Thursday, June 24, 2010

One year later / iOS4

Michael Jackson died one year ago on Jun 25. Reportedly, a billion dollar were made of him since his death. People flocked to buy his music, saw his movie 'This's it!', etc. I sometimes disprise the usage of dollar figures in terms of measuring the influence of art. However, I understand that it is one of the most popular and efficient way to gauge the impact of an artists. Anyway, what matter is that a lot of younger people kinda discover and enjoy MJ's performance since his death. I guess his body of works will certainly stay and I can't wait to hear the backlog of unreleased tracks that MJ had sung throughout his career, which is rumored to be released later this year. As I wiki that, I was so surprise the number of unreleased tracks that have been confirmed for their existence. Anyway, just gotta stay tune for that.
Since I downloaded the iOS4 just an hour after it was released two days ago and got that installed in my iPhone 3GS. I just love this upgrade very much, particularly the multi-tasking and folder management features. Also, it has since triggered my interest in discovery of more apps in AppStore as I now have more space to install apps on my phone. However, the bad effect is that I'm very closed to hit the monthly limit of my free MB usage which is a total of 200MB for both upload and download. I found that to be ample in past months, but I've already reached 150MB today and still have 10 days to go before next reset. Gee, that's something I gotta watch out. Otherwise, I may have to upgrade my service plan in order to avoid paying hefty charges of every extra MB. Other than that, I'm happy with iOS4 so far. As a side track, Apple really deserves its success in iPhone. The most popular mobile phone in my previous and current workplace is iPhone, so does my wife's. With such intuitive and simple UI, it is so easy for most folks to learn its navigation and once you got use to it and hook on it, it is just too difficult for them to leave this platform to learn another. As I blog separately before, only Android will have a chance to edge iOS4. Others? forget it. Also, Apple is cloning its success in iPhone with iPad, I think its head start so far has been very successful - 3 million units sold in 80 days. Just 6-9 months ahead of any Android tablet release really make a big different. Kudos to Apple! Though I've yet to convince myself to buy an iPad anytime soon, I can't rule out my purchase in 1 or 2 years down the road, just like my purchase of my iPhone. Just wait to see what more is up in Steve Jobs' sleeves in next 2 years then.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I've been a long time listener of 'Buzz Out Loud' (BOL) on CNET. com since I accidentally found it few hundreds episodes back on iTunes Podcast. I like the hosts and the 'meat' of the show which is all about reporting and commenting tech news that non-tech listeners would be able to understand and enjoy. The show gives me a good perspective on what people think on tech stories/news. While listening to my archive in traffic this morning, in episode# 1250, an email from a listener was read out. Some of the wordings (see below) in that email really got my attention and makes me go hmmmm...........

"the ability to instantly change the information on the internet allows us to instantly change a part of history. This is a foundational point that George Orwell’s masterpiece 1984 advised society to guard against. He who controls the past, controls the future. Without the physical proof of a fact, the fact becomes a myth which only resides an individual’s mind."

OMG! such thought is so provocative! I've never thought about this concept which can be presented in words in such crisp and clear manner. As a side effect, that get me curious to get a hand on George Orwell's book - 1984. I heard of this book before 1984. Being told that that book was written in 1948 by the author who had kinda foretold a version of future of the world in 1984 where people's freedom were limited and controlled by some freaking political system or something....

Certainly, that future never really came on 1984. At that time, I was still too young to read such complex book. Also, I got an impression that it would be a waste of time to read some old 'dated' books. Cos, I thought 1984 had already been passed, why would I read such book when it was already 1990s or beyond? Similarly, you wouldn't read a book about how to prevent Y2K bugs in 2001. However, as time goes by, every now and then, the context of 1984 had been brought up here and there. I think it got to me to a point that I need to put this on my reading list down the road. I don't know when I will read that book, but certainly this book is a keeper.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lakers won banner#16 and the aftermath for the Celtics

As I predicted yesterday, Lakers won the 2010 NBA trophy over the Celtics. It was a hard fought game, credits got to go to all players involved. Yes, I'm a Celtics' fan. Loss on my favorite team is hard to swallow. There have already different theories coming up on why they lost: Kendrin Perkin's absence, the big threes are too old, Rasheed Wallace was over-fatigue, the ref called too many fouls on the C's etc. People can form whatever judgement they want. It really doesn't matter what caused the loss, the fact is that they lost! Down the road when most people look back the history, all they will see is that Lakers won and Celtics lost. That's it.

Well, as NBA for this season has officially come to an end. The Lebron+everyone hunt will be the main story until dusts settle. The power landscape of NBA will certain change and next year will be an exciting year. The Lakers will have challenges ahead of them. Will they be able to 3peat? Nobody knows. However, I'm sure Celtics' great run will come to an end with Doc River's departure, Ray Allen's signning to another team (not because he doesn't wanna stay, but because Ray's agent doesn't want his client to sign for a small amount that Celtics will offer). Also, Paul Pierce and K.G. have piled up so much mileage that they just can't beat the younger guys in series. Yes, Rondo is their bright future, but not able to elevate the team by himself until after the retirements of Paul and K.G. in 2012, when the team can free some $$$ to sign another 1 or 2 all-stars to join the C's. The team will probably be a 2nd around play-off team at most, depending how the power landscape will be shaped this summer.

Anyway, tomorrow is another day. Teams move on, so do lives.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Game 7

Yes, everybody is watching the World Cup, the once every four years event. However, we are still in the first round of the top 32. So, I will leave it that way for now.

NBA, my favorite spectator spot, has reached the final game for this season. Game 7 between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, a rivalry for the ages. Being a long time C's fan, I can't help but rooting for the big three to play the last game together amid Ray Allen's departure in the next season. Yes, there are still a lot of unknowns, but it is just my hunch that 'this is it!' for the big three. Tonight is gonna be the final act for them to play together on the same team, probably the last time they will reach the climax of the career since they won't their first rings two years ago. I've tremendous respect to their games. Paul Pierce become an outstanding all-around player, Ray Allen, still the second best crutch shooter (for me just behind Reggie Miller) but with great defense, and Kevin Garrnett, the best defender of his post. I hope they will win their second ring, but my wish is one thing, reality is the other (maybe).

Kobe is still Kobe, the best player since MJ. To me, he is just MJ of his generation. In terms of desire to win, he is second to none. It is ultimately up to his sidekicks on whether they want their rings as badly as Kobe is. Also, the home court would favor the Lakers, I don't care how much others discount that fact.
At the end, who want the rings most will win. I first read that from Rick Fox and then from Magic Johnson. I think that's true.

For Kobe, it is more of his personal pride of winning his 5th ring, revenge against the big three for Lakers' lost in 2008, and the scare of losing to the same team which would certainly discredit him as the best Lakers. However, for the big three, this will be their final act, could be the last time they will reach the final in their celebrated careers. I'm sure they want to go out at top with a big bang then anything else. Yes, they are not retiring after this season, but they will be too old to adjust to new coach, or even new team to get to be championship in next one or two years. By then, they will be simply too old! So, let's see who will win.

My hope is for the Celtics, but my hunch told me it will be the Lakers.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

$ questions these days

One of my dreams when I was a kid is to have a big brother or special someone to guide me when I was lost and gave me the right answer when I had question. Certainly, as I grow older, I have less trivial questions to ask. I wouldn’t ask “why the sky is blue?” anymore. Maybe it is because of the fading (not complete loss) of my innocence. Also, I learned that I can look up the answer in encyclopedia. However, it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t ask question as I grow older. My questions would be more difficult to answer. Besides the questions at school or at work, I would ask question about life, like “why I couldn’t meet the special someone?” Well, for that question, nobody answered me until I ran into my wife. That’s another story….Anyway, for such ‘life’ related questions which are largely philosophical, I think there won’t be concrete answers. Namely, answers would more hypothetical or Zen-like that I think I don’t have the rush to find them until I get even older. I guess that’s why many old people like to read philosophy or religious books as a way to search for answers of questions that they had when they were young.

Though I know that, with the advancement and booming of Internet these days, it is just few clicks away from getting most questions answered. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have questions. Cuz, Internet has answer(S). First of all, Internet is a wild wild west that everybody can say whatever they want without an ounce of liability. Telling truth from liar is tough, also many of things on Internet are mere ‘opinions’ which could be both right and wrong depending on interpretation. So, getting no answer is sad, but getting conflicting answers can be so confusing as well as frustrating that, sometimes, you will simply go back to square one as no answer at all.

Currently, I do have questions and did find many answers, just don’t know which one to believe. Also, the key thing is that my questions are relatively practical in nature. So, it is not like I want to know if heaven exists. My latest question is also asked my many people in the world : What should we do with our money in view of the current and upcoming trends of global financial environment.?

Well, I’m not rich, but do have a bit of saving after expenses in the form of both cash and investments. So, what should I do with them? What I heard so far in the media and the net are:

1. Inflation is definitely coming. Don’t know exactly when, but it is coming and will not be a small one. Also, the duration of the inflation cycle is anyone’s guess. So, if I want to borrow money, borrow it now. There is an incentive to really buy something now rather than later, but what to buy now? Real estate is in my consideration in terms of my personal needs. However, it is a such huge commitment that I’m still hesitate in making it and kinda procrastinate in doing thorough and close-to-the-market research.

2. The long term financial well-being of U.S., U.K, E.U. and Japan are ALL bad. Those governments all run high deficit and owe so much money that it would be politically suicide for them to implement any serious remedies like jacking up taxes and chopping deep in social benefits and entitlements. Therefore, holding USD, EUR, GBP, JPY are all bad in the long run. Yes, USD is still the CURRENCY. However, how long should we hold our USD? To hedge the risk of depreciation, where should we diversify? RMB? I’m still hesitate in betting it heavily on RMB in the long run in view of what may happen to the regime….

3. Investing long terms in real estates in those countries above is highly risky, but it is risky as well in China and few booming countries in view of the politics and the housing bubbles there. With the lack of transparency, the heavy handed effect of the PRC government and the social stability there, it is difficult to time when to buy? and what house to buy there? Same thing apply to stocks of real estate companies there.

4. Gold is simply too expensive. Yes, it can still go higher, but the downside risk is not small as well. I’m just not comfortable to buy gold as a form of capital protection. Yes, it used to be really ‘REAL’ to hold gold in your hand rather than paper wealth. But, we are not planning to go exile or something. The storage, liquidity, and the utility of gold are issues for me.

So, what to do protect our hard earned/saved capitals?

I always believe saving and investing are the way to go. However, I’m not a good stock investor, my track record is poor. Investing in funds was recommended, but most records have shown that many funds have performed worse than stock index overtime. Yes, there are some good ones, but we all know that past performance should not be used as a guidance for future. Also, the fund managers really charge hefty fees regardless of the fund performance. So, it sounds like investing in index funds or some ETFs would be relatively safe. But, I think I'm too young to settle. I think I’m a bit more aggressive and demanding than simple capital preservation. Is it too much to ask for some capital growths as well? If that’s the case, perhaps I still need to pick some good stocks. Going back to that, what to buy? When to buy? When to sell? I’ve read many good ideas but I just find that difficult to do for real. It sounds easy to let your stock holdings to rise without selling them, but it is quite hard to stop loss and buy back....anyway, it was a long story... Perhaps that’s why I’m not doing good in stock investments.

Well, questions always have answers, it is just a matter whether you are satisfied with them or not. I guess I won't be able to get out of this Q&A hole anytime soon.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Recent tipbits

Not much specific that I wanna talk about lately, except few things that happen in recent weeks that caused few spikes on my brain wave…

Funeral - I went to the funeral of an old friend/coworker last week. I had already blogged about his pass away previously. So, I’m not gonna repeat my thoughts and initial feeling here about the incident here. However, being in the ritual, saw his picture and his cold body lying behind a glass window, heard the weeping and sobbing of some attendees, I felt all of these together really like put a seal on the fact that he was gone. I was quite ‘down’ that night on the way home, thinking that he is only my age if not few years younger and he’s gone. Life is just precious and fragile. It was the first time that I met his wife there, not a favorable time or place to meet. When I held her hand after she bowed to me before I left, I didn’t say anything as I really didn’t know what to say. Rather than saying anything wrong, or even giving a smile would be inappropriate, I guess my firm but warm handshake properly the best I could do…

Beach – My wife and I took our son to the beach for the first time this year, also the first time for his young life. Actually, we went to two separate beaches on two separate weekends recently. The first visit had scared him while he was standing at the coast with his feet sweeping by wave. Also, the sands on the first beach were to rough, it was hot on that day that our feet were torched. However, my son was enjoying playing with sand even without any bucket or spade. So, we decided to be better prepared and gave him a better experience the second time around. My son had his swimming pant on, bucket and spades were ready. We rent an umbrella and armchair as well. It was a cloudy day and rained a bit. Nonetheless, it was fun to play with sand castle on a bigger beach with fine sands. We stayed there longer and took more pictures. While looking around, there were family, church goers, young and old people, even tourists, but it was crowded by any mean. We all just had a good time!

New work place – kinda settling in the new office with new coworkers in a new district, things are so far so good. I’ve heard the nasty part about the job, but have not yet deal with it first hand yet. People are ok there, and the nature of my job is ok so far. What I don’t like the most is the absence of ‘Sametime’ which was such a convenient tool for communication in my previous job that I miss it very much here. I also love the district where my office is in. It is just so convenient for most things and there are just so many choices for lunch. The best part is that it is not difficult to find seats even at peak hours. Also, there were many bookstores and electrical appliance shops in the area for me to hang around after lunch if I have time. The caveat on top is that I’m now closer to my wife’s working district, so we can go lunch together easily. In fact, we already did that twice this week. It is just nice!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My initial thought on iPhone 4.0

Well, Steve Jobs has just officially announced the release of iPhone 4.0. I think the phone itself looks pretty slick! However, for a practical guy myself, I would not trade my 3GS for it though the overall package is quite appealing. Cuz, the major attraction to me is the iOS4.0 itself, i.e. the multi-tasking, the folder management, etc, which will be available for free to be downloaded to my 3GS. Since I'm not very much into complex games or taking exotic HD videos, so the other physical enhancements are not something that I really needed.

Yes, other features are attractive too, like the front camera for video calls. I would love it, but I would be more concern of the cost of using it. 500 megapixels is nice, but I'm ok with 320 for simple casual picture taking. Thinner is nice, but 3GS is not the old Dotpod, so, I'm fine with the current physical form. Longer battery life is nice too, but I'm ok so far in terms of charging. In addition, the most important issue for me is that my 3GS still has a year of contract to go. So, I guess I'm not gonna upgrade it till the iPhone 5.0 release. I hope Apple will upgrade its capacity to 128GB if not more. Just can't stand the mere 32GB that I've.

To be honest, I'm a bit lured by Android 2.0, if not because of the foreseeable pain of migrating stuff from iPhone to Android, especially my addiction to iTunes for managing my music library, I would very likely to get an Android phone, i.e. one of those HTCs for leisure. Well, it is still a thought. So far, Apple still wins me over and I'm still happy to be in its camp.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Steve Jobs at D8

As I mentioned before, I’m gonna share my thoughts on what Steve Jobs had said in the D: All things digital conference this year. I always find him to be an intriguing, insightful business & technology leader that only comes one in few decades. Well, I’m not gonna to talk about his legacy as he is still well and alive. Though he looks a bit fragile in the videos in the following link:

All the following words are directly copied from the link above, my comments are in ( ). The reason why I present it this way is to let reader read exactly what were asked and his reply without too much 3rd party interpretation. Also, it would be easier for me to make comment at the right place. Anyway, here we go…

Much has happened since Apple CEO Steve Jobs last appeared on the D stage. At that time, in May 2007, the iPhone had not yet arrived at market, the app ecosystem it would usher in was still gestating and the iPad was simply a long-running rumor.

So the conversation onstage focused largely on the iPod, iTunes and Apple’s (AAPL) relationship with the music industry, and the forthcoming launch of the iPhone. A few months earlier, Jobs had penned a widely read open letter, “Thoughts on Music,” calling on the “big four” music companies to sell their music without digital rights management. iTunes was already the world’s largest online music distribution system, so his thoughts generated quite a bit of discussion–and a fair bit of controversy.

Today, the iPhone is nearly three years old. It has sold 50 million units worldwide, and the multitouch interface and app ecosystem it pioneered have arguably revolutionized the smartphone industry.

Today, the iPad is no longer a rumor. Launched just two months ago, it has already sold two million units and seems poised to revolutionize an industry or two of its own.

And today, Jobs is once again shaking up an industry with another open letter, “Thoughts on Flash,” a withering rumination on Adobe’s (ADBE) Flash platform and the future of online video.

Much has changed in three years. But one thing has remained constant: Apple, under Jobs, continues to drive innovation in every industry it touches.

Live Blog
A note about our coverage: This liveblog is not an official transcript of the conversation that occurred onstage. Rather, it is a compilation of quotes, paraphrased statements and ad-lib observations written and posted to the Web as quickly as possible. It is not intended as a transcript and should not be interpreted as one.

5:54 pm: In a few moments, Steve Jobs will once again take the D stage for the opening session of D8.

6:21 pm: Following a welcome from News Corp. (NWS) CEO Rupert Murdoch and a few introductory remarks from Walt and Kara, the pair welcome Jobs to the stage.

6:22 pm: The first question is about Apple surpassing Microsoft in market valuation. Jobs says “It’s surreal, but it doesn’t really mean anything.” (I doubt market valuation is ever in Steve’s list of top 10 items, it is just plainly for people who concern wealth accumulation, not for Steve Jobs)

6:23 pm Walt references Jobs’s recent “Thoughts on Flash” essay. Even if everything you say is true, is it really fair to consumers to be so abrupt and cut them off, he asks? Jobs doesn’t seem to think it’s unfair. “Apple is a company that doesn’t have the most resources in the world, and they way we’ve succeeded is to bet the right technological horse, to look at technologies that have a future. We try to pick things that are in their springs. And if you choose wisely, you can be quite successful.” (that has shown the analyzed risk that Apple has been taking, really unlike many other manufacturers who try to cram as much features, old and new, into their products just because either they don’t know how to say no to anyone, or simply thinking in engineer’s or marketing’s modes. Apple is really one of the few companies that dare to make bold decision on choosing what to and not to add. I guess not supporting of Blu-ray on iMac and Macbook is probably another example that Apple simply doesn’t believe Blu-ray has much a future, considering wireless is the future.)

Apple has a history of doing that, Jobs says, noting that Apple was the first company to dump the floppy and later, to adopt USB. “Sometimes when we get rid of things, people call us crazy….But sometimes you just have to pick the things that are going to be the right horse to ride forward….And Flash has had it’s day…but HTML5 is starting emerge….The video looks better and it works better and you don’t need a plug-in to run it. And while 75 percent of the video on the Web may be available in Flash, a lot of it is available in HTML5 as well.”

6:29 pm: What about developers, asks Walt. How are they impacted? Jobs draws a quick parallel to Apple’s HyperCard. “HyperCard was huge in its day,” he says, going on to note that the thousands of apps on the iPhone OS platform are testament to developer involvement.

6:31 pm: Jobs: “We didn’t set out to have a war over Flash. We made a technical decision. And it wasn’t until the iPad that Adobe raised a stink. They came after us….That’s why I wrote “Thoughts on Flash.”…We were getting tired of being trashed by Adobe in the press.”

6:32 pm: Walt: What if people demand Flash. What if they say the iPad is crippled without Flash. “We’re just trying to make great products,” says Jobs again. “We don’t think Flash makes a great product, so we’re leaving it out. Instead, we’re going to focus on technologies that are in ascendancy. If we succeed, people will buy them and if we don’t they won’t….And, so far, I have to say, people seem to be liking the iPad. We are selling an iPad every 3 seconds.” (I guess Steve is not happy with the speed of HTML5 adoption here. When an industry leader with red-hot products making such push of certain standard, I think Flash will demise sooner than later. Cuz, iPad makes money for developers and companies, development trend will chase where money goes, Flash stuffs will still be around, but new stuff would be more on HTML5 if they want a piece of iPad commerce)

6:35 pm: Ah! The inevitable lost-iPhone question. Walt quickly recounts the history of the discovery of the iPhone prototype, its revelation on Gizmodo and the subsequent police investigation that involved the seizure of a blogger’s computers. Where do you come down on this, asks Walt. “To make a wireless product work well, you have to test it. And one of our employees was carrying one and there’s a debate about whether it was left in a bar or stolen….And the person who found it decided to sell it…and it turned out this person plugged it into his roommate’s computer and that roommate called the police.”

6:40 pm: Jobs continues, “And the police showed up and took this guy’s computers…and the DA is investigating it…and I don’t know where it will end up.” In other words, it’s a police matter. That said, Jobs is very clearly irked by the whole debacle. (Certainly, Steve is not happy with the whole debacle, cuz the leak of iPhone 4G stole the thunder that he supposed to enjoy when he supposes to pull that out of his pocket in WWDC this year. Well, I think he will have a more subtle product announcement this year than he wants that to be, stay tuned on June 7)

6:40 pm: Any comments on the Foxconn suicides which we’ve been hearing so much about, asks Kara. Apple is extraordinarily diligent and rigorous about vetting its manufacturing partners, Jobs answers. “Foxconn is not a sweatshop,” he adds. “They’ve got restaurants and swimming pools….For a factory, it’s a pretty nice factory.”

6:42 pm: Jobs notes that the recent suicides at Foxconn, which number 13 at last count, I think, are still below the national average in the U.S. “But this is very troubling to us,” he says. “So we send over our own people and some outside folks as well, to look into the issue.” (It is rumored that Apple will leave some bread crumb on the table for Foxconn to pay higher wages to its workers. With mere around 2-3% of margin of profit, Foxconn is on a tight string to raise wages, though they did it any by a 30% raise just announced in last two days, if Apple can help Foxconn, it does help itself in terms of strengthen its image of being a company with construe. Cuz, it is just not easy to replace a manufacturer indeed.)

6:44 pm: Walt: You spent a significant portion of your career involved in a platform war with Microsoft (MSFT). And you lost. But now there are new platforms out there and you’re doing quite well on them, as are others–Google (GOOG) and Facebook. So there’s a new platform war going on. Do you see it like that?

No, we don’t see ourselves in a platform war says Jobs. “We never saw ourselves in a platform war with Microsoft, either…Maybe that’s why we lost. … But we never thought of ourselves in a platform war; we just wanted to make good products.” (well, that’s interesting view from Steve which is quite true. Apple makes the whole product, both hardware and software. Most people view its lost in OS in the market share as a loss in platform, it is indeed taking out of context of what Apple is really making.)

And what about Google, asks Walt. The relationship has clearly changed there, hasn’t it? “Well, they’re competing with us,” says Jobs, referring to the mobile space. “We didn’t go into search.” (Well, many people said that when Steve job said Apple is not going into certain areas, it means they are working on it, see phone, tablet, etc. But, I think that Steve is honest in this case. Google is simple way ahead in search that it would be stupid for Apple to get into that in this late stage of the game. As Steve is so customer focus that I don’t think he won’t notice that unless Safari can offer a way different search experience than Google, going into search is simply a resource black hole that Apple would not create one for itself.)

6:47 pm: Kara: How do you look at Google as a competitor? Eric [Schmidt, Google CEO] was on your board.

Jobs: “They decided to compete with us and got more and more serious.” (Well, it is really true, cuz Android is really the only product that can compete with iPhone OS out there in the market. The battle is gonna be bloody long, it’ll continue to play out in the next decade or two to come. I don’t see Web OS, Symbian, RIM OS or Window Mobile 7 will have a chance to bit iPhone, but Android can.)

Walt circles back, asking if Jobs doesn’t feel betrayed by Google. Jobs, clearly not buying in to this line of questioning, parries: “My sex life is great, how’s yours” he says trying to end it. (well, business is war, but what comes around goes around, Steve just doesn’t rule out what new competition or cooperation between two companies will have down the road. He may hate Google now, but he is too matured to show that these days, at least not in public.)

6:50 pm: Kara asks if Apple might remove Google from the iPhone and iPad. Jobs says no. Again, he notes that Apple is simply trying to make the best products it can and that the market will decide whose is better. “Right now, we have the better product.”

6:52 pm: Walt wonders why Apple bought Siri, a search company. “I don’t know if I would describe Siri as a search company,” Jobs says. “They’re not in the search area…they’re in the AI area.” Then he adds, a bit vehemently: “We’re not going into search.”

6:53 pm: Walt asks about AT&T (T), whose network continues to face criticism. Jobs: They’re doing pretty good in some ways and in others they could do better. We meet with them once a quarter. Remember, they deal with way more data traffic than anyone else. And they’re having trouble. But they have the fastest 3G network and they’re improving. I wish they were improving faster….I’m convinced that any other network, had you put the iPhone on it, would have had the same problems. (I think that would be true, since he should have the inside knowledge of the capacity of each carrier before he picked AT&T 3 years ago.)

6:56 pm: Jobs continues: We found a way to sell the phone that we wanted to sell and to define it the way we wanted to define it. We were able to change the rules of the game, and that’s what got us excited about the phone business….AT&T took a big leap on us and decided they were going to trust us to do the right thing with the phone. And that’s worked out quite well for both of us.

6:59 pm: The conversation moves to talk of tablets. Walt asks if Apple knew it would build a tablet before it built the iPhone.

Jobs: “I’ll tell you a secret. It began with the tablet. I had this idea about having a glass display, a multitouch display you could type on with your fingers. I asked our people about it. And six months later, they came back with this amazing display. And I gave it to one of our really brilliant UI guys. He got [rubber band] scrolling working and some other things, and I thought, ‘my God, we can build a phone with this!’ So we put the tablet aside, and we went to work on the iPhone.” (Was he thinking about Newton 2.0 back then?)

7:01 pm: What does the iPad mean for the publishing industry, Kara asks. Is it the savior that some are touting it as?

“I don’t want us to see us descend into a nation of bloggers,” says Jobs. “I think we need editorial oversight now more than ever. Anything we can do to help newspapers find new ways of expression that will help them get paid, I am all for.” (why Steve think there is need for editorial oversight now more than ever? Is it because he is not comfortable with all the sniffing sites that spread Apple rumors every day? Or the Gizmodo thing? Or he just doesn’t like the volume of ‘noise’ in the web which is way larger than that of the ‘true’? I guess he still a guy who like to control. He controls Apple and he wants most other institutions have folks like him to control their fences.)

7:03 pm: Jobs adds that he believes people are willing to pay for content and that content providers are not pricing their offerings as aggressively as they should. (can’t agree more than that)

7:05 pm: When you did your presentation on the iPad, you described it as a new category of device, says Walt. But in order for it to succeed, people have to feel that it’s worth carrying around. Do you think the tablet will succeed the laptop, he asks.

Jobs seems to believe it will. “The transformation of PC to new form factors like the tablet is going to make some people uneasy because the PC has taken us a long ways,” he says. “The PC is brilliant…and we like to talk about the post-PC era, but it’s uncomfortable.” (Some days when we look back, this is gonna be view as the somewhat official start date of the post-PC era)

7:09 pm: What are your thoughts on content creation on the iPad, Walt asks, noting that some people believe tablets aren’t good devices for content creation.

“Well, why wouldn’t they be good for content creation,” asks Jobs. “It can’t be that the software isn’t powerful enough, because the software is improving….These devices over time are going to grow to do new things.”

What sorts of things, asks Kara.

Productivity apps…video-editing software, says Jobs. (so stay tune for iPad 2G, 3G…xG. Apple is not gonna give us everything, it is gonna mik our money incrementally each year and we will be willing to shelf our hard-earned cash for it ironically)

7:12 pm: Now a question about App Store rejections: Isn’t there a downside to Apple’s efforts to protect its customers from porn, malware, etc.

In reply, Jobs first notes that Apple, by supporting HTML5, supports a completely open platform. But it also supports a curated platform–iPhone OS. And that platform has rules. “We approve 95 percent of the apps that are submitted to the App Store every week and we approve them within in seven days.” (Porn is on iPhone/iPad already through Safari! So, Apple will try to stay clean with warnings, rules to put off porn officially, but porn is gonna find its way to be accessed through this products. Cuz, from Apple’s point of view, it just wants to show that it is a responsible company with social construe, but money is still money at the end of the day.)

So what happened with that political-cartoon app you declined to approve a few weeks ago, asks Walt.

“We have a rule that says you can’t defame people,” says Jobs, noting that political cartoonists by virtue of their profession sometimes defame people. The cartoon app was rejected on those grounds, he adds. “Then we changed the rules…and in the meantime, the cartoonist won a Pulitzer….But he never resubmitted his app. And then someone asked him, ‘Hey why don’t you have an iPhone app?’ He says we rejected it and suddenly, it’s a story in the press….Bottom line is, yes, we sometimes make mistakes…but we correct them….We are doing the best we can, changing the rules when it makes sense. What happens sometimes is that some people lie, we find it, and reject it, and they run to the press, and get their 15 minutes of fame and hope it will get us to change our minds. We take it on the chin, and we move on.” (just a roadkill, hiccup, minor incident that nobody is gonna remember next year)

7:20 pm: Kara: “What do you do all day?”

Jobs: “I have one of the best jobs in the world. I get to hang out with some of the most talented, committed people around and together we get to play in this sandbox and build these cool products….Apple is an incredibly collaborative company. You know how many committees we have at Apple? Zero. We’re structured like a start-up. We’re the biggest start-up on the planet. And we all meet once a week to discuss our business…and there’s tremendous teamwork at the top and that filters down to the other employees…and so what I do all day is meet with teams of people and work on ideas and new problems to come up with new products.” (it is great for now, I would be very interested to know if they can keep such hierarchy or structure in post-Steve era, if they can become part of their culture and identity like Google does, Apple will still have many good years in post-Steve era. If the whole thing starts with Steve, all about Steve, and it will probably end with Steve. That would be really sad! I’m sure many investors of AAPL should watch out this closely, cuz it would change the profit trend of the company definitely in the long run)

7:24 pm: Are people willing to tell you that you’re wrong, asks Walt.

Of course, Jobs answers. The best ideas have to win, no matter who has them. (this got to be true, Steve is great but no saint, he is a visionary, but he still needs a great team behind him to let him do what he is best at. I think every leader must remember this if they want their company to succeed.)

7:25 pm: What do you imagine the next 10 years of your life is going to be about?

Oddly Jobs replies with a comment about Gizmodo and the lost iPhone prototype. “When this whole thing with Gizmodo happened, I got a lot of advice from people who said you’ve got to just let it slide…you shouldn’t go after a journalist because they bought stolen property and tried to extort you….And I thought about that and I decided that Apple can’t afford to change its core values and simply let it slide….We have the same core values as when we started, and we come into work wanting to do the same thing today that we wanted to do five years ago.” (Steve is not answering the question, it is about what HE is gonna do, not HIS company gonna do. So, he is simply being private about his personal life as always, not sure if it is related to his health…)

7:27 pm: But you are going into new businesses, says Walt, trying to redirect Jobs back to the question at hand or at least get him to comment on any new markets that the company is eyeing. Advertising, for example, with its new iAds initiative.

Jobs concedes that Apple is pursuing new businesses like iAds. But he suggests the main reason it’s doing that is to “make its developers more money.” (He is so smart saying that. Apple will make money from Ads, not by charging more, but by volume! i.e. more apps! The surprising success of App store certified the approach of recuiting as many developers in the market as possible to work on appls for iPhone OS. As the number of apps is simply too mind-boddling that simply 70% cut won’t do much for most apps in the apps ocean of hundreds thousands. Ads is really the way to go to keep those developers from jumping to Android or simply keeping the apps store momentum for foreseeable future)

7:29 pm: “People are using apps way more than they are using search,” says Jobs. “So if you want to make developers more money, you’ve got to get the ads into apps. But the mobile ads we’ve got today rip you out of the app.”

That “sucks,” Jobs continues. So Apple has figured out a better way to do that.

7:31 pm: A question about privacy. Is privacy looked at differently in Silicon Valley than in the rest of the world?

No, says Jobs. “Silicon Valley is not monolithic….We take privacy very seriously….We do a lot of things to ensure that people understand how their data is being used. That’s why we curate the App Store….Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for–in plain English.” (I’ve read a separate article analyzing Steve’s words in D8, the most often used words in his speech is ‘People’, not tech, iPad, iPhone, etc. So, he is really a ‘people’ person in product-making decision. I guess he would simply ask what products people want, how people will use it, and people will like and don’t like. Just common sense questions. So, Apple will make products that can answer those questions brilliantly before going to the market. Rather than like Steve Ballmer who try to sell you second-tier products, like Window Mobile 6.5 and still shamelessly defend them. That really set Steve apart from the herd.)

Q: Given the events of the past few years, what would you add to the Stanford graduation speech you gave a few years ago?

A: I’ve no idea. I’d probably just turn up the volume a little bit because the past few years have reminded me how precious life is. (God blesses him!)

Q: I’d like you to put your Disney hat on for a moment….How do you preserve the value of content?

A: The way that we market movies is undergoing a radical shift. It used to be that you spent a fortune on advertising on TV running your trailers. But now you can advertise on the Web….When we went to the music companies, we said “who is your customer?” And they said, “Best Buy, Tower”…their distribution partners. But that wasn’t their customer. They needed to recognize who their true customer was….So what changed in the music business was not the back end, but the front end. The way that you market to the consumer….The film industry needs to embrace that. And it needs to let people watch the content they want to watch, when they want to watch it and where they want to watch it.” (‘People’ again, nugh said!)

Q: A complaint about dropped calls on AT&T’s networks. Is someone from Apple working on that?

A: You can bet we’re doing everything we can do….I can tell you what I’m told by reliable people: To make things better, people reallocate spectrum and they do things like increasing backhaul and they put in more robust switches…and things in general, when they start to fix them, get worse before they get better…and if you believe that, things should be getting a lot better real soon.

Q: How is HDCP helping the antipiracy effort?

A: We didn’t invent the stuff. The problem is that Hollywood doesn’t want what happened to the music industry to happen to them. You can’t blame them. But content protection isn’t their business and they’re grasping at straws here. But we’ve got to deal with their restrictions….I feel your pain.

Q: What’s your vision of social gaming?

A: Clearly, iPhone and iPod touch have created a new class of gaming and it’s a subset of casual gaming, but it’s surprising how good the games are. Typical console games cost $40, but on the iPhone, they cost somewhere between free and $10, and gaming on the platform is taking off. We’re trying to do the right things to enable more gaming and social gaming. (I can see there will be a war between Apple’s app store games and games on Facebook in near future. PSP and NDS lost in the contest in view of the limitation of functionality of their respective devices.)

Q: Is it time to throw out the interface for TV? Does television need a new human interface.

A: The problem with innovation in the TV industry is the go-to-market strategy. The TV industry has a subsidized model that gives everyone a set top box for free. So no one wants to buy a box. Ask TiVo, ask Roku, ask us… ask Google in a few months. The television industry fundamentally has a subsidized business model that gives everyone a set-top box, and that pretty much undermines innovation in the sector. The only way this is going to change is if you start from scratch, tear up the box, redesign and get it to the consumer in a way that they want to buy it. But right now, there’s no way to do that….The TV is going to lose until there’s a viable go-to-market strategy. That’s the fundamental problem with the industry. It’s not a problem with the technology, it’s a problem with the go-to-market strategy….I’m sure smarter people than us will figure this out, but that’s why we say Apple TV is a hobby.
(TV industry is still a mess, comparing with music and publishing. When Steve said Apple TV is a hobby, it means that it is here to stay, but I’m sure Apple is closing watching and will make bold moves if necessary. Cuz, Apple certainly wants iTune to be the hub for all media and entertainment contents: books, music, movies, games, and TV won’t be left out.)

What leaders said

Just finishing watching Steve Jobs’ Q&A at D8 this year, before I’m able to get a transcript of it and make my personal comments (lots of it). A thought just came across my mind while I compare him as a business leader to the words of other type of leaders, I think I would ‘admire’ the words of business leaders much more than the rest.

Well, when I quote ‘admire’, I’ve some explanation to do here. First of all, what I’m talking about is what those leaders have said in public which have been recorded or reported in the press. Cuz, privately, they are no different from us, cuz basically we are all human. However, I do find leaders of different sorts speak differently in public. There are all sorts of leaders in our society; the ones that I can think of are those from politics, business, religions, human/social issues (e.g. labor), etc.

I often find human/social issues leaders speak well; they are usually quite passionate about the content of their speech. Perhaps, it is because they are dealing with human issues. However, most of what they said that got reported are about negative issues. Cite a labor leader as an example, he/she will be reported when there is strikes, accidents, or other bad things happen to those they he/she represented. Cuz, they don’t have much value in the news when things are going fine. So, those leaders do need to convey a sense of urgency or passion when they present their clause. However, they don’t really show much individuality in terms of the words that they use in their speech, and they just can’t be too creative. In other words, their speech is passionate, but boring.

Religious leaders are also passionate for being non-democratically elected representative of supreme divined beings on earth. However, they can’t be too creative in their words as they are basically the ‘torch holder’ of a religion. They can only interpret what the holy text has said. Yes, most of words coming out of their mouths are reassuring, wise, comforting and good. They don’t lie (much), but you can’t tell if they really lie when they put their ‘costume’ on. But, the thing is that they sometimes can’t say things too direct, as the holy text are usually quite ambiguous, particularly when the leaders try to apply those thousands year old wisdom to contemporary problems. They just can’t be too precise on telling you what they really think without the religious contest. Well, in short, their speeches can be inspiring, uplifting, but could be hollow, confusing and boring sometimes. Cuz, when you thought that you are not smart enough to understand what the leaders mean and try to read between the words, they might have just trying not telling you what they really think.

Political leaders are liars. The difference among them is whether they are good liars or bad liars. Well, there are some exceptions, like MLK, Gandhi, but they are far and between. Majority of them are simply pathetic basters who tell nothing but lies. They could be quite uplifting and inspiring and passionate in their speeches when they want to sell themselves to the voters to vote for them. However, when you read their speeches on paper or screen as you take out the fake emotion they present in front of the camera, you just can’t help but thinking that they are simply telling lies. We all know that they are humans and they don’t have that much power to make changes or do things that they claim that they will do. It is just the fact that they can’t tell you the truth that they are powerless and simply want to take the pork, ride it out for their tenure and move on. I just can’t stand those politicians. I just hope that they shut up and will do some works.

Well, business leaders are no saint. What they do is as evil as politicians if not more. However, what I ‘admire’ them is that they are usually willing to speak their MINDS. Yes, I know they lie too, but the good business leaders are usually the strongest communicator in our modern capitalist society. I don’t care they use iron fists to run their companies. The fact is that if they are bad, their businesses will fail in the merciless market. Only the strong survives. So, when you see the ‘big’ guys, like Steve Jobs, Steve Ballmer, Robert Murdoch, Warren Buffet open their mouths, people listen and so do I. Putting aside what they said may give you hints to make or lose money, their comments on the market, on the customers, on the industry, on their competitors, etc, are just fascinating. They don’t mind to use blunt words, they usually don’t need to care what others think, they just speak their minds, at least at a more honest level than the politicians, and more entertaining than the religious leaders. Also, their contents are usually more insightful. Anyway, that’s just my personal observation and I just enjoy reading the interviews and speeches of successful powerful leaders in the business field.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My view on...News

Being an avid reader of news myself who want to optimize my reading experience in terms of quality and quantity, I can’t help but to be very selective in choosing what articles I would like to read in my limited and precious free time. To be honest, I stopped buying newspaper since I learnt that news is available in internet more than a decade ago. Why would I spend money on killing more trees while there are more than half on a daily newspaper that I simply would not read? There are just tremendous amount of advantages of getting news via the net than on traditional newspaper that there is no contest between the two and it is no surprise to me that traditional newspapers are dying all over the globe.

However, how to pick what I want to read in the ‘ocean’ of news sites in the web? I don’t know how others are doing, but I do have my own way to navigate the ocean on daily basis to satisfy my urge of knowing what’s going on in the world. On average, I spend about an hour or more everyday on reading articles in the net. Certainly, I do still watch some cable news during dinner every night for being a passive receiver of broadcast news. Well, these days, I would consider watch evening news is just a supplementary way of receiving news that I wouldn’t feel bad for skipping it in occasions. So, what’s my ‘way’ of getting news on the web then?

First of all, there are usually five types of sites that I got my current event news from. Two of them are what I get the ‘relatively objective’ news; the other three are where I got the ‘opinions’ on news stories. Cuz I’m not always satisfied with some so-called objective news reporters, I do like to see what people think and how they react on those stories. That’s why I seek to read articles on both to give me more 3-D perspective of events.

The first type is the news sites. I go to To me, this is the master site of all. It is because I can get categorized stories by thousands in each. I can drill down in each category and by story if I want more. I think this site is in line with the original spirit of the internet, namely sharing of free information. Unless majority of individual sites are charging readers for access the details of their contents, typical reader like me will simply opt out of your site and move to other free sites to read the same story. I also use search function in the a lot, cuz I like find out news of certain topic. In addition, I would go to the country specific page to see local news or use the search function to see some local perspective of some news being reported in the U.S. centric site. For example, I would go to Chinese and Korean news sites to see their reporting on Kim Jung Ii’s secret visit to China, rather than simply reading BBC or ABC for that. Besides Google news, I don’t go to other general sites of particular news organizations. Cuz, MSNBC wouldn’t link to CNN for reporting of the same story, so I just go to Google as a starting point for all.

However, as I mentioned above, I do go to second type of sites for news as well. Those sites are category specific sites. For example, I like reading movie news, NBA news, financial news,etc. Then, I will go to aint-it-cool-news,,, or, for those news. In my opinion, Google news may be too big an ocean for specific type of news. Those sites on the other hand are more specific on their respective topic and with some quality analysts who can provide some insider reporting and opinions that I would be interested in.

The three other types of sites that I got analysis/opinions on news stories are analysis collection sites, blogs, and forums. Analysis collection sites such are Globalresearch, Counterpunch offer a collection of insightful in depth analysis of news events that it is just a pleasure to me to check them daily on geopolitics news stories. However, blogs and news forums does offer a more ‘balance’ and ‘quantified’ view of certain news which would be a good way for me to gauge the opinion of people rather than just individual specialists. I would not put much thought on the individual opinion of those bloggers or members of forums who may only voice out words like ‘XXX sucks!’. However, such opinion does give me a sense of what the general genuine opinion of the public is. Well, I know that there are still a lot of people who have opinion but not voice them out on the net or anywhere. Well, to me there are the ‘silence’ crowds that I just can’t help but ignore them.

What got me blogging this topic is after reading the latest interview of Steve Jobs which will be the topic of my next blog (first time ever that I would foretell what I’m gonna blog about next). One thing that he mentioned in D8 this year is that he doesn’t want professional journalism to die and left with only a world of bloggers. He believed that people will pay for access of news stories. Technology distribution is not the issue, but the marketing/pricing strategy is. Well, though I enjoy ‘free’ access of news for so long and kinda spoiled by that. It would be very difficult to convince me to open my wallet to pay for news. But would that still be possible? I wouldn’t rule out such possibility. I think Wall Street Journal is a really good example. It charges you to read their stories after giving you 5 free stories per day. I can see that if I really want to read their high-quality stories/analysis that I would pay to access them. However, it is gonna be a matter of give and take and convenience. If you want to charge me to read your news, first of all, you better be very good and exclusive, have to be much better than the free stuff. Also, if timing is critical, I can see that people would pay for time-critical data, like stock prices, but that won’t apply to breaking news. Cuz, as breaking news event is unfolding, there is just not too much to be reported as things may still need to be confirmed, also analysis wouldn’t be started without more info. So, it wouldn’t be worth paying for half-baked stories then, I guess. Going back to the give and take and convenience, the payment method has to be easy. I think there must be choices for charges available to readers, i.e. flat fee and micro-payment. Cuz, that would fit different reading habits. Somewhat like the consumption of music, you can either buy songs individually, or pay subscription fee for monthly limitless access. With the surge of tablet readers and the maturity of internet virtual payment system, I can see that paying for news is a viable in coming future.

Anyway, since the launch of iPad, the future of newspaper, magazines, or journalism in general has become a hot topic again. I think things will be ok at the end of the day, cuz, though the spirit of free market is always crude to some market players, it will no doubt makes the best choice eventually. Darwinism goes!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Being a fish in a new pond

Having working in a new company for about a week, I still entitle to be ‘green’ to enjoy a brief so-called ‘honeymoon’ period that I can leave office relatively earlier than my peers. It is always nice to have a fresh start. Meeting new people, working on new non-routine things on my own pace, or simply going to a new office, having lunch in new area, it has been so far so good.

My new post is by no mean easy. I’m no brain-surgeon and people are not gonna die if there is error in my job. However, able to do the job is not enough for me; I would like to prove to myself that I can do the job well. I believe that I’ve the skills to do this job, but whether I can succeed there is ‘still up in the air’, i.e. just too early to tell. Cuz, the key to succeed in my job is managing people with their own interests which are diversified according to their functions. There will be difficult people and trouble-makers who just do want to cooperate. Most of my upcoming problems would be ‘people’ problems that would take lots of patience and communication skills to work things out within reasonable timeframe. How good and bad I will be? I think I will find out in due course. Anyway, that’s why I’m hired for, I will get paid for doing an ok job, but I think I’m still not old enough to simply settle for that. I hope I can do better than that.

Anyway, my job is working with people and the people that I meet are nice so far, so does everybody in my team. I think I will have a better ‘feeling’ about the situation here, aka. how the chess game being played in my office after about a month or two when I really settle in this position.