way you would write a press release. And often, sarcasm and exaggeration comes into play too. Twitter, being the social network it is, means people are often talking in their "conversation" voice. We're talking to like-minded people who understand the things we say and the way we speak.

Should we now carefully vet every 140 characters we post to ensure in no way can it be taken out of context and be construed as libelous? I wonder how this suit will change the face of tweeting.

Should we be afraid, very afraid, of #streamyxsucks?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Can you purchase conversation?

So Nuffnang's launched a new service called - appropriately - ChurpChurp. The proposition is simple: create a way for advertisers to easily propogate "word-of-mouth" campaigns whilst allowing top tweeters (not twitterers ok?) to make a pretty penny. But the question is: "will it work?"

I'm not the first to analyse this (heavy work day and all), so you should check out these posts by Shaolintiger's and Bytebot's for additional viewpoints. What I'm really interested in is the dynamic of introducing in-stream advertising into a medium such as Twitter.

Advertising on the web isn't new and it isn't bad. Websites and blogs cost money to host. And let's face it, a good blogger deserves to make some money from his content. But I've always maintained that there's a right way to advertise and then there's the wrong way. Google's probably the best example: Adsense is genius! And Nuffnang themselves are quite the revelation in our Malaysian market (You'll notice the Nuffnang banner ad at the top of my blog.)

But banner advertising, large-rectangle advertising, text advertising have always been tolerable because they are clear and distinct from the actual content of the blog / website. And the best kind are non-intrusive - large enough that you'll notice it, but small enough that you aren't irritated by it.

Then there's the other kind of advertising. Paid for advertorials, not unlike the kind you'd find in print. The modus operandi is simple: the blogger is paid a certain sum for writing an article. And the article is added to the site's content stream (blogposts, stories whatever). Properly disclosed, the occasional advertorial can be informative, and even useful. But here's the twist: Twitter isn't a blog.

Imagine: if half your friends whom you've been having awesome conversations with on Twitter suddenly joined ChurpChurp. Then suddenly, an advertiser purchases an ad campaign where half of them get included in the automated tweet list. And your Twitter stream gets filled with 20 of the exact same tweet from 20 of your pals.

The ideal situation (for the company that paid for the ad, at least) is you get all excited about these "tweets" you're seeing and you go and do whatever the tweets tell you. Or start a conversation.

The reality, I suspect, is much uglier. You'll get irritated, annoyed by the in-flux of ads and seriously have your respect for the offending tweeter damaged.

"Just unfollow them!" I heard you say?

Well, I've thought about it. But I still love having conversations and being connected to those friends.

"Use another platform? What about Facebook?"

Well, those 20 friends don't often chat on Facebook. The action takes place on Twitter.

"Well, why don't you just tell them you don't like that their allowing in-stream advertising?"

That's probably the most sane approach. But as I hope you'll start to see, it isn't about to be so cut and dried. And if they simply refuse, well... it's become a tough decision for you.

How would you feel about the advertiser that got 20 of your friends to post tweets about their latest products or upcoming event? I doubt there'd be much positivity. Not only do those tweet-ads irritate you, they also push you to making the tough decision to follow/unfollow some of those people you may have been enjoying a great deal of interaction with. Which makes me really question the value of advertising thru these means.

If you're a brand that's looking to reach out, Twitter seems to be the perfect place to facilitate two-way conversation between brands and customers or other interested parties. It's a great place to get a great story (or a quirky one) spread around thru re-tweets too. But instead of just buying tweet-ads, these tactics call for investing into a long-term plan to maintain a company / brand presence on Twitter. Dell's a great success story. And locally, there's MAS, AirAsia and P1WiMax too.

Conversations can't be purchased. Getting 20, 100 or even 10,000 people to re-tweet your ad isn't going to generate the kind of good-will, interaction and stickiness (marketeers love this word) that creating your own free Twitter account and actually interacting with people will.

Monday, July 20, 2009

NASA's Apollo 11 Highlight reel

The wonders of digital technology today. It's been a week since this has posted, and if you've been living under a rock, you've come to the right place. I'm late too (blame it on work)!

The folks at Hollywood have teamed up with the geeks at NASA to restore the original footage of the first every landing on the moon. You can apparently now see the reflection of the earth on Neil Armstrong's helmet. I simply love space, don't you?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Nerds & Jocks: The great conflict of our time

Excellent speech by John Hodgman (The PC in the Apple ads) during the Radio and TV Correspondents Dinner. I'm sure he had nerds rooting for him all the way.

Underneath the comedy though, I do think he's touched on a topic that's brilliantly real. As much as you think race is a divider, the philosophies between Jocks and Nerds are real. We think differently. We have fights in school. We sit apart at the canteen. And when we grow up, well... let's just say we hang out with our own kind.

Okay, maybe that's just the elitist in me talking.

Friday, June 19, 2009

No, tweeting isn't the end of journalism

So a couple of days ago, MPs went head-to-head with each other on Twitter during the Parliament sitting on Tuesday where Bukit Gantang MP Nizar Jamaluddin got kicked out.

Interestingly, a journalist mused whether this would spell the end of journalism on the competition MPs (and brands, companies, individuals) who could go directly to readers on a mass-distributed platform such as Twitter would bring to journalists in breaking news.

I'd add: would this actually mean the end of journalism as a profession? Well, actually - no.

In fact, I don't think there's ever been a time where the journalism profession has ever been so important. Yes, I could hear what Lim Kit Siang or Khairy has to say, straight from the horses mouth, on Twitter; but I also want to hear a 3rd party with an unbiased viewpoint provide a report of the proceedings.

As uppercaise so kindly points out: breaking news is just one aspect of journalism.

I'd want to hear a 3rd party commentary from someone who's trusted as non-partisan, non-biased and with my best interests at heart. That's what a journalist is (at least, that's how I was sold when I went to journalism school) and that's why people will keep reading news - whether on paper or online.

"Journalists serve as the main purveyors of information and opinion in contemporary society" (source: Wikipedia). They aren't the source

So it's sometimes funny how I hear social media is killing journalism. Journalism is a profession that isn't tied to its medium. People will still want to read gadget reviews from an expert, whether its on a blog or in a magazine. People will still want to read good political commentary.

What's changing is how a journalist does his / her job. Mind you, there can be no generalisation here - not every journalist needs to get a Twitter account. Rather, the journalist can reach his / her audience in the most relevant way possible. Even if that's handwriting news on papyrus. But new and social media are opening up new vectors to receive and disseminate news, and the best journalists will always be the ones who can get their news out in the most timely and relevant fashion.

And that could be tweeting.

Note: I've updated and edited this post to more accurately reflect Uppercaise' views.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Beam me a new one!

Sorry for the long absence. You know, life gets in the way... no time... yadda, yadda.

I'm tip-tapping away right now from my room at The Scarlet in Singapore after a long day at Nokia Connection 2009 (disclosure: that's my day job - public relations consulting for Nokia amongst other clients). Naturally, being surrounded by journalists, bloggers and other intelligent people from the mobile industry leads to a whole lot of discussion about mobile devices and where its all heading.

Of course, what most people were most excited about were mobile apps.

A thought struck me. Have we come a full circle? What could really be a killer app today is what was a killer app more than a decade ago - beaming!

Let me explain. In the mid-90s, when a phone was still a monochrome block that made voice calls and sent SMSes, Palm ruled the roost in a category called the PDA. I remember reading a report at one point that the Palm OS had some 300,000 applications in existence. Like today's application scene, most were pointless apps that let you read random quotes from Star Wars, display a Beer picture, and much much more.

But the beauty of the 90s scenario was this - one Palm device could easily beam across any application (as long as the developer didn't lock it) to another via infrared. Want this cool freeware game? *ZAP* its yours. Want my Yoda application? *ZAP* its yours.

Beaming made sharing and spreading applications easy peasy and fun to boot. On a macro scale, this meant popular (though often pointless) apps could spread "virally" through super-distribution.

So what if we brought beaming back today? Would it work?

Beaming would lead to piracy. Not every developer will want his application freely beamed. There's always the option to lock apps. In any case, people who really want to pirate an app would find a way to do it anyway.

There's nothing to lose to let a free app be beamed. In fact, there's massive opportunity. Developers could make money thru ads within the app and a larger distribution means more revenue. Brands could easily "viral" good marketing apps (think iBeer).

IRDA is not commonly found on phones and Bluetooth leaves me open to viruses. Leaving Bluetooth on all the time does pose a security risk and its really annoying to keep rejecting requests to receive a virus application. But wait, new technology is on the horizon like Near Field Communication (NFC) and similar technology could be the new IRDA allowing short-range transmission of apps from one device to another.

So there you have it - my argument for beaming. Now, I know there'll be differing opinions, but I'm thinking, with mobile apps coming to the forefront again, maybe it's time to bring back the ability to share fun apps we love with one another. Let's hope some manufacturers are listening.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The point of the matter is...

"He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
- Jim Elliott

The past couple of weeks have been hectic and I've been giving up a lot things in order to stay afloat. That includes blogging (only 4 posts in May? I'm waaaaay behind...)

But Jim Elliott's words have been ringing in my head. And surely, no matter who you are, it's worth the time to sit down and reflect - what's the real point of the matter?

For me, it's to gain what I cannot lose. Just a thought I thought I'd share.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Now, what's tweeting done to journalism

If you're a tweeting Malaysian, chances are you may have been following the many streams from various journalists and news organisations tweeting updates from the happenings at the Perak State Legislative Assembly.

Live Reporting on Twitter - Share on Ovi

Now, in the era of the internet, the blog and the news site, live updates are not something entirely new. I remember accessing my mobile and refreshing every 15 minutes to see the latest results during the March 8 (2008) elections. But Twitter is something altogether different. Here's why I think so:

Too fast for filtering?
It's instant. It's spontaneous. And with a 140-character count, the reporting is straight and to-the-point. With the speed the live tweets are sent out, and the tone they result in, I suspect a lot less filtering is happening.

Yes, live updates on popular news websites are fast, but I bet you there's a couple of eyes looking at those updates before they go live.

I doubt that @edgemy has any similar process where the journalist needs to get clearance from his / her editor to post a tweet. What we get is unfiltered reporting straight from the source.

These are real people reporting
The Star's Deputy Executive Editor Wong Sai Wan (@saiwanstar) made a good point. He tweeted: "...now people realise we who write are real people" and I can't agree more. Last year's debates over the freedom of our press often cast the newspapers and media as monolithic organisations that were pro-government.

But when journalists Twitter, you'd realise that journalists are real people who have feelings, opinions and ethics. Most importantly, they are right there on location.

Follow @melodysong you won't see just a nameless entity covering a potentially dangerous situation. You'll see a very brave journalist who's put herself on the line to report the truth. So much so people actually care about her safety.

The conversation ripple
The third thing that's happening to reporting thanks to Twitter is the conversation ripple that's forming. Okay, I invented that term. But what I mean is this:

Journalist A tweets. Person B responds. Person C retweets. Person D follows Journalist A because he saw Person B's response. Then Person D retweets.
Multiply this X 100 times and see messages fly back and fourth. If the event was #hashtagged, you'd have a pretty good gauge of sentiment (at least among geeks).

Now, this is probably no different from what happens at the mamak stall when you discuss the front page of the newspaper with your friends. But virtually, think of it as 1,000 people crowding around the same table, and the conversation doesn't happen the next day but as it happens.

I'm not @melodysong, and I don't know what it feels like to be out in the field reporting and getting live feedback from hundreds of voices, but I'm pretty sure it's different from those days of just going out and covering a story then coming back to file it.

Normal people can report too
Goes without saying, just like with blogs - even if you don't consider yourself a journalist, there's nothing stopping you from tweeting what you see right in front of you.

As a bystander in this industry, I'm pretty excited to see where this is all heading. As a citizen of the country, I'm hoping this will mean more transparency and accurate reporting in our country.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

For posterity's sake

Hey, yes, thanks. I noticed. I'm glad you guys noticed too. And if you haven't, please read this excellent mainstream twitter story by @nikicheong published in last week's Sunday Star.

One thing I'd have to disagree though: I don't believe there are tens of thousands of Malaysian tweeters out there. Maybe 8,000 or so.

Twitter Graphic from The Star - Share on Ovi

(Graphic taken from and is the property of The Star Online. Link)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Necessary Geek Gear: BlueTooth Headsets FTW

I'm an avid podcast listener because I like getting information as I walk around. But for the longest time, one of my biggest gripes has been about the long wires of my headphones getting stuck on "stuff" as I walk past them.

Door handles. Railings. Spiny, sticking-out, stuff. Hooks. Hangers. Get the wire snatched onto any one of the them things and you're in for something ugly.

So I had a simple mission. Get rid of the wires. And I started asking around my geek friends for some leads to the best kind of bluetooth headsets, and Erna kindly loaned me her Sony DR-BT21G (see dodgy picture below)

The Sony DR-BT21G - Share on Ovi

After 4 hours of podcast listening, I'm calling bluetooth headsets a must-have for absent-minded podcast listeners like me. However, there are some niggles with the Sony pair.

  • I like the look and packaging. For starters, it's a sleek little bundle that folds up nicely when you aren't using it. The colour appeals to me and the button layout makes sense.
  • The fit is snug, and while these aren't buds like that Motorola S9, I don't feel like they are about to fall off either. Also, the rounded earpieces rest very comfortably against my ear.
  • Sound-quality is about average. But if you're an audiophile in the first place, you'd be wired up. For podcast listening, I find A2DP adequate and clear enough. I did experience some wierd skipping though, but only when the phone is in my pants pocket so I'm wondering if its more a function of where I put the phone. I'll need to do more extensive testing to figure out.
  • There's a built-in Mic too on the Sony DR-BT21G so it can field calls no problemo which I think is a huge bonus. Plus the Mic fits in nicely with the headphones and still sounds fine (to my wife, at least) means I look like I'm just wearing a headset.
Overall, I'm pretty pleased. Now to find out what I've got to give up (hopefully not my arms of legs) to Erna in order to keep the headset. Edit: It's mine now. We worked out a deal. Muahahahahahaha!!!!! Thanks Erna!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Twitter bursts to life in Malaysia?

Did anyone else notice the sudden spike of Malaysian activity on Twitter in these past 2 months?

I've been on the service nearly more than a year and I think I must've seen double the activity on Twitter in just this very short period of time. And I don't think it's just down to Ashton Kutcher vs CNN. Or Oprah.

Last month, there was KL Tweetup [pictures -thanks bytebot / videos - thanks CarolynChan]. And in the space of the month, at least one more KL Tweetup and a couple more smaller tweetupKLs have happened. Then there was yesterday's #twtkl initiated by AvrilChan. Nineteen people showed up to an event that was organised in the space of 40 hours (more or less).

So have we reached a critical mass? The point where the numbers add up and there's enough people for us to follow, and are local enough for us to relate to and discuss locally relevant topics? As much as the preaching goes around that the world is global, there's no doubt with Social Networks local plays a bigger role.

You join a network because your closest friends are on it. That's why Friendster is / was big in Southeast Asia but not the world.

I'm finding Twitter takes on a whole new dimension when you can discuss Malaysian things with Malaysian people. I'm loving the fact that I can ask a totally Malaysian question and get 10 or so responses from Malaysians in a jiffy.

So here's the deal, if you're Malaysian and you're on Twitter, add me (at @davidlian) and I'll follow you back too, ok? Promise.*

PS. I'm also thinking of collating and setting up some sort of directory of Malaysian Tweeters. What do you think? Too invasive of privacy? We could have it as opt-in. Feedback? Edit: Thanks to @derekw. Just use WeFollow.

*Please note, above deal does not apply to people who have "success, money, business owner, network marketing, financial freedom" in their twitter profiles.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

There's definitely a science to this...

I notice a sequence to technology adoption in my household. First, I discover something cool and start using it. I don't evangelise it to my family, but somehow, a couple of months down the road, my brothers start using it.

Like Facebook. I know its hit the mainstream when my father asks me "hey, what is this Facebook thing and how can I use it? My friend says he's sending me pictures on Facebook?"

I also know that this is the point most early adopters start to jump ship. Like me.

So here, may I present you the "GeeWhiz, Social Networks!" curve, roughly indicative observational learnings of social networks. You may also have come to the same conclusion, but remember, I drew this curve first. :)
GeeWhiz Curve.jpg - Share on Ovi
(click for bigger picture. Not on the text. On the picture of course.)

Joking aside, there's something to be learnt here. And though I have not the time nor the will to write a thesis, I think there's really something to be investigated here. Till next time.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Friendster vs Facebook: who's winning in Malaysia?

For project on some work I was doing, I gathered some armchair research on Friendster vs Facebook in Malaysia and here's the interesting data:

Friendster No 1 in Malaysia (Oct 2008)
User comment points out that while Friendster is No.1 in terms of numbers (accounts), Facebook is in Google’s top 10 key word search in Malaysia. Friendster does not make the top 10 list.

Friendster press release

Alexaholic Rankings (current, updated real-time)
This ranks the traffic websites get from Malaysia. Note that Facebook is the 5th most visited page ahead of Friendster (only No. 7). This has changed much from the 2008 news release from Friendster which was in the Top 5 most popular sites. Facebook has overtaken them in these past 6 months.

Of course, Alexa is anything but accurate in Malaysia, but still...if Friendster used to go around telling people they were top 5 on Alexa, it's news that right now, they aren't.

Facebook Increasingly popular in Malaysia (31 March 2009)
This story in March reveals Facebook receiving a 14% sustained growth in Malaysia month-on-month. This means, in Feb 2008 Facebook received 500k visitors, but in February 2009 it received 2.4 million. That’s monumental growth.

Friendster is, by number of accounts, the biggest but it’s trending down in terms of activity (measured by traffic). A quick dip-stick survey on Twitter reveals that most significant online people in Malaysia prefer using Facebook over Friendster.

Replies I got from the Tweet: Which do you prefer Facebook or Friendster? Why? #malaysia (to poll only Malaysian users)

nigelais @davidlian Facebook cause I deleted my Friendster account a long time ago.

mikefoong @davidlian facebook, its cleaner, easier to manage and expandable #malaysia

kellster @davidlian: facebook. i prefer the layout and the security of it :)

ShaolinTiger @nigelais @davidlian I deleted Friendster account too, it was lame and is even lamer now Facebook rocks! Myspace is for musicians #malaysia

thechannelc @mikefoong @davidlian facebook is fast losing it's appeal. I find I'm only there to play word twist to help me sleep. #malaysia (does not have Friendster)

lokgotz @davidlian facebook. Friendster too many annoying strangers... #malaysia

hantu @davidlian re: your question, I have a Facebook account, but I'm not active; I recently deleted my Friendster, clutter/ads issues.

HillaryChan Facebook, but I should probably be more busy on Friendster too. A lot of my girls from my alma mater are active there. @davidlian #malaysia

saimatkong @davidlian facebook, friendster tak da orang guna liao macam...

On another tack, I've got the sneaking suspicion that Twitter might end up the winner pretty soon. People clued into tech are now almost all on Twitter and people like my dad are now getting on Facebook. Obviously there's a bell-curve somewhere that

Personally, I love the simplicity of Twitter and how it lets me connect as meaningfully as possible, with as little effort as possible (140 characters FTW!). Facebook's recent revamp to make itself more like Twitter ("What's on your mind?" sounds too similar to "What are you doing?") seems aimed at driving meaningful connections more than zombie bites and that might just keep them in the running. And in my humble opinion, that's what social connections will turn out to be: simple ways to drive meaningful connections (data, picture, text - whatever is meaningful to you).

The winning social network, I feel, will need to give people the right balance of meaningful information, whilst avoiding information overload. Oh, and it also has to be free.

Apology accepted.

The Malay Mail published an apology for taking without prior information or permission blog posts from ShaolinTiger and myself. I'd like to say here that they did the right thing in apologising and I hope that this little incident in some (small) way contributes to a more professional relationship between blogs and the broader media industry.

Cyberspot Apr 13.jpg - Share on Ovi

For my part, I've no problems with people taking my stuff, quoting me or using content found on my site. I'd just like to be asked first. So there, that's the policy. If you need to take more than three paragraphs from my blog, please ask me. If you want to just quote me here and there, I really don't mind as it's fair use - just credit me properly. After all, we live in the age and culture of sharing don't we?

Monday, April 6, 2009

The post about Barcamp KL 2009

Spent Saturday morning at Barcamp KL 2009 and though I only spent half a day, listening to four sessions, I have to say, it was probably the most fun conference I've attended. Way better than the one I attended last year. Kudos Daniel Tan and Daniel Cerventus!

Quickly, off the top of my head, just the top things I loved about barcamp:
1. Meeting other geeks!
2. The talks - some hilarious, some insightful, some flame-worthy and all a great deal of "time well spent".
3. Breakfast! *note to organising team: The hearty breakfast was absolutely smashing!
4. Debates: Along with meeting people, the inevitable sharing of views and debating was enlightening. Truly, some of Malaysia's best tech minds attend barcamp.
5. The fact that you can be you, and everyone's a peer: I missed the dance lessons, but hey, not all conferences have to be stuffy.

For more BarcampKL 2009 coverage:

Here's an excellent video by TheBackpackr which captures the essence of Barcamp KL 2009:

If you want to catch up on all the tweets that were made at BarcampKL, click thru here.

I also guested @mikefoong's TheITChannel Podcast to share my experience at Barcamp, check that out here.

Bytebot's presentation and associated blog posting on: Behind the scenes: Advertising and PR, Bloggers and Integrity: Making Money, While Being Honest

Random videos of talks and happenings by TheChannelC on Qik.

Reports on Barcamp KL 2009 I've found:
Bernard Leong.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The PM's exclusive content: Marketing the wrong thing?

There was a story that ran in The Star today where our PM encouraged the people to check his blog regularly for 'exclusive content.'

I've got a question. What does our dear PM mean when he say's 'exclusive content'?

Is he talking about some exclusive wallpapers featuring himself? Behind-the-scenes videos? 'The making of' videos? What 'exclusive content'?

He says its exclusive content on coming events. Okay, so it sounds like its actually useful information. That's more troubling.

The issue here is: is it right for the nation's leader to have exclusive content just for the 59% of Malaysians on the internet - and even then, only the few - who may be visiting his website?

Shouldn't he be sending the message out to all Malaysians through as many channels as possible?

No, I don't believe 'exclusive content' is for the PM. I also don't believe a new logo will actually add any 'fresh perspectives' (read here).

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Can you contribute others' posts?

Yesterday, the Malay Mail published both ShaolinTiger and my posts about "PR and bloggers" side by side in a contrapuntal article entitled "Battle for the Internet mind". Shaolintiger posted about this on his blog, attracting many replies screaming plagiarism, copyright-infringement or the like.

Battleforinternetminds.jpg - Share on Ovi

Technically, it isn't plagiarism, because its attributed to us. It's possibly copyright infringement, because we weren't asked or informed. But here's a slight loophole, that I've had at the back of my mind thinking:

The whole page is framed as a reader-contributed page where the Malay Mail asks readers to send in links to anything interesting they've seen on the Net. So technically, it isn't the Malay Mail that's willfully taking and publishing blogposts, right? Readers contributed them.

I'm not a lawyer, so I'm really asking an open question about the legality of this?

Personally, I wouldn't even have needed to be asked permission (permission is over-rated). But it'd have been nice to just get an email from The Malay Mail telling me:

"Hi David, we loved your post on this and this, so we're going to run it in tomorrow's newspaper. Thought we'd let you know. Oh, and don't worry about running out to get a copy, we'll send you a complimentary copy."

It doesn't hurt to be nice, you know?

On another note, in today's connected society, is the culture of taking and re-purposing something that's become a norm? I can embed any YouTube video I want without asking the person who posted the video in the first place. Can the Malay Mail 'embed' my blog into their newspaper too?

I guess that's another discussion altogether.

New MALAYSIAN tech podcast for my ears...

I've confessed previously what a big fan of podcasting I am. In fact, podcasts have replaced the radio completely for me.

What I've been looking forward to though is for a truly local tech podcast to break through and set the ball rolling in Malaysia. Murmurings at KLTweetup seemed to indicate that more than one large tech personality in Malaysia was looking into it and then on Monday, I discovered TheITChannel.

Podcast - Share on Ovi

Hosted by @mikefoong and @andrewkjs (and supposedly, in future episodes @thechannelc) of Twitter fame, the inaugral episode covers Earth Hour, Maxis iPhone launch and DiGi's Broadband launch - all from a really local tech-head viewpoint. It's a great listen and the hosts are suitably Malaysian (not at all pretentious with western accents). I think it'll stay on my podcast list for a while.

Meantime, I'm also looking forward to ByteBot's podcast when that comes around. It's starting to looks like it's going to be the year Malaysian podcasting takes off.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Can't fight Gravity

Do you know why an apple fell on Isaac Newton's head?

Because he was sitting in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Okay, lame joke aside, this post is about Gravity, that long awaited twitter client for S60 (3rd ed or 5th ed) that was just released yesterday. The news is, I've just gone out and bought it. Yup, probably the best RM 38.23 I've paid for a mobile app.

Gravity - Share on OviGravity - Share on Ovi

What I liked about Gravity:
- It's very, very fast to load and start-up
- but still maintains a swish-looking yet clean interface
- easy access to pictures and instant twitpicking (yes! now pictures from my N96 straight to twitter!)
- 'Kinetic' scrolling (the one where scrolling gets faster and faster as you hold on to the key or tap the screen)
- Big tabs for Search, Contacts etc. and little tabs you can scroll sideways for other menus.

What I would like to add to Gravity:
- How do I post my GPS data from Gravity? It should be there...but I'm not getting how to do it.
- Font-size changes
- More integration with S60 OS (e.g. add an option to the context menu of the camera app to twitpick a just-taken photo).

Gravity - Share on OviGravity - Share on Ovi

That said, I think Gravity in its first iteration has already covered all the basics and got them exceedingly right. Well done! I can foresee myself tweeting a lot more from my mobile now.

On a side-note on twitter, I was at #KLTweetup last Friday. It was a pretty good meetup and especially fantastic to finally put faces to all those random KL tweeters I follow. Pictures can be found here.

In fact, it was so successful, the folks behind it have started planning for a second one. Sign up here.

If you go, we may bump into each other.

Monday, March 30, 2009

PR people and bloggers: why engage in the first place?

First off, I'd like to remind you that I've got a disclaimer somewhere on this blog that anything and everything posted here is solely my opinion. This isn't work related, and does not reflect my employer's opinion. It doesn't even reflect my fellow PR colleagues opinion. Any similarities in opinion is purely coincidental.

Now that we've got that out of the way, I wanted to latch on to a timely post by Shaolintiger last week to put forward some thoughts on the matter of PR people engaging bloggers in Malaysia. And problems that subsequently ensue.

I believe the crux of the issue is that there is still largely misunderstanding on both sides to this core question: "What's the point of engagement?"

To the PR person:

It's no big secret that more and more clients today are asking agencies about engaging the blogosphere, twit-o-sphere or whatever "-sphere" you can think of.

Most clients don't understand social media, and I can't help but think the responsibility falls squarely on the agency to educate them. Both PR people and clients need to understand what social / peer media can and cannot do. Expectations, goals and objectives of any kind of engagement needs to be set right.

What's your goal in engaging the blogger? So that they can write a positive "write-up" about your client's products / services? If so, I'd say paying for the advertorial is probably the best way to go.

Let me give you an alternative viewpoint: what if your engagement with the social / peer media isn't so you can see positive blogposts, but so you can involve yourself and your brand in the conversation that's going all around you regardless of whether you take part or not, and add value?

What if the objective of holding a blogger event is to listen to what bloggers have to say about your product rather than having them go home and re-printing your press release?

Social media is about the conversation. Companies can participate, or they can pay some money and take an ad. Like what an editor once told me.

My humble advice is don't think the blogger owes you anything just because they attended your event. The onus is on you, the company and the PR person advising the company, to make sure what you've got to tell the blogger is worth the blogger re-telling, if coverage is your goal.

To the blogger:

Here's what PR people can do: pre-release scoops, direct contact with some top people (CEOs?), connect you to in-depth discussions with experts from client companies, get you product samples, previews of upcoming products, and ensure your feedback gets listened to and acted upon.

Here's what PR people don't do (generally): place advertorials or do advertising. This function is the media-buying agency, whom the client pays to insert advertisements / advertorials in the right places.

PR people shouldn't be out there to get free publicity. Many are (I won't deny that). But they shouldn't be. Bang them on their head if they try that stunt on you.

PR people are not out there to con you so that you write good things on your blogs about their clients, for free. If their goal is deception, they should be hung out to dry and rightly so.

PR people are there to facilitate conversations between a company and its interested audiences.

If you're a blogger who's heard about the upcoming cool new phone and think its worth your time and space to blog about it, the PR person is your best bet to get you that hands-on with the device before its even launched.

If you have a grouse against a certain company, the PR person is the person that should be listening and taking the feedback back to the company and making sure there's follow-up. Even if its to tell you they can't do anything about it.

If you're not interested, tell them and the PR person should go away.

This doesn't mean clients shouldn't advertise on your blogs and pay PR people to get free publicity. Advertising still exists and will continue to exist. It just isn't the purview of the PR agency. Rather, the right people who should be placing advertisements on your blogs are media buying agencies who might work for the same client as the PR person. Of course, this doesn't stop you from proposing an advertising package to the PR person you're working with if you think its something that will add value to the client.

So what's the root of the problem?

I can't help but think its the PR community's fault for bringing this onto ourselves in the first place by setting expectations wrongly when working with the blogosphere.

ShaolinTiger is right when he says:

...the sooner YOU poorly informed PR hacks educate yourselves the sooner you will reap real benefits from engaging bloggers and forming relationships with them.
The key word is understand. Social media is not as simple as the one event = 8 write-ups formula many 'PR' agencies peddle to clients. On second thought, even your traditional media isn't as simple as that. We could all do with a little more thinking, research, and just asking ourselves: "Would I do this to myself if I was on the other end of the stick?"

Please feel free to discuss if you've something to add. Comments welcome.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What's Twitter? Why is it so great?

I've become resigned to the fact that only a few people will ever get Twitter. But what I'd really like is for all my friends to be on Twitter.

So here's Ewan Williams, co-founder of Twitter explaining Twitter to the masses at TED. He does a great job too, and if you're a social media person - you should keep a copy of this somewhere on your hard drive.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Why I try my level best to go home early

Because, if I don't go home early, I can't cycle.
If I can't cycle, I'll get fat.
If I get fat, I'll weigh more.
If I weigh more, my fuel consumption will increase.
If my fuel consumption increases, I will spend more on petrol.
If I spend more on petrol, I have less to spend on other things.
When I have less to spend on other things, it means I'm poor.
If I'm poor then... wait, I don't wanna be poor.

So that's why I need to go home early. Thank you.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ryanair is the talk of Twittertown

It's 6:05 p.m. in Malaysia. Over the past hour, tweets on Ryanair seems to have just shot up. See the chart below from Twitscoop.

RyanAir TwitScoop.jpg - Share on Ovi

So did Ryanair stir the hornets nest just to generate social media publicity? Is all publicity, good publicity?

Don't let your staffers run wild...

Like kids in a supermarket running amok while mum's busy, Ryanair staffers posse roughed up Irish blogger Jason Roe over a simple mistake posted on the latter's blog.

What I find really interesting from Wired's story is that later on, a Ryanair spokesperson confirms that the comments did indeed come from Ryanair staffers and unapologetically added: "It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy in corresponding with idiot bloggers, and Ryanair can confirm that it won't be happening again. Lunatic bloggers can have the blog sphere all to themselves, as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel."

I'm wondering what's Ryanair's strategy here - cheap publicity by infuriating the (local) blogosphere? It's not like the budget airline hasn't done outrageouspublicity stunts before.

Ryanair's own attitude aside, this incident also highlights the case for a proper, well-communicated social media policy for companies. Clearly, Ryanair staffers had taken it upon themselves to "educate" Mr. Roe out of their own initiative. In this day and age, with every white-collared worker spending their day sitting in front of the computer, and accessing the internet all-day, the chances are high that your staff's social media activity might run contrary to your organisation's objectives.

So should you just ban everyone in the company from blogging? Of course not.

Just lay out those rules. Share the game plan (if you don't have one, time to write one). What's the company's position of social media? (do we decide not to respond to criticism? Should only one person respond? Do we respond politely or arrogantly? etc. etc.) Define what your staff can do and cannot do, remembering that as individuals, they are entitled to some rights (blogging is still your private business, just don't do it on company time). And make sure people know these rules.

This is still oversimplifying it. But as it stands, I don't really have the time in the world to write a manual on this right now. The bottom-line is: don't let your staffers run wild... unless you're Ryanair.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just common sense: your customers have brains too.

The golden rule for communications /PR/ customer service / anything related in this day and age has got to be: "Treat your customers with respect. They have brains." Simple thought, really, if you bother to think about it, but something I see lacking in many companies.

The latest in this trend has got to be AirAsia. See this post by KY. To avoid bad publicity, all AirAsia would have to do is act with a little intelligence and not let two people, who purchased their tickets together, with the same credit card (I'm told), checked in at the same time - be seated in different rows! What's worse is the cool, calm, collected "No" the customer service lady gives when asked if they could be seated together. Seating, apparently, is randomised.

Oh, there's more. For RM 25 a person, you could select "Hot Seats" and then you can sit together.

Given the facts, what do you, my dear thinking reader, make of AirAsia's intents?

Let me be very clear, AirAsia isn't the only company treating their customers this way. Too many other companies are. And it isn't one department's fault all the time either. Sometimes its a business decision. Sometimes, it's over-marketing. Sometimes, it's customer service treating you like an idiot ("Sir, could you please reset your modem?").

The truth is, customers aren't brain-dead. In fact, the most attractive customers, that fabled PEMB group that every client briefs you as the target audience, are savvy, thinking individuals.

They'll see through a thinly-veiled ploy to make more money. At the same time, they'll respect you giving them deep, honest, factual and frank answers and explanations. It's not like this is an overnight trend (well, I guess it is given education and literacy rates are much higher than 50 years back), but the big point is that today, just about every dissatisfied customer has a megaphone.

That's what social media is. Make the mistake of insulting their intelligence and they'll post on blogs. Grumble on forums. And tell all their friends on Facebook about your company's boo-boo. It just takes that one spark of influence to get the ball rolling down the hill.

In short, if you're planning on making a business decision, embark on a new marketing campaign or something of that sort today, please give a thought about what your customers might think of it. Don't delude yourself that your customers don't think (enough).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Please stop the cat-dumping

Was away for a quick one-night, overnight recce in Perak on Friday and Saturday when we passed this sign.

21022009017.jpg - Share on Ovi

Apparently, cat-dumping is a serious problem in Perak.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Is Facebook Notes the new blog?

Just in case you're a smart-aleck about grammar, I'm referring to "Facebook Notes" the application, it's a noun, so "is" is technically correct. Ok?

Did you get that "25 random things" meme on Facebook? Any of your friends tag you in a "Note" they wrote, but when you clicked through it read more like a blog post and your name wasn't even in the post?

If you answered "yes" and "yes", then spare a moment to think with me for a bit whether Facebook Notes is starting to replace blogging. The dynamic is different, but in essence, the content are the same.

With Notes, you're sending it to your audience (friends you know) by tagging them and giving them a little more impetus to click and read (or immediately close, when they see the wordcount) your posts.

On your blog, sometimes even your best friend doesn't read. And really, it just boils down to us wanting people to read our thoughts, doesn't it?

Based on some numbers I took the time to collate, I've been tagged about 26 times the past one month on "Notes" that didn't mention my name and were longer than 200 characters and read more like blogposts. Compared to just 8 three months ago. Small numbers, yes, but it does tell me the trend is picking up.

Of course, the differences are stark. Facebook is private, and (as far as I know) you can't search Notes using search engines. Blogs, however, are generally public.

With Facebook, you can "prompt" people you know to read your posts by "tagging" them to the story. On a blog, it's either your reader subscribes to your RSS feed or you can spam them with email.

Facebook supports mechanisms like "Liking" the article, comments etc. Blogs support comments and whatever widget you can throw at it.

I guess the big difference is that with Facebook, you're reaching out to your audience, a bunch of people you know already in some measure. With a blog, you can build an audience, but you'll never really know who else is reading your blog.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

*Mourns the death of Palm OS

Palm CEO Ed Colligan announced the death of the Palm OS last week. I couldn't help but shed a tear. The Palm OS has had a lasting impact on me. I'll never write the letter 'E' properly ever again thanks to my seven or so years using Palm's Graffiti and Graffiti 2 handwriting method.

Palm IIIe - Share on Ovi

The world's abuzz with touchscreen phones today, and it'd be a shame not to credit at least some of this to Palm's venerable OS. From the simple grid based icon layout to third-party apps, all these trends have their roots in the venerable Palm 3.x OS and every generation after that.

Third-party apps
The third-party apps thing is probably the biggest. Way before Apple had an AppStore, hundreds of thousands of crazy Palm OS users were busy adding fun but ultimately useless apps to their Palm devices. One of my favourites was Yoda - a simple app where an animated Yoda spouted tidbits of Jedi wisdom. "There is no try, do or do not."

There was also that calendaring application. The note application. The list application. That campy 3D RPG game in black and white (Dragon's Breath I think it was called). And the Gameboy emulator. Don't forget the MemManager that helped you maximise your RAM and the nifty SimCity 2000 port too!

If you ever needed an app, there were millions (number exaggerated, but you get the point) to choose from.

Accelerometer Games
Few people might know this, but one of the coolest things people did with their Palm devices was to slap an accelerometer mod on and play games with them. Yups, I remember the tricky ball game I played where you had to tilt the device to guide the ball where you wanted it to go. Just can't remember the name.

Grid Icon Layout / interface
Couple of years after Palm got the early lead out of the door, Windows CE (as it was called then) came out and introduced the taskbar to the mobile PDA. Today, every mobile computing platform is using the grid layout, even the one that's got a taskbar still. I'm so glad Palm won that battle.

So, even as we bid goodbye to our dear friend the Palm OS, I'd like to record a little thank you and say - hey, it was great to have you around.

Next post, I'll post a couple of pics and my brief history with Palm devices.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

On the importance of health

If you've noticed the significant drop in postings on my blog over the past two weeks, you'll notice something has probably been the matter. I've been unwell, really. That and too busy to blog.

One of the things I've come to really appreciate right now is good health. I've set a new record since the year started for seeing the doctor. Four times in two weeks. Five, if you count the time I went before Christmas.

These past weeks, I've had rashes, headaches, nosebleeds, fevers, body aches, ulcers, overwhelming phlegm - the works. It occurs to me I've never been this sick before.

I've never really taken my health seriously before. But this time, combined with the workload, I just felt I could have done without all the bad health. So I've started myself on a new regime. It'll be cycling, Brands Chicken Essence everyday, and a couple of new vitamin supplements I've taken from GNC. I'll also progressively sleep earlier.

I hope this works. I don't want to get sick again.

Friday, January 23, 2009

My finished Citadel Gameboard

Just finished the final touches of my most recent miniature hobby project. With all the things that's been happening, I've had almost no time at all to do anything hobby-related. So what's the secret?

Nights. One coat of paint a night. 10 minutes of drybrushing here. 10 minutes of overbrushing there. And in the space of one month - Wah lah! Enjoy the pics below. I'll come back to this post and do a how-to later.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Malaysia's most avid mobile data user?

Ladies and gentlemen, I've an announcement to make... I've reached the big 10.

That's right, just 4 months after starting to use my Nokia N96, the data packet indicator has now rolled over to a whopping 10 Gigabytes of downloaded data over the course of those 4 months.

See for yourself:

Whoa! Check out my downloads! - Share on Ovi

Personally, I attribute all this to the huge amount of podcast listening I do, web-surfing and of course, online-gaming on N-Gage (you have to love Reset Generation). Now, I wonder if these numbers are the reason why I've been getting relatively lousy service on my 3G connection recently?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Debunking the FUD on Mobile Number Portability

Yes, you can now switch to DiGi and still keep your 012 (Maxis) number. Or vice-versa. And no, it will not incur extra charges or hidden cost to your subscription package.

I'm writing this because so many people have asked me and come to me with the impression that switching from your DiGi line to Maxis will make all your calls out and receiving calls more expensive.

Mobile Number Portability Post - Share on Ovi

Well, here's the good news. No it doesn't. Mobile Number Portability in the simplest terms means that mobile phone number prefixes (012, 016, 019 etc.) are no longer tied to specific telcos. So, you could subscribe to Maxis and keep your 019 number for example. Similarly, you can be on DiGi with a 012 number.

Then why do people say, or you read in the newspapers, that it may cost your friends more to call you if you switch telcos using MNP?

Here's the scenario to explain:

Let's say you and your friend are both currently on Maxis. Calls between Maxis numbers are RM 0.12 per minute (for ValuePlus50) so that's the rate you currently enjoy. One day, you decided to switch to DiGi but through MNP, keep your 012XXXXXXX number. After you've switched, your friend who's still on Maxis calls you and starts getting charged RM 0.18 per minute because you are no longer a Maxis subscriber even though you have a 012 number. This is exactly the same as if you had switched to DiGi, taken a 016 number and he was calling you.

Likewise, if you had switched to DiGi but maintained your 012 number, you will get the better rate for calling other DiGi subscribers (not necessarily 016 only anymore) but will no longer get the lower rate for calling Maxis customers even though you have a "012" number.

Makes sense?

I guess for some time, there will be some fear, uncertainty and doubt over this whole MNP thing, but it really doesn't cost you more to switch providers. And that's the important part, because it means we have that little bit more of power to choose the better service provider without fear of losing our cherished mobile numbers.

So, I say, go forth and let the switching begin!

New Yahoo! CEO suspects too much

I think I may have learned a new line for those long Q&As I occassionally have to write as part of the job.

Carol Bartz when introduced as the new Yahoo! CEO today said (and I predict these words will come back to famously haunt her):

"I suspect I have the brainpower to understand media. I also suspect there are people here that can help jump-start my education."
That's right. "I suspect". Almost as good as last year's quote of the year: "looks like me, sounds like me." Somewhere between saying "I don't really know what I'm getting into" without admitting that "I'm possibly out of my league."

I've always liked Yahoo! as a company. I make it a point to search with Yahoo! almost as often as I search with Google - if only to equally contribute to both company's coffers with my eyeball. However, Ms. Bartz's reply to the journalist's question does not my confidence invoke.

Yahoo!'s not really in bad shape. It's still got a huge share of eyeballs and a couple of really top notch properties (like Flickr) and services (like Delicious). And Yahoo! Pipes is amazing too.

What the company needs is a gameplan. Something to tie everything together and make people love the company again. And I suspect that suspecting will not be good enough. It's time to deal with the facts and the reality of the situation, and get the game going, Yahoo!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Nutty Obama conspiracy theory continues online.

Was browsing Boing-Boing when I stumbled on this. My reaction? At first glance, the screen cap of the video below almost makes it plausible. (Doesn't he look the least bit...?)

On a more serious note, though, I'd have to agree with Michael Platt that "I'm reassured that the Web is facilitating a freedom of the press that didn't quite exist before." Just look at the amount of conspiracy theories we have locally! That's the beauty of internet.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

3:32 AM

I've just joined the club for being on at wee hours in the morning wondering what I'm doing online and not being bothered to blog about anything except the time.

Welcome me.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Are Malaysians really all that "online"?

The New Straits Times published a survey by Nielsen that quoted impressive figures such as "85% (of Malaysians) got on their computers compared to 77% who turned on their TV".

The immediate reaction any internet-evangelist (like me) would get would be - "Wow! Internet's taking off for real."

Source: New Straits Times, 8 Jan 2009

Until you read further on down and discover that the source for the analysis and numbers is an "online survey, conducted last September."

I feel a little cheated by the headline and nifty graphics now. We've not turned the curve of technology and web-savviness. With a broadband penetration of just 18% (same article) how representative is this 500 people who went online and clicked through the survey? I'm willing to wager that we still have way more TV watchers than netizens. Anyone wanna run that survey?