What Should I Call My New Blog?

As I previously mentioned, when I make the move from Hong Kong to Manila, it won’t make much sense to continue under the “Hongkie Town” name/url. I thought I’d open it up and let you folks make some suggestions.  I’ve received two so far:

  • The Flip Side – that appeals to me but it’s too commonly used and isn’t available, unless I want to add a .ph to the domain name, which I’d rather not do.
  • Phili Bluster – not crazy about the “bluster”; thought about the alternative “Phili Buster” but I’m not Buster, I’m Spike! Plus given the alternate spellings, people might think it’s Fili or Filli or Philli – too confusing.

I’ve registered one domain so far – SpikeInManila.com – which isn’t especially clever but does pretty much tell you the story.

I’m open for other ideas. Any other suggestions?

Some Blogs Just Drift Away

No, not this one.  At least not yet.

Tonight I’m not ready to sleep yet but also not ready to do anything productive.  So I’m going through the hundreds of RSS feeds in my Google Reader.  Almost all the feeds are in folders (Food, Photography, HK Blogs, etc.).  When someone hasn’t posted anything in at least 3 months, I assume it’s a dead blog and I move it into a folder called “Defunct.”  I don’t delete it as long as the old posts are still accessible or in case the blog should “come back to life” at some point in the future.

It’s funny sometimes to see peoples’ final posts on their blog.  A small number of them know it will be their last post and say goodbye one way or another.  A far greater number of them don’t.  I won’t bother posting links to these blogs since they’re inactive but the final posts are often interesting.  Mostly they’re along the lines of, “Sorry, I know I haven’t been posting much, I’ll be doing more soon!”  I’m always curious as to what happened to these people.  They went away, they came back, they promised more … and then they’re gone again without a word.

I suppose you could file this under some bizarre form of nostalgia.

A Babe in Toyland

Last post December 5, 2009 – previous post was July 19, 2009.

I know, I know I don’t write enough. Well here’s an excuse: social media is making me dumb and lazy. For those of you who want to see me try my hand at producing irrelevant sound-bites within 140 characters – find me here.

P.S. I’m not that interesting, so you have been warned.

(The referenced Twitter account has been inactive for two years.)

Bangkok Bad Boy

Last post December 16, 2007

On 31 August 1997, Princess Diana met with her untimely doom in a Parisian underpass. London ground to a halt, as the entire population saw fit to drown the entrance to Buckingham Palace in a sea of floral tributes. A nation wept, bereft of one of its most-loved characters. It’s only natural that my own departure from the ‘Kokosphere has raised as much gloom and despondency, if not more. I am not saying that I will be more keenly-missed than Princess Diana. That is for other people to say.

Between Coffees

Last post January 26, 2012

This year will be a year of changes. It means leaving my comfort zone and pursuing something more, something greater.

Wish me luck :)

Cantopopped

Last post July 27, 2011

I know it’s been a very long time indeed since I last posted on this blog, but just came across this wonderful video advertising the benefits of ‘King’s Cube’ in HK.

I’ve been keeping up with the developments in HK, and it’s pleasing to see that there’s growing movement against the government. The increasing resistance is for reasons exposed in this video, I’m sure.

Chopped Onions

Last post August 29, 2011.  Previous post August 20, 2010

A year. Goes very quickly if you’re not careful. Yes I’m still alive, no I haven’t been “away” but I have changed jobs, drinking habits and lost some friends along the way. So if you’re still interested this blog should become a bit more food oriented and less about the gutter…….we’ll see.

Do I Look Like I Wanna Buy a Suit My Friend

Last post June 19, 2009.  Previous post March 11, 2009

I’m not dead … havent posted in ages so dont know if ive still got readers, but will get around to it soon……..

Frisian’s Other Favorites

Last post June 20, 2009

Sorry for the lack of posts lately but it all has to do with my job and most of all that I want to finish the work on my house.

Did get a new roof on my house and all the carpeting, isolating, panting etc. inside I do myself.
Hoping to get this finished this summer…

So don’t worry I’ll be back posting after that.

GMT+8:00

Last post February 17, 2011.  Previous post May 5, 2009.

Sorry friends for not posting for about … 2 years. Much has happened that I need to tell you about, like [holy shit] I quit my job and got married!

[edited]

So. What’s up with me getting married? That’s for another post, coming soon.

Hong Kong Independent Music Blog

Last post December 27, 2009

First of all, Merry Christmas to all those who actually read this on a regular basis. I hope you all have a great 2010.

I sadly however am going to be putting a hold on running this blog for the time being. Time sadly is the reason. The real occupation is getting busier, and I’d like to focus any excess time into playing/writing with my band.

I have enjoyed doing this however and would like to come back to it one day.

If in the mean time anyone wants to continue writing for konghongrock, and is willing to do it for nothing but passion and a place to chat shit, then let me know.

Till next time friend.

Hong Kong Lacks Culture My Ass

Last post January 13, 2011

You can’t stop what’s coming.

Sailing Home

Last post May 3, 2010.  Previous post March 7, 2008

After such a long spell away from this blog, it feels kinds weird to bring it to life again… two years in the UK and I’m back for a brief three month spell here in Hong Kong again… let’s see how the mood takes me… this blog could honestly go in almost any direction..!!!!

Troika

Last post June 22, 2009

Getting caught having a wank at the age of 13 is a fucking embarrassing moment.

Getting caught at the age of 37 is a whole other story.

======================

Well, that killed 30 minutes. What do I do with myself next?  (Um, no, not taking any cues from the sentence above.)

 

Blogging is an Old Man’s Game

This article in the NY Times caught my eye today (some excerpts below):

Blogs were once the outlet of choice for people who wanted to express themselves online. But with the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter, they are losing their allure for many people — particularly the younger generation.

The Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center found that from 2006 to 2009, blogging among children ages 12 to 17 fell by half; now 14 percent of children those ages who use the Internet have blogs. Among 18-to-33-year-olds, the project said in a report last year, blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier.

Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.

Blogs went largely unchallenged until Facebook reshaped consumer behavior with its all-purpose hub for posting everything social. Twitter, which allows messages of no longer than 140 characters, also contributed to the upheaval.

No longer did Internet users need a blog to connect with the world. They could instead post quick updates to complain about the weather, link to articles that infuriated them, comment on news events, share photos or promote some cause — all the things a blog was intended to do.

Indeed, small talk shifted in large part to social networking, said Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder of BlogHer, a women’s blog network. Still, blogs remain a home of more meaty discussions, she said.

“If you’re looking for substantive conversation, you turn to blogs,” Ms. Camahort Page said. “You aren’t going to find it on Facebook, and you aren’t going to find it in 140 characters on Twitter.”

Lee Rainie, director of the Internet and American Life Project, says that blogging is not so much dying as shifting with the times. Entrepreneurs have taken some of the features popularized by blogging and weaved them into other kinds of services.

“The act of telling your story and sharing part of your life with somebody is alive and well — even more so than at the dawn of blogging,” Mr. Rainie said. “It’s just morphing onto other platforms.”

The blurring of lines is readily apparent among users of Tumblr. Although Tumblr calls itself a blogging service, many of its users are unaware of the description and do not consider themselves bloggers — raising the possibility that the decline in blogging by the younger generation is merely a semantic issue.

But some blogging services like Tumblr and WordPress seem to have avoided any decline. Toni Schneider, chief executive of Automattic, the company that commercializes the WordPress blogging software, explains that WordPress is mostly for serious bloggers, not the younger novices who are defecting to social networking.

In any case, he said bloggers often use Facebook and Twitter to promote their blog posts to a wider audience. Rather than being competitors, he said, they are complementary.

While the younger generation is losing interest in blogging, people approaching middle age and older are sticking with it. Among 34-to-45-year-olds who use the Internet, the percentage who blog increased six points, to 16 percent, in 2010 from two years earlier, the Pew survey found. Blogging by 46-to-55-year-olds increased five percentage points, to 11 percent, while blogging among 65-to-73-year-olds rose two percentage points, to 8 percent.

There’s quite a lot of food for discussion there.  Some might argue that a migration to Facebook and Twitter and away from longer form blogging could be seen as an indication that youth are becoming more illiterate, perhaps.  I don’t think so, I think there’s always been some division there and if someone was to gather up statistics, I don’t think we’d be seeing any drastic hockey stick or cliff plunge.

The bit about “uninspired by a lack of readers” hits home for me, but not because I lack for readers, my stats are consistently quite okay.  I find myself often uninspired by a lack of comments – my blog posts are read on average by somewhere between 500 and 1,000 readers but seem to generate about a dozen comments and usually less than that.  (I’m guilty of not commenting on others’ blogs as often as I should, one side effect of doing all my blog-reading via RSS.)   Sometimes excessively negative comments get me down; rationally I know that they shouldn’t but I’m only human.

I know I’m talking to the converted here.  Obviously everyone reading this still reads blogs to some extent and many of you also write blogs.  I know of at least one person who has basically gone over to Twitter and stopped blogging.  I’m curious how this is trending for you?  Those who write blogs, are you writing less?  Those who read blogs, are you reading less?  Is your RSS packed with more feeds than you can possibly read in a day (mine is) or have you been trimming that down as well?

A New Year and A New Blog

Happy New Year to all!  I hope your New Year’s Eve was enjoyable.  Ours was relatively low key, despite the fact that it was spent in Wanchai.  We left the house rather early, had our first drinks at Amazonia at 7 and then went over to Thai Farmer for dinner at 8.  By 9 PM, we were so full and so tired that my gf was ready to head back home.  I told her we should try to stay out a bit more.  Which meant more drinks with friends at Amazonia and Bar 109 until the countdown.  We made it to midnight but by 12:10 we were in a taxi and I think we were both asleep by 1.  Okay, not exactly exciting times in the Big Lychee but it was good enough for us.

My big news is that today I’m launching a new blog, Spike’s Photos.  The blog is, as you might have guessed, devoted to photography.  Right now all my own work, but as things move ahead I may add in some equipment reviews or photography news from other web sites.  While the initial content is all stuff you’ve seen here, all of the photos are “new” to the extent that I’ve gone back in Lightroom and reprocessed all of them, not merely to update the watermark but also to try and improve them wherever possible.  (Don’t worry, Hongkie Town isn’t going away.)

Please check out Spike’s Photos and please feel free to link to it on your own blogs or web sites.

Another One Bites The Dust

Another Hong Kong blog, that is.   Farewell to Fumier Resartus.  Either deleted by the author himself or perhaps taken down by Google after possible complaints from people who couldn’t live up to his high motoring standards?   To quote Martin Mull, it’s so hard to say au revoir, so let’s just say hors d’oeuvre.

Hors d’oeuvre, Fumie, hors d’oeuvre.

Personal Brands vs. Career Brands

Going back to Jeremiah Owyang’s presentation at Web Wednesday and a subsequent blog post he’s written on the topic.   I wish I could have paid closer attention on Wednesday night, but I was standing with some people from a company my company is working with and got stuck in this mode of “keep the customer satisfied” at the expense of Mr. Owyang.  His initial comments were probably purposely glib and served the purpose of drawing the audience’s attention.  Get them screaming for blood and then they’re examining every word, every nuance, looking for more things to pounce on.

His subsequent blog post (which I would like to see him expand upon more) ends with this note:

So in the end, there’s a place for both, I’m suggesting you be cognizant of which type is for you, and be deliberate as you foster either your personal or career brand.

I was ready to argue that the difference between a Personal Brand and a Career Brand is somewhat semantic but I realize I need to think about it more.

I pay a lot of attention to my Personal Brand, that of course being Spike.  I’ve extended this brand across this blog, BC Magazine, Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, among others.  (On LinkedIn I “exist” solely under my real name.)   I don’t think of any of these as being in isolation from the others, they are all interconnected.

At first, one of my purposes was to gain an audience for my blog.  You could say I think of the blog as the “hub” of my activities to some extent.  I’ve also used these outlets to draw attention to PASM Workshop, a local business started by some friends that I’ve invested in and a place that I honestly enjoy.

I also had and continue to have another purpose in all of this.  I continue to love What’s New and What’s Next.  After 24 years of working in MIS and after almost 3 decades of being online, my thirst for this kind of stuff remains unquenched.   My online activities are (hopefully) the proof of that.

Let’s face it.  I’m old.  When I was a kid, computing meant punch cards.  When I went to school, my first programs were written in Assembly.  I can remember how excited I was the day I finally got a floppy disk drive and could get rid of my computer’s cassette drive.   I’m old.  I’m the oldest person in my current company (one of my lines to my new co-workers:  I’ve got socks older than you)(and I do).   And we live in an era where age and experience aren’t always equated with wisdom.  I’m in an age group of people who are generally thought to be people who “don’t get it.”

Beyond that, I had an extra handicap.  From 1999 to 2001 when I was working for a start-up in San Francisco, a very well funded start-up, I was leading teams using what was then seen as bleeding edge stuff.  And then in 2001, I went to work for Warner Bros.  It got me into a company I loved.  And brought me back to Hong Kong.  But the price I paid was that I was managing mostly, um, trailing edge technology.  Most of our stuff was so old that it had more face lifts than Joan Rivers (would Heidi Montag be a more timely reference here?).

And so my Personal Brand wasn’t merely being used to find a new job when I found myself laid off from my last one.  I couldn’t point to what I’d done at work and use that as examples of how I understood current trends; the only way I could show an understanding of that was to be doing it in my spare time.

Was this a Career Brand?  I always thought of it as a Personal Brand.  Was I wrong or was I just semantically off?  Whatever.  I don’t like to get hung up in semantics.  The point is that it worked.  I got the kind of job I was looking for, in a company that’s seen as a leader in their spaces – which includes internet, social networking and online games.  One of the questions I was asked during the interview process was, “Do you still have passion for this kind of thing or are you just looking for a job to carry you over till retirement?”  And not only could I say that I still had passion, I could point to the things that I had done and was doing (and continue to do) that I was doing on my own since there was no space to do it in my past job.  And now I get to deal with this stuff as part of my work as well as one of my (for want of a better word) hobbies.

This points to something that I’ve seen other blogs mention that I know is true – don’t wait till someone gives you the opportunity to do it, go out and do it now.  Don’t use excuses like “I’m so tired” or “I don’t have the time” – make the time.  Because the results make it worthwhile.

Oh, crap, another one of my “up with people” kind of posts.  Sometimes the sunny Hong Kong side of my personality makes the cynical New Yorker side want to hurl.  Well, it’s Friday night.  (Even if it’s the 21st anniversary of one of the more horrific events to take place during my life.)   The weekend is here.

Expert Blogging? Really?

I’ve been blogging for years and the page loads here remain consistently higher than I ever expected (thank you!) but there’s a lot about blogging that I don’t know.  And I’m always eager to learn.

Along comes Ogilvy and Mather, one of the largest advertising firms in the world.  They’ve been around for decades and have won more awards than you could fit in your flat and give the impression of still being out there on the bleeding edge.   This week they gave a presentation in Hong Kong called The Executive’s Guide to Blogging For Business and following the presentation the slides were made available on the web.

Eager to learn some new tricks from these old masters, I hastened to check out the presentation, given by Thomas Crampton and Brian Giesen.

First I learned that there are 3 kinds of training – Social Media White Belt (Understand), Social Media Red Belt (Participate) and Social Media Black Belt (Lead).  This presentation falls into the red zone.

Are you groaning already?  Yeah, I thought so.

In the 29 slide presentation, I learned what a blog is.  And that I should start a blog to “share a unique point of view.”   And that I should blog about “something you’re passionate about!”   And that I can blog on Typepad or WordPress or Blogger or Tumblr.  And that I should register my blog with Technorati.  That I should choose descriptive titles for my blog posts.  That my posts can be short, medium or long.  That I should have links.  And I should try to blog at least once a week.

To be fair, only the slides are online and perhaps the lecture that accompanied them was more informative.   Or perhaps not.   Maybe this is The Long Tail in extreme – people are so impressed with this that they’re going to pay Ogilvy to give them more or do it for them thanks to their (ahem) obvious expertise in this area.  And I know from personal experience that there are still a hell of a lot of people out there to whom this stuff, that I take for granted, is news.

What bugs me is that I’m stupid.  There’s nothing there that I don’t already know.  There’s nothing there that I couldn’t have written and presented myself.  Except that I didn’t; they did.  They know how to package 5 bucks worth of dung and sell it as a $1000 diamond.  And I suppose that’s why they get the Big Bucks and I don’t.

If I was smart, I’d be packaging up all the info I’ve learned from seven years of blogging, Facebook and Twitter; from more than 20 years on the Internet.   So I’m not really pissed off at Ogilvy, I’m pissed off at myself.    I’m not pissed off, I’m jealous!

2 New Photography Books

Got a shipment from Amazon a few days ago and have been spending time this weekend with the two photography books I received.

The first has the unwieldy title of David Busch’s Digital Photography Bucket List:  100 Great Photos You Must Take Before You Die.

So yeah, we’ve been swimming in books like 1,000 movies to see before you die, 1,000 foods to eat before you die, 1,000 cow-pies to smell before you die.  But I gave it a shot because David Busch wrote what I consider to be the definitive guide to my Nikon D300 (updated D300s version available too, planning to get his D700 book soon).  And I’m really so happy that I got this.

This is not a booked filled with photos by famous photographers like Annie Liebovitz or Mark Seliger – most of the photographers here are new to me.  But what Busch does is present some really excellent photos covering a wide variety of genres and, more importantly, for each photo he tells you the equipment used, the settings used (and often why those specific settings were chosen) and the general steps that were done in post-processing.  There are a couple of times that he shows the original, straight-out-of-the-camera photo alongside the finished work, and I wish there were more of those here.  Even so, this is a terrific book.

The second book isn’t for everyone but works really well for me.  It’s by Loe Beerens and it’s called Three Songs, No Flash!  Your Ultimate Guide to Concert Photography.

I love photographing musicians – rather obvious of course, since I’m such a music fan.  Incidentally, one reason that I now shoot the two bands at Amazonia so often is that I know what they are going to do.  I know their songs and their moves and it helps me be ready for what I know they’ll be doing next.  I think my photos get a little bit better each time I bring my camera there.  But how to best photograph musicians when I’m not familiar with them, or at least not familiar with their stage moves?  Yes, time and practice, go out and shoot again and again and carefully examine the results each time looking for ways to be better next time.

Concert photographers are generally told that they can stay in the photo pit for just the first three songs and are forbidden to use any flash – hence the title of the book.  The book is filled with photos of musicians, mostly on stage, some very famous, some not.  Each photo has a caption telling you the equipment used and the settings (though not with the kind of detail you’ll find in Busch’s book).  The photos illustrate a collection of tips for shooting different genres, large or small clubs, guitarists vs. drummers, etc.  Some are actually relatively obvious, stuff that you (or at least I) know intuitively but haven’t necessarily put into words:

Again, it is important to listen to the performer you are shooting.  Most of the time, the rhythm guitarist plays certain patterns repeatedly.  Lead guitarists play the same or a slightly different pattern, but also riffs and solos.  During the solos, especially when they play the high notes, you will get the best facial expressions.  Take your shot when they reach the highest note. At that moment, their hands are usually at the bottom of the guitar neck – an excellent opportunity to combine your standpoint and frame with the ultimate expression.

Okay, so it’s nothing very deep or original, but I think it will prove useful.  I see that there are some very negative reviews posted on Amazon for this book but I’m happy to add it to my collection.

Net Trivia

Looking back, in Jul7 ’05 I was linking to 73 other blogs and websites.

Of those 73, today only 34 of those still seem to be in existence – still at the same domain, still being updated.  The majority of these still-working-links are to commercial sites or popular commercial blogs like Gizmodo.  Less than 10 of the 34 are to Hong Kong blogs.

An additional 8 are still in existence but at new domains – that’s including Hemlock, who publicly is an occasional contributor to Big Lychee.   (It doesn’t include me, because obviously I wasn’t linking to myself in my blogroll.)

Some of the now-extinct ones are definitely missed, at least by me.  To name just a few – Simon World, Flagrant Harbour, Glutter, the entire See Lai “family” and most recently Shaky Kaiser, who seems to have converted 100% to Twitter.

I’m not claiming that this relatively random statistic has any meaning.  But it gave me a way to take a break for half an hour from other stuff that was clogging up my mind!

If you can’t say something nice

I read a lot of blogs, for a lot of different reasons.   I’ve got about 300 different feeds coming into Google Reader at the moment and most days, when I wake up, I’m faced with over 1,000 new articles to read.  That may be why I don’t leave comments on other blogs as often as I should – I’m often so busy trying to get that counter down to zero that I read the content but don’t stop to think about if there’s something I might leave in a comment.

Some blogs that I definitely won’t comment on are some local Hong Kong blogs that seem to be in a battle over which one gets the most page loads.  But I also won’t names names or give links.  These web sites are commercial endeavours, one of which offers what they believe are humorous takes on the day’s news, several of which are positioning themselves as guides to what is hip in Hong Kong.  (Yes, I know my participation in BC Magazine may make my commentary on those sorts of sites suspect – so sue me.)  I don’t consider any of them to be very good.  They’re good at marketing themselves and probably attract more eyeballs than my modest little corner o’ the web.  But every time I come across a post along the lines of “such and such dot com claims they get 20,000 visits per month but we get 30,000!”, all I can do is roll my eyes and wonder if anyone really cares.

Also, again without naming names, with only one or two exceptions (Siu Yeh and Cha Xiu Bao), all of the English language HK blogs that focus on food seriously suck donkey balls.  I realize that many of them are written by people for whom English is a second language, but even if one wades through poor grammar, most don’t provide even basic information about the restaurants and dishes they purport to cover.  I still remember one of these sites reviewing a restaurant and saying, roughly, that you know the prawns are fresh by the freshness of them.  I mean, come on, that’s not even trying.  They’re so busy trying to turn themselves into commercial endeavors, so busy with Twitter and Facebook fan pages that they don’t seem to have time to come up with decent content.

By far the biggest sin is the quality of the photos.  Some of these sites – and I’m talking about sites that run advertising – have photos that look as if they were taken by 5 year old mobile phone cameras in paper bags.   Rather than single any of them out, here are some examples of what I consider to be great food photography.  (I’d love to include Cosmopolitan’s blog photos here but he seems to be inactive web-wise lately.)

Eating Asia.  Photos by an actual working photographer with decent equipment.

eatingasia

SkyBlueSky.  David Hagerman, who does the photos for Eating Asia, has this separate blog to further promote his excellent photography.

skybluesky

Asia Flavors.  I don’t know anything about the author/photographer or what he/she does for a living, but look at the quality of the pictures.

asiaflavors

Austin Bush.  A photo-journalist based in Thailand. (Though the photo below comes from a recent Hong Kong trip.)

austinbush

What do those images have in common?  Sharp focus, good lighting, colors that burst off the screen, photos that make you want to run out and eat those dishes NOW.  I love these web sites not simply because they offer great photos but they offer challenge and inspiration to me.  I know I’m not as good as these guys are.  And I know that’s where I want to get.  And I think, examining my photos from a year ago against things taken more recently, I’m showing marked improvement, not merely standing still.

Compare the photos above to a recent photo I grabbed from a HK food blog.

ham

This is not something from OpenRice.  This is something from a blog 100% devoted to food. Jeez dude (0r dudette, as the case may be), if this is important to you, spend a few bucks on a halfway decent camera.  Doesn’t have to be a DSLR, there are plenty of offerings from Canon or Panasonic that would give you better results with your eyes closed.

Am I just in one of my typical grumpy morning moods?  Maybe.  But my hope is that some of the people who blog about food see the above and take it as a personal challenge to do better.  That’s why I’m not naming names or linking links.  I simply want people to challenge themselves, to do more, to do better, to wake up.