Monday, January 29, 2007

Engrish of the Month

I forgot I took this picture on the last trip. It's almost like a poem:

A good drink makes you refresh. We carefully
did the best selection.
They are outstanding among others
We strongly suggest you to taste once
Its gorgeousness and pleasantness get you dreamy world

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Any Inconsitency Here?

Monday: TI CEO To Layoff U.S. Engineers

(TI CEO) Templeton also announced a change in TI's product development strategy. Instead of creating its own core technology, TI will work with foundry partners to specify and drive the next generations of digital process technology, he said.

...TI expects to save about $200 million through this strategy, Templeton said, and the company will eliminate about 500 jobs by the end of the year.

Translation: we're going to outsource some of our R&D to our partners' engineers overseas.

Friday: TI CEO Lauds Engineering Studies

In a speech Thursday evening at the University of Texas at Austin's college of engineering, TI President and CEO Rich Templeton praised a group of students for "choosing wisely" and entering the engineering field.

Hypocritical? Maybe not since most of the engineering students he was addressing were foreign anyway.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Traveling Is Hard Work

At Home

Little Miss Director slammed her door and shouted “I don’t want to go to school!” Mrs. Director was exacerbated. She had a meeting with the CEO in 45 minutes and during that time she had to get her daughter calmed down, dressed, driven to school, make it into work, gather her presentation, and make it to the meeting. She hurried to finish her make-up so she could start dealing with a defiant five year old who had started acting like a three year old the moment her father left for his trip. It was a lot of work dealing with a five-year-old by herself, but she knew her husband was working hard to provide for the family and that his overseas trips were long and tiring.

William tasted the Bordeaux and nodded at the sommelier. It wasn’t a Grand Cru, but it was very good. After the glasses were poured the waiter came over and dutifully and informed them that the first plate of their five course meal would be out shortly. If it weren’t for the waiter’s Japanese accent William would have forgotten he was in Tokyo. The customer, a lover of Continental cuisine, asked if he could be taken to one of the finer French restaurants in Tokyo, and William obliged. He looked out over Tokyo Bay, seeing a bridge that looked amazingly close to the Bay Bridge going over the water. Classical music played in the background and a gentle rain fell on a quaint garden just outside the window. William yawned with jetlag, had another drink of wine, and settled himself in as the salad course was presented in front of him with a flourish. Yes, this was a hard job, but someone had to do it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

An Alarm Without a Snooze

The first thing that came to my conciousness was that someone was shaking the bed. Knowing that I was alone I came a little more awake and found that the whole room was shaking. "Oh, just an earthquake, "

A moderate earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.7 jolted central Japan on Tuesday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. The quake, at 3:18 a.m. (1818 GMT), was also felt in Tokyo.

Couldn't it have waited just a couple more hours? Now I'm awake.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Another Year at the Consumer Electronics Show

It's January, and that means it must be time for another CES show. I have been going to either the defunct COMDEX or CES almost every year since the late 90s and have seen quite a few changes in technology during those years. The shows have also changed a lot as well.

The best of times was during the height of the tech boom when I saw the B-52s live; Mrs. Director and I danced in the mosh-pit just a few feet from the lead singer. These days the best I could do was stand in front of a giant, strange statue of an Airborne mascot. How the mighty have fallen.

But I don't go to these shows for the entertainment. Okay, I am there a little for the entertainment. But I am also there for gambling keeping up with technology trends, networking, and catching up with old friends (I hooked up with both Business Pundit and Rorscach. I missed Glenn).

So what did I see in terms of technology? There wasn't a whole lot new in my opinion. The iPhone was at MacWorld, not CES, and actually that is more a design triumph than a technical one (all the features in the iPhone can be found in other personal electronics). What I did see was the following:

  • · The biggest emphasis at the show was on flat panel technology, something of a constant for the past three years. The latest push is now 1080p (progressive), which all the manufacturers had prominently displayed. All of the manufacturers also had 100” or slightly larger screens on display in their booth, all of which were quite impressive (imagine a single monitor that is nearly as tall as you and twice as long).

  • Games were also a big deal a the show. After all, once you have your huge hi res TV, this is one of the things you can do on it. The graphics of the latest Xbox and Sony systems are jaw dropping they are so close to reality. The Wii, however, is a lot more fun with the action controller and is now on my shopping list (more so since I think it is something my five-year old will really enjoy).

  • Blu-Ray was probably the third largest theme, with all sorts of DVD players and recorders on the floor. There is a big push with the hi-res TVs, and I have to admit seeing hi-res DVD on a giant hi-def TV is great experience. HD-DVD was also around, but it seemed dwarfed by Blu-Ray.

  • The only thing “new” in cellphones was video/TV. However, most of the demos showed very short clips of 10-15 seconds; the memory just isn’t there yet in the cellphone and real-time over-the-air transmission is still in development.

  • I thought it was interesting that interiors of both an airplane and a subway car were in competing booths at show. Personal technology is being used in more places and integration of your personal communicator/communication device into places you visit and travel is going to become more common

  • There were the usual booth babes (mainly in the automotive area) and entertainment (the "Blu-Ray Brothers", sang songs almost as good as the Blues Brothers - and they looked EXACTLY like Jake and Elwood). But the most clever "entertainment" in my opinion was at the Qualcomm booth where "archaeologists" were digging up "ancient technology".

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I'm Cool For Five Months

I was going to brag today that I turned in my RAZR today for a new Blackjack, which is WAY cool:

This finally puts me on mobile email, plus I will now have cellphone coverage in Korea.

Of course this coolness is majorly trumped by the new iPhone.

The only good part is that the iPhone won't ship until June, giving me a window of coolness before I am put to shame.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Breaking The Rules To Appease Illegal Immigrants

So let me get this straight.

Companies and organizations keep falling over backwards to reward people who break the law to get here. Is there any wonder that we have an illegal immigrant problem?

I was thinking that what we really need is a change of "any person born here is automatically a citizen" to discourage some of this illegal immigration. However, with various states offering free education, special college tuition rates, or even planning to offer free health care to illegal aliens, the difference between being a citizen and being an illegal immigrant is becoming smaller and smaller every day..

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A Night Visit to Tokyo

My taxi rounded the street past the Emperor's palace. I noticed seated to my right was my recently departed friend.

"Tsrutua-san," I exclaimed, "I thought you were dead!"

"Oh, come on, Meetch," he replied in his heavily accented English. "So how is everyone?"

I gave him an update on everyone I saw over the holiday season, and added "Everyone will be so happy to hear that you aren't dead!"

He nodded absently as the cab pulled up and deposited us in front of a hotel in Roppongi. We went into the lobby where Tsuruta-san introduced me to a gaggle of Japanese men in business suits. Some were from Matsushita, some from Sanyo, some from Sharp, and a few were from companies I wasn't familiar with. As I did the American bow-and-shake I thought how unusual it was to find a mixed crowd. That sort of thing just doesn't happen in Japan.

After introductions were made Tsuruta-san turned to me, "Okay, Meetch, now we leave. You must stay here."

"I can't go drinking with you?"

"No. You must stay here."

Tsuruta-san and the men receded further into the hotel. He turned one last time to wave at me, looking noticeably younger as he got further away.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Home Depot: When CEO Pay Is Not Okay

I really like the fact my own CEO has a good pay package. Because his good pay package has translated into good pay packages for everyone at the company; the rising tide lifting all ships theory working in practice. In addition, where my company is today is largely because of the CEO. He didn't start the company, but he turned it from an also-ran into a cash generating machine. And he should be recognized what he did for both shareholders and employees.

But my situation is something of an anomaly since my company has only a couple hundred people, nearly all whom have college degrees, and a huge percentage with PhDs (including the CEO himself). For attracting and retaining this kind of talent the same sort of package that motivates the CEO has to motivate everyone else.

The same can't be said of the recently departed CEO of Home Depot. In a company where tens of thousands work for an hourly wage, he was taking home pay packages totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars ("$123.7 million in compensation excluding certain stock option grants"). That might be okay for someone who started what became a large company like Jobs or Gates and created thousands of new jobs and generated billions of dollars of new wealth. But we're talking about a professional manager recruited from GE in 2000 when the stock was about 40 and who saw it go up no more than 10 points during his tenure. In fact, from 2002 to today the stock has been below or equal to where it was when he started (source: the new toy-size WSJ). And for that he was granted a guaranteed $3 million dollar annual cash bonus?

To add insult to injury, his exit package is ridiculous: $210 million dollars. That is ten times Carly's exit package, which I thought was insane when it was announced.

It's people like this who give capitalism and business a bad name, and the reason it angers me so much. They become poster children for anti-business crusades and bad legislation that does nothing to reign in excesses.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Maybe They Should Rename It US Wall Street Today

Back in my 20s there was a knock on my apartment door. Upon opening it I found two very attractive women dressed it what could best be described as "revealing" clothing. As I stood there blinking at two sets of cleavage, wondering what good fortune brought these two women to my door at the same time, one of them blurted out "You want to subscribe to the Houston Chronicle?".

"Ah ha," I thought to myself, "this was a clever marketing ploy." Now wanting to get rid of them as soon as possible, I duly informed them that I subscribed to the Wall Street Journal and wasn't interested in the "Comical".

"But, but," one of them replied in a deep Texas drawl, "that paper doesn't even have PICTURES!"

I shut the door in their faces - and on their other physical features. I assumed they would have no difficulty getting other men in the complex to subscribe.

The Wall Street Journal did add pictures a few years later, taking away that sales tactic, and more recently came out with the "Weekend Journal". I have generally liked these changes and thought they added to the paper.

Today, however, they came one step closer to the Comical and other mainstream papers, by coming out with a new physical format and editorial changes. The worst part is the new format - the dreaded 48" broadsheet - that reduced the number of columns from six to five, making it look like a toy newspaper:

The other changes are in content. They promise more "analysis" of the news

A cornerstone of the new Journal will be an increased focus on unique, differentiated content, with 80% of the news content focusing on "what the news means" not just "what happened."

Great. So they are becoming more like a blog? I dunno, I read blogs and newspapers for different reasons. I don't WANT Instapundit to be like the WSJ or the WSJ to become more like a blog. They each give me a different kind of information, and I like it that way.

So I will have to think long and hard about whether I re-subscribe. Of course if I don't, I might get the harassing mail campaign like I did the last time I let my subscription expire.

Update: A different perspective from Business Pundit.

Starbucks' Food Already Sucks

I found this news release interesting on a couple of fronts: Starbucks cutting transfats from food.

First, their food already sucks. Their muffins are tasteless, their cakes are crumbly, and their danishes are stale. I stopped eating their fare a long time ago. Taking out the transfat will only make their bad food worse.

But this sort of thing is ridiculous for another reason: the fat that is already in many of their drinks (grande latte has 14 grams) and the calories of their blended drinks (up to 420 calories - the same as a McDonalds Quarter Pounder). Not to mention the heavy cream that people seem to add to their coffee by the pint. If Starbucks really wanted to help American health, they do more than cutting "evil" transfats.

In the end, this whole ban bandwagon is just ridiculous. It is not going to make Americans healthier - it will only make consumers feel better that they stuffing their face with "good" fat. And that is what companies like Starbucks really want.