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.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Inquiry at Pangkor Island Beach Resort Hotel

Last week, I wrote about two hotels in Kuala Lumpur, the Meridien and The Hilton.

The pictures showed that both look very much the same and the question was, what makes them different from each other. The basic situation is the same, I thought. Training to their employees is provised and customer feedback is checked. The question was, what makes someone pick one hotel over the other - and presumably, it is the attitude of the customer service staff.

And true enough - they make a difference. Let me tell you a little story that happened before the Tsunami.

Our family (the whole family) planned a getaway to the hotel between Christmas and New Year, and the story.

We planned to go to Pangkor Island at wanted to book rooms in the Pangkor Island Beach Resort Hotel, the former Pan Pacific. My brother-in called and wanted to book a room called Ocean View, but was told by their receptionist that this room is not available.

My sister-in-law, the same afternoon, asked for the same room and suddenly was told that the room is still available. There is nothing wrong with this, since someone might have just cancelled the room.

So, in order to get the family in for one holiday she booked 5 rooms at once. The hotel should be happy to get such a large number of room reservations at once.

Later that day, she went to see her travel agent. Here, she picked up a brochure outlining a promotional campaign of the hotel, promising much lower prices than we were charged during the original booking.

Getting curious, she called the hotel anonymously to find out about the promotion. She talked to a receptionist called "Suzy". This Suzy told her that the campaign was over already.

My sister-in-law said that this is okay. So far so good - but when she start putting down the receiver, she heard the receptionist saying "so stupid, this woman." For no reason.

Employees can surely make a difference..

Another point to make here is that the travel agent, of course, shouldn't have left the brochure on the shelves, outlining the promotional campaign.

We also called the same hotel to ask for about the weather situation after the Tsunami struck. During that call, we referred to the governmental announcement asking people to stay away from beaches. They said that their place is safe, that tourists would still arrive by ferry, and that they couldn't refund the advance payment done. How would a great customer experience end? With a lot of apologies, informing the hotel guest that the area is safe and that there is nothing to worry about. But, to increase the surprise and generate potentially a word-of-mouth promotion, they should have offered a refund. May be with some deduction, but still. This was and still is a difficult situation. There is the so-called Act of God in policies and companies like to reinforce this in times of trouble. The hotel could have acted generously, just to show that they care.

We didn't cancel the room - and, according to an online information, we have to pay the whole (of course). I wonder if they left the room vacant, always expecting us. A great hotel would have called to find out where the guests whereabouts is.

It is a beautiful hotel with a great location - but employees and their attitude surely make a difference - to the better or to the worse! A simple remark can damage the perception of a hotel, and damage the brand. If it exists in the online world, it is damaged forever.

I am going to send this link to them.


Aerial Picture of Tsunami

There are plenty of pictures around about the Tsunami already, however, why not posting one more. This one was sent to me by Andy Tan last Wednesday - thanks Andy. I haven't posted it earlier since I just came back from my holiday yesterday.

It shows the power of nature.


Brand Malaysia mentioning AlwaysWoW!

Mack, over at Brand Malaysia wrote a very nice, and funny piece about this German blogger. And he got it right. I like Laksa, be it Penang Laksa or the one made by my mum-in-law.

I love Teh Tarik and how this came about is a different story to be told another day.

Let me expand on what Mack said. My basic intention of blogging is to blog about everything that I like and that I don't like. I am a critical guy, but hopefully seen as constructive. This part comes from my German heritage, and it is in me thanks to my parents.

Okay - some words about Germans - and sorry, if I am offending someone, please see this as a VERY general description. Well, I believe Germans have a tendency to see things critical, and very often, see the world way too pessimistic. May be I should say they see things negatively critical. In my opinion, this has something to do with their historical background that reaches way beyond Hitler's Third Reich. I have to say this to avoid being misunderstood - I believe that Germany's paranoia let to the rise of Hitler.

But I am detailed oriented, just like other Germans. Numbers drive me - colleagues in my office say that anything I say is supported by data and facts. I guess they are true, but hopefully, this is not boring.

I don't see myself as boring. People tell me that I am very different from the Germans they know to which I reply, that I was expelled from German because I am laughing and smiling too often. Germans are pretty serious people.

So yeah - that is also the motto of this blog - Make Your Life A WoW:

  • Don't do boring things - those things that are boring to you might be exciting to others. Like, not everybody loves numbers.
  • If you have to do something that is not too exciting, try the hardest to make it a great thing (is this a contradiction?). Try to find the gem in there that excites you. Be the greatest in what you have to do;
  • Don't take yourself too serious. Have a smile readywhen things turn sour. Be open to change course;
  • Be respectful - Show the same respect to a 5 year old, to a 90 year old, to a receptionist or to a CEO. They are all humans and have a role to play in life. And they have to say something;
  • Be compassionate and helpful. Don't ignore the bad things in life. Like the Tsunami catastrophy, I try to do my share and donate, and help, and inform, and post pictures. When I watch TV, read the newspapers or personal events on blogs, I am struggling with emotions. Or, just think about the service you deliver today to a customer - try to do your best. Just provide the best customer service your company has ever given. Go out of your way to help.
  • Show patience and be tolerant to mistakes and failures. Something I am struggling with and that my kid teaches me. I learnt that if he doesn't understand one way of explanation, it is not necessarily his mistake or fault. May be I have to find a different way to explain things to him. Or, that he keeps asking and asking and asking and asking - I think it is great. I have to overcome my sleepy head and respond to his questions. And well, if it is late and he actually should sleep, I have to tell him that there is more time the next day to ask more questions. In one of the presentations by Tom Peters is a slide that states - Punish mediocre success. Celebrate great failures. How true!
  • Be honest and integer - It is tough sometimes, to find the way to do things right. It is easy to just do things, even so they might be wrong. I have learnt that I have to listen to my feelings. If I don't feel okay doing something, I believe I should not do them.
  • Be a CEO of your life. In anything you do, you have the power to change, to enhance, to enrich. or to destroy. It is your life. Live it to the fullest. Find opportunities to make things better, if you face challenges. Enjoy those challenges.
  • Find positive things that blow you away. Living a Wow also means to find those things that enrich life. That give the energy to get going and keep going. To make me get up at 6.00 AM every morning (okay, not the weekends)
  • Be passionate. People ask me what they should study, what job they should take. Hey - do what you like to do. If you find the one thing in life that really, really drives you, something that makes you really, really happy, do it. If you are alone in the field or if there are 100,000 others - your passion for this one thing will make you stand out, and will make you successful. Just do it, as Nike said. There are enough people that do things they don't like for reasons that sound odd and worn like old socks.
  • Learn, share knowledge but unlearn. Why not? It is great to learn new things and even better if you share those with others. They might just know the things you need to know to move on. But just like life changes, knowledge needs to evolve. Since the world appears to move faster today, there is a lot that we need to learn new everyday. We cannot hold on to old rules, regulations and requirements. There is a constant need to try something new and to forget what we learnt yesterday.
  • Be yourself. Don't imitate anybody. Find your own self. And live it

There is plenty more to say, but this is the basic motto for a Great WoW in Life.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Tom Peters mentioning Tsunami

There are many, many management gurus.

There are many, many blogs around the world that are read by many, many people.

Sadly, there are, so far, only a few, who mention the Tsunami in their blogs.

Tom Peters is one - but he also understands Asia quite a bit.

Joi Ito (so no management guru) is another one - but he lives in Japan.

But where are all the other bloggers - those that have a huge following and could boost the donations? May be I am unfair, am I?


Just coming in: New Tsunamis possible. Warnings issued

Yahoo reports that

"Tens of thousands of residents fled coasts in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand after warnings of possible new tsunamis Thursday, and pilots in Indonesia dropped food to cliff-rimmed villages yet to be visited by outsiders four days after the disaster."

Let's pray that this is wrong alert or that the people are prepared!


Bloggers without borders launched

Joi Ito writes that Bloggers without Borders was just launched.

Jonas writes about the Tsunami:

"Tsunami Outreach

We have found our compassion in this one. Yet, one thing remains and is badly needed, says a friend of mine who just arrived in Sri Lanka and will be contributing what he learned in eight years in Uniform. People. Not the odd-job bystander, not the “activist”, and certainly not the journalist. What is needed most, today, are qualified specialists. Demolitions experts to safely destroy dangerous structures, Doctors, guys and gals who know how to handle a syringe or a gun. The latter is needed more and more as the looting increases and food and medical supplies are being raided by black marketers.

He suggests I throw my visitors behind this and start a list. A “hall of fame” of companies willing to give their employees a few weeks off to come help. One to list companies willing to priority interview returnees who have been fired for taking the big step of personal sacrifice for a common good.

We have those lists for soldiers. We need it for volunteers. What do you think?

Update: We have a number of people pledging frequent flyer miles, small donations, and some part of their income. If you are truly interested in going, have something to contribute, and want more info, I am setting up the site as we speak."


AlwaysWoW in The Star

The Star (Malaysia) mentioned my blog this morning and they referred to this posting. While I am happy that they have mentioned it, it is clear that some of the writing had been taken out. Just for those who visit the blog following the article.

It helped, however, the readership of this blog. The numbers kept already growing after Jeff Ooi mentioned my blog. Thanks Jeff. It didn't help, however, that this blog entry wasn't necessarily the smartest one that I posted and pinged to Petaling Street in my life as a blogger.

The sad piece is that the inflow of spam in my Yahoo Account increased dramatically as well.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Three thoughts about the earthquake

We planned to go to Pangkor Island. But considering the potential of a second tremor, a second tsunami, we decided to reschedule. Now it is Cameroon Highlands. It is sad - really, for the victims of the earthquake. The damages that the earthquake caused. The economic ruin that some families face.

But what amazes me all the time when I hear about catastrophies is the manner, people come together to help. They just get closer to each other, isn't it? Calls for assistance are responded to, donations are initiated. There is no thinking of war, or killing, of religion and who is right and who is wrong.

Why isn't it possible that we live together in harmony and help each other every day? Why is it that only in danger, we come together as one?

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Earthquake or vibrations in Kuala Lumpur?

Was there an earthquake this morning in Malaysia or in Indonesia with the vibrations hitting Kuala Lumpur?

It was about 9.00 o'clock this morning, when the iron bars on my window started to vibrate. I thought that this is weird, since the aircon is not that strong, of course, to move those bars. But they kept shattering.

I just ignored it.

About 30 minutes later, my sister in law called me from her apartment building in Taman Desa. She said her building shook. She first thought that she was dizzy, but then, she saw picture frames moving, and realised that her building was shaking.

She went down, together with other inhabitants. Police was also there, and ask inhabitants to evacuate the building.

Anybody knows something more?

Okay - here is a picture from Yahoo.

It must have been a pretty bad eathquake - Yahoo reports that up to 3,000 people died, and that waves even hit Sri Lanka, and India:

"Sri Lanka's prime minister said 1,500 people were killed in that country. Officials in India reported 1,000 dead. More than 400 were reported killed in Indonesia, 120 in Thailand and 15 in Malaysia."

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Santa Claus brought the Playstation

Those who follow the blog will remember that my kid wished for a Playstation. Well, thanks to a lot of comments, and e-mails, and telephone calls (thanks Ash), Santa Claus actually brought a unit and put it under the Christmas tree.

There is nothing better than to see the beaming eyes of a kid who is happy. He played a lot today, and he was good at it. I was testing some of the games earlier, and I had problems in moving my finger fast enough or even getting a handle on what is required. Especially with Spiderman - I constantly crashed on the pavement - I did not quickly enough realise what buttons to press, duh!

Now, my kid loves Spiderman too, and so he played it a long time today - no problems at all. Well, okay, he faces some challenges in getting to the action on time to save the world. He likes to move here, swing there, and crawl over there - he had a lot of fun jumping onto the roof of the cars and let them carry him through town.

Nevermind - but what I want to say is that kids comprehend so much more of technology than we "elderly people" do. I recently read somewhere (don't find the link anymore) that companies in Europe still have problems in getting 3G to take off. The author of the article concluded that those challenges boil down to two issues: Firstly, the prices for MMS and 3G are still to high (may be so in europe, I don't know in Asia), and that the operator should hire some teenagers to figure out what is cool at 3G. 3G is more than sending pictures to your friends.

The point that I want to make is that even my kid seem to be ahead of me in some games (not all - I beat him in the car race). Sure, I catch up, and it might take a bit longer, but it is the same issue. Corporations need to have young people in their management team, or on their board. If older people decide what is good for young people, and what products young people like, it sure will fail. Now take a look at the Annual Reports of big corporations in Malaysia and you get a feeling that something needs to change.

One more cute point to this post that became more serious than I thought - when I brought my kid to bed he said with a sigh: "I like to play Playstation. It sure was nice of Santa Claus to bring me one."



I am thinking about A&W - and Mack finally gave the last push to publish those thoughts. A&W always was the little guy after McDonalds and Burger King. All that I heard of as being good was their Root Beer and their - ... I forgot the name of that thing with the sausage in the middle and the sauce on top (so much for awareness) - I still like their Root Beer.

I remember the old A&W at Subang Airport and, sorry to say, the bad customer service there and the dirty surrounding of the outlet.

They have changed over the last couple of months and upgraded the premises - this was actually promised in an article in the New Straits Times in 2002 (!) where they say that " KUB Malaysia Bhd is embarking on an aggressive marketing campaign to revitalise the A&W fast food chain in a move to increase its market share of the fast-food sector by the end of the year." I am not sure if it happened but the attitude of their employees improved. Just go to the outlet at Amcorp Mall, and the moment you open the door, about four people greet you and want to take your order. The same thing is happening in their nice outlet in Alamanda Mall.

Still, and sorry to say so - the outlets have changed, the attitude of the employees might have changed, but the food still "sucks". My opinion. But no doubt - people visit the outlets and interestingly, it is an older clientel that can be seen. In the outlet at Amcorp Mall, many people seem to actually conduct meetings. I am not sure what kind of meetings, but it seems serious. Which I think is interesting. It throws up the question, what kind of market position A&W is aspiring to, how it wants to be seen, and what it thinks of its brand. I really, really wonder, if their corporate strategies include all of this, or if they try to cater to the youth segment only - and I think that in the morning, you will find many "youngsters" in the outlets (sorry the language).

And hey - look at the picture above - people are lining up, while one counter is not manned (the guy is cleaning the counter?). What impression is this giving?

Their webpage is still outdated - they talk of about 23 outlets in Malaysia as of July 2003, which is a couple of months behind us, I believe. The newest news that can be found is also from 2003. I wonder if someone in A&W is aware that they have a webpage.

It actually shows that corporate webpages are still very often seen as corporate broadcasting board - initially, touting a company's achievements. The Internet is frequently not integrated as communications tool into the corporate communications strategy. Many companies see it as part of the job of a web developer to update and maintain a webpage, and soon, it gets forgotten, and is quickly outdated. Only when companies realise that the web is different and not something to simply replicate a corporate brochure will a webpage be successful. Blogging, in fact, is even revolutionising this point of view and putting much greater strain on corporate communications. The communications department and the web developer need to work hand in hand to develop an integrated strategy that positions the company where it wants to be positioned.

Well, a rambling post, but well, that is what a blog is for, sometimes - to let rambling thoughts out.

PS: The pictures are copied from their website, without permission.


Merry Xmas to all of you

I totally forgot to wish all of you a Merry Christmas - too much food (what's new?), too many presents (not for me!!), too many (no, not at all) visitors that kept me and my family busy. Keep up the comenting, reading, criticising - constructively or not, and don't forget:

Have a great life, make it a WoW



Here you have them - two hotels, side by side. The Meridien and The Hilton. Both standing tall, with impressive architecture.

Both are 5 Star Hotels. Service is top fit, really. And so are the prices - you probably pay a lot for great service and great food.

I also believe that both do a great job in their aim to satisfy customers. This is probably tracked with feedback forms, market research, focus group discussions, and mystery shoopers - people who walk in disguised as guests, but in fact, are researchers.

From time to time, you will find an advertisement in the newspapers, or promotion that is being pushed by travel agents that work with the individual hotel. In this time, one hotel might have a slight edge over the other, for a short while, before the other is doing something similar. But it won't be a lasting gain - those little effects are not differentiating.

So what makes the two hotels different? Why, if I have the money, would I choose the Hilton over the Meridien, or the Meridien over the Hilton? What would be the response if a PA arranges a travel iternery and has to chose between the Hilton and Meridien?

Is it word-of-mouth and that more people talk about the Hilton?

Having great employees will hep the individual hotel to make a difference, I would suggest, but than, they are trained, in both hotels to conform to their values, and cultures.

May be the employees are in alignment with the brand and the value proposition that Hilton and Meridien represents.

Is it the corporate reputation? May be one hotel is more known than the other hotel? May be ones salespeople are more effective (hey - but I don't like it when they call me on the phone to sell me some strange membership). May be they have different operating models, as I discussed with a friend yesterday evening. May be the Meridien doesn't want to have a full house, but works with higher margins, than the Hilton? Although that doesn't make sense, since hotels are build to be occupied, not vacant.

So what makes you chose one hotel over the other?

Friday, December 24, 2004

It is annoying that ....

How annoying is it that:

  • You call a company, and the answering machine kicks in to tell you that all the operators are busy at the moment, and that you should key in the extension number. This doesn’t happen only once, but ALL the time, making it either a very, very busy company or simply unbelievable,
  • You call a company and, since the person you want to talk to is busy, she or he actually asks YOU to call back in five minutes. This is not your first call to the company, you are not looking for a job, and you are not a telemarketer.
  • You call a company and you are constantly told that the person you want to speak to is not around, in a meeting, is on the phone or just stepped out. You ask, when is an appropriate time to speak to them and call at the time given, once again. Again, you find out that the person is not around, in a meeting, just stepped out or on the phone. You leave your name, and contact details, never to hear from them again;
  • You call a company, and than, while on hold, a tape recorder plays the same music again and again. It is made worse when it is a tape recorder that praises the company’s high achievement, their products or their service level – and when finally, you get the connection, you get excuses as mentioned in the point before;
  • It can also happen that anytime, someone connects you, the line breaks down. This is annoying as well
  • It is annoying that you have to give all your details to the receptionist. She transfers you to the PA of the person you want to speak to and than …. she ask the same things again – what is your name, where are you calling from and so on. The receptionist never passes the information on. It actually happened to me (in Indonesia), that I was transferred to 4 different people until finally, someone told me that there is no such person working in the company
  • It is annoying that there are still companies that ask you to write a letter if you just want to talk to someone for a short while to discuss a pertinent matter.
  • It is annoying that companies lose your letter, and you have to refax the letter and again and again and again – to fail in what you wanted to achieve
  • It is annoying that companies don’t have the courtesy to reply to a letter. Some do reply, after a year or longer, so – but does this make it better?
  • It is annoying to realize that there are companies that employ people as receptionists, PA or even higher up the management level, that haven’t heard of courtesy, manners and politeness. Are they employed to make you feel unwelcome?

But it is great to find exceptions to all those points above

Thank you to all of you

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The jilted bride

Nobody is blogging about this new thing? About this Kedah soccer player that cancelled his wedding in the last second via SMS?

Okay, let me try to formulate what I think. I am on no one's side, and I believe that how this is conducted is no WoW for anyone involved.

I think what the guy did was bad, really. I mean, come on, sending an SMS to cancel your wedding, or to break up with your bride? That is worse than picking up the phone and tell her "sorry Darling, cannot see you anymore, found someone else." Or, "sorry, cannot tahan, no wedding lah."

It is cowardly, but well, some people misuse technology for such thing.

But hey - I think it is a private thing. Between the two - why all the news coverage? Is there nothing else that is happening in Malaysia that is more newsworthy? Okay, he is a soccer player may be a good one, may be a bad one. I don't know. Is it like a David Beckham drama, only now in Malaysia, and his affair with whoever? What is in it for the girl?

Sure, she is embarrassed and wounded. But suing this guy? Is this a copy from what you see in American soap operas? Dallas or Denver (1980s - oh my God) comes to my mind. Isn't it better to get over with it? She is still young, right? Honestly, would it have been better to get married and than, have a divorce after a day, week, month or year? The guy appears as if he is not very mature. He is scared of what is going on in his life. In the time, he behaves like an elephant in a porcelain shop, clearly. I am not defending the guy, but is it really the right way to say - "he embarrassed the nation, his team, we don't extend his contract, and destroy another life in the process?" Too much harm done already.

Let them work it out - and actually, may be the girl gets a contract on the way for TV, as newsreader or actress.

Monday, December 20, 2004

The long tail - a story worth reading

You need to read this story. Really. To fully understand the tremendous impact the Internet has. On music, on books, on anything. To understand the power of comments and recommendations. To understand the limitations of the current world. To get an understanding of the beginning revolution that we are facing. This revolution that is just beginning and came into being through the Internet. But also, that through the power of sharing, something can be created that is better than what any individual can do alone.

The Long Tail - I read the story first in Wired Magazine:

" In 1988, a British mountain climber named Joe Simpson wrote a book called Touching the Void, a harrowing account of near death in the Peruvian Andes. It got good reviews but, only a modest success, it was soon forgotten. Then, a decade later, a strange thing happened. Jon Krakauer wrote Into Thin Air, another book about a mountain-climbing tragedy, which became a publishing sensation. Suddenly Touching the Void started to sell again.
Random House rushed out a new edition to keep up with demand. Booksellers began to promote it next to their Into Thin Air displays, and sales rose further. A revised paperback edition, which came out in January, spent 14 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. That same month, IFC Films released a docudrama of the story to critical acclaim. Now Touching the Void outsells Into Thin Air more than two to one.

What happened? In short, recommendations. The online bookseller's software noted patterns in buying behavior and suggested that readers who liked Into Thin Air would also like Touching the Void. People took the suggestion, agreed wholeheartedly, wrote rhapsodic reviews. More sales, more algorithm-fueled recommendations, and the positive feedback loop kicked in."
(Kim - this is not an Amazon Story, okay!!)

Now, The Long Tail is out as a manifest in ChangeThis. It tells the story how an online retailer, such as Amazon, Rhapsody, Netflix and others can hold so many more documents, books, movies and music compared to traditional retailers and, the amazingly, that people don't only buy music that they know, but they get carried away into areas they would never experience without recommendations.

And it shows that the Pareto rule, this famous 80/20 rule (80% of your business is derived from 20% of your customers) might not necessarily be valid anymore. It asks the question: "What percentage of the top 10,000 titles in any one online media store (Netflix, Amazon etc.) will rent or sell at least once a months?" Most people guess 20%, - due to the Pareto Thinking. but this is wrong - The answer here is 99%!!!! "There is a demand for nearly every one of those 10,000 tracks."

How, will you ask? Recommendations, that bring you from the top of the chart (say Britney Spears down the tail to similar genres). Beautiful

I wrote about ChangeThis here and here before and I love the project. So log in and read the other manifests to see the speed of change and get your hands on really good knowledge.


Mr Kee and Mr Teyu of KL Credit Sdn Bhd

Their card says "Adalah anda kekurangan Wang Tunai? Syarikat kami pakar mengurus pinjaman yang cepat dan mudah untuk menyelesaikan masalah anda!"

Not sure what it all says on their business cards but it probably states that if I am in need of money, they are there to help me. I understand the piece about "no problem, and cheap" - yeah right, until I cannot pay up anymore.

The loansharks are back. I think the waves around them calmed down - there weren't that many news articles about them recently. They must have suffered - the card, that was pinned to the windowscreen of my car still has a calendar for 2004 (its tough to get a clear picture with a cameraphone). Or, may be, they try to get rid of old stock.

Or, they saw Sharkstale in the movies and thought, it is an appropriate time to relaunch and rebrand their business. Pickyback on Walt Disney's success.


Banks profiting from service charges

Ha - you thought I talk about Maybank, right?

Nope, Maybank in Malaysia, for a while at least, retreats from its charges that the bank wanted to impose on its customers for the usage of Maybank's Internet Banking website - I wrote something about it before.

Let me try this again whole thought again:

The process is as follows: You log in from your computer (if you are at home), that you have paid (hopefully). You have also paid your monthly subscription fee to your chosen Internet Service Provider (as long as you don't log in from your company, you should have paid something to an ISP).

You maintain an account with Maybank, and the bank planned to charge you that you can access your account via their website.

Okay, in the meantime, they retreated from this idea - Bank Negara, the National Bank of Malaysia, plus, hopefully, a lot of pressure from the consumers, forced them to get back to the table and think through their idea again. What is good, I think

Now, everybody, who works for Maybank, please stop reading here.

It actually appears that Maybank or Malaysia is not the only country where banks profit from the growing trend to log on and use their service.

It is also happening in Korea. There, banks also have quite a profitable year - banks in Korea are expected to post record-high incomes from banking fees this year. No protest in Korea. But one guy Kim Woo-jin who is a researcher at the Korea Institute of Finance, said that even though a raise in fees was inevitable to keep banks in profit, it represented a disservice to customers. The banks should prepare an alternative plan to minimize customers' loss."

I am happy to live in Malaysia - I don't have an Internet account where the fees could get increased, but once banks become comfortable in increasing fees, they will find all kind of ways to increase fees for services that you haven't thought about.

I am coming from Germany, and let me tell you, there are lots of ways for different institutions to increase some service fee, and some service fee there. And the tendency to increase fees accelerated with each year the country headed towards crisis and higher unemployment. Wonder, if there are some clouds in Malaysia's economic heaven that I haven't seen yet?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

A sign at a Waffle shop

I visited Alamanda Mall in Putrajaya, once again and boy (or girl), it is getting crowded there. The problem is that there are two entries to different parking lots, but only one is known to the public. And since there is the habit of following the car in front of you, one parking lot - the one know, of course - is packed up to the top, while the other one is totally empty.

Anyway, in the foodcourt is the Waffle Shop and in front of the cashier, there is this very interesting sign.

Judge for yourself. It is the little things that make you different.

Pity, it is so small and the guys and girls behind the counter don't market it. A foodcourt is the ultimate competitive environment. One stall after the next screams for your attention. You have a variety of food, that you can endulge in - just what your taste is like. Mine, today, was for Western Food. At first. But what happened? I stood there, and about three - what? let's call them attendants - behind the counter. Two of them totally ignored me, for about one minute, while the third one at the cashier took care of the one person in front of me.

I am nagging, I know, but there should be some kind of an acknowledgement of one customer - I think.

After she, the cashier girl, finished with the lady in front of me, she attended to me. I ordered my food, and guess what. She ask if I could wait 20 minutes. Business is good, and well, at least she had the couresy to inform me about the time. But I wonder, how much business was lost, besides mine, since I walked away and ate a waffle.

Do something about the attitude. I believe that some of them are the ones leasing the stall and that they have an interest in getting business. It might be THE investment of a lifetime for them and how do they look or operate the stall? As if there would be endless time. As if there are enough customers and one can afford to lose a nagging German. That, well, if you cannot wait, eat somewhere else attitude. Do something with your employees - let them be friendly - it is so simple. While it is more than having a smile policy, a smile is at least a start.

Like the sign at the Waffle shop. They could do so much out of it. Sell the sign, have some fun with it. Forget the receipt, every now and than, and make a big, public affair out of the free food. Now that would be the Free Price that attracts attention, and might even create a buzz, if handled correctly, spontaneously, and with the consumer in mind.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

What I liked in 2004 - and didn't

It is more or less a habit that I write down what I like at a year in the end of a year - its positive and its negative sides.

This is the beginning of the list, but I might add on over the next couple of days or so.

What I liked
  1. I love life and live it to the fullest. There is still a Great WoW in Life
  2. I keep bonding with my kid - and I am still amazed about the things that a "small one" is doing
  3. I am amazed about my wife's knowledge that she gains so quickly when she really entrenches herself in a new hobby. I could outline a lot of what she learnt over the past 12 months, but she has now great knowledge about insurance, tax law, property law, Yoka and so on and so on
  4. Met a hellova great people over blogger - thanks to all of you guys that I communicate with and that I met during different situations
  5. Met a helluva great people via other opportunities - such as training seminars, conferences, and "interest" clubs, so to speak
  6. A great outlook for 2005
  7. Reading a lot of great books, with the best book of 2004 being Re-Imagine by Tom Peters (nah, there are others, but this is a different entry)
  8. Developed blogger skills and with that, also learnt a bit of HTML (I learnt it earlier, but forgot everything)
  9. I registered a company and foresee great opportunities and fun in 2005 (may be? may be not)
  10. Develop new skills around new business opportunities and have really fun around that
  11. Upgraded my car - cannot say that my new car is new, since I switched my old car with a newer one from my brother-in-law
  12. I am still tremendously curious
  13. I am still passionate about things that drive me
  14. I discover that I still can change. This is getting tougher when you get older, since we "elderly" become more complacent (and I hate it!)
  15. The two conferences where I had great fun and from which different things evolve that still keep growing
  16. My Mum turns 80 this year. My sister and I gave her a hotair balloon trip for her birthday to fulfill her childhood dream
  17. My niece found a job after completion of school - which is pretty tough in German with an unemployment rate of 11%
  18. Some headhunters called me - but since I have a great job that involves a lot of reading and some more, I stayed with my current employer
  19. There are a great many great people employed in my company and the feeling is like being with a family
  20. The Internet - how could I forget this!! This is the greatest invention of all times (really?)
  21. Great books (didn't I write this already?)
  22. Great discussions with great people
  23. An invitation to participate in the establishment of an association (cannot say more in the moment, but that WoWs me)
What I didn't like
  1. My job is not that challenging anymore. I need more stretch targets (but than, isn't that up to me?
  2. I am getting older (but than, may be also wiser and have more opportunities?)
  3. I am still impatient and I cannot stand it at all
  4. There are still only 24 hours in a day
  5. Why do I have to get up so early to bring my kid to school !! (and how does he manage to keep his energy level so high, despite getting up early?)
  6. My boss is pretty cynical sometimes
  7. I am still angry at stupid drivers that cut in and think their time is more worth than mind
  8. My boy is growing bigger and we have our first generation gaps
  9. I haven't been on a business trip for more than a day. Singapore was the only destination that I had this year. I like travelling!!!
  10. Bush won the election
  11. There are way too many wars in the world and as usual, kids and women are the ones suffering
  12. I saw the video on the beheading of one of the hostages and I have to say that this was one of the most shocking, cruesome and disgusting experiences that I can recall!
  13. Malaysians still throw rubbish all over the place. I love this country - I always say that I never saw a country that destroys its beauty that fast and I am sad about it
  14. My Mum turned 80 this year and she didn't manage to visit us for health reasons. But she still travels a lot in Europe (needed to make an appointment when I visisted her in 2003 and I am not kidding).
  15. I couldn't go to Germany since the exchange rate to the Euro is so damn high (I think 1 Euro is about RM 4.90 in the moment - who can afford to go to Europe?)
  16. My Nephew in Germany is pretty sick
  17. I haven't written anything in the positive list that I liked in my company in 2004, besides the two conferences - this looks serious for someone who works more than his fair share of the day!!!!!! I need to think about this serious (Okay - I wrote something in point 17)
  18. That it is 2005 already. I remember how I sat on the veranda in 2000 and waited for the famous glitches that never came
  19. I am still messy - my desks - office and at home - look like a nuclear war took place

I am happy that there are more things that WoWed me than that turned me off.

Hello 2005 - here I come


Chocolade for RM123

My boss had a Family Day last week, and well, low thinking as I am, I first got a nicely designed box of chocolate, made in China. And WoW, did my wife give me the heat. She said that this is chocolate manufacturer that is known by no one. She assumed that the taste of the chocolate inside would be horrible. She was right with that - how come women are always right? . We tasted the chocolate later and I think, it ended up in the garbage bin shortly afterwards. I first tried to put on a brave face stating, yeah, that it tastes nice, but than, well, I couldn't eat more than two or three of the pieces.

Okay - her opinion was that a present reflects who you are - the image that you project - and how much you value the person that you give the present to. So she said we need a nice looking package with extremely well-tasting content.

The picture below shows the chocolate package that we bought in the chocolate shop in Megamall - I think its name is something with Belgium in it. It looked very nice, very professionally made. I just hope that my boss keeps the package, since the box alone costed around RM25.

But yeah, my wife is right. A present reflects on you and as such, the creation and the management of an image still is important for a product manufacturer and service provider. Even today. The design of the box is beautiful, and I believe the content - Belgium chocolate!! - will be great.

But the story also reminds me of the campaign for National Service in Malaysia. I heard an advertisement on the radio recently which praised the situation in the camps. How beautiful they are, and how important NS is. That it is great that participants can meet so many different people from differen races. But open the newspapers and read the section "Letters to the Editors". How did one describe it today in a letter to The Star?

  • Security - the camp is still under construction and foreign workers are all around
  • Communication - there are only five phones available to all participants
  • Cantine smell - he wrote that even a toilet would smell better than the canteen in the camp
Clearly, those organising the National Service want to promote a picture of fun, and learning. But, again, what perception is created when the experience is bad? Its a similar situation, isn't it? Managing your image and aligning your image with the reality and the perception is crucial for the success.

To come back to the story with the chocolate - the Chinese manufacturer had a chance to persuade my wife that his product is great - it already had a great design. I bought the box, and my wife tasted it. But the lasting impression is that Chinese chocolate is not necessarily something that I am going to buy again. So well, first impressions count as well.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Some more things to know

I had a list taken from Seth's blog yesterday published in mine. His had a total of 30 items and I want to add on some more, related to the Asian context. Add on if you want - what do you think is important?

31. The need to learn Bahasa Melayu.
32. Don't forget to learn Mandarin or any other Chinese dialect as long as it is also commonly used in China - thus, it could also be Cantonese
33. I mentioned earlier, that we need to rollodex
34. Never forget to have fun
35. Be sensitive to those you have dealings with - have respect for their gender, religion, attitude and opinion
36. Learn and apply what you have learnt.
37. Be openminded
38. Learn to unlearn
39. Play and see the world through the eyes of a seven year old

Sham added in this one:

40. To always see yourself in the mirror and evaluate do you like what you see? If you don't, make an effort to change it. If you do, improve it.
41. To learn to not be afraid to ask question, even those that might hurt you. You never know what you can learn.
42. Computer... Tea, Earl Grey, hot." — Jean-Luc Picard

Anything else that is there to know?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The top 1,000 things to know, and than some more

Now, finally, I know what to teach my kid before he is 13 year old. Thanks Seth. This is a helpful list. There are even some items, I still have to learn, like number 20 on the list: "Understanding the biographies of 500 important historical figures and 200 fictional ones."

But here is the original list taken from his blog:

1. How to type.
2. How to speak in front of a group.
3. How to write clear prose that other people actually want to read.
4. How to manage a project.
5. The most important lessons from American history.
6. What the world's religions have in common.
7. Evolution.8. Formal logic.9. The 15,000 most common English words.
10. Conversational Spanish.
11. How to handle big changes, with grace.
12. How to run a small business.
13. Basic chemistry.
14. Not arithmetic, but algebra.
15. A little geometry, a little calculus.
16. The most important lessons from ten other world cultures and their history.
17. Speed reading with comprehension.
18. How to sell.
19. Pick one: how to paint, write a poem, compose a song or juggle really well.
20. Understanding the biographies of 500 important historical figures and 200 fictional ones.
21. Basic understanding of electricity.
22. How to drive a nail, drive a screw, cut a board, build a box.
23. How to drive a car in the winter, how to pull a car out of a skid.
24. How to ask for help.
25. How to read a table and a chart
26. How to read the media for spin and for insight
27. The importance of doing things for other people.(yes, this one among others is mostly a parenting job, but yes, it can be taught)
28. How to work really really hard, sometimes on things that aren't fun.
29. What it's like to be in jail.
30. How to create an internal dialogue that makes you happy.

This is Seth's list.

And thereare an additional 10 items that we also need to be good at.

21. Basic understanding of electricity.
22. How to drive a nail, drive a screw, cut a board, build a box.
23. How to drive a car in the winter, how to pull a car out of a skid.
24. How to ask for help.
25. How to read a table and a chart
26. How to read the media for spin and for insight
27. The importance of doing things for other people.(yes, this one among others is mostly a parenting job, but yes, it can be taught)
28. How to work really really hard, sometimes on things that aren't fun.
29. What it's like to be in jail.3
0. How to create an internal dialogue that makes you happy.

What is missing? How to network, maintaining a good Rollodex (I don't even know how to write this correctly) and having fun in everything you do. Like, an Always WoW for a Great Great Life, right?

So, when are the schools in Malaysia or Asia changing their school curriculums?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Popcorn tin - what a design!

Is this tin full of popcorn? Or is it a toy? It is both, it is huge and it is beautiful.

It is a can full of different popcorn bags - popcorn with cheese taste, with caramel, and with butter taste.

Look at the view from the aisle!

It stands out from the crowd. It wants to be seen, it is made to be seen. Where do you put it? In the toy department or in the food department? And that is the great part of it – because the retailer will put it where it can be seen.

The best? The tin is beautiful and colourful – a great design. It will cheer up kids heart – damn it, it cheers up mine. This is what I call “stand out from the crowd.” It could have been another boring bag of popcorn.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Be nice at Petaling Street (stupid title)

What kind of series do I run here? Don't know - just posted something about Friendly Gestures, now I write about Being Nice at Petaling Street.

I am not sure if I do a good deed here - I believe that blogging in Malaysia is great and that there are talented bloggers out there. I know that we all are proud of our blogs - at least sometimes - and that we want to develop it into something that is great. Nevermind that now.

So in conversations with friends and clients and acquaitances, I mention Petaling Street and the great bloggers that post at Petaling Street.

I had a great meeting today and an even better diner, but this aside. The guy I am talking about is the CEO of an IT company and we had a conversation about the dire need for great employees. He said that there are plenty employees that he has offered a job, but they decline the offer in the last minute. Others don't show up at all.

He told the story of an employee who had signed the contract, but who called up to decline the job a day before the the official start.

This employee mentioned, as reason for the cancellation that the job scope might be too high for him, might require too much, and he wouldn't have it yet. My friend wasn't happy, of course - finding a good employee is not cheap. It takes up his time, time, that he could spend with clients, or with employees that already work with him. He said that this is a sad case, because of course he would take care of the employees and that they grow according to their capabilities and that they have the time to stretch themselves.

So I said that he should take a look at Petaling Street and that there are a lot of bloggers out there that have the talent to succeed in the IT world. I mean it. The other guys that were with us tonight actually encouraged him to take a look - so post something nice, okay!!.

However, if you are interested, and just looking for a job I am more than happy to forward your blog link to him.


Friendly gestures

Is it sad to blog about something nice and friendly? Is it so unusual already that I thought it was nice?

I went to MPH last week, and when I had paid and slowly moved away, the girl at the cashier called me back. I was so entrenched in my thoughts that I didn't hear her, or react to anything, until a younger guy in the queue actually called on me, and stopped me. What happened? I forgot my change. I had paid with RM100, and forgot to pocket my change. So I walked back and collected it, and, going back again, thanked the younger guy.

He grinned and said, "is okay and have a nice evening". I do the same, sometimes, but it blew me away that someone can actually be that friendly. Is this normal? Am I unnormal to always see the things that don't work so nicely? I know this is a boring entry, but I thought it is worthwhile.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Ugly women get less aid

That was a headline in yesterday's The Star.

It is sad that there are still so many people around us with some really "%£$*^ attitudes. Especially when one realises that women have all the characteristics to become better employees or entrepreneurs in the 21st century than men:

  • More creativity
  • More emotions
  • More thinking outside the box
  • Teamwork, less competitive
  • And there is much more
Men might only see that once they are left behind far, far behind!


Is this advertisement reflecting the Malaysian culture?

Before I forget it - I am carrying this ad from LG with me, advertising for their handphone series. LG is a leading conglomerate in S-Korea, and they actually produce some rocking things. They are coming but I saw this print-ad last week on Wednesday (Dec 8) in The Star and I didn't like it and I don't think - hope - it reflects Malaysian culture.

I don't have a softcopy of the ad, so please let me describe it.

The picture in the advertisement depicted a family driving in a car. Two adults - I assume they are the parents and their three kids - I assume they are their kids. And all are using their handphone. The father, at the stirring wheel, uses bluethooth, with the handphone laying on the dashboard (doesn't he know that the phone will fly like a rocket, in case of an accident?). The mother is sitting on the passenger seat, also encrossed in a conversation. The daughter as well, both using the phone without the hands-free - isn't is said to be better to use a handsfree?

Both boys play on their mobile phones - yeah, boys don't like to talk on the phone that long.

But, what I don't like is that there is no indication of a conversation within the family. It is like, I am with you, but actually, I am somewhere else. Sad, if the Asian culture is like that, nowadays. Is this really Asia?

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Conversations with God

I love my kid. More than anything in the world. Those of you who read this will know what I am talking about. It is about mutual learning - I learn from my kid to have patience, and he learns a thing or two about life. At least I hope that although I think that this will change once he gets older - and when he tells me to stay away from his parties, and doesn't invite me anymore or appreciates when I come along.

Anyway, he is seven now, and his brain really starts to work. Questioning everything and trying to build his own insights.

One thing that he is worried about is death. He is worried that one of his parents dies, so we - my wife and I tell him that he should pray to God. When he is worried about me dying, I also tell him that I have to live healthily - going to the gym, for example (I will never be able to stop after that), eat vegetables (the thing parents do to tell their kids to eat the green stuff on the plate).

Recently my wife told my kid, once again, that he should pray to God and ask him to let his parents live long.

My kid was quiet for a short while - what rarely happens. Than he asks - "But when there are so many people asking for things, how can God hear me?" My wife reaffirmed him that God is listening, but what a question!!

I think the question comes from the fear of being alone - of not knowing what will happen after one dies, or what will happen to him. So I explained to him that there will also be someone to take care of him, but it is such a emotionally moving topic. He is frequently crying than, and it takes some time to console him. It is a phase, I know, but it shows how hard kids can take it, and deep and far they actually can think.


Member value at Fitness First - 1.94%

I gotta talk about Fitness First again. It is not that I don't think that they don't do a good deed for people like me, no, I think a Gym Center is worthwhile and important. Why do I criticise them than, now, I think the third time?

May be because I didn't work out for a long time, started again today, and felt like all the efforts that I made over the last two or three years are gone and I start from zero - that is how much I huffed and puffed. But than I saw this and I had to take a picture with my cameraphone.

It is bad quality so let me tell you what is there. It tells you that you get an organiser for 2005 if you refer two new members to Fitness First. The organiser is worth RM 70 and that is a picture of it.

And here are my thoughts.

This is not a promotion this is a joke. Why? Because firstly, for RM 70, you won't get a beautiful one. I think - nevermind. But you get a cheaper one if you just look around. I don't even want to start saying, who is using those organiser but that might be unfair or arrogant.

But think about the conditions - you have to refer two new members to get such thing. Let's say, each member pays about RM 150 monthly, what makes RM3,600 together, right? What is the share that you get back from Fitness First for this? 1.94%. That's it and that is a ridiculous promotional gift. That is a major rip-off of members good-will, really! It takes time to get two people to join - and than only gets a return of such meagre value? May be that is how they value their customers, considering that there are so many complaints in the blogger sphere.


Pictures from Putrajaya

No, not really. But some that show the "daunting character" of Putrajaya. My opinion. There are others, of course. My wife thinks Putrajaya is beautiful - and the majority of the bloggers commented said so - while I think it is partially scary, daunting, mesmerising.

The buildings and the whole style make me feel insignificant, are buildings of power that project power. My impression. What is yours?

Streets in Putrajaya are still pretty empty

Massive buildings. This is the one that houses immigration

Empty aisles in the buildings

Friday, December 10, 2004

Success at immigration - and the difference between a spousepass and a work permit

I did my last round to immigration yesterday - and again, we - my wife and I - lost our way. This time actually on the highway leading to the administrative center in Putrajaya. We wanted to be smart and that is often a mistake.

The signboard on the highway showed that to go to Section 2, where the immigration is, we would have to go straight. However, the road was blocked, so in order to go to immigration, you currently have to go up the flyover, turn right on the traffic light and than, sooner or later, you will reach the department.

Now, since we were smart, we thought we go up to the highway but instead of turning right, we went straigth - the road that is closed due to construction, but it looked okay to us. Only that it didn't lead us anywhere. After about 5 kilometers, we decided to turn back - it took us another 2 kilometers to find a U-Turn opportunity and to head straight back.

However, on the way back to that said flyover, we made another mistake and turned left too early. The road we travelled on was amazing. What we saw from the distance looked like a beautiful slope that leads along a hill. But as closer we came, as more did we realise that this road - a highway under construction - didn't lead us anywhere - was in fact a deadend. The hill that we saw was straight across the highway. I wonder how it is at night. If you are unfortunate (and as smart as we were), you travel too fast and hit the hill, straight away.

Well, in the end, we found our department. We started to greet to the various officers, that were there during our first trips, but apparently, it is not allowed to wave back in a sign of recognition. Or to smile, for that matter. I got my passport, and was out of immigration in less than 30 minutes. What was a speed record and I was happy.

Since I have a spousepass, I have to renew the permit in May next year. What that means is that the whole renewal process starts again in February.

My questions:
Now - a work permit is valid for two years, while a spouse pass is valid for one year. Why? As a so-called expatriate, you are suppose to transfer the knowledge of what you do to a Malaysian. This is estimated to take 2 years. If you want a renewal of a work permit, you need to show that your job scope widened.

How is that with a spouse pass? Why is it only valid for one year? Is it that as a foreign husband or wife, the knowledge that you carry can be transmitted in one year? What about the upgrade? Valid questions, right?


Hit by a prayers mat

At 1.15 PMI was in the car with my colleagues and we drove along Jalan Maroof, coming back from lunch.

Traffic was heavy around the Bangsar mosque area, the usual double lane parking, and the dense after-lunch-hour traffic.

There was this elderly guy, waving his prayers mat, indicating that he wants to cross the road to attend to the prayers. We couldn’t stop, so suddenly, since there were cars behind us. We didn't even realise what he was up to - trying to cross the road to run to the mosque. What did he do? He took the mat, and slammed it on the side of the car.

Nothing happened, of course, just a pretty loud thud. But what impression did he give us? If something would have happened – we stop and some other car crashes into us, it would have been us who are at fault, and he would have disappeared. And, being a religious man, one should be on time, and not do some violent act, as minor as this was. There were four of us in the car. The Mat Salleh (yours truly), two Chinese and one Malay).

We understood, after we realized that he wanted to go to the prayers. But what if the car behind us didn’t understand? I just don’t know what goes on in people’s head, sometimes.


My accent and HP shop in Megamall

I went to the HP shop in Megamall’s IT City yesterday. First, to check for the PS2 that I plan to get for my kid for Christmas, but also, I started to browse around for a new IPaq. I want one that allows me to write a blog entry anywhere I am. I am not sure if I want to buy one now, but checking is always good.

While I was standing outside the HP shop called Micro House, the sales guy came out from the inside to check out what I want. As usual, I responded that I am just browsing, but than remembered the discussion in Malaysia a couple of weeks back about a possible tax that will be imposed on PDAs.

So I asked the guy in my typical German accent if VAT has already been imposed. He looked at me, looking somewhat startled and said: “No Sir, not yet, but I am also waiting for it to come.”
I thought, that doesn’t make much sense – a sales guy waiting for a tax?

I realized, he thought I was talking about a new PDA model. But how sincere is that? He just responded as if he knew what I was talking about - if he doesn't understand what I am saying he could ask. A lot of people do that, you know. My trust in him dropped by 10 points.

So I said “No, I am not talking about a new model. There was the discussion in Malaysia to impose this tax, this VAT on PDAs. My question is, has it already been introduced or not?”

He said “no, not yet, but HP has already been informed that they have to include the tax into the prices by January. Now, we are selling all that is there with the prices before the VAT.”

His first response caused my trust in him to skydive but than, may be he really tried to make sense of what I was saying. Or was he trying to pull off a sales from me?


Thanks to the guys and gals behind Petalingstreet

Thank you to the guys and girls behind Petalingstreet!!

I think they deserve a huge Thank You. They make it possible that we can ping our postings, and that traffic rises at our weblogs.

Through their work, I am able to connect to other bloggers in Malaysia, and I am able to get to know other blogs as well. Over the last couple of weeks and months, I had a lot of fun and met great people through them. And I think I am not the only one who feels this way!

And now, that Petalingstreet was down for a while, I realized that those guys and girls worked a lot in the background to make it happen – to correct whatever happened.
So yeah – you deserve a big, big Thanks!!

You really WoW our life!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Santa Claus and the PlayStation

The other day, I wrote about my kid's belief in Santa Claus and that he wrote a long wishlist. Well, last weekend, one of his buddies from school visited him and he brought his PlayStation, fo that they could play it in our apartment.

Now, my kid is all excited - he added PlayStation to the list. He always wanted it, but this since he goes to school and all his friends have one station, he is now more kee than ever to buy one. Since I like to play as well and since I see this as a good way to connect to my kid some more, I think I am going out tonight and buy one.

I don't have too much time to travel around and check out every place possible so my question is actually, if any Blogger in Kuala Lumpur knows and recommends a shop with trustworthy and enthusiastic employees that sells PlayStations and where I could get some more insights into the How-To's ? Any comment is welcome.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Top 24 of 2004 from AlwaysWoW

Jon made me aware of this entry at A Penny For and I think it is a fantastic way of looking back. So, here is my compilation of my Top 24 blog entries that I like.

Feel free to prepare your own Top 24 and send it to Todd at Send the entry link at "".

1.) Ready for the next round: AlwaysWoW! against Immigration

2.) Peanuts and television ads

3.) The Greatest Race on Earth and what has it got to do with banks

4.) Bankrupting my kid

5.) Words can make a difference

6.) Help me, I am in the wrong segment

7.) Advertising in a sardine tin

8.) Marketing lessons from Cha-Cha Clown

9.) Are Blogger artists or: Life is about Interactivity

10.) Before applying, check out the blogs

11.) Speaking assignments and stagefright

12.) Famous and going to be rich

13.) Birthday parties

14.) Learning Bahasa Melayu - a long and rambling blog entry

15.) Bonding with my kid

16.) Customer Centric versus Company-Centric or Outside-In versus Inside-Out

17.) Spam - Or, we live in reverse mode

18.) Networking, rollodex and having fun

19.) Your personal Annual Report - Your Resume

20.) Online registrations, online surveys - I am pissed off

21.) Spiderman - Its hard to be a hero

22.) Management lessons from Euro 2004 - Part 7

23.) Mobile phones – I am with you but I am not really there

24.) Closing a sale


Of Germans and Canadians in Putrajaya

Now, since Jordan wrote something about my accent, well, I have to react quickly, and tell my side of the story.

We started to write to each other irregularly a couple of months back but never managed to meet up. So he read my entry into this blog about my journey to Immigration yesterday and quick as he is, contacted me to finally meet up, once our official activities are behind us. We agreed to meet in the mall there

Putrajaya is confusing. I had some problems to get to Alamanda Mall from immigration. Circling around the round-about at the mosque, chasing some of the tourists that wanted to take pictures of it. I think the road signage is confusing, but well, it is a new city and needs time to develop - as mentioned in last Saturday's Business News of The Star. I found it and we, my wife and I, bought some cookies from Famous A.... (always get that name wrong - it is similar to the German word of backsite, so I don't want to write the wrong staff here. Talk about marketing, branding and name searching for a company), while waiting for Jordan.

He must have been totally lost, and well, it took some time, and three telephone calls, to get the message that he arrived. He looked starved and lost, even in the mall (remember his post about the weddings and how he gets lost - Jordan, I see similarities here) - so we thought that something fast is needed.

However we got along pretty well in A&W (time to write something about them as well). Which shows that he is a great teacher, since he could actually understand me - at least he looked like he did. Those who meet me for the first time might have some trouble understanding me from the beginning. Germans never get rid of their accent - not in a million years. Don't know where it comes from, but it really is interesting to know that a German is immidiately recognised as a German, the moment they try to speak German.

Interestingly, a friend from The Edge thought I am from Jamaica, the first time he met me. I really don't see the similarity.

I am happy I could understand Jordan. I mean, Malaysia is a great place to meet people from many different countries, and there are those that I will never understand. Their accent is just too much. There were Australians that spoke a dialect - I got bored (and they probably with me) by constantly asking "What?", "Can you repeat?" and so on. Luckily I have the ability to somewhat sense when a "is it" or a "oh yeah" or something like a "unbelievable" is required in a conversation. I learnt this when I drove taxi during my student times in Germany - talk to somebody drunke or to those that haven't spoken to anyone for three months, and you know what I mean.

Other accents that are unbearable are Scottish, Irish, or from Eastern Europe. There are some Chinese that try to imitate British accents, and well, I sometimes don't get it. Not a cent.

But I think that this is the beauty of language. We have "S-English", "M-English", G-English" and so on - tell me more - , so yeah, while we have problems understanding each other, it is something that evolves. And may be the people in immigration just want me back to hear it all again. May be they understand me finally!! May be that is the reason why my company hired me? They just couldn't get it and now I stuck with them? Wah - I don't know. So may be my accent is something that brings me forward, makes me unique and interesting. Lol. Something to live by. Anyone daring to take the challenge to talk to me?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Immigration Round 2 - Let's call it a draw

Okay, freshly shaved, nice clothes and all - I was ready to drive to Putrajaya this morning. I arrived on time, together with my wife.

First action - my mistake. At counter one, the one counter where someone gives you your appropriate waiting number, I said the wrong thing. I mentioned transfer of permit from one passport to another - not spousepass. So, I got to line up at the wrong counter. My clever wife assumed that we were wrong, and lucky us, we only waited for about 5 minutes when our number was called - and it was the wrong number.

Nevermind, off I went to counter 1 again, and got my a number to line up at my favourite counter, the one with the woman that caused me to crawl up the wall last week. It was about 9.15 AM and she wasn't sitting at her counter yet. She only arrived about 5 minutes later, but I was lucky, actually, I did not have to wait long, when my number was called.

Heart pumping, I moved up to the counter - all smiling (actually, I am lying here). My wife with me. Oh - there is someone new, the one from last week is the other counter. Hope rises!! The new one also looks friendlier.

I gave her the letter from my company, the one, that states that I am working with them. Pass her the photocopies of my old and new passport - looking at her expectingly. She looks at the papers and says that this is a letter in English. I nearly faint. There are five lines on the letter - just confirming that I work with my company, since when, and asking them to transfer my permit from the old to the new passport. She passes the letter on to the colleague. Ah - to the one from last week. This one just says that the letter has to be in Bahasa. And that, by the way, the letter needs to be addressed to Immigration Department. We ask why that is so and I say that I don't want to waste another day, that I am here to work and all. She just says that if I don't agree I should go to her boss - that sounds familiar. Must be her line, since this is the same thing I heard last week.

So yeah, we go off, to her boss. Waiting, once again. I nearly made another mistake - or, actually, I made one. See, we had this bag with us - a book for my wife to read and a book for me to read, to pass the waiting time (Honestly, I didn't read much, since they were faster this morning). When we arrived at the counter of the boss, I put the bag onto the counter and forgot that the heavy books were in there. Boom - it crashed on the counter, and it sounded like a very angry guy just put down a bag very angrily. That would have been a bad impression and my wife really gave me one of those look - "behave, don't show your temper!" How true!!

Nothing happened, luckily, and the officers just went about their work and my papers were passed to the "boss".

It took time. We sit down. And wait. Now, suddenly, I hear my name calling from the spousepass counter. Of we went, and yeah - there is something for us. There was great development. I get my some new papers, and the lady explains that have to go to pay first and that than I have to photocopy the paper that I received (It looked like a receipt) before submitting all together - the new paper, and so to the appropriate counter. So we do. We pay first. That meant that we had to wait first again - I think we even got a new number. And than, we walk off to the photocopy shop, which is suppose to be in the next building, around the corner and a bit down the road, and in the building, in a cafeteria.

We walk on the road. Alone. Left a high wall, right the street and another building. This must be the one, but there is no one to ask. Oh - there, finally, is a security guard, but he doesn't know anything about a photocopy shop and says that the cafeteria is closed. We cannot believe it and look through the building. Yeah - it took a while but we found the cafeteria - it is closed and the building appears not to be occupied yet.

So we walk down again, find a lady, and ask her. She sent us to the right place, which was not just around the corner, but a bit down the road. Okay and there is the cafeteria, and there is the photocopy shop. A4 copies - 20 cents each. Expensive. One guy copying, about 8 people waiting but the guy is quite okay. All is done in 10 minutes and back we walk to immigration.

At the counter where we have to submit our papers, my wife talks. The guy is okay, quite friendly, but apparently, I made the early mistake that I didn't transfer the work permit the moment I received a new passport from the German embassy. I would have got a visa called something like "Journey Performed" - something that needs to be done now. So he said that I should come back on Thursday - very early, so that both can be done immediately. The new stamp in the passport with this Journey Performed thing.

Oh, and I will learn if my application to transfer my permit from the old passport to the new passport has been approved. So all I did was actually applying that this is happening. Results not guaranteed? I don't know. Next round - Thursday morning. Thank you. This all took me three hours - but I had the chance to meet Jordan in Alamanda Mall in Putrajaya.


Hardee's Monsterburger creates uproar

I wrote about it here and asumed that it would create an uproar.

Well, word-of-mouth and going against the trend is something worthwhile, differentiating and exciting.

"People have just had to try the Monster. All of it. The CEO says: ""I don't think any of us anticipated anything like the media uproar we've seen." And: ""You can certainly say it exceeded all my expectations."

Nice - which company stands out from the crowd in Malaysia?

Monday, December 06, 2004

Ready for the next round: AlwaysWoW! against Immigration

After I lost my first round with immigration last week, I am all hyped up for the next round tomorrow.

I have a copy of my passports, and a nicely written letter from my company. I will go to bed early (really??), train my smile tomorrow morning in front of the mirrow, wear a fresh shirt (nearly said underwear, but than, why would they be interested in that), and will drive off to Putrajaya, once again.

Let's see, if round two is going to be my round!!!


White doves in Thailand

"Millions of paper birds fell from the sky today giving the people of southern Thailand a brief respite from the violence that has plagued their lives over the past year."

This is the first line in the related New Straits Times article followed, further down by the statement that "Each crane carried a wish for peace to return to Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani, where on-going violence has claimed over 500 lives."

I am not 100% sure if I like it or how I see the impact of it. But all in all, it is a statement. May be it is a weak one, but it is something that stands out from the crowd. It is different from all the speeches and the wishes by politicians and religions leaders. Those haven't shown any effect. The killing still went on. Will paper-cranes change something? May be not, but it is a start. I remember the time when there were chains of people holding hands with each other to demonstrate for freedom and against the newly installed cruise missiles in Germany - this was way back in the 1980. Or the people marches with candles at night. It didn't change things at once, but it made a mark. Slowly. May be not at the "grown-ups" but the kids asked questions, why this was done by those people.

So may be, yeah, may be this is the first step to change. And if it fails, it was worth the initiative.
Or do I see this totally wrong?


Question about Trojan Horse

I am running Windows XP on my computer at home - and have created different accounts (those with Windows, know what I am talking about) - one for me, one for my wife, and one for my kid.

I am pretty careful what I am downloading, and which places to go to. In addition, I have three anti-spyware programs running, plus subscribe Norton Commander and there is another free software that provides firewall services (I forgot the name, but it is highly recommended by services, such as About once a week, I am running those programs to get rid of the possible nasties on my computer - if there are any, but also of cookies etc.

However, yesterday, I was in quite for a shock. While my account was free of anything, besides some cookies, my kid's account had a Trojan Horse - he is sevn years old, and he doesn't access the computer alone - so he didn't download anything.

My question to those experts amongst the Malaysian bloggers is:

- How can it be that my kid's account has a Trojan Horse, when my account didn't even indicate such nasty

- More important: Would you recommend that I change all my passwords?

Your comments are appreciated!!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Santa Claus is coming to town

It is interesting how this evolves - might kid, who is now seven years old, still believes in Santa Claus. I am not sure when to break the news that this is just an old story, deriving from Germany (Santa Claus existed - a long long time back, as a guy who always brought presents to kids - that is one version of how the story evolved in reality) but that there is no Santa Claus that comes riding on a sled. That it is his Papa who is bringing the presents.

One time, a couple of years back, my kid actually went to one Santa Claus in Megamall and thanked him for the presents. What we do is that we ask him into another room and than quickly put the presents into the room, followed by some noise. Than, running out of the room comes my kid in the hope to finally see Santa Claus, of course to no avail.

This year, my kid scribbled his wishlist on a piece of paper - it is a long list, full of things about The Incredibles, Superman and Spiderman. One day I could let the list disappear and say that Santa Claus picked it up. But is this good? Well, as there is nothing better that the joy in the eyes of a kid, i think I am going to enjoy it another year.

Any blogger who is playing Santa Claus?

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Copyright and evolving knowledge

I don't mind when someone copies what I am writing here. If someone takes a piece here and there when he or she likes it. It is a bit of knowledge that I am providing here, based on experience. If someone takes a piece and it changes the way he or she thinks or acts, and if he or she passes it on, that is fine by me. It is great it this someone is attributing the writing to me, but if not, well, what can I do.

I don't like copyrights too much. We all copy things here and things there and try to adjust it to our life. If we copy too much, it is called plagiarism. In the corporate world, it has the gentle word benchmarking and is seen as an appropriate methodology to learn from other organisations (so not everybody understands it). If I am doing this as an individual, than someone is called mentor. Only if I take something from a book or a document is it called copyright infringement.

The New Yorker recently had a story about a Broadway play about serial killers and their behaviour and apparently, the person that produced the play took a lot from a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist is quite renowned in the "industry" and apparently, the producer of the Broadway quoted her extensively without any attribution. When she realised what had happened, she was shocked, of course and she felt as if a piece has been taken from her

The New Yorker brings another short example about called "Doris Kearns Goodwin was found to have lifted passages from several other historians, she was asked to resign from the board of the Pulitzer Prize committee."

Malcolm Gladwell, a great author, however, takes a different look at copyright issues in this sense and he brings a lot of examples from the music world. I copy some of the easier comparisons below, when Gladwell visits a friend and they talk about music:

"He played “Angel,” by the reggae singer Shaggy, and then “The Joker,” by the Steve Miller Band, and told me to listen very carefully to the similarity in bass lines. He played Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and then Muddy Waters’s “You Need Love,” to show the extent to which Led Zeppelin had mined the blues for inspiration. He played “Twice My Age,” by Shabba Ranks and Krystal, and then the saccharine seventies pop standard “Seasons in the Sun,” until I could hear the echoes of the second song in the first. He played “Last Christmas,” by Wham!, followed by Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You” to explain why Manilow might have been startled when he first heard that song, and then “Joanna,” by Kool and the Gang, because, in a different way, “Last Christmas” was an homage to Kool and the Gang as well. “That sound you hear in Nirvana,” my friend said at one point, “that soft and then loud, kind of exploding thing, a lot of that was inspired by the Pixies. Yet Kurt Cobain”—Nirvana’s lead singer and songwriter—“was such a genius that he managed to make it his own. And ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’?”—here he was referring to perhaps the best-known Nirvana song. “That’s Boston’s ‘More Than a Feeling.’” He began to hum the riff of the Boston hit, and said, “The first time I heard ‘Teen Spirit,’ I said, ‘That guitar lick is from “More Than a Feeling.”’ But it was different—it was urgent and brilliant and new.”He played another CD. It was Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy,” a huge hit from the nineteen-seventies. The chorus has a distinctive, catchy hook—the kind of tune that millions of Americans probably hummed in the shower the year it came out. Then he put on “Taj Mahal,” by the Brazilian artist Jorge Ben Jor, which was recorded several years before the Rod Stewart song. In his twenties, my friend was a d.j. at various downtown clubs, and at some point he’d become interested in world music. “I caught it back then,” he said. A small, sly smile spread across his face. The opening bars of “Taj Mahal” were very South American, a world away from what we had just listened to. And then I heard it. It was so obvious and unambiguous that I laughed out loud; virtually note for note, it was the hook from “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy.” It was possible that Rod Stewart had independently come up with that riff, because resemblance is not proof of influence. It was also possible that he’d been in Brazil, listened to some local music, and liked what he heard."
He also quotes Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig who argues in his new book “Free Culture”:

"In ordinary language, to call a copyright a “property” right is a bit misleading, for the property of copyright is an odd kind of property. . . . I understand what I am taking when I take the picnic table you put in your backyard. I am taking a thing, the picnic table, and after I take it, you don’t have it. But what am I taking when I take the good idea you had to put a picnic table in the backyard—by, for example, going to Sears, buying a table, and putting it in my backyard? What is the thing that I am taking then? The point is not just about the thingness of picnic tables versus ideas, though that is an important difference. The point instead is that in the ordinary case—indeed, in practically every case except for a narrow range of exceptions—ideas released to the world are free. I don’t take anything from you when I copy the way you dress—though I might seem weird if I do it every day. . . . Instead, as Thomas Jefferson said (and this is especially true when I copy the way someone dresses), “He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”
He comes to the conclusion that these patterns of influence of music —cribbing, tweaking, transforming—were at the very heart of the creative process and that without this, we might not have a lot of music and changes in music. Hey, ChangeThis is based on this. Seth is saying that as long as something is good, it will grow in importance, while if something is bad, it will decline.

A friend recently send this quotation from a friend to me: 'We all ought to start sharing knowledge if we are serious about being immortal'.

What does this mean? That ideas live. That only if you share will you grow. Will you have a heritage. So yeah, that is a great sentence. so I am happy, honestly, if you take something from me. It shows me that I had to give something that what I said, wrote, and how I lived was worthwhile for someone to copy. But there is one restriction: You can never be me. Try to tweak it to your life. And make it a Great WoW.


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