Monthly Archive for November, 2006

Coming soon: Waterfield Designs DS Lite case

Waterfield Designs DS Lite case

If you are a Nintendo DS Lite owner who laments about the lack of quality cases for it, here’s a premium quality accessory made by Waterfield Designs. Living up to my moniker of a gadget pornographer, this is something I’ll be reviewing soon thanks to my kind sponsor.

Some Mac users might be familiar with WaterField Designs as makers of those classy travel cases for our Powerbooks. Their new slim DS Lite Case is custom fit to the handheld’s dimensions and holds the DS Lite itself, extra games, a spare battery, and ear buds. The DS Lite Case is constructed from sturdy ballistic nylon with a double layer leather flap. The outer layer is black and the inside layer is available in the same black or in one of two accent colors, kiwi or pink.

The DS Lite Case is available now for pre-order at $39.00 and will ship December 5, 2006 from the WaterField Designs on-line store. At almost 1/3 the price of a DS Lite, is this worth it? We’ll find out soon enough…

Get a Semacode for your blog…

My Semacode

Ever heard of a Semacode?

If you find these familiar, it’s because Semacode has been around for a while already. Wired had an article about how semacode allowed camera phones to link the physical world to web back in May 2004.

As seen in Wikipedia’s entry on semacode, the name is actually a software company based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. It is also this company’s trade name for symbols which encode internet Uniform Resource Locators (URLs). These symbols are meant to be captured by a cell phone camera where it would then bring up the intended web page.

But that’s not all… Semacode isn’t exactly an original idea. Just watch this Japanese DoCoMo commercial about their “QR Code”.

Japanese phone companies had been using these 2D barcodes as a way for their i-mode phones to pull up web pages from print material, be it on posters, magazines and so on. The Japanese called it “QR Code” and like the semacode, it’s a matrix code (or two-dimensional bar code) for URLs. Created by Japanese corporation Denso-Wave back in 1994, the “QR” is derived from “Quick Response” where users can quickly scan it and get information (e.g. discount coupons). If you’re interested, here’s a decent discussion on the difference between QR Code vs. Semacode

For some reason, semacode hasn’t really taken off in America as well as the QR Code did in Japan. Same thing happened when magazines introduced the CueCat, though that died mostly because users discovered how the CueCat gathered personal information on it’s users (spyware!).

You can generate your own semacode here, then print them on stickers, business cards, posters and even t-shirts to promote your blog. To scan and intepret semacodes on your camera-enabled phone, download the relevant application for your phone.

Video: The Rise of Us – The Distributed Power of Social Media

As mentioned earlier, I was invited to speak at Dr. Michael Stefanone’s Organizational Communication class. Entitled “The Rise of Us”, I spoke on the present and future uses of social media in corporations. By social media, I largely refer to things such as blogs, wikis and even Second Life.

Even though it was a huge lecture hall, I was quite disappointed with the lack of awareness to a lot of things I mentioned. Once again, there was the mentality that people who engage in these forms of activities have no life… be it studying black friday deals online, blogging, or even trying Second Life. Perhaps they do spend time on Facebook or MySpace, but we didn’t get there.

On a positive note, one of the students asked where people find the time to invest in these new media and whether it was a socially healthy in the first place. In response, I pointed out how the same question could have been asked when televisions first came around… followed by when the Internet first connected our households. While we are comfortable with the traditional media, I highlighted to them how legitimate affordances of social media are still being discovered, such as for the purpose of improving education or redefining politics.

Before I ended the session, I urged the students to experience these things for themselves since things like blogs and Second Life are very much like blank canvases waiting for an expression. As science fiction writer William Gibson once said, “The future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet”.

UPDATE1 : Who’d knew that this little video presentation of mine has made it into The Chronicle of Higher Education. Entitled “When Professors Are More Wired Than Their Students“, writer Scott Carlson points out our discussion on technological-apathy in academia, and on the legitimacy of blogs and Second Life as part of our mainstream media landscape.

UPDATE 2: By request, here’s the Microsoft Powerpoint file I produced for the presentation in the video. Feel free to use it to evangelize social media use on your campus!

Pausing after a long day…

Beautiful day at the University at Buffalo

Tuesdays are typically “back to back” for me. Today was even more so…
09.30am – 10.50am: PSY607 Advanced Stats class (one more exam to go!)
11.00am – 12.30pm: COM242 Mass Media Effects Undergrad class (auditing)
01.00pm – 3.30pm: COM543 Mass Media Effects Graduate class (auditing)
03.30pm – 5.00pm: COM217 Organizational Communication (Guest lecturing)

The reason why I’m auditing and guest lecturing classes is so that I’ll be prepared to teach next year. As I went about my day, I couldn’t help but notice how exceptionally beautiful it was today on campus. Weather was perfect… chilly, not cold. Hope my life goes as well too.

Anshe Chung makes US$1 million in Second Life

Anshe Chung makes US$1 million in Second Life

Anshe Chung seems to have come out of her shell now that she has issue a press release stating that she’s become the first virtual world millionaire. Not only do we learn of her real name, but we actually get to see a real-life photo of her and her office in Wuhan, China.

Here are some key points from about her:

  • Second Life’s Anshe Chung is actually Ailin Graef in real life.
  • In 32 months, she’s turned US$9.95 into virtual assets worth around US$1 million (when $L274.5 = $US1).
  • Her virtual real estate that is equivalent to 36 square kilometers of land.
  • This property is supported by 550 servers or land “simulators”.
  • Originally from China, Ailin Graef moved to Germany with her husband, Guntram Graef, in the mid-1990s
  • She took up a job teaching Chinese, English, and German.

Anshe is just one of many others earning an income in virtual environments. A more extreme case involves gold farming in other online games. You can learn more about Chinese Gold Farmers from this great video documentary by Ge Jin.

Since Second Life has been getting tremendous media exposure already, this story once again adds more legitimacy to serious forms of gaming (or fun forms of work). Expect to see more people entering Second Life hoping to make a quick buck, possibly to a point of committing cybercrimes. Given Linden Lab’s mostly hands-off policy to making policies for their virtual world, perhaps a grassroots-level police force will be required soon.

In any case, should you want to know more, Anshe Chung will be holding a press conference in Mengjing @ Second Life on Tuesday 28th November at 9 am PST.

Related Links:
YouMeiIT: Virtual Property Queen is Second Life’s First Millionare in US Dollars
BusinessWeek: Second Life’s First Millionaire
The Sydney Morning Herald: Virtual property queen says thanks a million
CNN Money: No, Second Life is not overhyped

Today’s Links: Taking control of your personal economy

The Joy of Tech on Banks
The Joy of Tech goes banking…

Quiet Sunday, Busted Car and Delicious Pizzas

Vandals strike my car...

After spending some time at Atlanta Bakery Cafe doing my work, I returned to my car only to notice something different about it. I stood there for a moment, stared at both broken brakes lights and said “Screw it, I’m busy enough already…”. My buddy MrBig and I then headed for dinner at Pizza Plant. Man, that was some good steak and spinach pizza! Their Southwestern Nachos were delish too!

Stowboard: The futuristic skateboard which transforms…


Click to see how this unfolds to a full-fledged skateboard, with some really clever trimmings

I’m a big fan of personal transportation devices, such as seen in my Go Motorboard review. So this week I was excited when I received the Stowboard, a $249 foldable skateboard which I got for a steal of just $40 online.

As you can see, the build quality is amazing (aircraft-grade aluminum) and it’s more of a work of art to me than a practical person-mover. I’ll try it on the streets sometime soon… and hopefully not end up embarrassing myself in the process.

The original product web site is at www.stowboards.net, though it lacks decent pictures to show you the real deal. You can check out my Stowboard slideshow for more photos.

Aside: Does anyone know if I need some special license to ride portable motorized transportation in Singapore?

Our French-inspired Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner @ Peter's

Peter prepared a sumptuous French-inspired Thanksgiving dinner spread for his parents and me.

For appetizers, we started with Tomato w/ mozerella cheese in Olive oil and Balsamic Vinegar, as well as an irresistibly rich Garlic broth. For the entree, a seasoned turkey from the oven cooked to perfection. Sides included bread stuff, garlic mash potato, and caramelized carrots. Finally for dessert, home-made vanilla creme brulee topped with fresh raspberries!

See entire Thanksgiving slideshow…

Silly ideas that actually work…

YourNameOnToast.com

There’s something pretty about yournameontoast.com, but I just can’t pin it down (hat tip to iCheerful).

We’ve seen interesting personal marketing campaigns hit the web for the past year, from the Million Dollar Home Page to Leah Culver’s free Macbook Pro after she got enough sponsors who got logo space on her laptop lid (via promotional etchings).

Your Name On Toast works like this…
You give them some money and they write your name on toast, then put it on their web site. Your toast will act as a link to your web site. Anything from $5 $10 $20 up is enough to get you listed in the Your Name On Toast gallery. The more you pay for your toast, the higher your toast will appear in the listings.

As seen in the other cases I’ve mentioned, individuals are able to mobilize new centers of attention. Good (or even silly) ideas get talked about, so if you have a bright idea, it really doesn’t that much more to become the next web celebrity (or Rockefeller $$$).