Google Translate

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sharing the wealth

Over the last few days, I'd been hammering the Online Donation Portal (ODP). I had been procrastinating over doing so, but finally decided to get my act together and do the deed.

It wasn't easy working with the ODP. Pop-up windows, restrictions on using the browser's back/forward/reload buttons, lots of clicks, etc. But in the end, I got used to it and was able to do what I wanted quickly and (relatively) easily.

When all was done, I had given to the following types of charities:
Charities donated to

And the proportionate amounts given were:
Amount donated to

(All labels are mine.)

Obviously, I'm not providing the actual numbers, though I suppose one could work it out backwards from the size of the charts' segments. For the most part, I kept it as equal as possible between the charities, thus the similarity in segment sizes between both charts.

I realise, of course, that giving money to charities is like giving presents to children. It lessens the guilt while making me feel like I've done something worthwhile. On the other hand, I've read that charities prefer monetary donations so that they can allocate the funds according to their needs. So maybe giving money away isn't all that bad.

And for me, it felt like a burden had been lifted. I'd procrastinated over this long enough. Next year, perhaps I should do this at regular intervals. At least, the shock on my wallet wouldn't be that large.

--

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Blogger events are hype, don't fret over them

It's been nearly a month since some folks discussed how bloggers are invited to corporate events. I've thought about this for a long time, but had not found the right thing to say. But as Preetam would tell everyone and Nadia seems to imply, nothing's happened unless I started some kind of controversy. So here goes.

Firstly, a chronological background of what this "debate" was:
  1. It started with Shelly Sim listing a set of "criteria" for bloggers to be invited to these events.
  2. In response, Ogilvy Public Relations' Brian Koh listed some reasons that organisations needed to engage bloggers.
  3. Claudia Lim weighed in with some reasons why certain bloggers were invited to these events.
  4. Adding her two cents, Priss said that almost any blogger could get invited if he/she wanted to, and that organisations needed to engage bloggers in the modern age.
(There may have been more entries written in relation to this debate, but I am not aware of them (as of this writing).)

To Shelly and anyone who's bothered by this debate, my suggestion is: "Don't worry your pretty little head over this." There are two "truisms" about the blogosphere:
  1. Blogs are rated as the least trusted news source.
  2. In Singapore, more people from many walks of life go to STOMP.
I'm also not giving that suggestion because I'm one of those bloggers who gets invited to said events and don't want any "competition". In recent events, I've actually been the one who said, "Hey, let's find more people who are outside of the usual circle to participate." If organisations want to "engage" bloggers, then they damn well better invite every Tom, Dick and Hari blogger that they can lay their hands on!

But if you still want to attend these events, then there are avenues to aid your discovery. I personally have gone to the extent of managing not one but two calendars of events. Social Events started off as a Google Calendar. Though that is still updated, Social Events really lives on at Yahoo Upcoming. If you see an event there and its notes don't say "By invitation only", then you're welcome to attend. Most of the time, you'll rarely even see those three magic words, which means you can attend if you have time and know how to get there.

Another way to find out about these events is through other people. As the saying goes, it's not what or how much you know, but who you know. Priss mentioned that she's been invited to events because she knows Sabrina. I don't know Sabrina (well, okay, I introduced myself to her once, but seem to have fallen off her radar since then), so I don't get invited to those events. So Shelly, don't feel so excluded. I may be invited to some blogger events, but there are many that I am excluded from.

Oh yeah, they are parties. They're events by name only. They're really about getting a bunch of people together and filling their stomachs with free food and drinks and their minds with hype and politically correct niceties. I've never organised a corporate blogger event, but my guess is that the thinking goes along these lines:
"Hey, I've got this awesome new product/service that's launching in Singapore. Yeah, social media is important and all that. It'd be cool to invite some bloggers down for an 'exclusive' event. Give them some free food, throw some freebies around. But don't forget to hype up the new product/service! Get them to write about it. (And subtly encourage them to leave out the bad stuff.) Yeah, that is so cool, man. Oh, after that? *pfftt* The newspapers/TV will take care of that."
That's the impression I get, anyway. They're just a one-night-only, two (okay, three)-hour partying and networking and hype. After that, you go your way, I'll go mine, at least until the next event for the new "gee whiz" product/service.

As the saying goes in "Grey's Anatomy": "Seriously?" Shelly, is this really what you want?

Perhaps I've become jaded to all of these so-called "blogger events". Sure, they're fun, in a way. For the penny pinchers, they're great places to load up on unhealthy food and get some free entertainment. For social butterflies, they're wonderful venues to catch up with pals and make new ones. And for the organisers, they're a low-cost way to (hopefully) get more related results in a search engine.

Of course, as more people attend these events, more entries will be written about the product/service being hyped. That could lead to more irritation by readers who wish wistfully for the time when blogs were online personal diaries without the product placements. I've no answer to that except to stop reading them. Besides, blogs aren't trusted, remember?

In summary:
  • Yes, you can attend blogger events! Check out Social Events or contact the right "influencer" (that's my label, not any PR agency's or organisation's).
  • Blogger events are these delightful, free parties. And don't forget the product/service marketing hype!
  • If you don't like reading event-related entries, don't read them. No one trusts blogs anyway, so you'd be better off too.
Aside to organisers of these events: just because you invite a few self-proclaimed bloggers to your event doesn't immediately make it a "social media" event.

Aside to folks who invite me to these events (or were going to): if this entry takes me off your list of invitees, so be it. But I hope you replace me with someone who is not one of the "usual suspects". At least then my exclusion can count for something.

--

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Camera comparison: Sony Ericsson C905 versus Sony Ericsson K800i

Oh joy! I finally managed to lay my hands on a Sony Ericsson C905. I had been drooling over this phone ever since it was first announced. Its specifications matched exactly what I've been looking for. Eight-megapixel camera. WiFi and 3G. Familiar Sony Ericsson interface.

Of course, nothing's perfect. Like video recording that doesn't take advantage of the available pixels. Or a heavier, bulkier design. Or the price tag (S$900 and dropping).

On the other hand, after seeing the C905's picture quality, its drool factor just jumped tenfold. Here's the picture I took with my Sony Ericsson K800i:
Camera phone comparison: Sony Ericsson K800i

And here's the same scene taken with the Sony Ericsson C905:
Camera phone comparison: Sony Ericsson C905

Oh my goodness! Eight megapixels do make a ton of difference! I can actually see the spotted pattern on the grey chair! *gasp* I've never seen such clarity before. Hmm, this is something that I should test with the Xperia X1, if I get the chance to.

Overall, the C905 seems to give very good quality images, which ranks it right up there with the Xperia X1 and ahead of Samsung's Innov8 and Pixon. As for Nokia's N79, N85 and N96, it's no fight at all (well, maybe the N85, but by a long shot).


Related entries:--

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Camera comparison: Samsung Omnia, Innov8 and Pixon versus Sony Ericsson K800i

While at the Samsung Store today, I had a chance to try out the camera capabilities of the company's flagship camera phones. While the Omnia had been touted as a iPhone alternative, the Innov8 and Pixon were promoted through their eight-megapixel cameras.

So it was time to put the hype to the test. As usual, I measured against my benchmark Sony Ericsson K800i.

(Note: no matter what the images show, the phones being tested are not necessarily the ones mentioned in the pictures.)

First up, Sony Ericsson K800i vs Samsung Omnia.

Sony Ericsson K800i:
Camera phone comparison: Sony Ericsson K800i

Samsung Omnia:
Camera phone comparison: Samsung Omnia

Hmm, either I had unsteady hands, or the Omnia's camera quality is as depicted. One thing that puzzled me when using the store's phone was that it was stuck at 320x240 pixels. It wasn't until repeated pressing of the buttons (it didn't help that the security lock was in the way of the touchscreen) that I managed to get its full 2560x1920 resolution.

So, the Omnia didn't impress me. Would eight megapixels make a difference?

Sony Ericsson K800i:
Camera phone comparison: Sony Ericsson K800i

Samsung Innov8:
Camera phone comparison: Samsung Innov8

The Innov8 seemed to provide a level of exposure that was more true to what I saw with my own eyes.

Sony Ericsson K800i:
Camera phone comparison: Sony Ericsson K800i

Samsung Pixon:
Camera phone comparison: Samsung Pixon

Unfortunately, another customer was in my way when I was taking the picture with my camera, so the angle was way off. But the Pixon did seem to give richer colours.

So, based on my non-scientific tests, I'd rate the tested phones in this order: Pixon, Innov8, K800i, Omnia. Compared with the other phones that I've tested recently, I'd say that the Pixon and Innov8 give the Sony Ericsson Xpera X1 a run for the latter's money, in terms of true colours and sharpness.

One thing I didn't like about the Samsung phones was their initial learning curve. In particular, I couldn't figure out how to return to the main menu except by accident. I suppose Samsung sells phones that require a read-through of their manuals before use.

Related entries:--

Social Media Breakfast 5 at Samsung Store, Vivocity

Social Media Breakfast 5 group shot from Claudia Lim
Picture from Claudia Lim
It was time for another Social Media Breakfast (or Brunch, really) and, to tie in with the festive period, it was a year-end party. It was held at the Samsung Store at Vivocity. I had thought that the area would be too small to accommodate everyone, but it turned out to be just nice.

Perhaps it's because the turn-out wasn't as large as at the previous Social Media Breakfast at URA Centre. Still, where it lack in quality, it made up for in terms of quantity.

And by quantity, I mean the proportion of new faces to familiar ones. I didn't recognise about half of the attendees. Over a sumptuous meal, I talked with a few of them. Time will tell whether these new faces return to upcoming social media events.

An Xbox and Wii consoles had been set up (to be used with two of the flashy flat panel Samsung TVs), but few people played with them. Instead, as had happened at previous Social Media Breakfasts, people were more interested in chatting and mingling. I suppose that's how things are, and everything else is, to put it nicely, a distraction.

There was supposed to be a webcast with the U.S. founder of Social Media Breakfast, but it never happened due to technical difficulties.

Instead, the highlight of the afternoon was a pitch by Daniel Goh for Samsung Hope. It's Samsung's corporate social responsibility project that encourages the public to donate to its selected charities. While venue owners aren't allowed to pitch their (commercial) products, Samsung apparently was provided some leeway to promote its charity.

Overall, the party was a good time to catch up with old friends while getting acquainted with new ones. Post-event, a few people adjourned to Starbucks (I guess someone needs to bail them out of their 97% profit loss). I left for a while, but returned in time to hear Bernard Leong espouse on his hope for a new local social media tool, which if I dare say is one that I've thought of before but never knew how to execute.

Related entries:--

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Personal landmark #273: I've been published!

Just a note to myself: I've been published through iMediaConnection. It's a three-part article that they've entitled "The evolution of web analytics". My original title was "What is Web Analytics?" Yeah, obviously, I need a copywriter for even that simple task.

--

Saturday, December 06, 2008

I queued for more than an hour for Ben & Jerry's ice cream!

Entrance to Fort Canning Green
I now know that I'm a natural born Singaporean. I queued up for food. And not free food either. I had to fork over hard-earned cash for Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

Then again, for someone who's never tasted Ben & Jerry's ice cream before, I think it was quite an achievement for me to go through such "pain and torture" for a moment of sweet, creamy ice cream.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Ben & Jerry's held their first Chunk Fest in Singapore today at Fort Canning Green. It started at 2pm, but I arrived after 3pm after attending to an errand. I met up with a few others, who were there actually for the Vermonster eating challenge. Some of them had entered their names to participate, but none of them made the short-listed teams.

Crowd at Fort Canning Green Queue for ice cream
Since I'd come for the ice cream, I joined the queue at the rear of the Green. That was at 3:55pm. The queue snaked around the grassland. After the afternoon rain, the ground was slick with mud. And due to the queue, the ground had been well squished. Those who wore hundred-dollar shoes must've shed a tear for their stained footwear. I even saw a woman in heels! How did she survive the queue?

While waiting, the Vermonster challenge took place. The winning team downed 20 scoops of ice cream and an obscene tonne of toppings in less than five minutes. And to put that in further perspective, the second team took more than double that time to finish their tub.

Strawberry Banana Frozen Yoghurt and Vanilla Chocolate Chunk
At about 5:10pm, I finally got my ice cream. Two scoops set me back eight dollars. Given the long wait and the money spent, I chose flavours that were supposedly not available in Singapore: Strawberry Banana Frozen Yoghurt (too sweet for my liking, if I dare say so) and Vanilla Chocolate Chunk (which I highly suspect was not what I ordered).

3:55pm to 5:10pm was more time than I ever thought I'd spend in line for anything. (And for anyone who's calculating, that's 75 minutes, or one hour and 15 minutes!) "I queued for 75 minutes and all I got were two scoops of Ben & Jerry's ice cream (and muddy shoes and pants)." Not that I'm complaining, of course.

Swensen's Coit Tower
As if that cup of ice cream wasn't enough, I met up with the others (who'd sought cooler and less muddy pastures) at Swensen's for dinner. I ended my meal with a Coit Tower: a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, mixed with chocolate fudge, banana slices and diced almond, and capped with a strawberry topping, whipped cream and a cherry.

I should probably mention that dinner was my first real meal of the day. Thus, I didn't see an issue with my calorie intake. (Though I wouldn't recommend such an unhealthy diet for anyone, regardless of how many meals or how much calories you consume!)

And to put that in perspective...

I'm hungry now.

--

Friday, December 05, 2008

Camera comparison: Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 versus K800i

If there's one thing I look for in a mobile phone, aside from the ability to make phone calls and send/receive SMS messages, is a good camera. I don't own a regular camera since I'm not in the habit of taking photos. But when I do take that occasional photo, I want to make sure the picture turns out well.

So far, my trusty Sony Ericsson K800i has not failed me in the photo-taking department. In my search for a new phone, I've hardly been able to find one that is better or at least on par with the K800i.

Until I tried out the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1.

My first experience was, admittedly, a disappointing one. I had chanced upon a Sony Ericsson road show booth, so I played with their demo set of the X1. The laggy interface coupled with lack of response from my touching the screen made me think that this phone was a dud.

Then I tried the one that a colleague had. Whoa! It was soooo much better! Yes, there was still a noticeable lag when switching between programs, but it was acceptable for a Windows Mobile-based smartphone. Tapping and typing were breezy and responsive. I even liked that, in spite of the small icons and menu items, it knew which item I had selected with my big finger.

Which only left the "acid test": how well were the photos taken with its 3-megapixel camera? First up, here's what I'd taken with my K800i:
Camera phone comparison: Sony Ericsson K800i

And here's the X1's photo:
Camera phone comparison: Sony Ericsson Xperia X1

Check out the sharpness of the X1's picture! I can almost see the individual strands of hair on my colleague. And notice how the X1 captured the close-to-true orange-y light at the top of the picture.

By comparison, the K800i's photo looks over-exposed. And its blurriness suggests a longer exposure period. Now I know what I've been missing out!

Nokia's new line of Nseries phones don't stand a chance against the X1. In my book, the X1 has moved up several notches, not just in terms of its camera quality, but also in its features and user interface.

Alas, it's priced way out of my range (unless a telco gives me a couple of discount vouchers). Perhaps I could score an evaluation version? Hello, Sony Ericsson?

--

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Group date by CliqueWise

Wow-Her
The last time that I participated in an organised dating event was... ok, I guess if I consider my time with Lunch Actually, then that was about a year ago. So when the opportunity from CliqueWise came along, I jumped headlong into it.

Honestly, I didn't know what to expect. All I knew was that I'd get the chance to meet with a few other singles who would be within my age group. So I trooped down to Serenity at Vivocity to check it out.

Aside: Vivocity is freezing cold! Idiot energy wasters.

I wasn't the first there, but I wasn't the last either. There were five tables with spaces for four each. I was ushered to one, served a glass of cold water, and began getting to know the girl opposite me.

Here's how the event went: we had 15 minutes to chat with one another at our table. At the end of the 15 minutes, the guys would move to the next table. The cycle would then continue until we had completed all five tables. Each table had two guys and two girls, though because there were fewer guys, so I had two girls to myself each round.

The girls I met were definitely in my age group, so it didn't feel like I needed to talk up or down. We all came from more-or-less different backgrounds, which provided some avenues for conversation.

Most of the time, though, the talk revolved around what we worked as, what we did in our free time, whether this was our first time at a CliqueWise event, etc. By the time I got to the fourth table, my mind was numb. (The cold environment didn't help.)

I don't think anyone really came with the intention of finding a life partner out of this. It was probably more as an opportunity to meet new people. Almost all of us who attended were relatively busy people, so opportunities for such social mingling were rare.

Two and a half hours later, the group date had come to an end. Now, I have a list of contact details (yes, it's that organised!). I wonder who I should contact first...

--

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yuhui not surprised by handset influence in shoppers' decisions

Yuhui not surprised by handset influence in shoppers' decisions
Telcos still wield considerable influence, but for the wrong reason

October 28, 2008

News Facts
  • Yuhui read and reviewed the article, "Proof That Handset Brands Help Sell Wireless Plans", by AdAge. This article commented on the findings of a study conducted by Google.
  • He generally agreed with the findings of the report: that shoppers' mobile communication purchase decisions are generally influenced by the handset maker, rather than the telco carrier.
  • But he disagreed with its clear-cut finding that it was solely the choice of handsets that influenced the final decision. Rather, the telco also played an important factor in the decision-making process.
  • Yuhui thinks that shoppers consider the telco, not because of the brand, but because they want the "best deal".
  • He thinks that this puts telcos at the raw end of the mobile communication deal. In the end, telcos are still regarded generally in a negative light.
Link
Yuhui's Apple Blogger: Shoppers choose by phones, not carriers - who's surprised?

Quotes, attributable to Yuhui
"The Apple iPhone proved that the intense lust for this sleek phone could override consumers' opinions about AT&T."
"Is anyone surprised then that no one feels tremendous love for the telco?"
"[S]hoppers are influenced by their mobile handset than the telco that they are saddled with."

Please contact Yuhui to arrange an interview and/or for additional quotes.

About Yuhui
Yuhui is an independent blogger who has been chronicling his life's experiences since 2001. He became an active member of the Singapore blogosphere in 2005, participating in local blog aggregators and contributing to thought leadership across a diverse range of issues. He came to fully embrace social media and has participated in conversations across the world, both in the physical realm and within the virtual expanse. In 2008, Yuhui launched "Yuhui's Blogger Network", an umbrella of four blogs, each devoted to a specific topic: Apple, Singapore, movies and personal life.

Contact Information
Yuhui
Email: yuhuibc@gmail.com
Twitter: yuhui
Plurk: yuhui
Blog: yuhuibc.blogspot.com
Facebook

Related Links
RSS feed

Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

--

Monday, October 27, 2008

Yuhui reviews "Batman: Gotham Knight"

Yuhui reviews "Batman: Gotham Knight"
Gritty animation brings out true nature of super-hero

October 27, 2008

News Facts
  • Yuhui watched the DVD "Batman: Gotham Knight" this evening.
  • He started by watching the special features, namely:
    • the documentary, "Batman and Me: The Bob Kane Story"
    • four episodes from "Batman: The Animated Series"
    • a sneak peek at "Wonder Woman"
  • He then proceeded to watch the five short films, totaling 75 minutes.
  • Being a Batman fan, Yuhui thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Dark Knight Detective in all of his animated glory.
  • He thought that the stories may be too gritty and complex for younger audiences to understand.
Link
Yuhui's Movie Blogger: Review: "Batman: Gotham Knight"

Graphic
Batman: Gotham Knight
(cover art by WB Animation)

Quotes, attributable to Yuhui
"'Batman: Gotham Knight' [...] is a work of wonder in bringing the Dark Knight Detective to celluloid life."
"The grittiness of his dark fight is brought across brilliantly through the use of anime. This form of entertainment has long been known to differ from the familiar Western style, particularly in the areas of violence and self-discovery. Thus, it fits perfectly with the Batman mythos[.]"
"This is a gem not only for Batman fans, but lovers of modern animated entertainment."

Please contact Yuhui to arrange an interview and/or for additional quotes.

About Yuhui
Yuhui is an independent blogger who has been chronicling his life's experiences since 2001. He became an active member of the Singapore blogosphere in 2005, participating in local blog aggregators and contributing to thought leadership across a diverse range of issues. He came to fully embrace social media and has participated in conversations across the world, both in the physical realm and within the virtual expanse. In 2008, Yuhui launched "Yuhui's Blogger Network", an umbrella of four blogs, each devoted to a specific topic: Apple, Singapore, movies and personal life.

Contact Information
Yuhui
Email: yuhuibc@gmail.com
Twitter: yuhui
Plurk: yuhui
Blog: yuhuibc.blogspot.com
Facebook

Related Links
RSS feed

Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

--

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yuhui cooks one week's worth of rice

Yuhui cooks one week's worth of rice
Also his first attempt at using the microwave oven to boil rice

October 26, 2008

News Facts
  • Yuhui boiled a week's worth of rice this evening.
  • This also marked his first real attempt at cooking rice in the microwave oven.
  • He used a large-sized Corning Ware container in his maiden attempt.
  • Previously, Yuhui had only boiled rice with a stove or open fire (ah, camping days...).
  • With only a vague idea of the required steps, he proceeded to cook his rice.
    • After cooking on high for 15 minutes, the rice came out hard and half-cooked.
    • Yuhui added more water and proceeded to cook it for another eight minutes on medium-high.
    • The rice was still too hard for his liking, so Yuhui added a bit more water and cooked it for another four minutes.
    • The rice finally came out fluffier and more palatable.
  • The remainder of the rice is now stored in the refrigerator for future consumption.
Photos
One week's worth of cooked riceOne week's worth of cooked riceOne week's worth of cooked rice

Quotes, attributable to Yuhui
"As the staple ingredient of a true Singaporean diet, rice must be cooked to savoury perfection -- soft and fluffy, yet delightfully tasty."
"The modern Singaporean relies on electronics to perform even the most basic of tasks. Cooking of rice with a microwave oven is therefore simply the next evolutionary step in twenty-first century home cooking -- technologically speaking."

Please contact Yuhui to arrange an interview and/or for additional quotes.

About Yuhui
Yuhui is an independent blogger who has been chronicling his life's experiences since 2001. He became an active member of the Singapore blogosphere in 2005, participating in local blog aggregators and contributing to thought leadership across a diverse range of issues. He came to fully embrace social media and has participated in conversations across the world, both in the physical realm and within the virtual expanse. In 2008, Yuhui launched "Yuhui's Blogger Network", an umbrella of four blogs, each devoted to a specific topic: Apple, Singapore, movies and personal life.

Contact Information
Yuhui
Email: yuhuibc@gmail.com
Twitter: yuhui
Plurk: yuhui
Blog: yuhuibc.blogspot.com
Facebook

Related Links
RSS feed

Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

--

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Social Events calendar - now on Upcoming

Sometime back, I started a Google calendar to keep track of so-called social media-based events in Singapore. Today, I'm "moving" Social Events to Yahoo's Upcoming service.

Actually, it turns out that there was already a group for listing such social media-based events. Not surprisingly, it's named "Social Media Singapore". However, it looks like it hasn't been used at all. So I've started listing the events that used to exist in the Google calendar.

Truth be told, I was never really comfortable with using Google calendar. I had the feeling that not many people were familiar with such iCal services, let alone know how to subscribe to one. Upcoming, on the other hand, uses a familiar RSS feed, which anyone can subscribe to. In addition, anyone with a Yahoo account can also contribute to the group (hint to all social media event organisers!).

(And, of course, I'm an idiot for being slow to pick up on this free service in the first place!)

I hope the move helps to increase awareness of these social events in Singapore. There is definitely a need to raise awareness of social media in Singapore, as seen from growing corporate adoption of it in marketing. I hope the Social Media Singapore group helps to facilitate that growth.

And if you're an organiser, please add your event there!

--

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Social Media Breakfast 4 at URA Centre: corporate approach to social media

The fourth Social Media Breakfast (or Brunch, as the organisers renamed it) had a different format from previous ones. Whereas they used to be informal networking sessions with food, this one had a panel discussion... though still with food.

The topic was on how companies could make use of social media. Due to the make-up of the panelists, the discussion was very oriented towards public relations (PR).

Here are my notes:

Panelists: Willy Foo (LiveStudios) (moderator), Derrik Koh (Lenovo), Pat Law (Arc Worldwide), Supriya Addanki (Text 100), Daniel Goh (Samsung), Ben Koe (formerly from Hill and Knowlton)

Derrick: Social media is unconventional. It needs selling in to management. Social media is about creating / participating in conversations. 4 Ps: people, privacy, passion, perpetual beta.

Daniel: Conversations have shifted to online. 90% of customer service complaints are online. Marcom execs are resistant to adding more duties / KPIs.

Ben: Social media is not a one-time event, needs ongoing commitment from company even with agency changes.

Supriya: Agencies need to learn and engage in social media first.

Derrick: New metrics needed to measure social media / relationships / conversations, e.g. not measured in sales.

Daniel: Traditional management can barely understand "hits". It also needs to understand about message / tone of conversations (qualitative data).

Supriya: Need to know profile of bloggers that you are talking to. Build one-to-one relationships.

Derrick: Conversations need to be two-way, i.e. between bloggers and companies. Feedback is important between both parties.

Pat: went through her entry, "11 things you need to know when pitching to bloggers".

Derrick: Easy for anyone to talk about a brand, so management is tempted to pay bloggers, especially for positive comments.

Willy: No stopping professional bloggers from demanding payment.

Supriya: Agency's responsibility to educate bloggers, e.g. about journalism.

Derrick: There's a lot of good and bad social media "stuff", but it's up to management to decide how to engage. It's a derivation of the PR side of business, e.g. dealing with journalists. Social media is an evolution of traditional tools, e.g. CRM.

Daniel: Engage bloggers appropriately. Understand level of blogosphere, know who are the readers. Also, no one-size-fits-all solution to engaging bloggers.

Supriya: What do bloggers want in an event? (open to floor)
DK, NTT: It depends on bloggers
Claudia: Something fun, engaging, different
Cullen: Try the product, something friends can be engaged in

Derrick: Companies need to find out if new platform makes sense to them. E.g. Lenovo targets niche groups, not mass public. Give bloggers what they want, e.g. at events. Bloggers are not the same in other countries, understand local norms, e.g. in Japan and India, bloggers and journalists cannot be in the same room.

Geri (from Lenovo): Marcom execs are encouraged to innovate, e.g. seek out new channels.

(lunch break)

Willy: showed a Youtube video to illustrate how social media can bring fame.
Willy: demonstrated how LiveStudios uses Facebook.

(around this point, I dozed off from lunch, so my notes are sketchy)

Derrick: Use social media to build credibility. Corporate blog should be about what people want to talk about.

Melvin Yuan (from Waggener Edstrom): Social media is still in the honeymoon stage. Businesses are driven by bottomline, but social media is about relationships. Social media is today's PR.

Derrick: Companies lose control in social media, but PR still retains control of the message.

Pat: Too frivolous to claim that all companies need to engage in social media.

Derrick: Pick your weapons and tools.

Melvin: Social media affects everyone.

Willy: Different strokes for different folks.

(the end)

There was a much larger turn-out this time round. Aside from meeting some new social media enthusiasts, I also talked with some PR execs too. (I've even been contacted for an event already!) I think this is a good sign, especially from an event perspective. As I've lamented many times, I always see the same faces at different events. Hopefully, this will change after the PR folks meet unreached enthusiasts at SMB4!

--

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Samsung's first social media event... loses the "wow"

Samsung Innov8
Thanks to Daniel from Samsung for the invitation to their first social media event. Held at the Samsung shop at Vivocity, it was an announcement party for the new Innov8 phone. There were about 15 of us there, half of whom were familiar faces. (There's a real need for new blood!)

After filling our stomachs satisfactorily, we were treated to a presentation about the Innov8. We were briefed about its 8-megapixel camera, wireless connectivity, and localised maps.

But the highlight of the evening was the photo contest. The rules were simple: take three pictures with your camera that demonstrate how you are inspired by the Innov8. While the others took good quality pics, I settled for random shots. Ya, quite lame, but I enjoy such randomness, instead of camwhoring. The top 3 winners won an Innov8 each (ooooooh), though they are now required to use it to take their next 20 pictures, which should be no problem for them.

Having experienced Nokia's similar events for their new phones, I found myself comparing this event to Nokia's. It didn't take me long to realise why I found greater satisfaction in the Nokia events.

At Nokia, I got to play with the product.

As in hands-on experimentation with no marketing ploy. Yes, the product managers raved about their phones' features, but nothing could beat my figuring out if the phones satisfied my (albeit limited) requirements.

Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said for this Samsung event. There was no Innov8 to play with. It could be due to a variety of reasons (no trial phones left, phones are already on sale, management resistance, etc.), but the lack of a physical phone was really glaring.

I later found out that there was an Innov8 within the store (I played with the Omnia and was moderately amused by its touchscreen feature). But I think it defeats the exclusivity of the event if my only access to a physical phone was through the store's exhibit.

The lack of a phone also made me question the rationale of the contest. We had to show how the Innov8 inspired us... by using our own phones! That struck me as overly ironic. The Innov8 would really inspire me if I could take those 8-megapixel pictures with the phone itself. It would be better if we could compare pictures from our cameras and the Innov8. I think that would be an even greater "wow" moment, assuming that the Innov8's picture quality is as good as they say.

Alas, it was not to be so. Now, if someone asks me what I think about the Innov8, I'm more likely to refer him to the product brochure or website.

Note: Daniel did say that we could request for trial phones, but we'd have to go through the corporate hoops and hurdles to acquire one. I think that's quite an overkill, since all that any of us needed would be half an hour to play with one.

--

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Nokia Open Lab - day 3

Farewell screen
It's the last day of Open Lab and everyone had a chance to sleep in, following the partying from the previous night. I didn't have much time to relax after waking up, though, because I had to pack up. My return flight was scheduled for this evening. Yup, it was totally in-and-out for me.

Today's sessions were kept quite light and easy on the brain. We were treated to three presentations from Nokia representatives, focusing on different areas that Nokia is invested in.

Adam Greenfield
First up was Adam Greenfield with "The Long Here, the Big Now".
  • "Everyware" - all objects and surfaces of everyday life are able to sense, process, receive, display, store, transmit and take physical action on information
  • South Korea closest country/society to incorporate everyware, ubiquitous computing simplified to "u-", e.g. u-Cheonggyecheong - computing networks everywhere, u-City Songdo
  • but need to understand human desire and needs, e.g. how people use their mobile devices
  • no sovereignty of the physical, e.g. person talking on phone and walking in the mall is living his life on the phone, not the mall
  • that which primarily conditions choice and action in the city is no longer about physical environment but networked experiences
  • "Long Here" - layer a persistent and retrievable history over machine-readable data, e.g. Oakland Crimespotting, geotagged pictures
  • "Big Now" - making total real-time space become a present and tangible reality, e.g. hundreds of Twitter streams describing what people are doing in a city, MIT SENSEable City Lab
  • soft wall - networked mechanisms designed to actively deny or delay experiences, e.g. benches that are tilted forward to make it difficult to sit
  • nothing is as interesting about a place as having that information in that place, e.g. Oakland Crimespotting is relevant in Oakland but not elsewhere
  • information processing dissolving in behvaiour, e.g. Hong Kong women swing their purchases instead of tapping their Octopus card in buses and train stations
  • city moves from browsing (passive) to searching (active)

Udo Szabo
Udo Szabo next took the stage to talk about "The Power of WE".
  • power of the collective, i.e. to change people's social and psychological habits
  • connecting people beyond phones, e.g. Ovi
    1. from disconnected to connected, e.g. cameras, GPS
    2. from physical to digital, e.g. phone light, air ticket
    3. from virtual world to physical world, e.g. putting photos online instead of avatars
Finally, Dan Burgess (whose company works with Nokia) moderated an eco-workshop.
  • carbon - 50 million acres of forest destroyed - equivalent to 18-25% of global carbon emissions
  • water - 3,000 gallons of water to feed a cow for a burger
  • waste - one-third of world's resources have been consumed in the past 40 years
  • 4 things that can play in the quest for sustainable future:
    1. creativity, e.g. inspire / entertain people about ecological matters
    2. stimulate environmental consciousness, e.g. Watson, a box that displays electricity use
    3. communities, e.g. Freecycle
    4. power of collective, e.g. Carrotmob
  • Group 1: Energy
    • people are lazy
    • passive technology, e.g. house switches off sockets when you leave house
  • Group 2: Transport
    • GPS to find passengers for car pool
    • reduce packaging to reduce transportation
  • Group 3: Waste
    • phone recycling
    • life-long phones
    • mobile technology for whole system, rather than just phones
  • Group 4: Food/Water
    • RFID for improved food manufacturing
    • priority parking for green shoppers
    • mobile alert for expiring food
Closing speech by Jussi-Pekka Erkkola
With that, the first Nokia Open Lab came to an end. Jussi-Pekka "JP" Erkkola gave the closing speech, where he summarised what had gone on and what Nokia had achieved. I'm guessing that, based on the positive reviews from the participants, Nokia will be conducting more of such Open Labs. I hope that it is able to diversify its pool of participants, particularly in Asia.

Helsinki Airport
We said our goodbyes, exchanged contact details, took pictures, and generally just relaxed for the rest of the time. I waited with two others for our ride to the airport. The flight out was at 6:30pm, and I was a bit worried that it would be delayed, knowing how such regional flights usually are. Fortunately, we got out on time, and I was on my way home.

Nokia Open Lab 08

Thanks to Donna Suffling for putting up with constant emails before the event, and Nokia for sponsoring my trip and organising the whole thing!

Aside: I know that I had written previously that I was unable to go to Open Lab. However, after some shuffling of my schedule and talks with the right people, I was able to go for this. So thanks also to those who made this possible, you know who you are!

continued...
Nokia Open Lab - day 1
Nokia Open Lab - day 2

--

Friday, September 12, 2008

Nokia Open Lab - day 2

Open Lab banner
The Open Lab workshop started proper today, after a hearty continental buffet breakfast at the hotel. (Mmmm, scrambled eggs...) The hall was tucked at the rear of the hotel, but that also meant that we wouldn't have any distractions for the next few hours.

Welcome screenWorkshops about to beginOpening speech
Altogether, about 35 bloggers or prominent tech writers had been invited to Open Lab. About a third came from the U.S. The U.K. and Finland also had fairly large representation. From Asia, there was one guy from India (though an Indian was from the U.S.), one from Japan and one from Taiwan (though both were American expatriates) and one from Singapore - yours truly. About 15 Nokia employees joined us as well.

The opening speech provided an overview of what Nokia thought of the digital and mobile landscape today and what it hoped to get out of Open Lab. Following that, we dived into the first of the four sessions. Each session consisted of a presentation, then a discussion and presentation by each group.
  1. Social media - James Whatley
    • social media has made media more "sociable" - great amplifier
    • when? NOW!
    • you are the stream, not the apps or web services (YouTube, Twitter, etc.)
    • Group 1:
      • need for people to own their own data, not depend on the service
      • privacy issues
      • services organised around groups of friends, e.g. one service for work, another for family, etc.
    • Group 2:
      • neighbourhood of communities?
      • success depends on interface
      • generational gap in usage / experience
    • Group 3:
      • currently, only a high level view of what social media is, as defined by geeks
      • need to move away from the term "social media"
      • social media needs to fade to the background
    • Group 4:
      • ego, narcissism
      • "killing time"
      • desire to communicate
      • digital drop-outs, e.g. go somewhere with no Wifi
      • low barriers to success, e.g. system, requirements
      • social media like pixels: different dots that form a picture

  2. Journey - Glenn Latham
    • mobile has changed GPS, e.g. geotagging
    • GPS films - film ending determined by geolocation
    • Group 1:
      • simplified navigation
      • need to make info useful
    • Group 2:
      • a lo of geotagged output/creation, but little usage
      • localised data that is of interest
      • need to make it easily accessible, e.g. auto-download geocache info
    • Group 3:
      • set it and forget it
    • Group 4:
      • milestones - Operation Desert Storm, Google Earth, 9/11, natural disasters
      • social recommendations - from friends/family
      • GPS to be integrated in existing services, e.g. Twitter

  3. Entertainment - Anne Toole
    • TV studios figuring out how to monetise / use new media
    • online gaming - 39% of online activity
    • only 1% create content
    • Group 1 - Internet short films
      • "Me Media" - one story, many channels
      • community involvement
    • Group 2 - music
      • watermarking / advertising
      • tip jar / micropayment
    • Group 3 - film
      • upsell, e.g. different formats, stories
      • social context, e.g. contest for consumers to participate in film
    • Group 4 - games
      • share your life as a game
      • games for solving technical issues - people describe "cute" pictures and Google will learn this and auto-categorise e.g. a cat is cute

  4. Collaborate - Chris Moore
    • corporations are willing to give up control to consumers
    • Group 1:
      • how to start / implement, i.e. top-down, organic
      • IT - from Information Technology to Interaction Technology
      • organisations as people: business process (skeleton), RSS (nerves), wiki (brain), blogs (senses), internal network/chat (blood), resources/money (muscles)
    • Group 2:
      • corporate culture needs to change
    • Group 3:
      • collaboration tools will change corporate culture
      • private versions of public service, e.g. Yammer vs Twitter
    • Group 4:
      • job aggregator
      • immediate, automated, seamless, painless
Overall, I found the session to be quite informative. Some bits left an impression on me, e.g. the metaphor of organisations as living, breathing people. However, perhaps due to the skew in participants' nationalities, I found that the opinions tended to be one-sided / biased, reflecting the First World view of the new digital landscape. My impression is that my opinions may have come across as too improbable/impossible to believe, based on their experiences in their countries, and so were not as accepted. Or maybe I wasn't forceful enough?

Anyway, I think our Chinese, Korean and Japanese friends would not agree - or even laugh at - some of our opinions. I'm sure that culture plays a big role in shaping one's opinions, especially with regards to usage of technology.

The day ended with a dinner at the hotel's pub, which had been closed off for us. I found myself sitting with some Nokia employees, so I had a chance to find out how the participants had been selected. Long story short: Nokia wanted to hear what prominent tech leaders thought of the digital future, so they sourced for representatives from around the world. I assume that they worked through their existing contacts (regional offices, partner organisations).

The night ended with a performance by local guitarist and one-man band, Petteri Sariola. That guy has some mad guitar skillz! BTW the video was recorded with the Nokia E71.

Petteri Sariola's performance from Yuhui BC on Vimeo.

continued...
Nokia Open Lab - day 1
Nokia Open Lab - day 3

--

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nokia Open Lab - day 1

View from the airplane
After enduring a 16-hour flight from Singapore (hey, I've flown for longer, my record is 30+ hours!), I touched down in Helsinki at about 1pm for Nokia's first ever Open Lab workshop. It was also my first time in Europe, so I was kinda excited to get my passport stamped by European customs.

Aside: the customs guy also had a sense of humour. On finding out that it was my first time in Europe, he asked, "Why?"

Klaus K Hotel entranceBedroom at Klaus K Hotel
Like all of the other participants, I had been put up at Klaus K Hotel, a nice little boutique hotel that was also the venue for the workshop. I had a single room, and that meant the room was just big enough for the double bed! But no complaints in the entertainment area: a big flatscreen TV!

Scene from HelsinkiScene from HelsinkiScene from Helsinki
I had about half an hour to myself, so I went out to explore the surrounding area. I took the opportunity to test the camera capabilities of the Nokia E71 smartphone, which each participant had been loaned. Needless to say, its picture quality could not compare to what my trusty ol' Sony Ericsson K800i produced.
Nokia E71Sony Ericsson K800i
Scene from HelsinkiScene from Helsinki

The weather was cool and, as long as the wind didn't blow, comfortable enough to just be in a sweater. Judging by the shops, I realised that this was at the more expensive side of Helsinki, which meant that I wouldn't be doing much shopping!

Nokia House entranceNokia House cafeteriaNokia House cafeteriaOffices at Nokia HouseOffices at Nokia House
I met up with some others back at the hotel to visit Nokia House. I admired the awesome river view from the entrance and steel-and-glass facade that seemed to go on forever. We weren't allowed into the offices, of course.

Old Nokia devicesDisplay pouch with solar cellsExperimental Nokia remote controlled dog
We were ushered to a meeting room with some nifty displays. Shelves of old Nokia products (haha, I found an N-gage phone!), some experimental products (a phone pouch with solar cells for auto-recharging the phone inside), some new products and some toys (a robot dog that was controlled via remote control by a phone).

We ended the excursion with a stop at the Nokia store at the entrance. It was quite amusing to see Nokia-branded shirts, notebooks, umbrellas, frisbees.

First dinner in Helsinki
That night, we had a pre-event party at Black, a nearby restaurant/pub. I don't recall what exactly I ate from the buffet, but it was delicious. I chatted with a few folks and some Nokia employees. Later, we were treated to comedy from an American stand-up comic who's living in Finland.

I went back to the hotel at about 11pm with a few others. Even at night, the weather wasn't that cold... if we walked fast enough!

continued...
Nokia Open Lab - day 2
Nokia Open Lab - day 3

--