Thursday, September 29, 2005

Renewing the passport

It's that time again. Unfortunately Canadian passports are only good for 5 years. This will be the second time I've had to renew my passport abroad. Pretty scary.

Coming up on a decade of living abroad.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Long time, no posting...

Recently was reminded that it's been sometime since I posted something new. It has been a long time since I posted and an even longer time since I uploaded any images.

Excuse is that I've been firing on all cyclinders for work. Also, being part of a global team means sometimes being on conference calls at night, so...

In addition, volunteered to create a drink menu for our restaurant and am also trying to fit some reading in.

Conclusion: 24 hours is not enough.

San Francisco, first time in over 20 years

P9140091, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

Visited San Francisco for an evening while I was visiting U.S. office.

First time I've been to San Fransciso since 1984 when we came down to Los Angeles for the '84 Olympics.

Don't remember a whole lot from then... Golden Gate bridge and Pier 49, that's about it.

Heard it's changed a lot even in the last 5 - 10 years.

SMB Nation 2005

P9110079, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

SMB Nation 2005 was held at the Microsoft Conference Center. I expected more of a "Death Star" feel, but was actually quite nice. Really did resemble a university campus.

Plus couldn't beat the free beverages and snacks they kept putting out.

Redmond Town Center

P9090048, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

Lots of people joked this place seemed like the same town in the movie "The Truman Show" with Jim Carrey.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Redmond and SMB Nation Conference

Tomorrow will be my third day attending the SMB Nation conference at the Microsoft Conference Center.

I'm eating way too much. Can't help it there's just so many delicious snacks out. One in particular is this brownie with white chocolate and raspberry. Dangerous.

Conference is going well. Over last couple of days it's great hearing resellers say time and time again "love your product, that's all I'll sell", "swear by Trend products, won't touch anything else", etc.

Probably best feeling is when Trend resellers are promoting Trend products to other resellers. An example from a Trend reseller to a current Symantec user "I don't owe Trend anything, and Trend doesn't owe me anything, but I've been using them for 7 years with all of my clients, and they have yet to disappoint me."

Getting to know more people in the SBS community. Fun bunch. I recognize some of the resellers from the Microsoft Partner Conference I attended in July.

Met an ex-Trender for lunch today. Haven't seen him for at least a couple of years. He's starting his own company in China with others.

Tonight went to Seattle for some dinner. Strange, but even though Seattle is a few hours away from Vancouver, this was my first time. Had some tasty halibut in a restaurant called Anthony's Bell Street Diner. Despite the name, quite fancy. Would return.

Tomorrow I fly down to Cupertino and will be there for a week before I return to Taipei.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Grand Canyon memories of 1995

It's been over 10 years since I and a few friends took a road trip and visited the Grand Canyon. Despite the questionable likelihood of trip actually taking place given the nature of where the original commitment was made, we followed through and after finals were written were on the road with two other friends.

It was nearing the end of my third year of university and on a SUB night over a couple drinks a friend and I decided to go the Grand Canyon. Before our finals we did some pre-Internet research which included attending a slide show presented by a guy who had recently hiked the Grand Canyon. After the presentation we asked him questions about our highly anticipated upcoming trip.

On a super shoestring budget, we drove my friend's VW van to the canyon. Along the way we stayed the night in places like Las Vegas, Death Valley, etc. Approaching Las Vegas was quite surreal. Driving and there's nothing, but desert, desert, and more desert, and then all of a sudden a city appears.

The first day at the Grand Canyon we were told we couldn't get a permit to camp in the canyon, but to come the next morning really early and try our luck. That day we did a small day hike and drove around the rim of the grand canyon. Something I just remembered (something I love about the writing process) when we first got to the canyon it was hailing.

The next day we got to the permit office bright and early and succeeded in getting camping permits and down the South Kaibab (SK) trail we went. The SK trail is 5 miles of really steep, manmade switchbacks. Going down was ok, but coming back up would have been killer. Luckily we had already decided we would return via a different trail, the Bright Angel trail.

We stayed at the Bright Angel Campground at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Nice enough campground and to our surprise complete with a phone booth. I couldn't resist and called my friend collect from the bottom of the Grand Canyon just because I could (I tried to calling the same friend when I was on the Great Wall, but unfortunately wasn't successful).

After a couple of days hiking around (that included a run in with an overly aggressive park ranger), we headed out on the Bright Angel trail. I remember nearing the top it seemed really steep and took a lot of effort to make it to the top. Meanwhile burritos carrying large tourists kept passing us as we were sweating it out. I swear, hiking out there were times when I thought they would need to burrito me and my stuff out I was so beat.

Exercises I've been doing lately have reminded me of my trip to the Grand Canyon. How? I was told to think of the Grand Canyon as an upside down mountain, hard going down and hard coming back up. Just like my current exercises because I start with lots of reps, continue until few reps, and then return to doing lots of reps. Strange association, but for some reason my brain made it.

First birdie and lots of rain

Played at the Taiwan Suncity Golf and Country Club a couple of weeks ago and tapped in my first birdie on the 4th hole. Par 3 and hitting downhill. I hit the ball off the tee and it landed on the edge of the green. The green was also heavily sloped downhill. Didn't really think about it too long, just tapped it and it rolled in. Despite playing quite poorly the rest of the day I was still happy with my first birdie.

Based on a story I heard from my co-worker, I kept the ball and wrote the date and course on it.

Up until the 9th hole we experienced the odd shower, but nothing that really impacted our play. As we started on the 10th, it started raining heavier and heavier, and was soon dumping down. The green was basically flooded, but one of our team members was still trying to putt it in. We called it a day and after some discussion with management only paid for the first nine holes.

Lesson learned: if you're not sure if it's going to dump after the first 9 holes, before you tee off from the 10th find out what their policy is if it begins to rain too hard. It might be worth it to call it a day and only pay for half rather than playing one or two holes and then quitting but still have to pay for full 18 holes.

3 down 3 to go

Just finished Marketing Imagination, New, Expanded Edition, by Theodore Levitt.

Halfway there to overcoming the challenge.

Ted Levitt wrote a very famous paper titled Marketing Myopia which is also included in this book.

Although this book was published nearly 20 years ago, a lot of the concepts and ideas he mentions are still quite relevant. Indeed it's easy to imagine that this book was a source of insight for many later marketing books.

I feel it is going to be one of those books that I find myself grabbing off the shelf.

A respected scholar and Harvard Business School professor, Dr. Levitt also has quite the sense of humor and it shows in some examples "designs for sadists to rub salt into open wounds" (describing how to extend the product life cycle for salt shakers), "in the dark desperate 1930's... and before unemployment compensation, Social Security, Medicare, HUD, and pot" (describing how people's wants/needs have changed.

Quotes I liked:

"There is no such thing as a commodity. All goods and services can be differentiated and usually are."

"Nothing drives progress like the imagination."

"Let me repeat: The purpose of a business is to get and keep a customer. Without customers, no amount of engineering wizardy, clever financing, or operatoins expertise can keep the company going." (Dal- Interesting reading this after the Enron book, especially the part about clever financing.)

"The difference between data and information is that while data are crudely aggregated collections of raw facts, information represents teh selective organization, and imaginative interpretation of those facts."

"The plans and programs had better be reaonably right, appropriate, and compelling. They must be reasonably congruent with everyday common sense and, especially, easily understandable."

"To be succesful a strategy must also be simple, clear, and expressible in only a few written lines."

"The view that an industry is a customer-satisfying process, not a goods-producing process, is vital for all businessmen to understand."