My digital tool box

There are new useful sites springing up all the time so this is just a snapshot of the things that I use:

Service/category Description
Analysis / measurement
Domain Tools Paid for service site with some great free features including DNS look-up and the SEO browser, which allows you to see your web page the way a search crawler, would see it. This is really handy to use with clients who currently have a visual site or to just as part of a website audit.
Google Trends Google Trends is a cornucopia of data to inspire campaign ideas and provide insight into a brand truth. The best bit about it is that its free and unlike other Google tools like Adplanner it hasn’t been crippled as the company got mean over the past few years.
Mention A freemium product that augments the reduced service that Google Alerts now provide.
SocialMention A great free service to grab a snapshot of social activity. The most useful aspect of the service is getting an idea of the aggregated volume of conversations and most active accounts.
State State is a self-described social opinion network where you can see what consumers think about brands or products often represented by a handy sentiment curve. Ok so the data will be skewed because the audience is self-selecting and tech forward, but it’s also a handy gut check on a brand.
Sysomos MAP Ok so the agency subscribes to MAP, but it is such a useful part of my life. From new business to PR messaging and everything in between MAP is a major tool in our work. I found it more useful than Radian6 in terms of the quality of the information it provides Get some basic research and analysis done on a Sina Weibo account. It is all in Chinese so be sure to break out Google Translate as well!
TwitterCounter Does what it says in the name looks at the change in followers over a 90 day period of an account, which gives you an idea of performance. Handy for benchmarking against competitors or seeing how effective their activity has been.
Buffer Buffer allows you to preload updates for Twitter, a Facebook page or even Google+. It is simpler to use than Hootsuite and allows inputs from IFTTT
IFTTT IFTTT allows you to build simple workflows based on a web input for instance a post tagged on with a tag or an article in an RSS feed with a particular word. I have found it invaluable in my Twitter workflow. It is much more robust, but less sophisticated than Yahoo! Pipes
Jego Jego is a VoIP application brought out by China Mobile. Despite the payment mechanism being very clunky the service is really useful. It is what powers my Hong Kong number and I get a bundle of call minutes with it rather like Skype. The call quality can be very rough, but I suspect that they Chinese will lift their game over time.
Skype So the user experience of Skype isn’t as good as it used to be. The NSA now listens into all of your calls that don’t get dropped or leave you ending up sounding like a dalek. But Skype’s premium account does allow you to do a WebEx-type webinar on the cheap including multiple callers and sharing a presentation.
TallTweets Indonesians have a very distinctive Twitter culture. High profile account holders are often paid to tweet a long form message by brands. This is called a kultwit. TallTweets was one of the tools that they used; it slices long form messages down into a series of 140 characters that are transmitted one after the other to produce a continuous stream.
WeChat I can’t emphasise enough how useful WeChat is. It can be used on both a desktop and a mobile device, you can form groups on there; share content, do video calls. It is much better than the likes of Whatsapp or Viber in terms of functionality and quality of the service.
Flickr Flickr is one of the digital services that I have probably used the longest. At first I used it for image hosting for my blogs and I still do use it for that. But it is also so much more. It is a source of visual inspiration for ideas, brainstorms and even visuals for presentations. Flickr Creative Commons is one of the best examples of good stuff about the web.
Pinterest Apart from the copyright nightmare that Pinterest represents it is really interesting to search a topic and see what comes up as a kind of instant mood board.
Hacker News by Y Combinator Not exactly news, but a great set of curated content that taps into the web zeitgeist. It saves time so you don’t have to be trawling Stack Overflow or Reddit.
Newsblur I am a massive advocate of Newsblur. Since Livedoor closed down it’s English language RSS reader I have been using Newsblur instead. The service has a great iOS client (which is better used on an iPad if I am honest), and has native support of numerous sharing / social bookmarking tools including Pinboard. There is also an Android client and a third party Windows Phone client for those of you who are mobile masochists. Newsblur takes RSS in a number of clever new directions, you can train it to show you only the content that you want to see and provides the content in a number of views including the original website design (for when you want to understand the context of the coverage), or just text (which is handy when you are on the go). Newsblur costs a very reasonable $24/year.
Techmeme Techmeme is an aggregator that collates the mainstream news; it replaced Google News for me since it was more the zeitgeist than Google managed.
Twitter lists Twitter is a great tool, but you need to slap a filter on the fire hose. I do this through using lists to give me a pared down view of what I need to know between the links to Buzzfeed articles and yet another cat picture from my friends.
Basecamp Basecamp offers a cost effective way to organise / upwardly manage clients and share content. You just set up a different account for each project stream or discrete client relationship and off you go. It is free for 30 days if you are looking at something short term or $20 / month
DownForEveryoneOrJustMe A single page site that does what it says in the title, really useful
Google Drive I am not necessarily a great fan of creating a document within Google; it can sometimes feel unresponsive, particularly over a corporate network or where you are collaborating on a document. It is however great for building surveys, customer service question databases for managing social media accounts or holding a common set of passwords.
Hemingway Hemingway is like having an extra critical set of eyes go over your copy. I have started to use it for blog posts as a way of forcing me to look more critically at my writing and move away from my previous stream of consciousness approach.
iCloud Apple’s web services have been a part of my life since 2001. Apple at the time offered the first advertising-free IMAP email account, syncable address book and calendar based on WebDAV and hCard standards/formats. It has become less useful since Apple did away with iDisk
Mendeley If you’ve ever had to do some serious writing like a book chapter or a bylined article, having an application like Mendeley makes the process a lot easier. It is a mix of an application and cloud service that allows you to store citation materials, share with other writers and automatically build a bibliography within a Word document via a simple plug-in. Pretty much a must for journalists or corporate copywriters. Mendeley has a freemium model and at the top end, for just 11.99GBP/month you can have unlimited storage space
Noisli Noisli is a text editor designed to free you from distraction and is an essential part of my blogging workflow now. It’s white noise generation is also handy for when you want to get to sleep, I often leave my laptop logged in playing their rainfall noise when I am away and trying to get a good night’s sleep.
PDFEscape Online editing of PDF files
Pinboard Back in the day there was a service called that allowed you to store all your bookmarks in the cloud and put labels on them called tags rather than having to put them in folders. This allowed your bookmarks to exist in multiple categories. delicious allowed you to search these categories. Unfortunately became and got crippled in a spectacular bout of shareholder value destruction overseen by numerous managers at Yahoo! who understood the price of everything and the value of nothing as Bill Hicks would say. Pinboard was created as a home for refugees like me and works as an augmentation of my memory and as a hopper for me to feed content into IFTTT.
Ribbet Ribbet is a basic online photo editor that does everything that I need a photo editor to do. Usually I use it for altering images for use in presentations.
Skip Skip is the app formerly known as ClipPick, it is basically multi-device / multi-screen cut and paste. Simple, easy, instantaneous. Like it or not the current mobile/tablet systems and PC systems aren’t particularly open, they tend not to work together well unless inside a particular vendor walled garden like Samsung, Sony or Apple.Skip breaks down those walls, it’s kind of like Google was in that once you start using it you couldn’t imagine life without it. Some really nice people in South Korea make it; show them some download love.
WeTransfer The simplest handy way of shipping files around. A lot of people find it hard to grasp the concept of Dropbox so the one-click approach of WeTransfer is really handy.
Planning tools / research
AcronymFinder Clients love TLAs and FLAs as professional shorthand, use AcronymFinder to work out what they are actually saying (TLA: three-letter acronym; FLA: four-letter acronym) Need to understand a former organisation? The Wayback Machine becomes particularly handy in understanding an organisation that has acquired or merged other businesses together.
CIA World Fact Book Surprisingly useful almanac of economic and infrastructure data from the Central Intelligence Agency. Everything from time zones to what the flag looks like.
Dogpile Dogpile is a meta search engine. It trawls a number of search engines rather than just Google to present you with potential answers
Eurostat database The European Commission pulls together a lot of research every year and gives it away to the likes of you and me for free. You can get some real gems that come in handy for campaign planning and ideation.
Federal Election Committee financial reports and data Handy when you are doing a search on likely reputational risks of clients. See whose campaign they donated to and the kind of issues that these people support.
Follower Wonk Probably one of the most useful Twitter tools out there which allows you to look at third party Twitter accounts and see which have common followers or not. Really handy for doing influencer mapping incorporating competitor thinking. It is part of the Moz series of products so costs, but is worth it.
Google search box Baidu talks a lot about the concept of ‘box computing’ where the search box is actually the gateway to other services, but Google has a lot of inbuilt services that people don’t realise. These services came from its competition with the likes of Yahoo! as it grew to be the online oligarchy that it currently is. More information on Google’s hidden features can be found in my Grokking Google series of posts
Infomine A handy augmentation to searching for research papers on Google Scholar
IPL2 An old school search engine a la the Yahoo! Directory of old that is curated by US librarians so is full of high quality links.
Ixquick A surprisingly useful and fast search engine, pull this out of the bag if Google isn’t giving decent results.
Similarsites Really handy for looking at influencers in a given sector once you have one, Similarsites can then be used to suggest others within a ranked system based on how close they are to the seed site you have used
The Economist World in Figures This used to be a free to access website and is now bundled up as a free iPhone and iPad application as an ideal counterpart to the CIA World Fact Book A surprising recommendation for research, but a quick search of is worthwhile as people will often have an email address on their profile. Either using a domain specific search on Google find someone’s profile or by exploring the tags.
Foursquare Foursquare’s explorer function allows you to search an area by category for people driven recommendations. I have found it useful because of the map driven interface. Foursquare replaced Dopplr in my travel folder after Nokia shut it down.
Open Rice Detailed restaurant recommendations for Hong Kong. Hong Kong locals are some of the most exacting food critics I know which means that the Open Rice database is uncommonly useful. I recommend downloading the Open Rice mobile apps.
Skyscanner and OnTheFly Booking flights can be a bit of a nightmare Skyscanner and OnTheFly provide background information to help you make the right choice of flight.

What services do you use that you would recommend, pop them in the comments section below

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Is the DOJ Forcing Banks to Terminate the Accounts of Porn Stars? | VICE News – regardless of the moral aspects of the industry, what is interesting is the extra-judical nature of the way the accounts are closed down. What happens when they start using this as an economic weapon to protect strategic US business interests…

Wolverton: Smartwatches show promise, but need work – – it is very early days with wearables yet

Global Automotive Demand: Spotlight on China | Nielsen

The Internet Is Being Protected By Two Guys Named Steve | Buzzfeed – surprisingly readable Buzzfeed article on the developers behind OpenSSL

8 Things Most People Don’t Know About Amazon’s Bestsellers Rank (Sales Rank) | MakeUseOf – as important as SEO to sellers

Alibaba buying stake in Youku Tudou, a Chinese Web TV company, for $1.2 billion | NY Times – it is Jack Ma rather than Alibaba but you get the gist from the headline, not sure how good a deal it is for him now that the Chinese government is banning some of the most popular content on these streaming channels like Big Bang Theory

Taiwanese ‘chameleon’ workers vs Chinese ‘tigers’| – Taiwanese employees, generally speaking, can be characterized by make efforts to fit in and fulfill work commitments, while their Chinese counterparts think more about “winning,” and how best to earn money and be successful

Fake luxury goods market in China moves to WeChat | WantChinaTimes – no real surprise

Super rich get to cash in on luxury assets | CityAM – interesting move putting luxury assets as a financial instrument basically. Probably says something about the values of stocks, bonds and currency?

Russia’s Hoping to Make Its GLONASS Positioning System a Competitor to GPS | Motherboard – this could be interesting if one cross-referenced Galileo, GLONASS and GPS

What do you get if you cross a suitcase with rollerblades? » The SpectatorThere are several reasons why video-conferencing has been so slow to take off. In the business world, it was mistakenly sold as ‘the poor man’s air travel’ when it should have been positioned as ‘the rich man’s phone call’. But in the home setting, I think there is another problem. Bluntly put, video-conferencing on a PC or mobile phone fails because we just don’t like many people enough to want their face within two feet of our own.

The smart businesses are investing in things that will make your clients obsolete | Advertising news | Campaign – digital isn’t just about data and business models but disruptive non-hierarchical networks of people. Hasn’t it always been?

Is OnePlus a wholly owned subsidiary of Oppo? Chinese document suggests that the answer is yes – this is interesting, particularly as OPPO is as smart a brand marketer as you have in China

China’s censors order 4 US shows to be taken off streaming sites

Executives in China earning more than their companies | WantChinaTimes – part of a culture of making money today as you don’t know what tomorrow may bring

Guangdong TV and radio broadcasters form conglomerate | WantChinaTimes – interesting media consolidation moves in China

Time to bid farewell to Barbie, say China’s toymakers | WantChinaTimes – China needs to move up the food chain to be competitive, no longer lowest cost manufacturing base

华为商城官网 -华为官方电子商务平台,提供华为手机(华为荣耀3C、畅玩版、3X、X1、P6等)、平板电脑、移动终端等产品。 – Huawei’s new direct e-tailing channel for China, also features opportunity for customer feedback. I guess trying to be Xiaomi with Huawei sensibilities

Huawei sets sights on Samsung, aims to rule 4G era | WantChinaTimes – Shao Yang has big dreams. Huawei phones would need to improve software, hardware and online services in order for this to happen. At the moment from a technical and design point of view they don’t compare to the likes of Oppo, Xiaomi, Samsung or Apple. In addition, Huawei would need to do a 180 degree turnaround on brand marketing and advertising which is only likely to happen over Mr Ren’s dead body. Mr Ren is said to believe that the best advertisement for Huawei is its people which is fine when you aren’t marketing consumer goods

Race against the clock: Shinkansen staff have just 7 minutes to get bullet train ready to ride | RocketNews24 – really interesting bit of process design

Are US universities are choosing rich Chinese students over Asian Americans? | Quartz – not so sure about the racism of US universities but wealthy Chinese families sending their kids is on a definite growth spurt

Hermes holds first sale in China as frugality drive bites | WantChinaTimes

China Now Has Over 250,000 4G Base Stations | ChinaTechNews

My Blogging Process – 2014 edition

Over the past few months I have revised the way I write my blog. My research comes from a range of diverse sources, my RSS reader Newsblur, is the prism through which I view the online world. I am signed up to some email news letters including Paul Armstrong’s Orange Concentrate, Design Taxi and Benedict Evans’ weekly email drop. I also have started to get more content from WeChat’s moments section and a few Twitter lists that I have set up. Having a cloud cut and paste function like ClipPick | Skip has proved invaluable in transferring material between my mobile devices and my Mac. There is something magical about the way Skip works.

I still start the ideation for posts in the same way I have done for a good while. Either with a mind map in a Moleskine book drawn with a Muji gel ink pen (black only – like my coffee); or freestyle from a set of links I keep in my augmented memory (aka Occasionally writers block may set in and I look to Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies for creative inspiration.

But the process of getting the posts down has changed. I do my initial draft in Noisli. Noisli is a distraction-free online text editor. It allows you to play white noise in the background, which comes in handy when I don’t have my iPod to hand.

I can then save the post down as a text file on to the computer that I am using, or cut and paste it from Noisli. I usually cut and paste the text into Hemingway. Hemingway acts like an editor recommending where to simplify copy structure to improve readability.

More information
Pinboard (here is my public account page)
Orange Concentrate
Skip (the service formerly known as ClipPick) by Sentence Lab of Korea

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Nike CEO Confirms Move Away from Wearables“I think we will be part of wearables going forward, it’ll be integrated into other products that we create.” – doesn’t really sound like a move away, but a change in tack, wearables become hygiene rather than a product category?

Why Burberry’s ‘Unusual’ Tmall Shop Is A Savvy China Move – because Alibaba owns e-commerce in China

When Orange is not Just a Colour, and Other Challenging Queries | Brandwatch – great post on honing searches

Lunar Orbiter Photo Gallery – from the original NASA missions of 1965 and 1966

Vladimir Putin Wants His Own Internet | Slate – interesting less because of the geopolitical theatre than it represents the kind of existential threat that the cloud faces as a business model and the balkanisation of the Internet due to security concerns from ECHELON to Snowden and beyond

Requiem for the Middleman | Slate – interesting critique of the sharing economy

$45 a Month for Unlimited Coffee | Slate – this needs to come to London and Hong Kong pronto

Apple filing points to ‘next big thing’ | FT Tech blog – 2.8 billion dollars put aside for whatever new thing is going into the pipeline

Digital Mapping May Be Nokia’s Hidden Jewel – – Microsoft wanted to buy Here and failed why would Nokia sell? More likely the company gets bought and broken up for resale

Government Clampdown Trips Up Sina | Young’s China Business – this has been astounding

To surf or not to surf? That is the question – interesting take on Yahoo!’s finances by our Nigel

How do Chinese Phones cost so little? The reasons why availbility is an issue, demand is high and prices are low – |

Amazon and the Squeezing of the Middle Class | Gawker – Amazon eating its own customer base?

It’s mostly Android deserters who buy cheap iPhones | BGR – interesting that Apple is getting Android transfer rather than feature phone users

The US just isn’t that important of a market for Huawei, after all | Quartz – but Europe is critical

I, Cringely Digital Me: Will the next Cringely be from Gmail? – I, Cringely – is Google using the mail provider for machine learning as well as advertising?

Design News – Automotive Infotainment Still ‘Bugs’ Luxury Vehicles – it scares me that this is becoming more pervasive

UK Tea Tastes Turn Premium | EuroMonitor International – interesting to see, especially with Premier Foods having had poor financial results this week

Felix Salmon is leaving Reuters for the Fusion network because the future of media is “post text” – a loss for Reuters as Salmon has a great understanding and opinionated view of the sector. Not so sure about the ‘post text’ explanation, I presume they mean programmes on the wireless or them new fangled ‘talkies’ that they show at the cinema filmed in Hollywood

Mindshare launches The Loop | Marketing Interactive – this is interesting; real-time marketing a la the Oreo black out becomes a service sold around events on a Regus serviced office-type model

F.B.I. Informant Is Tied to Cyberattacks Abroad | NY Times – FBI sanctioned hacking overseas to gather intelligence?

Apple’s Profit Still Climbs, but Pressure is Growing – NYTimes.comIf Apple grew the next five years like it did the previous five years, it would be approaching the G.D.P. of Australia

Facebook Beats In Q1 With $2.5B In Revenue, 59% Of Ad Revenue From Mobile, 1.28B Users (Josh Constine/TechCrunch) – how much of this revenue is from contextual marketing and how much is from app installs? If the focus is the latter it could be like the business of selling McMansions during the US property boom – wait for the bust…

Study: Samsung’s Apps Are Ubiquitous but Unloved – Digits – WSJ – the most damning number here has to be the percentage usage of ChatOn – given that OTT messaging platforms are currently the hot thing in mobile apps. Even in Korea KakaoTalk would be kiling it, maybe it would make sense for Samsung to buy some great Korean companies like Sentence Lab and Kakao Software

Micro-Robots Are Scary Awesome | Hack A Day – these could be more interesting than 3D printing for manufacturing

Qualcomm Slips: FYQ2 Rev Misses; Raises Year EPS View | TechTraderDaily – not terribly surprising given that Chinese smartphone sales volumes were down

IBM unveils Power8 and OpenPower pincer attack on Intel’s x86 server monopoly – interesting that the focus isn’t necessarily computing power per watt of energy expended

WeChat To Launch Self-Serve Advertising System In Weeks — China Internet Watch – this is a really big deal

BlueFocus chief Oscar Zhao outlines global ambitions | PR Week – 30 per cent revenue from overseas or 900M USD annual billings by 2022

Five for Saturday

Five for Friday went a bit Pete Tong this week so now its Five for Saturday. Here are five of the things that made my week:

London-based graphic designer Toby Evans on design and his love of the Mark I Volkswagen Golf

Caterpillar’s wonderful video showing its machinery playing Jenga is like something stolen straight from my childhood dreams and a credit to the drivers operating the vehicles

I think it says a lot about the state of technology hardware at the moment and in particular Google Glass that this year’s Google I|O conference will focus on design – industrial design and visual design rather than engineering is part of the zeitgeist and I suspect that the attendees will be going on as much of a learning journey as the host. To promote the conference Google put this video together. Whilst I am a skeptic of Google Glass in its current form, I think that the approach to the product design was very interesting.

DJ Greg Wilson, who is a personal hero of mine, posted this mix from last year on Soundcloud. As usual it has a superb selection of edits on board

B-Classic is a Belgian festival trying to make classical music relevant by commissioning video directors to produce a contemporary accompaniment. The video features Korean dance team Waveya providing their interpretation of Dvořák – Symphony No. 9 Allegro con fuoco.

There is a good video providing background on how they came to put Dvořák to twerking Korean girls in hot pants (not that I am complaining).

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Digital Intelligence :: What clients want from their agencies: Mobile marketing ‘changing ad relationships’ – really interesting piece of research

Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans | BrandRepublic – oh the shame! Seriously Facebook is probably more relevant for Lidl customers

Why Apple has stopped growing | Quartz – interesting analysis, the last thing I need is a larger iPad or phone though

Does Google Glass Have An Optics Problem? And Does Google Care? | Forbes – dog by any other name is still a dog

The state of the internet is under attack (but it’s also faster) | GigaOM – interesting Akamai data

Louis Vuitton changes the celebrity spokesperson calculation | – because nothing says affluent luxury like a bunch of old guys in conservatively tailored suits and safe style choices. Especially when YUMMY’s are the new luxury marketing demographic to go after

Read the Obamas’ tribute to Frankie Knuckles | Dazed – great vintage Warehouse set embedded in this post.

Hermès encourages app sharing with two-screen content | Luxury Daily

15 ways for companies to increase customer lifetime value | eConsultancy – good marketing data points

Add ultracapacitors to the list of devices that could benefit from grapheme | GigaOM

Analitika to turn Philippines as analytics hub by 2015 | Marketing Interactive – this makes more sense than you would think. The Philippines enjoys and English speaking, well educated workforce with technical skills and a closer familiarity with American and Latin cultures. It has great core network links, being a focus for a number of trans-Pacific cables (unlike India) and is cost effective

Nike Fuelband: Simple math, cultural imperative, might’ve killed it – interesting take on Nike’s recent movements with its Fuelband team, of course we won’t know the true score until Nike makes their next moves or telegraphs them through supply chain leaks or tame executive leaks (a la a certain Chinese telecoms company)

AppleSeed– Apple’s new public beta programme

Personal and Professional Productivity: The Next Frontier for Mobile Apps | Flurry

Emperor of the Glassholes Finally Feels Shame | ValleyWag – the cool has completely gone if Scoble won’t even wear his in public

China Mobile’s profit falls as competition bites | TotalTelecom – including the likes of WeChat

Green Tomato Pointcast technology showcase Coca Cola Opener App demo

Green Tomato are a Hong Kong mobile agency that I have a lot of time for. They were responsible for TalkBox a proto-OTT voice messenger solution. TalkBox moved way from being a consumer product to become an enterprise push-to-talk competitor. More recently Green Tomato have done a lot of work on the integration of mobile apps, with ‘other screen content’. They have done great work on digital retailing experiences in Hong Kong. Unfortunately their work has been ahead of its time and risks eclipsed by other people building on the likes of iBeacon.

I particularly like the demo below. It works with a Coca-Cola video advert to increase engagement. It could be applied just as easily with with traditional media like cinema or TV advertising or new video advertising formats on YouTube or YouKu. It makes the advertising spend work harder which is one of the key reasons why Mondelez are so excited by mobile marketing.

The challenge with this technology is that it makes the job of creative directors harder. Interaction becomes a key part of the experience rather than just a story amplifier. The technology is less amenable than social media to be bolted on to the side of a campaign like a rocket motor.

More information
Green Tomato

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Samsung Galaxy sofware features not good enough for users, study says | BGR

Calvin Klein asks users to flash their underwear online | Marketing Interactive – this could go so wrong

The Wearable Wheel | – interesting but a bastard to read

Lightweight 3D Printed Breathable Cast with Ultrasound Therapy – I so wish I had this when I broke my arm

The eurozone’s creeping danger | HSBC Global

Bad news for Samsung: 85% of people in Philippines willing to buy homegrown smartphone brands | Techinasia – good news for prospective tier 2 manufacturers in Shenzhen who would be doing the badge engineering work on to reference design for Filipino brands

Users Actually Seem To Like Facebook’s Auto-Play Videos | FastCompany – not that convinced

WeChat surges past Weibo as China’s top social sharing platform. | Resonance China – not terribly surprising Weibo is so last year

Squeeze on international-school locals | SCMP – I don’t understand why schools are so expensive in the first place, and if I had a kid starting them off in school I would want to put them into the local school system to learn Cantonese and Mandarin (paywall)

This Bank Ad Hilariously Mocks Google Glass | – Google Glass is now the comedy equivalent of the Mother-in-Law

One in 10 Brits admits to lying pretty much all the time | Quartz – great PR story. How else do you build an empire over a third of the world by guile?

How Bad is China’s Moral Crisis? | New Republic – not convinced given that western society tends to view things in black and white and traditional Chinese morals tend to be more nuanced and contextual

In America, Spending Cuts Are Driven by the Rich | Mother Jones – no real surprise, given that research showed that they thought taxes were fair and the rich thought that they were excessive

Here’s why Apple will bring iTV to China first | Quartz – really? – not so sure. Media is a strategic industry and online video is coming under increasing regulation as the Chinese government tries to ensure the continued relevance of state-run channels

How Luxury Can Move Ahead In China’s Tricky E-Commerce Market | Jing Daily

Sony 4K Ultra HD Media Player – FMP-X10 Review – Sony US – I wonder about the kind of broadband and infrastructure required to support a 4K Apple TV style device

High-Efficiency Hiking: What the Heck Is Ultralight? – Core77

Why more governments should offer their citizens a one-in-a-million chance to win | Quartz – China does a similar thing with restaurant receipts, though some restaurants will offer you a free drink or dessert to get out of giving it

Jing Daily: 9 key ways Chinese consumer habits are rapidly changing right before our eyes

#OwnTheMoment – handy forward events calendar

The downsizing of brand building | Guardian Professional – PRs should read this article and burn its words into their hearts

Fear and loathing at the cinema: new films reflect modern tensions in Hong Kong | South China Morning Post – (paywall)

What is Baidu & How to Advertise on Baidu | Reload Digital

I heart cherry blossoms, the rise of Japan’s petit nationalism | The Japan Times

Direct selling companies see phenomenal growth in China | WantChinaTimes – Nu Skin apparently grew 10-fold in a year, it also looks like a potential car crash

Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens – Gilens & Page – (PDF file)

Thousands of Chinese spent their “best years” making Nike shoes and now have no pensions | Quartz

Fear and loathing of Google Glass

I’ve blogged a few times before about the merits and flaws in the current iterations of Google Glass. I consider Google Glass to be an interesting idea; because of the potential contextual nature of its content provision; but the product is flawed and ultimately a failure in the consumer space due to its product design and current limitations of technology. The Atlantic carried a very interesting piece that hyphothesised that Google Glass was failing because it was an assistive technology and assistive technologies make use feel week. However, if that was the case Glass should be fine with just a rebranding exercise, rather like glasses moved from being a weakness to a hipster accessory.

Whilst I agree with the hypothesis that Google Glass can assist people, I don’t think that ‘disability aids’ are the correct analogy for Google Glass; instead Google Glass augments the majority of current users in theory; it is a telephone rather than a hearing aid. It is about making the user even better; think of it as having the personal assistant who whispers in your ear at a party the names of the people that you should know and where you met them previously, a personal concierge service like a shopper or a tour guide.

Failings in Google Glass

  • Google Glass isn’t discrete. The glance up display Google Glass has a level of social and user awkwardness similar to early implementations of the touch display that tried to incorporate it with a keyboard like the HP-150. Google are on to something, the use of sneaky applications that would provide the right information at the right time. But the very act of using the device is a big tell that is both distracting and takes away the social impact of the information provided
  • Google Glass is interruption-based media. From point of view of someone conversing with a Google Glass wearer, the sudden pauses and ‘zombie-like’ eye drift are disconcerting. Rather like if someone kept answering their phone in a meeting. The problem here is one of technology, Sony’s smart eyeglass prototype and Epson’s Moverio BT-200 which display the content directly in front of the wearers vision are more likely paths for a future successful solution as would some sort of discrete earbud with aural content delivery
  • Google Glass has too short a battery life. With a usable battery life of just 45 minutes usage time, users have to manage the device to husband power resources. Whilst Google calls this a design feature to try and prevent wholesale privacy invasion; the downside is the audience distraction. The reality is that I don’t think battery life is a feature but a function of battery technology failings at the moment. This could improve overtime with improvements in chip power consumption, power management techniques and incremental improvements in battery chemistry formulation

Glass Rage
Google Glass incidents happen for a number of reasons:

  • The wider socio-economic tensions that are breaking out in San Francisco between the digital haves and the local have-nots. It is a similar but more visible tension to that seen in Dorset or Cornwall as moneyed London city workers buy a weekend place or telecommute from the country and in turn drive up property prices out of the reach of local people. You can see it in Central London with bankers, foreign investors and Russian oligarchs looking for sanctuary and safety from the British legal system. The problem is of course, that gentrification kills the very elements that attract tech workers to San Francisco: authenticity, diversity, a little bit of risk-taking, arts and culture. This is what happens when Richard Florida’s cluster theory reaches a ‘point of inflection’; when the creative classes devour and destroy what they craved just by the nature of their sheer numbers
  • The unknown. The majority of Glass users who have undergone a well-deserved drubbing seem to conduct themselves in an anti-social way using their device as if they have some divine right. Without wearing Glass they would be described as foolish, stupid or even borderline sociopaths. It is the same with most technologies, early adopters through their social normative compass out the window when they are trying the new, new thing and are then surprised when the world pushes back. Common sense and good manners should be a hygiene factor rather than a service pack. It takes years or longer to get this right; mobile etiquette is still an issue, some three decades after cellphones started to become popular

There are some use cases for glass that make sense
Glass would be much more useful, (at least until the technology is able to address some of the shortcomings listed above) in an industrial environment; for instance working in a tight space servicing a jet engine or augmenting a warehouse picking team’s work. All of this is dependent on the device being sufficiently robust to deal with a dusty, solvent-laden environment safely. It is probably no coincidence that Google is now trying to pivot towards the enterprise, but I could counsel against using Glass at the moment in customer-facing / front-of-house roles.

More information
People Don’t Like Google Glass Because It Makes Them Seem Weak – The Atlantic
The Oculus Rift | Facebook post
Epson Moverio BT-200 see-through smart glasses
Sony Shows Smarteyeglass Prototype to Developers –
I like: Sony’s Smarteyglasses
The Google Glass post

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Among Venture Capital’s Largest Exits, Consumer Tech Dominates | CB Insights

Chat Wars | n+1 | Apr. 19, 2014 – interesting reading to compare and contrast with the current OTT messenger race

Ideological Segregation Online and Offline | Quarterly Journal of Economics by Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M. Shapiro (paywall)

LeBron James Is Lovin’ McDonald’s — in China | Time – tapping into Chinese love of basketball to pimp burgers

A Third of Americans Think Technology Is Going to Ruin Their Lives | Motherboard – and they are probably right

Youku Tudou, Huawei Launch Internet TV STB | Marbridge Consulting – (paywall)

Amazon partners with Samsung to launch custom Kindle e-Book service for Galaxy devices – looks like Flipboard didn’t get the deal it wanted…

Japan’s indigenous stealth fighter to fly this year amid arms race worries | South China Morning Post – many of the technological advances that Japan had shared with its ally on the FSX later appeared on US aircraft – US defence complex ripped off Japanese technology (paywall)

FDA Publishes First Piece of Long-Awaited Social Media Guidance: Focus is on Accountability

Brits consume more MDMA than energy drinks, survey finds | Dazed

Global Views on Morality | Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project – really nice interactive infographic

Rolex Gets a New CEO Jean-Frédéric Dufour – Gear Patrol – these are big shoes to fill, I just hope that Mr Dufour doesn’t decide that luxury equals fashion and starts cycling Rolex models like SKUs at H&M

Big Data is the new Artificial Intelligence | I, Cringely – interesting and disturbing all at the same time

Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network | Brand Republic – why would you want to join Tesco’s social network?

How Paul Smith Stands Apart In China’s Ultra-Competitive Retail Market | Jing Daily

China Inc joins the big league in oil and gas services | SCMP – (paywall)

This Is How Travelers Are Using Their Smartphones And Tablets — And How The Industry Is Adapting

How Advertisers Are Using Snapchat, Kik, Tango, Line, WeChat | Digital – Advertising Age – campaigns on the platform

PWC: 14% Chinese Shopping Online Everyday | China Internet Watch

Tencent to Launch Self-service WeChat Ad Platform | Marbridge Consulting – (paywall)

Generation Z | Charlie Stross

Jing Daily: ‘Brand-tagging’ mobile apps: China’s next selfie sensation

Inflation in Europe: The Price is Wrong | INSEAD

A new way to make brands | Wolff Olins

‘Baby surprise’ tourism promo video could have been done better: STB | Straits Times – video aimed at one market gets slammed elsewhere around the world

Daring Fireball: No One Said Following Is Easy – what John Gruber misses is that Nokia’s Symbian phones also had touch for instance the Nokia E90 Communicator had both a qwerty keyboard and resistive touch screen

Europe’s Eurosceptics more united than many think: poll | Reuters – this is going to go horribly wrong

China Leads the Way in Average Household Spending | Euromonitor International

A Taxonomy Of The Collaborative Economy –And What Brands Are Doing About It. | Jeremiah Owyang

Behind the Machine’s Back: How Social Media Users Avoid Getting Turned Into Big Data | The Atlantic

First BRICS. Then PIIGs. Now, The Formidable 5 | The Financialist

On the sofa: The Raid 2

Coming back to the UK reminded me of how much Hong Kong is a cinema-centric culture despite the technology, mobile devices and amazing restaurants. Going to the cinema there was literally half the price of London, which means that I am much more critical of the entertainment shown. The first film I have seen that was actually worth it’s ticket price since I have got back is The Raid 2.

The Raid put the Indonesian martial arts scene on the map with a highly kinetic film that owed much of its visual intensity to computer games. The Raid 2 follows on just hours from the first film; but is an entirely different beast.  As you can see from the trailer, there is still lashings of Indonesian-style ultra-violence

But the film’s pace ebbs and flows in order to tell a more detailed story this time around, which feels very much like an early John Woo, pre-Hollywood. There is a nod to Quentin Tarantino with some of the gimmicky characters such as Hammer Girl.

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

The usual list of things that made my day this week. I have made a point of excluding Heartbleed related content just because it is so depressing. Instead I give you:

What seems to be a mix of hacking, techno-political comment and locative art; Watch Your Privacy app for Google Glass acts as a kind of  dynamic ‘dead spot’ map showing CCTV cameras and other public surveillance systems based on OpenMap data.

Bob Hoffman’s ITV Spotlight keynote at Advertising Week 2014 on The Golden Age of Bullshit which was designed to spur debate on the failed predictions of advertising experts over the past decade, with particular focus on the social media marketing of brands.

Kids React To Walkman. What was interesting about this is how the children struggled to understand the industrial design since they were so used to the pictures under glass metaphor of the modern smartphone.

At the other extreme is this video made by German watchmaker NOMOS Glashuette showing the process that goes into making one of their watches, which is I found breathtaking.

I love this film about Neal Unger, a 60 year old man who is a self-professed beginner at skateboarding. His tao of skateboarding is very interesting; where he is talking about being in the moment. It reminded me a lot of what I liked about the process of DJ’ing or scuba diving back in the day before I came to London.

More information
Watch Your Privacy

Digital permeating our big life moments

I spent much of January in Shenzhen and went to a concert played by a local band. I can’t remember much about their music save that the lead singer work a bowler hat and seemed to influenced by 1990s Brit Pop and A Clockwork Orange. What was remarkable about the gig was that for the first time in about 10 years I saw concert goers dancing, swaying, being in the moment. More importantly I saw them watch the concert with their view unmediated by a smartphone screen which allowed them to actually participate rather than record the event.
It was remarkable that digital technology had not invaded this happening as the audience were tech-savvy Chinese middle class, a demographic where the smartphone has already achieved ubiquity.

Kevin Kelly’s book What Technology Wants posits that technology like progress is a natural unstoppable force moving forward. This movement forward changes life, sometimes in ways that aren’t necessarily great. Part of the issue is that social norms don’t move at the same space as technology.

I was looking through Smart magazine: a Japanese men’s magazine and came across an advert for a digital wedding ring box.
Digital wedding ring box
ENUOVE is a costume jewellery brand that has come up with the movie box; a small media player built into the wedding ring box which can accepts a small video clip in a number of popular formats.

I found this advertisement interesting  and cut it out of the magazine because it was a great example of digital inserting itself into social norms of one of the most important life events of all. I tried to understand what role the digital technology would play. Usually in the west, the ring is presented with the man down on one knee whilst he asks the object of his affection to marry him whilst presenting the ring.

My initial reaction was to think that the video allowed the man to use technology to mediate the discussion rather than having to worry about fluffing whatever speech that they had put together.  But what would the recipient think this cop out of doing a proposal by box.?

I asked two colleagues who were currently engaged. The first one pointed out that a non-verbal proposal was considered ok if it was suitably grandiose:

  • Flying over a tropical beach in a helicopter where the proposal is written in the pristine sand below in two-storey letters
  • Having the proposal appear on an advertising board on Time Square
  • Hiring a sign writing plane to proclaim the offer across the skies

I thought that these were pretty extreme examples? Outlier proposals? My colleague indicated that this was the case.

The second colleague I asked introduced me to this video below, billed as the first lip dubbed wedding proposal that seemed to involved a whole neighbourhood as the cast.

Isaac’s lip dub proposal has been seen over 25 and a half million times. She thought that the digital box was ok; it was a nice novelty and would be reasonable for a proposal if the prospective groom didn’t have the gumption to pull off something at least as epic as Isaac’s lip dub wedding.

She might keep the box longer, as she didn’t even know where her current ring box was, it got lost after the first few weeks after the engagement.

Now admittedly my study is very unscientific, but my conclusion was that digital had permeated the wedding proposal in a different way to what I had anticipated. YouTube has had a thermonuclear effect on what my colleagues thought was an acceptable / adequate wedding proposal. It had to have drama, spectacle and a uniqueness to it.  Their major life moments would take on a large scale cinematic element.

The movie box offered a lower key alternative that was still acceptable due to it’s unique nature for a groom who couldn’t drill family numbers for a few months in performance of a lip dub or have their feelings writ large on a beach in the Maldives.

Digital had already permeated our big life moments and we’re all as eccentric as Stanley Kubrick.

More information
ENUOVE website
Smart magazine (Japanese language only)
OCT LOFT website

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Swedish city introduces payment by hand scanning – The West Australian – having your biometrics be used as authentication, I am sure that there ethical issues with this

(Re)defining multimedia journalism – Medium

Freescale and ALU show off small cell SoC – Rethink Wireless

Why Asian American kids excel. It’s not ‘Tiger Moms.’ | Washington Post – (paywall)

Burberry’s flagship Shanghai store facade responds to weather changes – Brand Republic News

The outlook is bleak. So let’s not go there. | Excapite

The Future of Social Media ROI: From Likes to Relational Metrics | INSEAD

Bang & Olufsen narrows operating loss as Europe improves | Reuters

The future of retail in 5 charts | Digiday

Was that expensive Chinese New Year campaign worth it? | Marketing Interactive – really good tips on running an international marketing campaign

McDonald’s, Coca-Cola champions offline interactions with BFF meals | Marketing Interactive – interesting online to offline move

Triumph of the Drill: How Big Oil Clings to Billions in Government Giveaways | Mother Jones

Alimama Challenges Google In Big Data Marketing — China Internet Watch

A Survival Plan for the Wild Cyborg | Slate