Saturday, March 29, 2008

Back from Shanghai

Back from a week long study tour in Shanghai. I had a terrific trip and will be outlining all of the key observations and learnings on the blog soon. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

More on the Chinese consulate

An incident like this isn't going to make the lines at the consulate any slower. Now I know why they've got security staff and steel gates in place.

Chinese consulate attacked

This could be related to Tibet or human rights violations. Then again they might just be upset about the $130 charge for a visa.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Firefox for me?

I've been on the Internet for a while. I can remember back to 1993 when I got my first email account (it was a California Technology project email). I used the original Mosaic browser and had gotten used to using Fetch to grab information from electronic databases.

I had a love affair with Netscape. The stars scrolling above the 'N' logo was like magic to me as I spend my days writing HTML and experiencing the early web. I was sad to see the company's fall (at the hands of Microsoft) but I didn't hold it against IE for long.

I've been open to trying new browsers -- I used code from the Mozilla project before Firefox -- but I wasn't impressed by Firefox 2.0. I felt it was a memory hog and although I liked tabbed browsing everything seemed slow. I've been pretty happy with my IE 7 experience despite everything and my work systems are primarily IE based so its been my browser of choice.

But I'm willing to give Firefox another chance. We were lucky enough to have Asa Dotzler from the Firefox community visit us yesterday and I was really impressed by the way that the community has grown. I've been a big believer in the power of open source. Although I've never been a contributor to open source I'm going to look for ways to help out. Asa promises me a better product with more security. Time to give it a shot. At the moment I'm writing this entry on a ScribeFire plug-in (integrated into Firefox) and I'll report back and let you know how things are working.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

My new baby...

As a late adopter (maybe an intermediate adopter is more appropriate), I'm usually a step behind with my gizmos and cell phones. I did recently take the plunge and get a 'smartphone' after a couple of years without one (although I was happy to give my old company their HUGE Blackberry back).

My new phone is the Motorola Q9C. Yes, I know I could have been trendy and gotten an iPhone but that would have meant changing networks and giving more of my hard earned money to Steve Jobs (for the record, I've never owned an Apple product and the iPod I owned was one manufacturered under license to HP) or I could have gotten a fancy touch screen HTC Touch. Palm was attractive to me but I worry about their long-term viability.

I went with the old standby, Motorola, and the Windows Mobile OS. It has been a dream so far. I've been able to check my personal mail, make calls and surf the Internet at great speeds. I've even found a great home screen for my phone.

So, what do I have running on it? Here's the list:
Skype (which works remarkably well)
Wall Street Journal news reader
Messenging application (AIM, MSN and YM)
Flash player (YouTube, anyone?)
MS Office suite

I even got my first Bluetooth headset for this phone. I'm fully committed to it! Now I just need a browser like Opera or Cellfire to speed up my experience and some MP3s to listen to on the device.

Sunrise in the Sunset

Seen outside my home on February 25th.

Gifts will get you the world

In my entreprenurship class last semester we had a guest speaker from the company Lexy. Although he couldn't tell us much about the product (stealth mode) it sounded interested and an innovative way to leverage the millions of cell phones around the U.S.

I sent him an email and asked to be a Beta tester for the service but nothing much came out of it. I tried it a couple of times but without a network of people to share it with some of the early collaborative features were kind of useless to me.

Out of the blue I get an email from Lexy asking for my home address because they wanted to send me a t-shirt. Look what arrived yesterday.

Talk about sweet! The package was sent priority mail and was nicely wrapped up for me. I was really impressed and immediately called the service to try it again. I shouldn't talk that much about the functions but you can find out more from (Beta site). Perhaps if this blog takes off I'll be getting a lot of other assorted schwag. One can only hope!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Starbuck Observations

So I took some time out on Saturday to visit my local Starbucks. I figured it would be a chance to get some reading done and to absorb some of the 'power of Starbucks'. As someone who doesn't drink coffee, I do not have a daily latte habit (nevertheless, I waste my money buying tickets for Cal Basketball) so visiting SBUX is a rare treat for me (Treat times include: desperate for a clean bathroom, away from home with 30 minutes to spare, etc)

The Irving St Starbucks was definitely different. Located on a busy intersection off of 19th Avenue, the store picks up a lot of food traffic. During my visit there was a constant stream of people and the spectrum of people frequenting the Starbucks struck me as odd. Unlike other locations, there were literally people of every size, shape and color coming through the doors (the Sunset district is not generally that diverse). There were even some patrons who appeared destitute but had saved enough cash for a good cup of java (or maybe the transformative Starbucks "experience".)

I thought it was odd that this Starbucks had a set of bins dedicated for children. The colored bin was filled with coloring books, toys and other assorted kids products. Starbucks is often considered a haven for people -- a place that people can escape their daily stress. I thought it was funny that kids (often the source of much noise and stress) were embraced at this location.

My visit took place a couple of days after the well-publicized Starbucks 'shutdown' project and I think some of the after effects were still visible. The employees I saw were friendly and more importantly appeared to be having fun with one another. I witnessed several 'baristas' having whipped cream (within appropriate levels) fights and lots of friendly joking. I think the shutdown was a brilliant move. Shutting down for three hours gave the company a chance to celebrate the importance of their 'associates' (they aren't called employees at SBUX), they got some great media coverage (as every media outlet covered the news) and reinforced that they are a company that does business differently.

Although their growth has slowed recently and they've had some recent stumbles-- the company's unique culture still shines through. They did a nice job on my Vanilla Bean frappucino too.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Random moment of happiness

On Saturday night when I drove home from the gym, I saw a road sign that was a little different from the norm.

The sign read, "Happy Birthday Rochelle". I'm sure that some one's birthday was made a little brighter with that surprise.

Hope there weren't any consequences for the person who programmed the sign. :) As for random moments of happiness -- I'll share more about that perspective later.

Six word story

As an exercise in creativity and brevity -- famed writers like Hemingway have written six word stories. (Hemingway's -- "For sale: baby shoes, never worn") Here are some more examples (Smith Magazine / Wired)

In class we tried to come up with a six word story description of ourself. It isn't as easy as it looks. Below I've listed some attempts. I reserve the right to edit this list or to add new ones as I find inspiration.

Despite efforts, still searching for success (the one I came up with in class)
On journey to find Asian America
Applied fingerpainting to everything in life
Always ready for a laugh and smile

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Quote in the Chronicle

The newspaper industry has seen difficult times with the growth of the Internet and online services. One of the few things that newspapers can offer is local coverage and a deep relationship with their readers.

I have been a participant of the SF Chronicle's Two Cents feature which collected opinions and feedback from readers on articles and subjects. It was a nice feature that allowed for real feedback before the widespread use of in page "comments" that are rage in web 2.0.

Interestingly enough, the Chronicle is using its comments feature to integrate feedback into its print editions. I left a comment about San Francisco's MUNI system and was surprised when a Chronicle editor asked if they could use it for publication. Papers may find using technology can help them become more relevant.

Here's the short blurb for your reading pleasure.