I had some readers comment on the ”annoying” white text. I have listened to your complaints and gone with a more traditional color layout. Please let me know if you like the new scheme.
Archive for the ‘life’ Category.
Recently, I’ve come to realize that my most valuable skill is my writing ability.
I’ve had the honor of helping a few of my just-graduating friends apply for jobs and polish their (sic due to laziness) resumes. From that experience and also being involved in a hiring process more than once, I’ve had a wide range of exposure to the “best” writings of others.
I say best because I imagine people would spend a significant time trying to write the very best cover letter they can. Unfortunately, much of what I read was riddled with run-on sentences, vague arguments about their ability, and a lack of focus. This doesn’t mean they didn’t get the job, but it certainly didn’t help with their first impression.
Writing is a skill we should all continuously improve. Granted, I probably make typos or grammatical errors all over this blog; I’m not perfect either. But I have always strived to improve my writing skills, which is why I have always kept a blog or journal.
Recently, my company offered to purchase gifts for everybody. One guy got really expensive headphones. One guy got an iPod Nano. One guy asked for an LCD. I asked for a $150 book. The book I received is called Steal This Book!: Million Dollar Sales Letters You Can Legally Steal to Suck in Cash Like a Vacuum on Steroids. Yes, quite possibly the worst title known to man. I wanted this book so I could see what excellent sales writing looks like.
Writing is pervasive. I used it when I wrote cover letters to convince employers to give me a job. I used it to sell my case to a professor a few years back when I realized I had accidentally skipped a midterm (long story short, I passed). And most importantly, it helps me practice expressing arguments in a coherent manner — a skill that comes into play when I start opening my mouth.
In other words:
Writing is like singing: anybody can do it, but most people suck at it.
By the way, I suck at singing.
The following are my resolutions for the year: #3 was edited for wording.
- Work harder than ever in securing my career. This means maintaining my work ethic and making sure my company succeeds.
- Save more money. I currently spend too much money going out or buying random things I only half need. My first step will be to hire a financial planner. The second step will be to stop spending like I have no budget.
- Make sure I devote more time to a personal life. See point #1 to understand why this is on the list at all.
I read an interesting article about social networks and privacy today. The article explains how damning social networking can be to an individual. I agree.
It doesn’t matter if you think photos of you licking tequila off a person at a party seem “okay” to you now. It may seem “fun” to you now that there’s a photo of you streaking across the street. It may seem totally “normal” for you to be breaking the law and drinking when you’re only 20. And if you’re lucky, all these things will remain “okay” for years to come. Unfortunately, it’s increasingly likely that an innocuous “joke” comment you left on someone’s profile will later come back as damning evidence against you in a job interview, a political career, or marriage. You simply don’t know, and it would be stupid of you to ignore that possibility.
I’ve tried to explain this to my friends the best I can, but it seems people just don’t get it (at least those my age).
Most people would agree they were pretty immature only a few years ago. Well, it’s no news flash that you will seem pretty immature to yourself in five years too.
But the Internet doesn’t have a memory of five years — no, it’s more like forever. There is a damn good chance my kids will some day find a cache of this page. Possibly even my grand kids. Have you thought about that when you make a profile somewhere?
People think just because their data is in a “private” network, it is safe. Sure, it’s safe from predators – for now – but give it five years. Give it 10. All it takes is one leak and it’s all over. All it takes is one person to see a photo of you drunk out of your mind making out with somebody to copy it and blog about it in their publicly accessible journal.
People these days are posting about their bad grades, unstable love life, frequent usage of drugs, and other things that nobody wants their employer to know. The point is that you just don’t know who will look at what you are writing. It doesn’t stop at a potential employer. There are already documented instances of the police using it to nab criminals. I have heard first hand from a friend working in the government that Facebook is used during security clearance screenings and many people fail due to photos of them breaking the law. Sometimes they were even prosecuted.
It will be very interesting in 10 to 15 years when the first major political candidates emerge that have gone through the Myspace and Facebook generation. Something similar to what I am thinking already happened recently. Tons of under age drinking photos will emerge. Some will involve rampant nudity, drug use, or illegal activity. None of it will be helpful to their image. Some of it may destroy marriages and careers.
Luckily, the net is still young and undeveloped. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you can get away with removing your content if you do it early enough.
I’m not trying to advocate avoiding social networks since I also think they will become an inseparable part of everybody’s social life. But they should be used cautiously. The rule of thumb I use is this:
Would I want my boss to see this? How about my parents?
Think about it.
Foot prints on the Internet are like foot prints on the moon (rather than the traditional beach) — they should be regarded as permanent. This isn’t like anything humanity has ever had before. You really can make a permanent mark. It’s your job to make sure you do damage control now, because you probably can’t later.
I live in LA, the land where land costs you an arm and a leg. That’s right, the prices for living here are insane. Condos here go for as much as houses in other cities. Houses start at something crazy like $400k. And that got me thinking. What the hell do I need to make to be able to afford a house here?
Well, without doing any hard math, I decided to look at my parents’ lives as an example. They did pretty well for themselves, and owned quite a number of properties over the years. I thought about what they could afford on their income and it really put things into perspective.
My parents bought their first house here in the US 20-or-so-years ago. I don’t remember the exact figures my dad once told me, but I recall something like $120k. That’s $220k in today’s money. I have no idea what my parents made, but I know they are very cautious spenders, and I think they bought it in cash after years and years of saving in poverty.
Then, about 10 years ago, they bought their second house. I believe it was for something like $350k, which is about $440k of today’s money.
And here’s where my brain went numb in awe. At that point, my parents had no debt and bought everything, including the house and cars in cash. That isn’t typical, and even though we lived a middle class lifestyle, something tells me my parents were far better off than most of our neighbors.
And thus my chilling conclusion. How in the hell are people in LA supposed to afford a house? Granted most of them aren’t buying it in cash, but with interest and fees, a $400k loan is a hefty monthly payment (~$3000), easily dropping someone from “rich and comfy” to “college student.”
No wonder some people commute over an hour to get to work.
Nintendo, in terms of marketing, failed to generate sufficient hype among the general consumer for their new flagship product prior to launch. And yet a few weeks later, word of mouth has generated a buzz that is causing an increasing growth in demand. While this was what Nintendo was banking on, I believe they got lucky since all companies, including Sony and Microsoft, hope for word of mouth sales. Nintendo, in a generic sense, failed at marketing their console when compared to Sony. All parents knew about PS3, and knew it was a “hot item” when it came out. Wii was perceived as a gimmick for kids that was for the “budget gamer,” which isn’t flattering. There was tons of Internet buzz, but the general market seemed relatively oblivious to the Wii, evident from lagging (albeit sold out) launch day sales (see below).
Luckily, this has in no way hurt Nintendo since everything sold out. Sony, on the other hand, dominated the marketing competition. Unfortunately, they lost the post-launch hype fight due to:
- Tons of negative press due to violence on launch days. Negative association hurts.
- Impossible shortages caused word of mouth to become difficult due to too few starting nodes existing (people who can show their friends). For example, I know nobody who owns a PS3, but I do know a few people who expressed an interest in getting one.
On the other hand, Nintendo gained some serious momentum due to:
- The console itself is totally novel, making people who see it in person want to try it.
- Enough supply to allow word of mouth to thrive, but not enough that the market is saturated and buzz is killed.
In short, Nintendo got lucky where Sony got really unlucky. The lesson here is that if you have something truly novel, it may sell itself (if you are lucky). On the other hand, if all you’re selling is an upgrade to something that already exists, you have to sell it hard and fast while demand is at its peak. That is because consumers are generally happy with the status quo (the PS2 that they already own), which means each time they visit the store, you have to convince them the upgrade is worth it. For example, if you convinced a consumer four times, and each time they visit the store, they can’t buy your product, they’re eventually going to either:
- Give up and forget about upgrading.
- Still want the upgraded experience, and thus buy the competitor (XBox).
- Take the best “deal” since they’re already at the store (Wii/PS2).
The third point explains why PS2 sales are still kicking strong. And the second point is the most important. It explains why Microsoft has seen a pretty big jump in sales this quarter — Sony convinced consumers for them (aside from their own marketing, of course)! By pushing the “next gen,” without providing a product people can readily buy, Sony created a strong interest for something “new” without providing their own answer to the problem. Enter Microsoft and Nintendo. Good job, Sony.
What’s really interesting about the Wii is that its demand is steadily growing even while supplies continue to increase. This is evident from my friend going to Best Buy on launch day and seeing tons of Wii’s sitting around. They were reportedly available until mid-day on launch day at many locations around the nation. I remember hearing on the radio, on launch day, that Wii’s were still not sold out at 1PM at some Best Buys.
Anyway, I bought a Wii last week. It has lived up to my expectations.
Now that it’s been out for two weeks, getting a Wii requires getting in line at 6AM on a Sunday morning. From speaking to people at Toys R Us and Target, those two locations had lines surpassing 60 people long before 7AM. I got lucky with mine because it seems many people didn’t think to visit Circuit City to get a Wii. =) I asked a rep. at the counter and he told me that each day, more and more people are asking about the Wii.
Have you seen the prices on Ebay? The prices continue to increase even when shipments from 60 to 100 Wii’s hit major electronics chains each week.
It was also interesting seeing the demographics of people in line. You’d think the line would be filled with teenage geeks playing with their DS. Wrong. Virtually everybody in the line was between 20 and 30. Very few teenagers, and very few kids in general. There were some older folks pushing 40 as well. When speaking to people, many of them had seen it first hand during Thanksgiving from family who had bought it the week prior.
Anyway, since getting one, I’ve let a few of my friends play it and they’ve all viewed it very positively. Granted, this whole Wii experience is relatively novel, but it is still interesting to note. It is definitely a social system. Getting a Wii to play all by yourself is moronic. Most of the games are geared towards playing with friends in a relaxed environment.
I’m bringing it to work tomorrow. Let’s see if I can sell my co-workers.
A while ago, I was involved in a start up venture. The company invested its future in social networking. We had a business model, angel investments, employees, contracts, marketing plans, and a clear vision. It was over two years ago, and it was before Facebook was truly a mainstream phenomenon. To be fair, if any new social network had a chance to gain any traction, then was the time.
Looking back now, I can tell you a million and ten reasons why it was destined to fail, despite having a feature list that, at the time (and even today), were far ahead of most of the competition. Perhaps in another post I can elaborate on the many lessons I learned from that venture, but not today.
A variety of news outlets and blogs have covered Google closing its Answers service. They also cover how Yahoo came in late and cleaned up.
Well, two years ago, while I was still in the planning stages of the start up, my friend (Brian-Ji) pitched to me the idea of an answers service. He pitched it very convincingly, and explained why it was destined to become awesome because it would fill a currently unsaturated market. I cited Google Answers as a reason why it would fail, despite the fact that my start up was competing against Facebook and Myspace. But where’s the fun in being naive if you can’t be a hypocrite, right? We chose to stick with our original social networking idea and abandoned the seemingly random questions idea.
Upon reading the news of Yahoo beating Google down in under a year, I exclaimed to my friend how I should have listened to him. But this is the very next thought that came out of my brain:
Of course, had we done that, it would have been a lame social networking questions hybrid and failed anyway. Ultimately, it would have been a social networking site first, and an answering service second.
At the time, my mind was so pre-occupied with one idea that I couldn’t see the full value of another. And even if I had seen the value, I would have screwed up the execution. At least I recognize that today. Let’s call that wisdom.
Today, I learned someone else’s name came up on a background check under my social security number (as well as my name). Curious, I looked up my credit report from other sources, and discovered only the original background check linked my SSN to this mysterious person. But there is no suspicious activity. My credit is just fine. And the other credit checks only see my name attached to the number. So in conclusion, I learned background checks can turn up pretty wild and crazy results… That, or I am missing something really important.
Today I learned that a Mac may have a problem connecting to a wireless router using WEP encryption, but that same router using WPA-SPK will authenticate just fine. Dumb Macs? Dumb old routers? Who knows, but at least I finally figured it out.
I learned I misspell “parameters” as “paramters” all the time in my code. I’ve learned to be much more careful when typing that word (or not? I misspelled it when typing this post).