Bangkok thoughts

Yes I live in Hong Kong. Yes I work for Tencent in Shenzhen. Yes I work mostly in Bangkok for a company that Tencent acquired. And yes Bangkok is somewhat normal again, as in we finally moved back into our previously evacuated offices after a whole month on the run!
  • Week 1: nobody knows anything until the water shows up at their doorsteps. With not many options in mind, we asked all staff to work from home starting Oct 22 because the surrounding neighborhoods are all seeing water and it is impossible to drive. Two days later, I get pictures that show both access roads to the office have been turned into a tranquil lake.
  • Week 2: Waiting... waiting... as a temporary solution for both staff and company, we rented some hotel rooms for affected staff and a conference room to work out of.
  • Week 3: I finally am in Bangkok. On the cab ride from the airport, the city seems eerily empty. I see no floods. There are several cars and trucks parked on the elevated highway. Near my hotel, there's little traffic, little tourists, little people on the street (street vendors are still out in full force though), only a few food vendors, and no working girls. They say central Bangkok will be spared from the floods. For once, I believe them. They also announced that the flood waters will recede in 11 days. Nobody believes that. My staff tell me that the water may come towards our current location. I believe them.
  • Week 4: Seems the same as last week. Alas the water didn't come our way. A bit more people on the streets. Central Bangkok is as normal as it can be, but on TV you see reporters in chest deep water interviewing families who had nowhere else to hide from the water. Near the (now evacuated) office, we can access the office via convoys but not drive in ourselves.
  • Week 5: The cars have been cleared from the highways. Toll booths are back up and running. Tourists on flipflops are ranging around the hotel. Breakfast food vendors are back 80%. Working girls are back at the bars again. Nov 24, I'm sitting back in my office. About 40% of the staff is at work. And I let out a big sigh or relief.
Bangkok, you're back. Kind of. Millions of home remain under water elsewhere in Bangkok as the government sacrificed them to save the central district.


The outrage from Google's Reader fiasco

My thoughts from a while ago... but too lazy to blog. I need to blog more.

For a company that has always churned out products that are both groundbreaking (Gmail) and customer fitted (Reader), Google's recent blunders in its push towards social is quite shocking. Specifically, I'm talking about its attempt to push Reader towards G+. It's an effing disaster.

I still think G+ is a great platform and great social tool, but forcing Reader on G+ this has just been desperate and Google will probably end up in a lose-lose situation. G+ is already becoming G Staff+ (not sure if Google staff realizes that... just because they can recreate their social circle there... doesn't mean others would)... and Reader has just downgraded itself significantly to become an RSS feed since it's social aspect was stripped out to accommodate the aforementioned G Staff+.

Why do I use Reader? Because in one platform, I can subscribe to:
  • (35%) all the industry news feeds that I ought to follow (e.g. GigaOM, Tech Crunch) and all the blogs that interest me (e.g. Freakenomics, Photo related)
  • (33%) my friends' blogs (e.g. GSB folks, foodie friend in NYC) and posts for burning time (e.g.  Failblog, FML)
  • (16%) stuff that my friends read, i.e. wife sharing wife things, Satyajeet sharing Satyajeet things, Megha sharing jokes, Ivan sharing random auto things, Haide sharing new mom things, etc
  • (16%) stuff that people in the industry read, i.e. Thailand reporter sharing Thailand things.
#1 Do I wish there was an icon on Gmail that could get me access to these feeds? YES!
#2 Do I wish I could share to Facebook as easy as I can share to Buzz? YES!
#3 Do I wish Reader was more powerful so that I can find out which blogs other people are subscribed to? YES!
#4 Do I wish other people can know what I subscribe to? YES (but not completely)!
#5 Do I wish sharing was more intuitive in Reader? YES!
#6 Do I want complete control on how I share? YES!

And what does Google do? Stay put on #1 and #2, address #5 partially, and make G Staff+ the default for #3, #4, and #6. Well, congratulations, you just eliminated 32% of my reasons (stuff that people read) to use Reader. Not only that, but the remaining 68% of the reasons any RSS feed software can do! And G Staff+ can control the sharing very well, but hey, you're still G Staff+ and nobody outside of Google goes there to read what I share!

And being the person who is in love with my own vanity (I mean, come on, all bloggers should admit that), I want people to read what I write as easy as possible.

So, this is what I am going to do. Share this on Facebook (not easy, but hey, they're the SNS), Reader (Auto), and G+ through Reader. And hope that Google will listen to its users and leave Reader alone - it's a great great platform, don't force parts of it to G Staff+. Allow both, and make it easy to share to G Staff+, but don't eliminate other ways!

Google. Still needs to learn social. (But if the argument is to bolster its search engine, that's fine... but don't mess with Reader!)