French vitriol... Last week I talked to a few American businessmen who were very ANGRY with French companies. These were two separate incidents - one with a helicopter manufacturer, another with an LCD manufacturer - but both businessmen had absolute hatred for the French businesses that they were working with. Each contract was in excess of $100,000 - so we are not talking about just a bad restaurant or hotel experience. Hmmmm... People were talking about this whole EU vs. USA thing...
I had a great customer experience in NYC a few weeks ago that I forgot to mention. I had two spare keys made at a hardware shop near Zach's apartment in record time. I figured this task would take at least an hour - that's how long making copies of two keys would take in the suburbs, driving to Home Depot, etc - but the entire experience in the city was over in 15 minutes and I walked the whole way. Immediate service at a great price - only $1.50 total.
Anyone have advice on medium-sized color printers in the $1,000 range? Or a large office multi-function device. We need something to print out about 13,000 color pages in the next month. Currently we have the Konica Minolta 2430DL - great, but we outgrew it.
Had another great experience I want to mention, this time with Intuit Customer Care. I wrote an email within Quicken asking how to do something. Usually companies NEVER reply to support questions via email. It is just not affordable - it is too easy to ask an email question. But Intuit Customer Care replied to me a few days later with a very thorough answer. Kudos!!
My only favorite TV show, The West Wing, is going to be cancelled soon! Darn.
BOLLYWOOD movie reviews... Taal was a good love story, but about 1 hour too long. I especially liked the beginning scenes in the mountains. Hum Saath-Saath Hain, good family movie with wedding themes. It had amazing traditional Indian fashion and featured six or eight lead Bollywood stars. Very Bollywood but not too captivating in the long-term. Pardes was my favorite Bollywood movie of the three, starring the lovely Mahima Chaudhry who had some great scenes and songs.
I remember something from the first few days when I was in India last year. I was using my own pen to sign for things - immigration stuff at the airport, hotel receipts and money transfers - and desk people kept saying, "Nice pen." This was a phrase that I heard almost any time I signed for something. I lost the pen a few days later, so I stopped hearing it. It wasn't any special pen to me. I had just grabbed something ballpoint before boarding the plane - nicer than a standard Bic, but not by much. Anyhow, thinking back, I guess it was a pretty nice pen.
I uploaded a few old pictures yesterday on Flickr, mostly from Thailand in 2003. I really like this one. It was taken on the 16th floor of the Berli Jucker Building, where I had an internship with The Minor Corporation.
Akshay, Will you tell me some Indian culture tidbits from your office?
The relative heterogeneity of India is a significant cultural
advantage. To an Indian, the rest of the world is just more India. The
same is the case in my office. I do not think of it as strange to hear a language I don't quite understand being used in fluent excess in the office, actually
it's quite the norm (two Bengali girls keep on jabbering among
themselves in the lunch break, they pronounce my name not as AAkshhay
but as OOkshayy). Also this is the reason the egg-free cake is
ordered, even though a majority of us in the office eat egg. At last
count 8 languages are spoken among 10 people in my office - English,
Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tamil & Marathi. Ironically a foreign language, English, is the uniting factor.
In the last few months I've been making a conscious effort to think
beyond what Indians think is mundane and explore the margins through a
microscope. Formal clothing for Men here is pretty boring, restricted
to the universal corporate uniform. As for women it's a totally
different equation - their definition of formal is much wider and
encompassing. On Monday, Suhani wore a salwar kameez, on tuesday a
radically different formal white shirt and a navy blue skirt [we had
meeting], and on Wednesday to salwar kameez again to Thursday a
fashionable kurti and a churidar, to a casual Friday where she carried
away some jeans and a top.
My friends write much better emails than I do. Here's one from Katey Chapman.
Hi Katey! How was Africa? Did you come back safe and A-OK?
The trip was incredible. Rwanda as a country is beautiful in terms of
the topography and landscape. It partly reminds me, at least near the
capital city of Kigali, of the bay area in California. Hilly, green,
smells like Oleander...but that's about it. The country is so poor
Nick and we went into the heart of the poverty.
We spent most of our time in the area of Ruhengeri which is about the
elevation of 40 some hundred feet, I think about like Boulder, CO.
Very tropical but not rainforesty. Driving through the hills and
valleys, the land looks like green patchwork fabric that drapes in
folds and pleats through the hills...this is because almost all of the
land is being cultivated on tiny square plots of land. Its a very
very agrarian society and I cannot believe how these people can grow
corn, potatoes, carrots, peas on such steep hills!
We worked with World Vision which does work in what they call ADPs,
area development programs, where they take an area that they decide to
focus on investing their resources which are primarily through the
child sponsorship program and donations, they provide healthcare and
education to sponsored children while also building the community.
We went to many homes (which are essentially mut huts with no doors or
windows as we know them, just holes to see out of or walk through.
they have nothing inside but a bench and a chair maybe, and the people
sleep on the hard dirt floor, or maybe a straw mat. It was really
hard to see). Many of the people living in these conditions are
orphans from either the genocide or hiv/aids. It is pretty common to
have a family of four where both the parents have died, the older
brother whos lets say 17 is working the .5 acre of land they have, the
sister whos maybe 15 stays home during the day to help him, and the
younger sibling is sponsored maybe, so she can go to school and then
maybe a little one. These people have nothing. Makes you grateful for not all you have materially but also just as an American.
On the way there I was able to spend an entire day in London which was
a blast too. We went to the Establishment and I met up with some
friends who are living over there and then we went to the National
Portrait Gallery. You forget how crappy the American museum
experience is here in the states compared to the way its set up in
Europe. And its all free.
One of the biggest things that makes me feel like a gorilla is when I am wearing two pairs of socks - one pair of high black wool socks and a pair of short white gym socks on top of those - and then I peel off one of the short white gym socks. Instead of my usual caucasian foot, I am faced with this big black wooly club. It is an awesome feeling the first few times if you are not expecting it.
I am on the tail-end of the nastiest cold I have had in quite a while. It has been a productivity killer for this week but a nice rest.
I consider myself a pretty healthy person - I don't smoke, I eat fairly well, I take a daily multi-vitamin and Vitamin C supplement, I drink a ton of water, I wash my hands after I use the bathroom every single time, I sleep five to seven hours each night and I do pretty intense strength training two to three times per week. So how did I get sick?
Thinking of buying a used Canon Digital Rebel (300D) to get my hands wet with a Digital SLR. Any advice on a good beginner lens? I need this for work to take product photography at a distance of ~ 1m. Maybe I need to think about lighting more?
We are wrapping up some serious recruiting/staffing at the office. It has been a very large and exciting project, but my marketing efforts for the company have really suffered as a result. So now I have to focus on marketing again, which I was never really good at to begin with. It'll be fun, and as always I am sure that I will learn a lot.
My girl-friend Noel gave me the name of two advertising agency/portfolio schools in Atlanta - CREATIVE CIRCUS and PORTFOLIO CENTER -- I really like their website.
Honestly, I live a really boring life that I really like right now. I drink coffee and tea to spice things up - and I try to wake early.
Pizza on Saturday afternoon, easy to grab and not too greasy, helped speed up lunch
Sushi on Saturday night, very filling
Projectors! Thank you Hilary, Finn, Byron, Zach and Noel
Kitchen space, kudos to Jake for hanging the paper dividers - it helped with noise and atmosphere
349 Broadway 9th floor, could have been less long and more square but generally no huge complaints - it worked well to be so crowded
Sponsors! Amazing turnout for a totally free weekend
Constant cleanup, thanks to everyone who helped throughout the weekend
Cleanup afterwards, the hardest task all weekend, who stayed to help I wonder? Next year, I will!
Good, intense friendly banter sessions
What to think about for next year
Wireless routers, double our expected needs next time and ensure redundancy
Badges, print extras for Day #2
Printer, why did I think we'd need one? Thanks Scott
File server, thanks Mister for bringing one, but ditto above
Whole Foods catering didn't deliver on time, Kara was frustrated
Lunch on Sunday, can't complain because it was free, but I didn't find it filling
Live Rails programming demo, confusing
Unpracticed session speeches, these never work well (mine was far from perfect)
Elevators, broken for last 24 hours
Towels, bring your own!
Mac VGA connectors, I was asked literally seven times each day where to find one - thanks to those who shared
Backchannel, it was awkward but I didn't contribute either
I forgot one more thing that WORKED - friends! I met lots of great people, too many to count, and got to know other people a little more. Thanks for being smart and helping pull this off. It says a lot that our host office didn't have anything stolen, and no attendee laptops or projectors went missing.
I was a total super-fan at the Sony Reader eBook Back Stage presentation in Sony's huge trade show booth. As you know, I used to own a Sony Librie and I loaded my own English firmware to read Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letters. On the Sony CES Back Stage panel was the Sony Reader product manager, as well as author Tim Sanders. I had read Mr. Sanders' book Love is the Killer App in college. I asked the BEST questions during the panel and chatted with Tim Sanders after it was over. I didn't even know the event was taking place beforehand - I just happened to stop by Sony's booth at the time.
Toshiba and Canon's Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Displays (SEDs) are awesome. Brilliantly clear and amazing contrast. Did not see any OLEDs so maybe these are our hope for the future of display technology.
Despite seeing the world's largest LCD TV, the Sharp Aquos 65" LCD was the nicest readily available consumer LCD we found at the show. I forget how much they are, but we know someone who wants one of these in their private Boeing jet.
SkyScout from Celestron is a very simple, smart product. Integrated GPS and a huge LCD on the side provide relevant information for over 6,000 stars.
And finally... the Google Keynote with Larry Page and Robin Williams. My dad, through the help of a business friend, secured us clutch tickets at the last minute on Friday afternoon. Our hand-delivered keynote tickets had us seated right in the middle of the Google employee section. We think that Larry Page's girlfriend sat in front of us, cute sharp blonde, but we are not totally sure. I have seen many keynotes from Bill Gates in previous years at CES. This was totally different. Open, honest and absolutely hilarious. Gates would never take audience questions like Page did, and Robin Williams is still sharp as a knife with improv. He was a perfect compliment to Larry Page. Gush gush gush! We all loved the presentation and laughed our faces off while also getting inspired. I especially liked Page's lecture to the consumer electronics industry for their complete lack of functional standards.
Overall, this was the best CES that I have attended (and one of the worst write-ups, sorry- January has been a crazy month for me). I had planned out a route the night before for each of the three days we were at CES with lists of specific vendors to visit. I also had a firm grasp, for the first time, of the entire show layout. My actual purpose at CES was to source some cable and wire harnesses. We met a few small Taiwanese companies who can accomodate our low quantity needs in the future. Next year I will coordinate my booth visits better and register in advance for the keynote speeches. Thanks to my mom for the killer hotel booking!
This will be my fifth or sixth year going to CES in Las Vegas. Instead of trying to see the whole show in just three days, my dad and I are going to split up and target some very select areas - mostly small Asian electronics manufacturers.
And for BarCampNYC - it is a great excuse to visit my friends at 349 Broadway again. Amit and Mike are working behind the scenes to pull off what promises to be a truly interactive weekend of learning. The unique thing about BarCamp is that All attendees must give a demo, a session, or help with one. I am thinking about sharing what I learned about low-cost outsourcing using websites like eLance, RentACoder and Guru to help build the BuddyGopher back-end. Or I could teach people how to juggle!
Update 1 - As my friend Blake reminded me... The funniest quote that I have is from someone at CES 2004, when I asked where they were on the show floor so that we could meet up-
(phone rings) Me: Hey! (shouting, because it is so loud) Where are you?
Friend: We're in the LCD section, I think.
This joke is funny because there are more than 100,000 LCD screens on display at CES. That number is not really an exaggeration - there is nothing like CES anywhere else in the world. It is technology overload.
¶ Permalink 1/02/2006 06:42:00 AM4 comments