Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Social media and the brand watchdogs.

You know sometimes, it's good that we have 'experts' from the common people who bother taking their time to research and uncover the truths so many product or service manufacturers are claiming. (See what else social media can do?). It's pretty much the same as how one of the media uncovered Celcom's iffy business of charging consumers something which they never delivered, recently. If only there were more experts volunteering to search out the truth and share it with others.

Don't depend on the brands to tell you what's best. They can tell you who they are, and you decide if you want to associate yourself with scumbags like them or rub shoulders with the robin hood kind. The whole point is, YOU have the power to decide.

Via: Budget Planner –

Design: Latest 'Content-Aware Fill' preview by Adobe Photoshop - it's like... magic.

I remember reading about a revolutionary algorithm that can make something out of nothing. Traditional MRI scan is not efficient in some cases, and sometimes produces a lo-res and grainy photo that drastically drops data accuracy. But according to Wired, we now have a clearer visual sense of what's on paper and what else's to come...

"By using mathematical concept called 'sparsity', the compressed-sensing algorithm can take a fuzzy, lo-res file and transform it into an image that is sharp and crisp" - Wired, 18.03

How it works is that the algorithm will modify the picture in stages by laying coloured shapes over the randomly selected image. It intelligently detects the adjacent pixels in the same area and fill in the same colour and does this over and over again with smaller and smaller shapes to finally achieve a crisp clear image that is near-perfect.

I can't help but wonder if there is a similar magic working here, as shown in this video of Adobe Photoshop's Content-Aware Fill tool. You select the area which you want to clean, and it detects the possibility of adjacent hues in ultra small fine tiny little wee bits and fill in what it 'thinks' could be logical. Five seconds of dragging your mouse around, one click, and viola. New picture. Like magic ;)

Anyone know if the same technology is employed here?

The Malaysian government and social media, here's my response.

Yesterday we attended the 'Government and social media' session organised by the wonderful people from @SMCkl. It was a very amusing session given the attendees: @asohan as moderator, @khairykj @tonypua as the 'political' reps @kamraslan as the lone ranger in no man's land and #tinamalone as the rep from America's gov 2.0. I've never met any of them in real life. Only read about them in the papers not their tweets. So, yesterday was my first time to get a first hand experience of what these people are really like, naked in flesh without their Twitter handles :P They're quite... funny. Khairy being the funniest.

Anyway, the session was conducted in a jovial and most civilized manner and everyone enjoyed themselves. I had a lot of questions swimming in my head but I didn't want to reveal myself to ask questions (they were taking photos). I was afraid of spending the night in some unidentified ISA cell. I was afraid that my blog and my entire social media life will be unplugged as punishment for asking questions that normally people are only comfortable asking online, anonymously. I was just afraid. And also because the room was !*@#& cold and I had to go to the loo badly and some of the things they were talking about made me !&#!^*$ and that if I had stood up and say something, I may just put additional weight on my already stressed bladders.

But today is different, my bladders' empty and I have all the time I need to ask as many questions as I like and comment as much as I want. These are based on the discussion last night. If you weren't there and read the following comments, you'd probably have an idea on the state of our government in 1) technology infrastructure 2) social media scene and 3) mindset and I kid you not.

1) Tina Malone shared about the new dot com era that was sweeping across America's government, changing it to dot gov. Lead by Obama's history-has-never-seen-before digital campaign maximising the usage of social media that caused his avalanche win, they followed through via other initiatives on both state and national level. They're using technology to provide transparency, democratising information to the people. You could access data (provided by the government and provided by others), you could mash data, you could do anything with it which you see fit (no wonder 'planning' in America is light years ahead of us - they almost have unlimited free access to any sort of data!). A lady in the crowd asked whether the Malaysian government is ready for this kind of transparency and how about sharing some of those data? Of course, you get the usual: Er.. ah.. and some really diplomatic answer such as yes, we would like that to happen and we believe it will happen and we're working towards it, blah. My answer to that question is simple: It's not that the government doesn't want to share data. Truth is, they have no data to share. When was the last census? Is MCMC's number about the state of internet in Malaysia accurate? Perhaps she was referring to budget expenditure and transparency in that. There's an easier and more cost effective way then. You could read: The BUDGET - How the Government is spending OUR money, written by Teh Chi-Chang and it only costs 20 bucks. In Ringgit.

2) I think Twitter and Facebook are cool social networks. And I think what it does for us, individuals are really cool too. But to think that our government has the exact same sentiment as me in that area is utterly uncool! I'm appalled at our government's primitive usage of 2.0 which confines to ONLY Facebook and Twitter (the two overused words in the session last night). 2.0 is about collective collaboration and creation - duh, social. It's not only Twitter and Facebook! The web is bigger than that you know? But having said that, I can understand why these two social networks are getting so much attention in our government. Malaysia with only 24 million peeps is indeed a very small country. Not to mention the great 'longkang' size divide between the wired and non-wired (thanks to TM's policy but we'll come to that next time). For something to gain an organisation's attention, you need the critical mass. So, 5 million Malaysians on FB and 1 million on Twitter, wowee. Great news for the government. So my question is: IF, God-forbids, one day, Facebook and Twitter decide to pull the plug. Or... the US government decides to pull the plug. So, they shut down. So is that it? There goes Malaysia's glorious but shortlived experience in so-called gov 2.0!? That's it? There goes Mr. PM's 15-minute fame and his FB 'friends'? This isn't web 2.0. This is primitive 2.0. We're still not leveraging on the power of social media. It's like you're strapped in a V12 belching over 600 horses and you're driving it like how you would in a 600cc Kancil. And your reason is: I don't know how to drive a V12? Wth!?

3) There are prime individuals in the government which are already utilizing social media to reach out to the general public whether it's via a blog, FB, videos, etc. As an individual, it's about freedom of speech (in my opinion, it almost always works in favour to the 'challenger' not so much the 'defender'). As a government, this is pure propaganda 2.0. Call it 'humanising' the politicians, political parties, government, or whatever. If you're ONLY using web 2.0 to self-promote (your deeds and your views), and you belong to any political parties, sorry dude. That's propaganda albeit 'humanised'. Is it just because we can see your photo on FB with your family? Believe me, I've seen that before. I read The Star.

4) I may sound really critical here. Well, that's because I am like that. In nature. But I just want to say that I can understand the trembling fear the government is going through because they're for once, at the same level with the 'rakyat' online. But I also really want to say that not everyone who criticizes wants a piece of the government. Some speak (out loud) because they're unhappy. You see, our emotions and sound volume are correlated. The 'unhappier' we are, the 'louder' we speak. That's all. But after speaking, if you get them involved sincerely, you'll find many Malaysians who are so willing and ready to collaborate for the better without even asking for anything in return. Why are you so afraid of making friends? Come on... lift and stretch out your index finger...

5) When I speak about power to the people (how you could REALLY leverage on social media), what realistically the government can do is to provide a platform with an aerial view of what's really happening (backed by accurate data that is, no matter how insufficient it is because it's better to start somewhere, then nowhere) and let the people mobilize themselves to get involve in where needs involvement. ONLY the government has got access to such view. Take for example the tree planting efforts, how small groups of people are trying their best to plant seedlings in places where IF the government had gotten involved, they will know that they'll only live to see their babies being chopped off to make way for another bungalow. Show them the map of critical areas. List down what needs to be done. Some will clear the land, some will put markers, some will prepare the seedlings, some will plant the damn seedlings, some will water them (hang on, this is beginning to sound like a hobby anyone can do!). We understand that the government simply does not have enough manpower but the value we can give to the people here which is immensely important, it's accuracy of information. Take Tourism Malaysia as another example. Some time ago, we proposed that we should have an independent portal powered by TM (the travel people not high speed ones) to engage ALL Malaysians (hello hello, itu big idea 1Malaysia... masih ingat?) to scour every inch of the country and share their best experiences AS a local. Imagine how much resources we can save to get that amount of priceless data to be made sense of, in a swanky looking portal (please do outsource your design to ad agencies, ANY ad agencies). And imagine the amount of people we will attract online? Imagine how this could further support your marketing efforts?

6) Someone asked whether social media will flourish in Malaysia like in the US. To compare the both is like heaven and earth. Forget about infrastructure. Are we EVER going to be on the same level as America in terms of freedom of speech and democracy? Then pray why do we have to self-censor our blog? Isn't my blog my property in a no man's land called the web? So you say I'm utilizing Malaysia's cable? Sitting on Malaysia's soil? Using TM's phone line? Connected to Streamyx? Didn't I pay tax? Pay TM? Pay Streamyx?

7) In the session, everyone talked about how the government can only reach the 'wired' upper middle class people if they were to focus on social media. Come on. Isn't it high time that you understand that the world does not run in a linear format anymore? Why do you assume Pak Cik in Kelantan detests the use of internet because he doesn't understand the language? Do lah in BM, no sorry, Kelantanese! Usability and visual simplicity. Straightforward, immediate gratification from service usage. Keep the 'application' in these disciplines and watch them check for weather forecast, latest market price of fishes and anything 'fishy' about baboon-ic pirates in Fisherman 2.0. It's the same theory. When we were kids, we used landline then we migrate to mobile phones. But kids today, they are born with mobile phones tied to their umbilical cord. Do not assume that we go through social changes in a linear format. He can be Pak Cik 2.0 with the right technology support. Hey TM (the high speed kind)! You wanna know how to hit your KPI by getting the other half of Malaysia to subscribe? Support application developers, help them flourish and get them connected to the right economy.

8) Second last question: Do you guys appoint any PR 2.0 firm for consultancy anyway? If you do, which one? I'd like to engage them too.

9) LAST question: What's the status of our cyberlaws? Still on 1.0?

Thank you very much for last night's session. See you again at the next one!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Malaysia: Perhaps we're not as 'conservative' as we thought we are?

It doesn't get any clearer than You don't even have to click on their website to understand what they do. Talk about single-mindedness. This is spot on :)

I stumbled upon this site by chance and am amazed by the range of 'intelligence' services offered by a 100% Malaysian company called MVD International Sdn Bhd. What piqued my interest is, of all services offered, why this domain name? Following are their list of services:

Corporate & Economic Crime Investigation
White Collar Crime Investigation
Background Investigation
Fraud Investigation
Intellectual Property Infringement/Fraud Investigation
Corporate Security Investigation
Business Intelligence and Integrity Due Diligence
Pre & Post Employment Screening
Assets Searching & Skip Tracing
Money Laundering
Medicaid Fraud Investigation
Insurance Fraud Investigation
Commercial Mortgage Fraud Investigation
Occupational Fraud Investigation
Contract & Procurement Fraud Investigation
Predatory Fraud Investigation
Inventory Fraud Investigation
Contractors/Bidders Verification/Investigation
Forensic Accounting
Risk Consulting & Management
Summon/Process Server
Matrimonial Investigation
Surveillance Investigation
Tracing Illicit Fund/Asset
Tracing of Stolen Vehicle (This one is so applicable to us! Bookmark the site!)

Interesting isn't it? If spouse catching is their cash cow, doesn't that tell us something about our dear Malaysian society? No one denies the growing cases of divorce in this country (which I'm quite sure simply follows a global trend) - a natural trend perhaps. But the insight I guess lies in the reason couples are divorcing. From 20s to 40s. The infamous period of the internet generation X and Y. There are so much gaps here, it'll be interesting to fill them up in order to investigate the social change we're experiencing.

Oh by the way, if you're interested, knock yourself out:

I didn't know you have ISO for this sort of thing...

Design: Special edition White Moleskine.

I'm so loving this. Special edition Moleskine in virgin white for yoox.

It's really... the first time...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Are you an 80s baby? The A-team trailer needs no explanation :)

I remember the song. SO WELL. Ha ha, awesome, can't wait to catch this in the big screen :)

Idea: Smart storage space.

Why didn't I think of utilizing staircases for bookshelves? It's one of those things that you just wanna kick yourself...

New eco Coke design.

I need time to digest this refreshing look of Coke’s new eco design, brainchild of designer Andrew Kim. But I totally admire the thinking and inspiration behind the new design. Hmm, I wonder if the volume will be the same? Are they making us consume more? Cause, it definitely doesn’t look like they want us to consume any less. Is the price going to be the same? I feel this whole thing about reducing the footprint by increasing number of bottles shipped per container seems a little… bogus. Sorry, I’m always wary about big organizations that want to grow even bigger. Increasing shipping volume per container meaning increasing sales off the shelves. And sometimes they masquerade behind a great world-saving slogan. Hmm.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Music: This too shall pass by OK GO ('Cog'-kier than Honda ;).

This is like the Honda Cog commercial (inspired by Pythagoras Switch) but crazier and 'more'. You would expect people like OK GO to come up with sorts like this ;) Awesome.

via wegarn.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Automotive: Kia Forte test driven.

I must say I was very surprised by what's been brought to the table by Kia Forte for RM81,800. First impression of the car in terms of design was good. While I don't think it will leave you speechless but at least it's a lot more lookable compared to other Korean makes. It has a sharper face and overall body is proportionate with purposeful press lines. Something which I would consider very safe and palatable to most people. Meaning to say, 8 out of 10 people will consider this as stylish and relevant to today's design. The 9th and 10th are either designers themselves who beg to differ or blind. Safe as it should, I would presume this is a logical step for Kia to 'undo' all its past design mistakes and reckon the Forte to be a clean slate. From now on, the DNA shall be slowly revealed and imprinted on it. We may expect to see more and more stylish Koreans from now on ;) Like those on TV right now...

Getting into the car, I was blown away by the power-packed features available for a Korean sedan at this price range. I suppose Peter Shreyer is really making his time leading Kia's global design centre worth every penny (or won). A lot of VW's feature and functionality is now available in the Kia Forte. Some examples are: Engine start/stop button with smart key, car visor with mirror equipped with manual lights for both front passenger and driver, front reading lights, advanced data message centre which provides information on fuel consumption, reverse sensors direction, etc, electro-chromic mirror which cancels out high beams sent out by blind night cows, rear seat centre armrest with cup holders, air-conditioner with auto-climate control and an array of safety functions for the SX version. I think what was really impressive is the smart key remote device (which probably takes you some practice to smoothen out the usage) that is multi-functional. A lot of what I mentioned is available in conti cars costing RM200k and above but of course, minus the finesse. With the Kia Forte, you'll get RM80k of cake but not the butter and needless to say, forget about the icing :)

When it comes to drivability, in terms of overall comfort, Kia Forte does have a more spacious cabin compared to Toyota Vios and Honda City although cabin comfort tends to slack a little. It's 1.6 therefore provides a few more kW of power compared to the Japanese while max torque is at 156 Nm riding at 4.2rpm. After being wowed by Kia Forte's functionality, everything that should look good, looks good on paper, I was a little disappointed with the drivability. The steering is tight, pick up a little sluggish and feedback was slow. You really have to step on it to get it up to speed which probably compromises on fuel efficiency for city driving. Cornering is okay, I won't say fun but vehicles like these are not meant for constant high speed and speedy cornering anyway, so please don't try this at home. For all the fancy buzz surrounding the Kia Forte, it could have captured my heart too until I finally grasp what was missing. It has... no soul. It doesn't cruise as comfortably as the Vios nor does it run as fun as the City, it's just 4 wheels which can deliver 91.2kW of power, taking you from A to B, zero to hundred at 12s. And it will be a boring and sluggish 12s, mind you. No feedback, no thrill, no zoom zoom (to quote another Japanese). It was simply a car and me. And frankly speaking, at times I don't think 'we' know what each other is doing :/ Sigh.

All in all, to a certain extent the Kia Forte did leave me speechless. The way it strived to be the third 'Japanese' following VW's stance. Everything which needs to be there in a contemporary car with a fair price tag, is there. And this may post serious threat to the entry-level Japanese and even exit-level Nationals. But to me, the most important thing in a vehicle minus all the frill is the soul which drives it. Without it, everything becomes a matter of show and tell. Don't know about you, but to me, that simply won't do.

(Oh by the way, if you plan to buy one, skip the EX will ya? RIM CAPS ARE SO EIGHTIES!) Chainable USB plugs.

So simple. You see it, you know it's pure brilliance. Sharing is caring ;)


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

W+K 12.7.

Such a visual delight! ;)

W+K 12: So inspirational.

This is what the new generation agency should look (act) like:


W+K 12 - Season 7

News from Portland:

'Hello, this is W+K 12.
Year 6 is winding down. We are well past our halfway point and we are fast realising that there is little time left to tell our stories through sport, journalism, craft, curation, film, spirit, music, photography, design, digital, type and fabrication.

We are excited to see another class walk through the giant metal doors adorning W+K Portland - the best class yet...

We are looking for all manner of makers, thinkers and doers. We want people who want to bring ideas to life. We want problem solvers and trouble-makers.

Send heroes, inspirations and wildly curious parties to: and we'll take care of the rest.'

W+K12 is a school. The 12 students work on self-designed, self-guided projects under a Creative Director and business leader.

W+K12 is a mini-agency. The 12 designers, writers and strategic thinkers collaborate on client projects under the guidance of a creative director and business partner.

W+K 12 is an experiment. W+K 12 will discover ways to create together. We will serve as a laboratory for the advertising industry's best practices and newest thinking. We will help figure out what's next and practice work on existing W+K clients and new clients.

via Welcome to Optimism

Lord of the Class.

I'm stumbling upon so many funny sites these days, the net is truly an amazing, rainbow-y place to be :)

Especially in times where dark shadows loom the earth...HA HA HA. Original post here.

Egg meets mum.

Awww... (is it really bad if I actually had a good chuckle at this?) Hehe. No, I mean, awww...

Original post here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sustainability: The Story of Bottled Water.

Yes to clean tap water for all! Yes to better filtration and distillation of water so that every home can have good clean tap water that's safe for consumption! Sigh, looks like for this change to happen in Malaysia, we'll have to change the government?

Monday, March 22, 2010

SQL injection license plate hopes to foil Euro traffic cameras.

I came across this comic strip while reading about how a dude was trying to foil Euro traffic cameras by replacing his car number plate with a code that tells the SQL running computer to delete his file from the database! Geez. I'm beginning to dig computer whizz kids, their brilliant minds and creative antics to get back at systems. Yes, let's all revolt!

Check out the digital mom ;)

Dentsu clinched another business.

Got news today that we've won another recent pitch from our existing property client! All these recent news are great but at the same time, really pressuring the team to step up. You know what they say... the higher you climb, the greater the ____ ?

But if you're an optimistic spirit, then the perfect word will be: VIEW ;)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Experts say Holidays are good for you ;)

According to Conde Nast Traveller: Researcg suggests that vacations can reduce the risk of heart disease, depression, and a host of other ills - and even slow the aging process. Two vacations a year can cut a person's risk of heart attack by 50%.


I missed the first quarter. So there's the second, third and fourth. The second and fourth is covered, now left the third under planning ;) Dang I can't wait till I get on the plane again! Yay!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Alert! Golf GTi Mk5 08 and 09 version - DSG gear box problem!

Hello fellow GTi owners,

A distant friend shared some news today. Apparently there is a problem with the GTi's DSG gearbox ratio from upshift 1-3 and vice versa. Before learning about this, I've experienced slight 'jerks' on auto mode from stationary to initial pick up and at low speed. I've thought it weird before but never gave too much thought to it. But after hearing from my friend's friend and confirming it with the dealer who also advised me to send the vehicle back for check, yes I do think it is not normal for the DSG to react this way. When it's on manual mode, it doesn't have any problem at all since the gear shifts are done manually. I'm just guessing there's a problem with the gear ratio that's causing the jerks. Hmm.

Anyway, do send your precious for check up and change if it's still under warranty. Otherwise, you burn a RM5,000 hole in your pocket. Ouch.

By the way, for VW vehicles manufactured in 08 onwards, the warranty period can now be extended for an additional 3 years, bringing it to a total of 5. All you have to do is to send your vehicle for inspection which will cause you approximately RM300-400 and the additional warranty is RM2910. It's highly recommended that you do so because it'll definitely affect your after-sales value, as well as safe guarding yourself from 'manufacturer's fault' as per the current DSG issue.

I'm surprised that VGM did not issue any statement nor notice to the owners. Do they even know? Hmm. A friend told me by chance and I immediately alerted another fellow owner and I'm sure he's posting the notice somewhere since he's apt in digital business. I've had a first-hand experience on the 'receiving end' recently and trust me, when shit happens like that, it's no fun being at either end. I guess it will help if everyone is just more careful, helpful and respectful of one another.

So. Wait no further! Visit your service centre immediately if you love your GTi!

Cool stop motion video to reveal Honda's new 4-seater.

Coming soon?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

We've got it.

A little bird broke some big news today. We pitched for a commercial property business recently and the clients have decided to award it to Dentsu :) It's a good start for new business and I really look forward to more opportunities for expansion. Not the big dough type but more of the slow and steady kind. I think it's a great motivation for the team and myself, especially. Just when the sky looks a little grey and things look a little bleak, God swooped in and saved the day.

Will share more once official appointment has been made ;) Or get wired here for a dose of laughter and positivity every day :)

Thanks y'all!

Music: Stay by Lisa Loeb.

Love this song. Always had and always will. Please stay :)

Video: This kind of videos make BMW viral.

I've been studying YouTube videos for awhile now to segregate those which become viral and those which do not. One of the key features of a video which will make it 'big' is being 'impressive'. Impressive here is defined very closely to world-record-breaking-equivalent stuff. Stuff which the people in the video can do and you cannot. Or stuff which the people in the video discovered and you didn't. A lot of brands when they put out a video, more often than not it's too commercial like and it doesn't get grabbed and shared. People may watch it for entertainment value but it's not cool, it doesn't make you want to tell your friends because it doesn't make you look cool. Watch the new video created by BMW on their BMW S1000 RR. It's serious stuff that makes people go... wow. So what if it's not homemade?

I think it's cool, so I'm sharing.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Know your GTi: Electronic immobilizer.

While for some vehicles, you need to install an additional immobilizer to prevent break-ins and thefts, the Golf GTi mk5 comes with a built-in electronic one. There is a chip in the ignition key which automatically deactivates the immobilizer when inserted into the ignition lock. Vice versa, when removed, it is activated automatically.

Therefore the engine can only be started using a genuine VW key with the correct code. Any unauthorized keys used, the display in the combi-instrument will show 'SAFE' or 'Immobilizer active!'. And the vehicle can then not be used.

So, don't worry so much about thefts. I think what you should worry more is just vandalism. There are a lot of blind cows whose vehicle does not have a 'stopper' and will slam straight into yours when parked next to your car. Or the usual, smashing of windows for burglary. My advise is, park where vehicles are supposed to be parked. And park somewhere bright. And make friends with the security guard so that he keeps an eye out for you ;)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Animation in ABCs.

Really good to know for those who are unfamiliar with animation and the process. Good for clients, especially expectations can now be managed ;) And frankly, the video is rather entertaining. Takes awhile to load but good info.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Book: Out of Africa by Karen Blixen.

Her name was also Isak Dinesen, the Danish baroness who lived seventeen years in solitude out of nowhere, in the middle of Africa. This 'nowhere' has a name and it was called Kenya. It recounts her life as an alien peering into the lives of native Africans in a huge coffee plantation farm, trying to adapt to a way of life that was equally alienating to her, understanding how the world of wild revolves and more importantly, navigating herself and her people out of recurring events that would have broken those without a steel-like sense of faith and practical wisdom.

Her story puts modern day feminism to shame. Because it wasn't anything about fighting for gender equality and rising to the same pedestal reigned so selfishly by Man. Yet she did so unknowingly, commanding respect from her men peers and household because she was able to 'hold the fort', straigthening household fights, judging and settling neighbourhood squabbles, dealing with death which crept in suddenly like a thick fog at night and even combating tigers. She is inspirational, strong but at the same time fragile as depicted by her dealing with an unfaithful husband and being drawn to another man. A pinch of reality that she too is mortal before she seems too god-like by her extremely capable, just and independent character, which almost seemed too perfect.

I bought and read this book when I was travelling in Kenya. So, a lot of what she said in the book were actual places which I have been to. And to tell you the truth, in Kenya with the exception of Nairobi, the places which she so vividly recounted in the 1910s, did not change much even a century after. I imagined myself living in the farm, far far away from any familiar civilization (which I did as a day trip to a village), I seriously don't know how long I could hold it out. Yea, times may be different now. But given the emotional circumstances then and now, Karen Blixen must have been an exceptionally strong woman.

God knows I need that kind of strength now. Inspirational.

You can borrow it here at Sparks' Open Library Project.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Why is Google the number one search engine?

I'm sure there are thousands of other reasons but none as compelling as this one single fact:

There are 19,835 employees in Google, out of which 14.8% works in General and Adminstrative, 10.7% in Operations, 37% in Sales & Marketing and a slightly ahead of equivalent, 37.5% in Research & Development.

Google does not have a physical product. It provides services. Therefore, for industries which provide services, it's high time they understand that equal investment in R&D is inevitable if you want to get somewhere, and somewhere important that is. Looking at how the advertising industry works, pray tell, how many percentage of the workforce is allocated for research? What, the planners?! And how much of the agency budget is spent back on investigation on their own industry as well as the clients? I don't have numbers but I'm pretty confident that a whopping number of agencies definitely have none.

To move forward, a new mindset is in order - Research and Experiment. If we are to lead consumers and clients in this business, we've got to be ahead of them in terms of both social and technological knowledge and experience. Hmm. That's gonna be hefty.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Social media: What is viral? Wonder Girls is!

There's the Korean version then of course there's the English version and soon the music started crawling towards all ends of Planet Earth. And how do we know that? You watch the first video and you watch the second video. And if I was Wonder Girls' brand manager, I would edit all the fans' videos to become one and they'll be thrilled ;) Like Placebo's Running up the Hill concept, like Sour's Hibi no neiro. Same concept different editing.

And now compare with this:

I bet it was the sister who made him do it. Ha ha. And compare to the cool version below:

Awesome. Content that's suitable for all gender, all ages. This is how it goes viral ;)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Automotive: New Honda CR-V now launched.

For those of you who may be interested to know, Honda Malaysia has launched the new CR-V today at PICC, Putrajaya. The esteemed event was outstandingly supported by the media and Honda's own associates and dealers.

Although it's a minor facelift but there's a misconception that minor facelifts are unnoticeable (most of the time). Well yes, maybe to the untrained eye. But minor tweaks sometimes can enhance the product design so much that it speaks more volume than the previous one. In terms of exterior, the new CR-V sports a new rear and front bumper with a stylish 'bar-like' grille. It decreases the aerodynamic drag for better drivability but at the same time accentuates the jaw of the vehicle, making it sportier and more aggressive. I think the sentiment towards the previous model was that it's too... 'gentle-looking'. This one is perhaps more masculine (especially the white Modulo version - if you wanna see it, check out @HondaMY's tweet). In terms of other enhancement, this premium SUV also comes with many first-in-class safety features such as dual side air bags with OPDS which helps optimises airbag deployment in the event of collision as well as Honda's renown VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) which corrects under and oversteer to ensure the vehicle sticks onto its path at corners. These features are not available in many same class SUVs, perhaps only in the upper-premium continental category, so they are really worth noting.

The new CR-V priced at RM149,980 (quite close to the old pricing - I'm surprised), also comes in a new colour called Urban Titanium which gives a bronzy metallic glow. It's a new colour therefore as usual, takes time for the public to digest. Nevertheless it is quite distinctive for this vehicle. If it was up to me, I'd go for the white. It's really handsome.

Visit dealer to see the real deal ;)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This is where I work.

This is my work desk. Every day I tell myself, I've got to clean it up. And every time when I manage to clean something up, something else will spill. Papers mostly. It's amazing I can find that specific brief in this avalanche of notes. And I have a lot of stuff on my table. A lot of them, to be honest, I have no idea how they got there in the first place. Some I can't even recall if they are mine. I think some are presents. From past year Christmas(es). And some are just rubbish, which I haven't had the time to recycle them yet. I guess your workplace should tell a lot about you. I used to be really neat and tidy. I think advertising really messed me up. Really :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Travel: The swanky budget 8.

If you're looking for a nice but budget place to rest your tired travelling soul, come to Eight at Kuala Lumpur. It's got one of the best ambience for a boutique 'hotel' with a backpacker's rate. It may be slightly more expensive compared to the other backpackers' around Changkat Bukit Bintang area, maybe RM20 to 30? But it's definitely well worth the splurge. It's clean, comfortable, basic but very pleasant to the eye. Your number one concern when staying in a backpacker's in this corner of Planet Earth is probably the funky smell and the bathroom condition. Don't worry, I've visited this place myself and give it a strong personal vouch. You may not know me but I am known to some who would pack up and leave because I just couldn't take the condition of the bathroom! Check website for latest rates.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Automotive: New Honda CR-Z commercial.

Entitled 'Evolution', aptly named by a company which focuses on mobility more than just cars and bikes. Shows you how 'mobility' has evolved through the years and CR-Z is Honda's first sports hybrid to debut, further driving the lead for Japanese makes in the next-generation vehicles category. Why give up the future for performance and vice versa? Why not have both ;)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Losing one's national language.

If I were to say that in one hundred years time, languages which do not use roman letters, nor Chinese characters nor Japanese nor perhaps Korean nor perhaps Arabic, will just disappear. Then would you, whichever country you're from do something now? If the web is driving the revolution and content is driving the growth and the languages available are only the dominant ones, will one day, Hindi like Sanskrit, disappears? Or Russian? Or Thai? If fast forward one hundred years from now, where the written language is all digitized and the world becomes truly borderless consolidating cultures and peoples from all over the world by only a few surviving languages, what will we do? Hmm.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Why buffet is an insult to Japanese food.

No one can dispute the Japanese attention to details. It's a land of craftsmanship. From traditional wood craft to electronic design and everything in between. Having a buffet spread is like shaving off the eyebrows of the sushi masters still living the art of precise slicing. There is no craft to buffet. The way we grab and chow down the artless variety of foods is certainly not very Zen. Japanese food is half presentation and half appreciation and having a buffet spread that does neither feels like you're just prostituting it.

I'm never one picky about my next meal. By choice, I would never step into a Japanese buffet restaurant nor one of those conveyor belt sushi place. But of course if my hungry company prefers, then I wouldn't say no too. But I'll probably consume with great difficulty. To my conscience that is.

Automotive: The dynasty of VW Group.

Everyone knows about VW Group's recent acquisition of Porsche and the eager but less menacing purchase of Suzuki's issued shares. This would mean that, under the VW Group, you have: Audi (Germany), Lamborghini (Italy), Bentley (UK), Bugatti (France), Seat (Spain), Skoda (Czech Republic), Scania (Sweden), Volkswagen (Germany), Porsche (Germany) and soon, Suzuki? (Japan) and wanted-t0-but-too-bad Proton (and that would be Malaysia). Looks like they're all set for world domination. Cheeky buggers.

While, it seems like a very workable and visionary business strategy, but something I read from Autocar Asean (this month) about a certain Cayenne to introduce a Hybrid version. Well, looking at the stake of our future, it's inevitable that 'eco' becomes the general direction of what we call the new-generation fleet. But to read something like, "Developed alongside Volkswagen's Touareg Hybrid, the new Cayenne S Hybrid uses Audi's supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine with 325bhp and 324lb ft.", really makes me think twice about this 'world domination' stance.

While the highly positive side of such strategy complementing a strong portfolio of brands is we can 'transfer' technology, know-how and experience seamlessly thus bringing up the quality of lesser known brands, that would mean increasing the overall quality of performance and design for every brand in VW Group's stable. But for a luxurious performance brand like Porsche to use an Audi's engine no matter how many litres or supercharged? Hmm. I'm afraid one day, we will all be experiencing the same driving terrain with an undifferentiated 'feeling'. The only difference is the design and the badge. So, what we are really paying for is the badge that gets stuck on the hood, the heritage of the brand but not exactly the investment of future technologies since it will all be shared. Besides, what is the best way of cutting cost? Transfer of technology obviously. This skips the research and development entirely or substantially, not to mention the nightmare of technical troubleshooting in the future (like our friend, Toyota). But still. Driving a VW with a shared engine and platform like Audi is fine. But a Porsche? Come on.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Automotive: Proton's concept to debut in Geneva in March (finally, Proton. Finally).

Designed outsourced to Italdesign Giugiaro who did a number of projects for various famed automakers as well. Well, finally this looks something... conceptual but at the same time very sellable, very real. It looks nice obviously because you can trust the Italians to know what they are doing. My only reservation is the design shape of such vehicle is quite 'tired'. On first glance, it already immediately draws out significance silhouette resemblance to MyVi (or credit to Dahaitsu Boon). On second glance (while you're at Geneva), watch out for Kia's No.3 new MPV concept (pic below).
Before we jump into innovation, we first got to make sure the foundation is right. Looking at Proton's direction, I hope they're serious. And stop wasting tax payers' money to engage fancy Italian designers for big motorshows without any follow through. Let's bring these wonderful ideas to the market, be creative with strategies, keep cost fair and low without attempting to cut any corners. Forget about building your brand. When you build good products, it'll come. And more importantly, it will stay.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Design: Lumitectura - Music X Architecture X Light.

One of the most compelling visual scene I've seen, mashing elements of illumination, music and architecture.

Watch the video, and read the production explanation after that.

The clip is defined by 3 elements.
-One videofile, shot between 2 and 6 pm.
-The speed of playback of this file, which is synchronised manually to the music.
-About 50 different masks, wich define where the underlayed movie is going to appear on the screen. This makes it possible to have multiple light situations in the same moment.So basicly, the sunlight caught from the building is the "natural" palette for the entire colors of the clip.

Original post here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Social media: Honda City Weekend Escapade blog.

No more mall-crawling weekends! Go out, explore, discover and rediscover Malaysia! Time to get together with buddies or embrace solitude, Honda City Weekend Escapade blog provides a weekend idea, every week that will exhaust you ;) If you know of a new place or a new old place, do place your comments and direct them to research more.
I don't think it's sufficient to just stuff people's face with information. A brand should always carry some value and more so in these times of accountability, the value needs to be tangible. Honda has always strived to be a company which society wants to exist. Motherhood statement and corporate talk aside, being a team player in the society means everyone needs to contribute. I think this is one value which Malaysians would appreciate. If you're interested to know more about 'travelling' in Malaysia especially to off-the-beaten tracks (say no to touristy unsustainable destinations!), then hit the RSS button. OR follow @HondaMY on Twitter. It'll sound an alert periodically whenever there's a new update, who knows, it may be just the right weekend solution to quell the boredom!

Magazine: Wired.

Read this about Werewolf (the new mindf*ck game according to the magazine. But really, think Mafia ;). I think it's super funny how Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia) puts it:

"I was sure of only three things," Wales remembers. "One, I was not a werewolf. Two, one of these bastards was an amazing liar. And three, the other guy was a total moron. I just couldn't figure out which was which."


Notice how everyone on the surface is the same? During interviews especially, the risk is high. It's either he's an amazing liar or a total moron. How on earth do you figure if he's the true villager? Or if he's the werewolf?

Social media: Democratizing power to the people.

Read in Wired this month:

Transformative change happens when industries democratise, when they're ripped from the sole domain of companies, governments and other institutions and handed over to regular people. The internet democratised publishing, broadcasting and communications, and the consequence was a massive increase in the range of both participation and participants in everything digital - the long tail of bits.

Now the same is happening to manufacturing - the long tail of things.


When democracy reaches the people, even ad agencies need to change. The old model of a pyramidal hierarchy doesn't work anymore. Old hands who do not believe in the power of the net and feel that 'change' is online but not in the real world. But as demonstrated above and featured in Wired, Local Motors is the first open-source car company to reach production. The model is based on crowdsourcing on an open platform from social media. Imagine! It's a freaking CAR MANUFACTURER. We're manufacturing cars based on the wisdom of thousands. Not just adding and editing text in Wikipedia. Do we need any blacker and whiter proof that the social change which stemmed from online media has reached the real world? How long more can we deny this change? How long more can they sit protectively on their self-made thrones, believing that social media can be stopped by just unplugging the IP address at work (or till after 6pm)?

Before, it was how we behave in the real world which affects how we connect and communicate with one another in the digital world. In a world of virtual reality, we hide behind our alter-ego and live out our fantasy. But then, things changed when Web 2.0 kicked in and netizens realised that there is more to gain by being honest and open about who they really are, what they feel and what they can really do. And suddenly, you have a lot more people becoming vocal because of their freedom to say anything and be anything online. And not minding their real identities being disclosed to the general public. You do know that you get a lot more followers if you had a real profile and photo on your Twitter right?

Agencies who function in the old social program will start to reform. Or should reform. How? By being experimental. By investing on experiments. By distilling some values and discard the rest which do not contribute to the increment in productivity, efficiency and motivation. It's a tough challenge because old school management used to 'strike the fear of god' into people. And you watch the small people scramble to production. But today, you have a team of young-minded people who can perform and excel beyond the brief simply because they can, are motivated and the best part is? They do it unconditionally. Because they too know what feeds their motivation and self-fulfilment. You just need to know what buttons to push.

I'm sorry to break the truth but virtual is now more real than reality. That's harsh, ain't it?