Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Digital media purchasing, still horrible in 2018

Lying in bed with iPad in tow, and not feeling like reading, I fired up Netflix thinking I could watch the new season of House of Cards. Unfortunately, in Germany, November 2 2018 means something completely different (i.e. Season 5 is the latest).

Kevin Spacey, irregardless of what you think of him, was a pretty good actor. I read on Wikipedia that he was in another movie called Billionaire Boys Club and how it grossed terribly. I hopped on over to Amazon and realised I could rent it (it wasn’t on Netflix). Then I remembered I had some Google Play credit, so I tried to rent it there.

I even then downloaded the app from the App Store. In Chrome, it kept on trying to get me to download a SetSID file. Urgh. The purchase basically would not complete.

All in, I spent a good 15–20 minutes before I gave up trying to watch Billionaire Boys Club. And I was willing to pay $3.99-$4.99 (with tax, the SD version is $4.39, $0.40 for taxes), in the hopes of watching it in my German hotel room. I failed.

I bet the (illegal) download from a torrent site would have been quicker.

Twitter Promote Mode – save your $99

I like Twitter. It is the social media that I use the most. Maybe followed by Instagram, since I’ve always liked photography. I don’t spend time on Facebook/LinkedIn like one would expect. So my energy seems to be Twitter-centric if I’m going to use social media. On my iPhone, Twitter is on the main screen, which tells you I consider it useful :)

Before the social media apocalypse on the stock market recently, I thought I’d try to pay $99 for Promote Mode. I had been invited for many months but summer seemed like an ideal time to try it. Long story short? Save your $99/month.

I started with 4,660 followers. Today I have 4,547 followers. Less, how? Why? There was a recent purge of bots and fake followers, and I lost 2.64% of followers.

In the end, Twitter said I gained 19 new followers, with 185 promoted tweets, and I had 35% more reach (+107,274). 19 new followers for $99 seems like daylight robbery. I was targeting USA based folk.

When I asked their support if I could switch to the UK, they said it was not possible. The only other option was Japan, and I didn’t realise I had to choose so wisely at the start. And now you can only reactivate the subscription when promote mode gets out of beta (but with such poor performance I am unlikely to do that).

I wasn’t the only one how has had such a poor experience. Ahsan Anis writes, Is Twitter’s promote mode worth the $99 monthly subscription? (disappointed), Buffer writes How Effective is Twitter Promote Mode? We Tested It for 30 Days. (did not renew due to performance, limitations and ease).

Guess they’ll have to find a better way to make me pay to use the service so that the stock price can go up! (I am not an investor in Twitter stock, but really do like the product and want to see them survive in the long term).

The Art of Zettelkasten

While I’m not about to purchase The Archive as another app (I’m all in on Evernote and Ulysses, with a little help from Drafts 5), it seems like reading the principles behind zettelkasten seemed rather interesting.

Some highlights for me, which I totally agree with include the fact that reading is easy, writing notes is also easy, but the processing does take time. In the Collector’s Fallacy Confession, you’ll note that “For every hour of reading, it can take up to double the time to take proper notes.” I tend to agree. I don’t process notes like the author, but I myself do write down stuff with a pen and on paper. Sometimes I scribble in the physical book itself. I find that when I read on Kindle, I highlight, but don’t make notes (at which point, I’ll have to export the highlights and make notes around it).

Then I move on to reading The Collector’s Fallacy. Collecting itself isn’t progress, “Collections make us drown in liabilities.”. “kept isn’t read”.

I myself am a big consumer of RSS. There are thoughts on note taking from RSS. For me, I tend to tweet links that I think others might find interesting. But if I want to archive it, I quite happily send it along to Evernote.

When it comes to reading, you need to read analytically, practice so you know the topic, and then gain insight. I’m all in on Learn Faster by Writing Zettel Notes.

The writer refers to the short knowledge cycle, which more or less can be summed up as research (find the materials), read, take excellent notes, then compose notes. So you read, process, reflect, then adapt/change the routine as you see fit.

Roaming data, revisited

I’m reminded about roaming data as we’re now in 2018.

For me, in the last few years, it has already become common to turn on roaming data at the RM36/day rate for unlimited Internet access. I of course plan/optimise this (since it follows a midnight-midnight regime). I tend not to have roaming data turned on when it is RM56/day (so in the USA, UK, I actually have local SIM cards; I have them in a few other places too, but the reality is they’re for other things like local banks, etc.).

Lately, it’s becoming more common to get for RM25, a 3-day pass, with roaming data. It’s not unlimited, but maybe capped at 2–4GB. 2GB in 3 days is pretty generous. Sure I don’t download podcasts over the 4G connection. But it suffices for all my mobile and tethering needs generally.

This to me has recently become somewhat of a new window, because in a country like China where you almost definitely need to turn on your VPN, you’re still getting a Malaysian IP while roaming and still enjoying access to all websites as per normal (so its great for Google products; still no Medium access though).

I have still not bothered to try a service like Flexiroam.

It’s never really about the product

From an excellent Medium post: The 3 Most Important Things I Know About Consumers I Learned From Bartending:

  1. It’s never really about the product – people drink to feel (or to stop feeling) something. True again about buying clothes. “Understanding these needs goes a long way. You almost never want to speak or market directly in terms of these needs, because it freaks people out and breaks the “magic” of what they’re doing, but understanding the deeper motivations goes a long way in building rapport.”
  2. People want to be guided – so true, I always do say, “what do you recommend?” For me, it makes or breaks my visit to the place; a passionate person would give me a recommendation they themselves consume, rather than what they think I would like to consume. Interesting to also see that people care about what others do… “Social proof is a powerful thing. And with great power comes great responsibility.”
  3. Consistency vs. Novelty – Customers want rapport with you (and themselves). “People love new. They love novelty.”

Giving stuff away gets people engaged (well yes, who doesn’t love a free lunch?).

Perhaps the biggest takeaway is also that people want to like you, and they do want others to like them (and they also want to like themselves).

So when making products, think about fulfilling all these needs.

Reading more, writing more

People around me say I’m well read, or consume a lot of reading materials. That may be true, but lately I feel like I’m in a bit of a constant cycle of going through my subscriptions, and reading shorter form stuff, with a lot more context switching than I expected.

So it was kind of a great surprise that I managed to sit thru and polish off one book on my Kindle in the last day: What Men Say, What Women Hear: Briding the Communication Gap One Conversation At A Time by Linda Papadopoulos. In hindsight, all I can say is I wish I read this book much earlier. I highly recommend it, and maybe will export my notes later, but this quick 240 page read released in 2011 is what I consider “life changing reading”. You really can bridge the he-says/she-says gap.

But back to my point of reading more. It’s probably worth consuming, and then also having some output. Which is why I aim to blog more (I mean I have thousands of notes in Evernote; but that isn’t shared, is it? Current count: 21,457).

Last year started off like this, but I lost momentum as the year progressed; in the first week, I finished reading Choose Yourself by James Altucher. It’s kind of a good book to read once, around the time of the New Year’s, I would reckon.

I don’t know if my thoughts or commentary are worthwhile on issues that I don’t directly involve myself in, but if I’m going to read and even have a one liner comment, I’m thinking it makes sense to blog it. Sure it can also be federated to Twitter. Importantly though is I have my searchable archive on the Web. And I think this is what the crux of blogging is all about – I don’t only have to produce signal all the time, sometimes noise can be good too. (after all, isn’t that the premise of social media? We create a lot of noise, and it seems to work too.)

A blog I once thought was extremely popular in its space, I finally came to realise has quite a pathetic readership on a per article basis. Maybe this is because while RSS isn’t dead, you can’t help people trying to not extend its use (Google Reader’s demise was really an issue).

Anyway, back to my thoughts on consumption. Consumption has to be coupled with some kind of action, beyond it being all in my head. I’m using this process to expose my brain, and clear it up for other more important things.

I also think that there’s plenty of insights one can gain from reading all those news subscriptions I have. One more thing: trying to get reading more stuff, faster. No point going below Instapaper 500, only to see it bloom to 780 again. I’m going to make it more manageable again.

Time is something you can’t get back again which is why I liberally zap thru podcasts these days. I prefer audiobooks.

So while I don’t think I can read 52 books this year, I should feel good if I finish 20 books this year? And remain on top of all my subscriptions: NYT, WSJ, FT, The Economist, Nikkei Asian Review, The New Yorker, The Guardian, Atlantic Monthly (thanks to a friend’s kind gift!), and Monocle. The rule of going thru the item the moment you get it, is very important. I also have a habit of picking up Bloomberg Businessweek in airport lounges; a great resource, but if I’m to stick to my plan of seeing the airports less, I may eventually think of getting a subscription to that (or at least ensuring the Club’s library has a copy). I occasionally also enjoy Harvard Business Review (at the Club and online). Needing to “re-integrate” to Malaysia again, I think I might have to start consuming The Edge daily/weekly, because that’s probably the only sensible newspaper that exists in the country.

So, let’s see how much I can read, how much I can write, and how all this consumption (and output) helps me get great stuff done on a daily basis (connecting the dots, strategy, outreach, ideation, etc.)

P/S: a timely tweet that seems to be going around:


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