DNA raises RM 1mil in Seed Funding

Today, independent journalism got some good news. Digital News Asia, a Malaysian technology news portal just announced raising RM1 million in seed funding from Idea River Run (IRR).

I’m bolstered because their CEO and Founder, Karamjit Singh has been quoted as saying, “One of the reasons this deal materialised was that Tan Sri Vincent was agreeable to DNA retaining its editorial independence… To our readers, rest assured that with editorial independence in the hands of the founders, we will always endeavour to deliver quality content to you – that is in our DNA,”

I, for one, am looking forward to the high quality journalism and analysis that these friends from across the border have built their brand around. And once again, congratulations, Karamjit, Asohan and Gabey!

The dust settles as it’s bathed in moonlight

dust

It really has been too long since I chronicled anything on this site, and while I did have a good run some time in September, I must have internalized somewhere that I didn’t need to update this on a regular basis.

Funny how as a twenty-plus year old, I didn’t understand why my thirty-plus contemporaries didn’t see the joy in updating their peers through online connectivity, and now that I’m at that age, and more importantly the stage in life, I can see why some aspects of online journaling do seem trivial. To me at least.

But that’s just my myopic preference to how much of the Internet I don’t like. There are still plenty of joys that I come across, fellow contemporaries whom I do appreciate for sharing their thoughts in the online realm, and if it’s a chance that I can contribute to the good of the Net, then I can only continue to participate.

Just don’t call me a “Netizen”.

WATCHLIST #03: 22 Sep 2014 – 28 Sep 2014

Nick_Cave_Kylie_Minogue

It’s the start of a new week, and I came out from a pretty hectic last one. I didn’t really get a chance to chance across new things, but the stand-outs from last week are definitely Nick Cave releasing the performance of Where The Wild Roses Grow that he did as a duet with Kylie Minogue for the filming of 20,000 Days. It was an amazing duet in 1996, and it still is 18 years later.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the new music video and song from Spazzkid. Sarah Bonito‘s guest vocals also add a cheeky hook to the playful beats, but the performance by Ayumi Yokoyama and the visual direction is probably what I’ll constantly remember this video for.

There’s a new game called Hack ‘n’ Slash coming out which sounds really interesting, and if you haven’t watched Community’s La Biblioteca rap, you should. Last one’s from Korean producer, Hitchhiker, which I’m still deciding if it’s good or bad. But damn, it’s trippy.

WATCHLIST
1. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Where The Wild Roses Grow (Live at Koko) ft. Kylie Minogue
2. Spazzkid – “Truly” feat. Sarah Bonito (Official Video)
3. Hack ‘n’ Slash – Launch Trailer
4. La Biblioteca Rap
5. Hitchhiker 히치하이커_11(ELEVEN)_Music Video

Communicating without words in Destiny (PS4)

Destiny-DevilWalker

I’ve been putting quite a few hours into the new MMO shooter, Destiny. After sinking about 24 hours into the game, I’m a Level 22 Hunter currently focused more on PvE (Player vs. Environment). I hit the soft-level cap of 20 by about 16 hours, and have been progressively doing Strike missions to level up some rare equipment and also earn my Vanguard marks and ranks to purchase Legendary equipment later on.

When I went on my first Strike mission, it was an absolute mess. I had no idea what I was doing, nor where my teammates were. If I did know where my teammates were, I’d stick with them. Power in numbers, right? However, every time we got surrounded by a swarm of enemies, or a boss character focus fired on us, we’d become another nasty smear on the wall. Trying to revive someone without covering fire was also another incredibly silly way to ensure a premature death.

However, as I became more familiar with the game, and more confident in my own abilities, I noticed a trend as I played even more games with total strangers, fighting against the Darkness.

After awhile, you notice that the more experienced players playing PvE aren’t good because they have more abilities or better equipment. It was because they had better team work and non-verbal communication.

For example, if I was reviving someone, a team mate would not repeat the action, and he or she would be on another side of the map drawing enemy fire. Or the moment someone is revived by me, that person would use the 1 second of invulnerability to cover my escape. Likewise, during boss rights or large swarms, we wouldn’t be bunched up in a defensive position putting rounds down only one angle. Almost immediately, we would each scatter to a separate location and lay down overlapping fields of fire to create a maximum killzone, and also ensure that the enemy’s efforts were diluted.

And these tactics were all communicated without the use of speaking to one another. When you enter a fireteam of 3 Guardians, who have been forged in the fires of PvE, we don’t waste time talking. We lead by action. And when someone is taking point, you check your ego and cover their unguarded flank. When someone is being hosed down by a particular tough boss or swarm, you reposition and flank the enemy without that person screaming for help.

In a nutshell, non-verbal communication is actualized by your ability to access the situation you are in and act accordingly while trusting your fireteam (team mates).

Nothing is sweeter than overcoming a level that is deemed Impossible, and yet there you are, standing victorious over the odds with two complete strangers, never having spoken a word to each other. You give a silent hat-tip to your randomly generated fireteam, and perhaps you will meet again by happenstance.

Leading yourself to lead others

Fire

This rather cliched thought came to me in the middle of a walk home as I was thinking about the team I was leading. I hated that it was cliched, but the more I let it percolate, it made sense to me.

I still stand by that a leader isn’t someone who outranks you because of seniority or position. Conventionally, it is role-based, but in reality, it is attitude-based. A leader takes the initiative and acts on situations, not react to them. Couple that with grit, ability and trust in team mates, and a leader can lead their team toward the goal.

So the question posed to us then is this: Are we waiting for someone to lead us? Or are we taking active steps to set our goals, and lead ourselves toward those goals through planning and motivation. Because if we aren’t planning our own lives and motivating ourselves to push forward, then we’ve lost the initiative, and we cease to lead others effectively.

Before you can lead a team, you must be able to lead yourself

WATCHLIST #02: 08 Sep 2014 – 14 Sep 2014

litford_watchlist_2

Last week was pretty rough for me, so I didn’t get a ton of time to unwind with new videos, but there if there seems to be a trend with last week’s WATCHLIST, it’s that I enjoy the randomness of certain videos.

Also, new material from Ryan Adams and Nick Cave.

WATCHLIST
Parakeet
Peter Serafininowicz – Dalek Relaxation Tape
Guitar Power ep. 2 featuring Dave Harrington
Peter Serafinowicz – Building A Human
The Creators Project – Nick Cave | 20,000 Days on Earth

There is no spoon

10 September 2014, Wednesday // Got into the office earlier than everyone and managed to follow the good practice of listing out daily to-dos, answering a batch of emails and then proceeding to complete said task. As a manager, certain flows get interrupted because you need to catch up with your teams, but other than that, it was a good focused time.

Completed everything on the to-do list except one item, but that was because the final hour before work ended, by brain just began to shut down, probably because I was up till five, the morning before, trying out new layouts and thinking how I should present this information.

Went to meet my friends from church, and they gave me a nice dinner treat to celebrate my birthday.

Back to home with nothing necessarily new, nor particularly engaging to write about, so I thought I’d just journal my day.

5 Ideas for the Apple Watch

Apple announced their first wearable device, the Apple Watch. It’s supposed to integrate with iOS 8 and your iPhones and has NFC and mobile payment wallets included. Here’s where I think some of the magic might be, in defiance to some of the underwhelmed responses so far.

1. Fist bump and trade contacts

I’m pretty sure it’s simple enough to ensure that your personal information is shared between your personal devices, and with the flick of a wrist or button, enable NFC sharing to trade contacts with another Apple Watch user, synced immediately to your address book in the cloud.

Like this:

2. NFC and Beacon technology making sweet love

Someone walks into an area. Their Apple Watch blinks red with an arrow prompting them to walk in a certain direction. They end up in front of a store or establishment, the arrow turns green, it unlocks a promotion immediately into your iPhone’s Passbook. Then, they pay with they redeem with their mobile wallet. The beauty of having a Watch that’s ubiquitous to your mobile phone, is that it’s even LESS obtrusive than having to be on your phone all the time.

Or in a nutshell, a possible biometric replacement contender.

3. Find a friend

You arrange to meet a friend, it’s crowded and your friend is generally shit with directions. Friend sends a ping to you, your Apple Watch guides you to them. Perfect for music festivals and other places where people get lost.

This would be my superawesome locater signal:

Brian-Pixel-Animated

4. Emergencies and Stealth

From monitoring your vitals and sending out alerts to loved ones, paramedics or the authorities, a knowledge of morse code could also used for when communication needs to be done stealthily. That’s a stretch, but your watch talks to your phone now and vice versa, there’s huge convergence potential there.

Update: One thing I would like to see more of, is having the Apple Watch integrate more with other devices like say a Macbook Air, where I can control my browser through my watch instead of a mouse. Or with Apple TV, or even a monitor in the form of motion tracking. If they can integrate motion tracking into the watch, there’ll be even more “whoas” to give.

5. This.

AllRangers

Ranger_WhiteRanger_Red

Ranger_PinkRanger_Blue

Ranger_BlackRanger_Yellow

gif credit: fyeah80s-90s

Mobile payments was the main star at Apple’s Event

Tech media is ablaze with news about Apple’s new iPhone 6 and Apple Watch. Screen sizes and other wanky tech specs aside, the Apple Wallet (to be released with iOS 8 in October), Near Field Communications (NFC) enabled devices and Touch ID fingerprint scanning for security are why the mobile payments industry is poised for big changes.

More on the iPhone 6 announcement via Quartz

List of Apple Watch features via ReadWriteWeb

Amidst streaming, possible ways for musicians to monetize

music-collaboration

Almost every modern musician knows the arguments for and against music streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer… etc. It’s pretty much common talk amongst independent musicians that without millions of people streaming our songs, we’d hardly make any sort of sustainable revenue. Here’s where things could get interesting.

Streaming levels the playing field

I’m definitely more in support of streaming services as a consumer, because it really is a better product. Rather than being subject to the recommendations of traditional DJs or terrestrial radio stations, I get to listen to the songs I want on-demand. This isn’t for the mainstream, but the artists who are at least on independent labels and their catalogs are included on streaming services.

Streaming services have allowed consumer behavior to move in this direction, and whether you’re a mainstream listener, or purveyor of the niche, chances are you can find what you’re looking for online.

But that makes the musical product disposable

This is my key concern. Culturally, we are becoming bankrupt because within a day, there will be something new to listen to, and creating playlist after playlist gets old really fast. In any case, streaming services have probably played a big role in making the musical product disposable. The MP3 is dead to almost anyone who is subscribed to a streaming service and can even listen to that music offline.

But how dead is the MP3?

To the consumer, the MP3 is dead. I’ll go out there and say it. Streaming services makes it redundant to manage MP3s via your desktop synced to your mobile and what not. You don’t even need to be concerned about how much space you have in your cloud service to store your MP3s. As long as you maintain your subscription, you won’t lose your music. It is nestled comfortably in the service of your choice.

But there is a whole segment of the consumer that the MP3 isn’t dead. And I’m not talking about people who have not jumped onto streaming services. I’m talking about those who still need MP3s to create.

Harnessing the market of creators

Here’s where I think it starts to make sense. DJs, Samplists, Filmmakers, Vodcasters, Game Studios and the whole lot out there need access to MP3s, or high quality audio files if they’re going to continue their craft. Now more than ever, music creators should make it easier for the pro-sumer and professional market to easily purchase MP3s or HQ audio files so that they can continue creating as well.

Indie musicians will have to re-look their pricing and product models to cater to this growing segment of people. And I believe they will be growing, because technology is definitely making it easier for other creators to create. As the consumer tech market matures, the creative market will grow along as well.

So streaming services are a great way to appear in the peripheral of content creators, who are always on the lookout for music that fits their pursuits. But I don’t think there is any self-serve model out there now that caters to this new marketplace.

For further reading, Disaster Peace shared a postmortem that inspire this post.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.