Back with the first post of the year

It’s coming to the end of March 09 and this is my very first post this year!

Interestingly, even when I stopped blogging, there are still traffic coming to this blog. Readers still comment on some old posts. That is somewhat encouraging.

Although from Brendan’s PR index, this blog just keeps on falling. haa. I really applaud Brendan for pulling together the index, it’s a great resource for me. I enjoy clicking on the links, knowing that they’ll lead me to some interesting PR blogs. Over the last one year, I’ve made several online acquaintances from that list. Number 7 and 13 are folks I follow on Twitter and added as friends on facebook. Number 36 is a friend of mine in Singapore, currently doing his master degree in Australia. There are several others on that list that I read regularly.

So, what have I been up to the last many months? WORK! Yes, work has taken a little too much of my life, but it is getting better and I am still having a great time at Yahoo!

A recently illness (infection causing some problems to ear and nose) had caused some discomfort and more stress. Forced to cancel a trip to Taipei (what a shame!) and I’ve been spending a lot more time in Indonesia.

We are launching the Yahoo! Mobile Developer Awards that we ran in Singapore last year in Indonesia. Met some really cool developers and it is getting exciting!

There are alot of good food in Jakarta!

Big yummy prawns

(I don’t know where I ate this but the seafood are all so fresh, yummy and huge!)

The other nice thing about Jakarta is, we stay at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, and you would think it costs a bomb, but it is quite affordable. Spacious and a huge comfy bed.

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My first CES

I’ve heard so much about Vegas and I’ve watched CSI and many other movies, set in this colourful city. This is the first time I am here and when people asked me, “so, how was it? Exciting!!??”

Sure! It was really exciting for about two days then I started to dread being here. If not for work and CES, I would love to be home right now. It is cold, dry (and I mean, very dry) and despite the gorgeous fountain at the Bellagio, the fancy “Paris”, “New York” hotels and casinos and the grandeur of the MGM, it is a city without much culture and everything is just man-made. I did, however, enjoyed myself at the Cirque du Soleil shows – Zumanity and KA.

Oh wait, I must make a disclaimer, I totally love my new job too! It has been a blast meeting fellow colleagues from different offices and learning a lot about the newly launched Yahoo! Go 3.0.

I was planning to post a day by day CES (personal) updates in this blog but I was so busy and I only had chance to walk around the other exhibiting booths yesterday. The pictures I took will have to go into flickr once I get home. I am sure many bloggers and media covered everything that is interesting this year. I personally am quite wowed by the new ultra big, thin and sleek LCD screens.

I am heading back to San Francisco tomorrow, then the long flight home the next day. I love SF (except for the really wet weather last week). Shopping is really great in SF.

Information Deficiency

I woke up today, determined to go out and buy that big luggage that I need to use to drag all my stuff to Las Vegas (for the CES 08) in Jan. Jon said, “but don’t you already have a few luggages?”. Yes, I do but I need a bigger one! I have to pack in my clothes, the thick jackets and erm BOOKS and magazines.

Books?

Yes, a few books. Not for work but for reading on the flight.

I found out this morning from my good friend, the brilliant producer and news anchor for Channel News Asia, Timothy Go that this annoying habit is called In-Flight Information Deficiency. Tim wrote,

This is someone who, before and during a flight, has a fear of not having enough to read on board a flight, no matter how short or long.

Although I seldom read on board the plane, because I get motion sickness and the pills I take before the flight makes me drowsy and I fall asleep. BUT, I still worry that I do not have  enough things to do on the plane. The flight to Vegas is at least 16 hours and I am already panicking about which books to drag along.

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But I think, my problem continues even after the flight. I constantly worry about, “What if I finish reading the books i brought along… 😦 and have nothing to do at the hotel?”

It gets worse if I am on holiday, to stop me from worrying, Jon will volunteer to bring more books in his luggage for me.

Ok! Time to go out now to buy luggage.

Holiday with Bezurk!

I met Ross Veitch, Chief Product Officer and one of the co-founders of Bezurk at the PopOut 07 event in Singapore some weeks ago. Ross was one of the presenters that evening. I was really unwell that day and (sorry Ross), wasn’t paying attention to most part of the presentation. I vaguely remembered it being a travel search engine and the site looking cool.

Two weeks ago, Jonathan and I had to find a hotel in Singapore for him to stay in for 2 weeks as he was moving house and there was a transition period. After searching via Google for a long time for the right place with the right price, The MediaSlut reminded me that Bezurk can search for multiple results at one go.

That was when I first tried out the site and I must say, it is such a great experience that I am sharing it in this post (for the benefit of my girlfriends who are searching for holidays’ flight, hotels, packages, activities available in the countries they are visiting).

So, what exactly is Bezurk? In their own words:-

Bezurk is a travel search engine. Think of Bezurk as a price comparison website that helps you find the perfect flight, hotel, or travel package for your specific needs. Instead of having to trawl through many different travel sites, Bezurk provides the information you need to find your perfect travel purchase, be it airline tickets to Phuket, a hotel room for 2 in Bangkok, or activities you can experience while in Tokyo, all on a single site: Bezurk.com.

I am going to Shanghai in December for a short break, maybe to Thailand as well. So, I’ve been spending the last one week searching for flights, hotels and deals on Bezurk. Being a search engine, it does not sell me anything but link me to travel agents, hotels and suppliers to book directly. The user experience is definitely close to 5-stars!

Other bloggers and journalists have also been raving about the service and here’s Su Yuen who mirrored my thoughts:

Apart from just flights, their search engine caters to hotels and tour packages as well. What I particularly like is how detailed their filtering system is. You can filter your results by pricing, airline, hotel star-rating & etc. My MOST favourite filtering of all is “Features the hotel MUST have” which of course for me was the broadband Internet access. Too bad they couldn’t take this filtering a step further to “FREE broadband access”.

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I totally agree with Su Yuen’s review. Must-haves for me when I search for hotels, include swimming pool and Internet access. What is really cool about the “refine your search” column, it displays currency so that I don’t have to log on to another converter site to determine how much I have to pay in SGD and also the price range bar – way cool! The search results change and update as you refine your search. No wonder it was named one of the world’s hottest startups by Business 2.0. (Ross made a disclaimer during his presentation that they have nothing to do with the publication’s shut-down – funny!)

My good friend Walter has the following comment which I thought was valid to some extend:

…. the unfortunate thing is that it comes pretty late after a slew of many other similar travel/airline/hotel portals. Standing out from the competition will be a challenge unless it can offer something truly unique which the rest can’t. What I would like to see is a greater effort to simplify the entire experience and add a greater human touch to the entire encounter. This is what social media is all about anyway – humans conversing with each other and interacting in such a way that makes transactions enriching and fulfilling.

I didn’t think it was that complicated. And though the site is younger than the other portals, I see unique features and powerful engine that separate it from others. What I do agree is to have some form of human touch, get some conversation going and spread the good words about both the site and its advertisers/ partners.