Akio Morita On Management

For the past few weeks, I’ve been reading Made In Japan, a story about Akio Morita‘s life and the first three decades since the founding of Sony Corporation.

I haven’t finished this book, but the last chapter titled ‘On Management’ was very interesting and it struck a chord with me. I’ve seen enough management decisions that were short sighted and proven to be wrong in the long run, throughout the 12 years I’ve been in the industry, and some of them could’ve been avoided or at least improved had the people behind them had better insights. I think everyone can learn a thing or two from these quotes…


pg 144
The most important mission for a Japanese manager is to develop a healthy relationship within the corporation, a feeling that employees and managers share the same fate.
pg 153
What we in industry learned in dealing with people is that people do not work just for money and that if you’re trying to motivate, money is not the most effective tool. To motivate people, you must bring them into the family and treat them like respected members of it.
pg 158
In the Japanese case, the business does not start out with the entrepreneur organizing his company using the worker as a tool. He starts a company and he hires personnel to realize his idea, but once he hires employees he must regard them as colleagues or helpers, not as tools for making profits.
pg 158
The investor and the employee are in the same position, but sometimes the employee is more important, because he will be there a long time whereas an investor will often get in and out on a whim in order to make a profit.
pg 162
At our company we are challenged to bring our ideas out into the open. If they clash with others, so much the better, because out of it may come something good at a higher level.
pg 163
If you and I had exactly the same ideas on all subjects, it would not be necessary for both of us to be in this company and receive a salary. Either you or I should resign in that case. It is precisely because you and I have different ideas that this company will run a smaller risk of making mistakes.


pg 165
Who could tell us better how to structure the work more than the people who are doing it?
pg 167
Go ahead and do what you think is right. If you make a mistake, you will learn from it. Just don’t make the same mistake twice.
pg 168
In Western countries, management lays off workers when a recession sets in. In Japan we just do not do that unless we have been brought to the direst point.
pg 170
And when a company is in trouble, it is the top management who take salary cuts before the lower-level employees.
pg 171
Despite the work of the Harvard Business School and others, and the increasing number of holders of advanced degrees in business administration, management is an elusive thing that cannot always be judged by next quarter’s bottom line. Management can look good on the bottom line but at the same time may be destroying the company by failing to invest in the future.
pg 171
To my mind, the performance of a manager is measured by how well that manager can organize a large number of people and how effectively he or she can get the highest performance from each of the individuals and blend them into a coordinated performance.
pg 173
In my view, profit doesn’t have to be so high, because in Japanese companies our shareholders do not clamor for immediate returns; rather they prefer long-term growth and appreciation. Of course we have to make a profit, but we have to make a profit over the long haul, not just the short term, and that means we must keep investing in research and development.
pg 174
I learned that an enemy of this innovation could be your own sales organization, if it has too much power, because very often these organizations discourage innovation.
pg 174
If you are nothing but profit-conscious, you cannot see the opportunities ahead. And where compensation is tied to profits, very often management will say, “Why should I sacrifice my own profits today for the guy who is going to follow me a few years from now?” Too often management will abandon work on a promising product because development costs seem to high. That can be short-sighted and can lead to the inability of a company to compete.


pg 186
People who are running a business ought to know their business very well. If the accountant had been in charge of our little company in 1946, our company would be a small operation making parts for the giants. Likewise, someone who is only a scientist is not always the best person to have at the helm.
pg 187
Whether the design, the technology, the merchandising, or the promotion was bad, the failure was a failure of management.
pg 187
Managers who do not have the capability to judge from a technical standpoint whether a product is feasible or not are at a tremendous disadvantage. I have always felt that the idea that professional managers can move from one industry to another is dangerous. Even being in the business and being knowledgeable about it is no guarantee that all the possible opportunities will be exploited and that mistakes will not be made.
pg 188
It is possible to have a good idea, a fine invention, but still miss the boat, so product planning, which means deciding how to use technology in a given product, demands creativity. Only with these three kinds of creativity — technology, product planning, and marketing — can the public receive the benefit of a new technology. And without an organization that can work together, sometimes over a very long period, it is difficult to see new projects to fruition.

The above came only from one chapter of the book, the rest of it was even more fascinating, the story of his childhood, the second World War, the people behind Sony, the technical and business sides of their product development, and the comparison between Japanese and Western philosophies.

I picked up this book after learning from Steve Jobs biography that both Akio Morita and Sony were inspirations to Steve and many people at Apple, I was curious, and now I understand why the legend is such an inspiration.

Note: If you’re a geek interested in reading the book, please also note that it contains lots of chapters on business and management.

100 Kiva Loans Later

Today I made my 100th micro loan on Kiva.org . I joined Kiva in July 2007 and today I have $275 across 15 active loans, so I’m one of those people with a minimal fund who re-loan as soon as there’s enough repayment.

Here are some stats from my portfolio:

The interesting numbers here are the 1.62% delinquency rate and 0.68% default rate. Yep, default happens in microfinance world.

Portfolio distribution:

  • Gender: 65% female, 35% male.
  • 54 countries. Top 5: Tajikistan, Peru, Kyrgyzstan, Cambodia, Paraguay.
  • 13 sectors. Top 5: food, agriculture, retail, clothing, construction.
  • 73 field partners.

Map view of portfolio distribution, darker green = more loans.

Hey I just met you, this is crazy, but let’s make the world a better place, so join Kiva, maybe?

Apple Facts 95 – PowerBook, MessagePad

Look what I found at my dad’s home office in Jakarta?

Apple Facts 8.95 – a concise guide to Apple products offered worldwide.

I didn’t know Apple used to have gazillion of products. Apple printers?

Why Macintosh? I started using an Apple MacBook Pro about 2 years ago, and after 6 months I was convinced that it was by far the most productive environment I had ever used. It’s cool to know that it was also the case back in the 90s.

Macintosh PowerBook Duo 2300c/100, Apple’s smallest and lightest PowerBook at less than 5 pounds.

In all its 100 megahertz and 56 MB glory.

Meet Apple MessagePad 120, the ancestor of iPad. No matter where you happen to be.

Pardon my lack of Apple-Fu, I sure didn’t know that ARM architecture was there in Apple products in the 90s.

Printed on recycled paper, of course.

I also spotted the original packaging of the Macintosh that my dad used for his design works back then, but I forgot to take a picture. *major facepalm*

Australia According To NodeUp

I’m a fan of NodeUp, a podcast of all things Node.js-related, and a great source of thoughts/opinions from the who’s who in Node.js community.

Putting the serious stuff aside, the show has a running joke where the hosts put on their best effort to prop up Bislr, one of the show’s sponsors, by saying hilarious things about Australia. And it actually worked, us Australians (at least myself and those I know) love it, and I sure won’t forget the name Bislr for at least the next couple of years.

Here are some interesting facts about Australia… (Note: some of these are actually true)

Ep 37:

  • They’ve imported a bunch of kangaroos and maybe a wallaby or two.
  • They’ve bought these special toilets so that they free bidet with your thing, for washing your backside.
  • Australian toilets are like Portuguese toilets.

Ep 36:

  • They brought kangaroos, and boomerangs.
  • They’re issuing boomerangs to all new hires.
  • They smuggled the boomerangs in the kangaroo pouches, in the kangaroos. And probably some beer.

Ep 35:

  • Great Aussies, jumpin’ around on backs of kangaroo.
  • The Australian office is great and we love talking about Australia…
  • I’m sure that they brought at least one kangaroo with them. So there’s probably a kangaroo,  just hopin’ around the office and shitin’ everywhere.
  • You can hang out with that kangaroo in San Francisco or jump around with them in the outback in Australia.

Ep 34:

  • See what it likes to hang out with kangaroos.
  • Literally, quite literally, all baristas in Europe are from Australia.
  • With a couple sneaking in from New Zealand, but I think by way of Australia.
  • If you didn’t want to hang out with kangaroos, I don’t know why…


  • They have imported their kangaroos all the way back from Australia to San Francisco.

Ep 16:

  • It is sunny as always.
  • It’s in the southern hemisphere, the water spirals in a different direction in your toilet, it spirals upwards rather than downwards.
  • It’s f***** messy, it really is, you got to bring a hose.
  • Kangaroos, best transport ever.
  • It’s warm ever.
  • Boomerang, it’s pretty much how you grab things at the bar, like beer.
  • You throw boomerang, it comes back, it brings things with it.
  • Boomerang only does one point of damage, you don’t want to use it on any kind of large enemies, plus the larger enemies have shields, so it bounces right off.

Ep 15:

  • More interesting, always sunny, always beer.
  • Fairly laid back working environment.
  • They also have marshmallows.
  • Kangaroos, 1980 fashion.
  • The kangaroos bring the marshmallows for your beer while you’re at the beach.
  • It’s a small island. Its own continent by some definition.
  • Inhabitable, spiders, and snakes. Large poisonous things.

Ep 14:

  • It’s sunny, in the 80s, and there is infinite beer.

Ep 13:

  • It’s always sunny.
  • The 1980s are still going strong after 30 odd years.
  • You can ride a kangaroo to work.

Ep 12:

  • Not Austria, that’s the one with Hitler.
  • The other one, the south one, the good one, the kangaroo.
  • Hang out at the beach, ride around in kangaroos, drink beer out of garbage cans.

Ep 11:

  • We have learned about Australia from Looney Tunes.
  • You order a fish, they put a shark on the table, and a giant bucket of beer.
  • They do have buckets of bad beer at all the bars.
  • Getting a visa to Australia is incredibly easy.

Ep 10:

  • It’s just daylight all day, all day long, and all night, and it never stops.
  • It’s really warm, and there is kangaroos.

Ep 9:

  • It’s sunny, and they play table tennis down there, and drink beer.

Ep 8:

  • M****f***** Australia, kangaroos!
  • In Australia, it’s still in the 80s. So… neon.
  • The movies are still a little more awesome.
  • Sunny, warm there, good food actually.
  • Be in Australia, it’s a positive thing.
  • You can just go to Australia, it’s populated by criminals, they have kangaroos there.
  • It has fewer criminals than the United States.
  • They are commonwealth, still technically part of the theocracy.
  • They don’t like paying taxes to a country that they have nothing to do with, they are very upset about that.
  • There, they really hate the English.
  • There is a pretty active node community down there.
  • They speak English, which is not the norm for other countries.

Ep 7:

  • It’s apparently very nice there, and usually it’s sunny, in the 80s.
  • Beer flowing and table tennis in the afternoon.
  • They are pretty cool people.
  • It’s really an awesome place, specially if you like surfing or good weather.

Ep 6:

  • Beer kinda sucks in Australia, but they have kangaroo.
  • They bring you the huge giant trash can, as seen on the commercial.
  • They don’t drink Foster’s.
  • You can’t go wrong with the kangaroo.
  • They import beer from other places too, they do have Budweiser too in Australia.

Ep 4:

  • Australia is awesome.
  • They have kangaroos there, actual kangaroos.

TODO: episode 5

NOTE: No sponsor(s) on Ep 1-3.

This post will be updated with future episodes. NodeUp hosts, please keep telling the world about how awesome Australia is! :D

Mamiya RB67

My earliest memory of real photography was this Mamiya camera my dad used for his work. My dad was an entrepreneur and started a small advertising company in the 80s, which means I grew up surrounded by tons of printing, design, photography, and various other creative works.

The above pictures were taken at the garage of my parents’ house back in Jakarta, Indonesia, sometime in the 90s.

Kelly Johnson In Skunk Works

I still have 80 pages to go on Skunk Works, but this book has been one of the best I’ve ever read.

The story revolves around an elite group within Lockheed Martin called Skunk Works, who worked on top secret projects and engineered some of the most famous aircraft in the history of aviation. The book was authored by Ben Rich, Skunk Works second director, and central to the story was Clarence ‘Kelly’ Johnson, the founder of Skunk Works who was a genius on both technical and management fronts.

There were many gems scattered throughout the pages, but my personal favourites were these words of wisdom during conversations between Kelly Johnson and Ben Rich.

The first one was when Ben told Kelly about his plan to attend a 13-week advance program at Harvard Business School, which was only available to 150 carefully selected executives. Kelly wrote Ben a glowing recommendation, but still insisted that it would be a complete waste of Ben’s time.

I’ll teach you all you need to know about running a company in one afternoon, and we’ll both go home early to boot. You don’t need Harvard to teach you that it’s more important to listen than to talk. You can get straight As from all your Harvard profs, but you’ll never make the grade unless you’re decisive: even a timely wrong decision is better than no decision. The final thing you need to know is don’t half-heartedly wound problems – kill them dead. That’s all there is to it. Now you can run this goddamn place. Now, go home and pour yourself a drink.

After Ben completed the program and returned to Skunk Works, Kelly asked him for his appraisal of the Harvard Business School. Ben wrote the equation: 2/3 of HBS = BS .

The second one was when Ben revealed that he had been approached by Northrop, a rival company, and was offered a significant salary raise along with the opportunity to build a Skunk Works-style group within Northrop. Here’s part of Kelly’s response…

Hell, in the main plant they give raises on the basis of the more people being supervised; I give raises to the guy who supervises least. That means he’s doing more and taking more responsibility. But most executives don’t think like that at all. Northrop’s senior guys are no different from all of the rest in this busines: they’re all empire builders, because that’s how they’ve been trained and conditioned. Those guys are all experts at covering their asses by taking votes on what to do next. They will never sit still for a secret operation that cuts them out entirely. Control is the name of the game, and if a Skunk Works really operates right, control is exactly what they won’t get.

And the most inspiring of them all was Kelly’s can-do attitude which he used to improve the people around him. Here’s what he said after Ben told him that there was no practical application to liquid hydrogen because it was so dangerous to store and handle, based on Mark’s Mechanical Engineering Handbook, the engineer’s bible…

Goddam it, Rich, I don’t care what in hell that book says what you happen to think. Liquid hydrogen is the same as steam. What is steam? Condensed water. Hydrogen plus oxygen produces water. That’s all that liquid hydrogen really is. Now, get out there and do the job for me.

A must read, even if you’re not an engineer, even if you’re not running a company, specially if you like pushing the limit of what’s possible in whatever field you’re doing.

Watching TV Needs To Be A More Social Experience

Disclaimer: the title is just a disguise for feature request/suggestion to the fine folks at Apps Perhaps. But I do really think that watching TV should be more social over the web, and Apps Perhaps’ OzTV iPhone app hopefully has the opportunity to turn this into reality.

Four hours ago I started watching the gran finale of Iron Chef series run on SBS, Hiroyuki Sakai vs Alain Passard (it was awesome!), and the first thing I did after the show finished an hour later was to search for “Iron Chef” on Twitter, I wanted to find out other people’s comments regarding the episode. Sure I found many related tweets, but the search result was polluted by some other tweets about Iron Chef in general and had nothing to do with that particular episode.

That led me to think, wouldn’t it be nice if OzTV app is able to filter those tweets? What about knowing how many people are planning to watch the show before it airs? And to push it further into the realtime realm, how about finding out who else is watching a show when it airs? Think location check-in a la Facebook Places and Foursquare, but this one is for TV shows, click the “I’m watching Iron Chef” button and have a conversation with other Iron Chef fans using Twitter via OzTV app (purely just my imagination at this stage).

I first realised that us Australians do like to tweet about popular TV shows when Masterchef became a global Twitter trend for the first time. That’s when I started thinking that watching a TV show is actually (A) a gathering of people (B) with a common interest (C) at distributed locations. There got to be a way to turn those tweets (and any other form of online conversations about a TV show) into valuable statistics. What’s the most popular TV show today? this week? this month? Which TV show has the most number of people planning to watch it? or commenting about it when it airs? or liking it when the show is finished?

Having those statistics allows us to reveal more interesting information than the existing one dimensional TV rating system in Australia. Social sites like Twitter enables parts of the data, OzTV app is in a good position to enable the aggregation of those data along with their own data, and turn them into valuable statistics.

To add some substance, here are some ideas on how each feature might be implemented:

  • Conversation / filtering tweets about a TV show: generate a hashtag derived from the name of the show plus a prefix, e.g. #ozironchef, or identify the tweets mentioning the name of the show with geolocation of the place where the show airs at the time.
  • How many people are planning to watch a TV show: count the number of OzTV reminders against the show, or add an “I want to watch this” button.
  • How many people are watching a TV show: have an “I’m watching this” button, or count the number of people tweeting about the show when it airs.
  • Most popular TV shows: count the number of likes, conversations, etc, against the shows, rank them over periods of time. Perhaps TV channels would be interested to have their shows featured on OzTV app a la promoted tweets.

Pushing my luck, and this depends on the quality of the data that OzTV app has, it would also be cool if the TV show page on OzTV app also lists the Facebook pages and Twitter accounts of the people involved with the show. E.g. Masterchef page displays the Twitter account of the show hosts and contestants.

Watching TV needs to be a more social experience. The question is whether applications like OzTV app will morph from a content provider into a community of Facebook and Twitter users? I understand that, at the end of the day, it all depends on whether the users will use those theoretical features on OzTV app or not, and whether those users will get some benefit out of using those features. But if we look back at the number of people tweeting about Masterchef combined with the popularity of OzTV app, a social OzTV might just work.

Do one thing and do it well. Taking my thinking hat off, I can understand that OzTV app might want to fully concentrate on being the best TV guide it can be. Instead of worrying about the social aspect of watching TV, there are still so many other things it can do, many platforms to expand to, like iPad, Android, Windows Phone, etc. Let’s see how many years, if ever, social TV can become a reality.

Any chance of getting a VC funding, hiring more people, and making social TV happen sooner?

Update (09/07/2011): Twelevision has solved the conversation part of social TV.

Quotes From 37signals Rework

Pictured above is my copy of Rework. The photo was taken by Latte Girl at the State Library of Victoria.

If there’s ever going to be anyone changing the way we work and the way we run a business, then I’ll bet my money on the 37signals guys. This is one book I’d suggest everyone to read (unless you’re filthy rich and never have to work). I see Rework as the agile movement for the broader working industry. There are so many practices that are just brain-dead-absolute-must pick ups. The challenge out of this will be on the natural fact that people are uncomfortable with change, even when the change is for the better.

I finished reading Rework several months ago, and as usual, I kept a list of my favourite lines from the book. 37signals (via Jason Fried) kindly gave me permission to share those lines on my blog, so here they are:

Cover – What you need to do is stop talking and start working.

Ignore the real world

p14 – The real world isn’t a place, it’s an excuse. It’s a justification for not trying. It has nothing to do with you.

Failure is not a rite of passage

p17 – Success is the experience that actually counts.

Work work work work work

p25 – They (the workaholics) try to make up for intellectual laziness with brute force. This results in inelegant solutions.

Be a starter

p28 – You just need an idea, a touch of confidence, and a push to get started.

Make a dent in the universe

p31 – Don’t sit around and wait for someone else to make the change you want to see.

Scratch of your own itch

p34 – The easiest, most straightforward way to create a great product or service is to make something you want to use.


p38 – The most important thing is to begin.
p38 – The real question is how well you execute.

Not an excuse!

p40 – The truth is most people just don’t want it bad enough.


p57 – Actual businesses worry about profit from day one.

You need a commitment strategy not an exit strategy

p59 – You should be thinking about how to make your project grow and succeed, not how you’re going to jump ship.

Less is a good thing

p68 – So before you sing the “not enough” blues, see how far you can get with what you have.


p74 – Nail the basics first and worry about the specifics later.
p75 – Details just don’t buy you anything in the early stages.

Decisions are progress

p77 – Commit to making decisions. Don’t wait for the perfect solution. Decide and move forward.
p78 – Don’t make things worse by overanalysing and delaying before you even get going.

Get it out there

p93-94 – So we used the time before launch to solve more urgent problems that actually mattered on day one. Day 30 could wait.
p94 – … the best way to get there is through iterations. Stop imagining what’s going to work. Find out for real.

Pour yourself into your product

p139 – Pour yourself into your product and everything around your product too: how you sell it, how you support it, how you explain it, and how you deliver it. Competitors can never copy the you in your product.

Focus on you instead of they

p149 – It’s not a win-or-lose battle. Their profits and costs are their. Yours are yours.

Let your customers outgrow you

p157 – Scaring away new customers is worse than losing old customers.

Don’t out-spend, out-teach

p173 – Buying people’s attention with a magazine or online banner ad is one thing. Earning their loyalty by teaching them forms a whole different connection. They’ll trust you more. They’ll respect you more.

Fake fake fake

p183 – It’s OK if it’s not perfect. You might not seem as professional, but you will seem a lot more genuine.

Everything is marketing

p193 – Accounting is a department. Marketing isn’t. Marketing is something everyone in your company is doing 24/7/365.

Pass on great people

p206 – Great has nothing to do with it. If you don’t need someone, you don’t need someone.

What does 5 years experience mean anyway?

p213 – How long someone’s been doing it is overrated. What matters is how well they’ve been doing it.

Hire managers of 1

p220 – Managers of one are people who come up with their own goals and execute them. … How can you spot these people? … They’ve run something on their own or launched some kind of project.

Hire the better writer

p222 – Writing is today’s currency for good ideas.

Everyone on the front lines

p242 – It’s feeling the hurt that really motivates people to fix the problem. And the flip side is true too: The joy of happy customers or ones who have had a problem solved can also be wildly motivating.

Culture is the by-product of consistent behaviour

p249 – You can’t install a culture. Like a fine scotch, you’ve got to give it time to develop.

Decisions are temporary

p251 – Optimize for now and worry about the future later.

Build a rockstar environment

p253 – Cut the crap and you’ll find that people are waiting to do great work.

Send people home at five

p 258 – You want busy people. People who have a life outside of work. People who care about more than one thing. You shouldn’t expect the job to be someone’s entire life – at least not if you want to keep them around for a long time.

Inspiration expires now

p271 – Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator. But it won’t wait for you.

As I read through the book, I couldn’t stop relating each chapter with my own experience working in the industry for the past 9 years. And here’s hoping the next 9 years will be more rework-able.

My Take On People’s Takes On Google’s QR Code Push

So Google made a big push for QR Code usage in the US by sending window decals containing QR Code links to their top 100,000 business listings (via Favorite Places). This effort was covered by TechCrunch (TC) and Mobile Marketing Watch (MMW) among many other tech blogs / news sites out there. For the most part of the articles, they were only a rehash of Google’s original blog post, while the rest contained some original opinions from the authors, and this, along with some short sighted comments, was the part that bugged me.

Let’s start with a paragraph from TC article

Local businesses can also set up coupon offers through their Google directory page, which would turn the QR code into a mobile coupon, and help entice someone standing outside a store to come in: “If you found us on Google, you get 20% off.”

MMW not only copied exactly the same paragraph, but also added

This is where the true benefit lies.

And my take is… Coupon only benefits if you want to attract potential customers not standing outside a store, e.g. if you do a Google search and you find the Google directory page along with a coupon from the said business. On the other hand, if you do want to attract someone nearby your store, surely a large 20% discount or a SALE sign will do a better job than a garble of black and white dots inside a square.

I think the true benefits of having those QR Codes placed on the door of your restaurant/store are

  1. To convince the potential customers to use your business by exposing them to positive reviews and ratings.
    This is why Google only sent the window decals to their top listings, businesses having negative reviews might not be so keen.
  2. To increase the possibility of those (potential) customers revisiting your business by providing them with the address, map, and contact details.
    This replaces the traditional role of business cards.

Both points are nothing new, they already exist all along with print media (brochures, business cards) and human interaction (conversation, words of mouth). Brochures and business cards will eventually run out and there’s a limit to the number of people you can reach by talking directly to the person. So you move those content online, in this case as a Google business listing. And what is the easiest way to link you and those online content? QR Code! QR Code is the simplest mechanism to retrieve those content (point and click) and to keep the content with you (as a url bookmark on your mobile phone).

And next up is a question asked by MMW that’s already answered by the two points above.

… which begs the questions why would someone need the information if they’re already standing in front of the business?

The same reason why businesses often place their brochures containing those information (including address and contact details), right in front of the store itself? To attract passers by, to get them to enter their store.

Moving on to another point from MMW

Still, I think the learning curve associated with QR-codes and the device limitations will hinder the campaign from the beginning.

While I agree with the device limitations argument (considering we’re talking about the US here, and not Japan), I don’t think learning curve would be an issue. When I visited Japan, where QR Codes were everywhere, I saw elderly people scanning those codes with their phone just fine. If pointing and clicking using a mobile phone camera became a hindrance, then I seriously question the future of humanity.

Another point from MMW

iPhones and Android-based phones are the only devices capable of easily obtaining a QR-code reader support.

The definition of ‘easily’ is arguable, but here’s an extensive list of mobile phones with QR Code reader support.

And the last point from MMW

Google better provide extensive and informative call-to-actions with their decals to get people interested and informed about how it all works.

I think the demo video from Google is informative enough. I don’t think Google should emphasize on getting people interested. What’s better for Google to do is to make it easy for people to use this piece of technology. If it’s useful and easy to use, then people will eventually be interested.

Google needs to improve the availability of QR Code reader on more devices, just like what they’ve done with Barcode Scanner and zxing project. Perhaps Google should acquire QuickMark and release the iPhone app for free. I’m not sure whether people will be happy to pay $1.99 just to do something with those decals (considering Google suggested QuickMark app, and assuming the free readers weren’t that good). The Google-sponsored 40,000 downloads is definitely a nice start on their behalf.

Now, moving on to the comments on the TC article…

lewis shepherd said

Google proving it is a “fast follower,” copying Microsoft yet again. http://www.microsoft.com/tag . Not only following the technology,…

and Tim Acheson said

Microsoft had already launched their own barcode solution, Microsoft Tag

and LS sarcastically said

Microsoft once again copying Google’s barcode solution.

<sarcasm>I love it when people disregard the fact that QR Code was created by Denso-Wave in 1994 and it has been a royalty-free technology. These people tend to think that innovation only comes out of either Google, Microsoft, or Apple.</sarcasm>

One of the few comments that I like was from Research who said

Guys did you hear something about geotagging? Why do you need a sticker if you just can be next to the store pull your mobile phone and start the app which shows you whatever info you want to know about the area?

My respond to this is that ‘the sticker’ is useful as an indicator that the store has an online presence on Google directory page and that the store is a place worth checking. Imagine having a day trip and there are 15 stores that you find interesting, are you going to pull your phone each time and hope that the place you’re standing in front of has been geotagged or is listed on Google / other sites?

<tongue-in-cheek>Geotagging will make these window decals (not QR Code itself) obsolete when Apple offers iHuman app implant that connects your offline physical world to online data.</tongue-in-cheek>

Back to the comments… there were also quite a number of people talking about how Google has become too big, a monopoly, and I quote,

It’s one huge shark swallowing it all up.

I think despite how Google is becoming more and more evil, like Microsoft was back in the 90s, I’m glad that they keep pushing technologies that simplify life. And if they make tons of money out of the whole process, they do deserve it.

Garry Kasparov’s How Life Imitates Chess

I finished reading How Life Imitates Chess a few months ago, and finally had the chance to go through my notes this afternoon during lunch break.

Having followed the world of chess ever since I was a teenager, I’ve always been interested to know how great chess players think, to know their opinions about life, to know the things they went through to achieve their extraordinary skills… and this book offers exactly that.

Garry Kasparov wrote about his experience, his thinking process, and how he applied all those things into various aspects of life. These are my favourite quotes from the book:

Ch1 – The lesson
It’s not enough to be talented. It’s not enough to work hard and to study late into the night. You must also become intimately aware of the methods you use to reach your decisions.

Ch2 – Strategy
“Why?” is the question that separates visionaries from functionaries, great strategists from mere tacticians. You must ask this question constantly if you are to understand and develop and follow your strategy.

Ch3 – Strategy and tactics at work
… our goal is to improve our position. You must avoid creating weaknesses, find small ways to improve your pieces, and think small – but never stop thinking.

Ch4 – Calculation
A computer may look at millions of moves per second, but lacks a deep sense of why one move is better than another; this capacity for evaluation is where computers falter and humans excel. It doesn’t matter how far ahead you see if you don’t understand what you are looking at.

Ch5 – Talent
Break your routines, even to the point of changing ones you are happy with to see if you can find new and better methods.

Ch6 – Preparation
If you said you didn’t have enough time, that meant you were not well organized.

Botvinnik summed up his philosophy by stating, “The difference between man and animal is that man is capable of establishing priorities!”

Ch7 – MTQ: Material, time, quality
But I believe that by using your time wisely you can put all your material to your best advantage and achieve the ultimate goal of quality. That’s the promise of the material-time-quality concept–in chess and in life.

Ch8 – Exchanges and imbalances
If we can detect or cultivate a weak spot in our opponent’s position, we can then attempt to transform our position to take advantage of that weakness.

Ch 9 – Phases of the game
So dedicate yourself to making the time, finding a space in which you can think and learn, and finding new ideas with which to shock your adversaries.

Ch11 – Question success
Question the status quo at all times, especially when things are going well. When something goes wrong, you naturally want to do it better next time, but you must train yourself to want to do it better even when things go right.

Ch12 – The inner game
That’s why I always think of Simon Bolivar and remember that experienced soldier who studies the battlefields in the aftermath of the war returns with both wisdom and renewed courage.

Ch13 – Man vs. machine
Weak human + machine + superior process was greater than a strong computer and, remarkably, greater than a strong human + machine with an inferior process.

Ch14 – Intuition
As they develop, our instincts–our intuitive senses–become labor-saving and time-saving devices; they literally cut down the time it takes to make a proper evaluation and act. You can collect and analyze new information forever without ever making a decision. Something has to tell you when the law of diminishing returns is kicking in. And that something is intuition.

Ch15 – Crisis point
But in fact, crisis really means a turning point, a critical moment when the stakes are high and the outcome uncertain. It also implies a point of no return. This signifies both danger and opportunity…

Another thing I like about this book is that it also validates my belief on the importance of wanting to improve the way you do things, and also on the importance of understanding what you are doing.

And regarding Garry’s current involvement in politics… as much as I wish him all the best, I’m afraid this is one battle he’s unlikely to win despite his brilliance (and I’d love to be proven wrong!). Politics defy any form of logic and reasoning, chess is a much more peaceful world in any way.