Plainsunset @ the Yahoo! Mobile Developer Awards

Since I was 4 years old, I had always wanted to be a musician. I played the keyboard and piano for 14 years but the music dream didn’t really come true. Ended up doing arts and design and somewhere over the years, started doing something else, completely different. So, here’s where I am now. No complaints though. I love what I do now.

Last evening, I was at Zouk and for the first time, heard the local indie/po punk band – Plainsunset played. When Jonathan and my very cool colleague Ray (who also plays in another local band, Kate of Kale) first told me about Plainsunset some weeks ago, I had never heard of them. I was actually surprised that Jon has their albums. I heard their songs from his iTunes collection and thought they were quite good and last night, hearing them live was pretty awesome!

Ok. I didn’t really go to Zouk for the bands.

It was more for work. And that’s where the other group of local young talents are found. At the Yahoo! Mobile Developer Awards (YMDA) part.

I am trying not to pull anything from the press release into this post. You can find out more yourself, if you are one of those developers who are exploring to develop cool applications for mobile.

Briefly, the competition is about encouraging young developers from tertiary institutes to innovate and create mobile-optimised applications using Yahoo!’s latest mobile development platform – Yahoo! Blueprint based on real business briefs from 4 corporate sponsors, including DBS Bank, Kellogg Asia, Malaysia Airlines and travel portal UEEEU.com.

The party last night was to award 4 winning teams and one Best in Show.

DBS bank widget won the Best in Show

What impressed me most was the quality of submissions from the young developers who created what we called mobile widgets . Check out some of the screenshots of the winning mobile widgets.

IZ Reloded’s who joined us at the party had done some video interviews and shared some pictures of the event.

Looking at the local bands and the young developers, I have to say, we have some really talented people in this city.

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Blog Action Day – Stand Up, Take Action

A few topics came to mind as I reflect on this year’s Blog Action Day topic – Poverty. I had wanted to write a post personal experience and I thought of writing something relevant to this blog and my job – looking at how mobile phones could help with poverty in some emerging markets. (And some day, I might just post on that two topics).

But i figured, for now, I should highlight some initiatives/ organisations out there, supporting and fighting to end poverty and the opportunities for each of us to reach out and support/ do our part.

For a start, let’s look at what my own country, Singapore is doing? To support the Stand up 2008, a global initiative by the UN Millenium campaign in collaboration with the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, Singaporeans are organising a series of activities to “Stand Up, Take Action” together from 17 – 19 October. Check them out!

Thanks to my colleagues (Ray and Gavin) who brought Worldvision to our attention, Jon and I had recently decided to sponsor a child with the help of the organisation. It is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tacking the cause of poverty and injustice. We are extremely excited and very blessed to be in a position where we can afford to give and bless. I will probably share more once we finalise details.

Again, thanks to Jeremy, my colleague who knew of my obsession with books – brought to my attention the Room to Read organisation. They are doing things that are very close to my heart. The organisation partners with local communities throughout developing world to provide quality educational opportunities for children in the countries, striving to break the cycle of poverty, one child at a time.

And there are many other initiatives, organisations and resources out there. Mashable.com has put together a good list.

Annual Blog Action Day – Proverty

It’s that time of the year again – the Blog Action Day this year is looking to discuss the topic of proverty. For folks new to the Blog Action Day, it is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. The aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion. On 15 October this month, all registered bloggers will post a post, video, podcast etc on the topic of “proverty”. Find out more by clicking on the banner on the right hand column of this blog or click here.

Last year, I posted on saving the environment

Using the power of the blogging community globally, discussing one single topic and raise different issues and perspectives on that topic – that is powerful! As of today, there are already 7643 bloggers registered, pledging to write a post on 15 October.

For those who are keen to join in, register your blog here and put up the cool banners on your blog to help spread the word.

Does celebrity still sell? Part 1

A few months back, I attended a conference in the Philippines and one of the speakers presented on the power of word of mouth marketing. I am a big fan of that but the speaker went on to share how he believed that “celebrity endorsement does not work!”.

This is a question a lot of marketers ask. There are also many thoughts around this question.

In a New York Times article, the journalist wrote about “How nothing sells like celebrity

Using celebrities for promotion is hardly new. Film stars in the 1940s posed for cigarette companies, and Bob Hope pitched American Express in the late 1950s. Joe Namath slipped into Hanes pantyhose in the 1970s, and Bill Cosby jiggled for Jell-O for three decades. Sports icons like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods elevated the practice, often scoring more in endorsement and licensing dollars than from their actual sports earnings.

The speaker at the event showed a bus ad of Rain (a popular korean singer) endorsing a hair product and he went on to ask the audience, “how many of you believe that Rain actually use this product?” It is a valid question. I am not sure if I believed Rain does.

I asked my girlfriends (who are in marcomm and PR) what they think over coffee, and as usual, we all have very different views. The thoughts ranged from “depending on who the celebrity is” to “depending on whether the celebrity and the product are ‘believable’. My ex-colleague believes in celebrity slimming campaigns if she can see the before and after results. And interestingly enough, my best friend, Yen who is currently doing her Master degree in Marketing Communications also thinks that celebrity slimming endorsement works for her.

Jonathan, my other half thinks that celebrity endorsement works only for certain brands, mostly for awareness building, for example Maria Sharapova endorsing the the Canon Powershot cameras caught his attention.

GeekSugar.com posted the top 10 celebrity gadget endorsements that works and created awareness but not necessary resulted in purchase.

For me, while I agree with the speaker at the conference about the lack of credibility of Rain using the cheap hair care product he endorses, I disagree that celebrity endorsement doesn’t work. I think it does. It depends on the objectives. Objectives of the campaign, the image and message the brand or product needs to communicate and what exactly does the celebrity has to do

My good friend, Walter Lim blogged about similar topic some while back – on VISA’s celebrity ad for the Olympic. Walter’s post was looking at effective ads and the celebrity they used. The ad was effective for VISA because it is a good ad or was it because it has Jackie Chan’s endorsement? Maybe both.

For me? It is about association. If i can associate a brand with the celebrity, it works for me. Kiera Knightley as the face for Chanel caught my attention and i could associate the product, brand and the celebrity together.

I am going to leave other thoughts to next post. Anyone believes celebrity endorsement is completely a waste of marketing/ PR dollars?

Resume 2.0 – Who are you online?

Ok. Yes. I have been neglecting my blog. Being BUSY is totally understated lately.

Brendan’s recent post shows this blog declining in activities, (currently at spot 39, declining at -20… ) but an increase in “sociability” This just means, I still “socialised” online somewhere, just that I did not update my blog!

Two weeks ago, I was also reminded by a call from an event organiser about my neglected blog. The organiser was trying to invite someone from my company to speak at an event and he went to my colleague and then for some reason, did some search on me and found my blog. In our first conversation over the phone, he said, “ah! i did my research and read from your blog that you are a very busy girl….”

And I went … “erm….”

Although this blog is totally public and nothing scandalous to hide, it suddenly felt strange that people are searching for you online before doing business with you. It reminds me of the fact that people DO search and read up on you nowadays online. Employers do. Recruiters definitely do. Employees do too (I searched for my currently bosses before I met them for interviews), together with many known or unknown people who are online.

I was reading Daryl’s blog post on “Your Online Identity (Or Is It Okay To Have Party Pictures On Facebook) and Brian Solis’ posts on The socialization of your personal brand Part 1,2 and 3.

Brian wrote:

… Truth be told, any search engine, whether social or traditional, is the resume – it’s the Wikipedia entry for the rest of us. It’s no longer what we decide to curate onto a piece of paper or onto one traditional one-page digital resume. It really is moot in a world when anyone can practically piece together your story without the help of a document designed to shape and steer our perception.

In Daryl’s post, he highlighted that in a class of 459 people, 75% of them said yes to using Facebook to screen prospective employees if they were an employer.

That leads me to think, perhaps in the near future, there is no longer a need to submit formal and properly crafted resumes but to send over links of your social networks for employers’ reference. Better still, assume that the recruiters and employers have “done their homework” to have searched for you online and by the time they called you, they have a fairly good idea of you are

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Other very interesting read:

Your Brand vs. the Brands You Represent by Brian Soli

No Flaming. Just Good Old Intelligent Posts

Recently, the local blogosphere is acting up and started some entertaining “flames”.

Wikipedia: Flaming is the hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users.

I was “entertained” for a very short while and decided that, time will be better spent reading some good old intelligent posts. Going through my hundreds of RSS feeds had been something I did on a daily basis some months ago. Work has taken over those time and I can only scan briefly over some news blogs lately. Today, I managed to get home earlier than usual and spent some time in front of my netnewswire.

Something crossed my mind, I remembered how mummy used to say to me when I was young, “read good books. read the classics. leave out the junk and those with bad writing.” When I grew up, she said, “Some magazines are worth the time, others obviously not. Don’t waste your money.” I totally love trashy chick-lits and the gossip magazines. BUt I have been good, I have got piles of C.S Lewis and George Eliot on my shelves, together with many other great books (all thanks to Jon, spoiling me and filing the shelves with books). If only mummy is more tech savvy, she would be telling me now to “go to bed and not waste time reading silly blog posts.”

For some reasons, I find that this blog is read by mostly communications students, PR folks and lecturers (I know, because you guys are nice enough to comment and email me) – both locally and in other countries. So, I thought, perhaps it might be good to share a couple of great blogs that have great writing and unique views (that mummy would have approved) and that I have enjoyed reading:-

Here goes…

Jeremy Pepper’s POP! PR JOts. One of my favourite posts in his – What does the P in PR stand for?. It was a fairly old post but READ IT!

Brendan Cooper, the friendly social media planner. All time favourite is his monthly PR blog index. Imagine those great effort of analysing and pulling together 100 PR blogs every month and ranking them. (And yes, my blog has been slipping every month, heh.. can’t blame anyone except for my lack of posts and activities) but otherwise, this guy has got some real cool stuff (social, new media and PR) in the blog.

I enjoyed almost everything in Brian Solis’ PR 2.0. Enough said.

I found David Meerman Scott’s Web Ink Now after I read his great book and have been a big fan of his ever since. So, check out both the blog and the book, esp. if you are into communication, new media or marketing.

Next, a very good friend, Kevin Lim directed me to Paul Stamatiou’s blog last year. Paul’s blog is not exactly into PR or marketing but more on tech. If you are into web 2.0 and new technologies, this 22 year-old blogger is definitely worth checking out! My favourite post recently is his review on WALLLLLLL….EEEEEE. I love Wall.E

And not forgetting my dear friend, Kevin Lim. He covers almost – EVERYTHING. His blog covers mainly technology, but be surprised and find different interesting observations from kevin! BTW, my blog is set up with huge help from him! Theory.isthereason is probably one of those blogs that I spent most time reading and commenting on. A search in his blog for my name, finds previous posts and stuff we discussed and commented on. He is currently in Buffalo and many of us back in Singapore is looking forward to him coming home!

That’s all for now! Happy reading!

I Love Audio Books

Most of my friends know that I am a huge bookworm. Both Jon and I are regulars at Kinokuniya bookstore in Singapore and Amazon is our favourite online store. When Kindle was launched, I really wanted to get it but I held back. My handbag is currently filled with all kinds of little gadgets (I tend to carry two ipods and several mobile phones). I don’t think I’ll be able to carry one more device.

So, the last couple of months, I have started buying audio books. It all started with me being really busy with work and traveling a lot. Reading a book on the plane gives me headache. I can’t really read when I am in a cab too. I used to read 2-3 hours per night but lately, I am so tired after work, the moment my head hits the bed, I go into dreamland. Audio books became the “solution!” I convert all the tracks to MP3 and save them onto my iPods. Easy! No need to drag a pile of books with me when I travel or go for holiday and no need to bring additional “reading gadget.” I can now pack 10 “books” or more with me everyday and listen to them while I am commuting or when I wait for hours at airports.

In my last post on Social Media books, a lot of those books are also available in audio cds. I did a quick check on Wikinomics and The Cluetrain Manifesto and they have the audio version!

What I also like about audio books is, it reminds me of childhood – when Mum and Dad used to read to us (my younger brother and I) before bed time. And then, they tend to stop half way into the story and insisted that we should be sleeping. I love having people read to me. Oh! I have an audio version of the NKJV Bible too. Being a church-goer and a fan of a female preacher, Joyce Meyer, I have been stocking up her audio books recently, as well as C.S Lewis’s.

Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t think audio books are really popular in Asia, specifically in Singapore (where I am based now). I can hardly find any audio books at the retail stores. The only few i found are from BORDERS and they are really expensive. The good thing is, iTunes has a really good selection and there is always the wonderful Amazon.

I am not saying I am giving up books (in print) or magazines (that are not available in cds), I am glad that I am enjoying the alternative to reading books!

Interesting read:-

Last year, New York Times reported on a budding author who recorded a short audiobook for her unfinished print. The audiobook climbed to the top of iTunes’ best-selling books after she appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

I think all new books from now on should have the unabridged audio version!