Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Ultra Music Festival 2005 - Bayfront Park Miami

I was in South Beach Miami over the weekend and met up with a group of friends to check out UMF this weekend - a festival of the biggest names in DJ: Moby, Paul Van Dyk, TIËSTO, Paul Oakenfold, The Crystal Method, Armin Van Buuren, Junkie XL. We went to SPACE on Thu and Fri, and the crowd was insane. There was a 2-3 hour wait just to get in the club. Rediculous if you ask me. In any event, it was an interesting experience checking out the people and scene and hanging with friends in 90 degree weather. We also got to go to the beach, boating, and to Emeril's restaurant. Being at SPACE reminded me of a scene from the movie The Matrix with the electronic music and stylish people. What a change from the concerts I used to go to like the Rolling Stones, Sting, The Who, U2, REM. There's so much more technology involved in concerts now...the future of concerts have changed.

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Monday, March 28, 2005

Jim on Project Greenlight

Although my friend Jim got robbed on Project Greenlight, I think it's for the better. If the past years of Project Greenlight is any indicator of what's to come, the show seems to set the directors up for a fall. They chose Gulager over Jim, but hey, if they want to take the risky all-or-nothing pick, that's up to them. I know Jim's a phenomenal director, and he's got bigger gigs to consider. Best wishes to both of them. Jim has a bright future ahead of him.

I'm still waiting for my big break to showcase my dance skills and superior acting of Asian-geekness on one of Jim's movies. Dammit, I'm like a super Long Duck Dong!
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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

sharing photos, blogs, and searching for them

A lot of activity in the M&A market. What do they have in common? Easy, free, sharing of information:

photos (flikr, snapfish, and to an extent, HP)
blogging (Livehournal, Six Apart), and
search (Yahoo, Ask Jeeves)

It's my feeling that in the near future, a lot of these photo sharing sites will merge. The services will still be free, but we'll see more and more premium services being offered.
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Targeting the youth market - it's about the experience

In recent weeks, I've been doing some casual and targeted research on the behavior of the youth market. I've got to say that it's been an eye opener for me. I'll admit that I'm not the target youth market, and for a while, my mind has not been there. I've been in the corporate world, in a corporate mindset, where being older, wiser, and uptight and conservative is the norm, or the accepted.

I learned that teens drive retail sales. This is real. Corporate types who don't understand this are comfortable where they are and don't need to change, but to move ahead and create new markets, they need to go to the stores themselves, not hear it from their daughters and sons or think they know what teens will buy. Those companies fail. On March 11 05, Bear Stearns bought a stake in the hottest maker of premium jeans (7 for All Mankind). Every female under 30 knows this brand and probably has a pair or two or five. But some old executive at Bear Stearns noticed it because his daughter told him about how huge it is in the youth market and was smart enough to offer to purchase it, even though it had not been for sale.

My wife is very aware of the youth market and does research on trends in the fashion industry. She's been trying to get me to see the trends towards "younger" and more casual-classy clothing. I've always resisted being the uptight corporate guy. I've been going to the malls to observe the trends myself, and I am surprised.

What is selling is the youth oriented experiential stores. These are the Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, Ruehl, Izod, Coach! These are stores where you walk in and feel like you're in a different world. Some are like exclusive clubs, dark, attractive people, plasma screens, focused lighting. Others are fresh, light, and new. For example, I've never really liked A&F, but when I tried to notice the demographic and buying patterns there, it was buzzing. People go there to hang out with friends, check out their favorite t-shirts, and the lines are always very long. The old parents look out of place. They complain that it's too dark and the music too loud. Almost always, they're sitting on the couches or wait outside the store. But the experience draws the younger crowd inside...and they drive purchases and the trends. Revenue and share prices have gone up compared with others in the retail industry.

Take Coach, the luggage and bag store. Have you been there recently? I remember Coach having dark wood panelled walls, with all tan leathered luggage and bags...conservative, sturdy, business-like. I went in and the store experience is completely different. They're all white, recessed lighting that focuses on premium merchandise, and not one tan bag anywhere. Colorful bags, younger styles, and the people...all young girls with their moms begging them to buy them the latest style. It's an amazing transformation. Sales and share prices have skyrocketed in recent years...I know, my wife is a shareholder and she knew this all along. Same with Loui Vuitton.

teens are very savvy; drivers of new media

Teens know the "cool" stores. They know the marketing tricks. And they know what they like. And they tell their friends about it. It's also about personalization. There's a lot of buzz recently about the "personal media revolution". It's a new term and not too main stream yet. (for example Ourmedia.org). This organization provides a free medium where anyone can get recognized for their creativity, their voice heard, and share ideas with friends, and anyone on the web. If there was a cable channel that allowed teens to share their views, it has the potential to hit it big. We're going in the direction where "personal media" as I like to call it is ubiquitous and accessible for free. Viral marketing and sharing of information, in the form of p2p photo sharing, podcasting, blogs, and moblogs are driven by free thinkers and the younger crowd. These are new to you and I, but teens, who were born between 1986 and 1997 only know this as a normal part of life. They have to have the newest most stylish cell phone or Sidekick (with all the gems on it a la Paris Hilton) (Wired article) to stay in touch with friends. I know of 7 year olds in Manhattan who have cell phones. Sixteen is the age now where kids have credit cards, i.e. start buying online, even if it's microtransactions, and drive their cars to go to the mall. And speaking of cars, Toyota's Scion brand is a successful venture where they target a younger market and is an experiential brand where the Scion dealers are more like walking into an experience rather than a typical auto dealer where you walk around a lot or showroom full of cars under bright artificial lighting.

The market is shifting. Stores that don't get it will fade away or get acquired (Sears/KMart, Circuit City, JCPenney) by buyout firms like Eddie Lampert's ESL Investments. I know the current stores in big malls that don't get it. They're easy to spot. I walk in and look at the demographic, style, and lack of customers. It's important though to sense and respond to the market and not being set on one idea. I think a few companies get it, but the ones that don't will turn into another Sears, Kmart, or JCPenney.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

USA PSP launch in 2 days

With all the media hype out there about Sony's PSP handheld system, it'll be interesting to see how sales do in the US.

I'm off to Japan in a few weeks, so I'll check out the technology out there. I'll be back with pics and some reviews of some of the cool things that from Akihabara.

As for me, I'm not planning on getting a PSP mostly because I know I don't have time to play any games. But being a gadget freak that I am, you never know. I'm also not happy with the fact that PSP uses Sony's memory stick form factor and the proprietary UMD disc format. I use SD cards for all my flash memory (camera, USB drive, etc).

Sony is really leaning on this product to bring in future revenue. The PSP looks like a slick system, but it will need time for the market to mature and people to accept their format.
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Friday, March 18, 2005

green tea findings

Anti-Cancer Compound in Green Tea Identified I love green tea. It's my drug. haha...

A new study shows that Researchers at the University of Murcia in Spain (UMU) and the John Innes Center (JIC) in Norwich, England have shown that a compound called EGCG in green tea prevents cancer cells from growing by binding to a specific enzyme. However, drinking green tea while pregnant may increase risk of birth defects? Not that we're having kids now, but that's one more thing for those poor pregnant moms out there to avoid. Looking ahead, pregnant moms will want to become the next 'bubble boy.'

via the cancer blog.
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Thursday, March 17, 2005

new fashion trend: Ruehl

I went to this new store concept called Reuhl a couple weeks ago at the Garden state mall in NJ. They clothes were a good blend of business casual and fashion...not too chic but not too casual. The inside design of the store is sophisticated and you almost feel like you have broken into someone's beautiful home with its high ceilings, rich wooden floors, long dimly lit corridors, balconies, "old mansion" library style walls, and the dark middle hallway with stairs leading to the entrance.

My wife's been trying to get me to dress less 'uptight', and I found this store to be perfect to get me to dress more stylish. Ruehl is owned by Abercrombie and Fitch and Hollister, but you wouldn't know it. I asked the sales person who didn't want to admit it at first. "Shhh, don't tell anyone," she says. But the whole experience is similar to A&F, just more sophisticated.

If you haven't been to one of these A&F-type stores lately, its super popular with the younger age group. Ruehl is targeting 20-30 year olds, and it seems like the post-college/ young professional crowd is into it. I think this store concept of creating an experience will catch on if not already. That company "gets it."

Maybe I'll actually look stylish now.
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Email overload? Do something about it!

People in the corporate world have some terrible habits when it comes to email. I've been going through some older emails and saw this email sent to the whole company from a colleague of mine. I respect him a lot and he is smart, but who outside of IT understands this? So here are some of my email pet peeves:
  1. one word replies that didn't neet to clutter my inbox. I'm sick of hearing "thanks" in emails. It's nice in person, but no one cares of you thank someone in a "public" email.
  2. cc-ing several people who don't care to read your stupid note about how you completed that project deliverable
  3. cc-ing the whole company
  4. ANY forwards or jokes no matter how funny or racy it is. Sorry if you've forwarded me any jokes, but those go straight to the trash
  5. setting a high importance on most of your emails. I have a co-worker who sends almost all emails as high importance. I've learned to ignore those. It's like the reader who highlights whole books rather than the important parts.
I just read this HBS article about email overload and I think it should be required reading for people who work in offices: link.

Stanley Bing of Fortune also had a funny article a few years back. I've post a copy of it here.

But please, next time you're about to send an email, think about it. Is it worth sending in a postal letter? Does it actually contribute to the discussion?
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an old Fortune column classic on how to Email

WHILE YOU WERE OUT Log Off, You Losers! Electronic flatulence must cease! FORTUNE Sunday, November 10, 2002 By Stanley Bing

They say all good things must come to an end. Thankfully, the same is often true of bad things. Sometimes you have to give the evil that men do a little guidance in the direction of the door, however. So let's do that right now.

I want all of you within the sound of my voice to pause. Put your hands in your laps. Close your eyes and ask yourselves: Is the e-mail I'm about to send necessary? And if not, is it at least fun? If you cannot answer yes to either of those questions--don't hit that send button. Electronic flatulence must cease!

I saw it clearly last week. Some guys wanted to set up a conference call with me. That's fine. I can sit on the end of a telephone line and look out the window as well as the next person, and some people need elaborate conference calls set up by professional conference-call setter-uppers to feel good. There were three individuals who needed to talk to one another, so why one of us couldn't just dial one of the others and then patch the third in I don't know. But a professional was designated to establish the important communication hookup, and off we went. First we all exchanged e-mail about our schedules. That was okay. I thought it was interesting that Bob was going to be in Denver and Ted was going to be in Chicago, although it had nothing to do with the subject of our call. Then it developed that Thursday looked good until it was Tuesday because Bob was flying and Ted was driving, and then there was a mix-up between Thursday and Tuesday, and then there was some more effluvia that went back and forth about 3:00 vs. 3:30, and once the great event was established for Wednesday then everybody had to thank everybody, and a lot of jolly huzzahs went back and forth, and self-congratulations all the way around, and pretty soon there was a confirmation e-mail that got one thing wrong so a bunch of stuff had to then fly around clarifying the situation, and then there were observations about the amusing snafu and more thanks and high-fives for one and all, and by the time it was over I believe more than 100 e-mails of one form or another had crossed the electronic portal, popping up like cockroaches that keep pouring into a nighttime kitchen no matter how many efforts you make to kill them.

How many phone calls would it have taken one good assistant to set up this thing? Three? Come on!

During this time I noticed that several of the people who work for me were indulging in similar shenanigans. Supposedly entertaining e-mails were making their way around the system with trenchant observations like "See you there!" and "Will do!" I was copied on all of them, because people like to copy executives on things, for obvious reasons.

It got to the point where I had to fire off a message to all on the distribution list, saying "This is a relatively unimportant matter that has occupied us all for far too long. I will kill the individual who sends the next unessential e-mail on it." I have no idea whether it stopped the chain, but I was no longer copied on anything. That's something. So here's what I'm suggesting:

  1. Stop telling people you Will Do something. The best way of telling people you Will Do something is to Do It and then send a message saying the job is done. Until then, I assume you Will Do It. So Go Do It.
  2. Stop thanking people so much. If I get one more message telling me "tks" for something, I'm going to crush the one who sends it like an anchovy. I'm also not interested in hearing that there's "No problem." Know what? There better not be.
  3. Stop using e-mail when there's a damn phone on your desk. E-mail is for confirmation and simple discussion. Phones are for doing business. Here's how it goes: You think about the e-mail you are about to send. You realize that the distribution list is very long. You further see that if you simply talk to one person, you need not send the e-mail nor the 124 subsequent ones that it will generate. You call that one person. End of story.
  4. Never hesitate to send an e-mail that has actual data in it. It's the follow-up that says "Way to Go!" that's got to be run through the karmic shredder.
  5. Stop copying me on transitional crud.I want stuff that's fully baked, not half-baked!
  6. And absotively posilutely no e-mail chains of more than ten individual communications! None! Once you reach that number, it's over! Have a meeting! Get a cup of coffee! Send a telegram! I don't care what you do! But if I see the same subject line in my in-box once too often--you're toast! Toast!

Look. I recognize that this is a big change for us. We're like junkies who started off with a little recreational pot in the '80s and are now mainlining a couple ounces of horse every day. Well, it's time to hit the e-hab! We'll be glad we did!

Okay? Will do? Tks!

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hello world

I've had a blog of sorts on and off since 1998, when they weren't called blogs. I used to link to websites, post random photos, thoughts, and ideas on my "blog". Thinking back, it's already been 7 years since then. Ebay went public in Nov 1998. AOL purchased Netscape Communications Corp in Nov 1998. The purchase was an exchnge of AOL shares for $4.2 billion of Netscape stock. AOL was still its own company until it merged with Time Warner in January 2000 for $124 billion. Things were moving so fast. Someone got filthy rich. It sure wasn't me. I was too busy focusing on school and getting a graduate degree. Back then, people were just getting used to email. I regularly used it at school starting in 1993 until I graduated in 1995. Back then it was a terminal interface using Lynx and mail. No webmail, no pop email service, no attachments. It was simple. I found out how to spoof my email so I could send fake emails to trick my friends into thinking that a hot girl had emailed them. There were no security rules. Of course now, technology seems to have matured. The foundations have been set and real use of technology will be seen in our personal lives and in business. I'm looking forward to see what's next. Can't wait for the future. -reigai
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