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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Robert Browning's poem 'Abt Vogler'

Robert Browning (1812-1889 / London / England)
Abt Vogler

Would that the structure brave, the manifold music I build,
Bidding my organ obey, calling its keys to their work,
Claiming each slave of the sound, at a touch, as when Solomon willed
Armies of angels that soar, legions of demons that lurk,
Man, brute, reptile, fly,--alien of end and of aim,
Adverse, each from the other heaven-high, hell-deep removed,--
Should rush into sight at once as he named the ineffable Name,
And pile him a palace straight, to pleasure the princess he loved!

Would it might tarry like his, the beautiful building of mine,
This which my keys in a crowd pressed and importuned to raise!
Ah, one and all, how they helped, would dispart now and now combine,
Zealous to hasten the work, heighten their master his praise!
And one would bury his brow with a blind plunge down to hell,
Burrow awhile and build, broad on the roots of things,
Then up again swim into sight, having based me my palace well,
Founded it, fearless of flame, flat on the nether springs.

And another would mount and march, like the excellent minion he was,
Ay, another and yet another, one crowd but with many a crest,
Raising my rampired walls of gold as transparent as glass,
Eager to do and die, yield each his place to the rest:
For higher still and higher (as a runner tips with fire,
When a great illumination surprises a festal night--
Outlining round and round Rome's dome from space to spire)
Up, the pinnacled glory reached, and the pride of my soul was in sight.

In sight? Not half! for it seemed, it was certain, to match man's birth,
Nature in turn conceived, obeying an impulse as I;
And the emulous heaven yearned down, made effort to reach the earth,
As the earth had done her best, in my passion, to scale the sky:
Novel splendours burst forth, grew familiar and dwelt with mine,
Not a point nor peak but found and fixed its wandering star;
Meteor-moons, balls of blaze: and they did not pale nor pine,
For earth had attained to heaven, there was no more near nor far.

Nay more; for there wanted not who walked in the glare and glow,
Presences plain in the place; or, fresh from the Protoplast,
Furnished for ages to come, when a kindlier wind should blow,
Lured now to begin and live, in a house to their liking at last;
Or else the wonderful Dead who have passed through the body and gone,
But were back once more to breathe in an old world worth their new:
What never had been, was now; what was, as it shall be anon;
And what is,--shall I say, matched both? for I was made perfect too.

All through my keys that gave their sounds to a wish of my soul,
All through my soul that praised as its wish flowed visibly forth,
All through music and me! For think, had I painted the whole,
Why, there it had stood, to see, nor the process so wonder-worth:
Had I written the same, made verse--still, effect proceeds from cause,
Ye know why the forms are fair, ye hear how the tale is told;
It is all triumphant art, but art in obedience to laws,
Painter and poet are proud in the artist-list enrolled:--

But here is the finger of God, a flash of the will that can,
Existent behind all laws, that made them and, lo, they are!
And I know not if, save in this, such gift be allowed to man,
That out of three sounds he frame, not a fourth sound, but a star.
Consider it well: each tone of our scale in itself is nought;
It is everywhere in the world--loud, soft, and all is said:
Give it to me to use! I mix it with two in my thought:
And, there! Ye have heard and seen: consider and bow the head!

Well, it is gone at last, the palace of music I reared;
Gone! and the good tears start, the praises that come too slow;
For one is assured at first, one scarce can say that he feared,
That he even gave it a thought, the gone thing was to go.
Never to be again! But many more of the kind
As good, nay, better, perchance: is this your comfort to me?
To me, who must be saved because I cling with my mind
To the same, same self, same love, same God: ay, what was, shall be.

Therefore to whom turn I but to thee, the ineffable Name?
Builder and maker, thou, of houses not made with hands!
What, have fear of change from thee who art ever the same?
Doubt that thy power can fill the heart that thy power expands?
There shall never be one lost good! What was, shall live as before;
The evil is null, is nought, is silence implying sound;
What was good shall be good, with, for evil, so much good more;
On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven, a perfect round.

All we have willed or hoped or dreamed of good shall exist;
Not its semblance, but itself; no beauty, nor good, nor power
Whose voice has gone forth, but each survives for the melodist
When eternity affirms the conception of an hour.
The high that proved too high, the heroic for earth too hard,
The passion that left the ground to lose itself in the sky,
Are music sent up to God by the lover and the bard;
Enough that he heard it once: we shall hear it by and by.

And what is our failure here but a triumph's evidence
For the fulness of the days? Have we withered or agonized?
Why else was the pause prolonged but that singing might issue thence?
Why rushed the discords in, but that harmony should be prized?
Sorrow is hard to bear, and doubt is slow to clear,
Each sufferer says his say, his scheme of the weal and woe:
But God has a few of us whom he whispers in the ear;
The rest may reason and welcome; 'tis we musicians know.

Well, it is earth with me; silence resumes her reign:
I will be patient and proud, and soberly acquiesce.
Give me the keys. I feel for the common chord again,
Sliding by semitones till I sink to the minor,--yes,
And I blunt it into a ninth, and I stand on alien ground,
Surveying awhile the heights I rolled from into the deep;
Which, hark, I have dared and done, for my resting-place is found,
The C Major of this life: so, now I will try to sleep.

Shigeaki Hinohara: Words to Live By:

Author/Physician Shigeaki Hinohara


Japan's 97-year-old physician educator offers advice for seniors ~ Japan Times 

At the age of 97 years and 4 months, Shigeaki Hinohara is one of the world's longest-serving physicians and educators. Hinohara's magic touch is legendary: Since 1941 he has been healing patients at St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo and teaching at St. Luke's College of Nursing. After World War II, he envisioned a world-class hospital and college springing from the ruins of Tokyo; thanks to his pioneering spirit and business savvy, the doctor turned these institutions into the nation's top medical facility and nursing school. Today he serves as chairman of the board of trustees at both organizations. Always willing to try new things, he has published around 150 books since his 75th birthday, including "Living Long, Living Good" that has sold more than 1.2 million copies. As the founder of the New Elderly Movement, Hinohara encourages others to live a long and happy life, a quest in which no role model is better than the doctor himself.

"Energy comes from feeling good, not from eating well or sleeping a lot."

We all remember how as children, when we were having fun, we often forgot to eat or sleep. I believe that we can keep that attitude as adults, too. It's best not to tire the body with too many rules such as lunchtime and bedtime.

"All people who live long — regardless of nationality, race or gender — share one thing in common: None are overweight."

For breakfast I drink coffee, a glass of milk and some orange juice with a tablespoon of olive oil in it. Olive oil is great for the arteries and keeps my skin healthy. Lunch is milk and a few cookies, or nothing when I am too busy to eat. I never get hungry because I focus on my work. Dinner is veggies, a bit of fish and rice, and, twice a week, 100 grams of lean meat.

"Always plan ahead."

My schedule book is already full until 2014, with lectures and my usual hospital work. In 2016 I'll have some fun, though: I plan to attend the Tokyo Olympics!

"There is no need to ever retire, but if one must, it should be a lot later than 65."

 The current retirement age was set at 65 half a century ago, when the average life-expectancy in Japan was 68 years and only 125 Japanese were over 100 years old. Today, Japanese women live to be around 86 and men 80, and we have 36,000 centenarians in our country. In 20 years we will have about 50,000 people over the age of 100.

"Share what you know".

I give 150 lectures a year, some for 100 elementary school children, others for 4,500 business people. I usually speak for 60 to 90 minutes, standing, to stay strong.

"When a doctor recommends you take a test or have some surgery, ask whether the doctor would suggest that his or her spouse or children go through such a procedure."

Contrary to popular belief, doctors can't cure everyone. So why cause unnecessary pain with surgery? I think music and animal therapy can help more than most doctors imagine.

"To stay healthy, always take the stairs and carry your own stuff."

 I take two stairs at a time, to get my muscles moving.

"My inspiration is Robert Browning's poem 'Abt Vogler.'"

 My father used to read it to me. It encourages us to make big art, not small scribbles. It says to try to draw a circle so huge that there is no way we can finish it while we are alive. All we see is an arch; the rest is beyond our vision but it is there in the distance.

"Pain is mysterious, and having fun is the best way to forget it."

 If a child has a toothache, and you start playing a game together, he or she immediately forgets the pain. Hospitals must cater to the basic need of patients: We all want to have fun. At St. Luke's we have music and animal therapies, and art classes.

"Don't be crazy about amassing material things."

 Remember: You don't know when your number is up, and you can't take it with you to the next place.

"Hospitals must be designed and prepared for major disasters, and they must accept every patient who appears at their doors."

We designed St. Luke's so we can operate anywhere: in the basement, in the corridors, in the chapel. Most people thought I was crazy to prepare for a catastrophe, but on March 20, 1995, I was unfortunately proven right when members of the Aum Shinrikyu religious cult launched a terrorist attack in the Tokyo subway. We accepted 740 victims and in two hours figured out that it was sarin gas that had hit them. Sadly we lost one person, but we saved 739 lives.

"Science alone can't cure or help people"

 Science lumps us all together, but illness is individual. Each person is unique, and diseases are connected to their hearts. To know the illness and help people, we need liberal and visual arts, not just medical ones.

"Life is filled with incidents."

 On March 31, 1970, when I was 59 years old, I boarded the Yodogo, a flight from Tokyo to Fukuoka. It was a beautiful sunny morning, and as Mount Fuji came into sight, the plane was hijacked by the Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction. I spent the next four days handcuffed to my seat in 40-degree heat. As a doctor, I looked at it all as an experiment and was amazed at how the body slowed down in a crisis.

"Find a role model and aim to achieve even more than they could ever do."

 My father went to the United States in 1900 to study at Duke University in North Carolina. He was a pioneer and one of my heroes. Later I found a few more life guides, and when I am stuck, I ask myself how they would deal with the problem.

"It's wonderful to live long."

 Until one is 60 years old, it is easy to work for one's family and to achieve one's goals. But in our later years, we should strive to contribute to society. Since the age of 65, I have worked as a volunteer. I still put in 18 hours seven days a week and love every minute of it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

CNA: Yahoo! launches email service overhaul

This article from iTODAY

Yahoo! launches email service overhaul

May 25

SAN FRANCISCO - Yahoo! on Tuesday began a global overhaul to its free email service, making it faster and better integrated with hot social networking services Facebook and Twitter.

A revamped version of Yahoo! Mail introduced in a beta, or test, program in October will be available as an upgrade in coming weeks to all 284 million users of the Web-based service.

"Yahoo!'s vision for online communications brings together all the tools that people use to connect -- email, chat, SMS, and social updates -- and makes it easier for them to share content and engage in conversations," said chief product officer Blake Irving.

"We're delivering on this strategy with the latest version of Yahoo! Mail."

The upgraded software will be available to smartphone maker Nokia, US telecom service Verizon and other Yahoo! partners that make devices or provide broadband Internet services.

The new version of Yahoo! Mail has been streamlined for speed and designed to let people easily send or receive Facebook updates or Twitter messages directly from their inboxes.

Messages from people listed among a person's contacts are given priority and raised to the top of inboxes.

Search tools were improved to make it easier to find pictures, videos or other information in email inboxes that provide unlimited storage space.

The email service was engineered to recognize Internet links to videos or photos, then automatically display thumbnail previews of images.

Yahoo! "doubled down" on spam fighting technology to filter out junk email.

The email service was also better tailored to mobile devices in a nod to the booming popularity of smartphones and tablet computers.

The faded Internet search star has been redefining itself as a "premier digital media company" after forming an alliance with Microsoft to have Bing handle online queries at Yahoo! web pages.


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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hiring manager talks about what turns him off most in an interview

Career Management
Hiring manager talks about what turns him off most in an interview
By Toni Bowers | May 25, 2011, 4:58 AM PDT

I came across an interesting piece by Scot Herrick, writing for, about three ways to turn off a hiring manager during an interview.

He's in the process of hiring someone for a consulting gig he's working on. He hasn't been satisfied with the candidates, not because they lack the technical skills needed, but, as he says "m not impressed enough because I'm not convinced they can use their job skills to achieve my goals for the work I have for them."

His first pet peeve is that, instead focusing on what they did themselves, many candidates talk about their prior experience in terms of a team, as in "we took this approach…" He wants the candidate to talk specifically about what personal steps and skills came into play to make a project successful.

Second, he is frustrated with answers that are all about buzzwords or methodology: "When I ask a question about how you would approach doing something based on some information I give you or an experience from your past, I expect you to answer how you would use the information to achieve your objective. And not spout all sorts of Corporate Speak or hide behind all the methodology as being the real answer" and "Following methodology is a job skill, not how you get stuff done."

Last, he has been unsatisfied with the answers he's been getting to the "Tell me about a time when" kind of question. Herrick says to answer it with a "well, it depends on your situation and how you want to do it," is the kiss of death in his opinion. "I'm not doing the work, you are and I want to know how you would go about doing the work. If you answer as whatever I want to do as a client, it's a cop out."

I think these are very good points that everyone should think about. Be sure to read the discussion following the piece as some more good points are made.
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What to keep in mind if you're promoting from within

IT Leadership
What to keep in mind if you're promoting from within
By Scott Lowe | May 26, 2011, 5:30 AM PDT

I was recently a guest on a Veeam-sponsored podcast hosted by none other than TechRepublic's own Rick Vanover.  The topic of the podcast was how to make the move from IT staff to IT management and how to handle some of the challenges that come with that transition.  It was a fantastic discussion that reminded me that it took a while for me to appropriately adjust to my new role in IT management, particularly after having spent eight years in pretty hard core technical roles.

When it comes to moving into IT management, there are some changes that the techie needs to make and there are new skills to learn.  Do you have a rock star techie that you're considering moving into a management role?  If so, make sure you create conditions for success for that person by making sure she understands what changes will take place.  Here are a few items I recommend covering.

The fine art of delegation
This one is tough and I still struggle with it. It's more than likely that you're considering promoting someone that has great technical skills to lead the rest of the group.  One of the reasons that these kinds of people are selected is because they're willing to jump right in and solve pretty much any problem.  This also means that they're very used to being hands-on people that hear about a problem and react quickly, decisively and successfully.
It also makes them terrible managers if they don't adjust to their new roles.

Help your star techies become star managers by helping them learn how to step back from that immediate gut instinct to "fix it now" to a place where they can put that immediate need into the context of the department to-do list and assign that task to a team member that is best suited to handle it.

Not delegating, on the other hand, carries the following consequences:

Operational failure. The manager can't do it all. At some point, things will begin to break down as this single point of failure becomes unable to meet basic needs.
Destroyed morale. A manager that refuses to delegate it telling his staff one thing and he's doing it very loudly: "I don't trust any of you, so I'm going to do it myself."
I said it before and I'll say it again: Delegation is tough for an in-the-trenches person.  Over time, it does get easier and once you have appropriate reporting structures in place, you can see the massive benefit to be had.  As I also said, I'm not perfect in this way and am sometimes gently kicked by my (very trusting and open with me) staff as they respectfully say to me, "Back off, buddy!"

Cross-functional prioritization
Every manager an IT organization has to be mindful of departmental and inter-departmental priorities in order to appropriately prioritize projects and requests.  The CIO and other IT leaders need to make sure that their managers are regularly informed of or involved in conversations that span the entire company so that they have this high level understanding.
For me, at Westminster, I've made the decision that my personal presence is not required on the multitude of committees on which I serve.  Instead, I've asked committee conveners to change committee membership documents to read "CIO or designee" rather than simply assuming that I will attend.  In my stead, different members of my staff now attend these meetings as my representative and they are empowered to speak on behalf of the IT group as a whole and they're expected to report back to me after each meeting with significant discussion points and decisions so that we, as a team, can meet the needs.  In addition, all of my staff members submit to me weekly reports that outline, among other items, meetings attended.  My staff emails their weekly reports to the whole IT team so that all members of the team have a view into what's happening in everyone else's world.

For the IT staff that sit on action-oriented committees, they are empowered to coordinate IT activities for that committee.  This works because they all know what's going on in each other's worlds and, so far, it's worked extremely well.  Further, it helps them all grow as leaders and helps me in a number of ways:

I don't have to attend dozens of meetings a week.
My people get a better view of the organization which helps me in goal setting.
They gain some ownership of tasks that might be a little outside their normal areas of expertise. I get better-rounded staff.
Budgeting - with accountability
I'll admit right up front that the managers in my organization have little budget authority - there are reasons for this and they don't involve mistrust.  Bear in mind that we're in a very small organization and there are sometimes political challenges found in some of the leadership development activities I'd like to undertake.  That said, I do share budget details with my whole staff from time to time.

That said, it's imperative that, at some point, the people in charge of a particular area have full responsibility and accountability for that area, including the finances.  By doing so, people may find creative ways to save money or undertake innovative projects that can help improve the operations of the entire organization.

If you're unsure about your new manager's budgeting skills, send her to a managerial accounting course and stay involved in the budget details until you're sure that she has a grasp on how all of the budget variables inter-relate with organizational operations.  However, if you're actively training your newly promoted person and, after a year or two, he's still struggling with it, you either do one of the following:

Provide additional training. Would just a little more training help?
Do it yourself. If the person is an awesome manager and this is his only weakness, you might consider just doing this task yourself or moving it to another person in the organization.
Replace the person. Perhaps the person is simply a wrong fit for the job.
To prepare people for the task of managing finances, ask them to take point on creating budgetary estimates for project plans, at the very least.  Require them to include the following in their estimates:

Capital costs.
Operating costs.
Return on investment.
At the very least, this level of detail will help your people understand how the budget operates and how their projects impact the bottom line.

Holding back resentment
You might have the good fortune to have a dozen very talented people on your team, but you can promote only one.  Your newly minted manager is likely to face resentment from the rest of the group.  Help your new hire with the transition my making it clear that passive aggressive behavior from others won't be tolerated and get out of the way.  Let your new person take charge of her new team.  Don't sit it on staff meetings and interject over your new manager; don't go directly to your new manager's direct reports to have tasks completed.  Work through your new manager and make it clear that she is in charge.  When she comes to you with concerns about other people resenting her appointment, listen and, if absolutely necessary, intervene if it's bad enough.  However, the more of these kinds of situations that your new hire handles, the more quickly she will become comfortable in her new role.
If someone resents the decision enough to quit, that's ok.

Moving into IT management is a tough thing to do but if you have the right support systems in place, it can be a successful and rewarding career move.
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7-Eleven Soars to New Site

7-Eleven Soars to New Site
Business Focus - May 25,2011

DALLAS -- Executives at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport have given the green light to 7-Eleven Inc. to open a convenience store as part of the airport's Terminal Renewal and Improvement Program. It will be the chain retailer's first store inside a secured area at an airport when it opens in 2013.

The 1,291-square-foot store will be located near Gate 25 in Terminal A. Plans call for the store's product mix to include 7-Eleven's Slurpee, Big Gulp and Big Bite brands with an emphasis on fresh foods and bakery items that are delivered daily. Among other selections for hungry travelers will be hot foods, including pizza, potato wedges and chicken tenders. 7-Eleven also boasts healthier offerings, such as several sizes of pre-made salads, fresh-cut fruit and vegetables, sandwiches and low-calorie beverages.

"Although we have 7-Eleven stores on a few airport properties in North America, this will be our first located inside security and directly across from departure and arrival gates," said Dan Porter, 7-Eleven's development vice president. "7-Eleven is all about convenience, and our proprietary merchandising and logistics systems are prepared to serve the daily needs of both busy travelers and terminal employees. Dallas-Fort Worth is hometown for us, so it makes sense that our first U.S. outlet of this type is at DFW Airport."

The new location will be geared toward travelers, according to a company release. To provide travelers with value options, 7-Eleven will offer value-priced grocery, packaged snacks and bakery items under its 7-Select private brand. Also for travelers' convenience, the store will have refills that meet travel restrictions in addition to emergency, health and beauty items and popular magazines.

Ray Quintanilla, who will become a 7-Eleven franchisee under 7-Eleven Inc.'s business conversion program, and LS Travel Retail North America, a subsidiary of the world's largest magazine publisher and operator of nearly 4,000 "transit-oriented" stores worldwide, will operate the DFW store. Quintanilla already owns a number of concessions at DFW Airport and has been serving customers there for 22 years.

"7-Eleven already serves 40 million customers a day and is well known in many countries," said Ken Buchanan, executive vice president for revenue management at DFW Airport. "The company's commitment to quality and customer service, along with LS Travel Retail North America's know-how and Ray's experience should make this a successful operation and popular with travelers and airport personnel."

Speaking up and facing the reality — Andre Sequerah - The Malaysian Insider

ECGMA says: The La Salle here is La Salle Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

Speaking up and facing the reality — Andre Sequerah
May 26, 2011

MAY 26 — Growing up and studying in a missionary La Salle school in the '80s was one of the best experiences ever. In general, boys from all the races mixed together and student populations then were well balanced between all the races.

Yet, even at that time, there were rumblings on the horizon. One of my closest Malay friends, a smart chap, was sent away after lower secondary school to further his studies in a boarding school.

When I went to one of the top engineering universities in the UK, I learnt two things. One was that from the viewpoint of a good friend of mine, a Frenchman, the thought that I had to tick a little box to state that I was under the category of "Others" to state that I was Eurasian was ghastly and hinted of racial prejudice. It was my first realisation of what the word could truly mean as I had never questioned that act before.

It was there that I learnt also from many of my Malaysian peers, non-Malays, that they were adamant about not returning to Malaysia as they felt that they would never make it due to the unfair policies back home. The feeling of unfairness pervaded as one person was horrified that whilst the rest of us had parents who broke their backs and their banks to get us to study in the UK, there were people on scholarship who spent their money buying hi-fi equipment instead.

I did not see all these things then, personally. At the time I also had two good friends, a Sarawakian and a Malay guy — we always collaborated to perform at the annual Malaysian night — and there was none of those thoughts between us. The people who complained stayed on and most that I know of ended up in very good positions with the likes of Shell and other large MNCs in Europe.

When I returned, I worked for a local telco and then subsequently for a large MNC telco vendor. The job entailed project work in many different parts of the world, from Australia to Japan and Sweden. During this time, our global project team based in KL was considered one of the best there was, not only in the region but, literally, globally.

The ability to travel, to work with some of the best in the world on projects that were ground-breaking (like the launch of the first 3G network in Japan) kept us all challenged and satisfied. There was a performance-oriented culture where we worked and if you were good, you were rewarded accordingly, which fit all of us (from all races) fine.

In the late '90s and '00s, a lot of us left — the global telco economy was still booming and Malaysian telco freelance contractors were generally in high demand for their competence and reputation for being hard workers.

Local salaries definitely could not cut it and why would you turn down a job which paid in US$ equivalent? I had other ideas as I started on an entrepreneurial bent, realising that if you were to make it in Malaysia, the only way to do it is to be in business for oneself. Besides, I liked the challenge.

Up till now, the ugly head of racism did not rear, at least not in my sphere of life. There were affirmative action policies for sure, but what was not given or favourable to me, I worked hard to achieve. A supportive family was also key to decisions I had made coming from a closed-knit family.

At the end of the day, that is what the Malaysian environment taught me over the years — that you have to be able to make it on your own two feet and be thankful for family and friends.

Then one day, it was the new year of 2010 and churches were getting fire-bombed. There is nothing that can justify defiling anyone's place of worship let alone putting a torch to it. It just cannot be justified. And I read on blogs that week the most vitriolic and hateful words people were throwing into cyberspace. One day I read the title of one: "Torched churches... Reaping what is sown" and was so aghast and angry that I forwarded it on to my fiancé.

Her response that I should know the writer confused me. But on delving further, I realised that I did know the writer. He was the Malay "friend" I used to know during college days.

Why do I stay? I have been asked that by people. Working in the private sector which was performance based helped. For family and friends, yes, for sure. Because I like the country inherently, yes, it is home.

But I am contemplating starting a family here and the lessons that an environment that lets racists of the worst calibre (the intellectual kind who mislead with full knowledge of what they are doing) get away with it and what that teaches to children, and I question my decision every day. That, and the anger I feel towards all racists.

When I used to travel on work, colleagues at other offices used to ask us, the Malaysians, where we were from as we all looked so different. We always said we were Malaysian because that was and is who we are.

Yet, every time I have come home, I have felt less of a Malaysian each time with all that goes on. It is still my hope that change will occur if we believe and are willing to stand up and speak up for what is right. But, it is disheartening to know that after all these years, I still feel like a second-class citizen in the only country in the world I call home.

* We asked readers to tell us in their own words why the stayed in Malaysia... instead of migrating. This is one of the stories.
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How many of you in your lifetime have actually made friends with 'fake humans'? A show of hands please? Yes, quite a few of us have, myself included  Sadly, among our chums are a scattering of 24 karat gold plated heels, the bums, the phony, treacherous lying scum of the earth masquerading as your best AMIGO. You met and all was airy fairy promises, you recreated together in light and joy (though you never noticed they were really using you as an movie extra and the close-up was for them and them only.). Then came the day  you two were gonna hook up for some serious business where actual MONEY could be made and then you find this solid gold chum is a decayed, rusting pot-metal thief dipped in phony gold paint. The bum never planned on sharing half with you. They were using you to get to their aims and they are enfuriated now that you'd ask for part of the winnings! What cloud are you on? they demand. That's the real issue or question. What cloud were you on when you befriended this skunk thinking it was a bunny rabbit and the two of you could pair off? That you could TRUST THEM in the CLINCHES.

You trusted me? You counted on me?

What planet are YOU from? It's ME here!

When we crash into the ground and discover we were depending on a first rate idiot, liar, phony --- when we find out that we have a skunk by the tail, what do we do? Bust them on their shit? Nahhh. who died and made you God? Analyze only how you were maybe a 'wascally wabbit' yourself and maybe had some ulterior motive up your own sleeve the day you befriended this jerk. Do your own accounts ONLY. To handle theirs you have to wait patiently until the sun gives a couple of whirls and it's their time with the KARMA machine and FATE  hands them their final payment, a big zero and their life isn't working. Wait until they're in tears, they lost the big big enchilada, they come to you as they're amnesiac and beg you, tell them, what happened? Please explain! Then, wait a minute more until they ask you plaintively, 'why do you suppose this happened to me?' At that point you can tell them, Skunky, you were a user, a liar, false friend to all who knew you and not with your enemies where it was maybe appropriate --- but with friends who wanted to love and serve you. You utterly betrayed them and kicked them in the teeth. Consider what everyone who isn't an idiot feels now. They bought into your act. They were bitchslapped by you. Imagine what they think of you. That you're a greedy fake friend. We all have to guess that you have some kind of anesthesia in the heart center. Not your fault. It's crummy parenting and it's endemic on planet Earth but now that you're at the magical turning point, if you couldn't reorganize your psyche, knowing the truth, and DID NOT, then it WOULD be your fault.

Next question from them should be 'how do I reorganize to become a better person?' The answer is own up, take responsibility, don't blame your parents for turning you into a pirate. Do lots of Prayer, repentance, humility, yoga, to get hold of the will power. Do public service to awaken the supreme spark. Do meditation i.e. reflective honesty, AA style. One of the best ways of doing this that I've heard is to have a conversation with yourself. make sure you're alone in the house, and just go over things while talking. When you hit pay dirt, concretize it. Make your written lists of whom you stole from, lied to, insulted, offended, and plan how to pay them back or apologize, your BERNIE MADOFF list, maybe.

Also the lying phony must start restraining the 'addictions' in the deep libido that caused your crime wave. Like the infamous Madoff, it was lust for the LUXE life. You have to unaddict yourself to greed which let in a lot of harmful mind-rearrangers, unhealthy stultifying costly lifestyle, toxic foods, and even the addiction to convenient bleariness, stupor and dreamlike ignorance. YEAH there's a will toward IGNORANCE ya know? DENIAL isn't just a river in EGYPT.

THE ART OF FRIENDSHIP - Make great friends, not merely those who SEEM great. I have a pal who's convinced he's God on earth. When he enters a room it's like he's the largest masted/sail ship on the ocean.  He sails into that harbor, everyone else suddenly looks like a rowboat. Swear to God. he's a total nobody, an utter worm, a ridiculous pretender, but his conscious mind does not know how puffed up and ridiculous he seems as a) he dresses flashy and b.) MANY IDIOTS do actually buy into the portrayal of the world's biggest masted ship this side of Kissinger. He has some tiny little screen credits (in his own mind only) that he alone recalls --that make him think he's the world's biggest winner, destined for big stuff.. He even smokes a cigar at parties! Wears an ascot at lunch on weekends! Reasonable people heard his life aims and scoffed, wondered what he was smoking. But idiots bought into it. He was a gold detector for tinsel! Tinsel bought into him! Now only 5% of humanity qualifies for being fake gold, tinsel or being in a state of genuine idiocy. So his entire life until his crash was like maybe a LEMMING HITLER out collecting other LEMMINGS, all of whom would follow him & go over a cliff with him. T'would be like following a nobody like "SELIG" that obscure, Kafkaesque Woody Allen movie. The cosmic pretender went everywhere, 95% of the people laughed, avoided him. 5% bought in to the lippy palaver fantasy and in the end the HEAD LEMMING or Selig Hitler of this world gets a small crowd of jerks, yet all of them in the end will be led to eat dirt. Nature arranges it as the statistic is so skewed. 95% vs 5%. Who's gonna win out? REALITY, babe! But how many idiots, pretenders, treacherous friends dragging you on a fantasy land ride agenda have you in their thrall? Hey, it can happen to smart people! You gotta spottem and edit 'em out of your daisy chain.And if we had, we would not have elected Obama. He is worse than ten Nixons. NIXON never lied about what he intended. Hitler LIED about what he planned. But he spoke to a dark spot in yourself. That is what we must do, find the dark spot in ourselves and eradicate it before someone starts whispering to it and you go down the Idiot's road to your own demise.

Friends In Business & Scams 101 - The Anatomy of a Worthless Guarantee

Friends In Business
& Scams 101

The Anatomy
of a
Worthless Guarantee

to recognize the loopholes,
it helps to think like pond scum

I'm going to quote some "RISK-FREE," "IRON-CLAD" guarantees plucked from various "opportunity" magazines, the internet, and junk mail I have received.  I'm not going to pick them apart until the end because I know you'll have more fun doing it yourself the first time through.  (Hint:  Pay special attention to the red stuff.)

And keep in mind, we're studying a concept here.... all the guarantees are "real" (GAG), but this is by no means a complete list of tricks.  I'll add more as often as possible.... and if you happen to see a cute one, please e-mail it to me!



"$300 CASH GUARANTEE! (Good for 1 Full Year).... I'll bet $300 CASH on your success.  That's how sure I am that you'll make MONEY with my program.  After you've located (something something something) and we've sold it for you, if you're not happy with the amount of money you've made (EVEN IF YOU MAKE $100,000 Dollars) return all of my materials and I'll pay off my bet and send you $300 just for trying. Now that's an IRON CLAD guarantee!"....

(Sorry about "something something something," but the owner of the copyright on this particular guarantee wasn't comfy with being used as an example, so just think of "something something something" as a disguise.... picture him in some expensive sunglasses, a beard, and a clown nose.)


"ROCK SOLID GUARANTEE THAT YOU'LL SUCCEED!.... Send for my proven money making program today.  Spend about 30 minutes reading the simple step-by-step instructions.  If you give my plan an honest try and haven't made at least $1,000.00 within the first 10 days, simply return the complete package and your $24.95 purchase price will be refunded immediately..... I guarantee everything I've told you is 100% true, and can make you a lot of money, quickly and easily."


"MONEY BACK GUARANTEE.... The $100 AN HOUR system is so remarkably profitable that I want you to examine it without taking any risk whatsoever.  Here's how.  Order the $100 AN HOUR system right now.  When you receive it, fill in the simple worksheets and mail them to the address I supply.  If you don't receive a check for $100 for every hour you spend filling in the simple worksheets, simply return the program within 60 days and I'll rush you a complete refund of your purchase price!  How's that for assurance?  You either make $100 AN HOUR using this spectacular new system, or you get a refund.  With my unconditional money back guarantee, there is no way for you to lose."


YOU CAN'T LOSE!.... Believe it or not, some people will put this remarkable opportunity on a shelf and do absolutely nothing with it, and for this reason, it would be impossible for us to send expensive supplies to anyone and everyone who asks.  So we charge a small "good faith deposit" of $39.95, which we will REFUND IN FULL just as soon as you stuff your first 500 envelopes according to our simple instructions!  What could be easier?"


"Get my Fast Cash System! Put it to work for you. If after 60 days you do not have the same experience as I had with this system, simply return all materials for a complete refund of your purchase price.  Even if you don't like my system for any reason, my guarantee still stands!"



What's that you say?  You'll give me my money back PLUS $300 after I locate (something something something) (I think it was "excess merchandise," as in the "liquidating business, but I really can't recall) and you've sold it for me?  But what if you don't want to sell it for me?  Where does it say you have to sell it for me?  Where's my guarantee if you don't hold up your end of the bargain?  Can I sue you?  Well gee whiz, I guess not.  "Iron Clad?"  Wait!  There's a hole in the Hefty bag!!


Did you tell me how you'll know I've given your plan "an honest try"?  Do I have to prove that I did?  I mean, what if your plan is too stupid or unethical or just plain embarrassing and I don't want to give it an honest try?  If it isn't any of those things, why didn't your ad even give me a HINT?  But gee, you are giving me your word that everything you say is true, and that makes me a feel a lot better, but I really don't know you, and I'll bet I could make a lot of money robbing banks if I wanted to give that an honest try....


This "plan" doesn't make any sense at all.... I mean, am I asking for donations?  Is it welfare fraud?  It just sounds so fishy, but I can't resist finding out, you know?.... I mean just in case it's for real.  Anyway, it's guaranteed.... uh-oh, so you mean if I DON'T want to do it at all and I DON'T ever fill in a worksheet or mail it, I can't get my money back?  Oh.  (Well that's "unconditional" alright!)


But you forgot to tell me I have to run ads to get people to send me money with their stamped envelope for me to stuff.... and what if I can't afford to run the ads or I don't want to run the ads after I find out?  Oh, you won't give me my money back until 500 suckers actually SEND me their envelopes to stuff?  Well damn.


I hate to admit I don't know.... but I really don't (yet).  There are lots of guarantees like this.... "if you do not have the same experience I had".... "if you do not earn as much money as I did".... "if my system isn't everything I say it is".... and then they go and confuse the issue with a statement that contains "for any reason."  So are you safe or not?  I'm not a lawyer, and I don't know.  I will actually be buying these grubby "opportunties" to dissect in my new book, "Biz-Ops Revealed:  A Curiosity-Seeker's Wonderland," but I don't have this one yet, so I can't say for sure what the catch is.  But I do know there is one.


Repeat after me:....


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Friends In Business & Scams 101 - The Golden Rule of Biz-Ops

Friends In Business
& Scams 101

The Golden Rule of Biz-Ops

Live by it faithfully.  Never stray.
To stray is to become a statistic.

Hi Kiddies!

Welcome to "Scams 101."

I'm sorry I'm late.... I was stuck in traffic (for a month).

I hope I got here in time to keep you from buying into any scams, but if they already got you.... consider it an expensive lesson, scrape yourself off the bottom of their shoes, and MOVE ON.  If you learn from it and succeed despite what they stole from you.... THEN YOU WIN!....   But if you give up and forget about being in business for yourself.... THEY WIN.

Now isn't that enough to make you lose your lunch?

These are sharks who prey on your weaknesses.... your desperation.... your dream of a better life for your family.  They are, in my humble opinion, Pond Scum.  So grab yourself a bottle of algicide and KEEP ON FIGHTING!!

And if they haven't gotten you yet....


Pay close attention in "Scams 101" and they never will.

End of Pep Talk.

Now let's get down to the business of spotting scams.

Assignment #1:


The majority of "biz ops" people have ONE mission and one mission only:.... To make THEMSELVES rich with YOUR money.

Take it from one who's been there, done that a few dozen times: 


Every last one. 

(Most of them also happen to be illegal, but we'll save that for another day.)

How can you say "ALL" promises, you radical wacko? 
There must be some exceptions!!

Of course there are.  I firmly believe you can succeed in a home-based business, and, in fact, I'm doing it as we speak -- a medical transcription service I've been killing myself in for 19 years, and my new business on the internet.  But do you hear me promising you ANYTHING?  Do you hear me making any predictions for your future?

No, you don't.

Because your success or failure, your income potential, and the speed with which you recoup any investment depends entirely on YOU.  Anyone who promises that their "program," or their "secret," or their "turn-key business" is your ticket to financial freedom is LYING to you.

Most people searching for "the perfect business" are desperate to escape a 9-to-5 job, so they won't believe me.  They'll believe the con artist.... because they WANT TO BELIEVE.  That's why it is crucial to put every opportunity to the test.... to learn what questions to ask and what answers to expect.

Many times you won't get any answer at all.... but still, people line up in droves to buy into those "opportunities."  Sometimes you'll get a great-sounding answer from a good-looking guy in an expensive three-piece suit.  And no matter how big a lie he's telling you, I guarantee people will be slobbering over themselves in their eagerness to buy whatever "Business In A Box" he happens to be peddling.

So you need to learn to tell "the right answer" from "the wrong answer."

If it's the wrong answer.... suggest a warm and cozy place they might put their "opportunity," treat yourself to a night out (or a new house) with the money you just saved, and keep looking.

Every time you're tempted to whip out the old checkbook or (worse!) credit card as the first step down that golden road to "Financial Independence," you MUST have answers to all your questions.... and more importantly, they must be the RIGHT answers.  Five out of six "right" answers isn't good enough.  I get tons of e-mails from people who say, "There's only one thing that bothers me."  ONE THING IS MORE THAN ENOUGH!  Before you invest any money, EVERY QUESTION should be answered to your COMPLETE SATISFACTION or they don't get a dime of your hard-earned cash!

The "Biz Op" racket is an epidemic!  These bums are multiplying faster than fleas!!  If you've ever answered an ad for a "biz op," you're on every list in the universe.  Unless you build up your defenses through education, they'll get you in the end.

Now, who can tell me what we learned in our first assignment?

That's right!....


The Biz-Op Scumbeezles
have ONE mission, and ONE mission only:


Now let's take a short potty break.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

15 Fundamental Reasons to Own Gold

15 Fundamental Reasons to Own Gold

Why Holding Gold in Your Portfolio Isn't Advisable… It's a Must

1. Global Currency Debasement
The U.S. dollar is fundamentally and technically very weak and should fall dramatically over the next few years. However, other countries are very reluctant to see their currencies appreciate and are resisting the fall of the U.S. dollar. Thus, we are in the early stages of a massive global currency debasement which will see tangibles, and most particularly gold, rise significantly in price.

2. Rising Investment Demand
When the crowd recognizes what is unfolding, they will seek an alternative to paper currencies and financial assets and this will create an enormous investment demand for gold. Own both the physical metal and select mining shares.

3. Alarming Financial Deterioration in the U.S.
In the space of two years, the federal government budget surplus has been transformed into a yawning deficit, which will persist as far as the eye can see. At the same time, the current account deficit has reached levels, which has portended currency collapse in virtually every other instance in history.

4. Negative Real Interest Rates in Reserve Currency (U.S. Dollar)
To combat the deteriorating financial conditions in the U.S., interest rates have been dropped to rock bottom levels, real interest rates are now negative and, according to statements from the Fed spokesmen, are expected to remain so for some time. There has been a very strong historical relationship between negative real interest rates and stronger gold prices.

5. Dramatic Increases in Money Supply in the US and Other Nations
Authorities are terrified about the prospects for deflation given the unprecedented debt burden at all levels of society in the U.S. Fed Governor Ben Bernanke is on record as saying the Fed has a printing press and will use it to combat deflation if necessary. Other nations are following in the U.S.'s footsteps and global money supply is accelerating. This is very gold friendly.

6. Existence of a Huge and Growing Gap between Mine Supply and Traditional Demand
Mined gold is roughly 2,500 tons per year and traditional demand (jewelry, industrial users, etc.) has exceeded this by a considerable margin for a number of years. Some of this gap has been filled by recycled scrap but central bank gold has been the primary source of above-ground supply.

7. Mine Supply is Anticipated to Decline in the next Three to Four Years.
Even if traditional demand continues to erode due to ongoing worldwide economic weakness, the supply/demand imbalance is expected to persist due to a decline in mine supply. Mine supply will contract in the next several years, irrespective of gold prices, due to a dearth of exploration in the post Bre-X era, a shift away from high grading which was necessary for survival in the sub-economic gold price environment of the past five years and the natural exhaustion of existing mines.

8. Large Short Positions
To fill the gap between mine supply and demand, Central Bank gold has been mobilized primarily through the leasing mechanism, which facilitated producer hedging and financial speculation. Strong evidence suggests that between 10,000 and 16,000 tons (30-50% of all Central Bank gold) is currently in the market. This is owed to the Central Banks by the bullion banks, which are the counter party in the transactions.

9. Low Interest Rates Discourage Hedging
Rates are low and falling. With low rates, there isn't sufficient contango to create higher prices in the out years. Thus there is little incentive to hedge and gold producers are not only not hedging, they are reducing their existing hedge positions, thus removing gold from the market.

10. Rising Gold Prices and Low Interest Rates Discourage Financial Speculation on the Short Side.
When gold prices were continuously falling and financial speculators could access Central Bank gold at a minimal leasing rate (0.5 – 1% per year), sell it and reinvest the proceeds in a high yielding bond or Treasury bill, the trade was viewed as a lay-up. Everyone did it and now there are numerous stale short positions. However, these trades now make no sense with a rising gold price and declining interest rates.

11. The Central Banks are Nearing an Inflection Point when they will be Reluctant to Provide more Gold to the Market.
The Central Banks have supplied too much already via the leasing mechanism. In addition, Far Eastern Central Banks who are accumulating enormous quantities of U.S. Dollars are rumored to be buyers of gold to diversify away from the U.S. Dollar.

12. Gold is Increasing in Popularity
Gold is seen in a much more positive light in countries beginning to come to the forefront on the world scene. Prominent developing countries such as China, India and Russia have been accumulating gold. In fact, China with its 1.3 billion people recently established a National Gold Exchange and relaxed control over the asset. Demand in China is expected to rise sharply and could reach 500 tons in the next few years.

13. Gold as Money is Gaining Credence
Islamic nations are investigating a currency backed by gold (the Gold Dinar), the new President of Argentina proposed, during his campaign, a gold backed peso as an antidote for the financial catastrophe which his country has experienced and Russia is talking about a fully convertible currency with gold backing.

14. Rising Geopolitical Tensions
The deteriorating conditions in the Middle East, the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and the growing conflict between the U.S. and China due to China's refusal to allow its currency to appreciate against the U.S. dollar headline the geopolitical issues, which could explode at anytime. A fearful public has a tendency to gravitate towards gold.

15. Limited Size of the Total Gold Market Provides Tremendous Leverage
All the physical gold in existence is worth somewhat more than $1 trillion U.S. Dollars while the value of all the publicly traded gold companies in the world is less than $100 billion US dollars. When the fundamentals ultimately encourage a strong flow of capital towards gold and gold equities, the trillions upon trillions worth of paper money could propel both to unfathomably high levels.

Gold is under-valued, under-owned and under-appreciated. It is most assuredly not well understood by most investors. At the beginning of the 1970′s when gold was about to undertake its historic move from $35 to $800 per ounce in the succeeding ten years, the same observations would have been valid. The only difference this time is that the fundamentals for gold are actually better.

P.S. It's simple, really. Demand is soaring. Supplies are plummeting. And if you don't buy gold now, you may not get the chance to later.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Understanding the Financial Crisis - very well explanation!

*If you received this via email, click on the link at "Posted by ECGMA to ECBeez Blog" to view the blogpost"*

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

7-Eleven's 'Price for Prize' on Facebook                               


7-ELEVEN Malaysia Sdn Bhd, the owner and operator of the 7-Eleven chain of convenience stores in Malaysia, will be giving away attractive prizes worth over RM8,000 through the country's first real-time game show on its official Facebook page at

Aptly named "Price For Prize", the real-time game show is open to over 10 million Malaysian Facebook users.

The game show will take place on 7-Eleven Malaysia's Facebook page every Tuesday and Thursday, from noon to 2pm, for three weeks from May 23 to June 13.

The "Price For Prize" event leverages on Facebook, where thousands of people can compete in real-time in the first round to guess the total price of the items in a basket. Ten lucky players will then proceed to go head-to-head in the second round.

Five participants who survived the elimination in the second round will stay on to the third and final round, when one lucky player wins all the items in the basket and a bonus mystery item.

The bonus items will differ each week and include a Sony camera, a Canon camera, two Garmin GPS, a Sony PSP and an Apple iPod. Weekly winners will automatically qualify to compete in the finale on June 13, where the grand winner will take home a new iPad 2.

"We have been steadily enhancing our in-store experience and having an online and hugely social experience like 'Price For Prize' allows us to show our customers the type of experiences we have for them now and the future," said 7-Eleven Malaysia executive director Tan U- Ming in a statement.

The new game show was developed with local digital agency FutureLab Asia.

Updated: 09:05PM Mon, 16 May 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Best of Success

The year was 1983. In Australia, the long-distance foot race from Sydney to Melbourne was about to begin, covering 875 kilometers - more than 500 miles! About 150 world-class athletes had entered, for what was planned as a six-day event. So race officials were startled when a 61-year-old man approached and handed them his entry form.

His name was Cliff Young, and his "racing attire" included overalls and galoshes over his work boots.

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At first, they refused to let him enter. So he explained that he'd grown up on a 2,000-acre farm, with thousands of sheep. His family could afford neither horses nor tractors so, when the storms came, his job was to round up the sheep. Sometimes, he said, it would take two or three days of running.

Finally, they let Cliff enter, and the race began. The others quickly left him way behind, shuffling along in his galoshes. But he didn't know the plan included stopping each night to rest, so he kept going.

By the fifth day, he had caught them all, won the race, and became a national hero. He continued to compete in long-distance races until well up in his seventies. He was an inspiration to millions and a great encourager of younger runners.

In his honor and memory, in 2004, the year after his death at age 81, the organizers of the race where he first gained fame permanently changed its name to the Cliff Young Australian Six Day Race.

What was the key to Cliff Young's success? It goes by various names: determination, perseverance, persistence, tenacity. It means keeping one's eye fixed steadfastly on a goal, and not stopping, no matter the difficulties or the obstacles, until that goal is achieved.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Why Does Groupon Work? - Atlantic Mobile

Why Does Groupon Work?

Megan McArdle | May 11, 2011

Last week, Felix Salmon had a long blog piece titled "Grouponomics" which was pretty bullish on the targeted web coupon.  I've been mulling this for a week, trying to determine whether I think that this has long-term revolutionary potential, or whether it will end up being a flash in the pan.

To start with, I'm hazy about what function Groupon serves.  Is it a traditional coupon service, which simply allows businesses to price discriminate--selling their product expensively to the people who are pressed for time, and cheaply for those who can afford to spend their Sunday mornings clipping modest savings out of the local paper?  I think the answer is obviously not: Groupons offer fairly substantial savings for virtually no effort. 

Yet the discounting is fairly expensive for the Groupon offerer.  Take a typical $20-for-$40 worth of food restaurant deal.  As I understand it, the restaurant splits that $20 equally with Groupon, which means that they're now providing $40 worth of food for $10.  Sure, we might order drinks and dessert, adding $40 to that $10 you already got.  But keep in mind that even though this isn't a classic price discrimination strategy, a significant number of your customers are going to be price constrained--the sort of people who can't really afford to go to your restaurant unless they get a coupon.  Those people are going to nurse one drink and skip dessert, giving you a net loss.  Unless your restaurant has some abnormally fat margins, or your average Groupon buyer is a raging alcoholic, you're not likely to make very much money off such a deal, even if you're just filling surplus seats.  One study found that 32% of Groupon merchants lost money (with restaurants faring worst) and 40% said they wouldn't do it again; even people who made money had staff problems due to high volume and, er, cheap tippers:

"Because the Groupon customer base is made up of deal-seekers and bargain shoppers, they might not tip as well as an average customer or be willing to purchase beyond the deal," Dholakia said. "So employees need to be prepared for this type of customer and the sheer volume of customers that might come through."
So why do it?  If I'm already a regular at the restaurant, this is terrible business; I'm going to go in and pay less for a meal I would already have eaten.  Maybe you encourage me to eat an extra meal there, but as we discussed, is that a profitable extra meal?  

Maybe, if you have empty tables.  But it's not likely to be a very profitable meal, and it has costs: extra strain on the kitchen, extra product to the tables. The sheer volumes that Groupon drives may alienate either existing or new customers, as crowds make the place less pleasant and service slows.

Evan Miller channels Kevin Murphy to argue that Groupon is essentially creating extra consumer surplus by allowing vendors to sell at a lower price only if multiple people sign on.  I completely see the logic with something like hotel rooms or booze cruise seats, where you've essentially got a wasting asset: filling it at almost any price is better than not selling it.  But that doesn't describe businesses like restaurants, which do have significant marginal cost.  And in fact we've already seen businesses complaining that the Groupons didn't make them money, or that Groupon sales people suggested they raise their prices substantially just before the Groupon "discount".  

It's also worth pointing out that the model Evan Miller is looking at seems to be a monopoly.  It's relatively easy to produce extra consumer surplus from a monopoly situation.  In the competitive universe that most businesses operate in, it seems fairly likely that Groupon is simply re-allocating money between restaurants.  Essentially, they're competing to offer extremely low-cost meals.  In businesses like this, what's the benefit of getting 2,000 people to commit to taking up your tables and server time serving substantially less profitable meals?

Which makes me think that Groupon is just advertising, and fairly expensive advertising.  It has some virtues: you only pay for people who actually commit to come to your business.  But of course, it also has some drawbacks, both for the vendors and for Groupon.  It's hard to restrict to new customers--and the people who already like your product are probably the most likely to use the coupon.  (Propane Taxi, a propane delivery service we already use, recently had a Groupon which they limited, to our great disappointment, to new customers.  But they can check whether we're already in their database; most restaurants and bars can't.) And the business model is clearly extremely easy to emulate, since lots of companies are, many of them offering better deals for the customers, such as getting your coupon free if you recruit three people.  Felix argues that Groupon will benefit from superior targeting capabilities as its network grows, but if it's network and targeting capabilities are so great, how come it just targeted me with a groupon (limit 25) for a pool membership in Southwest DC? (I live in Northeast). 

Despite the hype, my subjective experience is that these realities are starting to be reflected in the quality of the deals available on Groupon.  Initially, there were a fair number of great deals that I eagerly snapped up.  But I'm buying fewer and fewer these days, because as merchants have gotten savvier about the costs, I'm finding that more and more of the deals aren't very good.  

Peter and I made the mistake of paying quite a lot of money for a scotch tasting--something I've enjoyed doing in the past--which, through the magic of Groupon, turned out to be an opportunity to stand in lengthy lines in a hotel lobby for the privilege of tasting mostly pretty ordinary bottles from a liquor store's stock.  They'd clearly allocated a very limited number of pricey bottles to a tasting for which they'd sold hundreds of tickets, so they quickly ran out of anything older or more interesting.  We did end up buying a couple of interesting blends, but the experience annoyed the hell out of both of us, which has not enamored us of either Groupon, or the liquor store.

Take a look at the other deals which are available to me on Groupon today:

$5 for $10 Worth of Pizza and Beverages at a local pizza chain
$35 for a Six Pack of Selected Wines or a Grey Goose and Cristallino Gift Set at the same liquor store in Maryland that sold us the horrible scotch tasting
$15 for $30 Worth of Personalized Gifts and Stationery from Tickle Bellies
$2,500 for LASIK Surgery for Both Eyes at LasikPro ($5,000 Value)
$15 for $30 Worth of Glassware, Bar Gear, and Luxury Home-Entertaining Items from CocktailVibe
$99 for an Initial Consultation and Two Hours of Interior Redesign and Planning from Decorating Den Interiors ($200 Value)
$79 for a Dryer-Vent Cleaning or Chimney Sweep from Mitchel's Chimney & Masonry Specialists Inc. (Up to $179 Value)
The first is a traditional Groupon, but on a low-cost product that makes it barely worth remembering to print out the coupon.  The second--well, I don't recommend them, that's all.  

The personalized stuff and glassware Groupons are maybe good deals, and presumably also good for the merchant--when you get to the store, I presume you discover that anything you really want costs way more than $30, and their cost of goods sold is pretty low.  But their uptake seems to be pretty small for an online offer.

The Lasik is almost certainly a "raise prices and discount" situation--you have no idea what their normal price is.  Even so, who wants discount eye surgery?  (11 people, apparently.  Good luck with that).

The last two are just using Groupon for a very traditional service business model: low-cost services or "consultations" that they use to upsell you more expensive services.  I can get equally good "deals" by going to their website, or finding a copy of the Yellow Pages.

But perhaps these deals just aren't targeted to me?  Maybe not, but to whom are they targeted?  How is Groupon's deal of the day a three month single-person pool membership that only 25 people can buy?  This is in a city with 600,000 residents.

Not all the deals are that specialized, obviously, but I do think there's been a real decrease in the quality of the deals available.  And I assume that this is due to two factors: competition from other sites, and the increasing sophistication of merchants themselves about the possibilities of these sites.  As they hear the complaints from other vendors, they're becoming more strategic about how they offer deals.  This will prevent problems like this, but also limit the value to consumers.

I'm not predicting gloom and doom for Groupon by any means.  But nor am I convinced that Groupon is the next Facebook/Google/insert website here.  Advertising is a profitable business.  But the kind of advertising that Groupon does has some limitations--it cannot simply grow indefinitely.  In a lot of local markets, I think that Groupon is going to bump up against that capacity fairly quickly, particularly as competitors like LivingSocial make inroads.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

People You Don’t Want to Meet: Two Faced Backstabbers
People You Don't Want to Meet: Two Faced Backstabbers
We go through life meeting lots of people.  Some make you happy, some make you smile, some can be counted and then there are some whom you would rather not have ever met.  There are lots of reasons that would make you want to avoid meeting certain people like they are mean or evil.  Mainly though I am talking about personality types which are difficult to deal with and just better to be avoided all together.  Sometimes it takes some time before we realize a person we know is on the bad list.  Some of us take longer than others to connect the dots.
Horrible Personality Number One :
Two Faced Back Stabbers
Two faced back stabbers are public enemy number 1.  They are nice to you and then turn around and say the worse things ever about.   We all are polite to most people and might be inclined to say mean things when we are with people whom we trust but the TFBS personality usually does this all the time and have another agenda.
Catching One
Just by observing them you can find them, they say they hate someone and then they turn around and are super nice to them.  You think they are best friends with someone else and then they turn around and gossip about them.  Some two faced backstabbers are smart and do these things subtly but if you concentrate you can usually catch them red handed.
How to deal with backstabbers
First of all you have to understand that you are not immune to them, just because they act like they respect you and swear they would never gossip about you don't beleive them.  The best way to deal with them is to stay away from them.  The problem is that sometimes you might not have that option. 
Once you have been backstabbed you always have the option of confrontation, people who feel the need to act that way are usually cowards and can be scared off by just telling them that you know what they're doing, of course they will deny but it will stop them for some time.  I find that the best way is to not tell them anything, not to get close and to keep all conversations to a minimum of small talk.  Never ever go down to their level and backstab back, that's just petty not to mention makes you a TFBS. 
Avoid private time with them if you can too, be cordial and polite but don't get sucked into the little soap operas that seem to always unfold around them. Stay away from situations where that person gossips and make it clear that you don't want to listen to them talking about someone else in a way that is not nice. If you can't stay away ignore them and never agree with them or offer your opinion on someone else or they will turn around, twist your words and use them against you somehow, they are double crossers by definition.
How do you deal with the TFBS people in your life?
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Computerworld Malaysia - SAP Malaysia has new MD

SAP Malaysia has new MD
AvantiKumar | May 4, 2011

PHOTO - Serene Sia, SAP Malaysia MD. 
KUALA LUMPUR, 4 MAY 2011 - Business software firm SAP has appointed a new managing director to manage its Malaysia-based customers.
SAP Southeast Asia president Tim Moylan said that with immediate effect, Serene Sia would oversee the company's business and operations in Malaysia as the new managing director.
"She also handles a regional role as vice president of the strategic industries and top accounts (SITA) of SAP Southeast Asia," said Moylan. "The SITA division is responsible for selling to, servicing and partnering with SAP's most elite and strategic customers. In this role, Serene is responsible for all revenues and P&L activities associated with the strategic industries such as the public or government sector, financial sector, utilities, as well as oil and gas, high complexity and often including multiple countries and other related services."
"Malaysia continues to be one of our key markets in Southeast Asia and it is very important that we have someone who knows the Malaysian market well and also has years of experience in implementing world-class solutions in various industries such as the public sector, financials, utilities and oil and gas," he said.
"In Serene's appointment, we were once again able to look internally within SAP for top talent," he said. "I'm confident that Serene will continue to lead the Malaysia team and better drive business growth, innovation and simplification to help more companies run better."
Moylan added that Sia has more than 13 years of experience in business management and sales across Southeast Asia with specialisation in the fields of human capital management solutions, public sector including healthcare, defence, as well as utility and oil and gas.
"Malaysia is a country that's rich in natural resources, populous and has a high GDP [gross domestic product] growth economy," said Sia. "I am very proud and excited to be given this opportunity to lead our talented team here. I was born and raised in Malaysia and it's good to be back."
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

BlackBerry BES welcomes iPhone, iPad, and Android into the fold

BlackBerry BES welcomes iPhone, iPad, and Android into the fold

By Jason Hiner | May 2, 2011, 3:10 PM PDT

The biggest pitch RIM makes for businesses to adopt BlackBerry devices is that they are a lot more secure and easier for IT to manage, which — more than the devices themselves — is made possible by the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) backend. RIM appears to have accepted that it's living in a pluralistic mobile world and that it can no longer use BES to force companies to only support BlackBerry devices because on Monday at BlackBerry World 2011 RIM announced plans for a multiplatform upgrade to BES that will allow it to also support and manage iPhone, iPad, and Android smartphones and tablets.

At the opening press conference of BlackBerry World 2011 in Orlando, RIM admitted that CIOs have been pressuring the company to allow BES to iOS and Android devices in addition to BlackBerry devices.

In order to make this happen quickly, RIM announced that it is acquiring ubitexx, which makes a cross-platform device management solution that not only support iOS and Android, but also Microsoft and Nokia devices. The upgraded version of BES will be released "later this year."

RIM was careful to note: "Overall, as is largely understood in the enterprise market today, organizations can expect a range of security, manageability and controls depending on different device platform capabilities, with some devices further limited by the design of their operating system."

In other words, not all of the devices have a great security model for how they handle data, encryption, remote administration, etc. That's where RIM will still pitch the BlackBerry as the most secure and IT-controllable device, while also offering some backend management for other devices, especially the ones users themselves are bringing into the organization.

The other big update to BES that RIM announced was a new and improved Web console for IT administrators. Here's RIM's description (from the official press release):

The single web-based console is being designed to provide IT administrators with a simple and efficient way to distribute software and manage policies, inventory, security and services for BlackBerry devices, as well as other mobile devices. IT administrators will be able to manage devices over-the-air, including activating devices, distributing software and applications, locking or wiping devices, enforcing and resetting device passwords, setting IT policies, and managing optional mobile applications for end users. Certain features are expected to remain exclusive to BlackBerry devices because such capabilities are built into the design of a device's operating system. Examples include RIM's industry-leading push technology, network and data usage efficiency, behind-the-firewall access to enterprise applications and systems, and many of the over 550 IT policies available through BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
Bottom line
Overall, it's hard to see the cross-platform play as anything but a wise move for RIM. It allows the company to play to its strengths and continue to sell its CIO-favorite BES platform to high-security environments like governments and financial services companies that no longer want or need an all-BlackBerry solution. And, for the companies that implement BES as a cross-platform solution, it still allows RIM to pitch BlackBerry devices as an upsell for security and manageability.
However, the most important factor may be RIM acknowledging that it's going to have to survive in a mobile world where it's no longer the king of the hill — even in the enterprise. It's also good to see RIM beefing up and putting the spotlight on BES, which could turn out to be the company's more valuable asset in the long run than BlackBerry devices, which are in the midst of a difficult and uncertain platform transition as well as intense competition from Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

This article was originally published on ZDNet.
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Apple - iPad in Business - Profiles - Hyatt Hotels & Resorts

Enhancing guest services globally with iPad.

For over 50 years, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts have aimed to make guests feel more than welcome by providing amenities and services that meet their needs as quickly and directly as possible. With iPad, Hyatt now has the ideal platform to deliver the kind of seamless guest services the company prides itself on — not to mention a powerful, portable business tool for executives in Hyatt's corporate headquarters.

"We're all about home away from home," says John Prusnick, Director of IT Innovation & Strategy for Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. "We're also all about 'high touch,' meaning the interaction with the guest. We're enabling that with iPad. The combination of the two has been very powerful for us to reach that operational vision."

From Hyatt's Chicago headquarters to individual properties throughout the world, iPad is changing the way this hotel empire does business. Features like instant-on power, fast Internet access, and a large, easy-to-use onscreen keyboard make iPad a valuable contributor in meetings — and many Hyatt executives now take iPads on business trips in place of laptops.

With iPad, Hyatt managers have an immediate, full-size view of their email, contacts, calendars, financial data, and other business resources wherever they are. "You can write up notes during a meeting, automatically make a PDF, and email it," says John Wallis, Hyatt Hotels Corporation's Global Head, Marketing & Brand Strategy. "In our office, iPad has already become part and parcel of the way we do business."

"I don't carry my diary anymore," adds Harmit Singh, Hyatt Hotels Corporation's Chief Financial Officer. "I don't carry a calculator. I used to subscribe to all the journals: the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times. That's all disappeared. It's all on iPad."

Boardroom to Guest Room
With hundreds of iPads already in employees' hands and thousands more in the works, Hyatt keeps finding new ways to use iPad to streamline operations. Plans are now underway to deploy iPad throughout the organization, enhancing everything from registration to in-room services.

"We're looking at ways to make things simpler for business travelers," Singh says. "Making check-in easier after a flight or a long day's work, making it easy to access the Internet."

When guests walk into Hyatt's boutique-style Andaz hotels, they'll be greeted by hotel staff with iPads. "We can swipe your credit card, capture your signature, and check you into the hotel," Prusnick explains. "We even have the ability on iPad to encode your key so you can go directly into your room."

Hyatt is also developing iPad-accessible apps that allow guests to order room service, view hotel amenities, review charges, and check out. "Business travelers are bringing their own iPads on trips," says Prusnick. "We want to enhance their experience and allow them to manage their stay, leveraging iPad."

Guest Services Go Mobile
The portability, large screen, and long battery life of iPad make it uniquely suited to the round-the-clock, perpetual-motion world of hospitality. "Imagine a large convention center hotel where there are 1000 people wanting to check out," says Prusnick. "Now we're able to empower hotel staff with iPads and allow them to quickly and easily check out guests."

iPad is also a natural fit for the concierge staff, he notes: "They're showing guests how to get to restaurants or the theater, and showing them the capabilities of the hotel. If guests want to see what the spa looks like or book a golf tee time, they use iPad."

And for Hyatt's sales team, iPad has been transformative. Rather than carrying bulky portfolios, they can show potential clients crisp digital images on iPad, or even display videos of property highlights. "It's a great tool to sell the hotel," Wallis says. "Especially in this industry, where you've got to show bedrooms, banquet space, all the things we have to offer guests."

Secure and Simple
For the IT staff, supporting iPad has been a straightforward process requiring no formal user training. Using the same infrastructure and messaging platform Hyatt has already established for iPhone, users simply enter their account information and immediately begin using the device.

"We use Lotus Traveler as the core platform to integrate with our messaging collaboration system, Lotus Notes — and users have full access to our VPN infrastructure," says Prusnick. "Through the Exchange ActiveSync technology enabled within iPad, we're able to get instant synchronization of mail, contacts, and calendars without any IT involvement."

Another non-issue is security. "Hyatt is confident that iPad meets security requirements," Prusnick states. "It's fast, it's secure, and it's easy to use. iPad has integrated Cisco IPsec, so we can securely authenticate users into the environment."

Up and Running
Once the devices are activated, users can expand the capabilities of their iPads by downloading business apps such as Keynote, Documents To Go, and Dropbox from the App Store. "With the App Store and the iOS platform, users can find and implement their own solutions without IT intervention," says Prusnick.

From Hyatt's headquarters to individual properties throughout the world, iPad is changing the way this company does business. "With iPad, the interaction between the guest and ourselves is now seamless," Wallis says. "iPad has changed our world forever."
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