AlwaysWoW! For a Great Great WoW in Life

Thoughts from me about things that are cool, that are WoW, that blow me away. Observations about businesses and people from a wide variety of life. Daily encounters - and thoughts outside the box, inside the box and without any box. New thinking, and challenging old thinking. Passionate about life, about respect, and about integrity.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

My first car - a Volkswagen Beetle

Volkswagen with Chair at the back

I saw this Volkswagen Beetle the other day, and I liked the "Chair at the Back". I don't know how many of you know this car from the inside, but it can be pretty tight, when there are the allowed 5 passengers - two in front and three at the back. Well, this car had a spareseat for those feeling uncomfortable.

I liked the car and it reminded me of my first car, back in Germany, which also was a green Volkswagen Beetle - and which I really loved. It was my first car - I paid 1,100 Deutschmark for it - which might be around RM 2,300 or so. It was 12 years old, when I got it.

Normally, and older cars in Europe don't have an aircondition - if anything, we have a heat regulator, so that one can the inside of a car warm in Winter time - in Summertime, you drive with the windows open.

Well, the heater didn't work in my car, and there was some water leakage at the back of the car. One year, when it was really cold in Germany, I had ice on the floor of my car. Anyone entering the backseat had to take care not to slip and make a heavy landing on the chair.

In summertime, the floor at the passenger seat in front would get hot, when the car drove over a longer distance. So when I drove to France in holiday with a good friend of mine, he opened the window from time to time to stick his feet out and let them cool down.

There are more "funny" stories related to this car - and I am swamped with memories. During one winter, I visited a friend at his place - the road was pretty slippery, and I had problems parking the car on the pavement. It would slip and slip and slip and the tires would refuse to get hold over a longer time. Well, it worked, and I walked up to my friend's place (there are not that many elevators in German buildings). He lived in the 4th floor, and we just started talking, when I heard a lot of honking. Checking it out from the window, I realised that I forgot to put in the first gear (you don't apply the handbrake in winter since it might freeze and the car might not move) and that the car had rolled back onto the road. Several cars were making their way around it.

Well I had the car (I called it Speedy) for two years. In the end, one door wasn't green anymore - I bought another door from the junkyard after the window was broken following a break-in (someone stole my tapes) and tried to fit it in. That's how naive I was - I didn't change the window only. It also was two rusty in the end, and when the bi-annual obligatory inspection came (Cars registered in Germany must undergo a road safety test every two years), well, it didn't make it. I got a slip of paper that allowed me to drive home - if police would have checked me, I would have to show that slip. I wasn't allowed to go faster than 60 km/h - I speeded a last time, driving the highway at 120 km/h. And than I call the junkyards and all I got was 50 Deutschmarks. The day I left my first car there, and had to take the street-train back, I was really, really sad.

Still remember this car, everytime I see the same model. There are not that many around anymore and I don't know if I like the new type.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Online registrations, online surveys - I am pissed off

Let me ramble on for a while:  Newspapers and magazines try to replicate their business model online - publish once a day, charge readers some or a lot of money to read online, and hope that we "buy the model".  Does this show that they got the new economy?  I don't think so.  Once again, I have to nag and say that this is company-centric thinking and what happens is that their subscription numbers are sinking - down, down, down. 

People want to have something that is published more than ones a day - that is why Google's or Yahoo's (others, please excuse that I don't mention them) have constant updates and deliver customised news.  That’s why I read blogs, and read the news linked to them, if I find it interesting enough.  I don't want to read what I don't want to read - and I don't want to pay for it online.  It is enough that I buy a newspaper with 50 or 100 pages, when all I need would be 20 or 30 pages.  Okay - this model is difficult offline, but possible online.  Is it?

I am not sure anymore.  Because I am already "pissed off".  There are so many sites online that require registration.  And not just easy one, like it is the case with with its easy and simple process.  But webpages that want to know everything.  In an online registration process or via surveys.  And most of the time, they are terrible.  Do they really think that I give the right information just to get some gracious 2 weeks trial period only, before they can charge me?  So what do I do?  I "fake information".  I am the 99 year old professor in Afghanistan, earning US$200,000 a year, married with 15 or 20 children.  This might even make me feel good, because once in a life time,  I can feel rich for a short while.

And as for e-mail addresses? I somehow have the suspicion that they are sold off to a third party - or at least get into their hands. Looking at my spam that I receive this must be the case.  So I have a special e-mail address just for those short-lived online registrations. 

Now you might ask - I give the wrong information, and companies produce something out of it – which is than called segmentation or Customer Relationship Marketing, what will happen?  Naturally, the products are wrong, and subsequently I start to nag, since I don’t like them.  Isn't it an endless cycle?  Probably.  But it will last until companies produce something or offer something that considers me.  Which is customer-centric.  Outside in. Worth talking about. I love those companies.  I provide them with information to make their service better, because it makes me feel better.  I tell my wife, my friends, my colleagues about it.  I create a buzz for the companies.  I might even buy shares.  And subsequently be rewarded with a higher shareprice and may be some dividends.  As such, good customer service and outside-in thinking makes the companies richer and better and me as well. A tiny bit richer, and a better person, since I don't need to "lie online" anymore.  What do you think?

I think that this is a great entry - may be my best ever.  Big smile -  made my day.

By the way – for free online registration -  check out



Friday, July 23, 2004

Ballroom Dancing and a Proton Saga

Okay - here we go and this is embarrassing.  My wife and I decided - really honestly - to go to take some lessons.  Where did we end up?  Eating steaks with my in-laws in Victoria Station in Damansara.

They came to visit us - while annnouced earlier, we didn't realise that there would be a clash of interest. At least no clash of twisting feet, hehe.  So instead of dancing, we stuffed ourselves.  The food was great, way too much, the service also good - not as good as last time, so.  But I am nagging.

So may be we try again at a later stage to go on stage and dance.  But hey - we change our car.  My in-laws brought down a newer car than the one I am driving now.  I am currently driving a black Daihatsu Charada - ages old. I think, it was built in the end of the 1980s or so - yes, that old.  But the engine was great, the steering wheel, a bit cracky. 

And I always said, that I am driving a 20% Toyota, since Daihatsu is 20% owned by Daihatsu. In addition, do you know that Perodua and Daihatsu have a joint venture or so? 

Okay - now I am driving a Proton Saga - again, it is not the newest one - about 4 years old or so, but it is a beauty, much more spacious.  And as a German - I see more the fucntionality of a car.  It brings me from point A to point B in so and so many minutes.  It is actually fun, to see a fast moving, "upgraded" car, zooming by, driving left, cutting right, and than, waiting at the red traffic light with all the others.  This driver is then waiting longer - I come to the traffic light, rolling the last couple of meters, and when I arrive, the traffic light turns green.  You can save fuel, when you do this as well - it is called smart driving - no kidding. 

Not sure why I wrote all of this - this is worth another entry, actually - but I change the title already (the first version was: Ballroom dancing - what happened) and now it fits.




Thursday, July 22, 2004

Ballroom Dancing

Tonight, I am going to learn ballroom dance, together with my wife.  It will take place in our apartment area, and boy, I don't know if I want to.  She got the idea when we went to the birthday party of my boss here in Malaysia, and when the night moved on, people started to dance.  Naturally, some form of ballroom dance was the "main theme", since he played the suitable music, namely Jazz. And those from the firm we are working in, just didn't want to get up and dance.  Like little kids, did we sit and looked at each other - you go first, no you, okay, let's go together. In the end, some went, others didn't and some went home.

The last time I learnt ballroom dancing is many many years ago - when I was still in High School.  My friends and I teamed up to take some lessons - mainly boys, a few girls.  It was fun, and well, the main challenge was not to look down at your feet when you move and, especially, don't step on the feet of your partner. 

I remember, that there were as many guys as girls - but taste , at least taste according to our perception - and group pressure directed our choice.  We boys thought that of the 10 girls, about 4 looked good, 2 so so and 4 weren't to our taste (sorry for this, but well, that is how guys think when they are young, in a group, and act rather weird, to put it mildly :) - no pun intended.

And when there was always the time, when one gender had to choose their respective partner.  We stood in opposing lanes - one side the boys and one side the girls.  The instructor would choose, who is going for which group - boys  for girls or girls for boys.  One time, when the boys came to choose, we ran towards the girls - all the ten of us - but of course, we went for the four girls.  One guy fall, the others started to crash over him, others slipped aside, and we had the greatest chaos.  

I don't believe this will happen tonight (would be funny, so) - but I am still not sure that I really want to do it.  Butterflies in my stomach.  My goodness, and memories coming back.


Personal Data - How protected are you?

Okay - I live in Malaysia where I may, carefully, assume that the collection of personal data via technology is not yet as advanced as it is, for example, in the US or in Europe - but may be things change when MyKad is fully introduced, all bugs removed and it actualy works at its fullest.

ButCEO of Sun Microsystems, Scott McNeally, once said, that those being on the web should just forget about privacy, since there is no privacy on the web - and this was several years back. How much further have we come since!

Cehck out the weblink below - it reports how personal data are collected and combined - and imagine your life in a few years time.  George Orwell - 1984 - Big Brother is Watching You. I don't know who of those reading this entry know the book or the movie, but WoW, this link scares me. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

My Dell Latitude X300

Finally, my company gave me a laptop, a Dell Latitude X 300.  It is a real beauty, light and easy to handle.  I also wanted a laptop but since I started off with them some years back, I had to live with a desktop.
Now I can move around - I need this when I work - to move around to different places.  To think at different places.  This gives me different perspectives.  I can read at different places and get new inspirations.  I can "crawl" into the computer to have deeper insights.  Gosh, I am having it since two days, and I work so focussed, so intensive, and so concentrated.  It really is something new. 
I am having fun!!


Faber Group - Story number 3 - the end of a signpost

Faber Group -Bad Marketing. The end of a signboard.  Of course, this is what happens if one is doing some marketing that is not accepted by the customer group.  In the business world, your product or service gets rejected, and finally, your company is bankrupt or, if you are lucky, it is simply the product that is taken out of the game  
This time, tenants around the area were clearly not happy with what was expected of them and so, the day after the signboard was erected, the whole thing ended already. 
I hope they had some learning from it.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Faber Group - update and a question

I sent an e-mail to Faber Group yesterday evening, regarding the new fee to enter this small road in Taman Desa.

The mails, sent to the e-mail addresses and I found both on their webpage, but both came back as undeliverable. Which actually shows that their thinking is separate from those they want to reach - another sign of company oriented thinking.

Does anyone have any other e-mail address to whom to send my mail? Please send it to my e-mail address (can be found at the side of this blog), or post a comment -Thanks.

I also have an update on the situation overall. Apparently, the shoplot owners didn't pay for their utilities (electricity, water and others) for a long time, so Faber Group might think that this is an appropriate way to get some money back. However, there are also people living there - so where to those park? And others, who might have paid for the fees - why punish those?

I don't have the answers.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Bad marketing move by Faber Group

This picture shows the entry to a small street, which parallels a larger street. Along this smaller street are shoplots selling all kinds of products, as well as restaurants and other services, like a car workshop, hair dresser, or an art school. There might be others, I am not aware of.

All this years, there was no parking attendant at the entry to this street - entry was free, people got used to it, and recently, parking became a bit more chaotic, but manageable, as the number of cars increased.

Everything changed today - since, there is this parking attendant charging for entry and parking. I first thought it is one of those scams that happen in Bangsar, where a "poor guy" rips of visitors in the evening time to park in parking lots. No, this one here belongs to the Faber Group, subsidiary of Renong.

Do I think this is correct? Nope, this is company specific thinking and product oriented, without consideration for customers, be they car drivers looking for something in the street or those who run or work in the shoplots. I was eating in my favourite Indian restaurant, just behind the entry of the street, and a lot of people complained about it. Many cars just ignored the parking lot attendant - but for how long? Currently, if someone stops, and says, he or she just wants to drop off something, he barks and somewhat unfriendly tells them to be out in two minutes.

Will Faber gain anything from this? Nope - as far as I could see, the entry is just 30 cents. Do they hope to monetize of this - sure they do, considering that their balance sheet is still leaking red ink, and net profit is way down.

But serious, how would I describe the action? Totally customer unfriendly, bad marketing, not worth the money for Faber. There thinking was probably that great, there is a lot of traffic chaos, this street belongs to Faber, people need to park, let's charge some money for a formerly free service.

There is one rule in the Internet world, namely, that a company cannot charge for something that was free before. Look at newspapers that try to impose subscription fees to online visitors - they are small, and visitors mostly don't stay and look somewhere else. Similar in the real world. I repeat - you cannot charge for something that was free before with one big exception - you provide a great new service, something that people think, is worth paying for. Is the entry to a street worth paying? Propably not. Cars will be parked outside, double lane, creating total chaos. The parking lot attendant will be verbally abused. The shoplot owners will be extremely unhappy.

I would hope shareholders won't see this as positive and sell some more shares as there is a direct link between customer satisfaction and revenue growth.

I know that I sound upset, but this is upsetting. How can it be that in the current world, we are still ruled by rules that are made for the industrial world. Faber, on their webpage writes: "Change is the law of life and those who only look to the past or the present are certain to miss the future". Nice saying - just one thing - they don't live by it. They just missed the present and the future.

I will send Faber the link, and wonder if they react to it? What's is my bet? You can thiknk this part for yourself. But since I link to them, everytime, someone looks for Faber, this article will also come up - and more readers can evaluate the move.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Factfinding: Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 9/11

Michael Moore is a controversial figure and his movie Fahrenheit 9/11 is stirring up the emotions. Some groups are saying that he is bias, and that this is done to hurt the re-election chances of Bush. Others say that he is the one to open the eyes of the American public to what is going on in the US, and how they have been misled by their leadership.

I haven't seen the movie yet, so I cannot comment about it. I won't tell my political opinion here but friends of mine do know my stand. But I think it is important to provide material surrounding the movie, to just get behind the facts as well.

Okay - Michael Moore himself published a lot of material on his webpage that might help to highlight the background to certain events even more. Okay - surely, he is bias towards himself, but then - what happened happened - right? So log on and enjoy.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Anatomy of a 419 scam

We all know about the Nigerian scams, right? And we all wonder, how people can still fall for it, despite all the warnings, and the experiences shared by others. The Register provides a great piece of work, really outlining how a story in the UK evolved. Together with the e-mails that were exchanged. A bit lengthy, but worthwhile the read.

Well, it is a real life experience and somehow, the guy didn't loose too much money. There are other stories where people lost all their life savings, and some even their life in Nigeria.

Read it, spread the news and talk about it. Education and communication is everything, really!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

MPH - This is actually great service

Well, once again, interest in books brought me to MPH in Megamall. I spend way too much money on books, and well, I am probably a book collector - there are about 10 books waiting for me. The new one that I wanted was Seth Godin's new one - "Free Price Inside". I tried to find it earlier, but couldn't get it in neither MPH, nor Kinokunia or Times Bookshop.

So I thought I am sending a mail to my contact - the one that developed when I had to "complain about something". She replied immediately and reserved the book for me as well.

This was already great. My wife was also buying a book (infected by me??). I was going out of the store already, when I saw that a younger employee ran after one lady, with a book in his hand. He caught up with her about 20 meters away from the store - okay, you could say that this should be normal.

But wouldn't be the normal reaction of a store to say, oh well, she will come back, once she realises that the book is missing. And than, they would put the book below the counter with a note. Which one do you think, is actually more likely in a normal shop setting - employee running behind the customer or to keep the purchase at the counter and wait for the customer the return?


Computer provides compliments

I am not sure in what type of mood I am today, but somehow, I post stuff that is a bit out of the usual context. Fine by me.

We all need compliments, and the famous pat on the shoulder. However, we don't get them often enough. So, if you are in need of a compliment, and some booster for your compliment, click on the link, and well, enjoy ...


Top ten times in history, when using the "f" word was appropriate

This is probably something that is going to shoot the readership up to the sky, since everybody enjoys a good smile ever once in a while.

I am not usually posting stuff like this, however, well, for the amusement of the afternoon, and since I am a bit tired...

Here we go, ladies and gentlemen - the ten times in history that the F - Word was suppose to be appropriate:

10th - "Scattered @#$%ing showers, my ass!" -Noah, 4314 BC

9th - "How the @#$% did you work that out?" -Pythagorus, 126 BC

8th - "You want WHAT on the @#$%ing ceiling?" -Michelangelo, 1566

7th - "Where did all those @#$%ing Indians come from?" -Custer,1877

6th - "It does so @#$%ing look like her!" -Picasso,1926

5th - "Where the @#$% are we?" -Amelia Earhart, 1937

4th - "Any @#$%ing idiot could understand that." -Einstein, 1938

3rd - "What the @#$% was that?" -Mayor Of Hiroshima,1945

2nd - "I need this parade like I need a @#$%ing hole in the head!"
* JFK,1963

And,.....drum roll....... The number 1 most appropriate time for using the "F" word.................

1st - "Aw c'mon. Who the @#$% is going to find out?"- Bill Clinton,1997


Is Gmail having problems?

Just one quick question - is Gmail down this morning? I have problems getting to the main log-in page. Can it really be that Google has problems? Would the issue be a server issue or a Denial of Service Attack?

Okay - it works.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Taxi from hell

Taxi from hell. Along the highway towards Seremban - following a Kancil on the left lane. On the right side, a huge truck. Distance to front car - may be 45 centimeter - the truck at the left - 1 meter. Before that, left, right, in traffic jam situations. Getting too close, zoom away or full break.

I was sitting in the back of the car, and wouuuhh, did I try to stop and slow down the taxi by pressing the feet into the ground. It didn't help. The taxi driver, at least, was highly concentrated and frowning.

But, to make sure, at the side window the famous sign "Malaysians for Peace". But not on the roads in Malaysia. There is war!

Saturday, July 03, 2004

American Idols, Malaysian Idols, Singaporean Idols

I watched the Malaysian Idol yesterday at 10.00 PM on Channel 8. More by accident, since my wife started to watch it. Before, I had the chance to see how American Idol developed - watched it two or three times, and saw the hiphop following the nomination of the winner in the US.

There are three judges in any of the Idol sessions - and as it happened in the US, there was this one bad guy in the Malaysian Idol session, a female and another male. In the US, the bad guy was called Simon - very direct, partially offensive and insulting. Similar in Malaysia - there was this one white guy who denigrated participants.

What I like at the Idol sessions is that they involve the audience, or whoever wants to participate. Callers can call in and vote for their favourite. Okay, in the US, there were people saying that manipulation is possible, and sure, this is always the case But it is not that this is just another TV session where one is sitting in front of the TV, eats nuts, and laughs at stupid jokes - no involvement. The Idol sessions are successful because they involve the audience, let them participate. In addition, they give "the small guy on the road a chance to reach for fame". This is the new "Experience Economy" as it right now develops in the US where everybody is an actor, and the shops are some kind of a theater - I digress.

What I don't like at the Malaysian session, and I am sure it is similar in Singapore or elsewhere is that the concept is straight transplanted from the US.

It is the same concept is played here. There is one bad guy who denigrates participants, makes them feel small and two others, who are partly more sensitive to the feelings of participants.

My feeling is that there is something wrong - I don't think that the direct communication style works in Asia as well as it works in the US (although even there, people don't like to be called stupid).

But the white guy (don't ask me for his name :)) really puts people down. As it is anywhere else in the world, these aspiring participants dream of a career, they think they are great singers (some were awful, some were awesome). There should be a better way to tell them that they are not that good - yet!

Just my thoughts!

Friday, July 02, 2004

Should we use another browser?

I wouldn't say that I know it all but it is clear that Microsoft's products are favourite targets of hackers, viruses etc. just because they are so prevalent. Now, calls from experts grow louder to have a different broser just to lower your security risk - does this mean, we should get back to Netscape, or choose newer systems, such as Mozilla or Opera?

Interesting, how the market plays. There was a time, when the IE was far behind the usage of Netscape and Netscape, in the end, was only rescued, when AOL acquired it. Microsoft seemed unstoppable. And now, the market forces (if you consider hacking and viruses and worms market forces), might force change upon us.


Management lessons from Euro 2004 - Part 7

We are there, the finals of Euro 2004. A lot of unknown teams, smaller teams, less famous teams, or however to call them, have made it to the finals – Greek, Czechs, Danes – okay, some are more famous. The Danes made it last in 1992, the Greeks never, and the Czechs, well, I don’t remember, but I think Germany beat them sometimes in the end of the 1990s.

What is happening? Well, it is partly the result of the demography – many countries in Europe are aging, and as such, there is no “young blood” anymore that could replace the older guards.
Other sporting events that became more famous, replaced the traditional soccer games – tennis, golf, racing etc.

Complacency – the “no one can beat us” feeling that settled onto the teams that were always there – Germany, Italy, England, France, and may be, every now and than, Spain. As they lost, they looked for excuses, the best by Beckham and the moving soil. These are the signs of those who cannot look into the mirror and need to find excuses somewhere else.

Isn’t it also fitting to say that especially the Greeks worked like a “disruptive technology” – well, they didn’t play that excitingly well, like new stuff often does – it doesn’t work that well – think camera phones. Everybody from the older players dismisses them – it will never replace my product. But they cannot believe that there is some growing momentum on their side – the winner’s feeling, so to speak. And that once you got the drive, it just keeps coming. What is than happening is that old products get replaced – Germany in football, and companies like Polaroid go into bankruptcy, and Kodak struggles to get into the footing.

Globally, we can actually also say that the Western world and its thinking get replaced by the rise of Asia, and, ultimately, by Africa as well – ever thought of Africa as a power to come?

Isn’t it an exciting world?


Spiderman - Its hard to be a hero

It is tough to be a hero - and to have too many things on your plate. This is definitely a feature in Spiderman 2 (I will only watch it tonight, but read a lot about it already).

Peter Parker, alias Spiderman has to handle his second identity, school, job, and girlfriend (not necessarily in this order). Naturally, one is slacking badly, and of course, it is his performance in school.

The movie also indicates the challenge of being famous, and how to handle it. How fame becomes addictive, and the internal battle of the super hero.

Sounds good to me - a critical aspect of life.

Read a related story in Wired Magazine - click on the link above.

And have a great Friday.


Powered by Blogger

Blogarama - The Blog Directory