20090918
Sony's Rebirth?
I haven't been following the gaming industry since I deleted all relevant feeds from Google Reader but recently my roommate went out of his way to pick up Scribblenauts which looks amazing! With such a seemingly open-ended game flow I wonder if the developers ever felt overwhelmed by the concept. I wish there was an option to draw the object rather than typing it in. That would've made it much easier to port globally too.

A few days ago Ars Technica reviewed Gran Turismo PSP. This was the game I originally purchased the PSP for during launch. I held onto the it for as long as I could but when GT PSP never materialized I became so disgusted with it and Sony in general that I spoofed the PS3 ads. I even traded my PSP for a Nintendo DS and never looked back. Sony has this misconception that technology rules and content doesn't which is weird since so many of their hardware decisions were always hampered by their Sony Music content arm overlords.

So now that the price cut has brought the PS3 to manageable levels, and with the re-release of both platforms through the PS3 Slim and PSP Go does this signal a rebirth? What do the Sony faithful out there think?

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At 3:09 PM, Blogger Albert said...

Just got a PS3 and I like it. Blu ray is awesome. I just like that it can be a gaming machine and media center since I watch movies and shows on there too. Games are getting better but the other main thing is PSN is free which makes it definitely more worth purchasing than the XBOX 360.

 

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20090619
In China for the summer
Stuck behind the Great Firewall of China, but I think that's a good thing. It's preventing me from updating much and as the popular saying goes, if you have nothing good to say, don't say it at all. Fortunately the better moments in China have all been captured in photographs. Click here to view them.

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At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Sam said...

I've been to China 3 times over the past 11 years, all to adopt girls. Every experience was an eye opening one....both shock, horror and wonderment.

 
At 9:47 PM, Anonymous Chris Motorcycle Merchandise said...

I looked at the pictures.They are lovely and creates a desire in me to visit China someday. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words and you posted many pictures...

 
At 6:32 PM, Anonymous Michelle Skipper (necklacemaking pro) said...

Wow! I love the photos. I'll plan to go there for my next travel. I guess you've got a very wonderful visit in China. Thanks DC for sharing this post and the photos. So inspiring and very beautiful.

 

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20090605
Blood Drives in China
A couple of minutes ago a few employees and I drove down the road to the local government compound (nicely-laid brick roads within). There was a government-mandated blood drive going on; some employees were there to give blood, others to provide moral support. Citizens that give blood here usually go straight to the hospitals who in turn pay them a tidy sum. But once a year, the local government requires all businesses to ‘volunteer’ three employees per 100 employed. On our end, we had to provide eight employees for the drive. Two of our ladies were turned away because of low blood pressure, fortunately we were so close it wasn’t much of a hassle bringing in replacements.

When I whipped out my U.S. passport for identification purposes it caused quite a stir and at times I felt like a circus animal. As many of you know, people here don’t believe in lines so every station had a crowd surrounding the tables. After they drew my blood, one of the local officials heard that I was an American citizen and made me return to the last station so that we could stage the blood draw again for a photo shoot. Uncomfortable to say the least.

When I got back to the hotel I told my father and the manager about my experience. They shared additional details about the blood drives, each donor was compensated with ¥300, dinner and a day off by the company. Seems as though all companies do the same and the government heavily encourages the companies to compensate the donors in this manner. ¥300, think that’s about a day’s wage? Not bad, I think I’ll buy a bike with my ¥300.

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20090603
Driving in China: A game of chicken
I’m not even sure where to begin with this, from what I heard India is much worse, but drivers here in China would give anyone road-rage. People on bikes, mopeds and motorcycles dart out of every conceivable nook you can think of cutting you off without so much as a glimpse in your direction. Every driver seems to operate in their own world where they are seemingly invincible.

Etiquette?
Hah! You know of the stories about ‘lines’ not existing in China? The same can be said of the motor-vehicles. If you leave any space around you, other drivers will try to cut you off. Even if you are traveling at speed, people will turn onto the road from driveways without any consideration forcing you to stomp on the brakes.

On single lane roads slow mopeds and even cyclists will take up the center of the lane. Instead of hugging the side of the road to let you pass they expect you to swerve onto oncoming traffic to get around them. I’ve even seen cyclists riding three abreast blocking traffic. I assume they want you to hit them so they can sue and collect.

Roundabouts
Taishan City seems averse to traffic lights though the few they have managed to snag me blowing through them by accident twice so far (¥100 each ticket). How can you blow through a light by accident? Because they don’t have a red light. When it’s a signal to turn left, there’s only that signal and no red instructing you to stop if you are traveling straight. Roundabouts DO NOT WORK. They are a pain in the ass and especially with the aggressive driving in these parts it’s a nightmare. To get around them you basically have to put your blinders on and drive like one of them. Go and pray that people will stomp on the brakes for you.

Driving at night?
Be prepared to be blinded. Drivers leave their high beams on permanently. Not an issue in the states since I can just peer down onto the road in front of me and follow the embedded reflectors. They don’t have that here and there is a real risk of hitting a cyclist since they never have reflectors.

But hey look at me applying a double standard here. I don’t even have a license and I’ve been driving around. I’d never do this in any other country but the cops basically can’t be bothered with such trivial matters. They have much more important things to do like being wine-and-dined.

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At 7:15 AM, Anonymous Dana said...

Driving may be a game of chicken but even crossing the street on foot can be an adventure!

 
At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Bill the Motorcycle Backpacks Guy said...

If you think driving in China is tricky take a trip down to Vietnam. I'ts absolute chaos with all toe motorcycles and scooters on the roads.

 

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20090601
Village sanitation services
During my run this morning an elderly woman walked in front of me outside the village I always stop at to stretch. Curious as to what she was doing with the bag of garbage in her hand I gave her a head start then started jogging after her. Around the bend she stopped and simply tossed her garbage off to the side of the road then turned around and walked back to the village. I stood over the spot where she launched her bag of garbage from and saw nothing but trash covering the ground, some still sealed in colorful plastic bags. I guess I now know where much of that litter on the side of the road comes from.

I brought this up with my father during breakfast and was told that the government doesn’t have the money to provide sanitation services to all the villages in the countryside. When I stated that it seemed unfair, and brought up the villagers’ taxes (where does the money go?), he told me most villagers live on some sort of welfare so they aren’t exactly being scammed out of their taxes.

Passing judgment from my life of luxury it would be nice if the villagers set up a land-fill area rather than choosing a random spot on the side of the road to dispose their trash but they have more important things to worry about like where they are getting their next meal from. From the highway I sometimes see farmers burning refuse nearby their huts. Though it contributes to CO2 levels I almost prefer this over seeing bits of garbage all over the land.

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20090530
Maiden run in the sticks
It’s been a week since I got here and this morning was the first time I was able to will myself out for a run. I briefly glanced over my destination (a small village to the north) a few days ago while checking out the surrounding area via Google Maps Satellite. View the route here: Gmaps Pedometer.

You’d think the countryside would offer fantastic air, but every time a truck passed by I was choking on its exhaust. I don’t think they believe in catalytic converters out here. I tried taking big gulps of air whenever I heard one coming up behind me so I wouldn’t have to breathe until the exhaust dissipated out in front of me.

The run there wasn’t bad, but I did feel a little stiff and my left shin was really tight. At the turnaround point I stopped for a few minutes to stretch, felt a bit uncomfortable when a villager walked up his driveway and circled me. The run back felt better but I didn’t notice the gentle slope down on the run there so the return leg felt like eternity at some points.

Hope I’ll be able to keep this up since it’ll be my only form of exercise. My father removed the hotel gym a month ago because no one used it and the equipment was getting rusty. Sounds like the local Dragon Boat festival is not going to happen this year either so paddling is out of the question.

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20090518
Panel Takeaways 2: Chicago Conversations Marketing
The notes from this panel probably won't make much sense to anyone since it was more of a discussion than a structured lecture. Posting these selected quotes for my own record, you marketing types probably know of many of these theories already so it might not be all that interesting.
  • Means-end chain theory and the laddering technique
    • Imagine you want the consumer / end-user to feel or think a certain way. That would be the top rung, and to get to that top rung, you need to figure out what words or other factors might trigger the user to climb the bottom rung of that ladder. Apparently skilled interviewers can deduce these patterns in language. I can't help but think of Dr. Sweets character in Bones.

  • Where you say something is more important than what you say.
    • This isn't about product placement, this is about placing your message around specific sources that elicit a certain emotion which promotes emotional contact to the brand. So let's say a beloved child character passes away on a show due to some illness. That would be a perfect time to follow up with a commercial asking for donations to save children from a similar illness because the emotions are already there, riped for picking.

  • CEO vs. CMO
    • CEO's push big changes while CMO's push incremental changes. This was quoted by a panelist who mentioned a study that produced these results. This statement stumped me since it's definitely not the case with one of my old bosses. The marketing department was always pushing for new services or products to be added since we were always the customers' champion. CEO would always play it safe and 'stay the course' striking down any new service we tried to pitch. I suppose everything we pitched were incremental improvements whereas a CEO might have the big picture handy that could lead to big bets and big gains (or losses). I guess my old CEO just wasn't a visionary.

  • Internet: People are measuring what they can right now, not what they should. SO TRUE! And how do you decide on what was a success and a failure since you can't compare it to traditional measurements?

  • Noncognitive research (most decisions made on subconscious level)
    • I can attest to this, my best ideas come while working out or brushing my teeth. So I guess I might also make my purchasing decisions then too? According to a panelist, getting in touch with unconscious mind is akin to getting in touch with humanity. 85% of decisions are made noncognitively and what people think they think is not what they think =P.

  • Set expectations / promise / delivery > meet consumer needs / efficacy!
    • Pillar 1: Competition Space
    • Pillar 2: Trademarks, positioning
    • Pillar 3: Profit pool, shares, how they move over time.

  • Companies go from vertical to distributed management every two years.

  • Closed loop multi-channel marketing: This PDF is a year old but a Google search didn't turn up much.

  • Everyone is still figuring out social media. Companies can't dive into it but they need to experiment / launch pilots in social media.

  • Analytics are an excuse when you don't know the answer. Lack of control makes better marketers get in touch with consumers more.

  • Brand management is the closest thing to owning your own business in a large corporation.

  • Elevate brands in their lives... connect! (Heard this repeatedly, make the emotional / human connection.)

  • This wasn't from the panel but for some reason I thought of something David Kelley of IDEO (and CMU alumn!) told me when I visited the d.school at Stanford. All companies value people with broad skills, those able to jump from one role to another and collaborate, but they also need deep dive experience / skill set. Something I don't think I have right now. The whole jack of all trades, master of none metaphor continues to haunt me five years after I left architecture school.

  • Marketing is science & art, one of the panelists stated this and I thought to myself so is design, architecture etc. Architecture is engineering & art (if it wasn't why did I suffer through years of statics, structures, statistics, design economics, etc.?). The architects observe people similar to marketers observing their customers. Have you ever walked up to a door and pulled on a handle when you were instead supposed to push on the door? Terrible user-interface, that handle should have never been there...

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20090517
Panel Takeaways 1: Behance: Make Ideas Happen


Finally sat down to type up my notes from two of the more insightful panels I've been to recently.

Behance
The first was held at the Behance offices as part of Creative Week. 'Make Ideas Happen' was a small group session where we discussed issues we were dealing with as creatives. Scott introduced a few concepts that I thought were insightful. According to my notes, I sometimes suffer from idea-to-idea syndrome where I generate a ton of ideas and never take the time to develop them. In the future, to deal with it, I should provide a week of skepticism before I act on it. At that point, I should either reject the idea or commit to it and decide on a ship date and work backwards, breaking it down to action steps. Problem is, I feel like I'm missing out if I don't pursue every single idea...

Related to idea-to-idea syndrome, Scott introduced me to the 'project plateau' when I made a comment about how I loved conceptualizing, but as I work on an idea and bring it through to production I find myself having a harder time concentrating on the project. This is because at the conceptualizing stage, the excitement level is high, but as you go into production, the excitement level drops and plateaus. New ideas start at a high excitement level which takes away my attention from the production aspects of a previous idea.

Another concept Scott mentioned was the categorization of people into three buckets; dreamers, doers and incrementalists. I don't like to call myself a dreamer since I prided myself on getting things done back in high school, college. But as time goes by, I find myself jumping between the dreamer stage and doer stage. So I guess I'm an incrementalist who leans heavily to the dreamer side of things. I need to stop dreaming so much.

I did a quick search and found others who had attended conferences where Scott, the CEO of Behance lectured at. Here are notes from SXSW, a video from SXSW and some background information on Behance and what their Action Method is all about.

Fast Talk: McG
That evening I attended Fast Talk: McG at Fast Company's headquarters. I was lucky enough to be looking over the updates in TweetDeck and saw that @fastcompany was offering tickets to the event to the first ten responders. McG, the director of the upcoming Terminator movie and Fast Company's May 2009 cover story was surprisingly friendly, engaging and full of entertaining stories. Catch clips of the talk here. Looking forward to a sneak preview of the movie on Wednesday night, thanks Visa signature!

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